Over the past two weeks the Nicky Hager saga has again been heavily promoted by the New Zealand msm, resulting in the blogosphere following suit. The msm’s take on what constitutes reality has thrown up few new arguments, just rehashing what seems to be an agreed “party line”.
New Zealand based bloggers likewise have shed no real light on the issue, preferring instead to continue with the same anti Slater rhetoric that was prevalent following the release of the Hager book Dirty Politics
As a result Hager has yet again avoided any harsh light being shone on his own actions, especially his likely criminal behavior.
In fact the msm have invested heavily in either attempting to discredit or play down any aspect that risks Hager being seen in a bad light. The bloggers too, particularly those on the left have invested time and effort in steering well clear of the elephant in New Zealand living rooms.
Cameron Slaters Whale Oil ran a post today dissing Hager via the vehicle of an article Toby Manhire had penned for little known online political rag “SpinOff”
Slater is is to be expected constantly refers to Hager’s use of stolen material, but of course he has every right to do so as the material Hager relied on was indeed stolen by the now notorious hacker “Rawshark”.
What we find amusing is that from the outset everyone has avoided any discussion about who the hacker might be, who in New Zealand might have had the motive to have committed a crime that attracts a maximum sentence of seven years incarceration. Even Slater has avoided discussing the matter, at least publicly; no doubt with the fear that he could somehow jinx the police investigation.
What we also find somewhat amusing, if not also a little disconcerting, is the way in which the issues have been canvassed, there are glaring anomalies in the arguments that’s have been run by both the msm and bloggers, both having obviously decided to gloss over aspects that just don’t suit their particular narrative.
Out side the Hager case this particular tactic is most often seen used by new boy on the block Pete George and his YourNZ blog. George is a master at cherry picking the aspects of a story that suite him, then having isolated the opinion or facts from the intended context, attempting to alter the meaning or significance attributed by the original author from who George has, euphemistically, “borrowed” the material.
Pete George as with other Kiwi bloggers has also not mentioned the Elephant, although in George’s case this is more likely a result of his many obvious handicaps, the distinct absence of any awareness being but one.
The Elephant is as we all know a rather large beast. The one standing amidst the Rawshark matter no less so.
In LF’s view one of the primary concerns with Hagers account, outside the actual hacking and theft of Slaters files, is the manner in which Hager dealt with the mainstream media. Not so much the publicity he courted but rather the fact that Hager withheld extremely important information from the public and in doing so inferred that “Dirty Politics” was all about Cameron Slater.
Of course we are left to wonder whether in fact the trend was much more wide spread, inculpating mainstream media journalists and the publications that employed them.
Hager of course attempts to paint his decision not to name the mainstream media players as a decision taken with noble intentions, that these journo’s were some how deserving of the opportunity to redeem themselves. What’s probably just as significant is the fact that these so called journo’s, at least according to Hager numbered among the parliamentary press corps.
Of course anyone with a more cynical mind might have been left gasping at Hager’s audacity, his departure from journalism as most would recognise it.
Hager had absolutely no right, as a journalist, to be selective with who he exposed. If there were msm journos dabbling in the dark arts then it was Nicky Hager’s duty as an investigative journalist to expose everyone involved, not just Slater.
But Hager did not do that, he has limited the scope of his book and subsequent commentary to the alleged bad behavior of Slater and contacts.other than journo’s
Of course the fact that Hager did opt for this strategy leaves him wide open to criticism, criticism he not only deserves but would surely have received had it not been for the fact that the New Zealand media is itself an inbreed and systemically corrupt institution.
The question then needs to be asked, would Hagers book have been promoted at all by the msm if he had exposed the bent journalists? The answer is more than likely a resounding no. On that basis alone Hager’s decision can be viewed as far from noble, rather a commercial decision taken to ensure maximum sales of Dirty Politics.
The next question that arises is one of perverting justice. Was Hager, in withholding the offending and names of these journalists protecting them from prosecution? Had these journalists committed criminal offences? It could be argued that this scenario may well have been a factor in Hager’s decision. After all, once the book had been launched many politically motivated players took a great deal of delight in lodging complaints with police against Slater, police investigations that, in Slater’s case, turned up no criminal offending.
Of course Hager himself was blinded from the outset by another commercial reality. Had he outed the mainstream journos involved Hager would undoubtedly have been blacklisted in New Zealand, a media pariah, the author of a little known book.
