Setting the Stage for to Dis-information, Deception, and Distraction
Right about now, National is in very, very, VERY deep trouble.
Dairy-farmers, with associated down-stream support businesses, are facing severe economic hardship as Fonterra reduces the pay-out from $4.15 per kgMS to $3.90 per kgMS.
Dairy farmers’ debt has reached unsustainable levels;
About 10 per cent of the most indebted dairy properties owe a combined $11 to $12 billion, about 30 per cent of total dairy debt.
About 20 per cent of the most indebted farms hold 45 to 50 percent of the total debt – $15b-$38b.
The value of farms and sale numbers is falling (thereby placing many farmers into a negative gearing situation). As Rural Value’s national manager, David Paterson, said on Radio NZ;
“Unless there’s some bright light on the horizon I think there’ll be a continuation of slow sales and we’ll continue to see a reduction of farm values particularly on the dairy farm sector.”
On 18 March, Bill English admitted that real national disposable income-per-capita fell 0.4% for the year;
“You’ve got a big drop in national income, because dairy prices are down. At the same time you’ve had surprisingly high migration numbers. So it’s not surprising that when you work the figures you get a drop in national disposable income.”
Not for the first time in his political career, English boasted that low wages were keeping a lid on inflation;
“The labour market turned out to be quite a bit more flexible than we were expecting.”
The Reserve Bank – recognising that a major economic “correction*” is looming on the horizon – has lowered the OCR from 2.50% to 2.25%. The RBNZ’s 10 March media release paints a gloomy economic picture for the foreseeable future;
The outlook for global growth has deteriorated since the December Monetary Policy Statement, due to weaker growth in China and other emerging markets, and slower growth in Europe. This is despite extraordinary monetary accommodation, and further declines in interest rates in several countries. Financial market volatility has increased, reflected in higher credit spreads. Commodity prices remain low.
Domestically, the dairy sector faces difficult challenges, but domestic growth is expected to be supported by strong inward migration, tourism, a pipeline of construction activity and accommodative monetary policy.
[…]There are many risks to the outlook. Internationally, these are to the downside and relate to the prospects for global growth, particularly around China, and the outlook for global financial markets. The main domestic risks relate to weakness in the dairy sector, the decline in inflation expectations, the possibility of continued high net immigration, and pressures in the housing market.
Retail banks, however, seem reluctant to participate in any plan to stimulate economic activity. The 25-point fall in the OCR has yet to be passed on to bank customers.
If the economy enters recession, expect inward migration to reduce, adding to a slowdown in domestic growth and rise in unemployment.
Setting the Mood
In November last year, our esteemed Dear Leader announced – almost casually – that New Zealand could be targeted by terrorists;
“I think every country in the world is potentially vulnerable, we’re probably less vulnerable than others. We have in this instance the advantage of distance, we’re a long way away, [but] i just couldn’t say to you we’re completely immune.”
“There’s no question about what their motivations are and that’s the tragedy of the Isis story is that you get some very dysfunctional people, for want of a better term, who want to associate themselves with Isis.”
However, on 8 December last year, an entirely ‘new dimension’ was added to the ISIS bogeyman with this dramatic revelation from SIS director, Rebecca Kitteridge;
“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of.” – Rebecca Kitteridge, 8 December 2015
The media, rather unsurprisingly, went nuts on the story;
As Tracey Watkins and Tommy Livingstone reported for Fairfax Media;
In evidence to the committee, Kitteridge said the past 12 months had seen a significant increase in the global terrorism threat.
“When I started as director of security in May 2014 the so-called Islamic State was barely talked about in New Zealand. Now a day rarely goes by without news of some act of violent extremism associated with IS.”
The threat to New Zealand’s domestic security posed by foreign terrorist fighters and other extremists was real and continued to develop.
“The number of New Zealanders fighting alongside or supporting IS remains small but has increased.”
That included the rise in the number of New Zealand women travelling to Syria and Iraq.
In the same story, Watkins and Livingstone wrote;
Kitteridge said after the committee hearing the numbers leaving from New Zealand were small but significant – but declined to give further details.
