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Enough Investigations: Confront the Real Threats

Enough Investigations: Confront the Real Threats

By A Disillusioned Immigrant – (name withheld on request)

In his “Brief on the Use of Informants in Intelligence Operations,” Paul G. Buchanan argues that the investigation of undercover operations is a matter for parliament to investigate. I argue that the vast sums wasted to date in these special investigations have been misdirected and that parliament should instead devote its attention to the real threats to our future security. In addition, I argue that the substantial funds allocated for these counterproductive operations should be re-directed to address those real threats confronting New Zealand and the world.

According to Abbots, Rogers and Sloboda of the Oxford Research Group, responses to terrorism to date may make “terrorist attacks more likely, not less likely.” They argue persuasively that our future security is far more vulnerable to four other factors: climate change/global warming effects; internecine competition for natural resources, especially oil; increasing income inequalities and the marginalization of the poorer majority world; and increasing reliance on militarily-forced solutions and the virulent spread of military technology.

In their slim 2007 manifesto, Beyond Terror: the Truth about the Real Threats to Our World, the analysts cogently delineate these four interconnected, contemporary threats while persuasively demonstrating that terrorism is NOT the greatest threat to our security. Indeed they argue that it is a poor relative of these far more important issues.

They conclude brilliantly that the WOT [War on Terror] has ‘hijacked’ various attempts to deal with these far more serious issues. While governments are pursuing narrow national and economic interests, i.e., oil security, political elites are distracted from the real threats thereby “causing their responses to these threats to be inappropriate and wholly inadequate.”

Certainly the new government promises business as usual as it blindly accepts the lines that the NZ Police feeds it. Feverishly, NZ bought in to the WOT in pursuit of favoured status with the U.S. and ultimately a free trade agreement. From the draconian anti-terrorism legislation flowed budget & personnel resources to the Police who now must use them in order to obtain more resources, i.e., “use it or lose it.”

As Joseph Barratt pointed out in a 26 October 2007 article, in the year after the 11 September 2001 attacks, a special investigative group focused on terrorism was established. He notes that by the end of 2002 “they began to find threats.” [“Police ‘Terror’ Boss has History of Activist Harassment-Nicky Hager.” WWW.Scoop.NZ”]

As Paul Buchanan noted in his article, the first victim was Ahmed Zaoui. Chastened by the costly, spectacularly unsuccessful prosecution of Zaoui, the Police then proceeded to launch Operation Eight, utilizing all its new technological wizardry, along with paid informants. The estimated $8M cost of the 15 October 2007 operation has doubled or tripled with the court costs for various preliminary and the subsequent six-week deposition hearings in Auckland. This figure does not consider the Crown costs for the October 2008 Fairfax contempt hearing in Wellington, or the very substantial costs to the defendants and their families to attend the various hearings.

The $20-$30M of taxpayers’ dollars thus far wasted on Operation Eight, while they would not have solved any of the true threats to our security, would have made a contribution to their resolution. The addition of some ½ million dollars plus expenses paid to an individual to spy on various groups that disagree with government policy should be aggregated in the Crown’s ledgers. Finally, savings from the roll back of Police budgets and personnel to pre-WOT levels would fatten this fund to address the four threats outlined.

New Zealand’s trade unions are boldly speaking truth to power. They will not tolerate quietly such abuses of basic human rights. As pointed out in the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union’s 19 December 2008 statement: “In a free and democratic society citizens have the right to organise and protest and demonstrate and should be able to do so without being molested by the police.”

As the Oxford Research Group writers conclude, we are on a dangerous course. Confronting the real threats to our security will require persistent attention and hard work, work that is not as sexy as chasing ephemeral ‘terrorists.’

Listen up, Political Elites!


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