We know that at least one New Zealand Herald journalist was concerned enough with an envisioned backlash from Slater that he took to writing and publishing a somewhat nauseating mia culpa. Of course we are referring to the New Zealand Heralds David Fisher.
There were of course undoubtedly many others who were concerned, hoping that if the shit did hit the fan then they could somehow save their reputations, and jobs.
Then there is the behavior of the hacker/s Rawshark. They too seemed to be quite happy ignoring the transgressions of the mainstream media players, that despite the constant claim that they had committed the crime of theft without any political motivation. Ther is however no argument from Rawshark that a theft occurred, Rawshark unlike Hager did not attempt to gloss over what was a theft with all too convenient and inappropriate euphemisms such as whistle-blower
Unfortunately the minute Nicky Hager decided to withhold clearly important information, evidence that more than likely proved criminal behavior on the part of New Zealand mainstream media journalists, all pretentions of political neutrality and integrity could no longer be sustained.
Hager ‘avoids shaming’ journalists
9th September 2014
…..”If you see a name of a journalist in the book, they are the ones I don’t think have done anything wrong, they’re just incidental to the story.
Every journalist who had been taking stories in dodgy ways from David Farrar, one of the bloggers, or Cameron Slater or from the prime minister’s office, I actually left their names out.
I decided not to do the journalists basically.” – Nicky Hager
What’s more Hager’s extremely comfortable relationship and collaboration with the likes of David Fisher, Matt Nippert, and in particular the New Zealand Herald, is a strong indication that the journalists involved in the skullduggery were more than likely employees of APNZ and not Fairfax New Zealand.
On that note it is Fairfax New Zealand journo’s that have by and large led the charge in criticizing Hager;
Can Nicky Hager really be called a journalist?
24th July 2014
Hager’s books make an important contribution to informed debate and help voters make decisions on important issues, such as state surveillance and honesty in government.
But does that make him a journalist? I don’t believe so.
He was more accurately described in police documents as a political author.
You could also call him an activist (which he apparently dislikes), a campaigner, an annoying pebble in the shoe of the establishment – but not a journalist…..
…… My other problem is that crucial material in the book was allegedly obtained by an electronic form of theft.
This was justified by Hager’s defenders on the basis that theft is OK, even laudable, if it results in the disclosure of information that deserves to be published in the public interest.
But I would argue that at the very least, this is morally dubious territory.
Hager and Rawshark’s involvement with the msm, to the extent that they did, around the book launch, and beyond ,served another extremely important purpose.
At the time that Hager entered his relationship with “Rawshark” they would both have assumed that they were protected by the fact that Hager was a Journalist and as such entitled to the protections the law afforded them both.
By May of 2014 Hager would have become well aware that he and his so-called source had been placed in harms way when a legal battle that David Fisher, courtesy of his book The Secret Life of Kim Dotcom: Spies, Lies and the War for the internet, had managed to become entangled in.
Fisher had written his own book following the raid on the Dotcom mansion and the ongoing extradition case. The Crown and the New Zealand police saw Fishers book and its content as an opportunity to obtain information that they had otherwise had no luck getting their hands on.
Journalist’s book on Kim Dotcom not ‘news activity’
19th Jume 2014
A High Court judge has ruled that a book written by a New Zealand Herald journalist about internet tycoon Kim Dotcom is not “news activity” and does not get special legal protections.
The book’s author and media commentators fear the ruling could have a “chilling effect” on New Zealand journalism if reporters were unable to protect their sources.
Justice Helen Winkelmann handed down her ruling on Monday, stating that material gathered by Herald senior journalist David Fisher to write The Secret Life of Kim Dotcom: Spies, Lies and the War for the Internet can be accessed by New Zealand Police and the GCSB in their case against Dotcom
Click here to read the ruling by Justice Helen Winkelmann.
Whether you agree with Justice Helen Winklemann’s decision or not, the fact is that as of 16th June 2014 neither Hager or Rawshark could rely on Hager’s credentials as an “investigative journalist” to protect sources in this matter, nor for that matter any information supplied beyond and including Slater’s stolen files.
As far as the law is concerned Hager wrote a book, not a newspaper column. Hager was not acting in the capacity of an investigative journalist, nor was Hagers agenda impartial or objective.
This is a fact that David Fisher and the New Zealand Herald in particular would have been fully aware of.