As events were to transpire three months later, the suggestion that women were “leaving from New Zealand” was to be proved a false assertion.
Yet, during those three months, SIS director, Rebecca Kitteridge, maintained silence on the issue and she did nothing to correct the (mistaken) belief that New Zealand women were departing from New Zealand.
This prompted the usual feeding-frenzy and rantings from the ill-informed rabid-right who vent their ignorance on right-wing fora such as Kiwiblog;
Kiwiblog editor and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, did nothing to bring reason to the discussion. Indeed, a few voices of sanity on the blog had their moderate views dismissed and voted down;
Following Kitteridge’s comments, lone voices of calm and sanity were barely reported and given much less prominence;
Hazim Arafeh, a spokesperson for he Islamic community, said he was surprised to hear women from New Zealand may have left the country to join ISIS.
“We are not aware of New Zealand Muslim woman going over to Syria to get married. If it is happening, we still don’t know if it is a genuine case, or are they joining ISIS,” he said.
Islamic Women’s Council issued their own rejection of Kitteridge’s comments;
The national Islamic Women’s Council is not aware of any New Zealand jihadi brides heading to war torn regions to join the fight with Isis.
Council president Anjum Rahman told Paul Henry that although it was happening overseas there was no indication the same thing was happening here.
Ms Rahman said she listened carefully to Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge yesterday and she didn’t mention the women leaving were jihadi brides travelling to Syria to marry and support fighters.
“All she said was the number had been growing and because it was a war torn area that was a concern,” she said.
“We don’t know the ethnicity of these women, we don’t actually know the religious background of these woman, whether they just converted before they went, whether they converted at all, and we definitely don’t know what they’re doing while they’re over there.”
Asked if the council had information on women travelling overseas to marry and support Isis Ms Rahman said: “No. We don’t have any knowledge or indication of that happening.”
Three days later, The Wireless illustrated the predictably dire results of the demonisation of muslim women;
Hela Rahman, a 25-year-old who has been a NZ citizen for more than 20 years, says these comments aren’t backed by evidence and are causing more harm than good.
A few weeks ago, she returned from a trip visiting her family in Iraq. When she arrived at Auckland Airport she says she was instantly made to feel like she’d done something wrong.
“I was going through with my E-passport and it was automatically declined. I had to go over to the counter.”
The Border Control officer asked Rahman why she’d been in Iraq.
“I told her I was there to see my family. She just looked at me with an awkward uncomfortable expression. She didn’t say anything and just drew a red line through my arrival card.”
Rahman continued to the customers area where the officer, after taking a look at her card, told her to go down the far side.
“Everyone else was being let through, even my parents. I was the only one in that lane.”
She was told to unlock her bags and was put into a holding room for a “long time” while the staff talked about her behind double-sided glass.
“The thing is, they make you feel so uncomfortable that you start questioning yourself. You start wondering if you have done something wrong,” she said.
She was asked a series of questions about why she’d gone to Iraq, what she had done there, and who had bought the flights for her.
Although Rahman had travelled to the Middle East with her mum and dad, she was the only one who was pulled aside for questioning.
“I thought my parents would be questioned too, but they weren’t. I wanted to ask ‘why me’ but I couldn’t. The opportunity never came up. I was just feeling so uncomfortable.”
Rahman spent the next few weeks confused about what had happened. Her Iraqi friends reassured her that it was just standard airport security Muslims have to face now.
That incident took place here, in good old relaxed, laid-back, give-people-a-fair-go, New Zealand.
All that was missing was requiring muslim’s to wear a red crescent stitched to their clothes to identify them in public – a practice very popular with a certain fascist regime and occupied nations, in the the 1930s and 1940s…
The Truth Will Out
On 16 March, of this year, the truth of the matter was revealed when Radio NZ – bless them – lodged an Official Information Act request and discovered;
“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of,” she told MPs.
Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski
In response to an Official Information Act request, SIS, the domestic spy agency, said the women concerned “did not leave New Zealand.
“They were New Zealand citizens domiciled in Australia and they left from there.”
In response to charges of misleading the media and public, the Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson, denied that National and the SIS had wilfully deceived the country;
“If you go back to the statements that were made there were no implications or ‘winks and nods’ that they were not resident in New Zealand.”
