Kiwi Activist Lyn Ny: “It Is Deadly Dangerous To Speak Against The Government”

Occupy Auckland media team member Suzie Dawson recently went public about her application for temporary asylum in Russia. The Kiwi journalist’s documentary ‘Diary of a Person of Interest‘ details how she has been targeted by the New Zealand and United States governments, leading to her becoming exiled from her home country.

In an interview last week, two eye-witnesses to the targeting of Suzie, the media team co-ordinator Redstar309z and Internet Party of New Zealand candidate Chris Yong, spoke out alongside Suzie to verify her claims.

Yesterday, another media team member, Lyn Ny, was interviewed to get her take on the situation.

Suzie cites Occupy Auckland media team as being the start of her journalism and activism. What are your observations of her personal and media career development over the period 2011 til 2015 when she left New Zealand?

Lyn Ny: Suzie was thrown in the deep end. Occupy was a baptism by fire for a lot of us. An introduction to activism and the government’s response to [our supposed] freedom of speech lol! I watched Suzie arrive at Occupy green and immerse herself and take the penalty that goes with it. Her personal life became public and she rose to the challenge and became a fantastic journalist and advocate for change. It drew a big target on her arse!

What significance and impact did the efforts and actions of Suzie and of the Occupy Auckland media team have in Auckland and in New Zealand?

Lyn Ny: I think that Suzie was integral to the media team… it wouldnt have been as effective without her. She made us all more efficient at sharing the Occupy message initially and then continuing to provide real news about topical events and issues that helped to wake up a lot of people to the state of our city, country, world. Those efforts are continuing thanks to ongoing input from the original team together with the new lot that have largely taken over.

What are your recollections of Suzie being targeted? Can you cite specific instances? On how many occasions did she discuss with you the targeting of her?

Lyn Ny: Suzie was definitely targeted… because she was effective. The internet expose springs to mind. Her family home, car and all other details are probably still available on the internet for the world to see thanks to that crap. That definitely endangered Suzie and her family. We were all watched electronically and physically. Some of us were given special attention from Police and Council … any opportunity to make life difficult was exploited against us. I know her car was messed with and we both had road events that were threatening and unsettling. Its hard to say categorically that someone was trying to kill us but someone was certainly trying to tell us they could.

Suzie has claimed that after leaving your home one night, she was targeted by vehicles who tried to drive her off the road. Do you have any doubt this happened?

Lyn Ny: No doubt at all. At the time it seemed far fetched but in light of what happened to Hone Harawira and then later to me in Dome Valley I have no doubt at all. Suzie was and probably still is of sufficient interest to warrant this kind of fear tactic and who knows how far they would go? I dont think they would mind if they ran her off the road and killed her or the kids and I wouldnt be surprised if that was their aim.

Suzie says that the targeting of her continued as she travelled across the world, and she recently revealed that she is seeking temporary asylum in Russia. Do you feel this is justified? Do you believe that the targeting of her was particularly voracious?

Lyn Ny: I cant comment on her travels since she left New Zealand but I can assert that she was targeted specially for her high profile in media in NZ. I know she was because ALL high profile occupiers were given special attention. She was more vulnerable in some ways than me… young kiddies make you more vulnerable. And she was more publicly visible and therefore more effective. This meant more effort went into trying to shut her down… move her out of Occupy or out of town… or, as it turned out, out of the country.

Has the political environment in New Zealand improved?

Lyn Ny: No… it’s worse. Many times worse. Those who are still effective as activists are discouraged by any means possible. It is deadly dangerous to speak against the government.

 

Suzie’s supporters have created the Twitter account @HelpSuzi3D to raise awareness about her situation and this Tumblr account to pool media resources and related information about her asylum application. Suzie is unable to work while her application is pending and donations are urgently required to sustain her young family during this time. Please give generously and share this information by whatever means you can.

Kia ora koutou.

OCCUPY AUCKLAND MEDIA TEAM

#TPPANoWay – A People’s History

In a mere handful of hours, Kiwi protesters will confront riot police and the full resources of the state, to show their indignation over the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

It has been a long fight against the TPPA – a struggle which started with just a handful of academics and trade union reps, and has escalated to involve tens of thousands of mainstream New Zealanders, captivating the attention of national and international media.

High-profile campaigners Lori Wallach (USA) and Dr. Jane Kelsey (NZ) have been working to educate the global public since at least 2010 if not earlier.

In 2011 there were some Trade teach-ins at Occupy in New Zealand about the TPPA and at Occupy Wall Street in NYC (by @OWSTradeJustice), yet the issue still remained largely unknown to the public.

This changed in 2012, as the actions grew more sizeable and more visible. Police intimidation and violence against protesters at the December 8 #TPPAshutdown event, perpetrated in the presence of international and local independent journalists who caught it all on film, understandably dismayed movement organisers but ultimately helped raise the profile of the issues and gained worldwide attention for the movement.

Below is a partial (and by no means an exhaustive) list of anti-TPPA actions in New Zealand with some passing references to overseas actions. For full details of all It’s Our Future NZ events to date, you will need to search the Official Facebook Page for the movement. The below references are mostly sourced from blogs and Twitter.

#TPPANoWay – A People’s History

February 12, 2012: EFF speaks out against the TPP

This blog publishes a statement by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to demand a Congressional Hearing into the TPPA.

February 17, 2012: “Secret Free Trade Agreement That Should Have All Of Us Very Worried”

This blog publishes a post with links to key information sites about the TPP and a warning about the dangers of the agreement.

November 21, 2012: Occupy Auckland invites international streamers to NZ to film the December 7 and 8 TPPA events.

We attempted a fundraising campaign to bring three well-known activism international live-streamers to New Zealand to cover the TPPA shutdown events. One day into our campaign, malicious actors have our domain knocked off-line for the duration of the campaign. Despite this, anonymous donors fund the trip for Nate “Occupy Eye”, who then produces incredible footage capturing the shutdown actions. The footage is used by international media including Sky TV and the fall-out reverberates around the world.

December 8, 2012:  TPPA shutdown protesters refuse to be ignored

After refusing to allow Dr. Jane Kelsey and other representatives to deliver a petition signed by hundreds of thousands of people, private security and police begin to attack the crowds of protesters and things turn ugly. The petition boxes are set alight, and the footage of the fire captures worldwide attention. Protesters regroup at Aotea Square, where they are almost kettled by four groups of police at each corner of the square.

After a group of police single out a young female protester and pile on top of her (she briefly passes out in the press), the crowd retaliate by beginning to advance en masse on the police lines. The police are ordered to withdraw and leave the square, while thousands of people scream “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!”

This epic blog-post aggregates a ton of pictures, videos and first-person eye-witness narratives from the day.

December 12, 2012: Police caught on tape bragging about bashing anti-TPPA protesters; further evidence of police violence emerges

Blog-post including pictures, videos, timestamped analysis of footage, and details on the leaked tape: https://occupysavvy.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/leak-nz-cops-brag-to-u-s-embassy-about-bashing-tpp-protesters/

2013: Twitter comes alive: untold thousands of tweets circulate information about the dangers of the TPPA

A full list of tweets sent containing the search term “TPP” in the year 2013 can be found here

November 13, 2013: Wikileaks publishes a leaked chapter of the secret agreement

Wikieaks publishes a leaked draft of the Intellectual Property Chapter of the TPPA; the EFF says it “Confirms the Worst Fears‘.

2013: International opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Ramps Up

As per EFF’s ‘Year in Review’ of the TPPA:

eff1March 29, 2014: Nationwide protests mark the fourth anniversary of the secret TPPA negotiations – the hashtag #TPPANoWay is born

Occupy Auckland media team members who had been admins on the official @ItsOurFutureNZ twitter accounts put their heads together in a phone call and come up with a new hashtag to be used for TPPA actions.

The hashtag that had originally been planned was #RallyAgainstTheTPPA – which, at 19 characters in length, would be extremely cumbersome for the live-tweeters and crowd to use on the day. “It needs to be short and catchy. It needs to rhyme. What rhymes with TPPA?”, @endarken said. “TPPA – No Way!” said @keyweekat. After running it past the other event organisers, the official event images and details were all amended to reflect the new hashtag – which went on to become one of the most (if not the most) most widely circulated and successful hashtags in New Zealand history – #TPPANoWay!

Occupy New Zealand posted the first official tweet to the hashtag, soon followed by the official movement account for It’s Our Future NZ.

tppanoway116 New Zealand cities and towns marched on March 29, and a number of international cities also marched in solidarity. A huge blog-post was published on this blog, containing countless pics, videos and commentary from each of the cities who marched, along with solidarity statements and other information.

Thousands of tweets were posted to the hashtags by event media, attendees and supporters – the hashtag is picked up by the mainstream and trends throughout the day.

Event media resources pastebin: http://pastebin.com/bx47gwYR

November 8, 2014: 7,000 accept Facebook invite just for one of the upcoming events

Event media resources pastebin: http://pastebin.com/7wpT5aBM

November 12, 2014: #TPPANoWay trends at #1 for Auckland, #1 for New Zealand and at #2 -WORLDWIDE-

Another National Day of Action sees more than a dozen New Zealand cities protest against the TPPA and “Kiwis As Far As The Eye Can See Say #TPPANoWay!

A whole stack of TPPANoWay protest videos are available on our You Tube channel – click here to view them.

July 4, 2015: Kiwi journalist Suzie Dawson (@endarken) speaks about #TPPANoWay to Occupy America.

This blog publishes the full transcript. Pulitzer Prize-winner Glenn Greenwald tweets the link to his ~500k followers.

tppAugust 8-15, 2015: #TPPANoWay Nationwide Week of Action & Rallies Occurs; Prime Minister John Key calls TPPA protesters: “misinformed”.

After a week of mass actions across the country, where over 25,000 citizens protested and more than 100,000 signed a petition against the secret trade deal, the Prime Minister of New Zealand makes the profound mistake of calling the protesters ‘misinformed’.

In response, over 12,000 people call for the Prime Minister and his Trade Minister to debate protest leaders live on television. They do not take up the offer.

It’s Our Future NZ pubish this cutting article on their official website, full of incredible facts and links, mocking the Prime Minister’s claims into oblivion.