Moving on, it was certainly a circumstance that the New Zealand police legal section and Crown law appear have looked at very closely at when constructing their defense, evidence of that likelihood can be found in the polices description of Hager in supporting legal documents, in particular their applications for the search warrants, in those Hager is described by Police as a “political author”.
Having regard to both the content of the book and the deliberate omissions that Hager at the time sought to explain away as somehow giving journalists other than Slater a second chance.
That then brings us to another aspect that Hager would not have factored in, the High Courts more recent declaration that Slater himself is a journalist.
We here at LF are of the view that Hager and his legal advisors would have discussed this aspect prior to the book being published, concluding that they could get away with it because Slater was little more than a political blogger, a National party toady.
Of course not withstanding this likely view, journalists such as David Fisher had historically given Slater the kudos and respect normally afforded fellow journalists, it wasn’t until they smelled blood, some of it their own, that they then turned on Slater, undoubtedly in the belief that they would be successful in finishing off both Slater and the National party government.
David Fisher provides further evidence of this likelihood, with a somewhat nauseating blame game published only a matter of days after the launch of Dirty Politics on 13 August 2014:
David Fisher: My history with Cameron Slater
August 25th 2014
Cameron Slater was a contact of mine – Nicky Hager made this clear in Dirty Politics.
What also became clear is how politics is little more than a game to Slater. He says: “I play politics like Fijians play rugby. My role is smashing your face into the ground.”
The media are just players in the game, and bit players at that.
Looking back, Slater kept journalists like he would have kept hunting dogs – hungry, leashed and fed with morsels until they are ready to be unleashed after whatever game he was hunting.
To Slater, it all part of the game of Dirty Politics. About the time I felt I was being gamed, I decided to have nothing to do with the blogger…………
Whilst history ensured that the strategy backfired there is little doubt given the timing of the books release that it had been the intention of both Hager and his msm collaborators to harm the National party going into the election.
The reality that they are know confronted with however is very different, albeit subtly so.
Hager is now waiting on a decision for High Court Justice Denis Clifford which should deal with the issue of the police search warrants. Clifford is no stranger to such matters of importance (See; Scrutinising the Actions of Government)
Of course this is where it now starts to get very complicated, especially for the judge. who is, in our view, going to have to walk something akin to a tight-rope with this decision.
Without realising it Nicky Hager and his mainstream media collaborators have walked smack-bang into a ditch, a large hole that they themselves have dug.
There is little doubt, again in our view, that the extent of the mainstream medias involvement in publicising both Hager’s book and the issues at stake were serving more than a public interest function; that the media acted in the self-serving manner it did, lending an air of “investigative journalism’ to what would otherwise have been seen as nothing more than a political exposé – a book, nothing more.
The more interesting story, which Hager, for obvious reasons, declined to tell, is in fact the involvement of New Zealand’s mainstream media and it’s over paid journalists in the same alleged corrupt behavior.
After all, no one could successfully argue that Slater’s involvement with the National party, its government ministers and party officials wasn’t already the stuff of legend, hardly material that the public were unaware of, Slater supporters or not.
The real story, the material that the public was not at all aware of, is the fact that a number of, as yet to be named, mainstream media journalists had engaged in exactly the same appalling conduct.
Frankly, the fact that Hager sought to explain away the deliberate withholding of this evidence does not serve his cause well, in fact it may very well come back to haunt him in the foreseeable future.
Another annoying aspect of this political farce are the claims being made by the mainstream media and Hager himself around the circumstances under which police obtained Hager’s bank records without the appropriate court order.
David Fisher in his arrogance claiming that the Herald was the first to raise this issue back in 2012. This is of course a complete fabrication on Fishers part.
Many others, LF included, have been pointing to these unlawful police behaviors for years; its just that up until Fisher himself had been impacted, himself pinged by police, he and his fellow journo’s preferred to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the polices other victims.
The same could also be said for Hager, he too has over the years has turned a blind eye to police transgression of the laws in this specific area.
In the aforementioned interview with Toby Manhire he allows Hager to get away with spinning a particular version of events, completely unchallenged, which given the reality of what has unfolded in court, is frankly nothing short of laughable.
Amongst other crap Hager has claimed:
In the very near future, I think, there will be a decision coming out which is about my case but is really about journalism in New Zealand. Like all countries, we are experiencing a new intolerance to whistleblowers and people who provide leaked information. So this court case is happening at a really critical time for whether or not people who collect that information feel safe and whether or not people who provide that information feel safe.
