Prominent Maori activist arrested in dawn raids

October 15, 2007

Area sealed off in anti-terror operation – New Zealand, world, sport, business & entertainment news on Stuff.co.nz

Prominent Maori activist, Tame Iti is one of dozens of activists arrested this morning in raids across several areas of New Zealand.

Mr Iti’s home was raided at 4.00 am and he was taken into custody.

Police are saying the raids were to thwart an alleged terrorist plot involving Indigenous and peace activists who had been training with live ammunition at several remote properties across the North Island.

The home of environmental activist Frances Mountier was also raided in Christchurch, but as police did not have a warrant, they were refused entry.

Civil liberties groups have condemned the raids as ‘draconian’.

There’s no clear picture yet of why the mass arrests have taken place, but police are saying that charges may well be laid under anti-terrorism legislation.

This media release was issued around lunchtime today, by lawyer David Small.

Spycatcher Calls Police Raids Draconian
Monday, 15 October 2007, 2:43 pm
Press Release: David Small
15th October 2007

Spycatcher Calls Police Raids Draconian and Probably Illegal

The man who successfully sued police for illegally searching his home at the time of an APEC Conference in 1996 has labelled police raids of the homes of social activists this morning as draconian and probably illegal. Canterbury University academic and spokesperson for ARENA, David Small, said the police seem to have learnt nothing from Justice Young’s judgment condemning the police for failing to distinguish between political and criminal activity.

Dr Small says that for search warrants to be legal, the police must have reasonable grounds to believe that they will find what they are searching for. These raids look much more like a fishing expedition.

Dr Small, who addressed a public meeting in Christchurch last Thursday on state security and surveillance, expressed particular concern about the use of the Terrorism Suppression Act in association with the raids.

“The public has been softened up with the threat of Islamic terrorism to give massive increases in the powers and resources of intelligence and security agencies. But it is now clear that the focus of their attention is really on social activists in New Zealand,” said Dr Small

This is exactly what happened in 1996 when opponents of the SIS Amendment Act were called paranoid for saying it would be used against local groups, and less than two weeks later, the SIS were caught breaking into an activist’s home.

“Democratic societies need free and open debate. And groups engaging in this kind of critical activity need the law to protect their rights to do so. Today’s raids have the opposite effect and are clearly designed to intimidate and silence these voices of dissent,” said Dr Small

ENDS


Spies know who you talk to – surveillance society grows daily

September 20, 2007

Spy laws track mobile phones – Technology – smh.com.au

The Australian government is set to introduce new security laws that would allow the nation’s spy agencies to secretly track mobile phone and internet use without obtaining a warrant.

There’s no doubt that this increases the amount and breadth of social surveillance that can be used against political opponents as well as potential criminal activity.

A report to the British Privacy Commissioner last year outlines the extent of a surveillance society and the development of ‘pre-emptive’ surveillance like that proposed in the Australian legislation.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the clock is ticking and we are now six minutes to midnight on the ‘doomsday clock’ to becoming a fully-fledged surveillance society.

This is confirmed by an announcement this week that Dubya wants to extend surveillance laws in the USA


Facebook and surveillance

July 23, 2007

I received this email from a colleague today. He’s asked me not to use his name. It’s not paranoia, just a precaution.

I very much like the idea of the police or employers trowelling Facebook and similar to gather Evidence.

As this On line social networking craze escalates, one will be regarded with suspicion if/when one Does Not have a Facebook site orequivalent. What’s wrong with you? What have you got to hide? I get looked at weirdly because I don’t use a mobile phone.

Read the rest of this entry »


Mike Steketee – why is he still at The Australian?

July 19, 2007

In a column today, The Australian‘s political correspondent and columnist, Mike Steketee, takes a look at the civil liberties implications of the arrest, detention and charging of Dr Mohamed Haneef with terrorism-related offences. Dr Haneef is charged with “recklessly” giving a mobile phone SIM card to his cousin who then might have used it in a terror plot in the UK.

Here’s a taste of what Steketee had to say:

The High Court has ruled that people can be detained indefinitely under the immigration laws and it could take years for the courts to deal with the charge against Haneef.

That emphasises how far this Government is prepared to go to debauch the independent legal process: the one, by the way, we are fighting to preserve in the war against terrorists.

This is basically right, but I’m sure it’s not sitting very well with The Australian‘s editorial masters. Steketee is the conscience of the paper. Of course, all the good work that he does in putting a sane and sensible position is undone when you see the type of illustration that the paper uses to support the column.