Consider Kitteridge’s statement on 8 December 2015;
“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of.”
Where else would “New Zealand women” travel from – except New Zealand – unless specifically stated otherwise?
Remember that Kitteridge owned the problem by stating, “which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of”. She made no reference to receiving the information from any Australian intelligence organisation.
A day after Radio NZ breaking the story, Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson still refused to issue an apology for National’s and the SIS’s deception;
Chris Finlayson, the Minister in charge of the SIS, told reporters today where the women left from was irrelevant.
“I would have thought the critical issue is were they New Zealand citizens, whether the left from Kingsford Smith airport or Auckland Airport is by-the-by.”
Mr Finlayson said he was due to meet with about 100 members of the Muslim community tomorrow night, and had regular discussions with that community during the process of the intelligence and security review.
“And I’m very happy to proffer an apology on behalf of Metiria Turei who started all this nonsense. I think her performance is lamentable… You just don’t go round handing out apologies willy-nilly.”
The Radio NZ report stated that “the SIS said it had no comment“.
The SIS’s mission was completed; the public was spooked. National’s planned deception had succeeded – nothing further need be said by the spy agency.
It is also worth noting a noticeable lack of follow-up coverage on Kiwiblog by David Farrar on this issue. Perhaps the discovery that Key and Kitteridge had mis-led the New Zealand public and smeared the Muslim community in the process was not as worthy of a comment as Kitteridge’s innacurate initial comments, three months earlier?
A Happy Confluence of Purpose?
On 8 December, Audrey Young wrote in the NZ Herald;
Meanwhile, Mr Key questioned whether that a proposal he has previously rejected – attaching the Cortex cyber security programme to the Southern Cross internet cable linking New Zealand to Australia and the United States – should be revisited to give wider cyber protection to New Zealand companies.
He made the suggestion while questioning the acting director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Una Jagose, who gave a detailed speech recently about Cortex as part of a new policy of openness in the bureau.
Mr Key said he had canned the original proposal because of the potential anxiety of it being seen as mass surveillance but he asked if an argument could be made, with enough public debate for it happen to protect smaller companies.
At present, the GCSB uses Cortex to mount cyber defence on Government agencies and strategically important private companies – and only with their permission.
Ms Jagose said the “hard ground work” by the GCSB needed to be done to be more open about the GCSB’s cyber defence work.
She acknowledged the possible anxiety over “mass surveillance.”
It could safely be argued that stories of “jihadi brides” would scare the bejeezus out of the public, in the process softening opinion to welcome extending the powers of the SIS and GCSB.
If so, this would be a cynical ploy by National and our spy agencies to manipulate public opinion to accept the unpalatable; a massive increase in state surveillance and mass-gathering of data on all New Zealanders.
They just never counted on anyone actually asking a fairly simple question; where did those so-called “jihadi brides” migrate from?
During last year’s Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee meeting on 8 December, where Rebecca Kitteridge uttered her now (in)famous references to “New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria“, Key made reference to “Jihadi Brides“.
Yet, on TV3’s The Nation, Key tried to evade responsibility for using the term “Jihadi brides” on 8 December;
Lisa Owen: All right. One other issue this week has been the so-called ‘jihadi brides’. Muslim leaders that we spoke to said that they were victimised and confused as a result of your comments around jihadi brides. Do you owe them an apology?
John Key: I don’t think so, and the reason for that is, I think, if you just look at the sequence of events, the first thing is that- I’m not distancing myself, but I didn’t raise the issue. The SIS directed it, and I wasn’t-
Lisa Owen: No, you used the phrase ‘jihadi brides’, Prime Minister. I’ve looked at the transcript. It was you that used that phrase, not Rebecca Kitteridge.
John Key: I didn’t coin that phrase. That phrase is used all around the world.
Lisa Owen: But you were the first one to use it.
John Key: Not around the world, I’m not. It’s a common term.
Was our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, aware that none of the so-called “Jihadi Brides” had actually departed from New Zealand, and were actually residing in Australia at the time?