August 18, 2015: Wikileaks publish a definitive video, explaining how the TPPA, TISA and TTIP regional agreements are all the same USA global agenda being played out

September 15, 2015: 15 ‘Show Us Ya Text’ protesters arrested in Wellington

In an act of civil disobedience, protesters attempt to gain access to the secret text of the TPPA at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington. Police arrest 15 of them.

November 16, 2015: Wikileaks publishes a searchable, highlightable copy of the final TPPA text

January 23, 2016: Riot police training ahead of TPPA signing announced

rpTwitter responds:

twrtwr2

January 28, 2016: Government calls protesters “A threat to national security”

Telesur reports that the New Zealand government has deemed the anti-TPPA protesters ‘a threat to national security‘:

teleFebruary 4, 2016: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to be signed at… a casino.

Nationwide protest events are organised including a (non-official) blockade at the casino, followed by an official mass action against the signing.

From the official It’s Our Future NZ website:

iofLatest news:

The first protest at the TPPA signing is scheduled for 9am, NZDT 5 hours from the time this article will be published. The official mass action will occur at 12pm midday, NZDT, February 4th, 2016.

There has been reported intimidation of known protesters by police, at the homes of the protesters, and there is now reports that major public transit services will not be running. This is not an unknown tactic – prior mass protest actions have seen halts to train, bus and ferry services, always with some official excuse as to why, but always conveniently timed for just before and during the protest actions.

Kiwi political blogsite “The Daily Blog” has asked the NZ Police – ‘which side are you on?and warned them that ‘The whole world is watching‘, which is very true.

How you can help:

First and foremost: search social media platforms and the web for content relating to ‘TPP’, ‘TPPA’, and ‘#TPPANoWay’, and circulate the information you find to everyone that you can.

If you are in New Zealand, get down to a protest near you. All event details are on the It’s Our Future website and Facebook page.

If you have a Twitter account and follow the below instructions, your Twitter account will automatically retweet content posted to the hashtag by a network of trusted anti-TPPA activists. (You can then revoke the application permissions the day after the protest.)

Step 1: Sign into your Twitter account
Step 2: Go to https://twitter.com/OccupyNZ/lists/tppanoway-amplification
Step 3: Click on the ‘subscribe to list’ button
Step 4: Go to Roundteam.co. Click “Sign in with Twitter”
Step 5: Click on the + sign by “Lists”. User: OccupyNZ  List:  tppanoway-amplification

Once you have completed the above steps, your account will automatically retweet trusted #TPPANoWay content.

Other than that – please watch, share, raise your voices and let your opposition be known. There are countess New Zealanders putting their bodies on the line for democracy today, and they truly deserve all the support you can give them.

A Special Thank You

Words can’t describe what the efforts of Dr. Jane Kelsey have meant for this movement. Her potent expert analyses for Wikileaks (if you web search “Wikileaks Jane Kelsey analysis” you will find many worthwhile examples of these); her uncountable television appearances; live appearances; public meetings; speeches; networking with international activists and groups; travel; are all worthy of their entire own article and maybe one day she will be able to look back and tell her story of how this movement began, and how she watched it blossom into the massive tidal wave of righteous dissent that it has become.

Likewise, this article does not even begin to acknowledge the thousands of march organisers, marshals, banner and sign-makers, union groups and organisations, other independent media organisations, attendees, protesters, donors and everyday New Zealanders who have donated their time, energy and resources into building this movement. By telling this story from our perspective we are in no way intending to deprive them of the full credit they deserve. Without the efforts of all those involved, there would have been no movement for us to help promote.

In New Zealand we say, ‘he tangata, he tangata, he tangata’, meaning, ‘the people, the people, the people’. That is what this movement is and has always been by, for and about.

It has been a privilege to support, and the global response has been humbling and in a really good way, overwhelming. We are deeply grateful to all involved.

Thank you for reading, and solidarity from New Zealand.

OCCUPY AUCKLAND MEDIA TEAM

 

 

 

Occupy Achievements: Revolutionising The Roles Of Teacher And Student

Much has been said about the achievements of the Occupy movement – that it changed the narrative both in the realms of political campaigns and at street level; that it awakened, engaged and activated the millennial generation; that it scared the shit out of those in power.

All these things are true but often asserted by those who looked in from outside the encampments, rather than those who were co-habitating within them. Without intending to detract from those externally affected and inspired by it, the experience inside each Occupy was exponentially more insightful as it gave a real-world example of how a different society could function, from within its embryo.

With this new series “Occupy Achievements” we intend to explore and translate, from an insiders perspective, some of the most significant social achievements of the Occupy movement and expand its acknowledged successes to include these major factors.

At the four autonomous occupations born from Occupy Auckland specifically, we witnessed and participated in the creation of new systems of employment, social justice, education, economics and distribution of resources, political representation and media.

These topics and more will be covered within the series. The first part was “Occupy Achievements; Proving Unemployment Is An Illusion

Always a Teacher, Forever a Student

It is said that the best instructors are “always a teacher, forever a student“. At the Free University offered by Occupy Auckland, everyone was able to be a teacher, and a student, and the roles were entirely interchangable at any given moment.

In fact, the rigidity of tertiary institutions as we know them was nowhere in evidence, yet the Free University functioned seamlessly – proof that organisations can be formed, grow and flourish without any fixed budget, staffing, infrastructure, rules, policy or resources – other than voluntary human resources and whatever was gifted by supporters.

At a physical level, the Free University was little more than a few workshop tents with a large whiteboard in the middle. The whiteboard contained information on what lecture was being held in what tent, by who and at what time.

Other fundamental points of difference between the traditional university structure and the Free University, included:

Access

There were no barriers to entry. You didn’t have to complete 13 years of prior education, have achieved good grades in a prior educational facility, or sit an entrance exam. There were no forms to fill out, no personal data was gathered on you and your ability to attend wasn’t dependent upon your or your parents ability to pay.

It didn’t even matter if you were a citizen or a resident. All you had to do was be a living breathing human being, be present and willing to learn/participate.

Because of this, people had the opportunity to access advanced information and be instructed on it in an approachable way, who never otherwise would have. This created a level playing field for the participants which in turn fostered a mutual respect. There was no ‘A’ student, no teacher’s pet. No one knew or cared whether you were homeless or had a PhD or both. Everyone had the same access to learning and the same opportunity to participate, without prejudice.

Cost

What good is a Free University if it isn’t Free? Not needing to pay for classes or for textbooks or even for the lecturers themselves, meant every person present was there entirely voluntarily, because they wanted and chose to be. Noone was obliged or obligated to do anything other than precisely what they wanted to.

Of natural causes, as some humans tend to do, resources were offered to the university in the form of impromptu gifting – where people could see a need, they attempted to fill it. This was viewed as a bonus rather than a neccesity. Whether it was something a lecturer could use as a pointer, or more cushions for students to sit on, or some other physical tool or minor comfort, the basic generosity of the human spirit came through to fulfil whatever need arose, without any actual money being involved.

Education without transactions: just the passing of knowledge, from the learned to the learner.

As the Free University had no compulsion to attempt to make money itself, it didn’t have a need to ‘control’ or quantify the learning environment in order to manipulate it to become profitable. This allowed its organisational structure to operate as a horizontal hierarchy on a purely voluntary basis. Nothing needed to be mandated, as there was no accounting to be done and no one to account to.

Qualification

No prior teaching or learning experience was required. There was no academic qualification, age or other demographic restriction on either students or lecturers.

The qualification for becoming a student was that you wanted to learn something about a listed topic, and chose to attend the lecture.

The qualification for becoming a lecturer was that you knew something about a topic and wanted to share that knowledge. There was no pre-requisite for lecturing, other than possessing some knowledge and/or having practical life experience to relate about your topic, and having the desire to share it.

If you wanted to lecture on a topic, you went to the communal whiteboard and wrote the name of your topic into an empty timeslot, and then anyone who wanted to learn about that topic came to your lecture.

This meant that people who never dreamed in their lives they would ever be in a teaching role, including myself, were given the opportunity to stand in front of an audience, speak their knowledge or their truth, and then interact with that audience just as a “normal” (read: commercial) lecturer does with their students.

Content

The lack of organisational form meant that there was no restriction on content. Lectures could be (and were) on any topic imaginable under the sun, with no apparent sequence. Due to the lack of dependence upon standardised textbooks, such as are found in a for-profit learning institution, the lessons imparted tended to rely heavily on relaying real world experience rather than pre-approved and universally accepted academic truisms, although as a number of “normal” university lecturers also donated their time to the Free University, there was some cross-over.

The lessons tended to follow the thought patterns of the lecturers, in conjunction with the direction of questions asked by the student, rather than any pre-set format. Therefore the same lecture could be given twice but impart different information based on the interactive nature of the sessions as rather than lecturing to 400 or more students packed into a theatre, teachers were talking to two dozen students in a tent.

The Democratising Effect

The voluntary nature and level playing field of the institution had a democratising effect. If someone attended a lecture and didn’t like it, they could simply leave. If they went to a lecture and felt it was too basic or too advanced, or that they themselves held more comprehensive knowledge or wanted to lecture on the same topic but from a different perspective or vantage-point, they could go to the whiteboard and schedule their own session with no harm done.

Therefore the focus wasn’t on expectation of others but willigness of self.

Everyone was equally empowered to benefit and equally empowered to give.

Non-punitive

Because the entire structure was non-punitive, the major stress factors were removed. There was no one to please or to impress but yourself. Nothing to gain but your own intellectual enrichment and the intellectual enrichment of others. Zero incentive to compete against your fellow humans. No scarcity. No judgement. No “right” or “wrong” answers; no examinations. No forfeiture, monetary or otherwise. No exclusion.

The End Result

The wonderful thing about such an open platform is that you could change or better put, expand your primary field of interest every day of the week. Imagine a university where you studied architecture one day, mathematics the next, music the following, social media techniques and political organising… the list goes on.

The inherent freedom in the facilitation inspired true learning – learning based on genuine willingness to give and to receive information. This in turn fostered a comeraderie between teachers and students as they recognised that their roles were interchangable. No one was better or greater than the other.

