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New Zealand's domestic spies, obsessed with illegally surveilling environmental activists, missed a heavily armed right-wing terrorist

Published: March 20, 2019
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Source: Boing Boing

New Zealand is one of the Five Eyes countries (UK, USA, Canada, Australia, NZ) who collaborate on mass surveillance, and it has a notoriously off-leash, invasive surveillance apparatus that has been caught spying on NZ Greenpeace, the NZ Green Party, the Mana Movements and anti-TPP activists; the state was also caught giving private corporate spies access to its national surveillance data to help them hunt down and neutralize activists; unsurprisingly, the NZ police also abused these records, accessing them without a warrant on thousands of occasions (NZ also recruited the NSA to spy on kiwi activists).

This was especially dire under former PM John Key, who is personally implicated in the illegal surveillance. Key was also a notorious enabler of offshore money-laundering, massively expanding NZ's role in the global dark money network, and the surveillance the state engaged in helped shield financial criminals from scrutiny.

Notably, despite all this surveillance, the NZ security services was either unaware of the white supremacist terrorist who murdered 49 people last week; or did not judge him to be a threat.

This blind-spot is typical of security services, who tend to follow the tacit media/political consensus that treats nonviolent pipeline activists and animal-rights advocates as dangerous terrorists, while ignoring the rise of heavily armed, right-wing militia and white supremacist movements. The rot goes all the way up to the top, with Donald Trump tacitly informing right-wing terrorists that they can continue to have a free pass to operate.

In the wake of this ghastly terrorist atrocity, the NZ security forces will be demanding more powers to spy on more people, but they will doubtless continue to insist that their surveillance practices -- which went so terribly awry and proved so completely inadequate -- be hidden from public scrutiny and criticism.

It would be naive to think that giving NZ's historically corrupt and reactionary security forces more powers will make them less reactionary.

NZ's new Prime Minister, the most excellent Jacinda Ardern, is doing a lot of things right in the wake of the attack. But she should not reward her security services for their failures. Instead, she should use this as an opportunity to clean house and insist on a review of the services' priorities, accountability, and adherence to the rule of law.

While the intelligence agencies were looking in all the wrong places, someone who should have been a target slipped through the cracks.

Let that sink in.

Some will say that as injured parties of the intelligence agencies, we just have an axe to grind and are exploiting this tragedy to criticize them.

But as always, it is those very agencies that have failed their charges, who will be first in line to exploit the news cycle in a quest to justify the provision of ever more money, more power, more resources and ultimately, the ability for them to engage in ever more spying.

The question is, how will they choose to employ those gains once they are inevitably granted?

In the absence of meaningful intervention by oversight bodies or an official inquiry — and if their recent history is any measure — the answer may well be: poorly, undemocratically, and unjustly.

Misguided Spying and the New Zealand Massacre [Suzie Dawson/Consortium News]

(via Naked Capitalism)

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