Thursday, August 17, 2006

A bad habit

One of the most shocking things about the Ahmed Zaoui case - besides the pissing on legal principles dating back to the Magna Carta - was the incompetance and laziness it revealed in our intelligence services and police force. First we learned from the Refugee Status Appeals Authority that the SIS had apparently relied on Google to compile their "evidence" against Zaoui, assembling unsourced news extracts and internet material "with no attempt to excise opinion from fact". Then we learned that the police's threat assessment - used to justify Zaoui's solitary confinement - was compiled the same way, and relied upon an internet conspiracy website from conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche.

Unfortunately, they seem to be making a habit of it. According to Keith Locke, much of the government's case against Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, who was recently deported on "national security" grounds, appears to have been sourced from Google. The first hint was the government referring to a CBS news story which erroneously claimed that Ali had been released from prison in Saudi Arabia. But it's worse:

"...much of the New Zealand government's case against Rayed Ali seems to have been constructed on misleading 'googled' information. A Google search brings up the 9/11 Commission report, with a line accusing Mr Ali of giving 'extremist speeches' in a Phoenix mosque. This is included in New Zealand Immigration's dossier against Mr Ali and doesn't seem to have been checked - although the New Zealand media have, subsequently, discredited the accusation.

"The dossier also contained the easily googleable fact that September 11 bomber Hani Hanjour (briefly) flatted with Rayed Ali - but New Zealand Immigration seems to have made no attempt to discover Mr Ali's explanation or why the FBI, after interviewing him, was happy to let him stay in the United States.

"The only non-googleable "fact" in the dossier was an accusation from a 'not yet discloseable source' of a 'direct association' between Rayed Ali and September 11 bomber Nawaf al-Hamzi. Of course, this could be another intelligence agency making a 'google' mistake, because Rayed Ali had been met on his arrival in Florida in 1997 by a old school friend with a similar name, Bandar al-Hamzi, no relation to Nawaf.

No matter what you think of Mr Ali, surely deporting someone should require better evidence than this...


Thall shalt not use "to-Google" as a verb SIS people...

Posted by Anonymous : 8/17/2006 09:33:00 AM