Unfortunately, just like the success of the other radical and revolutionary ideas put into practice at the occupations, all of the above constituted a serious threat to the status quo of the corporate state. Which clearly has a stake (many, in fact) in NOT allowing free education – be it monetarily free, or free by the measures entailed above.

Therefore, like the libraries and the other people-powered and people-resourced mechanisms of the occupations, the Free University was ultimately smashed to smithereens during the violent evictions of the occupations by a mixture of police forces and private security contractors.

While the captive mainstream media tried to make out that the evictions were targeted at unsavoury social stereotypes, what they were actually eradicating was the embryo of our new society.

When they deconstructed, smashed, and cleared out our learning tents, our whiteboards, our tools of information sharing, they were culturally as much as physically robbing the populace they were being paid to oppress.

But for those of us who remember what was achieved, whose lives were positively affected by the compassion and mutual aid engaged in at the occupations, whose imaginations were ignited – we do not forget. The evictions only served to scatter us like seeds on the wind – seeds that now propagate far and wide, and as the messages of Occupy continue to spread and penetrate, the work continues.

TO BE CONTINUED….

Written by Suzie Dawson (Member)

OCCUPY AUCKLAND MEDIA TEAM

Then<Now!

Walls. Towers. Borders. Moats. Demilitarised zones, contested zones, checkpoints.

What are these? I mean obviously you know what these things are right? But wait…stop! Whats that sound…? Theres something going up all around: Walls.

I have been thinking! Yup, dangerous I know… no room 101 yet and I’m pretty sure I know what 2+2= or do I? Do you? What is a wall?

A thing that holds up a house? A building? To build alongside a motorway, a railway line?

Walls can be implied or real.
Walls can keep us from imminent danger, keep us safe.
Walls can be used to divide.

Personal boundary walls.
Buliding a wall metaphysically to protect yourself.

Walls, walls, walls.

Why do we fixate on them? We are surrounded by them both ideologically and physically.

Walls between boys and girls. Walls between classes, races, countries, friends, enemies.

In the 20th century we saw some be torn down and some be built. We witnessed implied walls grow higher and others fall away completely.

More recently in Europe we have seen a human tide breach the fortress walls. In some places they were gassed and shot at by men in uniforms of brutality. Yet now we see them crumble again.

Beautiful and amazing: the human spirit and “the good” triumphs over evil.

But in our little corner of the world, Australasia. Our walls grow higher by the day. Australia with their “Border force” a.k.a brown shirts a.k.a Nazis randomly picking tourists and people of colour and “demanding your papers” – closed borders, no refugees allowed, even though they are a nation built by immigrants.

The irony sadly is lost on the enforcers and the brainless Right.

Then there is little old New Zealand. Our Prime Minister barely second generation. Leads our country from the bottom. Of the table of refugees and migrants that can’t seek asylum in “God’s Own.” Shame, shame, shame! We should hang our heads in sorrow. A once great nation now a part of a fascist few.

What have we done to deserve our walls that we cannot see.. ? It’s a 6-letter word: A.P.A.T.H.Y.

Columns of people march across Europe as I watch live. The military of Austria pick them up and place them in buses so they can make it to Germany.

Amazing humanity! It warms the soul… does it do anything to melt our leader’s frigid hearts? Time will tell? My money is on the fact that it won’t.

By Occupy Auckland Media Team Co-ordinator Redstar309z who has just spent a month travelling through Europe, from the streets of Berlin to Amsterdam to anarcho-socialist squats in Spain. Red is now winging his way back to Aotearoa New Zealand as we post this…

Occupy Independence Forever: @Suzi3D Interviewed About Snowden, Wikileaks, the TPP and Berlin

One of the most recent additions to Berlin’s unofficial political exile club is Kiwi activist, citizen journalist and blogger Suzie Dawson (better known as @endarken).

On 4th July she was interviewed at length by the ‘Occupy America Social Network’s podcast about her recent articles about Edward Snowden, alongside many other topical and interesting issues.

If you want to listen to it, the full podcast is available here. (Easier to download & playback than to stream). If you prefer to read what was said, a preliminary transcript of the 63-minute interview is provided below.

Enjoy!!

Host: Terry Bain (@TWBainusW / Terry’s Official Website )
Guest: Suzie Dawson (@Suzi3D / Suzie’s Official Website )

Introduction:

HOST:  Hi and welcome back to another edition of Occupy America Social Network and this is Episode 42, this is Occupy Independence Forever! Which is a quote from the 2nd American President John Adams. That was his quote – this is our Independence Day, and I’m really delighted to be talking to somebody who can give us a more broad picture – Suzie, can you introduce yourself please?

GUEST:  Sure. Thanks so much Terry for having me on the show. My name is Suzie Dawson, I’m a citizen journalist from Occupy Auckland Media Team in Auckland, New Zealand. I’m also a blogger on a variety of independent platforms and an old friend of you, through the wonders of the internet!

HOST:  Great talking to you. I want to go ahead, we’ve got a billion things to try to cover and not much time. You’ve got three stories that I think that people will get a kick out of, our listeners and we’ll start off with probably the most important one – help us out here, with Mr. Snowden.

GUEST: There’s been so much happening with Snowden recently, I’m looking forward to talking about that. Also I just want to quickly say Happy Independence Day because I know it is 4th July for you, and also your 4th July show. I saw an awesome tweet go out yesterday, a photo, a Stand With Snowden pic featuring Jesselyn Radack, Edward Snowden’s lawyer;  William Binney; Thomas Drake; Laura Poitras, Diani Barreto and James Bamford. That really inspired me too because recently – I’m in Berlin – I got to meet some of those people, on June 7th at the #qvdemocracy event here, I got to meet Jess Radack, Sarah Harrison, Thomas Drake and Diani Barreto which was an amazing experience because these are people I’ve written about and kept a close eye on for years but to actually get to see them in the flesh and get some really good vibes from them was amazing.

HOST: I’ve never actually had the chance to talk to them; I have reservations and we’ve talked about this before; I have a quote from Mr. Snowden and it goes to the heart of why I’m having trouble finding a way of being able to use his information. Do you have that quote?

GUEST: It was Bloomberg, right?

HOST:  Bloomberg, yes. It was a Snowden quote, hopefully, or they may have misquoted him.

GUEST:  I don’t have the quote in front of me unfortunately, but I think what you’re talking about is where he was saying that the journalists who he passed the information to, actually run it past certain government representatives before they release it.

HOST:  Yes, basically to paraphrase, he only released it to ‘responsible journalists’ – and I’m not sure you and I would be classified as responsible journalists! And the second point was, in coordination with government stakeholders. And again, if the government stakeholders were acting responsibly, we wouldn’t be needing whistleblowers!  Help us out here – how do we use the information – what’s the middle line here?

GUEST:  I totally agree with you, however, on the other side, I think that Snowden is kind of damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, because there’s really two positions that are diametrically opposed. The one position is that, he’s trying to do the responsible thing; he’s trying to make sure that no ones life or limb is endangered by the release of this information. He wants to show that there’s some process to guarantee that. But the other option would be to dump it all to Wikileaks and have it all come out at once. I think the way he’s doing it now has the positive side of appealing to more of the mainstream as being a responsible tactic in releasing the information, but then there’s the downside which is the critics who are saying ‘it’s not coming out fast enough’ and as you say, are these government representatives actually responsible enough to be making decisions about, or having input about, whether or not the information should be released? But then if he had just dumped it all through Wikileaks it would flip to the other side – people would say ‘oh that’s irresponsible to just give it all to Wikileaks, it’s irresponsible to dump it all out in one go’ but then some people would say ‘no it’s really great, because now it’s all in the public domain’ so I kind of feel like no matter what way he had gone about releasing this information, there was going to be some sector of people that is upset with him.

HOST:  I totally agree, and also what we’re going to address here shortly is some of the psychological warfare  being used to discredit him, which is pretty obvious. But there is one other thing on the slow-motion release which I wanted to touch on – which was a former show guest, Stanley Cohen, kept requesting information because he had defendants who needed that information, if there was anything on it. It’s a little late for Mr. Cohen to work on it because right now he is also a political prisoner. Where’s the balance on this too? We’re about 5 minutes out of the first 20 minutes, can you touch on that?

GUEST:  I think it was primarily a resource issue. First Look Media wasn’t an established organisation when Snowden leaked the information to the journalists. They’ve had to build this media organisation to get these releases out, and in doing so that’s allowed them to circumvent, or to not have to be entirely dependent upon the mainstream outlets, like the New York Times or whoever else, who seemed to be interested in some big stories at the beginning, and to be fair have been more recently, but were clearly not going to consistently report on every document that was released. So I think they did the right thing in building a new media organisation from the ground up. I think a lot more reporting has come out as a result and I think that puts pressure on the mainstream media internationally to do more reporting on the releases. But I don’t think they ever had the resources at the outset to be able to just pull information out for specific individuals or for specific purposes. At the end of the day, he handed over documents, not necessarily a searchable database. I think that is something that’s beginning to happen now – what was .pdf images and image files eventually will be searchable text and then perhaps people will be able to sort through that information a lot more easily but unfortunately I don’t think it was viable for that to happen from the outset.

HOST:  We’ve got about 13 minutes left in this first segment; if you would, please talk about the article that you did, that’s showing the obvious mainstream media – which is actually no longer the mainstream media because they’ve lied so much that people don’t trust them anymore – we are now the mainstream media! But obviously there’s some discrediting going on and please go into that – that was the dinosaur article, we’ll have a link up on it.

