You, Me and The GCSB

There is nothing better than information gleaned straight from the horse’s mouth. Especially when the horse in question happens to be the head of a spy agency, dishing on mass surveillance, WikiLeaks, Snowden and even “the Russians“.

By happenstance I have obtained some fascinating material regarding New Zealand’s most infamous spy agency.

Recently one Andrew Hampton, the new-ish head of New Zealand’s NSA (the GCSB – Government Communications Security Bureau), put in an appearance at the board meeting  of Transparency International’s New Zealand branch – TINZ.

Substantial notes were taken about his on-the-record remarks at that meeting.

The takeaways are a veritable goldmine from an analysis perspective – particularly for a journalist with my areas of interest. A rich tapestry of regurgitated propaganda straight from the mouths of the executives of US intelligence agencies were coupled with New Zealand-specific obfuscations and denials, laid out neatly amidst a smattering of easily disprovable “facts”.

The art of spin is to at all times sound entirely reasonable. To downplay any misgiving and gently assuage any concern. Hampton is apparently adept at this, as one onlooker observed that they were “left with the opinion that GCSB were following the rules.” Yet they knew from my own personal situation that that was unlikely to be the case.

My source wondered “if GCSB are being strict, but other agencies were mis-using the information GCSB provide… [Hampton] struck me as well informed, new at the job, perhaps slightly naive. If they are up to no good, and he was being disingenuous, he did an incredibly good job of covering it up. He didn’t strike me as being capable of such sophisticated obfuscation. [Another onlooker] felt GCSB was still capable of plenty of naughtiness, perhaps it’s buried further down in the organisation.”

While those further down in the organisation are likely products of the culture of the whole and perhaps prone to individual opportunism with regards to the use of the tools that they are granted access to, my deduction after intensive study is that the “naughtiness” in fact happens right at the very top.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Even above Mr Hampton himself and certainly during the time period of 2010-2016, culpability traces right to the very doorstep of now ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, who was Minister in Charge of New Zealand’s security services. Intelligence legislation dictates that the Minister in Charge may “co-operate with, and provide advice and assistance to, any public authority (where in New Zealand or overseas) and any other entity authorised by the Minister..” [emphasis added]

This suggests that New Zealand’s passing of the data of its own citizens to the National Security Agency would have had to be signed off at the very top.

Yet Prime Minister John Key also held the voting majority on the Oversight Committee that was supposed to hold the security agencies in check.

Having the Minister in Charge of the agencies be allowed to himself vote and to appoint two of the other four members, made a complete mockery of the entire concept of oversight.

The last bullet point in the above screenshot of the regulations for oversight stipulates: “The Director of the NZSIS (New Zealand Security Intelligence Services) must ensure that the NZSIS does not take action for the purpose of furthering or harming the interests of any political party.

Yet we know that the NZSIS did exactly that to the former Leader of the Opposition.

According to the NZ Herald:

“Inspector General of Security Intelligence Cheryl Gwyn’s report yesterday found primarily that former SIS director Warren Tucker was at fault for supplying “misleading” information about Mr Goff to the Prime Minister during a 2011 war of words between the pair.”

Not only did Cheryl Gwyn find Director Tucker at fault, she said that she “had found significant failures by the SIS to meet its obligations, both in the release of information and in upholding political neutrality…  the information as released was incomplete, inaccurate and misleading… overall there was a basic failure to provide a full and accurate picture.” 

There are further indications of how deeply shoddy and inappropriate New Zealand’s practises are surrounding their intelligence services. In the wake of the Kitteridge Report (by then Secretary of Cabinet Rebecca Kitteridge) which the Prime Minister described in April 2013 as pretty damning after it had revealed the 88+ instances of illegal spying on New Zealand citizens,  then Inspector General of the Intelligence Services Paul Neazor promptly went public about his own report ostensibly clearing the GCSB of wrongdoing.

Radio New Zealand reported:

“…Paul Neazor says he has not found there were no breaches – only that its spying on New Zealanders may have been legal.”

Wrap your head around that one. From the double negative to the “may have been“.

Predictably, the report was not released to the public.

Yet the RNZ article continues:

Yet the above claim that “all of the cases were based on serious issues such as the development of potential weapons of mass destruction, people smuggling and drug smuggling” is not possible. Because it was revealed in 2016 thanks to The Intercept and TVNZ that one of the targets was a pro-democracy activist in Fiji. Which appears to retrospectively catch out then-Director Ian Fletcher in an outright lie.

And who was Ian Fletcher? According to 3News: a “former schoolmate of John Key” with “no military or GCSB experience” who was “directly approached by the PM” and offered the opportunity to apply for the position of Director of the spy agency.

Then of course there is the issue of the GCSB already having admitted to illegally spying on tech entrepreneur and New Zealand resident Kim Dotcom. Prime Minister Key even mustered a rare apology for the illegal actions.

There are additional questions surrounding how much Key’s then Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson, who has been described as thepower behind the throne” and is also Chief of Staff to the now-Prime Minister Bill English, also knew and/or was involved in the political mayhem that surrounded the GCSB’s targeting of New Zealand citizens and residents. While Key has departed, Eagleson has not.

After a year in the job, how much Hampton knows is anyone’s guess. As the analysis of his speech that will follow demonstrates, his discourse mostly comes across as ‘Monkey-Hear, Monkey-Say’ rather than ‘Monkey-See, Monkey-Do’.

His apparent conviction in his words is no doubt as practised as his media training and it is likely that he in fact believes every word. For by their nature, careerists are so invested in the continuity of their position and the trajectory of their careers that they often genuinely and wholeheartedly commit to their own propaganda.

To believe that everything is OK and that there really is no dark underbelly to their service, their organisation or their government is a far sweeter and more emotionally palatable, not to mention lucrative, option than the cold dread of the scarier alternative.

Thus there are many incentives for others within the GCSB to take what Mr Hampton says at face value and to themselves adopt his assertions – professional, social, financial and emotional pay-offs for doing so.

There is only one reason to look deeper and between the lines:

Because you value the truth.

The Great Paradox 

In New Zealand, when citizens who act to challenge the intelligence agencies are vindicated in court, the law is changed to make those acts illegal.

When actions undertaken by the intelligence agencies against its own citizens are found to be illegal, the law is changed to make those acts legal.

This was in evidence when the ‘Waihopai Three’ – a preacher, a teacher, and a farmer, outraged by New Zealand’s Waihopai Spy Base being used to collect targeting information for America’s war in Iraq, pierced one of the ‘bubbles’ (satellite domes) with a sickle and found themselves up for 10 years in jail and a million-dollar fine.

Allowed to state their reasons for their act in front of a jury of their peers, they were ultimately acquitted.

The Government’s response to the acquittal? Not to appeal it, but to simply change the law to remove the possibility of anyone else being able to defend similar acts of protest on the same premises.

When the GCSB was found to have been illegally targeting New Zealand citizens in violation of law and of their own founding charter, the government’s response was the opposite. They implemented a series of amendments to the law to make the illegal acts legal and to date there has been no restitution or redress achieved by the many victims. Police declined to prosecute the offending agency, citing lack of criminal intent.

The country was in an uproar. Dozens of New Zealand towns and cities broke out into protest in a movement against the spy agency the likes of which may never have been seen before.

The outcry was so sustained that even the mainstream media couldn’t keep a lid on it.

For once, the issue was being thoroughly investigated by the biggest political news shows in the country.

Famous broadcaster John Campbell clearly tied the whole saga back to the United States, on his hit show “Campbell Live” in this utterly damning investigation:

However the end result of the scandal was a blind-eye being turned to the mass dissent and the new legislation being considered under urgency and then passed by a razor-thin margin.

Even the Conservative Party was unhappy about the bill being tabled under urgency.

Indeed the strength of the movement against the GCSB was that it was bi-partisan. Almost every political party except the ruling coalition jumped on board the wagon. Unfortunately New Zealanders learned a hard lesson: that no matter how much they protested or how much they dissented, the authoritarian National government was far more interested in pleasing their American overlords than in appeasing their own public.

The line had been drawn in the sand. The message was clear: Protest will get you nowhere. The government doesn’t care. They will do what they want regardless. And just as with the TPPA and every other instance of ignoring the will of the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders, so they did and so they do.

Again and again.

The Meat In The Pie

Which brings me back to what the Director of the GCSB, Andrew Hampton, had to say to Transparency International New Zealand, where we’ve heard it all before and most importantly, what he didn’t say.

  1. The Director said GCSB is/has been “held to account

Well, if you call saying sorry for doing illegal things yet suffering no criminal penalty and paying no compensation while having your illegal acts retrospectively legalised and then having your powers dramatically and arguably unnecessarily expanded not once, but twice, as well as having your budget substantially increased repeatedly (up 19% in 2010 in the midst of their illegal spying and up another $178 million starting from 2016) being “held to account“, you’re probably qualified to become the next Director of the GCSB.

2. The GCSB is “a public service

If the definition of a public service is where you get funded by the public, but can violate their rights without suffering legal, legislative or budgetary recourse, can ignore the will of the same public when they decry both your activity and the increases of your powers all while spying on that very public (and worse, shipping citizen’s private information offshore to foreign powers) then you probably get an honorary PhD in Orwellianism to go with your new job as Director of the GCSB.

3. The GCSB “is accountable to Ministers

Except, as discussed above, the Ministers appear to be accountable to no one. With the Prime Minister casting the deciding vote on the Oversight Committee, that is the end of accountability.

4. It is “not optional, must comply with law.”

Except that when they don’t comply with the law, the law simply gets changed.

5. There are “high levels of scrutiny” and the GCSB is “more accountable than many other departments.

Great, the other-people-are-worse-than-us argument. The only reason there is high levels of scrutiny is because the conduct of the agency has been so egregious in the eyes of the public, their choice of targets so inappropriate and their lies and cover-ups so voracious, that they have made a complete mockery of themselves year in and year out. The GCSB has made itself so infamous that it has entered pop culture. It was the star of iconic Kiwi rock band Shihad’s album “FVEY. It is a cartoon caricature. It is literally a meme in New Zealand. Thousands, in fact. There are social media accounts who exist solely to mock them, Facebook pages and groups, campaigns devoted to shutting them down entirely, and 88 New Zealanders who are probably going to sue the crap out of them when they inevitably find out who they are and what has been done to them. Every cover-up just prolongs the scandals further and the complete lack of redress is a festering sore that no amount of denials or spin can effectively conceal.

6. The Director says that there are three key objectives to the GCSB legislation; “International security, national security and economic well-being.”

The major question this raises is – security according to who? The United States? What if the United States finally illegally invades one too many countries and things go pear-shaped? Foreign policy determined by the objectives of a foreign power rather than our own is a slippery slope; national security policy determined by the same is even worse. And I’m not just being paranoid here. To suggest that our interests just happen to align with the United States is folly. The truth is, whether those interests align has nothing to do with the will of the people and everything to do with the will of those who are in power.

As for economic well-being, apparently that extends to spying on the rest of the world to try to install our own trade representative as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. Yet another embarrassing scandal on the pile for the GCSB.

7. According to Director Hampton, there was only “seven intercepts last year” (2016) yet Hampton said he spends “4-5 hours a week getting authorisations over at the Beehive”.

This is a huge red flag. The enhanced spying powers included the ability to get a warrant not on a person but on an entity, provider or geographical location. Yes, in theory, literally an entire geographic area could be surveilled under a single warrant. This amounts to a general warrant.

Quoting from

“Historically, general warrant was issued by the English Secretary of State for the arrest of the author, printer, or publisher of a seditious libel, without naming the persons to be arrested. Such warrants were banned by Parliament in 1766.

A general warrant refers to a warrant providing a law-enforcement officer with broad discretion or authority to search and seize unspecified places or persons. A general warrant lacks a sufficiently particularized description of the person or thing to be seized or the place to be searched.”

The use of general warrants are widely regarded to have led to the American Revolutionary War.


So the GCSB bill allows the GCSB to spy on “a class of person” (whatever on earth that means), or “classes of place”.

Leaving little doubt that it in fact meets the definition of a general warrant.

