Opinion – How can New Zealand claim to have an independent foreign policy when it won’t even criticise America’s assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian leader? The furthest foreign minister Winston
Peters went was to express “strong concern” at the “heightening tensions in Iraq and the region”.
Peters’ statement could also be read as a justification for the drone killing when he acknowledged “strong US concerns about Iran” and said “the US took action on the basis of information they had”.
In fact, the assassination took place against a background of falsehoods, reminding us of the lies previously peddled to justify the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. President Donald Trump even blamed Soleimani for “terror plots as far away as New Delhi and London” while Vice President Mike Pence fancifully claimed Soleimani “assisted in the clandestine travel” of those involved in the 11 September, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.
All we have from the United States are vague assertions that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on US interests. More credible is the assertion of the Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi that Soleimani was in Bagdad at the invitation of the Iraqi government – for negotiations. His visit was apparently not a secret and he was at Baghdad airport in the presence of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a pro-government Iraqi militia leader, who was also assassinated.
Considering New Zealand has soldiers in Iraq, you would think Peters might have shown some interest in what his counterparts in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry thought about the assassination. They said it was “a flagrant breach of Iraq’s sovereignty and of all international laws and norms that regulate relations between countries and prohibit the use of their lands to carry out attacks on neighbouring countries”.
The Iraqi Parliament followed this up with a resolution calling for an end to “the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil”, a resolution targeted particularly at the US military presence.
If he respects Iraqi sovereignty, our foreign minister should set in motion the quick withdrawal of New Zealand soldiers from Iraq. Or will he be supporting Donald Trump, who says that if US troops are forced out he’ll slap sanctions on Iraq, which will “make the Iranian sanctions somewhat tame”?
Add to that Trump’s repeated threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites, which is a clear war crime. How can New Zealand withhold criticism of such madness?
Think Inc. are excited to announce the first visit to New Zealand by the American activist, politician, former US Army Solider and now court-martialled whistle-blower, Chelsea Manning.
Found guilty of espionage and theft and sentenced to 35 years in prison, Manning’s life has been nothing short of extraordinary. Set to discuss her time in prison, transgender issues, privacy, and Wikileaks, An Evening With Chelsea Manning will offer a glimpse inside the mind of one of the most controversial figures of the 21st Century.
Manning’s role in the leaking of almost 750,000 pieces of classified or non-classified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents was initially set to lead to a life in prison, before her sentence was reduced by President Barack Obama.
As a child, Manning excelled at science and computers and built her own website at the tender age of 10. She witnessed her parents share a tumultuous marriage before her mother attempted suicide. During this time, Manning was also exploring her gender identity.
Encouraged to join the Army by her father while living as an openly gay man, Manning began training in 2007. She was deployed to Iraq in 2009 where she went on to access and share an unprecedented amount of data, leading her to become one of the most significant whistle-blowers of our time. At the time, she described the data as “one of the most significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”
Manning, then U.S. Army intelligence analyst, was found guilty of espionage and theft and sentenced to 35 years in prison. An advocate for transparency of the American government, Manning had her sentence reduced by President Barack Obama in May 2017. Since her imprisonment, Manning has received numerous awards for her role in the leaks, and has established herself as a poster child for both whistle-blowers and transgender rights.
Named by the Foreign Press as one of 2017’s Global Thinkers “for forcing the United States to question who is a traitor and who is a hero” and blurring the line between United States hero and turncoat, it is with great excitement that we bring Chelsea Manning to New Zealand.
How refreshing to hear our intellectually courageous academic Amy Baker Benjamin speak this morning on National Radio about the worrying state of global affairs we now find ourselves in. Thanks to Wallace Chapman for this fair and open interview. How I wish that those in the media regurgitating false reports and drumming for more wars and those who are meeting in Queenstown this weekend would heed Amy’s sage analysis.
Amy Baker Benjamin lectures in Public International Law at AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand. She is a graduate of Yale Law School, former law clerk to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and former Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. She joins Wallace to talk about the ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the rhetoric from US President Donald Trump.