I’m hopeful we’re going to have a decision which is a sort of kick back against the current intolerance from the government.
Hager is right, in the very near future Justice Denis Clifford will indeed release his findings in the latest judicial review to look at police misbehavior.
The Hager review however is not about “leaked” information, as Nicky Hager would have us all believe, its about information that was stolen by an as yet unidentified thief, a so-called “hacker”, there is a world of difference.
What’s more there is also a world of difference between an “author” and a “journalist”, at least as far as the law is concerned. As aforesaid these hairs have already been split in the Fisher case, where Justice Helen Winklemann ruled against Dotcom and Fisher.
As aforesaid, the findings of Winklemann J were in fact reported on at the time by Morgan Tait in an article for the New Zealand Herald. With that in mind LF suspects that if the High Court fails to take the Dotcom/Fisher case into account then there will likely be an appeal.
What’s more we here at LF are of the view that Hager himself may well be vulnerable to a criminal legal action brought by Slater should police fail to obtain a result.
Whatever Hager wants New Zealanders to believe, the fact remains that Hager in this case wrote “Dirty Politics” as an author, not a journalist – Although the Crown has conceded that Hager, in particular circumstance, is a journalist
What’s more Hager also acted very differently to what is normally expected of a journalist, in that he deliberately withheld evidence. material that was available to him, evidence that inculpated both journalists and media organisations that were known to Hager, arguably many of them quite likely personal friends; hardly the act of a man who was determined to act impartially.
Hager cannot simply dismiss this serious anomaly with a wave of the hand and the bullshit excuse that he had decided to give the journalists another chance.
Whilst Hager’s claim that whistle-blowers are facing a hard time globally has some merit there has not in fact been a shift for the worse as claimed, if anything there has been greater awareness raised, including a Ubited nations call for protections, an increase in awareness that didn’t have its origins in the Snowden or wikileaks cases, again as claimed.
The growing awareness of the perils faced by whistle-blowers had in fact started much earlier that Hager claims, arguably with a number of whistle-blowers that came forward with revelations surrounding the alleged weapons of mass destruction, the pretext for the Wests invasion of Iraq.
The Special Rapporteur’s report to the UN General Assembly in 2015 is now online.
This report, the latest among several produced by the mandate over the past twenty years to consider rights of access to information, focuses on the protection of sources and whistleblowers around the world. It reviews national and international laws and practices and provides recommendations to improve available protections.
Report available here:
The Hager case in fact has absolutely nothing to do with whistle-blowers, the hacker, who in a criminal act, seized control of Slater’s personal computer, his online accounts and then stole those same files, cannot in anyway be confused with the altruistic actions of a genuine whistle-blower.
Rawshark, to the best of anyones knowledge , other than Hager of course, was not a New Zealand Government civil servant, nor were they an employee of a corporation who felt the need to blow the whistle on corruption or commercial fraud.
Had Rawshark in fact been concerned with exposing corrupt behavior then they would not have tolerated Hager’s strange decision to withhold the identities of the other journalists involved in the bad behavior and the possibly criminal wrongdoing involved.
Hager and his mates in the mainstream media had no noble cause in mind when they decided to conceal the identities of the other so-called journo’s involved, those outside the National party. Nor did they likely use the material stolen by Rawshark with any noble intent.
In fact it could be successfully argued that the mainstream media had acted with a completely commercial incentive when the opportunity to attack Slater arose.
Certainly Hager had a commercial incentive, publicly claiming that Dirty Politics is his best seller yet.
There arguably also existed incentives, far from noble, for at least two journo’s involved, Matt Nippert and David Fisher, to have engaged in a malicious pay-back targeting Slater for his pissing on them.
Every aspect of this case stinks, Slater too however did not deserve to come out of it unscathed, he deserved to be exposed and has been, but equally, so did the other journalists that Nicky Hager has quite clearly sought to protect.
The very mechanisms, which Slater, in Hager’s Dirty Politics, is accused of employing have long been employed by New Zealand political factions of all persuasions. Nicky Hager and his left leaning compatriots behavior since the book was published is yet more evidence of the practice
The New Zealand police too deserve to be prosecuted for their own criminal skullduggery around the obtaining of one search warrant, their failure to obtain others and the far more extensive concealed agenda behind the police’s covert raid on Hager’s home.
