Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > Citizens vs the Rogue Deep State

Citizens vs the Rogue Deep State

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Blogger Martyn Bradbury has won his case against unreasonable search and surveillance against the NZ Police; and subsequent Police attempts to produce evidence in secrecy, in a closed Court.

His case highlights a disturbing growing trend in Aotearoa New Zealand for State power to be used against anyone who has “run foul” of The Establishment:

  • 2009: An attack by then Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, against two solo-mothers who criticised National’s social welfare policies. Ms Bennett released personal information pertaining to the two women’s financial circumstances to silence their criticism. Ms Bennett’s actions were deemed to have been a breach of their privacy.
  • 2011: Police searched several media offices during the “Teapot Tapes” controversy. Radio NZ’s Don Rood said Radio NZ would refuse to hand over any material that might compromise anonymous sources.
  • 2014: The illegal search and seizure of Nicky Hager’s property as retribution for his investigation into the close links between a far-right blogger and the National Party. Police were attempting to uncover the identity of the whistle-blower known as “Rawshark”. The search (and seizure of property) of Mr Hager’s home was later deemed unlawful.
  • 2017: The leaking of Winston Peters’ superannuation details as part of a patently obvious political dirty tricks campaign. Senior civil servants passed on details to then-Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley – the latter admitting in Court to disclosing those details to others. Mr Peters’ case was then leaked to the media prior to the 2017 General Election, ostensibly to destroy his political career and his party’s chances for re-election. The case is currently on-going.

This illustrates why so many New Zealanders – including the dogged John Campbell through his former programme, ‘Campbell Live’ – were 100% justified in opposing increasing the surveillance powers of the GCSB, SIS, Police, and god knows who else.

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The abuse of State agencies’ power – already considerable – showed how warranted our fears were. And still are.

It is why I made a submission in 2013 to the Justice Select committee on the GCSB Bill (which would permit surveillance of New Zealanders in our own country) should not only stop – but that the powers of the GCSB should be re-set to those of 1977. Then a full public enquiry held to determine what, if any, changes really needed to be made.

I still believe this more than ever to be necessary.

Secondly, the so-called Police apology to Martyn Bradbury is notable for an appalling part of their statement;

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“Police apologise for the stress and other psychological harm caused to you by virtue of YOUR INVOLVEMENT in this investigation.” [My emphasis.]

That is insulting phaseology and is a sly suggestion that blame continues to lie with Martyn Bradbury. It strongly suggests that Police hierarchy have yet to fully comprehend the nature of their abuse of power.

Additionally, there was also financial and reputational harm caused to Martyn by Police abuse of their power. It is now clear that he was denied bank loans as a direct consequence of improper Police activity.

The appropriate phrasing should have been;

“Police apologise for the financial, reputational, stress, and other psychological harm caused to you by virtue of our over-zealous actions that inappropriately involved you in our investigation.”

That phrasing would be accepting responsibility. The original wording barely achieves that.

Lastly, someone authorised this illegal activity. Those individual(s) are still in positions of authority within the New Zealand Police. They still wield power – unbridled power.

I find that troubling in the extreme.

There must be resignation(s) from the Police force. Someone must be held to account.

Just as the rest of us are, under the law.

Famous Last Words

From Parliament, on 27 March 2003, when the Government Communications Security Bureau Bill was being debated;

“This is a good bill. I do not accept the criticism of those who speak against it, that somehow it means that information about people will be gathered improperly…” – Peter Dunne, then-MP and leader of the United Future Party, speaking on behalf of a Bill to extend the power of the GCSB

Media Reporting

Perhaps even more shameful than Police behaviour has been that of the Fourth Estate reporting this issue to the public. Search engine checks (and confirmation by Martyn Bradbury) have both confirmed that only the NZ Herald and Magic Talk radio have reported the outcome of this case and the Police backdown and apology. The Herald article is pay-walled and consequently of little use to non-subscribers.

The Police abuse of power and the gross invasion of Martyn Bradbury’s private life could happen to any of us. But you wouldn’t know it going by the Total Media Blackout at TVNZ, Mediaworks/TV3, Fairfax/Stuff, and even sadly – Radio NZ.

Perhaps if TV3, TVNZ, et al, had reported less of the gruesome details of two current murder court cases, the public of Aotearoa New Zealand might be more informed on one of the most important civil rights cases in recent years.

Imagine if every mainstream media devoted the same scrutiny and reporting of Martyn Bradbury’s civil rights case against the police as they did to Grace Millane’s drinking on the night leading up to her demise.

We might be a very well-informed nation indeed. Sadly that is not the reality.