8. The Director says “Sometimes other agencies legal frameworks don’t suit new types of threats...” He quantifies this with a classic fear-mongering example: “…counter-narcotics.” He claims there was a “…big bust 2 weeks ago…” but that the agency couldn’t do something about it. 

To hear him tell it, you’d be forgiven for thinking the GCSB sits around busting drug traffickers all day. Yet the reality seeps through in the situation of the aforementioned non-violent pro-democracy activist in Fiji. His house was raided, his passport revoked and he was utterly terrified. There was not a single allegation of drug trafficking or anything of the like. It was just yet another example of a political persecution enabled by pervasive government spying powers. Powers that have been broadened and enhanced since.

9. The Director says that the ‘Five Eyes’ (FVEY) agreement has existed since the 1940s; has “Lots of benefits”; results in “information from our partners.” Claims that for every 1 intelligence “product” New Zealand generates, 99 are received from FVEY. 

This is an alarming and potentially deceptive statistic. Since the Snowden disclosures, a number of practices of the intelligence agencies have become known – not just those relating to their usual functions but also some of the methods by which they bypass regulations and restrictions in order to obtain information that they want, regardless of the impropriety of doing so.

In particular, the practice of getting information about someone they are not warranted to target by collecting information of foreign nationals which whom they have been in communication, and for which the agency thus doesn’t require a warrant to collect on. This is what is called “incidental collection” although there is in fact nothing incidental about it.

Additionally, agencies have been obtaining data on their own citizens by having a partner agency perform the collection instead of the agency doing it themselves.

This practice provided cover for the agencies who could then say “we did not collect information on our own citizens” while knowing full well that they were receiving it via their partners.

While this is no longer an issue for New Zealand, who has now blatantly legalised spying on their own citizens, there is likely more to the 99 vs 1 claim than it appears on the surface.

10. On the subject of Snowden, the Director spouts Obama’s lines word for word – Snowden’s disclosures “led to a debate that needed to happen.”

However, this admission soon led to the usual Snowden-bashing that we have come to expect from proponents of government surveillance.

The Director said that Snowden’s leaks “led to heightened anxiety” and claimed that “all of that activity had been authorised.”

He then disclaimed the importance of Snowden’s revelations in New Zealand, stating that New Zealanders “don’t need Snowden to discuss our agencies transparency – we had [Kim] Dotcom.”

This is another misnomer. I was present at the Moment of Truth event in Auckland in 2014 where Snowden, Julian Assange, Kim Dotcom, Glenn Greenwald and others spoke about the significance of the Snowden documents in relation to New Zealand. A number of extremely pertinent pieces of information were disclosed that went largely unreported by media. These included revelations that there are in fact multiple NSA facilities operating on New Zealand soil, with NSA staff and NSA funding. Some of those installations were previously  unknown and unheard of in New Zealand. The implications are massive and remain unaddressed.

11. On the subject of WikiLeaks, things got markedly more hostile. “As a result of WikiLeaks the world is a less safe place” declared the Director.

It didn’t end there. WikiLeaks had “made extremists adopt end-to-end encryption.” This had had a “cooling effect on telecom companies-to-agencies cooperation.”

These are precisely the same claims that were made about Snowden, before the US government did its U-turn to claim that his revelations had led to a necessary debate. Now the scapegoat is WikiLeaks.

The fact is, extremists have known for decades that they were being spied on and their use of a variety of evasive measures, including encryption, predates both WikiLeaks and Snowden.

12. When asked about the Podesta email dump, the Director said “it was the Russians behind it but it was a simple hack.”

The Director spouting US pro-surveillance propaganda word-for-word is ominous enough, but for one of the five top spymasters in the world to make definitive claims about something that is so far from proven is profoundly disturbing. Not only are the claims that the Russians did it baseless, but there certainly is evidence to the contrary.

[It is also noteworthy that the #Vault7 WikiLeaks releases showed that CIA hacking ops practice deniability by using signatures of foreign agencies – specifically the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and others.]

What Do The Good Guys Have To Say About This?

An anti-privacy pro-police state plague has infected the world. Think that sounds extreme? When the Human Rights Commission took the very serious step of submitting an urgent report to Prime Minister John Key about the GCSB Bill, he publicly threatened to pull their funding.

Fast forward to the second round of expanded powers for the spy agencies – the 2016 Security and Intelligence Bill – and the Human Rights Commission dutifully had another go at making a critically important submission.


Spy Laws Spreading Like A Virus

The Aussie’s Data Retention Act – the USA Freedom Act – the new Canadian CSEC powers and the UK IP Bill – all had their genesis in little old New Zealand’s GCSB Bill. Just as the TICS legislation empowering – in fact, obligating – Internet Service Providers to spy on their consumers is being adopted worldwide.

Countries that the West has long accused of being democratically deficient and oppressive are modelling their legislation on that of the Western World, who have so outdone themselves in their quest for power over their citizenry that they are now legislative models for dictatorships and autocracies globally.

Edward Snowden recently pointed out:



So who has been spied on?

Possibly you. Probably me.

The only ones who know for sure are the GCSB.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

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Bombshell Kim Dotcom Exclusive: 2TB of Leaked Govt Data Will Stun New Zealand In 2017

Love him or hate him Kim Dotcom has smarts, guts and top-notch contacts.

The relentless innovator, due to launch his latest digital initiative Mega 2.0 on January 2017, the 5th anniversary of the raid of his mansion – which also happens to be the day President-elect Donald Trump is due to take office – is out for justice and not backing down.

Recently he hinted on Twitter that 2017 is the year that will finally bring down New Zealand’s scandal-plagued ruling government.

DNC-style leaks about the National Party in New Zealand may indeed revolutionise the political situation in the country and also the mainstream media, who have mostly been subjugated, shackled and brought to heel by the chains of a no-holds-barred government willing to wield its intelligence services against its own citizens in the pursuit of absolute power.

In our exclusive interview Dotcom dishes more details on the endemic corruption in New Zealand mainstream media and the ruling government and reveals further information about the leaks he says are scheduled to rock the country next year.

The opening day of the High Court hearing regarding your extradition and your victory in winning the right to livestream it received significant coverage in the world press. After that, there was mostly a resounding silence. Why do you think this is?

Kim Dotcom: Just like in the US and the UK, the NZ media has become a government mouth piece. Since the founding of the Internet Party I’m considered anti-establishment and a threat to the status quo. I had everyone so scared that we might do well that the rat pack of National friendly media quickly came to Key’s rescue with a coordinated character assassination campaign and just like Donald Trump I called them out for their dishonesty. They had shown their true face to me. I now knew all the top media players that the government had in their pocket. Imagine how these players would look if they had to admit that I was right all along. That my case is unlawful and political and that Key and his Attorney General engaged in criminal activity to gain favour with the US government regarding my case and that Key knew all along.

There were problems with sound and visuals on the livestream, reminiscent of some of the issues that others such as Julian Assange experience when transmitting important information. Were these purely technical issues or potentially something more nefarious?

Kim Dotcom: I simply don’t know. It could have been technical issues. It could have been sabotage.

In a recent interview, Patrick Gower told Toby Manhire that the lead-up to the general election in 2014 was “peak cray”. How would you describe that period in New Zealand political history?

Kim Dotcom: I revealed the scope of mass surveillance in New Zealand with undeniable evidence and with the help of the most knowledgeable people. The Moment of Truth could have been an awakening for the New Zealand public. This was so much bigger than my case. Patrick Gower and his pro-government buddies steered the news towards a failure to produce a smoking gun against Key’s deep knowledge and involvement in my case. If they would have reported what the Moment of Truth had revealed, the National Party would have lost the election. John Key was outed as a serial liar but that wasn’t the headline.

You famously called out Patrick Gower at the press conference immediately following the Moment of Truth event. What led you to do so?

Kim Dotcom: Patrick Gower is the most dishonest henchman in the New Zealand media landscape. He is not reporting on politics. He is creating the news that his National party contacts need. He’s part of the National P.R. machine. Unethical to the core.

You have tweeted that an expected release of government information will take down the National Party in the next general election in 2017. What types of material can we expect to see?

Kim Dotcom: Why do you think John Key resigned? This wasn’t about his family. It’s more likely about the next election and 2 terabytes of emails and attachments that were taken from New Zealand government servers. I heard from a reliable source that the Podesta emails seem like cotton candy compared to the amount of disgusting dishonesty the National government will see leaked at the next election. Key must know. He’s taken the parachute. He can’t stomach the kind of embarrassment that Clinton had to endure with daily releases of dirty emails. And this time even his media cronies couldn’t have saved him. The Internet and alternative media of reputable truth-telling websites are taking over. Leaks are the new political reality. Over time this will be the cure against dishonest politicians. They just can’t survive in this new environment of information.

Many people believe that Donald Trump may be of the same ilk as Hillary Clinton. Would a Labour-led coalition government in New Zealand really be a material difference to your case or any significant improvement for the wider public in general?

Kim Dotcom: Donald Trump and Brexit are the punishment the elites deserve. Will the Donald drain the swamp? We will have to wait and see. The swamp is exactly what led to the unlawful destruction of my business and the military-style raid and illegal spying against my family. A Labour government in New Zealand would have no incentive to drag out the monstrosities committed by John Key and his Attorney General Chris Finlayson against my family. The Attorney General is using every tool of power at his disposal to prevent the unavoidable legal victory that is coming my way. He will fail and he might end up in jail himself. I won’t stop until the truth about the real Mega conspiracy is fully unearthed. And I expect a Labour government will want an independent inquiry into my case which will see the National Party in disarray and embarrassment for years to come. This will be a brutal and costly experience for New Zealand but it will also be necessary so that something like this can’t happen again.

Kim Dotcom’s answers are great and perhaps that’s to be expected given his vast experience as an interview subject. What was surprising however, is the discovery that he also has a by-line himself, giving a candid retelling of his political trials and tribulations to a well-known New Zealander, Gareth Morgan, who is considering setting up a political party.

In his article, Dotcom writes of his exasperation with:

“…the lies, the lies and more lies, so many lies. See how none of your policies or achievements matter. Nobody cares. Talk about what you stand for and then watch your message get diluted to a joke. Show the voters how corrupt, dirty and dishonest the current leadership is and then shake your head at the stupidity of the masses, how gullible they are to manipulative media spin, how little they understand, how they simply don’t give a shit.”

Given the constant boot that both politicians and the mainstream media put into him in 2014, juxtaposed with the alternating ridicule and silence during what was supposed to be live-blogged coverage of his recent High Court hearing, it’s not difficult to understand how Dotcom’s experiences could be disillusioning.

The following screenshot from The Spinoff TV is what passes for ‘journalism’ in New Zealand:

The back-scratching creme de la creme of establishment Kiwi journalism think that ignorant displays such as the above are funny, but they’re actually ludicrous and insulting to the intelligence of readers.

Readers who are supposed to fail to notice that the same journalist who did the abysmal job of live-blogging Dotcom’s High Court hearing recently dedicated over 6,500 words to detailing a “bar-hopping, wine-soaked interview” with none other than Patrick Gower. The aforementioned “peak cray” interview referenced in our question to Kim Dotcom.

But mainstream media negligence is only a part of the picture. To this day, the government’s persecution of Kim Dotcom and the violations of his privacy and of people associated with him continues:

At this point, illegally spying on Kim Dotcom is about the stupidest undertaking possible. The government getting caught doing exactly that over three years ago, led to one of the biggest political scandals and largest protest movements in modern New Zealand history.

Dotcom knows his rights and has the clout to pursue them in court. 

The various suits Dotcom has been, is and will be filing against the spy agencies and government aren’t just about money or damages.

He is after full disclosure.

He wants the truth.

The truth is the bare minimum requirement for true understanding, for closure and for healing. Let alone restitution and compensation.

The unorthodox tactics Dotcom wields are the tools of the new information age and his cunning and net savvy is what keeps him a step ahead of his adversaries.

A full accounting of how they have harmed him, why and who else they targeted in the process of attempting to ruin him is yet to be revealed, but Dotcom is very clear about who has wronged him.

He has a list.

At the rate he is going, he may well get a tick in every box.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

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The Bizarre Plans Of The Prime Minister of New Zealand To Win Over President-Elect Trump

One would imagine that if the soon-to-be leader of the free world gave you a call, that you’d answer even if you had to scramble out of the bath, or bed, to do so.