At the heart of contemporary international law lies a paradox: The attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 have justified nearly fifteen years of international war, yet the official international community, embodied principally in the United Nations, has failed to question or even scrutinize the U.S. Government’s account of those attacks. Despite the impressive and serious body of literature that has emerged to suggest that 9/11 was a classic (if unprecedentedly monstrous) false-flag attack, international statesmen, following the lead of scholars, have acted as if there is no controversy whatsoever. This disconnect between the growing (alternative) evidentiary record of state responsibility for the attacks and the focus of international institutions is impossible to sustain if those institutions are to maintain any semblance of viability and meaning.
In a three-step process, this Article seeks to connect the international community to the possible reality of 9/11-as-false-flag. First, it shows that it is highly rational to question the official 9/11 account given the historical record of the first half of the twentieth century, which reveals a pattern of false flag attacks over which the international community openly fretted and tried to exercise jurisdiction. Second, it analyzes the reasons why intellectual elites and the statesmen they influence are behaving irrationally in not inquiring into the possibility of 9/11-as-false-flag, deconstructing a multi-faceted motive into all its unsavory parts. Third, it argues that the means for ceasing this irrational behavior is readily available, as the United Nations need only carry out its core and incontrovertible “jury” function of determining the existence of aggression in order to exercise a long-overdue oversight of the official 9/11 narrative.
Why Was Phil Goff Silenced And Why Did Netanyahu Phone John Key Four Times On The Day Of The Chch Earthquake
Much is made about the fact that Cameron Slater was able to obtain SIS documents via an OIA request. Today the report from the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) Ms Gwyn confirmed that it was the office of John Key who pushed for Cameron Slater to make an OIA request in order to be used against the then opposition leader Phil Goff on Slater’s Whaleoil blog.
This is in and of itself already proof of the use of an organisation which should be above politics in a very political way and should carry serious repercussions for both the director of the SIS and John Key for using the SIS to damage political opponents.The fact that this happened in the run up to the 2011 elections should worry everybody including National voters.
READ MORE: https://aotearoaawiderperspective.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/why-was-phil-…
I write this open letter to you in response to your recent comments regarding changing our security laws because of the risk of a terror attack being “possible but not expected.” In particular I must address your comments pertaining to those who have raised their doubts regarding the legitimacy of any terrorist threat to NZ when you say “with the greatest respect to those individuals, they don’t see the same information I see”.
Getting the true facts about 9/11 runs right to the heart of all the issues we currently see in the Middle East and the so called ‘war on terror’. As you know, on several occasions over the past five years, I have sent to your parliamentary office extremely important information that has highlighted an urgent need to re-investigate the legitimacy of the ‘war on terror’ due to the demonstrably false narrative of the official 9/11 conspiracy. There are now over 2,000 architects and engineers, members of Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth (AE911Truth.org) who are calling for a new investigation into the collapse of the three towers (WTC1, WTC2 and WTC7) that fell in New York City on September 11 2001.
“if we look at actually what drove 9/11, those people that put together all those explosive devices and the whole plan were based in camps out of Afghanistan”
While your reference to the use of explosives is true, the last part of your comment is factually incorrect. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. Indeed, the nineteen men charged with the crime were not Afghans but Saudi nationals. Further, the US war in Afghanistan was not authorized by the UN Security Council in 2001 or at any time since, so this war began as an illegal war and remains an illegal war today.
There is a growing international outrage over the inaction by our leaders to address this issue. The facts and evidence about 9/11 are now widely available and there is a huge swell of current growing public awareness and support for a new 9/11 investigation as demonstrated by what is currently happening in New York City. More than 100,000 New York residents have recently signed a petition calling for a new investigation into the collapse of World Trade Centre Building 7 through a campaign called the ‘High Rise Safety Initiative.’ And there is currently a massive digital screen in the centre of Times Square showing rolling video footage of the controlled demolition of World Trade Centre Building 7 to three million New Yorkers. This is footage of a collapse of a massive 47-story building (not hit by a plane) that most people have not even been aware of or seen before now.