Yes, according to Gerry Brownlee’s own admission in Parliament, on 17 March;
Metiria Turei (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Was he advised, prior to 8 December 2015, that the so called “jihadi brides” he referred to during the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting were all resident in Australia and did not leave from New Zealand?
Hon Gerry Brownlee (Leader of the House) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.
Metiria Turei: So the Prime Minister can confirm that he knew that none of those women had left for Syria or Iraq from New Zealand?
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, and the member needs to be aware that as New Zealand citizens it does not matter where they left from. If they pose a security risk to New Zealand on their return, then that is something we are concerned about.
This time Key cannot feign memory loss; erroneous advice; misinterpretation, or a mistake. According to one of his own senior ministers – Key knew the facts.
For reasons of his own, he chose not to disclose that information.
Key’s Lie By His Own Words
On 17 March, Key refuted any willful attempt to mislead the public by inference that so-called “Jihadi brides” had left New Zealand. As reported on Radio NZ;
Today he denied any attempt to create a misleading impression that the 12 or so women referred to by Ms Kitteridge left from New Zealand, rather than from Australia.
“We didn’t say that, it was the Director [General] that made the statement, and what she said was there were jihadi brides.
“The fact that where they leave from is irrelevant, if they’re New Zealanders, they’re New Zealanders, they may return to New Zealand and so we have to deal with those issues.
And remember the Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Chris Finlayson, who categorically denied that National and the SIS had deliberately created a deception;
“If you go back to the statements that were made there were no implications or ‘winks and nods’ that they were not resident in New Zealand.”
Yet, that is precisely what Key said on 10 December last year, as this video clearly shows;
John Key: “And it’s just a reality that there are women that we know that left New Zealand, ah, and we suspect that they have gone and got married and we know that this concept of Jihadi Brides is not, it’s not my term, it’s an international term, and you pick up the World’s Section of the newspapers today, a couple of newspapers, and see them reporting on that, hundreds and hundreds of women from around the world, ah, going off and, and potentially marrying these guys before they undertake Jihadist activity.”
Reporter: “Do you think it’s strange that, that, um, that New Zealand muslims don’t… aren’t aware of any of their women going over and, and, marrying men in places like Syria?”
John Key: “Yeah, well, I mean they don’t know everybody in the community, um, and you know, they obviously have a, you know, be [unintelligible word] as anyone can on these things, but we can just tell you by what we see. Y’know, people travel out of our country, and people who turn up, through other reporting, and otherwise, in Syria or Iraq.”
Key was as crystal-clear as his garbled-style of speech permits him to be. He cannot claim he was mis-represented in the media: he stated categorically that “there are women that we know that left New Zealand… people travel out of our country“.
At the same time, according to Minister Brownlee, Key was perfectly aware that “jihadi brides” he referred to during the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting were all resident in Australia and did not leave from New Zealand”.
This was no “mistake” on the part of the media. Brownlee and Key stand convicted of their duplicity, by their own words.
Coming soon: A terror alert near you!
This is now the second (that we are aware of) mis-use of our spy agencies for National’s own political agenda.
Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, found that in 2011, then-Labour leader, Phil Goff, had been mis-led by then-SIS director, Warren Tucker, at a briefing meeting. Inaccurate information had also been provided by the SIS to right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater that was used to damage Phil Goff’s reputation.
As the Herald reported in November 2014;
Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn said this morning the inquiry found the NZSIS released “incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information in response to Mr Slater’s request, and provided some of the same incorrect information to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s office”.
Ms Gwyn said she found no evidence of political partisanship by the NZSIS but did find that the NZSIS “failed to take adequate steps to maintain political neutrality”.
Ms Gwyn said the having released misleading information both to Prime Minister John Key’s office and then to Mr Slater, Dr Tucker “had a responsibility to take positive steps to correct the interpretation”.
“He failed to do so.”
On that basis, Ms Gwyn said Mr Goff was owed an apology.
Ms Gwyn said information about a briefing Mr Goff received from Dr Tucker about suspected Israeli agents in Christchurch following the quakes was “not an accurate description of what happened at that meeting”.