GUEST:  On Contraspin, I published an article called ‘Debunking the Dinosaurs; Dismantling Snowden’s Detractors’ where I deconstructed a 15-point Twitter diatribe by Boston Globe and London Observer columnist Michael Cohen, who had pretty much ripped into Snowden and into Glenn Greenwald, for a number of reasons and I break these down in that article. Particularly of note, I discuss that what ultimately convinces me of Snowden’s authenticity isn’t his supporters – it’s not Glenn Greenwald, or Jess Radack or everyone else – I mean, they’re great, but that’s not what really proves to me his efficacy. What does prove it to me is the way that the establishment is attacking him, and the methods that they are using, because they are using the exact same deny, degrade, distract, disrupt, destroy playbook against him that his own revelations show are being used against every other activist. Everything I’ve experienced and seen happen to others over the last nearly four years, is precisely what is being done to Snowden. The same sock puppet accounts with the uniform negative narratives about him, the disparagements that they make. Then when you start to look at the cast of political characters that have been trotted out to discredit him, it’s Cheney, it’s Clinton, it’s Hayden, it’s current and past directors of this, that and the other government agency. Not only that but these are the people who were behind the disinformation about the Iraq War. These are literally the disinformation dinosaurs. The fact that the full weight of their departments is being used to discredit him and that the methodology is exactly the same as the discrediting of the Occupy movement, or pick any other movement, they’ve had the same thing happen to them, that is really telling. To me, it is so much more credible that they’re using that playbook against him the same as they do against us, than the obscure theory that’s out there that somehow Snowden is a CIA disinfo op and somehow President Putin is involved or complicit in it with the Americans; to me that just makes no sense. There’s been a very genuine attempt to starve out Russia economically through sanctions. There’s no way that the assaults on the Russian economy are part of some grand scheme to pretend that they’re at war with each other when they’re actually not. Those sanctions were used against Iraq and other countries long before they were used on Russia. It’s very clear to me also that Russia and China are seen by the U.S. as the greatest so-called threats to them in the cyberwar and that’s what the U.S.A. policy is really all about. So I don’t believe for one second that Russia and the U.S. are in bed together to try to put Snowden out as a disinfo op. It just makes no sense when you look at the facts.

HOST:  There’s a historian by the name of… he wrote a book called ‘The Best Enemy Money Can Buy’ and we’ll have a link to it, in an online version that can be read. It comes down to, Wall Street is basically backing both sides. They make money off of both sides. It’s the economic view of history. We could do an entire show and should do an entire show on it later. We haven’t got time in the last 6 minutes we’ve got in this section but could you touch on – you’ve actually, because of going to Germany, you’ve got a feel for them personally and maybe you can help us try to sort out, how do we… at the same time we don’t trust them completely, but we should be able to work with the information. Is it a verifiable fact? How do we do this?

GUEST:  I think it’s quite hard when you’re detached – whether it’s geographically detached, like I was in New Zealand, or as the average viewer is, but when they watch the videos or read the articles, it’s the same methods of transmitting information that the mainstream media use – video journalism and print journalism. So it’s quite easy to view it with the same critical eye that you would with the mainstream media, who clearly don’t tell the truth all the time if any of the time to be frank. But actually having met them in person, which I never expected to happen, there was no coordination surrounding that whatsoever, it just happened to occur for me. Meeting them in person, I realised that they really are just ordinary people. I just got amazing vibes from all of them. They talked to me very personally especially Thomas Drake, about his story and the things that happened to him and every single thing that he was telling me was matching up with everything I’d experienced in Auckland. Again, it’s the same methodology – the same tactics, the same playbook – that have been used against these people as have been used against all of us grassroots activists. So yet again that really hammered home for me that these are real people who are speaking out about their experiences, it is not scripted at all. And Ellsberg – you and I had had some discussion I think from something Doug Valentine had written about Daniel Ellsberg where he suspected that Ellsberg might have not been forthright about how the Pentagon Papers came to be released. I saw and stood right next to Daniel Ellsberg on several occasions on that day and I was really struck by the fact that this is a guy in his 80’s. This is not a guy who’s pre-retirement, who’s trotting out around the globe pushing a government line. This is someone who is in his 80’s and speaking out – his entire speech was anti-nuclear. To me, a government shill is not in his middle 80’s giving speeches about nuclear weapons. That’s just not what happens. If he was truly a government shill pushing a government agenda, in his 80’s he would be retired in his mansion on Cape Cod with his feet up on a lounge chair. There’s no way he would be out traveling and giving really important political speeches that directly contravene America’s nuclear interests, right? He’s literally talking about the inherent insanity of nuclear warfare no matter which country it is that’s perpetrating it. Anti-nuclear issues are really, really core, especially in New Zealand. We rejected the ANZUS treaty in the eighties because we wanted to create a nuclear-free zone. I know first-hand how contentious that kind of activism has been and how much heat was on those anti-nuclear activists. So the fact that Daniel Ellsberg has the wherewithal to be talking about issues that contentious at his advanced age I think also lends to his personal efficacy. I find it very difficult to believe that the U.S. government would send someone of his age around to do that. I don’t see where they stand to gain from it.

HOST:  That being said, Doug had raised a specific, assured point. I think when you checked into it, there was a good point that he was raising. At least that’s my understanding.

GUEST: Right, what he was saying is that Daniel Ellsberg was a CIA agent and not just a Department of Defense or Pentagon person. It was interesting because I instantly started to research that because I thought ‘I’m sure that’s not the case’. So I started to look into it and I actually found an Ellsberg interview where he talks about the government, in the wake of his release of the Pentagon Papers, as he described it, that the government tried to ‘Valerie Plame’ him. Valerie Plame of course being the CIA officer whose name was leaked, I think it was by Dick Cheney’s office wasn’t it? Back in the wake of the Iraq War? I think her husband had dissented in some way and to get back at him, they had leaked her name to reporters. So the fact that he used those words, that they had tried to Valerie Plame him, tells me that – yes he was a CIA officer, right? Cos Valerie Plame was a CIA officer. So if they tried to Valerie Plame him, what they were trying to do is to use the fact that he was a CIA officer to discredit his release of the Pentagon Papers. So, that again is a tactic that the same group of disinformation dinosaurs uses to discredit people. Then when you look at Snowden – Snowden also says he was in the CIA. So you have to ask yourself, does being a part of a military service then discredit you from ever speaking out or whistle-blowing? Clearly we are better off for the Pentagon Papers and clearly we are better off for the Snowden releases, so I don’t think them purely having been CIA officers is enough to discredit them and I think the fact that their own government is willing to expose them for being covert operatives seems very convenient to their government.

HOST:  I think that’s a good point. I don’t think its realistic to expect that we’re going to have perfect individuals. We’ve all got a mixture of good and bad. But at the same time, to use the information… do you see any transparency? Is there any way that we can let individuals – again, Independence Forever- let independent people, give them enough data, that they can make their own judgment as to who’s telling the truth and what the truth is. What do you see there?

GUEST:  I think there’s a lot more information in the public realm now than people realise. There’s a website called Cryptome.org – they keep a tally of Snowden’s leaked documents and they’re up to over 5,000 now. There’s 5,000 pages out there. Not 5,000 documents but 5,000 pages. I think that I found about a half dozen websites that are analysing those documents, outside of the mainstream media sphere obviously, they were also listed on Cryptome. So I think there is a huge amount of information out there but people only really see what comes from the big outlets. So if people really want to participate in analysing that information, I would urge them to go and read the documents. Read those 5,000 pages. Because you can be guaranteed that for every document, for every page, that CNN turn into one story, there’s probably ten stories in that document, but without the eyes to look at it and the hands to write about it, that information might never be found. So I think rather than criticise based on appearances, people need to actually jump in boots and all, see what’s there and circulate that information. Then they’re really in more of a position to criticise I think, if they’ve done that.

HOST:  There’s one other crucial point here. Again, I’m not a trusting soul as you’ve picked up, I want to be able to verify. But at the same time I 100% support that, these are political prisoners and they’re doing more time and being punished more, than the war criminals who actually created this situation, for profit, that has led to these political prisoners having to take risks. So, how do we support freeing these guys? Amnesty, or whatever? It’s just not fair for them to do more time than the people who are responsible. The Bushes. The Obamas. The list goes on and on. And again, it’s not my list. These are again, independently verifiable, that there are experts saying, you’re breaking international law. What are your thoughts there?

GUEST:  There are practical things that we can do, right, like we can go and donate to the legal defense funds. I know that Chelsea Manning was needing a sum of money quite recently to continue his legal case – HER legal case I should actually say. [So sorry, Chelsea.] Same with Snowden, same with others, they have legal costs, we can help and chip in with that. But I think that strategically what we need to do is to raise the political price on the government for persecuting whistleblowers. We need to raise the same kinds of movements in support of the whistleblowers that we see in working for other issues. But that said, I think Jesselyn Radack said that it’s a long game, it’s not a short game, in terms of actually freeing them. I think she’s right and when we look historically – look at Mandela, how many years he was in prison for. Obviously his is a different case for a number of reasons but still, I don’t think that Chelsea Manning is going to be released tomorrow or next week no matter what we do. But what we can do is raise the visibility for them and we can educate people and hopefully we can inspire a whole torrent of new whistleblowers and have more and more information coming out because I think the D.O.J. is a very slow-moving beast.  It’s taken them years trying to investigate Wikileaks and then every time there’s a new leak they have to start from scratch on that, so I do think it’s possible for whistleblowers to move faster than the government if there’s enough of them and if they bring out enough information.

HOST:  We’re at 21 minutes into the show, we really need to move, I guess, into the second segment. It was really good – I got a laugh out of it and this stuff is so scary that being able to laugh at it really helps: the Dick Pics. Could you tell us about the story you did on the Dick Pics.

GUEST:  Who didn’t get a laugh out of the Dick Pics. I actually thought it was priceless. I’ve seen so many interviews by Snowden over the years and it was definitely a one of a kind interview and I knew as soon as I saw the John Oliver interview – the ‘Dick Pics’ interview as it’s known – that it was going to go viral. It was really clear to me straight away. I think there was 300,000 views when I saw it; by the time I’d finished my article there was a million views on it; there’s now seven and a half million views on it. He did the most brilliant thing right – which is that he found the one point that would engage every single human being on the planet. Because every single human being either has a dick, or they know someone who has a dick. So, everybody feels personally invested in this topic. While on one hand people bemoan and say, ‘oh it’s really sad that we have to stoop to genital humour in order to be able to engage everybody’, but then at the same time you saw in the interviews of the general public that this really did hit home for them. This is something they can relate to because yes, they send intimate photos to their partners, and no, they don’t want the NSA looking at, and/or circulating, and/or storing forever, their intimate photos! Unfortunately that’s exactly what has been happening – they HAVE been vacuuming up everybody’s intimate photos and they do have access to them, and as Snowden said they do have a chuckle about them and/or send them to Bob down the row and that horrifies people, it completely horrifies people. Because it personalises it. It’s no longer just about the terrorists overseas somewhere, it’s about my penis, or my husband’s penis, and oh my God the NSA have a picture of it!

