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An Interview With NZ Terror Expert Paul Buchanan

An Interview With NZ Terror Expert Paul Buchanan

Transcribed interview with context
By Sonya Ash


Paul G Buchanan

Media Commentator
Senior lecturer in Politics and Latin America studies
Undergraduate Advisor in Politics
Director, Working group on Alternative Security Perspectives
University of Auckland
Department of Political Studies.


After reading an article in the Christchurch Press, by Colin Espiner, I decided to request an interview with Paul Buchanan. Colin’s article said that Mr Buchanan was a former US intelligence agent. I wanted to ask Mr Buchanan why he ceased to be a US intelligence agent.

Mr Buchanan said “Colin got several things wrong in that article, one of which was calling me an intelligence agent. I also did not say that NZ diplomats were “spies” in the sense of covert ops”.

“I should start by noting that I have never been an intelligence agent, but instead have consulted for the CIA and trained military intelligence officers at the Naval Postgraduate school in the USA (1985-87). I have also served as Regional Policy Analyst in the Office of the US Secretary of Defence (1993-94), where I worked with intelligence people and handled classified information, and thereafter had consulting work with various US security agencies. But I was never an intelligence agent per se.”

“I have a very strong regard for the intelligence profession, although I am aware of its weakness as well as its strengths. I have somewhat less regard for the political manipulation of intelligence data.

I asked Mr Buchanan if he was a New Zealand citizen. He said, “My reasons for coming to NZ were lifestyle and personal in nature, not professional. I am not a NZ citizen but a permanent resident contemplating such.”

I asked him what he thought about the Zaoui case. He said “The Zaoui case has many twists and turns to it, but it would seem to me based upon the evidence that he is innocent of complicity in terrorist activity.” “I believe the Zaoui case is an example of how things can go wrong if a country does not have a stand alone intelligence capability. NZ should”.

“I remain concerned about the fusion of internal and external intelligence roles in the SIS, which is a trait only seen under authoritarian regimes. The GCSB is the main point for external intelligence, to be sure, but the SIS could be best served to just handle internal matters.”

Asked about New Zealand’s reaction to September 11 Mr Buchanan said “NZ, as many western powers, has reacted in a visceral, knee jerk fashion to 9/11. The fact that the west has limited human intelligence capability ion the Muslim world, and thus must rely on third parties for its liason information, makes it susceptible to disinformation and political spin.”

I then went on to ask Mr Buchanan what he thought of New Zealand’s participation in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said “I think NZ did right in Afghanistan and Iraq. It sent the SAS to Afghanistan, then followed up with engineers. It did not admit any involvement in Iraq, but a quick look at the composition of British detachments in Basra and the south indicates some odd accents among their troops, accents that belonged to troops who dressed differently, wore different insignia and were quartered separately from the British troops. They were not Gurkhas.”

After asked what Mr Buchanan thought of New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stand he replied, “I think that the non-nuke stance is honorable, worth keeping, but costly in terms of the US relationship and our energy needs. If we had nuke power our energy bills would be a lot cheaper. If we allowed US nuclear powered vessels into our waters we would curry small favour with the master.”

**** ENDS ****

- Sonya Ash, Freelance journalist, Hoon Hay, Christchurch, New Zealand. Feedback to:

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