Monday, July 29, 2013
Right Thinking: Treason!
It's time to spare a thought for all the victims from this ongoing GCSB saga.
The latest accusation is that our security agencies have been intercepting the communications of investigative journalist Jon Stephenson.
I'm outraged at this accusation, although not for the journalist concerned. As far as I'm concerned he forfeited his rights the moment he criticised the government.
Moreover, Mr Stephenson can hardly complain about being investigated by the authorities, when they're only doing what he would have done to them had he been able to call upon the massive resources of the state and its allies, and had he also been willing to turn a blind eye to seriously questionable behaviour.
I'm sorry, but I just have no sympathy for the man. If investigative journalists don't want to be spied upon by our security agencies, then there's an easy solution. They could just stop investigating. There must be plenty of other journalism stories our there that don't require in-depth research, so why all the outrage? For example, where are all the X-Factor stories this week? Last week the news was full of them, but where are they now? What did the winner Jackie Thomas have for breakfast this morning? Will Whenua Patuwai find true love?
So don't you investigative journalists whine about how you're just doing your job. If you don't like being spied upon, then try being a bit less investigatory for a change. There's plenty of work out there for those willing to regurgitate press releases, and if that doesn't work out there's the exciting and rewarding world of PR.
Even if investigative journalists were able somehow to show that their work contributed to the public good, they would still have no cause to question the courageous security personnel who serve us so proudly. When it comes to the security of the realm, everything else has to come second. If our defence forces and spy agencies feel threatened by the awkward questions being asked by some journalists, then those journalists have a duty to stop asking them. Our spies and military personnel are only human, and they have feelings. What good can it do for those feelings to be hurt?
Isn't it better that we just trust the people charged with making critical decisions about the safety and security of our country? If we start asking questions of them, might they not start to doubt themselves and then be plagued by indecision when we need action?
And even if it turns out that some of these people are incompetent or, worse, corrupt, isn't it better that we keep it quiet? The morale of our military and security personnel could be seriously damaged if they thought the people leading them weren't fit for the job.
Anyway, before you journalists start firing off at John Key, just remember that this is all Labour’s fault. It was Labour’s legislation that proved so lacking, so Labour has no right to criticise anything National ever does ever again. It’s no wonder that the GCSB got itself in trouble for spying on Kim Dotcom and his associates. Just look at the incredibly complex legal provision its lawyers were asked to interpret, in order to establish a right to spy on these bad people:
“Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.”
I’m not a lawyer, but I am pretty smart, and yet I just can’t understand a word of this section. The drafter of this impossibly complex rule even forces the reader to go to another section of the Act just to make sense of what some of the words mean. Words like “Bureau” and “Director”. And they have the nerve to call that other section the “Interpretation” section, as if somehow we are meant to make sense of any of this legal gobbledygook.
Even worse, I had to go hunting for the law, which meant trawling online for almost ten minutes until I came across the right legislation, and then spending a tortuous five minutes navigating through the part of the act cryptically entitled "Contents". That's fifteen minutes in total. What an enormous waste of time! In that time a plane could have taken off from Auckland International Airport and crashed into the Sky Tower.
And you journalists who demand that our spies be subjected to more scrutiny, what would you tell the families of the victims of that inferno? When a small bright-eyed girl asks you in a soft and quavering voice why her daddy is in heaven, what will you tell her? Will you admit that our spies could have stopped the plane and saved the day, but for your meddling? Will you be there to wipe her tears away?
You people are the real enemy. What are you even investigating? Why don't you all start investigating your consciences? Yes, you know what they are. They're those things that nag away at you and keep you awake at night.
Because you dared to ask searching questions of our security forces, we are now all in terrible danger. Laws now have to be passed to fix things that had been allowed to slide. People all around the country are now angry at the brave men and women protecting us from evildoers. Some folk are even starting to wonder whether their prime minister is on their side. God help us all if this should lead to a change of government, because a Labour-Greens coalition would make Stalinist Russia seem like a pleasant dream.
And all because you journalists thought you would start asking tricky questions. If this sort of behaviour isn't treason, then I don't know what is.
So don't come at us all high and mighty about your rights, because when that plane hits the Sky Tower and thousands are killed, it will be your fault.