HOST:  It really also dovetails (?) with what we were just saying – it’s not realistic to expect that these people are perfect people. These sources may have things that they don’t want to be out there but in the interests of transparency, it’s going to have to be addressed. It will be addressed. What was really, I thought the best part of Snowden’s reaction to it, was how he reacted to it. I really got a kick out of how he was dealing with the interviewer, which was of course a sham, that wasn’t a for real, but that is so close to what mainstream media and disinformation is trying to do. Can you go into that a little bit?

GUEST:  Yeah, I think he handled it really well. It was nice to see him in a deep blush at a certain point there but he really did handle it so well. He did well with the off-the-cuff comments and statements. I mean, obviously he’s not a comedian like John Oliver is, but he handled the comedic aspect really, really well. His answers were brilliant. The leading questions at the end, where they actually went into each individual program and how that could capture your Dick Pic, that was just absolutely classic. It took what was highly technical information and very specialised knowledge and made it very accessible to the viewing audience. I think that needed to happen, it was overdue for that to happen. Full props to Snowden as well for actually participating and appreciating what had occurred, not being mortified by it, not being embarrassed by it but actually embracing it. And also to Greenwald and others who subsequently promoted the video and the viral nature of it. I think that was really genius on their part, to embrace this. It was clearly a huge win for them.

HOST:  There are several points in here, one of them is, this stuff is scary. This is warfare. Our government has declared war against us and it’s very difficult to be afraid of something that you can laugh at. So I think the humour side of this is extremely important here. You helped us out, you did an analysis of Doug Valentine, and of the Counterinsurgency interview that we did, and basically it’s the humour that helps you get through this. Cos we were talking, when somebody looks at the tweets from that time period, it’s like the crickets chirping. No one wants to touch this and I understand that but we’re not going to get out of here by ignoring it harder. What are your thoughts on this?

GUEST:  I think it’s easier for people to deal with that type of information that have seen it in person on the ground because then it’s making sense of things that didn’t make sense to them when they were going through it, so there’s a relief aspect to it. For me, when I was reading through that Counterinsurgency stuff, I was like, ‘oh my God, this is the story of everything that has happened to us for the last four years’ and all these pieces are dropping into place and it’s making sense for me. But for when a non-activist reads this stuff, they’re shocked and dismayed and they just can’t believe – ‘surely this doesn’t happen, surely our government doesn’t do this, maybe they do this in Afghanistan, surely they don’t do this in Ferguson, or Auckland, or New York City’, you know? But of course they are, and they do…

HOST:  Like they do in Fergu-stan.

GUEST:  Yeah, really! But I think that comedy is something that engages people and people feel good about it. So they don’t feel scared, or doubtful, they’re not doubting whether something has actually occurred, they’re actually laughing and happy and they want to show it to their friends and they want to show it to their family. I think that was a really good object lesson, I think that maybe the Counterintelligence information that is coming out is more palatable to activists than it is to the general public but I think the John Oliver interview taught us a lot about how we can get wider circulation of these issues to the general public in a way that is meaningful to them.

HOST:  It’s absolutely vital that it gets out to there too. I’m really not seeing, even out of journalists – like The Intercept – I don’t see The Intercept really addressing this and we’ve got to have their help. We’ve got to have them. I don’t see them being there. Any day, now, guys!

GUEST:  They’re addressing it, but they’re addressing the nitty gritty, right? They’re addressing the precise tactics of JTRIG, which is the precise unit from GCHQ that is perpetrating a lot of, at least, the online side of it. So they’re dealing with documents that are detailing the specifics of what is being done, so it’s really at a micro level. Really, operational information around targeting activists personally. So, again, that’s really key information for activists. I read that stuff and I’m like ‘oh my God, that happened to me, and that happened to this other person on my media team, and that happened to another activist that I know’ and I can relate personal situations to everything that I’m seeing in those documents, which is yet another reason I know that they are legit. However, I think, again, for non-activists, it’s harder for them to connect with that and I see what you’re saying, which is that we need the bigger picture. People need to understand the bigger picture, that this is an actual strategy that is played out at a very high level and at an international level because this is being done in New Zealand, it’s being done in the U.K. It’s being done in America. God only knows where else it’s being done, I’m sure it’s being done in Canada. Obviously all of the Five Eyes at a minimum and probably dozens more, maybe even a hundred countries in the world are having the same tactics used on it. So I think that, you’re right that The Intercept isn’t covering it at a big level, at a generic level, but then if they did they would be criticised for – how are you sourcing that? People would want them to prove the nitty gritty in order to be able to provide a bigger picture. So I think it’s a catch-22 right, where if they cover the big picture, people are going to say ‘it’s conspiracy theory’. But if they cover the nitty gritty then people are going to say ‘it’s too technical and we don’t really understand it’ and whatnot. I think it’s about more than just The Intercept. I think the responsibility lies with all of us to circulate information in the way that we can, to the people that we can. The tendency to sit back and be like ‘oh why hasn’t Greenwald done this, why hasn’t Snowden done that’ – look at what they have done. How much do you expect from these guys, seriously? They can be an expert in one thing or two things or three things or five things – but I see people saying ‘why aren’t they 9/11 truthers? Why aren’t they blah blah blah blah blah…’ – and it’s like, you can’t actually list every problem that the world has and expect Greenwald and Snowden to solve it.

HOST:  That’s a good point…

GUEST: At the end of the day, people have to take responsibility for what they have a personal interest in and what issues they can contribute to.

HOST:  I guess my own personal side of it is, if we don’t get some support on these issues, we’re going to disappear. It would be much more difficult for Greenwald to be disappeared, or defenestrated in the final spy game term. I don’t want to be defenestrated but if we don’t get the word out just a little bit faster, I’m not going to be around to see the end of this mess. I guess that’s my own selfish reason for saying ‘Hello? Could we pick up the pace a little bit guys?’ Do you see a way to try to accelerate this?

GUEST:  I think safety comes in numbers and the more connected that we are to each other, the higher our chance of survival increases and therefore our ability to serve others and the cause increases. Having seen the transition for myself, from New Zealand, where I was very isolated. I had my media team but my media team all faced exactly the same problems as I was facing. At a very individual level, we were all targeted. We didn’t have the wider infrastructure to support us of other activists having gone through the same thing and come out the other end. Also, New Zealand is in a technology black hole so we are 10-15 years behind the rest of the world in technology, but we were being attacked with technology that is cutting-edge. Coming to Berlin where there are established structures for activists and there are places of refuge and safe-haven, and organisations, like, really well-established organisations that are well-resourced and really have their proverbial together, has just been amazing. The difference is incredible. Because you can begin to work free of that level of harassment that you face when you are more isolated. So I think that activists being isolated serves the government agenda because it allows them to be targeted and to be repressed. But the more that we coordinate and the more that we support each other, the harder it is for the governments to be able to get away with doing the kind of low-down dirty deeds to us that they are able to when we are isolated. So that for me has been the big lesson – that there is safety in numbers and there are support structures are out there, we have to find them and we have to help each other to find them. As for the general state of the world though, I feel the same way. I look at the water problems – I look at Shell drilling in the Arctic Ocean right this very day – and climate change, and everything else, and I’m just absolutely overwhelmed by it. Even Fukushima and the state of the oceans and the list just goes on and on and on and on. We are destroying this planet so rapidly and there are so many issues that if there isn’t systemic change we are ALL toast. The planet is toast. I have absolutely no doubt about that. But I do believe what you say and what you’ve told us, which is that eventually the system will cave in upon itself because it cannot sustain itself.

HOST:  It always does. That is what the history is showing and that is something to try to keep a handle on. They’re losing; they’re going to lose; they always lose; but it would be nice if they would lose fast enough that I stay alive to get all the way through it. The three pillars, that we’re dealing with – the architect of that is Kilcullen and he’s from Australia. He’s quoted as saying, before they can even deploy all of these magical toys that they have and billions, maybe trillions of dollars worth of technology; before they can use any of that against us, they have to have control of information. Our control of information is specifically; we have to defend our ideology, what we believe in. We have to defend sanctuary; we have to be able to do this and be safe while we do it or at least, like you were saying, safety in numbers. There has to be safe places for us. And the third thing is – I forgot the third thing – ideology, sanctuary, and that’s right: motivation. How do we motivate ourselves? How do we continue to do this? And it’s probably a Freudian slip that I couldn’t remember the word motivation, because I want to quit! I’ve been doing this since the first week of Occupy. I’ve been scared to death since the first week of Occupy and I’m tired of being scared to death; I’m too old for this. I need to be fishing in a rocking chair!

GUEST:  Well that’s a bit like what I was saying about Ellsberg, isn’t it? I mean, he should definitely be in retirement fishing in a rocking chair somewhere, but he’s trying to tell the world that nuclear weapons are insanity, and to stop the fighting. I don’t know that this is a fight that we ever can give up and retire from. I look at my older friends who came through the Springbok tour in ’81 in New Zealand and won some of the biggest political battles in the history of New Zealand activism – they’re still fighting today. Even from all the struggles they went through then – they had the same type of targeting, it was a different time, different level of technology, different resources set against them but they still went through hell. They were still individually targeted and having their lives dismantled but they won one of the biggest political battles of our time and they are still here beside us today fighting. I don’t think you ever really can retire from caring about the planet. I don’t think you ever retire from wanting life to continue for future generations. I do hear you though, I’ve definitely had what they call ‘activist burnout’ which is periods where you just don’t want to know anymore, you just need to think about yourself and regenerate a bit because it’s just too much pressure and too much stress but at the end of the day we’re guided by our conscience and my conscience always leads me back to the cause no matter what because when I see that injustice I cannot be silent and they count on our silence! That’s the whole point of what they do to us, they want to shame us and silence us. But when we are silent we become complicit. When we are silent we are protecting the perpetrators. So we have to speak out, because speaking out clears our conscience. It’s our only hope for the future, literally, and it reassigns the shame and the blame to where it belongs – which is not on us, but on those who do this and who profit from doing it.