Apparently not, given that New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key astonishingly claimed in an interview this week that President-Elect Donald Trump had called him and he had simply missed it. reports:

“Prime Minister John Key has described US President Elect Donald Trump as warm and engaging, after the two leaders finally got their first phone call.

Trump offered his condolences to New Zealand after the North Canterbury earthquakes, and had been well-briefed on emergency evacuations and relief efforts in the wake of Monday’s 7.5 quake near Hanmer.

It was the second attempt at getting the pair hooked up, after Key confirmed he had missed a call from Trump’s team in the early aftermath of the quake. Key had been meaning to call Trump to congratulate him on winning the US election last week, but the quake response had taken priority.”

Except the U.S. election was November 8th and according to Wikipedia, the earthquake struck on November 14th, six days later.

Another Stuff article about the matter says that John Key was “not quite sure how the call slipped by, but was hopeful the pair would connect soon.

John Key then told Stuff “Yeah, apparently, that’s what Trump’s people said, that apparently I missed a call. But I had my phone, I certainly didn’t see it…

However, in a video interview with the NZ Herald, John Key references Trump’s people having left him a voicemail so it is clear the call was made. In the interview Key blames the transition period for the confusion:

It’s partly because, if we were dealing with the President’s office then it’s a little bit more structured. But they’re in that transition phase…

So, it was the six-days-after-the-election earthquake, then it was a phantom call that happened to leave a voicemail, then it was the transition to blame. Welcome to Planet Key.

But there is a far more likely reason for the delay and it is not the geological earthquake, but the geopolitical one:


jk6John Key donated millions of public dollars to the Clinton Foundation, arguably the worst investment of all time.


His pet media were uniformly backing the wrong horse and so Key has kept his distance from Trump but now finds himself in the unenviable position of having to deal with him regardless.



jk9John Key is no stranger to scandal, and prone to telling porkies (over 400 of them to date) so this is all probably no big deal to him.

The TPP, on the other hand, seems to be a very big deal to him. He is so miffed about it not passing, that he is already preparing contingency plans.

Plan A: Lecture the Americans on what is best for their country

Ahead of the APEC summit in Peru, John Key told the NZ Herald about how he plans to broach the issue.

“About TPP. I’ll put in a pitch and say the TPP has been an important agreement and the US has been a cornerstone in that agreement and I think it’s well and truly in the US’s best interests to be part of it and that while I appreciate that he has concerns about the deal and wants to satisfy himself that the deal meets the standards he wants or make some other suggestions, I don’t think they should leave that void for a long period of time because I think in the end that void could or would get filled and I don’t think that’s in the United States best interests.”

Plan B: Coercion writes “while Mr Trump has been very vocal about his opposition to the deal, Mr Key thinks he might still be swayed.”

Their article quotes John Key as saying that what Trump promises pre-election and what he does post-election may not be the same things, and that with a little “coercion” the picture might change:

“As we know in the United States, what happens on a campaign trail and ultimately what happens in reality when someone assumes the Oval Office can be a bit different. What Donald Trump has said is that TPP from his perspective is a horrible deal – he hasn’t said that he’s philosophically opposed to trade.

“He hasn’t had great things to say about TPP, but maybe with some coercion, maybe, maybe with some changes that we could agree to that didn’t have an overall significant enough in pact to slow the thing down dramatically, maybe it’s possible to get them there.” [emphasis added]

Plan C: Bad Jokes

The New Zealand Herald coverage of John Key’s performance at the Apec Summit has gotten downright groanworthy.

“Key joked about renaming it the Trump Pacific Partnership while speaking on a trade panel at a summit of CEOs.

He later said he believed Trump could be talked around…”

Plan D: Threaten To Do It Without The U.S.

John Key seems convinced that if Donald Trump won’t move ahead with the TPP that the other countries will simply go it alone.

There are multiple recent media references to him stating exactly that.

However, it is unlikely to take too many phone calls to other nations from Donald Trump to stymie Key’s plans should he attempt to go this route. Ultimately, the signatories are more likely to treasure their relationships with the U.S. over their relationships with John Key, who may well exit his Prime Ministership at New Zealand’s general election in 2017.

Key’s determination to ratify the TPP no matter what is extremely short-sighted. He is banking on what he perceives as the strength of the US-New Zealand relationship and New Zealand’s support over the issue of the South China Sea in order to hold sway over Trump. Key has repeatedly stated that the US-NZ relationship is the “strongest it has ever been“.

But that strength came from his efforts to pander to an Obama administration who had made a major investment in what they called “a pivot to Asia“. It was as a result of their prioritisation of the South Pacific region that led to Key’s Defence Minister announcing in kind a $20 billion investment in New Zealand’s comparatively miniscule military might.

Money that may well go down the tubes if Trump chooses diplomacy over continued military expansionism.

Plan E: Moan about lost ‘political capital’

John Key is yet another leader who faces retiring from office with his flagship achievements in tatters. His ‘financial hub’ scheme turned New Zealand into a tax haven uniquely singled out by the Panama Papers whistleblower in his manifesto. Key’s $26 million campaign to change the New Zealand flag became, to put it nicely, the laughing stock of New Zealand.

Now his precious ‘trade’ deal, which he has pushed through at every turn against the express wishes of the vast majority of the New Zealand public (and arguably, against their direct interests) is on the rocks as well.


John Key told the NZ Herald that “Every country has gone through a lot to get to this point. Every political leader somewhere along the line has burnt a bit of political capital and called in some favours to get TPP there.

What he’s really saying is that this debacle which has spanned more than half a decade is his final swan song, hence his desperation to push it through by any means possible.

jk8 jk7

How much, or little, weight a Prime Minister of a country of 4 million people holds in the international arena, remains to be seen. His attempts to champion the Trans-Pacific Partnership against Trump’s express wishes are unlikely to win him any favours.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!



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#PanamaPapersNZ – Long John Key Silver And His Treasure Islands

I warned that New Zealand would be used as a tax haven on October 26th, 2011, if the National government was reelected.

I wasn’t the first.

Never did I expect we would be proven right in such a spectacular fashion as via the Panama Papers leak.

A leak that has shone light on an agenda to use New Zealand as a port of safe harbour for vast swathes of foreign cash. An agenda that does not stem solely from the ruling Party. It comes from on high.

From the description of the above video, posted in April 2014:

Last month, the kiwi government tabled a bill that would remove the current 28% tax rate on income incurred by non-residents investing in funds held in New Zealand.

The move by the government is the latest to entice investors to domicile assets on its shores. A year ago, prime minister John Key, a former Merrill Lynch banker, created a focus group to examine how the nation could become more welcoming to foreign assets and enlisted consultant Oliver Wyman to examine the country’s options.

The consultancy’s recommendation was to market New Zealand as a funds domicile in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Puppet-Masters

As depicted in ‘House of Cards‘, even at Presidential level, the real government is who the leaders of countries talk to when they get home at night.

And who they are talking to is people with great wealth, who know damn well what a foreign trust is, and how to utilise tax havens to their benefit.

Tax havens like New Zealand, run for the last eight years by arguably the most pro-Wall Street, pro-America Prime Minister in generations: ex-Member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, John Key.

New Zealand and the Panama Papers

New Zealand is once again in an uproar and debate is evolving at a swift pace. It has just discovered that it is a laundering haven for drug money and other illicit international funds, and that the personal lawyer of the leader of the country was involved in lobbying to ensure that the legislative status quo with regards to offshore trusts remained intact.

Our already-scandal-plagued Prime Minister is doing his best to cling to power, attempting to sidestep these latest revelations as deftly as he has countless prior instances of mass public indignation – rare moments in which the mostly-cowed and constantly-culled national press corp begin to do their job.

After all, the Panama Papers’ whistle-blower’s recent statement singled out John Key and New Zealand.


The Standard wants to know, why?


Because we are a country run by a man who has helped unleash this same agenda upon other countries before, with disastrous effect.

Countries like Ireland.

Back in 2011, Ireland was Greece. Being strong-armed by the IMF, bound to Greek-style austerity measures to stave off impending bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy that loomed because of “a mirage driven by clever use of tax-haven rules and a huge credit boom that permitted real estate prices and construction to grow quickly before declining ever more rapidly.”


Guess who was making full use of Ireland to reduce the tax liability of offshore funds on behalf of his wealthy clientele?

John Key.

How do we know this?

Because he said so.

New Zealand Prime Minister Telling Porkies

In an enthusiastic 2005 interview with Fran O’Sullivan of the NZ Herald, then future Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key bragged about how his moving businesses and funds offshore to Ireland had saved his Merrill Lynch clientele megabucks.

From the July 19, 2005 article:


Key words… ‘Head of global foreign exchange’; Ireland; “..huge chunk of private clients’ business”.

Fran O’Sullivan writes of Key, “But as a former money-man, he is also interested in how Jersey built its economy on the back of offshore trusts.”

However, this doesn’t seem to faze the NZ Herald, which on April 6th, 2016, effectively whitewashed the O’Sullivan article.

While the above ‘offshore trusts’ quote is addressed in a forgiving tone (bizarrely, by being reiterated), there is no mention whatsoever of the “huge chunk of private clients’ business” that Key moved to Ireland for tax purposes as Head of global foreign exchange for Merrill Lynch.

Yet by contrast, in this video of his May 9th press conference, Key has the following exchange:

Reporter: “The Papers show that a lot of the overseas people are using it for business interests, not connected to inheritance or things that you’ve talked about in terms of opposition parties in countries that are unstable and that sort of thing. What reason would someone, in Mexico for example, using a business deal, have to set up a trust in New Zealand?”

John Key: “So the first thing you appreciate is that I haven’t seen the papers. So it’s very difficult to comment when I can’t see the individual cases. Nor am I a tax expert so I can’t comment on individual cases. But, for example, apparently there was one case that I just heard someone talking about where the person was Mexican, and had set up a Trust because they were uncertain about Mexican inheritance law, tax law, and that’s legitimate.

In short: He doesn’t know what’s in the Papers, even though he was Minister in charge of the New Zealand equivalent of the CIA. He “isn’t a tax expert” and says he can’t comment on individual cases… but then does.

The exchange continues:

Reporter: “There are plenty of examples that just refer to straight business deals. So why would someone with no connection to New Zealand be setting up Trusts here?”

John Key: “I can’t answer why that is. Well, New Zealand is a jurisdiction which is a good jurisdiction to do that and for all the reasons that we know. That we do have exchange of information, that we do have transparency, that we do meet the highest possible codes, so there’s all sorts of reasons that people might, but you have to go and ask those who establish those why they do that, I’m just not an expert in that area.”

So John Key, who moved an “aircraft leasing business, the complex interest rates derivatives business, the entire back office for global foreign exchange and a huge chunk of private clients’ business” to Ireland on behalf of one of the biggest investment banking firms in the world, in order “to take advantage of a 10 per cent tax rate for foreign investors” – an “investment” described as a “runaway success” – is “not a tax expert”.

He claims that the reason all these overseas businesses are setting up accounts in New Zealand is purely because of good compliance and transparency.

Over 10,000 in total – flocking to New Zealand because they want increased compliance and visibility?


In the infamous words of Dr. Jane Kelsey – “I think I just saw a flock of flying pigs go by!”

Some professional tax and trust lawyers have been so good as to publish a copy of their submission in support of John Key’s “financial hub” scheme, on their commercial website.

One such example is Christchurch’s Parry Field.


The opening position in their submission is nothing short of astounding. They posit:

‘One may ask, “Why introduce tax rules that would benefit wealthy foreigners?” We think this is the wrong starting point, and the question should rather be: “Why not?”’

Under the sub-heading “Why would any fund manager choose New Zealand?” Parry Field suggest eight answers, and allude to “many more“.

None of which are transparency or high compliance standards, as John Key asserted at his press conference. In fact, they cite a lack of regulations as being part of the attraction:

“Regulations imposed by the European Union and other supra-national bodies are making life increasingly difficult for the traditional financial centres.”

The cherry on the cake:


The Inland Revenue Department themselves have a different take on why tax fund managers choose New Zealand:


Back to the press conference, once it is a veteran government apologist asking a question, John Key starts sounding very much like a tax expert.

