Friday, April 07, 2006

Another transparent play for funding

The SIS has released its annual report [PDF] to Parliament, and just like last years it seems to be a transparent play for funding. There are lurid warnings that friends of Al Qaeda are in New Zealand, and that some are trying to raise funds for foreign terrorist organisations, and that foreign agents are shopping for components for WMD programmes. But this raises the immediate question: why no prosecutions? After all, it is illegal in New Zealand to participate in, finance, or provide financial services to terrorist organisations; it is illegal to assist people or states to manufacture nuclear weapons; and it is illegal to assist any person or state to do anything forbidden to a State party under the Chemical Weapons Convention (this is an extremely broad prohibition, covering even assistance to non-States Parties). If the SIS has any actual evidence that any of this is going on in New Zealand, then they should be getting the police to bring charges - not letting it continue. But then they'd have to subject their "evidence" to independent scrutiny, and if the Zaoui case is anything to go by, it would fail to convince any independent judge or jury.

One other issue of concern is the SIS's interception warrants. Nineteen of these were issued during the year, with an average duration of 158 days. That's 158 days in which the SIS could bug people, tap their phones, and break into their houses to copy their documents and sniff their underwear. These warrants are issued with no oversight whatsoever - the Director of the SIS goes to the Prime Minister, who applies the rubber stamp. That's simply intolerable in a democracy. It is long past time this system was reformed, with domestic interception warrants being issued by a security-cleared High Court Judge, so that their necessity can be scrutinised, rather than the SIS being allowed to effectively do as they please. Another Member's Bill to put in Keith Locke's queue, perhaps?


Are terrorits in the western world, and friends of Al Qaeda simply people who do not support the terrorist nation of America?

Whoops, I wonder if that comment will get a warrant and my undie draw checked, one can only hope ;)

Posted by Anonymous : 4/07/2006 04:38:00 PM

Regrettably, I fear anonymous may well be right. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the charge of 'terrorist' is increasingly being levelled, by governments, against anyone doing anything that may be construed as opposition or dissent.

New Zealand has, so far at least, not taken that road but I wonder how long we can continue to take our fundamentsl freedoms for granted.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/07/2006 08:57:00 PM