“Minority report”: how the Terrorist Law will stifle dissent and could take away your basic human rights

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Science fiction has always offered us a useful way to think through issues, it is testing ground to explore and imagine alternative societies and worlds. In 2002 the neo noir film Minority Report, based on the short story by Philip K. Dick set in Washington in 2052, where “precrime” (crimes yet to be committed) a specialized police department, apprehends alleged criminals based on prophecies provided by three psychics called “precogs”. The preventive government in Minority Report claims these measures are to keep its citizenry safe, and protected. Electronic advances in a future state mean Medias presence is nearly boundless, invading and surveilling every aspect of daily life for the future citizenry of Washington.

Sometimes we do not need to imagine what a world like Minority Report might be like. Even if it is not always immediately legible or visible governments around the world are turning sci-fi dystopias into reality.

Aotearoa’s National party with the backing of Labour rammed through the Terrorist Law recently, 94 votes to 23. The law which gives SIS the power to carry out surveillance without a warrant for 24 hours, aims to tackle home-grown terrorism. John Key’s Government argued the rise of the Islamic State terror group in the Middle East increased the risk of an attack here, referring to ISIS.

“The threats faced by New Zealand have grown and it is important that we have the ability to respond to that,” Key said.

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“The Government to protect New Zealanders at home and abroad and this legislation, passed with the support of a range of political parties, will better enable us to do that.”

The fear mongering of Islam by our leader John Key is of course, coded in islamophobia and incites xenophobia by pushing the tired but dangerous 9/11 narrative that Arab’s pose a great threat to our freedom, western democracy and national security. John Key has, predictably used the resent hostage situation in Sydney known as the #SydneySiege as further “proof” that his extreme and draconian Terror Law was justified afterall the Iranian man, Man Haron Monis, responsible for the attack forced the hostages to hold up flags with Arabic writing – clearly, he must be a terrorist? Monis’s lawyer, Manny Conitsis begs to differ saying:

“This is a one-off random individual. It’s not a concerted terrorism event or act. It’s a damaged goods individual who’s done something outrageous.”

But hey, anything and anybody to justify an unjustifiable law… right?

What should worry people about the Terrorist Law in New Zealand is that you don’t even need to commit a crime to have your passport stripped from you for up to four years. In Orwellian fashion our government can now withhold your right to leave New Zealand because they believe you might have been thinking of committing terrorist acts. Meaning, you can now be accused by authorities of a “thought crime” and stripped of your liberty by our Government, acting as some kind of “physic precog” that can predict crimes before they happened also known as “pre-crimes”, to leave your own country.

The only way out of Aotearoa, would be to swim for it.

I went to a meeting for the Human Rights Law commission a few  weeks ago and Barrister Grant Willingsworth spoke at the start of the evening he said preventing a person from traveling overseas for 3 or 4 years is a more severe penalty than would be given for many quite serious criminal offences.

“It could perhaps be viewed as a kind of mega home detention.” He said.

Under New Zealand’s 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act, terrorism has a very broad definition. You might be heading to Palestine to join the struggle to oppose Israel’s genocide against a mostly unarmed indigenous people but the democratically elected political party Hamas who governs the Gaza strip, is largely designated as a terrorist organisation by western governments. Hypothetically our New Zealand government which is proudly pro-Israel and has designated the armed wing of Hamas a terrorist organisation, could decide you are guilty of a “thought crime”/”pre-crime” and claim you intended to join Hamas and strip you of your passport.

The Terrorist Law is designed, on purpose, to erode our basic human right to leave New Zealand. It is a law that could be used to stifle dissent and legitimate resistance to oppressive governments and state violence. Cam Walker, a good friend of mine and fourth year Law student at Auckland University sent a submission (those wishing to counter the Bill only had two days to write and submit) countering the Terrorists Fighting Legislation bill before it passed in parliament, he wrote:

“My primary concern with this Bill are the sections allowing the Minister to refuse or cancel passports rely on the wide definition of terrorism provided in s 5 of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.  This may unduly impact on New Zealanders travelling overseas to fight for a legitimate cause such as national liberation from a colonial occupation or repressive government.  The section 5 definition in the Terrorism Suppression Act nets behaviour associated with traditional guerrilla wars, far removed from the grisly atrocities of ISIS.”

Our National Government has been so quick to react with extreme legislation to a perceived threat of terror on the other side of the world, but just scoffed and laughed when they were shown New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions figures by Green leader Russel Norman. Turbo charged extreme weather events and rising sea levels resulting from climate change are a real terror that threatens New Zealanders.

I would argue what poses a grave threat to our western democracy and freedom are political leaders who support laws that can strip someone of their right to movement because they might commit a terrorist act and who justify warrantless surveillance on their own citizenry. Glenn Greenwald has argued for a large extent of his journalistic career that governments who justify warrantless surveillance and commit mass surveillance do so to keep the population submissive to government powers. Greenwald wrote in his book ‘No Place to Hide:’

 […] even if one is not personally targeted, a surveillance state that collects it all [electronic information] harms society and political freedom in general. Progress both in the United States and other nations was only ever achieved through the ability to challenge power and orthodoxies and to pioneer new ways of thinking and living. Everyone, even those who do not engage in dissenting advocacy or political activism,

Surveillance cheerleaders such as our leader John Key, who committed mass surveillance against his citizenry and then lied about it, offer up essentially one justification of mass and warrantless surveillance. Greenwald wrote “it is only carried out to stop terrorism and keep people safe.” In America many Democratic senators such as Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have argued, as the New York Times reported last year

“The usefulness of bulk collection has been greatly exaggerated. We have yet to see any proof that provides real, unique value in protecting national security[…] the NSA has not provided evidence of any instance when the agency used this program to review phone records that could not have been obtained using regular court order or emergency authorization.”

The record of mass surveillance preventing terrorist’s plots is pretty fucking poor.

In the words of graffiti artist and activist Bansky “I need someone to protect me from all the measures they take to protect me.”

Post the #SydneySige our MSM in Aotearoa which now acts as a state apparatus for the right wing and National government ran articles with fear mongering titles such as ‘Sydney Siege: “similar people monitored here” – PM’ and ‘Sydney Siege attack could happen here: PM’ our MSM such as Yahoo News and Stuff asked if a “terrorist attack” like the one in Sydney could happen here? Our Prime Minister stated we could be targeted by a Lone wolf “terrorist” similar to the one in Sydney. As previously said the #SydneySiege is now conveniently being used to justify the Terror Law.

None of our MSM pointed out you have more chance of drowning in your fucking bathtub than being killed or injured in a terrorist attack.

Unlike in the film Minority Report what mass surveillance apparatuses allow governments to gather in 2014 is a “Majority Report”.  A massive drag net is used to collect citizen’s metadata – wading through millions of peoples data generated while using technology to find terrorists is almost impossible.

The purpose of the state and establishment has never really been to keep us safe from terrorism. The purpose is to keep us, their citizenry complaint and quiet – and fearful.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if when I use proxy servers for internet access I am considered a terrorist because I am actively preventing my internet history and content from being easily accessed by government spies. After all, if I didn’t have anything to hide, I wouldn’t need to do that, right? Wrong! on principle I refuse to allow some National Party paid spy to pry into my affairs just because they are feeling bored.

  2. Great article.

    Punishing someone for ‘thinking’ about committing a ‘crime’ is kinda like the end of democracy for me. If you read about Stalin and all those mega tyrants that is what they did. Totalitarianism under the capitalist system is now legislation right here in little NZ. And more scary for me is that Labour supported it. Even Maori and Winston had more sense. Where is the hope in the horizon?

    Now we have Obama putting sanctions on North Korea over the Sony Affair. I have to call this one a new phenomenon Corporate Warfare, hot on the heels of Corporate Welfare.

    Now there are many things that bother me here. One is that it is unproven that North Korea as a government did the hacking. Two is that even if they did it was hardly a matter of National Security (maybe if they hacked a water company, power company or even the NSA you could see how the government might be involved…. but over a stupid movie for a Japanese Multi corporate who as far as I can see pays little tax in the US and maybe also on the teat of corporate welfare?)

    The point is that now Warfare on the taxpayer seems to the norm. The ‘truth’ or any ‘logic’ or any public ‘good’ behind any such sanctions is not there any more. You seem to have some lobbyist just using the American security policy as their personal debt collector. Don’t bother about the courts or anything or justice, it’s cheaper to lobby the president. Why waste Sony’s profit on actually investigating who did it and bringing a civil case against them when the US tax payer can do it all for you?

    One might think this is a one off case, only here in little NZ many of the public were astonished when one day 70 armed defenders in helicopters invaded Dotcom. Why didn’t Warners just put in a civil case in the courts? Even if Dotcom is found innocent then his business has been destroyed and he probably can’t even sue Warner’s because the NZ government did it. Now the NZ taxpayer is picking up Warners legal bills. He never even had a company in the US!

    The US government seems to be turning into some sort of private bully up for hire to corporations, to take down any unproven threat to their competitors?

    When will it all stop?

    Personally I’m boycotting all Sony and Warner products and films.

    Meanwhile there is climate change, Ebola and Palestine, but yep protecting poor security business corporations IT seem just as important as an issue for immediate action from the US.

    No wonder Teresa Gattung got an award her business tactics of ‘confusion’ and ‘bullying ‘ to keep prices up and services down seem to be becoming the norm. If only she had a publicly funded security force at her disposal we might never have even got any competition and still all been on slow dial up….

    • Talking about cover ups, i heard yesterday that NZ has a serious shortage of petrol and the petrol we do have in stations right now is really crap quality. It has been deliberately kept quite. Is this because the multinational petroleum companies are actually selling stuff that isn’t eg BP Ultimate it’s just all the same shit? I know this because we went for a blast in the Morris and it pinged alot which it hasn’t done before, we asked a mechanic who said his wife works for a petroleum company who told him this and that was all that was wrong with our car. So now multinationals can get away with selling rubbish to us and keep it from the public knowledge.

  3. What an incredible visionary Philip K Dick was, Hollywood has made 1biliion as of 2009 from his stories while Philip K Dick lived in near poverty for most of his writing career. I see another whole story in your article Chloe, and that is downloading arts material for free. My husband wrote a fantasy book which he looked up the other day and was horrified to see a whole conversation on a site as to how to get this book for free, which obviously was possible and being done. My poor husband was so angry. Then while he was at his boring uncreative day job a guy there said he was looking for Russell Brand’s book for free online, he nearly got a knuckle sandwich from my husband.
    We won’t have any exciting interesting new writers other than crap published by mainstream houses of utterly boring snobbery (mostly) or money making filth like 50 Shades of crap or narcissistic celebrity stories. Or is this part of a grand plan, most writers won’t be able to make a living so they are effectively shut down, only dull shit by the yet again ‘few’ are allowed into the circus of controlled monkeys and given all the oxygen and champagne. It couldn’t be worse for imaginative writers than right now.

    • Perhaps there should be an agreement to tighten International intellectual property rights. Of wait, that is one of the
      Europa points of the TPPA….

  4. I completely agree with your assessment of the overall situation regarding the widening of the State’s surveillance powers, and the even more concerning expansion of the arrest and removal of passports aspects under such laws.

    The basic premise that a person can be punished for a crime they ‘might’ commit is abhorrent. Yet this is what National wanted and Labour supported for fear of being seen as weak on terrorism.

    We’re also on the same page that these laws and the State’s constant fear-mongering are designed to keep citizen’s fearful and compliant, there is little to no evidence that these measures or those overseas have ever had any effect on limiting terrorism which couldn’t have been accomplished without them. You use the death by bathtub example as a reality check of how much danger we are really in from terrorism, I prefer the being struck by lightning statistics, just a little more dramatic. I guess with bathtubs in most homes we’d best start legislating against them too though!

  5. Love the pic Chloe,
    Yes you are so right, this criminal gang are tightening the screws on us all as he (Key) copies the fear mongering of Hitler’s master spin doctor Goebbels of setting up a tyrannical dictatorship before the 2nd world war.

    We are being set up in the same vein as the German public were then, as the Government set about controlling the mind of all their citizenry we are getting the same treatment here sadly and few can recognise the warning signs inside the sleepy MSM.

    • Why have we got a Governor General? Why is he not shutting down this fascist Government? Is he a fascist, simple or Just enjoying his sinecure? If he allows Don Key to sign the TPPA we are all finished.

  6. Ummmmm, seriously, what did you people expect? The imposed “terrorism” meme is in fact needed at this point in order to keep the entire delusion operational. It is nothing but a “security” patch to keep this obsolete planetary operating system from imploding in on itself. And it’s only going to get worse as this system continues to break down.

    It’s just despairing to me that well-intentioned, educated, intelligent people (mostly stuck in the narrow “left” paradigm) are all complaining about this accelerating “security” imposition and everything that comes along with it, but yet are all quite happy to continue playing the selfish market board game as if it has some sort of empirical ability to enable us to support ourselves on this planet over generational time. It doesn’t. The board game is completely decoupled from what actually enables us to perpetuate our existence. I’m sorry if you have not realised that that yet.

    And as the latest data now shows we will need 27 more planet Earths by 2050 to keep the destructive board game going, I’m sorry but you simply can not have your cake and eat it to. You people either need to accept all the accelerating impositions that are required to keep the delusion operational, or stop playing the infinite-consumption based selfish board game and evolve to a new type of economic interaction. It’s that simple. Evolution did not stop with us growing thumbs! We’re suppose to keep evolving!

    In my view, the belief that you can actually keep this ridiculous infantile board game going without all of these accelerating impositions as the exponential multiplying pathogenic growth accelerates, is completely naive and absurd. But don’t take my word for it. Just sit back and watch as we move from one set of corrupt, damaging practices to the next. Sure – we’ll slowly fix a few issues with our ‘in the box’ thinking. But until the whole system is addressed at its core, then it’s all mostly a waste of time and improvement will be very very little.

    If you’re truly interested in “actual” solutions to all of the problems you see manifest around you, then you need to consider the following:

    “The problems we have today can not be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein

    And until we grow up to that level, we have a lot of running in circles to do I’m afraid. Here’s a free satirical/serious web series entitled “Culture in Decline” for anyone that’s interested. This is the greatest reality show of all time: the real one. http://www.cultureindecline.com

  7. If these laws are being passed to protect NZ and the rest of the world from NZ based terrorists then where are the results? I can think of two incidents here, the 2009 Napier Siege and the recent Ashburton shootings that were not stopped by our Security agency, or if they were even aware of them. This is further backed up by the Sydney hostage event where the Australian Police also had no forewarning.. Say if NZ had these type of events happening every week, then maybe I can see a need for keeping tabs on people. But the police would also need to show that they were stopping say 50% of the threats. Considering they can’t predict or stop your average murder, then these laws are effectively useless in their stated goal. The laws are used to keep the populace in fear and under control and to keep tabs on dissent against corporates and the gov.

  8. Chloe,

    Noticed how gagged the TVNZ/RNZ has been over the start of the worst Global economic crash in the past three days?

    Reminiscent of TVNZ RNZ both being the master trumpet for the NatZ Government around election time when this public run MSM failed to cover the serious leaks of 9th Floor beehive Jason Ede spying with the PM’s office.

    Today Wednesday the third day of monumental losses happening around all the world’s stock markets that this morning even CNBC the business channel is even trumpeting a historic economic crash is again here, as is BBC saying but our Hobbit TV one is quietly talking about rubbish backfill while the markets are burning.

    Has this you say happened within TV one?

    “The purpose is to keep us, their citizenry complaint and quiet – and fearful. ”

    Chloe I fear the public media is actually gaged for Government purposes interests only.

    CNBC just announced this global stock market crash is the worst start to any year in history. Where is our public free press?

    Steven Joyce as Goebbels did in 1933 is at play here using our public media for his propaganda use..

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