Barry Soper: “Prime Minister it is said that overseas businesses use trusts in New Zealand to avoid tax. Well we’re not undermining our tax base. But is it acceptable that they’re using…”

John Key: “…It is possible, for people to potentially, through the mismatches of the different tax systems, if they want to be creative and work hard, to significantly reduce their tax liability but in a lawful way. That is at least possible for what some multinationals are doing, and we don’t like that, and we’d like to close that down… but we can’t just magically say, New Zealand is going to stop that, we need other countries to work with us.”

So the rest of the world is to blame?

That Key fronted at all for the press conference is reassuring. The previous day he had reportedly missed his regular radio spot for the first time ever.


In New Zealand they call him ‘Teflon John’ and say nothing will stick to him – and this is why: 443 demonstrable lies and counting, and he is still in office.

Analysing The Spin

The predominant narratives coming out in John Key’s defense have all been heard before.

They are being regurgitated because they have worked in the past. He has thusfar retained his throne.

The ‘left-wing conspiracy theorist’ slur Key slung about in response to Dirty Politics and Moment of Truth, is back.


So is ‘I haven’t read it‘, and ‘I’m not an expert in that.’

Pet commentators – and paid commentators – are hard at work, plugging away at defending the indefensible.

The most notable and obvious of whom are Chris Trotter (yes – this Chris Trotter) and long-time military-slash-financial-industrial-complex propagandist Matthew Hooton.


Famously implicated in Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’, and representing clients of a particular ilk that tend to be inconvenienced by Hager’s internationally-acclaimed investigative journalism, Hooton has many axes to grind.

He decries the documents as ‘secret’, and complains about only the journalists being able to see them.


Having apparently forgotten that he complained about only journalists being able to see them, he then complains about them being publically released too. Hooton conflates the investigation to include all trustees and plays the privacy card despite being ideologically and professionally opposed to everything that actual privacy activists stand for.


And yes – this is from the very man who was revealed to have – and admitted to – supplied Nicky Hager’s home address to political operatives with a vendetta against him.



The smearing of journalists and interference in their careers is a common theme revealed in the book Dirty Politics, and even after its release, the practice overtly continued.


So the Prime Minister has told porkies by the hundreds and the chief defenders of his socio-economic group leave much to be desired.

Doctorates vs. Spin Doctors

Whether John Key sticks it out or is finally toppled remains to be seen. At his press conference, the strain was palpable. For, despite his protestations to the contrary, Key is the public face of what is now beyond doubt an international tax haven.



According to a Working Paper by Professor Michael Littlewood published by the Auckland University Law School:

The New Zealand tax system is so structured as to allow the country to be used as a tax haven. Specifically, it allows non-residents to use trusts established in New Zealand to avoid the tax they would otherwise have to pay in their home country. This article explains how this works, and asks whether New Zealand law should be changed so as to prevent tax avoidance of this kind or, at least, to make it easier for other governments to prevent it.

As reported by, a Massey University Accounting Professor concurs, stating:


Despite the academic consensus that New Zealand is a tax haven, John Key denies it.


At 4:28 in his press conference:

Journalist: “Is New Zealand a tax haven?”

Prime Minister: “Absolutely not.”

Astonishingly, he also claims that the world doesn’t care.

Meanwhile, #PanamaPapersNZ hit the international press.

From Nepal:


To Thailand:


From CNBC:





To Al Jazeera:


And……… BoingBoing!


According to

“One New Zealand trust has already been associated with Unaoil, a Monaco company under investigation for helping multinationals bribe oil ministers and officials in the Middle East.”

If not John Key, then the Prime Minister of Malta may be the second forced resignation of a head of Government as a result of the Panama Papers.

In the wake of the scandal, thousands have attended a protest rally demanding his job. One of the trusts involved is, sure enough, registered in New Zealand.

So while the government tries to play it down, it appears that the entire world gets it. New Zealand is a tax haven – a sanctuary for dodgy money dubiously accrued by undesirable people.


The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

As much as he’d like to disclaim any liability, not only was the entire scheme of transforming the country into a foreign financial services hub the brainchild of New Zealand’s Grand Poobah himself – there is also a direct connection to his personal network.


The implication of John Key’s personal lawyer, Ken Whitney, is a saga unto itself.

First he was John Key’s lawyer, name-dropping the PM and lobbying a goverment Minister on behalf of the trust industry. Then he revealed that he is no longer a lawyer at all.

Now we are told that he was involved in setting up a “sham” trust that is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. A Trust involving backdated documents, and for which Mr Whitney admitted to witnessing a signature that required his physical presence, from half a world away.

In this High Court ruling, his conduct was described as “far from satisfactory” by a High Court judge, who also referred to Whitney’s evidence as being “inconsistent“.

Yet the Prime Minister, in the below video by, is standing by his man. Aside from the blanket denials, perhaps the most remarkable moment is when he tells the assembled reporters “you guys were very careful last night, I think, in your coverage of these matters: the reason you were is because you don’t want to get your asses sued off you”.

The Trusts Are Only Half The Problem

New Zealand isn’t just being used as a place to stash illicit funds, but as a fake operating base for an array of banking and financial services.

As written in this July 2012 article:

“Although John Key’s official financial services hub may be on the back burners, the unofficial New Zealand financial services sector is still going strong.”

The Reserve Bank issued a warning about an entity ‘also known as Irish Nationwide Bank‘…


Which is “one of about 1,000 shell companies incorporated in New Zealand over three years [that] had been used to carry out banking activities free of regulatory oversight… 143 New Zealand registered companies were implicated, over a four year period, in criminal activities overseas…”


Given all the above, it is beyond debate that:

  • New Zealand is a tax haven for the benefit of the ultra-rich
  • This has scandalised New Zealand’s international reputation
  • New Zealand’s Prime Minister is the living embodiment of it
  • His denials to the contrary are hollow and impotent

But this is all part of a much wider issue. One with implications so huge that it is rarely tackled by the news media, who instead focus on small, digestible pieces and never quite get around to confronting the elephant in the room:

New Zealand has been economically, politically, socially and militarily invaded. By our so-called allies.

Few have the guts to admit this, or to confront the reality of it.

Yet deep inside, we can feel it.

New Zealand as we knew it, no longer exists.

The Shire is being burned to the ground.

[How that happened, and the global implications will be explored in depth on our sister site ContraSpin, in Part 2 of this article, titled:The Desecration Of New Zealand“]

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

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Same Old, Same Old: RadioNZ’s Formulaic Assange Interview

The ingredients: New Zealand’s furthest ‘Left’ radio station, commanding one of the largest listening audiences in the country. A preeminent host; Lynn Freeman, 30-year veteran at the station, host of ‘Standing Room Only’ and Kathryn Ryan‘s “fill-in” for ‘Nine to Noon’. Experienced. Tested. Confident. Julian Assange; the world’s most cutting edge, infamous and credentialed technologist, publisher and geopolitical commentator. Legend in his own time. A scholar who believes in radical transparency, acts accordingly and dares circulate such revolutionary thoughts that most of the world’s governments are baying (and more) for his blood.

Sounds like a media match made in heaven, right?

Unfortunately the end result was an all-too-familiar inquisitorial abomination that one would expect to come straight out of CNN or the BBC.

While maintaining a soft vocal tone, Freeman’s questions were indecipherable from the self-righteous acidity of dozens of other mainstream interviews of Assange – reading like a script manufactured by intelligence agencies for maximum smear effect.

If, as a listener, you wanted to hear about the numerous recent releases by Wikileaks (ie. relevant and timely content) you were profoundly disappointed.

Instead the topics of the day were sex charges, sex charges, sex charges, Snowden, why-don’t-you-this, why-don’t-you-that, Snowden, sex charges.

While touted as an exclusive “New Zealand first” interview, the host didn’t manage to extract any exclusive content. So much so, that the marketing blurb for the interview reads:

Julian Assange, the founder of the international whistleblower-website Wikileaks, told Nine-to-Noon this morning that he does not know when he can leave the Ecuadorian Embassy without fearing arrest.

Hardly breaking news. Is that really the best they could get from 27-odd minutes of Assange’s time?

But to coax new revelations out of an interview subject you have to ask new questions. Which is precisely where it all fell over.

Here is an analysis of the proceedings:

The standard mode of operations/primary goal when establishment media interview Assange appears to be getting the words “sexual abuse allegations” into the first 20 seconds of the introduction, before he even has a chance to greet the audience. Freeman doesn’t disappoint, accomplishing exactly that.

By 1 minute and 20 seconds in, Assange is calling the introduction out for what it was.

Assange: Well, I thought I’d just recontextualise your introduction. I understand you’ve probably got it from some British newswires, but it is interesting to see the kind of propaganda that is put out by the U.K. – not surprising, unfortunately. I have political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy and in violation of international law the U.K. has surrounded this embassy for the last three years, at a cost that it admits is equal to 20 million New Zealand dollars. I have been detained in the U.K. without charge for five years. My political asylum in this embassy relates to a very large pending prosecution in the United States for espionage; it’s not in relation to Sweden. The U.K. also has additional cases as well. In relation to Sweden, there is no charges, it is a “preliminary investigation” and that matter, I have already been cleared in. I have already been found to have committed no crime.

Unfortunately, that contextualisation did not return the interviewer to the task at hand, which was supposedly to discuss the new Wikileaks book – The Wikileaks Files.

Instead, the first 3 minutes and 55 seconds of the interview is consumed entirely by discussion of the non-existent charges.

By 5 and a half minutes, the book still hasn’t been mentioned, and the interviewer begins invoking comments Edward Snowden has made about his own legal situation in order to measure Assange against her Snowden yardstick.

Assange deftly sidesteps the diversion, using the opportunity to draw the parallel between himself, Kim Dotcom and Snowden’s cases all being in Alexandria, Virginia, with the same prosecutor.

Now past 8 minutes, the interviewer asks several more questions about Snowden’s situation, completely ignoring that the topic of the discussion is  supposed to be the publication of The Wikileaks Files – which -still- hasn’t been mentioned. Nor have any of the other monumental and significant 2015 Wikileaks releases been mentioned by her, even in passing.

At 10 minutes and 15 seconds, nearly halfway into the interview, the first question about the book finally comes. Unfortunately, that mention is quickly followed up by what is possibly the most inane question of all time. Freeman asks:

Now you have commissioned people to contribute to the book The Wikileaks Files. Did you approach anybody who you know to be a critic of Wikileaks or have you only approached people who have supported Wikileaks in the past?

Um, exactly what author of any book in existence, hires someone to trash their book within its very pages? Who goes to their enemies and says “hey, I’m compiling a book, will you usurp some of its pages to put forth your completely contrary opinion?”

And that’s exactly what it would be – opinion – as opposed to professional and academic analysis, which is what the book actually contains, as Assange points out:

The focus is regional experts and academics who are knowledgable about regions…

Freeman pushes it further, suggesting that allowing people to slam Wikileaks from within the pages would “present a range of views“; as if it would be reasonable for Wikileaks to be on ideological trial inside the covers of its own book.

That the interviewer hasn’t actually read the book becomes starkly apparent, with her all but admitting it by inference, when at 13 minutes into the interview she finally asks the first geographically relevant question –

Can I ask for a synopsis, or if indeed New Zealand does appear in that book?

Bearing in mind that this interview is sold as being a New Zealand first exclusive, would it really be too much to ask for the interviewer to have read the book on which the interview is to be based? Or to have scanned it for the content which is relevant to New Zealand? Or to at least have had an office junior or researcher do it for her?

Apparently so.

Incredibly, that is the sole question asked about New Zealand in the entire interview.

To appear not to possess the vaguest notion of what relevant information the book contains is unforgivable.

At just over 18 minutes, the banal becomes the completely inane, as Freeman asks whether Wikileaks is still publishing or whether it has “done it’s dash“.

The gall of this: asked in the wake of TWENTY ONE Wikileaks releases in 2015, each of which was of massive, global significance.