HOST:  Again, the title of this show and the theme for this show is Independence Forever – the American 1776 Independence – and specifically the ideology is what’s contained in the Declaration of Independence and the architect of that was Benjamin Franklin and Ben Franklin was less than totally humourous but I they needed a good laugh too, I’m sure! Either we all hang together or we most certainly will hang separately and that’s where we’re at. That is the three things that they’re trying to defeat us on. We have to defend ideology, sanctuary, motivation. We have to defend there. They cannot win as long as we continue to defeat – or at least to defend. We don’t even have to defend successfully. We just have to continue to defend and with that little speech out of the way, we’ve got 20 minutes left in the show. We wanted to touch base on the third article that I really got a kick out of – on the Patriot Act. You wanted to do the show Occupy Patriots but right now up here the Ku Klux Klan has occupied the term patriot. Tom Payne – another member of the original Independence Forever group – talked about ‘summertime soldiers and sunshine patriots’, and I believe I just rewrote Tom Payne, my apologies, but talk to us about patriots. Again, this will be news to a lot of people to understand, this isn’t just an American thing. This is Five Eyes, for sure. Touch on Five Eyes. Most people don’t understand, even if we took out the NSA, at this point in the United States, there’s four more of them! So it’s going to have to be a worldwide movement to dismantle this. We’ve got 19 minutes left, let’s fix this in 19 minutes! Go!

GUEST:  Well it’s the breakdown of national sovereignty really, is what is occurring, right, so the Five Eyes are operating as a single entity, as a single country, irrespective of the political constructs in each individual country. So, we have the general public who wait every 3 or 4 years to have their one vote for a political party that is supposed to represent them and is supposed to call the shots but lo and behold the shots are actually being called by the Five Eyes. Regardless of what political party gets into power. We see now with the TPP agreement that is being rolled out worldwide almost, that is again the breakdown of national sovereignty so now the laws will transcend borders and the laws are in the interests of corporations. They are not in the interests of voters or of the citizenry. We already have the military occupation of five countries, which is the Five Eyes. Now we have the corporate occupation of a bunch of countries. We have a massive movement in New Zealand called the #TPPANoWay movement (by It’s Our Future NZ) where we have had – it’s really gone mainstream – we’ve had tens of thousands of people in coordinated actions throughout cities and towns all through New Zealand marching against the TPP. Alongside cities and towns all over the world that have been marching as well. The Trade Minister in New Zealand, Tim Groser, recently described us as politically irrelevant, our movement, and yet said that we get way too much press, that we have a pervasive level of press. Well I can tell you that to get a pervasive level of press, you have to have a mammoth movement because the press play down the numbers, and they play down the movements, severely. So if you have a pervasive coverage in the press it means that you really have astronomical numbers of support behind you. But what he’s really showing is the political disdain for the will of the people. Even where you have the entire citizenry mobilised and in constant action against something that is occurring, the politicians just don’t care. They’re just putting their middle finger up. Because they know that the corporate agenda and the military agenda will advance completely regardless of what the voters do or say about it. So the entire political structure becomes this puppetry theatre. Which again ties us back to Counterinsurgency theory, right, or the strategy. Because that shows the political sphere as one column – one column to hold up the building – and it actually states that if that political column falls, if our movements got so big that we camped out at the Beehive in Wellington and took down the government, the security and the economic pillars, those structures, are strong enough to hold up the building regardless of whether the political stands, whether it remains. So basically the security forces; the police forces; the private investigators that are sub-contracted; the military itself; and the economic structures: the banks; the finance; the money-lenders, that keep industry turning every single day; those together can still hold up the system regardless of whether the political column falls. Which tells us that all of this action for political change and all of the election cycles and the promise of democracy and everything else, is completely irrelevant in the larger picture and they know it is irrelevant and they count on it being irrelevant. So they’re quite happy to shepherd activists into political campaigns, they’re quite happy to see us focus on an election cycle or on who we’re going to vote in this time or next time. What they’re not cool with is us circulating information about exactly this. Because that information is the foundation of the building. Once the well of information has been poisoned, from their perspective, poisoned against them – then they are in really big trouble. Because that’s the point at which everything can fall. That’s the Tunisia moment. That’s the moment where everything can change and so people really need to understand I think that we can’t win by appealing to politicians. We can’t win by appealing to legislators. That said, they will try and prolong their tenure in power by appeasing us in small ways if they feel that those ways are not critically important to their continuation. I think that the win against Section 215 of the Patriot Act, where that’s now been discontinued, the United States Second Circuit Federal Court of Appeals found that it was in fact an illegal program, and that has since supposedly ceased – though I did hear something about it being restarted in the interim period until it’s finally shutdown – if nothing else, that was a symbolic win for us. Again, Jesselyn Radack, quoting her – she said that this is the first time that legislation has actually been revoked. Even if it’s just one piece or if it’s just one system. It’s the first time that there has been any step backwards since 9/11. Up until this point they’ve just been racing forward with more and more invasive anti-privacy legislation. So, this was definitely a symbolic victory, this was definitely a vindication for Snowden, there is no doubt about that. But it’s also a very small concession by a very powerful state and we need to push for a whole lot more than that if there’s going to be any significant change.

HOST:  Once again, we know according to the architect of the plan, that as long as people defend those three things – the ideology, the sanctuary, the motivation, they don’t even have to successfully defend it, they just have to defend it, that they cannot win. They never win. In fact, it’s designed, according to some really good historians, that it doesn’t make any difference from their point of view. If the bankers are making money by pitting one side against the other, they actually make more money by losing and then coming again with the next battle. We are back in Iraq – we never really left Iraq. Does New Zealand have people in Iraq too? Probably.

GUEST:  Yeah – with New Zealand it’s always sold to us as ‘they’re just there for reconstruction’ or ‘they’re just there to help the people’ and you know, whatever else, and never mind that it’s actually our special forces getting sent in and whatnot. The situation in New Zealand right now is that we have a government that is a mini American government, in all regards. Our Prime Minister was a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of America. Not the Federal Reserve Bank of New Zealand – the Federal Reserve Bank of America.

HOST:  Okay, now I’d missed that one and I’ve been following you for years now and I had missed that little point!

GUEST: Yes, John Key. He was a derivatives trader, for God’s sake.

HOST: Oh, wonderful! You’ve made my evening, once again.

GUEST: Exactly, you know. But going back yet again to the Counterinsurgency strategy – look at who is attacking the information base the most successfully at the moment: it’s Wikileaks. They are literally on fire recently, they’ve had back-to-back disclosures. They had the Saudi leaks come out and the stuff about France recently, with NSA spying on President Hollande and his two predecessors. Then, in the last 24 hours too, the leaks about Brazil. Wikileaks is circulating probably the only true and accurate history of the world, that we’ve ever seen. I often think about the Encyclopedia Britannica sets that salesmen used to come around and sell to people in the 70s and 80s. Wikileaks is now that living encyclopedia. Wikileaks is the largest trove of 100% true information that exists in the world and you’ve got to shout out Julian Assange for that. It was his birthday recently. The dude has spent his entire 40s fighting this epic huge battle against political repression, both personally and on behalf of everyone. I really think his work is under-recognised to be honest with you. Though I do see a lot more recognition now in the mainstream media and I was really happy to see, yesterday, CNN covering the Wikileaks releases, BBC covering the Wikileaks releases. Fast forward eight hours and there’s a disparaging spin put on it, but the fact they’re having to cover them at all tells you what a big deal this is and how far the information is penetrating.

HOST:  It was definitely good enough but, I’d talked to you and I’d sent you links before but you’ve got like a gazillion irons in the fire and I’ll have to resend and there’ll be a link with this story, but there was a piece of disinformation, once again, put into Wikileaks – poison well theory again – it’s effective enough that they’re actually taking information warfare steps against it. That was with part of what Barrett Brown was involved in – Stratfor – a couple of journalists I know had to file retractions. A couple of people who would like to think they are journalists but aren’t journalists, never filed retractions. Again, a violation of transparency at this point. We’ve got to trust people – give them enough information, they can make the correct decision. Any thoughts about that, with 14 minutes left in the show?

GUEST:  I’m just not surprised at all that that’s happened. I remember Jeremy Hammond putting out a statement about the extent to which the FBI had been involved in masterminding the Stratfor hack and I think that they lost control of that operation at the point at which Jeremy allegedly leaked that information to Wikileaks. So they could have done anything, that’s really what it comes down to and Stratfor itself is not the most trustworthy organisation in the world in my personal opinion, to say the very least. They have very close familial ties to what I can only describe as disinformation merchants that operate in the right-wing political radio sphere in New Zealand and I don’t trust them as far as I can kick them to be honest. So God only knows what was in here and God only knows where it came from. But I can tell you that, us information activists, we have people approach us with bullshit information. That’s something that happens. It’s deliberately done. They dress it as if its legitimate. They go to great lengths to present it as if it’s legitimate. But there’s always some nasty thing inside it, some nasty factor. Then once they’ve convinced you to use the information, they ‘out’ you for having used it. It’s entrapment – a form of entrapment. It’s very much deliberate on their part and is part of the methodology of discrediting activists so it’s something we constantly have to be on the look out for. I have no doubt they would have done the same thing to Wikileaks – they’ve probably been trying to do it for years. In fact it’s probably quite remarkable that with the number of documents Wikileaks has released, that there’s been so few instances of that

HOST:  The old reporter rule used to be, if you can get a story, and you can confirm a story, then you ran the story and that’s back to transparency again. If it turns out that you’re wrong – hey – until we have perfect people to make perfect reporters, occasionally we’re going to get it wrong. When you do, you file a retraction and say okay, I had this wrong and here’s why I had it wrong. Because this snake in the bush over here handed me a big bow-tied wrapped turd and I fell for it. Then you do everything you can to try to illuminate that snake so that the next time he comes along it’s not quite so easy for him to just completely pass something off as true. We’ve got 5 or 6 minutes left.

