Thursday, March 17, 2016

Caught fearmongering

Last December, in an effort to justify its budget and new passport-cancellation powers, SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge and Prime Minister John Key tried to scare the Intelligence and Security Committee by telling them that New Zealand women were leaving to become "jihadi brides" in Syria. It was a clear attempt to scare the committee and the public with a vague (and dubious) "threat". And now it turns out that none of them even left from New Zealand:

No presumed Jihadi bride has left from New Zealand, spooks have confirmed, instead all of the women who made headlines last year, departed Australia.

The Security Intelligence Service has confirmed those women were New Zealand citizens but living across the ditch.

The government is already pinhead-dancing, claiming they never said the women had left from New Zealand. But it was the clear implication that they had, that this was (somehow) a "threat", and that this justified the SIS's extraordinary powers. By failing to make it clear that the women they were talking about had left from Australia, Key and Kitteridge mislead both the committee and the public. And they need to be held accountable for that.

Meanwhile, its a nice example of how the SIS tries to manipulate politicians and the public with lurid tales of non-existent "threats". But the next time they try and do it to scam themselves more money and powers, we have a two word answer: "Jihadi brides".

Updating: Its been pointed out that Kitteridge did explicitly lie to the public:
Kitteridge said after the committee hearing the numbers leaving from New Zealand were small but significant - but declined to give further details.

From Twitter, the Greens are considering a privilege complaint for contempt, but I think they've missed their chance.