These releases include (but are not limited to):

  • Four chapters of the controversial TPPA agreement, which the New Zealand government had been negotiating in secret despite widespread and massive public outcry. Wikileaks eventually published a full searchable text of the entire document after the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its foreign counterparts finally made the negotiated text public. The previously secret deal had led to the #TPPANoWay nationwide campaign spearheaded by University of Auckland Professor of Law Dr. Jane Kelsey
  • Multiple chapters of TISA & the TTIP, external regional counterparts to the TPPA
  • The Sony Archive: a trove of internal Sony emails that included details about the persecution of NZ resident Kim Dotcom
  • Details about serious concerns raised by a U.K. military nuclear warship whistleblower, known as the Trident whistleblower
  • The ‘Hacking Team‘ releases – which blew the lid off a secret for-profit hacking organisation implicated in serious human rights issues. New Zealand law enforcement agencies were found to have seven Hacking Team servers hosted on NZ soil.

It is unclear what is worse – that Freeman appears to be completely oblivious to the existence of any of these releases or that she didn’t even visit the Wikileaks homepage and see what and when their most current releases were.

Subsequently, she fails to ask a single meaningful question about any of them.

By 19 minutes and 30 seconds, she is back on the topic of the non-existent “sexual assault charges” with Assange again correcting her, pointing out that there are no charges filed against him.

Circa 20 minutes, the interviewer is urging Assange to “walk out of there and face the music” as if him putting himself at the mercy of his persecutors by abandoning his asylum, sacrificing his freedom, surrendering his ability to continue publishing and committing political suicide would somehow be beneficial to humanity rather than demonstrably detrimental.

The interviewer tells Assange that to do so would be “the best option for you“, as if she was his legal counsel rather than a radio host that had failed to even read his book before interviewing him about it.

At this point, the interview becomes even more downright hawkish.

You are not above the law” Freeman slings at Assange, which prompts him to calmly explain the history of the Espionage Act and its significance as a tool used to chill, limit and punish free speech.

The interview is brought to a close with the classic “are you a criminal or a hero?” – diametrically opposed suppositions – a tactic also used against Snowden and other controversial figures.

Assange rightly calls the dichotomy “unimportant” and discusses what is important to him – “[it is] important that you get things done in the time that you have… and that you have warm, loving relationships with the people who are around you.”

Questions Asked By Topic:  (%)


The above graph really speaks for itself. The question of why the interview is so skewed is answered by Julian himself, at the tail end of it.

Lynn Freeman: “…as long as you stay there, there are question marks over you, there are question marks over Wikileaks and your reputation…

Julian Assange: “well only because people in the media keep resurrecting them. You can choose to concentrate on those things or you can choose to concentrate on other things.”

By merely listening, you would never know that the sex scandal emerged in 2010 and that it is now 2015. The miles Assange’s detractors have squeezed out of it beggar belief.

Unfortunately this interview isn’t a one-off – it is in fact extremely formulaic and common. There are countless interviews just like it. Same talking points. Same topics and similar distribution of questions about each topic.

If you want to hear anything other than Julian being forced to endlessly defend himself you have to take refuge in You Tube videos of his event appearances, which are a completely different kettle of fish.

In those appearances, the interviewers are markedly less hostile and rather than be forced into a defensive position, Julian is able to speak freely and at length about the many topics in which he is extremely learned, discussing systemic issues like mass surveillance and technology; journalism, publishing and the media; the origin, structure and condition of the deep state; geopolitics and diplomacy, among others.

In the last week alone there has been at least three such events published in the public arena: Julian speaking at the Cambridge Union; at the Russia Today 10th Anniversary event; and an event in Berlin, Germany. None of which RadioNZ appear to be interviewing him about, which is a crying shame.

Watch here:

Security of Surveillance: Privacy vs anti-terror security in the digital age (#RT10 Panel Discussion):

‘The End of Democracy’: Julian Assange, Angela Richter and Srećko Horvat:

Julian Assange at the Cambridge Union (UK):

The above videos are truly brain food, providing viewers with a depth of understanding and pertinence of subject matter that most mainstream media interviews of Julian Assange do not.


Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

(Full disclosure: I have never been employed by RadioNZ but did once inform them of my relocation to Berlin, Germany and that I was available to discuss local events. I am disclosing this for the purpose of absolute transparency. I do not consider it to present a conflict of interest as I have written for Public Address, who were also critiqued on this site. Whether an organisation has or has not engaged us in other work does not impact upon their inclusion or exclusion from The Spin Bin articles: editorial decisions are based solely on the merit of the points argued.)

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

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The Ben Rachinger Hoax

Expending precious writing time on yet another self-admitted police spy infiltrator hasn’t been a high priority.

Just scratching the surface of the colossal Ben Rachinger Hoax led to an article framework of 22 sub-topics that would have taken 6000+ words to elaborate on.

But it doesn’t take 6,000 words to see the Ben Rachinger Hoax for what it is.

All it takes in fact, is the tiniest bit of further investigation into his own claims as posted in his (for want of a better term) online manifesto.

Rachinger’s own words are more damning than anything a critic could ever write.

Ben published a series of screenshots of conversations on his cellphone. By zooming in super close on the images you can see the text of the previous message, obscured under the transparent header.

We have exposed the text and overlaid it in white, on the right-hand side of each image.

Ben’s messages appear in green and right-hand justified. His recipients in grey and left-hand justified.

  1. Ben Rachinger asks his Police handler whether he was named as an informant in the warrant for the October 2nd, 2014 police raid on investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s house. This means Ben must have supplied information to the Police relevant to that investigation. Ben’s handler reassures him that he made sure Ben’s name was kept out of it. Ben sends his handler a link to The Intercept’s article about the Hager raid, dated October 16, 2014. Ben later claims credit for having “leaked” the story of the raid to the press.


2. Ben Rachinger tells his police handler that he is: “Always free to help the police” and “I will absolutely testify as needed.”


3. Ben claims to have blown the whistle on WhaleOil – which Nicky Hager’s source Rawshark – the real whistleblower – had long since thoroughly accomplished. Yet what we see in Ben’s screenshots is time and time again, him instructing WhaleOil to do something specific or offering to facilitate it. This is a form of entrapment. In the below case, Ben attempts to instigate a “leak on left contacts right now”, then offers to do it saying “I can do it ten times removed.”


4. Talking to WhaleOil’s contact who Rachinger claims is a hacker, his mask slips and the truth comes out. “Social engineering is my real core skill. It’s what I use twitter for.” 


5. Ben solicits Israeli involvement – another aspect he claims to have blown the whistle on, without providing any specifics or any new information other than what is already in the public domain about WhaleOil.


6. “I only aim to be helpful”, Ben reassures WhaleOil. A helpful, social engineer, police informant.


7. “Focus on Kim Dotcom” reads the exposed text in yet another one of Rachinger’s screenshots. Indeed Ben’s video hit piece on Kim Dotcom in the lead-up to the election is another file on the deleted pile.

8. “How to bait an animal you’ve never seen, though?” asks more exposed text in yet another one of his screenshots, in which he is ostensibly discussing hunting the whistleblower Rawshark.

In his manifesto, Rachinger states:


So Rachinger claims to be a WhaleOil whistleblower. Yet he was hunting the actual WhaleOil whistleblower for the Police. He wants us all to believe that his attempts at outing the whistleblower was somehow performing a civic duty.

Yet his original Twitter account, which was unceremoniously shutdown in the wake of him publishing his manifesto, told a different story.

That Twitter account had repeatedly made now-deleted proclamations such as “I’ve been under surveillance since I was a teenager. It changes a person.

So which is it? He was happy to work with the cops because his family member is a cop? Or he is an activist who has been under surveillance since he was a teenager?

He already gave us the answer:

“Social engineering is my real core skill. It’s what I use Twitter for.”

That single sentence confesses that everything Ben Rachinger has ever said on Twitter lacks credibility.

Social engineers are pathological liars and identity frauds who use social media to begin fake friendships, working relationships and romantic relationships with their targets, in order to extract confidences from them that they then barter and/or outright profit off elsewhere.

They lie constantly and to everyone.

They entrap people for a living.

They are known to bombard a thread from multiple separate accounts, simultaneously masquerading as multiple people, when in fact it is all one person. They start nasty accounts that send threats. They start benign accounts RT’ing activist content of notable activists to build credibility with and to become recognisable in activism circles.

They piggy-back on Anon ops, creating fake Anon accounts with which to monitor the activities of others, all while pretending to come from a position of solidarity.

Ben Rachinger isn’t the first police spy to out himself in an online statement.

Notorious FBI informant Brandon Darby did the same thing, and also used the language of solidarity to attempt to shine himself in a positive light. As is evident in the comments section; it didn’t work.

He also lied about when he actually became an undercover operative, post-dating his employment with the FBI by over a year.

How WhaleOil Became A Target Of Rachinger

The answer to that is simple. WhaleOil was always in Judith Colins camp and not long after the election was writing passive aggressive articles stating that John Key should step down as Leader or be rolled; trying to exacerbate the cracks in the National caucus. He was no longer a key ally or seen as ‘needed’ post-election and the content of his own article makes it apparent he was cut off by the P.M., and was unhappy about it.

Rachinger worked with the cops, the cops were trying to take down Nicky Hager and Rawshark, who had exposed the P.M.’s office, which was no longer friendly with WhaleOil.

How to bait an animal that you’ve never seen, indeed: by baiting it with a Whale.

How The NZ Left Media Got Duped

So what better way for one faction of the political “right” to deal a return blow on another faction of the political “right” than to have the “left” media do it?

WhaleOil was already unpopular as hell with the “left” in the wake of the Dirty Politics scandal so getting them to attack him again would prove easy.

Enter Ben Rachinger’s rebranding as a “whistleblower” (who hunts whistleblowers) and his leaking of his communications with the already thoroughly-disgraced WhaleOil.

Scoop drank the Kool-Aid.


Off the bat, veteran independent journalist Alastair Thompson references a tweet of Ben claiming to be the whistleblower, Rawshark. Thompson later refers to that tweet as a ‘joke’ – Rachinger has called the tweet “a solidarity statement”.

But with the Hager raid having occurred October 2nd, Ben having sent his handler the link to The Intercept article sometime after the 16th (17th in New Zealand) and his ‘I am Rawshark’ tweet being posted on the 31st of the same month, it is likely that Rachinger was still a police informant hunting Rawshark actively at the time he sent the tweet.

So we are expected to believe Rachinger was merely making the statement in solidarity with the hacker who he was hunting for his police handlers. More likely he was trying to bait Rawshark into re-emerging, and if not, to bask in the perceived glory himself.

Indeed, while Rachinger was posting his “I Am Rawshark” claim, literally on the very same day in fact, real Kiwi activists were hard at work exposing none other than the NZ Police, for their inaction against the ‘Roastbusters’ serial pack rapists, and familial relationships between members of the police force and the perpetrators, who to this day remain uncharged.

Rather convenient timing for one of their informants to be drawing attention away from that debacle by claiming to be Rawshark.

Thompson calls Ben “a brave (some might say foolhardy) young hacker / journalist, a class of new entrants to the media scene who are having a big impact – and some of whom like Chelsea Manning & Barrett Brown who have found themselves martyred for their temerity.

Frankly this makes me wonder if people have forgotten how Chelsea Manning ended up in jail. She was the target of a social engineer and FBI informant called Adrian Lamo.

To compare Ben Rachinger to Chelsea Manning is to compare the predator to the victim.

If that isn’t enough to make you spew your coffee, Thompson refers to Ben’s manifesto as “an exceptionally fine piece of undercover investigative journalism“, as if it is possible for one to perform investigative journalism on oneself. What Ben actually did was cherry-pick bank transactions and digital communications to craft a tale to his liking, ignoring the many conflicting details he has deleted and edited out of existence over the years.

Rubbing salt into the wound, Thompson writes: “Like Rawshark Ben has had also some issues in social media and media relations around strategy..

Rawshark gained 8,000 followers in a few tweets. He or she had the entire national media and populace eating out of their hand.

Ben Rachinger, by contrast, had an account comprised of thousands of fake (possibly bought?) followers; an account which he continually curated and eventually withdrew entirely.

Their social media strategies are hardly comparable.