There are also many members of US Congress who are now demanding that President Obama release the 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission Report because there is information in those pages that will shock the citizens of the US, (according to the two members of Congress who have been authorised to view the pages). As I have also pointed out in my previous letters to you, many other government officials worldwide are also calling for a new investigation into 9/11. These include Michael Meacher, former UK Minister of the Environment and Andreas von Bülow, former German Minister of Defence and Japanese democratic politician Yukihisa Fuijita as well as our own Jeanette Fitzsimons who has stated (political leaders for 9/11 truth) that:
“There is so much that does not make sense about the official version of 9/11. It is time we knew the truth one way or another, and an independent enquiry is the way to achieve this. If we do not know the truth of our history, it will compromise our future”.
I find it difficult to believe that you in your office of Prime Minister of New Zealand would be unaware of what I have stated in this letter and continue to ignore these facts. My question to you Sir is, if we have been deceived and manipulated on a grand scale regarding the true facts about 9/11, why should you or anyone else believe one word what the United States is saying about the threat of ISIL/ISIS?
9/11 is the event that launched the so-called global ‘war on terror’ and military action in the Middle East. It is now incontrovertible that we have been deceived and manipulated on a large scale about the true facts of 9/11. For anyone in office who continues to support the attempted suppression of this information will simply result in them being positioned on the wrong side of history.
Isis fight: NZ might join combat operations
10:48 AM Saturday Oct 11, 2014
A “domestic beheading” inspired by foreign fanatics is one of several threats New Zealand potentially faces from the so-called Islamic State, John Key said this morning.
Mr Key told The Nation a disproportionate number of Islamic State (IS) fighters were sourced from in and around Oceania. He said it was possible this would increase the likelihood of another “Bali bombing” terrorist act.
The Prime Minister said IS terrorists returning to New Zealand were another possible security risk. He said IS also posed a major risk to Kiwi aid workers and other expatriates based in the Middle East.
He told TV3 these reasons, together with the “frightening” growth of IS were among the reasons New Zealand might join combat operations against the rogue state.
Auckland Town Hall meeting to publicize, New Zealand’s spying on own citizens.
Glenn Greenwald, Kim Dotcom, Robert Amsterdam, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden
“Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called XKEYSCORE” – Edward Snowden
Snowden: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Isn’t Telling the Truth About Mass Surveillance
By Edward Snowden
September 15, 2014 “ICH” – “The Intercept” – Like many nations around the world, New Zealand over the last year has engaged in a serious and intense debate about government surveillance. The nation’s prime minister, John Key of the National Party, has denied that New Zealand’s spy agency GCSB engages in mass surveillance, mostly as a means of convincing the country to enact a new law vesting the agency with greater powers. This week, as a national election approaches, Key repeated those denials in anticipation of a report in The Intercept today exposing the Key government’s actions in implementing a system to record citizens’ metadata.
Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE.” It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic. I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance.
The prime minister’s claim to the public, that “there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance” is false. The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks.
If you have doubts, which would be quite reasonable, given what the last year showed us about the dangers of taking government officials at their word, I invite you to confirm this for yourself. Actual pictures and classified documentation of XKEYSCORE are available online now, and their authenticity is not contested by any government. Within them you’ll find that the XKEYSCORE system offers, but does not require for use, something called a “Five Eyes Defeat,” the Five Eyes being the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and yes, New Zealand.
This might seem like a small detail, but it’s very important. The Five Eyes Defeat is an optional filter, a single checkbox. It allows me, the analyst, to prevent search results from being returned on those countries from a particular search. Ask yourself: why do analysts have a checkbox on a top secret system that hides the results of mass surveillance in New Zealand if there is no mass surveillance in New Zealand?
The answer, one that the government of New Zealand has not been honest about, is that despite claims to the contrary, mass surveillance is real and happening as we speak. The GCSB provides mass surveillance data into XKEYSCORE. They also provide access to the communications of millions of New Zealanders to the NSA at facilities such as the GCSB station at Waihopai, and the Prime Minister is personally aware of this fact. Importantly, they do not merely use XKEYSCORE, but also actively and directly develop mass surveillance algorithms for it. GCSB’s involvement with XKEYSCORE is not a theory, and it is not a future plan. The claim that it never went ahead, and that New Zealand merely “looked at” but never participated in the Five Eyes’ system of mass surveillance is false, and the GCSB’s past and continuing involvement with XKEYSCORE is irrefutable.