We have been let down badly by those empowered to preserve the law, and by those we entrust to speak truth to power. The media are supposedly tasked to shine a light on events that are of crucial importance to society; to the people; and to every individual.The freedom of the Fourth Estate is critical, they keep telling us, as a bulwark against State excess; to promote openness; and to hold those in power accountable.

They utterly failed us.

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The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.”

– John Philpot Curran (24 July 1750 – 14 October 1817)

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References

The Daily Blog:  5 years and finally justice – NZ Police formally apologise & settle for breaching my civil rights

The Daily Blog:  My case against a secret NZ Police investigation that breached my privacy and my civil rights

The Daily Blog:  Kafka’s Shadow – My hearing against NZ Police & secret trials

Fairfax/Stuff media: Paula Bennett accused of Muldoon-style bullying

Fairfax/Stuff media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

NZ Herald:  TV3 searched over teapot tape

Fairfax/Stuff media: Radio NZ hands over ‘tea tape’ interview

NZ Herald: Police pay Nicky Hager ‘substantial damages’ for unlawful search of his home in hunt for Dirty Politics hacker

Radio NZ: Anne Tolley admits ‘outburst’ in Winston Peters superannuation case

Mediaworks/Newshub: Police accessed blogger’s bank records unlawfully – report

Parliament: Hansards – Government Communications Security Bureau Bill – Third Reading

NZ Herald: ‘Bomber’ Bradbury gets apology from police after exploit used to access bank records, driving him to the edge

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB Act – some history…

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The secret closed trials of Soviet Russia. (And Aotearoa New Zealand)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 November 2019.

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= fs =

  1. 17 November 2019 at 5:28 pm

    I really must find time to have a look to see if the police were poking around in my background at that time.

    Martyn isn’t someone who’d spring to mind when looking at the kinds of technical skills required to hack into a site. Also I don’t think he’d even consider it at a moral / ethical level.

    Only a delusional semi-literate dirtbag like Cameron would think so – after all it is exactly what he’d do (and what he tried to hire someone to do on my servers). But he really doesn’t appear to have ethical or moral bone in his body.

    Both myself and my niece are technically competent in ourselves. So I’m sure that we would have been in the frame as well. We wouldn’t do it – even to get rid of bottom feeding scum like Cameron.

    It doesn’t sound like it would have been too hard. I’ve had hearsay reports ever since from 2007-8 that Cameron was a sloppy operator when it came to running a server. There was a list floating around then about his user list from a hole in his Drupal setup. Some time around then he put wordpress in.

    I started external sweeps of TS and other sites in early 2008 after I got a wordpress footer penetration at TS. I think I put Whaleoil on it in later 2008. I ran it on the external interface of Whaleoil site along with a number of other comparator sites. In the years before his site going down in early 2014(?) continued to reveal far too many open ports and terrible upgrade practices. After that he started to use something that was somewhat more effective.

    I routinely do these kinds of sweeps on a number of comparable sites as a comparator to the external sweeps of my servers. Checking what your systems look like to the outside is pretty damn important. Otherwise you wind up with a defaced site as happeend to me in 2001 in the defacement war between Chinese and US hackervists http://edition.cnn.com/2001/TECH/internet/05/02/china.hacks.idg/

    I just never felt motivated to mention Cameron’s lax security to him – basically because he was acting like an arsehole. I have done it for some of the other sites.

    Cameron simply doesn’t appear to understand that on the net it really doesn’t pay to piss of anyone with barbaric behaviour, including west coasters, enough to get them seriously annoyed. There is always eventually someone with technical skills willing to rouse themselves enough to deal with the garbage.

    What was more impressive was the way that they managed to do it cleanly and fade back into the background.

  2. 21 November 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Interesting backgrounder. Thanks Lyn.

    Couldn’t agree more when you wrote,

    “Cameron simply doesn’t appear to understand that on the net it really doesn’t pay to piss of anyone with barbaric behaviour, including west coasters, enough to get them seriously annoyed. There is always eventually someone with technical skills willing to rouse themselves enough to deal with the garbage. ”

    Call it ‘karma’, ‘what-goes-round’, or a Klingon dish best served cold, but behaviour like his usually catches up with the perpetrator.

    On a related note, just finished reading Margie Thompson’s “Whaleoil”. The one word that sprang to mind to describe the whole story? Chilling.

    I really don’t know which was worse; Cameron Slater’s behaviour – or the inability (unwillingness?) of authorities to deal with him. There seemed to be an institutional paralysis; an inability to recognise and address his activities.

    I’m reminded of native birds facing a stoat or rat and being utterly unable to deal with the predator because evolution hasn’t equipped them with the necessary survival traits/tools…

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