It gets worse: “arguably these pratfalls in the “Meta” telling of the story are a signature of this new and rather compelling genre. We could call it “the real lives of geeks who are trying to save the world” for want of a better moniker. Citizen Four comes from this Genre as does Quinn Norton and Barrett Brown’s work.

The genre being discussed bears no resemblance to Ben Rachinger’s self-outing as a police informant. Barrett Brown is in jail for five years because of being targeted by the FBI – one of the agencies most reliant on informants and social engineers.

The closest Ben Rachinger will ever get to Citizen Four is watching it on a screen.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

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Grotesque Hypocrisies Behind New Zealand’s Anti-Troll Legislation

The International Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Danny O’Brien (@mala on Twitter) did a brilliant job of dissecting New Zealand’s recent passage of the ‘Harmful Digital Communications Bill’ (HDC) – known colloquially as the ‘Anti-Cyber Bullying’ or ‘Anti-Troll’ legislation.

However, while the ‘what’ of the issue has been extensively covered, there has been very little international attention on the abject irony of exactly who was behind the promotion of this bill, or how they pulled it off. Nor have the national media really been held to account over their effortless regurgitation of official narratives.

Martin Cocker, the Chief Executive of Netsafe, a government body expected to experience substantial growth as a result of the Bill passing, told the NZ Herald back in April of 2013 that “some countries had created new cyber-bullying offences but New Zealand was leading the world in constructing a formal process to support the law changes.

While Kiwis are totally happy to lead the world in social progress and we often brag of doing so (for example; pioneering nuclear-free legislation; taking a stand against apartheid; becoming the first country in the world to allow women to vote; and requiring arbitration between employers and unions, by law), there is a wide chasm between the way the anti-Troll Bill is addressed in the media and the way it is viewed by civil liberties organisations and the public.

Tech Liberty New Zealand starkly warned: “we worry that the bill will be ineffectual where it might be needed most while being most effective where it’s most problematic to civil liberties”, continuing on to state “we’re quite sure that it includes a number of unreasonable restrictions on the right to freedom of expression.”

Unfortunately, any dissent or suspicion about the true intentions of the Bill were completely eclipsed by a slew of high profile media in support of it.

A major figure in the New Zealand mainstream sphere, Heather du Plessis-Allan, penned an opinion piece called “End of Days for Trolls”, lauding the Bill. Remarkably she failed to even name the Bill she was applauding let alone link to the actual text of the legislation.

Commenters were skeptical:


There was precisely two source links in du Plessis-Allan’s article. Both were videos; the showpiece was an unprecedented bi-partisan promotional effort that saw Judith Collins (from the ruling right-wing National government) appearing along with Jacinda Ardern (from the left-wing Labour opposition) amongst others, reading out “mean tweets” that their presentation infers would have been prevented by the Harmful Digital Communications Bill.

Astonishingly, the video has since been removed from YouTube for copyright violations. However, it can still be viewed here, courtesy of

Ultimately, only five Members of Parliament (out of 120) voted against the HDC – a landslide victory for its promoters.

A disproportionate representation given the concerns of the public, some of whom pointed out the elephant in the room:

NH defines hypocrisy as “a pretense of having a virtuous character… that one really does not possess... a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.” There is no more appropriate description for this recent development in the scandal-plagued landscape that the architect of the bill, Judith Collins, is smack in the middle of.

The ex-Minister of Police and Justice, who resigned in 2014 due to close ties with an “attack blogger” who was “mercilessly attacking opponents” is the same who in April 2013 had been promoting her anti-cyber bullying legislation.

According to the official government press release Ms. Collins said at the time “Our new anti-cyber bullying proposals protect victims and hold perpetrators to account. No one should ever be subject to this kind of cowardly attack.

Yet acclaimed Kiwi investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s 2014 tome ‘Dirty Politicsdetailed countless cowardly attacks and co-ordinated cyber-bullying campaigns in which Ms Collins was positioned as a major player. So much so that there is an entire chapter of the book written about her.

Dirty Politics: Politicians Covertly Involved in Cyber-Bullying

In leaked emails, text and instant messages between attack blogger Cameron “WhaleOil” Slater and National Party stalwarts, the innermost mechanics of the New Zealand right-wing’s own habitual leaking and media manipulations, smear campaigns and electioneering was dramatically exposed.

Summarizing his investigation into her involvement, Nicky Hager writes:

This chapter raises a number of concerns about Collins: she was apparently unworried about the leak of police evidence; she was directly involved in providing information about and attacking a Ministerial Services staff member; she disclosed confidential departmental and client information… she made it her business to feed a stream of information, gossip and documents for use on the Whale Oil site. She was also a close friend and trusted confidante of Cameron Slater, which says much about her as a politician – ‘Dirty Politics’, by Nicky Hager

But even that summary is mild by comparison to Collins’ own words, as cited in the book.

She uses disparaging pet names to reference fellow politicians – calling Labour MP’s Clayton Cosgrove “Plughead“; Stuart Nash “Mangrove“; Carmel Sepuloni “Septic Tank“, and most astonishingly of all, she refers to Jacinda Ardern as “My Little Pony“.

That is the same Jacinda Ardern that appears alongside Collins in the bi-partisan promotional video for the Harmful Digital Communications Bill.

You should whack these guys hard” Collins is quoted as telling the attack blogger, about his victims.

Hager explains:

They called it the double rule. If someone attacked them, they gave back twice as much. Here is Slater writing about a senior National Party official who had annoyed him:
Cameron Slater: “…now he is going to get double.”
Judith Collins: “you know the rule, always reward with Double.”
Cameron Slater: “i learned the rule from you! Double it is.”
Judith Collins: “If you can’t be loved, then best to be feared.”

Indeed, even in the promotional video the politicians can’t resist dishing criticism back at their detractors.

Pot, kettle, black” says Judith Collins to one tweeter.

Another bald-headed man’s jealousy” says United Future’s Peter Dunne, who has the dubious distinction of being yet another Minister who once resigned in the middle of a major scandal, only to then cast the deciding vote for the passage of the extremely contentious GCSB Bill – legislation that retrospectively legalized New Zealand’s international spy agency turning their attentions on their own domestic citizenry.

You must be a real dope” Dunne tells another tweeter, who had referenced having had a day-time nap.

Judith Collins herself seems completely oblivious to the hypocrisy of the promotional video, or her own back in November of 2013, as Stuff reports: ‘Asked if Labour is backing the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, Collins said “only a moron” wouldn’t give support’

Capitalizing on Gang Rape: The Roastbusters Connection

The list of twitter accounts singled out for sending ‘mean tweets’ in the promotional video is really telling. It includes the accounts of some very visible left-wing activists as well as several that are clearly parody accounts, which should traditionally not be considered “harmful communications” at all.

But most noteworthy is the account to which Peter Dunne directed his “bald-headed man” retort – that of @egorub, real name David, who was a prominent organizer of an anti-Roastbusters action I filmed in 2014, which was a response to revelations that New Zealand police had failed to charge a group of serial pack rapists of underage girls.

This is the video I shot of the not-bald David very poignantly speaking out:

The Roastbusters perpetrators had familial ties to a police officer and a local celebrity, and despite the fact that over 30 victims were identified, no charges were laid.

The same Law Commission who authored the Issues Paper, performed Ministerial Briefings and wrote a Report and Terms of Reference for what ultimately became the anti-Troll legislation, had also been working on solutions to the Roastbusters debacle.

According to Green Party MP Jan Logie “former Justice Minister Judith Collins had halted Law Commission work on processes for sexual violence cases and National had not gone ahead with a proposal for victims’ advisors.”

The article linked to earlier sheds further light on this, stating:

Collins did not want to be drawn on the Roast Busters case while it was subject to a police investigation. However, she did defend shelving proposals by predecessor Simon Power to introduce an inquisitorial trial system for sex offenses. She dumped the idea last year, saying it was too tricky to impose a different system for certain crimes. “I think it is always difficult, whether it is a woman or a man who has been subject to some form of sexual activity, to come forward and to say that they want to make a complaint,” she admitted. “To make it easier would also make it much harder for someone to defend themselves if they are accused of sexual violation.

Why is this relevant? Because the Roastbusters scandal has been consistently referenced by media as a justification for the passage of the anti-Troll legislation.

This 30 June 2015 NZ Herald article describes the legislation as “wide-reaching” and continues:

The legislation was drafted after the so-called Roast Busters case, in which teenage boys boasted on-line about sex with drunk and under-age girls.

But it wasn’t at all.

It was drafted in April of 2013 and the Roastbusters scandal did not emerge until November 2013.

Later in the article, a dissenting opinion confirms this:

…the Independent Police Conduct Authority had examined the Roast Busters case and found that it could have been dealt with under existing law.

This was a vindication of the position of journalist and lawyer Catriona McLennan, who I also interviewed at the aforementioned anti-Roastbusters action.

After police claimed they had no provision under which to act independently she scoured the law books and unearthed the following information which she included in her speech:

The police don’t need a statement from a complainant to lay charges. At the start, the police put the onus on the victims by saying none of them had been “brave enough” to come forward. Not only was that not true. It’s not necessary in law. Other types of evidence can be used – in all that was posted by the boys on social media about what they did, was there not anything that could be used as evidence for a single charge ?

Here’s some charges that might apply
Section 128 Crimes Act 1961 – sexual violation
Section 134 Crimes Act 1961 – sexual conduct with young person under 16
Section 135 Crimes Act 1961 – indecent assault
Section 194 Crimes Act 1961 – assault on a child
Section 197 Crimes Act 1961 – disabling (stupefying)
Section 208 Crimes Act 1961 – detention without consent with intent to have sexual connection
Section 216G – making an intimate visual recording (if pictures were taken)
Section 160 Sale of Liquor Act 1989 – purchasing or acquiring liquor with the intention of supplying it to a person under 18.

Despite this, the Roastbusters scandal was used as direct and deliberate justification for the passage of the anti-Troll bill over and over and over and over and over and over again.

From official Parliament websites and press releases, to the National Party website, to a slew of media and NGO websites, the Roastbusters scandal was referenced time and time again as being the catalyst for the bill.

Making it clear that not only was justice not served for the countless victims of the Roastbusters rape crew; not only were Law Commission recommendations in relation to the case directly blocked by the very author of the Harmful Digital Communications Bill; but the scandal itself was then used as a convenient P.R. manouevre to use public empathy for the victims to push the anti-Troll legislation through, co-opting victims’ pain and degradation for political gain while smoothing over the Police’s failure to act on the many legitimate complaints.

Major New Zealand Sports Star Receives Death Threats: HDC Bill Won’t Help

Many New Zealanders are currently celebrating the political courage of infamous All Black Piri Weepu (@PiriWeepu on Twitter). All members of the All Blacks are considered national heros by default but Piri Weepu particularly so.

Lamely trying to come up with an international equivalent, he is a David Beckham or a Tom Brady figure – but without the risqué advertising campaigns and supermodel girlfriends. He is instead a much revered and humble family man, and recently he has been making no bones about his opposition to the TPP.

In a series of tweets directly calling out John Key’s National government and their stance on the globally despised trade agreement, which seeks to supersede the sovereignty of entire countries, subjecting them to corporate tribunals that claim jurisdiction above local laws, Piri has gained himself many new supporters amongst the 90+% of New Zealanders that oppose the Trade Bill, but picked up some very nasty detractors.

One of which has been sending him, ostensibly from Hampstead, England, what can only be interpreted as hate speech and death threats.

The troll starts out calling Piri a traitor then accuses him of being friends with Kim Dotcom.

(When reading the thread please bear in mind that Piri’s sarcastic use of the word “Shot” has nothing at all to do with shooting anyone but is a Kiwi colloquial term that means “thanks a lot!” or in this case “no thanks at all!”)


Piri is New Zealand Maori (of indigenous descent) so the troll escalates things by sending him a screenshot of front-page news of Nelson Mandela’s death, who was, of course, another indigenous celebrity who stood for his people against governmental oppression.


Even though by this point Piri rightly stops replying, the troll continues the harassment, sending Piri pics of Phar Lap (a dead celebrity horse), one referencing the death of Dodi al-Fayed with mention of him having given Princess Diana a ring on the day of their death (on his Twitter time line, Piri had recently congratulated a couple who were getting married) and then for good measure tweets him this photo of a “mass murderer”.