But what does it mean?
It means they have the ability see every website you visit, every text message you send, every call you make, every ticket you purchase, every donation you make, and every book you order online. From “I’m headed to church” to “I hate my boss” to “She’s in the hospital,” the GCSB is there. Your words are intercepted, stored, and analyzed by algorithms long before they’re ever read by your intended recipient.
Faced with reasonable doubts, ask yourself just what it is that stands between these most deeply personal communications and the governments of not just in New Zealand, but also the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia?
The answer is that solitary checkbox, the Five Eyes Defeat. One checkbox is what separates our most sacred rights from the graveyard of lost liberty. When an officer of the government wants to know everything about everyone in their society, they don’t even have to make a technical change. They simply uncheck the box. The question before us is no longer “why was this done without the consent and debate of the people of this country,” but “what are we going to do about it?”
This government may have total control over the checkbox today, but come Sept. 20, New Zealanders have a checkbox of their own. If you live in New Zealand, whatever party you choose to vote for, bear in mind the opportunity to send a message that this government won’t need to spy on us to hear: The liberties of free people cannot be changed behind closed doors. It’s time to stand up. It’s time to restore our democracies. It’s time to take back our rights. And it starts with you.
National security has become the National Party’s security. What we’re seeing today is that in New Zealand, the balance between the public’s right to know and the propriety of a secret is determined by a single factor: the political advantage it offers to a specific party and or a specific politician. This misuse of New Zealand’s spying apparatus for the benefit of a single individual is a historic concern, because even if you believe today’s prime minister is beyond reproach, he will not remain in power forever. What happens tomorrow, when a different leader assumes the same power to conceal and reveal things from the citizenry based not on what is required by free societies, but rather on what needs to be said to keep them in power?
TIME / LOCATION: Wednesday 27th August, 7.30pm, at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, Auckland, New Zealand
SUMMARY: Nicky Hager talks about his new book “Dirty Politics: How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment”, focusing on the techniques used such as negative politics, the two track policy, fear of reputation attacks, and the tactic of influencing the left-wing electorate not to vote. Nicky also touches on solutions.
DURATION: 25:47 (NB this link starts at 13:00 when Nicky Hager starts speaking, after intro by Sir Edmund Thomas. NB a question and answers session follows but has not been included here)
Kia ora kato. Good evening. I’ve never had a welcome like that before. Today is the first day that I have talked – like not through media. Talked in public to people and thank you very much for coming. I’m going to talk about reaction to the book. I’m going to talk about some of what’s in it, for the people that haven’t read it. I’m going to talk about what I think needs to be done about it. And then, most important, most interesting, I’m happy to front up and answer any questions or challenges, or anything that anyone wants to ask about the book. And we’ll try to spend plenty of good time on that.
So this is my 6th book that I’ve written, and they have all done reasonably well. But there has never been a book that has had a reaction like this before, and I don’t think that’s about my writing style. I think that’s something about the content of this, that has struck a nerve in New Zealand’s political being; that its actually resonated with something that was going on for people who are living and thinking about politics in New Zealand. That’s what I want to talk about today.
It could seem, if you haven’t read the book. It might seem, if you’ve heard about it through news media, as if the book is a kind of compendium of nastiness and dirty things and deception. But as far as I’m concerned, its really a book about ethics. Its about who we want to be in this country and the choices that political people need to make. And so that’s why in a little while, I’m going to talk about the things which I think are how we deal with the stuff which is in the book, rather than just wallowing around in the nastiness of it.
The thing is that what I wrote about, mostly wasn’t new news. I think that the important part of it, I think there are people all over the country – I know there are people all of the country who have been feeling attacked or frightened or intimidated or got at by the scale of attack politics that have been going on. I personally know people in science and academia and other areas who have been threatened and pressured through their jobs not to speak out in the public interest.
So that we’ve the political environment in recent years where the people who you’d most like to be speaking [word/s not understood by transcriber] have often felt constrained or frightened of doing that – vulnerable when they do that. At the same time the political parties have been experiencing, the opposition political parties, have been experiencing repeated minor scandals, smears, attacks, seemingly coming from no-where. Controversies, many of which, from my research and the papers I’ve found, have been orchestrated in the benign and easy way, using the same tricks over and over again, by this attack machine which has been set up over the last 8 years within the National Party.