The Australian's image of Dr Haneef


update on the Haneef leaks to The Australian

July 19, 2007

This story is still moving along. Now it seems that late yesterday (Wednesday 18 July) the lawyer for Dr Haneef admitted that he had leaked transcripts of an interrogation of his client to the news media. The lawyer, Stephen Keim, is also going on the offensive, accusing the Australian Federal Police and others of also leaking material damaging to his client.

The barrister made some strong comments to the media today (19 July):

Mr Ruddock said he would investigate what sanctions were possible against Mr Keim, but the Brisbane barrister said the outrage was selective in that neither the Government nor the AFP had condemned several leaks of material damaging to Dr Haneef. “My client has been subject to a barrage of leaks,” Mr Keim said.He said he was bemused by the assertions of Mr Keelty in circumstances where an aggressive campaign of leaking, selectively and misleadingly, from the same document and other allegedly secret documentation held by law-enforcement agencies had been perpetrated in recent weeks.

“These leaks could only have been motivated by a desire by those perpetrating them to suggest to the Australian public that the case against Dr Haneef was stronger than the Australian Federal Police, through their counsel, the commonwealth DPP, had been able to put before the court,” Mr Keim said.

“I challenge the Prime Minister, his ministers, Mr Keelty and the police to produce the legal basis which would make anything I’ve done illegal.

“They know where I am. If they think I’ve done anything wrong, they can come and take me away.” Read the rest of this entry »


Crikey’s take on leaks to The Australian

July 19, 2007

Unfortunately we can’t see the story that this item from the Crikey newsletter refers to. It has been removed from The Australian’s website, but as Margaret Simons notes, it’s a disturbing development in police-media relations when this type of deal appears to be the norm.

There’s no doubt that security services worldwide like to cultivate tame journos and editors and there’s no doubt about where The Australian stands on international terrorism. Is there an interesting convergence of interests here?

In Richard Flanagan’s novel, The UnkownCover of The Unknown Terrorist Terrorist, this scenario is played out
in a fictional way, but hey…truth is stranger, so they say.

Top Stories

1. The Oz, the AFP and the Haneef leak: What is going on?

Margaret Simons writes:

What’s going on with the editor of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, and the Australian Federal Police?

Commissioner Mick Keelty was on AM this morning claiming that Mitchell had assured him that the AFP was not the source of the extraordinary leak of the record of interview with Dr Mohamed Haneef. Keelty pointed the finger firmly at Haneef’s defence team as the source, although Haneef’s lawyer flatly denied it.

What is Mitchell doing entering into this conversation with Keelty, given that almost any discussion of sources is dangerous for journalists, since it necessarily narrows the field of suspects?

Read the rest of this entry »


The not-so-watertight case against Ahmed Zaoui

July 10, 2007

Over on the Scoop website, Gordon Campbell is carefully dissecting the nebulous Secret Intelligence Service case against asylum-seeker Ahmed Zaoui. It’ll be worthwhile following Campbell’s analysis over the next few days. Here’s a taster:

After all, the SIS case against Zaoui has never alleged him to be a terrorist, or even a potential terrorist threat. The risk security certificate against him was not issued under section 73 of the Immigration Act – which concerns terrorists – but under the far more nebulous section 72, which offers fewer protections to the accused.

For all those reasons, I believe the more likely argument the SIS will try to run is that Zaoui is now, and always has been, a radical hardliner – a man they will allege has been consistently opposed to peace and reconciliation in Algeria. A man who opposed the ‘truce’ offered by the junta in the mid 1990s, just as he has misgivings now about the amnesty promoted by the Bouteflika government in Algeria today.

No matter that those same misgivings are also shared by Amnesty International and by Human Rights watch. To make its case, the SIS has to use its 30 files of general information about pan- Islamic radicalism and then shoe-horn Zaoui into the stereotype.

There are more than 30 “secret” files on Zaoui, but they don’t amount to more than a lot of hot air it seems. Why is the New Zealand government so keen to see Mr Zaoui’s rights trampled? Despite its “Labour” tag, the Clark government is committed to the “war on terror”. Mr Zaoui seems to be the convenient scapegoat. That is, until the SIS “uncovers” some evidence that overseas-born doctors in New Zealand are the latest “threat”.


Sydney Airport Security Whistleblower

July 9, 2007

A former customs official, Allan Kessing, has received a nine month suspended jail term for actions related to leaking documents on Sydney Airport security. He leaked two classified reports to the Australian newspaper which contained allegations of drug trafficking and other crimes by staff at Sydney Airport . The reports also raised concerns about the effectiveness of anti-terrorism security at Australian airports.

Following the publication of information on the reports, the Federal Government announced an inquiry into crime and security at Australian airports. The inquiry, carried out by Sir John Wheeler, led to significant upgrades of security at airports.

Writing in Crikey on the 24 May this year, Margaret Simons called the prosecution of Kessing a national disgrace. She’s right. Here’s a grab:

As reported in Crikey previously Kessing should probably be given a medal rather than the prison sentence he now faces after having been convicted of leaking details of breaches of security at Sydney airport.

You can download a transcript of Allan’s interview with the ABC’s Law Report, it makes for interesting reading. Here’s a taster:

Damien Carrick: I spoke to Allan Kessing yesterday. He tells me this is his first broadcast interview. He says he’s not looking forward to the prospect of going to jail.

Allan Kessing: Well obviously it’s rather shocking; I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, and I’m very surprised it would come to this.

Damien Carrick: Now I understand you’ve always claimed that you’re not guilty of disclosing anything. Let’s talk a little bit about what the jury did find you guilty of. Some years ago you worked for the Customs airport security unit, and you wrote a report about airport security; what did you find?

Allan Kessing: Well I wrote two reports. One focused on a specific group and the other took a random sample of people in all the areas behind what is called the sterile area, that is, areas to which the public do not have access. I can’t actually say what I found, except what was in the papers, because that would constitute another offence; this is how draconian the law is. I can’t talk about anything that I learned during my employment as a Customs officer.

Damien Carrick: Well I understand the report talked about the employment of baggage handlers with criminal records; theft of luggage; drug trafficking; a whole range of breaches of security.

Allan Kessing: Yes, this is correct.

Damien Carrick: And what did the Department do? As I understand it, the Department effectively sat on your report. They didn’t even show it to the Federal government, is that right?

Allan Kessing: That’s correct. In fact it did not get out of Sydney Airport. They didn’t even show it to their superiors in Canberra, as was evidenced by the procession of senior managers who came at my trial. A half a dozen of them all swore on oath that they were unaware of the existence of the reports until the media leaks. You know, 30 months after they were written.

Whsistleblower legislation is supposed to protect people like Allan Kessing, I’d hate to see what might happen if it didn’t exist.


Study warns unis could be used for terror recruiting – National – smh.com.au

June 15, 2007

Study warns unis could be used for terror recruiting – National – smh.com.au

Hmmm, the author of the study reported here is a leading researcher at an “independent” think-tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, established by the Howard Government. Do you think that the results of any research it does will be “fair and balanced”. The ASPI is headed by a retired Major General with 37 years in the armed forces.

The author, Dr Anthony Bergin, is a member of a group calling itself Research Network for a Secure Australia. He’s also done work for the Australian Homeland Security Research Centre. Hardly disinterested observers, and certainly aligned with Howard government priorities.

So the study reported here is not new. In 2006 the AHSRC published a briefing note, here’s a brief extract:

Since 2001, there has been a significant increase
in the attention given to university campuses by
intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the
world. Their interest in so-called ‘people of interest’
has led to warrants for information from universities,
covert surveillance operations and informal requests to
‘keep an eye on’ certain people.
This worldwide trend is due to the fact that universities
have been linked with terrorism in four ways.
Firstly, universities have facilitated visas for overseas
students which have provided cover for them to enter
the nation.
Secondly, universities have provided the education
of future terrorists, notably in engineering and other
technical disciplines.
Thirdly, universities have provided a source of material,
such as chemicals and electronics, for weapons.
Finally, universities have been a place where an
interest in radicalisation has been fostered and
terrorist members recruited. Few university students
and staff have undertaken terrorist acts while at
the universities but their university years have been
important in shaping their attitudes and belief in
terrorism.

This really is crazy talk and terror-frame scare-tactics. It’s a renewal of Cold War ideologies – the threat from the young and the disaffected. The centre’s research outputs include missives on the role of public servants in combating terrorism and privatising security. These are hard-nosed warriors, not some MoR and “independent” researchers. Funny thought that this is not picked up in the SMH story.

The idea that lecturers should monitor students for “extremist behaviour” is a broad call and certainly open to wide abuses.
Universities have long been recruiting grounds for both the Christian evangelicals and the broad left. In the current climate the evangelicals are winning.