GUEST: I feel like that takes us back to the catch-22, it’s like a half dozen to one and six to the other. Either you really carefully vet every single document and you give the government a chance to present any contrary evidence or you just fact-check the hell out of it before you release it and then you’re releasing documents in this tiny slow drip-feed and everyone’s complaining about how many documents haven’t been analysed yet and that they’re not released to the public. Or you go the other way and just release the whole hog and hope like hell that it isn’t a poisoned well. So again, I think they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

HOST:  Well, that’s what retractions are for, and real reporters file retractions. You’ll notice I keep using the term reporter. I am really down on the term journalist. I used to be paid to be a journalist. I’m not paid anymore, I’m paying to do this. I’m just reporting. So I think part of what we’re looking for here is to try to explain, how do we deal with this, as what you’ve said, an information activist – I still call it a reporter. It’s transparency.

GUEST:  I love the term ‘citizen journalist’. I know other people don’t agree. But I love the term citizen journalist because for me it’s like, where I came from and who I do it for. The citizens. I was not a journalist. I did not go to journalism school. I did not get told “you must do a, b, c, d, e or you won’t have a pay check’. I did not go and work for a mainstream organisation. I do not do this because somebody pays me. I was a citizen experiencing things that the media were not reporting on and my responsibility is to other citizens. I am not responsible to a mainstream media organisation. There’s no editor or publisher on this entire planet that can stake a claim on me or that can tell me what I need to cover next or can substantially change my stories. I have my own publishing platforms, a whole variety of them in fact, and some other really amazing publishers, independent publishers, also support and promote my work and I’m lucky enough to have built a following over the last few years. But, to me, the citizen word is much more important than the journalist word, because everything I saw of journalists was just absolutely shocking.

I remember having an argument with a journalist where they wouldn’t take a quote from us because they wanted to take a quote from the councilman and they knew if they took a quote from us that the councilman wouldn’t give them a quote. I said ‘you know that they’re going to lie to you so why would you want a quote from them? You know that whatever quote they give you will be rubbish’ and they said ‘yes, but if we don’t, then we will lose access to them” and it’s like, well why do you want access to somebody that you know is going to lie to you? Because access is everything to them. I would rather have access to truth-tellers, and I’d rather have access to whistleblowers, and I’d rather have access to activists, than to have access to P.R. people, or Press Secretary of this, or whoever else, government officials or whatever. It’s just ridiculous and the fact that they get pandered to, actually enables their lies, it really does. If the media just said ‘we’re going with the truth and unless you give it to us we’ll be going to where it is’ then it would reform pretty quickly but instead the media participates in the P.R. veneer and I just think that’s disgraceful and completely contrary to the public interest.

HOST:  I agree. We’ve got 2 minutes left. I think we’ve touched on some basic ways to work through this mess. Transparency. Trust individuals enough that if they’ve got good information they can make their own judgment. Leave us with some good news. Especially – you’re in Germany right now. What is the mood in Germany, in two minutes?

GUEST:  I have a lot to talk to the German people about. I haven’t had a chance yet but I definitely will be getting there because what I see in Germany is a lot of how New Zealand used to be and it feels like there are a lot of things here that we already lost in New Zealand. So I have a lot of warnings for the German people about the critical need for them to preserve what they have here and to be aware of how many other places it has been lost. There is not the pervasive public surveillance here that there is in the Five Eyes countries however I do see surveillance networks in the transport systems and I think that’s how it starts. It starts in the transport systems then it spreads through to the commercial zones and the industrial zones then eventually ends up in the residential zones. In New Zealand it is now legal for the NZ SIS which is our equivalent of the FBI, to plant surveillance cameras inside residential homes, without a warrant, for a 24 hour period then to use the information gathered in support of obtaining a warrant. To me, it’s not an issue of Orwell is coming, or an Orwellian world is on it’s way – in New Zealand it has already arrived. They can film you in your house without a warrant. That is where countries like Germany could end up in the long term if they don’t really respect and fight to preserve the privacy that they do have now, as well as pushing back on expanding it. So I definitely have a lot of warnings for Germany.

I think on a happy note – well I don’t really have much to say on a happy note other than Happy Birthday Edward Snowden! I’ve been dying to say ‘Hari Huritau’ which is Happy Birthday in NZ Maori which is our indigenous language. I saw messages go to him from all around the world but I didn’t see anything speak to him in Maori so I thought I would get that out there.

HOST:  Well I think that was a happy note, too. To me, New Zealand used the electoral process and made further forward progress than any place else I can see. Kim Dotcom, and the Maori – excuse me, I can’t remember off the top of my head what the party was –

GUEST:  The Mana Movement of the People. Hone Harawira’s party, yes. That allied with Kim Dotcom.

HOST:  You gave us hope. For anybody who was watching, you gave us hope.

GUEST:  We fought hella hard, that’s what it came down to. We really gave it absolutely everything we had. We broke through to the mainstream. We got through to Mom and Pop New Zealanders. We even had mainstream programs having to cover our content five days a week. But at the end of the day it didn’t effect change. So we have to change our tactics now. If we can’t get change through the political system we have to be active outside of it. It’s the only option left to us.

HOST:  On that note – I think we need to remember that COIN is always destined to fail. That’s what the research showed. You helped us with that research, with that analysis. I’m looking forward to more shows like this. It would be good to get an international view for Occupy America Social Network and I thank you Suzie. It was really great talking to you.

GUEST:  Thank you so much for having me on, it’s just awesome.

HOST:  Well, I end the show the same way each time. From the old Occupy movement, we had a saying – thanks for standing and that’s where I’m at right now. Thanks for standing and join us again for our next show.

GUEST:  Thank you so much. Take care.

—TRANSCRIPT ENDS—

 

Anatomy of Repression: Military Tactics And Corrupt Media Used To Destroy Protest Movements

Back in 2011, people (like Naomi Wolf) who said the Department of Homeland Security apparatus was being wielded against the Occupy movement, were scoffed at and undermined by self-important media figures. By 2012, it was proven that not only was Naomi correct, but the scope of the civil violations and/or crimes being perpetrated by the state agencies in an effort to quell any and all dissent, had been grossly underestimated, and that those agencies were in fact coordinating internationally.

Fast-forward to 2014 and the Black Lives Matter / Ferguson movement and 2015 in Baltimore, and independent media, protest organisers and protesters themselves are reporting similar experiences – namely, their lives being dismantled piece by piece at a whole-of-government level and their physical safety threatened as they are stalked and surveilled by shadowy groups of strangers hell-bent on intimidating their targets out of performing their legal protest and journalistic activities.

Democracy, indeed.

Well now we finally know not only that this IS happening, but also precisely how. And the implications for those in the media sphere are astonishing. Due to the for-profit nature of these crimes, which are perpetuated and facilitated by governments and therefore NOT recognised and prosecuted by those governments, the problem is snowballing into a situation where not only protesters and journalists are being stalked and intimidated but even doctors, researchers, scientists, educators, civil servants, and anyone at all who gets in the way of the establishment.

Integrated with the global mass surveillance apparatus, this Stasi-State-On-Steroids is now operational around the globe, and can only be leading us to something even more sinister.

Without further adieu, here is a full transcript of the recent ‘Occupy Interview: COIN’ (COIN being short for \Counterinsurgency) podcast by the Occupy America Social Network.

Host: Terry W. Bain (@TWBainusW)
Guest: Michael Gould-Wartofsky (@MGouldWartofsky)

HOST: Hi and welcome back to Occupy Interview, this is the Occupy America Social Network and we are back on the air! We had a domain hijack. Some of you may have had trouble finding us but, we’re here and obviously you found us so, you’re here… this is Episode 41: Occupy COIN, for Counterinsurgency. Our guest is Michael – can you introduce yourself please, Mike?

GUEST: Sure, my name is Michael Gould-Wartofsky, I was a Day 1 occupier at New York City and ended up writing a book on the movement, it just came out this year, called ‘The Occupiers: The Making of the 99% Movement’, documenting what was going on within the occupations and also between the occupations and the state, the power players, that severely repressed them. I recently came out with a piece in the Town Dispatch which was widely republished in The Nation and elsewhere called ‘The New Age Of CounterInsurgency Policing’. I’ve been studying some of this stuff as a PhD candidate in Sociology at New York University and also just as a rank and file activist and photojournalist, for some time, trying to figure out what was going on, on the other side.

HOST: Can you give us a real brief look at Counterinsurgency 101? What do people need to know about Counterinsurgency?

GUEST: Counterinsurgency emerged as a strategy for control and containment of what was seen as enemy forces in foreign combat zones in the 1960s, as we know, and has really experienced a revival of sorts, a renaissance, since 9/11. It has been deployed in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in other conflict zones around the world, in the so-called Global War on Terror. More recently, we’ve seen counterinsurgency understood as a struggle for control over contested political space, political territory. We see this counterinsurgency strategy imported back to the homeland, back to domestic uses. So the counterinsurgency framework depends on the establishment and consolidation of control over a population and over a given territory through both military means, that is, security forces, in the case of domestic protests, political means, economic means, and then the base of this, is information control, and we can get to that in a second.

HOST: That would be great. We’ve really been trying to find some more information on that. One of our guests on one of our earlier shows, was with Doug Valentine, a historian.  He wrote the book on the Phoenix Program, during Vietnam, and was working with our audience trying to give us a basic understanding of the structure of Homeland Security as actually mirroring the Phoenix Program. Can you elaborate? What are you seeing on that?

