Am I glad that I am no longer a full time soldier!
I don’t what the hell our country is coming to, have we lost all resemblance of an honest society or am I just having a frightening nightmare?
When I awake will it all have gone away? I think not.
US spies on behalf of our Defence Forces monitored the phone calls of Kiwi journalist Jon Stephenson and his associates while he was in
reporting on the war. Afghanistan
Now that behavior is straight out of the
handbook on how to destroy freedom by those who think we have no right to know. US
Stephenson has described the revelation as a serious violation of his privacy and the intrusion into
media freedom has been slammed as an abuse of human rights. New Zealand
How can any thinking New Zealander disagree with that statement, you’d have to be a US psychopathic fan club member of McCarthy or GW Bush or even Obama, to accept that behaviour without question. This from the Sunday Star Times [not exactly a leftwing journal, but not yet a member of the Fox news stable]
"The spying came at a time when the New Zealand Defence Force was unhappy at Stephenson's reporting of its handling of Afghan prisoners and was trying to find out who was giving him confidential information.
The Sunday Star-Times has learned that New Zealand Defence Force personnel had copies of intercepted phone "metadata" for Stephenson, the type of intelligence publicised by
intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden. The intelligence reports showed who Stephenson had phoned and then who those people had phoned, creating what the sources called a “tree” of the journalist’s associate [s]. US
This is yet another case of spying on NZ citizens to go with Key’s Kim Dotcom illegal phone tapping.
The sources believed the phone monitoring was being done to try to identify Stephenson's journalistic contacts and sources. They drew a picture of a metadata tree the Defence Force had obtained, which included Stephenson and named contacts in the Afghan government and military.
The sources who described the monitoring of Stephenson's phone calls in
Afghanistan said that the NZSIS has an officer based in who was known to be involved in the Stephenson investigations. Kabul
And since early in the
Afghanistan war, the GCSB has secretly posted staff to the main US intelligence centre at Bagram, north of . They work in a special "signals intelligence" unit that co-ordinates electronic surveillance to assist military targeting. It is likely to be this organisation that monitored Stephenson. Kabul
The Human Rights Foundation says Defence Force involvement in monitoring a journalist is an abuse of fundamental human rights.
The news has emerged as the Government prepares to pass legislation which will allow the Defence Force to use the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders.
The Stephenson surveillance suggests the Defence Force may be seeking the GCSB assistance, in part, for investigating leaks and whistleblowers.
He said there was "a world of difference between investigating a genuine security threat and monitoring a journalist because his reporting is inconvenient or embarrassing to politicians and defence officials".
The Star-Times asked Chief of Defence Force Rhys Jones and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman if they were aware of the surveillance of Stephenson, if they approved of it and whether they authorised the investigation of Stephenson (including the phone monitoring). They were also asked if they thought journalists should be classified as threats. Neither answered the questions.
|Rhys Jones illegally used GCSB to spy.|
Defence Force spokesman Geoff Davies said: "As your request relates to a legal matter involving Jon Stephenson which is still before the court, it would not be appropriate for the Chief of Defence Force to comment."
In fact, none of the issues before that court relate to the surveillance or security manual.
Coleman's press secretary said the minister was not available for comment and to try again next week.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the monitoring of Stephenson demonstrates that the security services see the media and journalists as a legitimate target.
"Democracy totally relies on a free and independent press," he said. "Current attempts to strengthen the security apparatus for monitoring New Zealanders is deeply disturbing and menacing for democracy."
The manual says Chief of Defence Force approval is required before any NZDF participation in "counter intelligence activity" is undertaken. (See separate story)
There is currently controversy in the
over government monitoring of journalists. In May the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months' worth of phone records of its reporters and editors. United States
The media organisation said it was a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into its news gathering process.
In the minds of the defence chiefs, probing journalists apparently belong on the same list as the KGB and al Qaeda.
The manual, which was issued as an order by the Chief of Defence Force, places journalists among the hostile individuals. It defines "The Threat" as espionage, sabotage, subversion and terrorism, and includes investigative journalists under the heading "subversion".
Subversion, it says, is action designed to "weaken the military, economic or political strength of a nation by undermining the morale, loyalty or reliability of its citizens."
It highlights people acquiring classified information to "bring the Government into disrepute".
This threat came from hostile intelligence services and extreme organisations, and "there is also a threat from certain investigative journalists who may seek to acquire and exploit official information for similar reasons", it says.
It notes: "The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service is the only organisation sanctioned to conduct Counter Intelligence activities in
. [Chief of Defence Force] approval is required before any NZDF participation in any CI activity is undertaken." New Zealand
Under the NZSIS Act, subversion is a legal justification for surveillance of an individual.
The sources who described the monitoring of Stephenson's phone calls in
Afghanistan said the NZSIS has an officer based in who was known to be involved in the Stephenson investigations. Kabul
To reinforce its concern, the defence security manual raises investigative journalists a second time under a category called "non-traditional threats". The threat of investigative journalists, it says, is that they may attempt to obtain "politically sensitive information".
Politically sensitive information, such as the kind of stories that Stephenson was writing, is however about politics and political accountability, not security. Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson, who has published a number of Jon Stephenson's prisoner stories, said the Defence Force seemed to see Stephenson as the "enemy", as a threat to the Defence Force.
"But that's not how Jon works and how journalism works," he said. "Jon is just going about his business as a journalist."
The New Zealand Defence Force "seems to be confusing national security with its own desire not to be embarrassed by disclosures that reveal it has broken the rules", he said.
Now if that's not enough to get you thinking about bugs then nothing will...After this weekends protests over the GCSB bill we should all be scared...very scared some would say. If you'd like to read the whole item go to: