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Isaiah Rogers
Isaiah Rogers

THE HISTORY OF TERRORISM - WikiLeaks


Two years ago a man quite similar to central characters in the Urewera "terrorism" case purchased a pistol holster on TradeMe for $66. Officers at the Otahuhu police intelligence centre which later led the Urewera investigation noticed the TradeMe sale and prepared an affidavit saying they "believed"' the suspect had bought the holster because he had a pistol and "intends to use the pistol to overthrow the New Zealand government".




THE HISTORY OF TERRORISM - WikiLeaks



Some of the people at the centre of the Urewera "terrorist" case are also well known for extravagant rhetoric. It was their inflammatory talk of "war" and other disturbing statements, as leaked to the media from the police affidavit, that formed the basis of the terrorism charges.


There's a distinct point in May when the affidavit starts talking about terrorism until then, phone bugging was under a "serious violent offence" warrant. But from May 16 they conducted the bugging operations using a special anti-terrorism interception warrant created in 2003 counter-terrorism legislation.


Soon after, there is what appears to be legal advice analysing the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act and arguing it was relevant to the Urewera case.Thereafter it seems the police were set on uncovering terrorism, a mindset that led inexorably towards the 300 armed police raiding houses on October 15 and the subsequent terrorism charges.


Only after the solicitor-general received the police affidavit in late October with nine extra pages, which contain information from police informers, on top of the 156-page leaked version did he realise that the case for anti-terrorism charges was too weak to proceed.


The terrorism surveillance warrants had required a police officer to swear on oath that there were "reasonable grounds for believing... that a terrorist act [was] about to be committed", but the police had found no credible evidence of any such plans.


Recriminations have begun inside the Wellington bureaucracy over how the case went wrong: the terrorism charges that failed, the overreaction in the dawn raids and who let it happen. Why, for instance, did the police, who should have experience of all the ways people act, seem to take every radical and incoherent utterance they intercepted as literal fact and serious intention?


For instance, nowhere in the affidavit is there mention of the fact the bush camps included training sessions on subjects as diverse as Maori herbal medicines, bush skills and Tuhoe history. But this context helps explain why a range of peaceful young Maori and environmental and peace campaigners were at supposed terrorist training camps.By emphasising highly selective quotes from a small number of hotheads, the police built an impression of al Qaeda-style terrorist training camps.Which is not to deny that some of what the police observed and overheard did give grounds for serious concern.


The camps included people learning to use firearms, which is a lawful part of the Urewera way of life. But, judging from evidence in the affidavit, some people were mixing firearms and military-style training with their hothead political talk. This is not necessarily illegal, but it is foolish and dangerous. The people who joined in should have known better. Some at the camps openly expressed concern. The police did everybody concerned a favour by disrupting it.But would it have resulted in terrorism? It's very unlikely.


Instead they were given the lurid version of terrorist threats presented in the police affidavit: IRA-style groups, illegal weapons and all. The police intelligence conclusions about impending acts of terrorism set the scene for the paramilitary operation that followed. With little time to digest the news, the officers headed out fired-up and ready to subdue the terrorists. Soon people were waking up with doors being smashed in, machine guns pressed to heads and families held at gunpoint.


The closest the high court has come to ruling on this issue may have been the famous 1971 Pentagon Papers case, in which justices rejected a Nixon administration plea that they stop the New York Times and the Washington Post from printing a leaked top secret study of the history of US policy in Vietnam.


"Some of the information will severely damage operations against terrorism, the strategy of Western and democratic governments to deal with countries like Iran or North Korea, who are trying to develop nuclear weapons and it is very, very disgraceful," he said.


A court filing revealed that the Justice Department had prepared an indictment against Mr. Assange, although it was not clear whether charges had been filed against him. The existence of the indictment became known only after prosecutors inadvertently mentioned possible charges against him in an unrelated case. Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at George Washington University who closely tracks court cases, discovered the document and posted it on Twitter.


A projection of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange looms over author Micah Sifry (left) and activist Daniel Ellsberg during a video conference in June 2010. Ellsberg's release of a classified report on the Vietnam War caused a storm of controversy forty years ago and shows that leaks of government information are not unusual in U.S. history. The WikiLeaks saga speaks to both continuity and change in the way that the United States carries out its foreign policy. (Flickr/JD Lasica )


On a fundraising trip to California in April, President Obama was confronted by protesters demanding better treatment for Pfc Bradley Manning, who has been at the center of the WikiLeaks controversy. Private Manning has been imprisoned for passing on tens of thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, in one of the greatest breaches of state secrecy in the history of the United States. This month, historian Ryan Irwin looks at the WikiLeaks tempest and what it tells us about America's role in the world.


We have a system of prosecutorial discretion, and prosecutions have been very rare. The Obama administration is the first to employ the Espionage Act in a rigorous way. Since the Act was passed in 1917, there had been a total of three prosecutions before the Obama administration came to office. Now, an administration that has pledged to be the most transparent in all of American history has somehow become the most Nixonian. That is ironic, but the prosecutors have acted fairly wisely and with restraint in most of the cases. After all, we have a system that still operates after a torrent of leaks. It has very rarely resulted in prosecutions.


Even Clinton could not have realized how prescient her words would be. Never in history have U.S. voters witnessed so many information leaks during a presidential election, from the television clips of GOP nominee Donald Trump disparaging women, to the WikiLeaks dumps of Clinton's speeches, to investigative notes trickled out on the Clintons by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As the nation braces for still more private information to drop ahead of Election Day, many of these leaks reveal Clinton's evolving views on surveillance and privacy as she vies for the post of commander in chief.


Clinton backed ending the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone metadata under the Patriot Act's controversial Section 215, but only after the White House endorsed it and a federal court ruled against it in May 2015. Even then, her support arrived in the form of a rather tepid tweet, issued days before Section 215 expired. "Congress should move ahead now with the USA Freedom Act, a good step forward in ongoing efforts to protect our security and civil liberties," she wrote. In 2008, as senator from New York, Clinton voted against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendments, stating, "One of the great challenges before us as a nation is remaining steadfast in our fight against terrorism, while preserving our commitment to the rule of law and individual liberty." This challenge, however, is not listed among the issues facing Americans on her campaign website. 041b061a72


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