To top it all off – the piece de resistance – a photo of none other than Judith Collins, architect of the Harmful Digital Communications Bill.dpwThe above is the trademark behavior of a state-sponsored JTRIG-style troll account.

No amount of complaints or inquiries will ever unmask its true owner; they will never be prosecuted under Collins’ Bill, and never be held accountable.

Because the truth is that state spy agencies recruit and train operatives to undertake exactly this type of mission – to run psy-ops on and intimidate political dissidents – even if, or especially if, they are major celebrities.

The Dream of the Free and Open Internet is Dying

As reluctant as I am to end on a somber note, perhaps it’s time we listened to the experts, rather than the mainstream’s regurgitation of government spin.

This week at the BlackHat 2015 infosec conference in Las Vegas, the director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, Jennifer Granick, was quoted as saying that “the dream of the free and open Internet is slowly being killed by over-regulation, censorship and bad laws that don’t stop the right people“.

Maybe that is because the wrong people have been making the laws and crucifying the right people in order to pass them.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

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Chris Trotter and WhaleOil: Strange Bedfellows or Birds of a Feather?

Circles within circles, they call it. Pull one thread in the New Zealand mainstream media status quo, and it’s absolutely astonishing where you end up.

Chris Trotter is absolutely everywhere in the New Zealand media. A self-described “Left-Libertarian Democratic Socialist”, spit and you can’t miss him.

On television. In the Herald. In the Listener. On The Daily Blog, and his own well-known Bowalley Road. On NewstalkZB. On RadioLive. On the WhaleOil Radio Summer Series.

Wait, what??

Yes, that’s right. It seems Chris Trotter is Cameron ‘WhaleOil’ Slater’s pet lefty. So much so that Trotter’s posts are reproduced almost wholesale, and often outright lauded, on the WhaleOil blog.

Due to the infamously insidious nature and conduct of that particular publication, it will not be hyper-linked to here. However were you willing to possibly subject yourself to tracking cookies and God knows what else by visiting then you could assess for yourself the prevalence with which Trotter’s viewpoints are promoted to the right-wing of the New Zealand political spectrum.

The relationship tracks back years and in the vein of Trotter’s own formulaic prose (which is heavily reliant on reminiscence for historical context) let’s start with some background.

“Mr Slater should be an inspiration to all of us” declared Chris Trotter in November 2012; in celebration of the newly crowned NZ Truth Editor in Chief WhaleOil who in the same month was reported to have attempted to become an arms dealer (not kidding).

Indeed Slater’s appointment to NZ Truth boss took many by surprise. Probably because they had never seen this 2010 retelling of the history of the publication, written not by a “left-wing conspiracy theorist” – but by Joanne Black, the press secretary of Bill English and a contributor to the WhaleOil blog.

Much later on, in August of 2014, while attempting to justify as a purported political norm the countless dirty tricks of WhaleOil and co that were exposed by Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ – (“The options are not fair means or foul: They are foul means or fouler” he declared) – Trotter quoted directly from Joanne Black’s piece and was again lauded by WhaleOil:


Yet as it so often goes these days… the most interesting passages of the article weren’t what was quoted by Trotter. While the irony of a “Democratic Socialist” acknowledging his admirer WhaleOil’s McCarthy’esque predecessors at the helm of the Truth is thick, Black’s explanation of the broader attack methodologies and the publication’s ties to state intelligence agencies are much more fascinating.

From Joanne Black’s ‘The whole Truth’;

[the target] was found not guilty but, as Yska reports in his book, three days after the trial, “the first of a series of lengthy articles about [the target] appeared in Truth. A vast quantity of personal and financial information was published over three consecutive weeks to back up the weekly’s claim that [the target] was in fact a spy, a liar and a contemptible individual.”

Yska says the forensic detail in Truth’s material was such that family and supporters were sure it was derived from “official” sources…

…“I don’t believe there are any documents proving that Truth and the SIS were bedfellows, and in fact [SIS head] Warren Tucker told me there is no such material on the files,” Yska told the Listener.

But does this mean the relationship didn’t exist? In his book, Yska says it is safe to conclude that “over many years, sources in or close to the SIS did pass information to Truth. The relationship would have been fluid and informal, but the SIS, like its British counterpart MI5, is likely to have had officers authorised to have ­contact with journalists.”

Wow. So in a nutshell, there is a long history of the publication that WhaleOil was chosen as Editor for, not only practising Dirty Politics-style targeting of political foes but being leaked SIS information in order to do it. Eerily similar accusations to those leveled against our state spy agency in 2014.

Except you didn’t hear that from Chris Trotter. He somehow failed to notice it. Somewhere between his cheering on Slater’s appointment and advocating Dirty Politics as the norm, the obvious parallels went unacknowledged.

Even though in both 1975 and 2014 the events sparked an inquiry into the conduct of the NZ Security Intelligence Services (SIS).

Moving on from Black’s enlightening 2010 background, the brilliant publication The Paepae has an edifying retelling of the transition of Slater and Trotter from political foes to besties.

It details WhaleOil’s October 21st, 2011 denouncement of Trotter (alongside The Daily Blog editor Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury) as a ‘flunky’.

The very next day, October 22nd, WhaleOil prints a retraction, citing “an offline chat” and calling Trotter “someone whose (sic) opinions I enjoy”.

Of course, WhaleOil doesn’t state who the offline chat was with – although it implies it was with Trotter, perhaps it was with one of the Dirty Politics puppet string pullers informing him that Trotter was A-OK… or perhaps he was just pleased as punch that not ten days earlier Trotter had been ripping the National Party’s arch ideological enemy, the Mana Party, to shreds.

Perhaps nothing gives greater insight into the Trotter mentality than this video interview by well known media analyst/lecturer Bryce Edwards at the University of Otago.

Edwards introduces Trotter as one of New Zealand’s ‘very best public intellectuals’, and we have provided a viewing guide of his intellectualism below.

Viewing Guide:

[1:00+] Edwards asks Trotter what his political persuasion can be best described as. Trotter responds that he took an online test to find out and was “as far left” and “as far Libertarian” as it is possible to go (which would push the Mana Party completely off the spectrum…?)

[8:30] Uses the precedent of Allende to warn against non-reformist political action: “it taught me it was possible to mobilise a mass of people but it also taught me there would be consequences… you don’t want to be one of these people who thinks you can do radical things and that nothing will happen”

[10:00+] Explains again why he is a reformist. A recurring theme through Trotter’s work is that revolution = bad bad bad. That while you can talk a great game you should never act, because of what he considers to be the historical consequences. The constant warnings against acting outside of the political process by any means are the undercurrent to his supposed ‘far left’ ‘far Libertarian’ pontificating.

[20:00+] Has a go at compatriot Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury, for allegedly being derisive to baby boomers and for renouncing his white, male privileged status.

[23:40] Declares that the Left is at the “lowest ebb” he’s ever seen. (With friends like these….)

[32:00] Incorrectly prophesies about the next Labour leader: “It won’t be Cunliffe, it’ll be Robertson or Ardern”. A fascinating position given the stunts that a mere seven months later, would be performed by Trotter and others, to propel Cunliffe to leadership.

[38:00] His oratory takes a bizarre religious turn which is also echoed in some of his other work.

[50:00+] Says “If you’ve spent your life surrounded by those who are socially conservative, as I have…” and talks about the importance of appealing to the traditional political Right wing.

Of course, Trotter states all of the above while sitting on stage in a T-shirt with a bright yellow emblem that states “KEEP LEFT”.

One of the most fascinating things about Chris Trotter is the way that he is accepted as a media expert and a highly decorated, experienced journalist, and yet is so wantonly open about his political machinations and “involvement in politics”.

His Bowalley Road bio reads “Chris Trotter has spent most of his life either engaging in or writing about politics”. In New Zealand especially, it seems the lines between journalist and political operative have blurred, at the public’s expense.

In 2013 I witnessed in person Trotter back-slapping David Cunliffe in appreciation, after the latter had undermined David Shearer by usurping the Labour leader’s speaking position at one of the early meetings against the GCSB on July 27th of that year.

Our media team covered the event, with multiple live-tweeters and livestream coverage, however our blog post after the fact was repeatedly electronically interfered with and our content, which included the anecdote about Trotter and  Cunliffe, was unceremoniously deleted, along with all our session information and auto-saves (as detailed in the original post on Occupy Savvy).

When we approached movement organisers with our concerns we were firmly told an agenda had been set to defer the movement (which by then had built massive nationwide momentum) with the goal of using the platform to attempt to elect David Cunliffe as Prime Minister at the September 2014 election, a year away.

The anti-GCSB movement had been a bi-partisan effort, supported by a whole raft of political parties, and it was clearly the wrong move to co-opt it to Labour. In moral outrage I wrote this post to immortalise both the political betrayal of the movement and our dissent against the course of action being taken.

The GCSB movement was about revoking the GCSB legislation – not electing one particular party candidate, and the types of political operatives masquerading as journalists who were involved in co-opting it should, in my opinion, be very ashamed. A genuine opportunity for people-led social progress was lost to the ambition of a small circle of already affluent men – a time old tale.

Even the Left noticed Trotter’s endorsement of Dirty Politics, and even the Right appear to have betrayed his confidences.

In these screenshots recently “leaked” on Twitter WhaleOil claims Chris Trotter is effectively a mole, siphoning information from the Left and transporting it to the Right.


WhaleOil is known for his exaggerations and manipulations, indeed in one of the other screenshots posted he appears to admit to having lied to set up other people in unrelated scandals…


However, if WhaleOil’s claims are true, Chris Trotter has some explaining to do.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

[This post was blogged live. Thanks for watching!]

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

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Mandy Hager Sends Patrick Gower To The Spin Bin

There are any number of issues it would be easy to write about as a result of the continuing fallout of my brother Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’: the extraordinary way the Prime Minister continues to tell his porkies (even when it’s obvious he’s lying); the seemingly total disconnect such acts have on the consciousness of the general public; the cynicism with which the government uses fear tactics to defend brown-nosing their war-mongering puppet masters in the US; their bullshit ‘investigations’ into abuse of power (setting up inquiries with such limited terms of reference they are guaranteed to be let off the hook); their disregard for the principles of democracy and freedom as they stomp all over them . . . and us.

But what continues to infuriate me, even more than the horrors of this elitist right-wing agenda (and, trust me, these horrors are HUGE and risk all our futures), is how the media has been so corrupted and divided that some of the influential individuals who work within it can no longer be viewed as practising with any kind of impartiality. Of course, I’m sure, if asked, all would say they do give a balanced view – proof, as if we needed more, of just how far their focus has been swayed.

Take today, for instance, when Patrick Gower, TV 3’s lead political journalist, responded to concerns about giving toxic MP Judith Collins a column in the Sunday Star Times with this, on Twitter: “Twitter says newspaper can’t have Right Wing columnist. Yawn. Hello? Anybody home?”

What is truly disturbing about this is that there is no consideration given to the fact that: a) this woman has already been outed as actively manipulating news stories for her own and her party’s political advantage, b) there are an increasing number of right wing commentators being given air time or column length (and who are treated as bi-partisan when they are clearly not) and c) that Gower appears bored by the fact that news integrity might be being undermined, sweeping the foundations of our social democracy away with a cynical yawn.

What he’s saying is that no one cares – and that those who do, do not have a legitimate right to make comment or have any legitimacy regarding their concerns. It’s hard to process this. Gower, one would assume, is an intelligent man, working right there in the corridors of power. He presumably believes in the journalistic codes of fairness and balance (or, at least, I’m sure if he was asked he would assert this). Yet, rather than see that those tweeting their concern about this latest undermining of open and impartial media are seriously concerned about the degradation of our democracy and the underhand behaviour of our government politicians, he belittles it and looks away.

