Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Middle NZ will recoil in horror"

That was Bomber's view of what would happen when the allegations behind this week's "terror" raids on Maori, greens, and peace activists came out. But reading the allegations in the Sunday Star Times today, I'd say it's more like "rolling around on the floor laughing their arses off". Killing George Bush? Around half of New Zealand have made similar "threats" in response to his warmongering, and the idea that they'd be considered credible by anyone outside of SIS headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is absolutely laughable. As for Helen Clark and John Key, again, people (even people with guns) mouth off all the time. That doesn't mean they're serious, let alone "terrorists".

But assume for a moment they are serious. The relevant offence is "threatening to kill" or "conspiracy to murder" - not "terrorism". People have been prosecuted for low-credibility threats to the lives of politicians in New Zealand in the recent past: former undercover cop Frank Miessen was convicted of threatening to strangle Helen Clark in 2005. His sentence? He was bound to keep the peace for twelve months, or face being called up for sentencing. And that's about appropriate for most such "threats". Conspiracy to murder is a serious crime with a penalty of up to ten years' imprisonment - but it would require strong evidence of intent and an actual, credible plan (and merely being a brown guy with a gun doesn't cut it). Of course, that's all fairly academic, because the police in their infinite wisdom didn't list those offences on their search warrants. Which means that as far as the police are concerned, it's terrorism or nothing. Which means they've effectively backed themselves into a corner, and we may very well see charges laid just so they can avoid immediately losing face...