So I think lots of people have already been feeling that, and have been uncomfortable with it. And that’s one of the reasons why there has been such a strong reaction to the book. And I think the other thing people have been feeling is something that there wasn’t a name for, but its what the U.S. Republican Party calls a 2 track approach to public – wooing public opinion or winning opinion. And before I go over some details in the book, I want to talk about the 2 track approach because its kind of – is, in a way its a central idea of the book. And I think its a central idea of about how politics isn’t working in New Zealand. I should say where this idea came from [to Nicky Hager].
When I finished my book “The Hollow Men” which I worked on much longer than the current one I’m proud of, I got an email from one of the people that is in the book – He was in – He had been involved in the meeting with the Exclusive Brethren in Hawkes Bay when Don Brash was there, and wrote to me about it. Then New Zealand – I know his uncle – of course where all related, and he said – my mate said to me “could you get hold of one of my nephews. He’s in your book he wants to talk about it with you” .
And it was a man called Simon Lusk. And he wanted to tell me – he was actually interested in the book and the ideas in it. He wanted to tell me his views and his findings on negative politics, which he has been finding from studying the American politics, Republican Party. And so this is – some of you will know this from the book but its central to it which is why I want to say it for any other people – for people here that have not read it.
And that is that this is the idea that “negative politics” is a very powerful kind of politics – you can trip up, you can smear, you can damage your opponents, and the United States is the place where this has been practised the most, developed the most – in their political system. But the problem with negative politics is that it can backlash on the candidate that’s doing it. You can look bad – you can look like a person that does really horrible things dirty politics – in doing it. And so what a 2 track policy was – was that divide and develop within U.S. Republican politics – was that the leaders or the leader would be held above the dirty politics – the smears, the personal attacks, the nastiness and be [unintelligible to transcriber] and relaxed, while they would contract out at arms length to people who were producing the negative attack ad’s [advertising] and digging out the dirt, and the smears and so on.
Now I believe that is more or less the story that has gone on in New Zealand, and I think it has created a sense of confusion about the political system because people have been experiencing in the last 6 years a government that has done quite a few policies which polls would say the majority of people don’t support, and at the same time there has been this heightened level of personal attack and negative politics going on and yet the National Party stands up and it continues to ride high in the polls because people think that the leader is has adopted the persona of being friendly and relaxed and nothing really touching him, and rising above negative politics.
And I think that’s been a great confusion in the country about what is even happening in politics because there wasn’t a proper explanation of how things were working.
And when I walk down the street which I – over the last few weeks I walk down the street and literally cant get more that 20 metres before the next person stops to talk to me about the book. Something about it means that these ideas and worries which have been around it, and vague awareness which has crystallized – its got through to people. And its the reason why their feeling the way the are.
I want to run through some of the ideas of the book – reasonably quickly so we have time for questions. First of is the role of blogs. Some blogs – the blogs have petition – the potential to have fine thinking and to go places where – you know – to do new and wonderful things. But the same Republican Party literature which I was using as my source in the book – Blogs have another role and they has stated quite explicitly in their materials – Blogs are a way to run campaigns for a political party which is slightly separate from the party and can do the dirty work that the party doesn’t get held responsible for but still attacks its opponents.
In the U.S. literature what it says is – Blogs can be used – blogs aren’t constrained like the news media is by having to be accurate or having to be fair. Or even having any more than a rumour which is what their going to use to attack their opponents. And that is seen as the power of Political blog which was linked to a political party. It could do the dirty work – you are never held accountable if your the leader or the leadership of that party if anything went [wrong and exposed deceitful slander]. Because it is this new unregulated zone which looked like, which mimicked and pretended to be kind of news media, or new media, but was actually and outlet for the party to do its dirty work. So that’s the first concept – there are fantastic blogs, and there are disgusting blogs. And only 10 years or something into the internet age we still haven’t learned the difference properly, and we have to learn the difference language of it , so we can tell the difference. So we can decide which one we want and which ones we push justifiably to the margins.