That however is another story, one that we will be canvasing more thoroughly in a future post.
Rawshark, the individual/s behind the so-called hacker are also deserving of much closer inspection. For very good reason Hager and the mainstream journalists involved have avoided anything but an almost comical narrative of the individuals character and their alleged agenda.
That particular autopsy, nevertheless, needs to be conducted much more thoroughly than any half arsed effort executed so far.
Hager is right in one observation. This case could be a turning point, not that it should in anyway stand out just because Hager claims to be a journalist, but because it involves the right of every citizen not to be subject to unwarranted search and seizure, a right which is not actually enshrined in law despite New Zealand’s so called bill of right’s.
The police in our opinion had no right to Hager’s personal bank records, but of course as we have already pointed out this type of unlawful and unprincipled behavior has been employed countless times before Hager’s records were unlawfully obtained and neither he nor his fellow journalist have done anything to bring it to the publics attention.
In fact in at least one case that we here at LF are aware of, one of Hager’s so called brother and sister journalists have actively engaged in collusion with police to conceal their own criminal wrong doing.
Thus the argument that the so-called “fourth estate” somehow stands head and shoulders above the rabble and it’s leaders in the moral stakes has long been an invalid proposition. As an institution, the media, and as individuals, New Zealand’s journalists, have over the past three decades engaged in far worse behavior than that which Slater now stands accused of.
In this latest round Hager has yet again tried to convince the public that his fellow journalists deserve another chance, as if this is the first time they have been caught at it. Hager has stated:
For example, at the time I wrote that book, quite a considerable number of journalists and news organisations were in extremely unhealthy relationships with this rightwing attack blogger, who was acting as a tool of various commercial interests and also of the prime minister’s office, for covert attacks on their opponents.
Most of those journalists have stopped doing that. Many of those media organisations have more or less apologised publicly for getting caught up in it. If one book can do that, I’m really happy with it, and that’s not the only change at all.
Hager’s proposition is however seriously flawed, its an argument that Hager may have already lost, having well and truly saturated the pockets of the big media players with his urine at the expense of the truth and the publics right to know.
Who is Hager to decide who should be named and shamed? Has he recently been declared the sole arbiter of media rights and wrongs? Did Hagar, as a journo, have a legitimate right get to decide who should have been named, or shamed?
No, had Hager written Dirty Politics as a journalist, as claimed, we would argue that he would not have left anything out, and left any judgment in the hands of readers, the public, alone.
It is important to note that any decision of the High Court in these proceedings is not a reflection of Hager’s behavior, this case is all about the polices behavior.
The only way forward if one is to truly test Hager’s actions is, in our opinion, to file a private prosecution against Hager. Hager, knowingly, was the recipient of stolen property, there is no plausible defence that we can think of to that charge.
The next question of course is whether Nicky Hager himself benefitted financially from the theft of the material stolen off Slater.
We rather suspect that it could be successfully argued that Nicky Hager benefitted financially from a significant criminal activity, and thus the royalties (if exceeding $30’000) received from the sale of Dirty Politics are in fact proceeds derived from that significant criminal activity (see: NZ Proceeds of Crime Act 1991, NZ Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009);
6 Meaning of significant criminal activity (NZ Proceeds of Crime (Recovery) Act 2009)
(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, significant criminal activity means an activity engaged in by a person that if proceeded against as a criminal offence would amount to offending—
(a) that consists of, or includes, 1 or more offences punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 5 years or more; or
(b) from which property, proceeds, or benefits of a value of $30,000 or more have, directly or indirectly, been acquired or derived.
(2) A person is undertaking an activity of the kind described in subsection (1) whether or not—
(a) the person has been charged with or convicted of an offence in connection with the activity; or
(b) the person has been acquitted of an offence in connection with the activity; or
(c) the person’s conviction for an offence in connection with the activity has been quashed or set aside.
(3) Any expenses or outgoings used in connection with an activity of the kind described in subsection (1) must be disregarded for the purposes of calculating the value of any property, proceeds, or benefits under subsection (1)(b)
7 Meaning of unlawfully benefited from significant criminal activity
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, a person has unlawfully benefited from significant criminal activity if the person has knowingly, directly or indirectly, derived a benefit from significant criminal activity (whether or not that person undertook or was involved in the significant criminal activity).