According to revelations in Nicky Hager’s exposé, “Dirty Politics“, the smearing of Phil Goff was orchestrated from the Beehive’s Ninth Floor, by Jason Ede – a National Party “black ops” apparatchik.
The SIS was party to this covert plan to smear Phil Goff and undermine his election chances in 2011.
Unsurprisingly, Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei, condemned both the SIS and our esteemed Dear Leader for willfully deceiving the public;
“They were using information for political purposes, and that political purpose was to encourage New Zealanders to accept greater surviellance by spy agencies.
The SIS has proven time and time again they can’t be trusted with the powers that they have. They don’t follow the law that they’re required to, and John Key is using spy agencies to pursue a political agenda.”
It is now a matter of time before another dramatic “terror alert” is issued by this government, to further frighten and manipulate the country into submitting to National’s agenda to increase powers for our spy agencies.
The “terror alerts” will most likely come to nothing; no arrests will be made; no details of any thwarted “terror plot” will ever be released to the public – but the ultimate goal of fomenting fear will be achieved.
A frightened populace is a compliant populace.
“Correction” = polite euphemism for shit-about-to-hit-the-fan.
Did the SIS/GCSB ever keep track of New Zealand women travelling to Northern Ireland, during “The Troubles”, who may have met and married men from that province?
Were they ever referred to as “IRA Brides”?
Fonterra: Fonterra revises 2015/16 forecast milk price
Fairfax media: Small farmer group holds nearly $12 billion of dairy debt
Radio NZ: Dairy farm values set to keep falling
Radio NZ: Incomes dropping despite GDP growth, English admits
Fairfax media: Low wages ‘advantage’ for NZ – English
Reserve Bank: Official Cash Rate reduced to 2.25 percent
NZ Herald: Banks keep their slice of OCR cut
Fairfax media: Distance, spy network means NZ less vulnerable to attack – John Key
Fairfax media: John Key ‘scaremongering’ with details of security threats: Andrew Little
Radio NZ: NZ women going to IS areas on rise – SIS
Fairfax media: Kiwi Jihadi brides on the rise
TVNZ: ‘The worse the attack the more excited they are’ – Kiwi women leave to be jihadi brides
NZ Herald: Q&A – Why do women want to be jihadi brides?
Otago Daily Times: ‘Jihadi bride’ fears over Kiwi women
NZ Herald: Rise in Kiwi women heading to Iraq, Syria
Kiwiblog: Kiwi jihadi brides
NZ Herald: Islamic Women’s Council – It’s news to us
The Wireless: ‘I’m not a jihadi bride’
Radio NZ: NZ’s ‘jihadi brides’ left from Australia
Radio NZ: No apology from govt over ‘jihadi brides’ claims
NZ Herald: Rise in Kiwi women heading to Iraq, Syria
TV3: The Nation – Interview with John Key
Radio NZ: No apology from govt over ‘jihadi brides’ claims
Parliament Today: Questions & Answers – March 17 – Intelligence and Security Committee – Advice
Yahoo News: Kiwi jihadi brides a reality – PM
NZ Herald: Dirty Politics – John Key won’t apologise to Goff
NewstalkZB: Kiwi women heading off to join ISIS, Key insists
“I’ve Got Nothing to Hide” and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy (hat-tip: Nitrium)
Kiwipolitico: Threat Distortion as Fear Manipulation
No Right Turn: Caught fearmongering
The Daily Blog: Key wasn’t just scare mongering with Jihadi Brides – he used it to distract from Tim Groser GCSB spying
The Dim Post: The struggle
The Standard: The Jihadi Brides lie
The Standard: Nats refuse to apologise for targeting Muslim community
Previous related blogposts
Audrey Young, Two Bains, old cars, and… cocoa?!?!
National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!
An Open Message to the GCSB, SIS, NSA, and Uncle Tom Cobbly
Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland
One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill
The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right
The GCSB Act – some history
The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do
The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?
The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill
Campbell Live on the GCSB – latest revelations – TV3 – 20 May 2014
The real reason for the GCSB Bill
Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB
A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB
Big Bro’ is Watching You!
The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!
Dear Michael Cullen: the GCSB is not International Rescue!
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 March 2016.
= fs =