The next thing which is a key thing in the book is that in New Zealand the politics in the last while – its looked more and more things consist of little scandals. Scandals which they’re nothing much to do with the future of the country or with the policies that matter, but constantly seeing politics as being tripped up, insulted, bad news coming out about them , and this is about the linkage between the Prime Ministers Department, and the Blogs, the Beehive, and the Blogs and the News Media. Where stories have been pouring out continuously about [?free courtney world time?], the Internet Party is going to be announced, bad news comes out.
They have their launch, bad news comes out. There’s a kind of nice co-ordinated system. Same with the Labour Party, tripping them up at every turn. Which is fine, if your like in the Mouldoon days and you stand up as the leader and you stab people in the front. At least people can judge you for what you did. The problem with this system is that its sneaky – its underhand – no one knows whose hand is at work in scandal after smear after personal attack. So that’s the second phenomena, is that we have been experiencing without analysing more constant little attacks and scandals and trip ups and “got ya’s” than is usual in our politics and its taken over and we don’t want to start to think that’s what politics consists of. And that’s what there are parts of the book about.
Most of you know these these bits but the ones that are highlighted in the news when the book came out was a picture of the man who works in the office 2 doors down the corridor from John Keys office on the 9th floor of the Beehive who is inside the Labour Party computers downloading material, digging around looking for dirt and then when he’s downloaded the dirt – to-ing and frowing with Cameron Slater deciding which bits that Cameron Slater will use to attack, and which bits will hurt the most. Now we should never use the gate word in New Zealand because it has been used so often – you know – its a crime. But digging inside your political opponents [?organ?] invasion and taking out information and using it in targeted political attacks is very [short statement not understood] is what I’m saying.
This is off the scale of what we are used to in this country. And I know that the Prime Minister has still not in any way advanced or taken responsibility for it. But then we move onto a new stage of this which I did not expect to find and I don’t think anyone was particularly expecting and that is that the same machine that has been set up for attacking people who stuck their heads up in politics and political parties, which were the opponents of the National Party is being used for commercial clients as well . And this is an insidious thing that has being going on.
There have been whole political issues, and whole controversies which have been run with the use of the “Whale Oil” blog and it echoed in its [?sister blog KiwiBlog?] with stuff written by unseen people and paid for by large New Zealand corporates who should be deeply embarrassed for having done something so scummy. And that’s an issue which will not be resolved by between now and the election. In fact I would suggest that over the next few years we should be picking and talking about those politics because its extremely disreputable and it will take a while to hold people for it to account and to produce change about that. There’s also – jumping through the last things – there’s also the chapters about phoney political campaigns which is really about the news media and all the rest of us not being so susceptible to the next person who jumps up and says I’m an independent group whose campaigning for – you know – against MMP or whatever, when in fact its the same few National Party activists running campaigns to suit their party.
And then the final area of course which is kind of the grubbiest of all and is very serious – its the use of personal sexual kind of scandals which we have already seen in the Len Brown case, organized by the Auckland National party, but there were many other examples and actually there not just a means of attacking people, but what became clear was Cameron Slater and talking about it was a way of getting control over people because they were in fear.
And while I travelled in the last 2 weeks talking to people about the book and doing a lot of media interviews, I’ve been taken aside by various journalists – senior and otherwise – this is an important story and it will not ju – its only because I’ve I’ve seen journalists – who have said to me “um Nicky, was there anything about me in that thing?”, which is funny. But its not funny. Its actually terrible because all over the country all of us, everyone has got things that they are embarrassed about – everything does things that are stupid and not proud of. Lets not be high and mighty about it. And if you think that there is an industry out there – a maliciously directed industry of people digging it up and saving it to use against you – this is a very very destructive influence to have happen in a little society like ours. And I can say in a short time I can say in have met quite a few people who have been nervous about that phenomenon. Its really really grubby.
[27:53 Learning to understand the psychology of people employing 2 track negative politics, and the tactic of actively influencing left-wing opposition not to vote.]
