Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Something just doesn't add up

SIS spy chief Richard Wood has revealed that three people were denied citizenship and passports last year because of security concerns but are still living here as NZ residents! What the fuck?

The reaction of the main parties has been predictable. On the left, Green MP Keith Locke has stated bluntly that "the SIS can't be trusted to get it right." This is certainly believable judging by their handling of Ahmed Zaoui, however he goes on to suggest that

"Presumably the three people referred to by the SIS Director yesterday as a 'security risk' are well-settled and law-abiding residents, otherwise their permits would have been revoked,"

I think this is probably crediting the immigration department with a bit too much competence.

Progressive spokesman, Matt Robson has suggested that the SIS relies on hearsay evidence, denies people natural justice and consider themselves above the law. There is certainly a faint whiff of Zaoui about this but I think its a bit soon to be accusing them of that (maybe that will come later). I'm not sure that anyone actually cares what Matt Robson thinks (which is a shame) because his party's support is currently smaller than a freedom air fare. I suppose its important to issue press releases to remind everyone that his party still exists.

Meanwhile, on the right, Winston Peters took the opportunity to take a swipe at immigration generally, more constructively, National and ACT have assumed the SIS is correct and pointed out the obvious inconsistency... if the three are too dangerous to have citizenship then surely they're too dangerous to have residency?... wouldn't you think?

Apparently not... according to the Government, Immigration Minister Paul Swain

"the SIS had not asked for their permanent residency to be revoked, the SIS was approached when they first applied for permanent residency and did not object. However, it became aware later of security concerns which is when it recommended they be declined for citizenship and consequently for New Zealand passports."

This is all fine and dandy but it doesn't answer National and ACT's valid concerns. If these people are a threat then they should be out of here on the next plane...(and checked thoroughly for box cutters before boarding) and if Swain isn't making this up, what the hell were the SIS thinking?

I'm not sure who or what to believe here. I've toyed with the idea that the pressure to do this could have come from Australia or elsewhere. Conspiracies aside, it doesn't look means that one of either immigration or the SIS have yet again been exposed as a bunch of complete fuck ups.