Of course, Gower is not the only one. And it doesn’t take much to see why he and others who started their careers as well-meaning journalists are sheltering behind snide remarks and lazy reporting: if we look back over the most recent past term of this government, we can see that those who have tried to question the government and its policies have been disposed of, one by one. TVNZ 7’s excellent news and documentaries were the first to go, and now we are seeing the devolution of Maori TV’s fantastic current affairs broadcasting. This is happening at a time when toxic right-wing luvvie-boys have been put into positions of immense power by broadcasters (yes, I’m talking Hosking and Henry – equally vile, vitriolic little men, who are more interested in sneering at those who hold genuine concerns for the state of our country, and propping up their own ‘celebrity’ status, than actually delivering unadulterated news.) They are our pseudo-Fox News presenters, self-absorbed, with little genuine concern for their fellow NZers or the ethical health of our current politicians, using the poor young women who have been partnered with them as mindless Barbie dolls who are presumably there in order to reflect their ‘glory’. It raises bile just to watch.

Any decent news commentary has been relegated to times when most ordinary Kiwis are otherwise engaged. The Saturday morning timing of news and current affairs is a particularly cynical piece of programming – a time when many are taking their kids to sport (or other extra-curricular activities) or partaking in it themselves. Ditto Sunday mornings – when even the most square-eyed among us tend to give TV a miss.

If we had unbiased newspapers this mightn’t be such a problem – but only the very uninformed could now not know that the majority of our daily papers are owned by huge corporations whose bosses have very clear political preferences and aren’t afraid to show it. And it’s hardly a surprise that they all lean heavily towards the Right. They’re corporations, for goodness sake! Their priority is to make money and to prop up the systems that most benefit the rich.

Even Radio NZ, our national broadcaster, does not seem to have an edge on balance. Jim Mora’s ‘Panel’ continues to use commentators who have been outed as mouthpieces for the Right – and their questioning of Government ministers is erratic at best.

The attitude taken by Gower and his colleagues, that those of us concerned by media bias and corrupt government are flogging a dead horse – or, worse, are delusional – is the very trap the Government’s PR men have set for them to walk into. It’s the same strategy that sees John Key repeat their dog-whistle lines, such as ‘most Nu Zelanda’s don’t care’, and comparing every bloody thing to a game of rugby or dragging up the old ‘I was born in a state house’ red-herring – side-tracking away from the issues and pretending to be ‘one of the boys’ when, in reality, these guys are squirreling away their fortunes while they steal ours. That the very people we rely on to tell us what is really going on have fallen as heavily for this PR bullshit as the unquestioning viewing public is disturbing indeed.

Don’t just take it from me: here’s John Pilger on exactly the same issue:

Now, I realise that Gower and co feel like they’re being picked on – in fact, in his case, he has told us all to leave him alone (I guess this makes life easier for him – less to ruffle his conscience) but I would like to think that those journalists who actually entered the profession with some desire to tell the truth of what is happening would find some balls and stand up to the corporate imperative to spread the Government’s PR spin. They’d sure as hell get my respect for doing some real investigative digging – and the respect of the thousands of other decent, ethical Kiwis who want to see our democracy strengthened and our rights returned.

Meanwhile, we’re left feeling like Chicken Licken, trying to warn that the sky is falling down while everyone else is so busy trying to feather their own nests that they don’t give a damn.

And if our prominent journalists do start to give damn and find the balls for real investigative digging? Then maybe they’d start asking some of the hard questions – and not stop until we get right down to the real answers. Questions such as:

* When will the questions raised in Dirty Politics be addressed? Properly. By a really impartial, well respected, ethical, non-partisan New Zealander? With no limiting parameters or strings attached?

* Why was Nicky singled out by the Police when there are very real questions about tampering with evidence, political interference, lying and corruption amongst the Government ranks? Where are the Police investigations in to this?

* Just how much back-room influence was wielded around National Party candidate selection?

* What is John Key’s relationship with the USA? What has he promised on our behalf?

* When will someone held responsible for the manipulation of SIS information? And if not, why not?

* Why can’t we have an independent Commission of Inquiry? If Mr Key is so sure that he hasn’t done anything wrong then he should have nothing to fear.

* Just who is controlling the narrative in our media outlets? Why are Government Ministers and apologists given so much page space and airtime?

And then, if the media really did have our best interest at heart, they’d start to put the pressure on over climate change, the very real dangers of the TPP, our involvement in Iraq etc etc… the kinds of issues that will affect us all for generations to come.

Come on guys. If you don’t like the criticism then smarten up your acts. Or if you are being put under undue pressure to leave such investigations alone, come out and say it! We will support you all the way.

This post was composed by invitation and also appears on Mandy Hager’s personal blog under the headline “Today’s burning issue – and why I refuse to shut up“.

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Dirty Journalism and #DirtyPolitics

Who could imagine we would witness #DirtyPolitics right-wing blogger Cameron Slater openly blackmailing NZ Herald journalists and ostensibly getting away with it? While complaining that he is the victim of “leaks”, it is clear that “leaks” are exactly what WhaleOil and his accomplices trade in.

That NZ Herald editors have allowed a situation to continue where their lack of action against reporters leaking information to attack bloggers results in those same bloggers now publicly turning their dirty tactics against those journalists, beggars belief.

The below article is by much-loved Kiwi blogger Giovanni Tiso (@gtiso on Twitter). Giovanni is a writer and translator based in Wellington. He blogs at Bat Bean Beam and this must-read article has been reposted here with permission.

Dirty journalism

Always there is the temptation to take sides, especially if it’s the side that Cameron Slater isn’t on. But what we have come to know as dirty politics is a tangle. There are no ‘sides’. Just threads. Pull on the wrong one, and the knot only gets tighter.

From: [Redacted]

hello mate,
feel free to use any of this stuff…best to refer to as something from the tipline

Cameron Slater posted this last week on Whaleoil, a strategic piece of leaking from his own communications. The redaction is his. The intent, less than noble: to remind John Armstrong – author of the latest opinion piece on dirty politics – that at any moment he could release the rest of the email, or other emails like it, and cause embarrassment to a colleague and to his newspaper. ‘Stay away,’ he warns him. And then, sotto voce, to the rest of us: I’m not the only bad guy, you see, and besides everyone is a bad guy. We are all dirty. (These aren’t quite his words.)

The redacted email is yet another thread for us to pull. It’s always tempting when you come across a new one.


The week after Dirty Politics came out, I wrote of the struggle that might ensue within media organizations and of our likely role as spectators unable to influence its immediate outcome. I also suggested that if it was ever going to become a question of the media versus the public, the public would lose. It hasn’t quite come to that yet, but there are signs of entrenching within the profession. Complaints that the critics are becoming too loud and the criticisms too harsh, especially on social media, with no apparent awareness that mounting frustration might be the source of the outbursts and attacks. And so it was that Patrick Gower – who some weeks ago lamented how Twitter had stopped being fun – finally lost his patience, along with what was left of his self-awareness.

I understand wishing to be left alone, sometimes, and I’m sure that not all of Gower’s botherers have issues of public interest foremost in their minds. But there are too many questions there aren’t being answered, too much carrying on as if nothing had happened, for journalists who built their careers on playing the game the hard way to cry ‘leave me alone’.

Then there are the ex-journalists. Like Colin Espiner, former political editor for The Press, long-time columnist at the Sunday Star Times, now external relations manager for SkyCity; or Bill Ralston, former head of news at TVNZ, still weekly columnist at The Listener, still regular commentator on radio and television, celebrity speaker and principal – along with the missus – of a communication company specialising in ‘media training, political strategies and crisis management’. Upon learning that an investigative journalist had his house raided by the police and personal as well as work documents seized, what these stalwarts of the profession chose to be angered by was the fact ordinary citizens were paying money into his legal fund.

Jealousy and resentment are perplexing feelings to harbour towards somebody like Nicky Hager, except perhaps by the people mentioned in his books. And sure, these two are no longer practising journalists, but I would put forward that the former political editor of a major newspaper and the former head of news of our state broadcaster are still representative of the culture, most especially at the managerial level.

However the greater issue is the sheer weight of what hasn’t changed: on the wake of a scandal which engulfed the media, there have been no resignations among executives or reporters, nor to my knowledge has any print, radio or television editor signalled a change in the way things will be done and who will be asked for comment on politics and policy.

In no particular order: Rachel Glucina is still employed by the newspaper she was using as a mouthpiece for the Minister of Justice. Cathy Odgers was approached by the New Zealand Herald to comment on the political campaign, and the column might well have gone ahead if she hadn’t pulled out herself. Matthew Hooton admitted to Kathryn Ryan his role in the ‘chop chop for Nicky’ affair, and has kept his half-dozen jobs as a political commentator and columnist, including on the public airwaves. Jim Mora continues to invite representatives of a Tory front organisation and the likes of Stephen Franks – whose legal firm made use of Whaleoil – on his popular show at Radio New Zealand. Cameron Slater remains a commentator for Newstalk ZB (which led Wendyl Nissen to resign her job at the station), as is Jordan Williams (which led Helen Kelly to resign), as is David Farrar.

They’re all still there.

So maybe reporters working for those same organisations – and the list is hardly exhaustive – may wish to reflect on why their calls for the resignation of politicians or appointees are not always as forceful and effective as they seem to think they should be.

There has been some excellent reporting done on dirty politics, but it counts for little so long as some of the main players in the story – all of whom have been variously shown to be in the business of manipulating as opposed to informing the public – are going to continue to occupy their privileged, unchallenged platforms. It does not serve either balance or plurality for us to continue to hear from them.


And so, if I decided to pull on the thread and follow up on the redacted email, it was not to do Cameron Slater’s bidding in his campaign to get the New Zealand Herald to shut up about dirty politics, but because I don’t think we’re asking enough questions about dirty politics. The Herald, remember, is still not disclosing the documents that formed the basis of the Donghua Liu reports filed by Jared Savage in June of this year. Savage, in turn, has admitted to passing information on to Cameron Slater in the Feeley affair, three years earlier. The link isn’t casual, and the possibility that the Liu stories were part of an orchestrated attack on Labour at the outset of the election campaign is very concrete. So where’s the reporting on this relationship? Who is questioning the reporters?

(And no, in case you’re wondering, bloggers don’t count. Not if their lines of enquiry aren’t followed up on.)

To be fair, Morning Report did interview Herald editor-in-chief Tim Murphy on Donghua Liu. But when the Feeley email was released to the press, raising significant concerns about the conduct not just of a cabinet minister but also of two senior reporters, the latter got to respond on the Herald’s website and that was that. So far as I can tell, no further explanation was sought or given.

In his response, Savage explained that he forwarded some emails on to Slater as part of an information sharing or ‘horse trading’ arrangement.

This sometimes happens with journalistic sources and it’s naive to think otherwise. […] I didn’t know that our conversations about Feeley were being shared with others, like PR man Carrick Graham – and that was naive of me to think otherwise.

This struck me as chilling at the time, but also indicative of a surprisingly common attitude from within the industry, a perplexing combination of hard-nosed pragmatism (you should know how things work, son) and bewilderment at how information could get into the wrong hands once it’s passed through the hands of a journalist. Savage says it well: you people are naïve; I was naïve. This naivety serves a double function: to explain and to absolve.

I asked Russell Brown, who knows a lot more than I do about these things, about the extent in which sharing information in this way might be standard practice. He replied:

You could say that there’s an element of exchange in many interactions between journalists and sources, but I don’t think it’s particularly common for journalists to trade information with their sources in that way. But Slater was a strange fish — he was both wholesaling and retailing scuttlebutt on behalf of others. Wholesaling it to journalists, retailing it in his blog.

Inside of that relationship, the wholesaling and the retailing, a number of people had their lives dragged. And while Nicky Hager is constantly questioned about the ethics of his working with stolen correspondence, none of the reporters who have collaborated with Slater have had to defend the public interest value of their stories against the danger of exposing others to Whaleoil. Yet that is also where the naivety defence falls apart: for nobody can claim not to have known what that blog was about. There is no excuse.


I asked Jared Savage if he’s the author of the redacted email which may not even be real. He responded courteously that he would not comment pending Justice Chisolm’s inquiry. I asked David Fisher, who said that he wasn’t, and that he never traded information with Slater back when he had dealings with him. I asked Shayne Currie and Tim Murphy separately for comment. None has been forthcoming.

Spin Sins Committed:

Astro-Turf Media

[Thank you for reading and sharing this important work. The amazing artwork at the header of this post was donated by Occupy Auckland media co-ordinator/livestreamer @Redstar309z]

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