So I want to say one final thing about the principles which I think you will understand. but we need to get new ideas in our head for understanding these kind of people. And the thing that I – at the end – when I finish the whole meeting – it struck me – the tactics I had been writing about – when you win over people. Who are naturally your supporters. How do you kind of trick people to support you when actually they might be voting against your own interests? But what I saw in this book, and actually heard from the people concerned and saw in the literature that they believe in and quote, was a new kind of way of doing politics. And that’s not the kind of political campaigners or political management people who are trying to win voters over to their party, this is the politics of trying to stop people from voting. Of people giving up and pushing people out of politics and I think that is actually the uniting theme of what this book is about.
The book is about all the people that have been silenced or scared or bullied into being less vocal members of our society and its also about the people who have been encouraged to see politics as a dirty grubby selfish game – where all to politicians are as bad as each other, and the whole thing is useless, just turn up your music and don’t take any notice, and don’t vote, which is a really dangerous and terrible thing, and its also horribly expedient thing, because they know whose going to stop voting first and its not their people – they think. So these are serious policies for us. We don’t understand what their thinking and where they are coming from – we don’t know what the answers are.
I want to talk about now – just a min [a couple of words not understood]. I just want to say something about the issue of privacy, because I have been quite reasonably – I think also quite – you know – I’m just trying to find an argument to divert of the issue. I have been challenged about why me – who often talks about privacy, and peoples right to privacy – think its all right to take leaked information? Good question. Reasonable challenge. First thing I’d say is that leaking – just understanding what a leak is. A leak is a safety valve in society. A leak means which is unauthorized, illegal or is regarded a wrong – its not the normal process. You don’t get leaks under the official information act.
Leaking is what you do when something important is going on that is not going to be found out about otherwise. So I believe in leaks, but I believe in they have to have a very good reason. Ed’s talked about that. But there’s privacy in it, so when someone leaks me – when someone comes to me, and lets me use this pile of information about the weird world of Cameron Slater and all his associates – I feel a very strong obligation to just compartmentalize my mind and not use most of that – and what I’m saying is, I believe that even in the act of dealing with a leak like this, privacy is just as important. I went to huge lengths to take peoples names out, cut out the dirty bits, to use little bits of quotes and other bits, so I didn’t humiliate people – not causing problems with their families and the rest of It. And I think that – I just want to say this because I don’t want to this thing – to have been a hypocrite, by my stand in one area, and my stand in another. [audience applause]
And I want to illustrate this by making reference to a mistake that happened which is that I was challenged to release some of the information in the book by our – the Prime Minister – saying that I had made it up, and I would have to front up or people wouldn’t believe me. So I spoke to my source, who is a decent and ethical person, and said “would you release some of the documents that you gave to me – that I used for the book. And in one of those cases he released information without taking out the personal information – which really hurt and upset somebody – whose name I wont repeat here to increase the crime. But I just want to say I’m sorry and that man had every right and reason to be angry and upset, and we just all have to be more careful, because privacy matters hugely in society – for peoples rights and I’m sorry that happened.
The final thing I want to talk about which is maybe the most important part, is what can be done? I start from the point of view that I don’t believe for a moment that politics is inevitably awful and shabby and bad and selfish and all those things – that we sometimes hear. But it will be if we leave it to people that featured in my book. What can we do? The first thing is to accept the inevitability, you cant stop politicians being tricky or telling lies. You cant stop PR [public relations] people trying to manipulate things. You cant stop – you cant legislate against dirty tricks basically in most ways.
So what you have to do if you don’t what the kind of stuff which I document in the book, is to build up societies defences. And empower other people to participate in politics so its different. Its not a wussy answer – this is the strongest answer there is. This is why in the final part of the book, in the Afterward, I list all the things that I think will improve the public interest and strong democratic kind of politics in this country. And these issues wont be sorted out between now and the next election, but they are actually much more important than the next election. These are things that I urge you to read and think about and help to bring into being in the next coming years. Otherwise we leave the field to the nastiest and the most unscrupulous to determine how the politics are done in the country. The second thing is [audience applauses].
The second thing I want to say is everyone can help. If I write a book and It causes a stir in the news media and then the stir dies down, then frankly that was just like another bit of political entertainment, as the years roll by. And I want to talk about what everyone can do. I believe that involvement in politics – that even when there are people who have been unscrupulous in politics, politics is the sum of the actions of everyone involved. And the more people that try to do good things, the better it is for the whole country. So what do we do? So first of all please try to help up our news media and resources and transparency and those defences that we can have.
But the next thing I would say is don’t imitate the attack bloggers. If you have a left wing blog, don’t make it like a right wing [negative politics attacking tactics] blog. Don’t think that because they have been effective, that its the way to do politics. In fact look at what their doing and reject it, is what I would argue. Strongly. [Audience applause]. But what I’m saying [is] the answer to dirty politics is for every person that possibly can to act in the way that they think that politics should be. I also want to say that I believe in books.
I actually think there is a difference between books and news media. There’s something about people reading from one end of the book to the other which can actually change things. And so I’m asking you quite specifically if you think that the book was worth while, tell people about it. Lend them a copy. Encourage about there. Because books – I know from my experience from years of writing them – that books have an effect far beyond the relatively small numbers that get printed. Please help that process. This is the fastest selling book my publishers have every had. Its going to go a long way – I’d like it to go further.
And of course the final thing is, understand this is for individuals. Understand what the politics are that we are fighting. We’re fighting the politics of encouraging people not to participate. And the answer to that is to participate. Participate in writing, and in thinking and talking and being involved in elections. That’s actually the antidote, that’s the answer. That’s the flip-side of what we are talking about. Participation. Participation in the national party. I don’t mind participation in the labour party. I don’t mind participation in the other parties. Participation is the answer to the politics we are talking about. And if you don’t belong to anything that at least [, its] the least you can do. And its not very little. Its not just small. Its, have a big party at your place on election day and invite all your strange relatives who say they cant be bothered voting, and by inviting everybody and taking them all down to the polling booth, and you’ll be feeling good about it and you’ll be going to greater things. [Audience applause].
And forget Cameron Slater. Cameron Slater has been used and he is a tool in these politics, but the story is not really about him. I want to name the 2 enemies which I see of clean and good politics in this country. And one of them is cynicism, and the other one is pessimism. Cynicism is where we believe and say everyone does it, all politicians are the same – they are [all] self serving, they’ve got their snouts in the trough and the rest of it. I don’t believe that. I just don’t think its true. The other thing. Pessimism, is feeling that its all hopeless and everything gets worse. Which is what it looks like when
you look at all the bad things that happen in society, and forget to look at all the good ones. I don’t feel cynical. I think that most people have really good values can care about these things. That’s why I can write a book like this and it resonates so strongly and I don’t feel pessimistic. Because my whole life has shown me that things re better when we bother to speak up about what we believe in. [Audience applause] And the main thing I want to say is – I said it at the beginning – I’ve just about finished on this. The main thing I want to say is – what I said at the beginning is I don’t want – I did not want to write a book about sleaze and slim. I believe its a book about ethics. And what a book about ethics means is that if you read it, and if we talk about the issues and we look at expediency verses principle and how do we treat each other – what its worth to be fair verses what its like to be pragmatic and playing dirty tricks and things we can decide what values we wants to build up our society on. And what I’m really saying is – what I would hope when people read this – is that they look at it and they see the choices in there and the choose what side they want to be on. The good politics or the dirty politics. And what we are going to do about it, to change it. Thank-you
[38:47 applause and standing ovation. NB that a question and answers session followed this talk by Nick, but as of 31st Aug the video is not yet available so no transcript has been made]
Negative Politics (definition).: A tactic developed by the U.S. Republican party, which focuses on damaging the reputation of political opponents by use of conventional and non-conventional news media. The attack is not done with the intention of protecting society from crime. Rather, negative politics is done with the goal that by using such attacks to lower the reputation of an opposing person or party, this will result in ones own political party or candidate appearing to be more popular by comparison in the eyes of the public.
Two Track Policy (definition): A two track negative politics policy means that a division is made within a group between 1) the leader/s who promote the themselves and their party in an inspiring positive light, and 2) those that focus on the negative politics of damaging the reputation of their opponents. The division is made so that if people detect and react adversely to the slander of negative politics, then the separation between the 2 “tracks” will protect the leader/s from any risk of backlash.