GUEST: I think that a lot of the, if we’re speaking specifically about the information control that’s going on, on the one hand it looks like the control of information flowing to law enforcement, that’s one dimension of it, flowing to these paramilitarised forces, and that takes the form increasingly of an integrated series of platforms that spans both the public and the private sector, and one example of this is the Domain Awareness System, which is a program that draws on many, many, many datastreams across New York City, for example. It was created by Microsoft in partnership with the NYPD and the Federal Intelligence agencies to aggregate and analyse these datastreams, to analyse information constantly in real time from tens of thousands of sources. From criminal history databases and closed-circuit cameras to license plate readers to Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) as they call it – that is, information gleaned from social media and people’s everyday communications – so that’s one dimension of it. The flow of information to them. Another, is controlling the flow of information to us.  The information that we’re getting. So it’s not just about the intelligence gathering, not just about the sort of predictive policing, but it’s also about trying to control what data we’re getting about what they’re doing, and a lot of this has to do with cybersecurity, Kilcullen(?) talks about media ops and information ops – there are stories that are planted, there are people who are working in media that are also working for intelligence. The Associated Press recently exposed this – there are FBI agents working as Associated Press. There’s also efforts to counteract the motivations and ideologies of the people on the ground who are trying to protest this homeland security state and on other issues like police accountability. And they involve, basically a constant flow of funding and personnel into the movement itself so you have lots of people embedded within the movement who are actually working for intelligence agencies and spreading disinformation and at the same time, spreading questionable data about what’s going on. And part of this too is to marginalise the protesters, to deny them sanctuary, to deny them sources of support from the larger population. And so we’ll see this in places like Baltimore, in places like Ferguson, they will attempt to associate dissidents with domestic terrorism, they will associate dissidents with violent activity, and they’ll try to split the allies that these movements have, and to divide and conquer.

HOST: In the show that we did with Doug Valentine, he had a question for you, actually two questions. You hear the term counterinsurgency and you hear the term counterterror – what is the difference between the two?

GUEST: Well of course, there’s a kind of slippery slope and a spectrum. But it has to do with the justification that the powers that be give for these kinds of practices I think, more than any fundamental difference in what they’re doing. I think that counterterrorism campaigns traditionally do employ counterinsurgency measures as a piece of them. We saw both counterterrorism and counterinsurgency in effect in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Horn of Africa, you can even go back to Vietnam of course, and Latin America. So there’s a kind of dual face of this kind of security strategy. When it’s justified in terms of preventing actual terror attacks, as it has been since 9/11 they call it counterterrorism – when it’s justified in terms of control over a territory that may not belong to you, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, they’ll call it counterinsurgency.

HOST: I guess kind of an elaboration of that question too, Doug wanted to know, do you see any kind of a difference between the way the CIA handles an operation, and the way the military handles an operation, and the way the DHS – the Department of Homeland Security – handles a counterinsurgency program?

GUEST: Certainly. I think the military is certainly best trained and has the most experience in above-ground operations of this nature. So they have to follow very clear protocols, they have to answer for their actions at some level, there’s a very clear chain of command. Of course they’re subject to all the unpredictability and uncertainty that arises in battlefields and of course military tactics have now been imported to law enforcement agencies here but there’s still a kind of, there are military protocols that are followed. With the DHS and CIA it’s much more of a new frontier as to what they’re up to and I think they see much less need to answer to the public, there’s much less transparency around those activities and much of what the CIA has done, we don’t even know the full extent of that and it’s only due to some intrepid journalism and some leaks that we have any idea of what they’ve been up to since 9/11. Of course, they too have been deployed for some domestic counterinsurgency as we saw with some CIA officers embedded with the New York Police Department’s demographics unit and used against Muslim Arab Americans here in New York City so the CIA has definitely expanded the scope of its mission. And the DHS of course is a new creature, one that we’ve only had in the 14 years since 9/11 and DHS is a really vast infrastructure of, it’s hard to talk in generalities about them because it’s really such a world unto itself. But they are actively engaged in applying this domestically so they’re the ones who are thinking about ways to bring counterinsurgency home and are probably the most active in that endeavour right now.

HOST: There was a time when counterinsurgency implied warfare. And if you’re in the continental United States, in Ferguson, in Baltimore, in any of the cities across the country that’s having this going on – we are not at war. I never declared war on my government, why did my government declare war on me? What’s going on here?

GUEST: This is the kind of slippery slope I was talking about between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. When the US government declared the Global War On Terror in 2002 it was a signal and it was also a green light for this to really get global and that INCLUDES the United States. So they see the battlefield everywhere. If the streets of Batlimore and the streets of Ferguson looked like a warzone that was no coincidence. We look at agencies within the Homeland Security state here, like the DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis – they regularly issue communications to other agencies around the country saying. look out for civil disobedience, look out for civil unrest, and they associate it in some cases with terrorism overseas. There was a memo that came out some time around the Ferguson protests that associated the Ferguson protesters with ISIS – the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. So they see this as a kind of spectrum of force that can be deployed anywhere at any time against almost anyone. They do see it as a piece of the larger strategy that they’re pursuing in what they do see as a global war that’s being waged on our own shores.

HOST: We’re about 14 minutes into the show. There were reports coming out, and this will kind of begin to get into our next segment here in a second, but you’ve been following what’s been happening in Baltimore, but it looked like from the people who were actually there at the time, it was almost kind of a set-up on a bunch of high school kids. They shut down the transport, they came in with a tank, an armoured car, and a SWAT team in riot gear and they taunted kids, they ended up throwing rocks at the kids and the kids were throwing rocks at them…  a comment that came out it looked like Gaza USA. What do you see there? Can you elaborate and try to give people a better idea? It looked like the cops were just trying to incite a riot? That’s what it looked like.

GUEST: That’s right, and it is actually a traditional strategy for law enforcement – we’ve had those officers known as agent provocateurs of course for over 100 years in this country who’d go and get things going and get people riled up, to start taking violent action that would then justify a counter-reaction which was actually planned all along. [TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE TO READERS: THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED AT D8 TPPA SHUTDOWN 2012]  So what’s presented as a reaction to a violent protest is often part of a preemptive strategy to preempt non-violent protests, as I argued in a piece for the Washington Post two weeks ago. But in Baltimore, what you saw was the Baltimore police firstly engaging in state-of-the-art surveillance of people’s Twitter feeds, of their social media streams and they learned that this group of high school students wanted to protest the case, the killing of Freddie Gray, with a high school walkout and a march to the Mall. The BPD, instead of preparing for a peaceful protest, they armed themselves for war. They suited up in full riot gear, they had military-style weapons at the ready, military-grade weaponry and military-style tactics. And they faced off with these high school students, refusing to allow them to go home. Denying them avenues of exit, denying them the ability to disperse. Of course, given that scenario, it’s almost inevitable what followed. They came at the students with assault rifles, shotguns with lead pellets, barricades, projectiles, military-style smoke grenades. All the things you’re more accustomed to seeing on the streets of Baghdad, were of course seen on the streets of Baltimore. This is the general tendency with empires – the wars always do come home.

HOST: Well the war has come home. It turns your stomach to watch the news every night. We’re 17 minutes into the show and it would be a really good time to take a look. This is the guy that may have given the blueprint for all of the things that are going on right now, the strategy picture anyway. There’s the Foreign Affairs magazine – the former Ambassador to Iraq wrote a piece that’s basically saying the counterinsurgency effort is doomed to failure – that it has always failed – but we’ve brought it back home to Baltimore.

GUEST: That’s right.

HOST: Could you give us a little picture? Of a gentleman named Lieutenant-Colonel David Kilcullen(?) and his three pillars, and that’s built on information control, which we began to touch on that, and I think we’ve just been given a pretty good learning moment for how it works. Can you give us a little picture?

GUEST: Sure. So Dr. Kilcullen elaborated his strategy at the US Government counterinsurgency conference in 2006. There were some questions at the time as to the effectiveness of the strategies that were being implemented in Iraq, strategies in Afghanistan. This was a moment when counterinsurgency really came back to the fore as an answer, as they saw it, to the question, ‘Well how do you actually secure this territory?’ which may or may not be yours. In the case of Iraq it was very clear – but in the case of some of our inner cities there is also a sense that these are occupying forces so I think that this counterinsurgency framework again came out of the military’s experience overseas but then they found it very useful at home. So those pillars that you’re talking about – it’s a visual model that he presents, Kilcullen. It’s a model as a base – three pillars and a roof. The base is information – that’s the information control that I’m talking about and also the messages that are sent with counterinsurgency actions to the population. And then the three pillars are security, political control and economic control. And the roof is the outcome of the control over all of those mentioned, the establishment, consolidation and transfer of the control from an insurgent part of the population to the state that is seeking to control them. So the security pillar is the one that my article was dealing directly with and that goes everything from the military and paramilitary forces that might be in play down to police who then receive the tactical and strategic orientations of the military in this context and then you have public safety officers and the private security sector and what’s called population security. So you have that pillar of control is the one that we traditionally associate with counterinsurgency, but it’s not the only one, there’s supposed to be a balance right, to give you the efficiency, the effectiveness of your operations, but also to give you the legitimacy, which is hard to come by in these battlefields right, where you’re occupying a foreign country. So to get this legitimacy you also need to combine your security forces and your security activities with political and economic efforts so this looks like building agencies of government that are subservient, that are willing to do the bidding of those directly above them, and those directly above them will do the bidding of those above them, answering to the authority that’s claiming control over the territory. And that can be a knotty problem when you’re faced with an occupied country, of course it’s a little bit easier to pull off when its within your own borders and you’re able to buy off politicians, you’re able to depend upon the criminal justice system to fall in line, you’re able to depend on police officers and intelligence agencies to back you up if the political pillar falls, right, but that is a key element, and one that they keep returning to to reestablish legitimacy, is to say, this is lawful authority, you better obey it. And then there’s the economic pillar which is everything from resource distribution to those who might be sympathetic to insurgents or sympathetic to the rebels. Humanitarian assistance, development assistance, and the management of resource and infrastructure. This is really important actually, in the years since 9/11 we’ve seen a real nexus of the public and private sector around the issue of security. So what’s called critical infrastructure by the Homeland Security has special councils that it has designated and given the power to sort of manage, and critical infrastructure, we’re talking about not just things you might assume like power plants, things that people actually need. They also take it to mean banks, they take it to mean large corporations. So the management of the critical infrastructure is also a key piece of the counterinsurgency strategy because those have to be defended at all costs from the threat of disruption, even if the disruption is coming from peaceful non-violent protesters as we saw during Occupy,

HOST: So we’re 23 minutes into the show and those three pillars that you’ve just described, when its operationally used overseas like Iraq, we hear the people in charge of implementing this plan, simplifying it down to Clear, Hold, and Build. Does that kind of fit with those three pillars or is that something else entirely?

GUEST: That fits with the three pillars, the three pillars are of course one way of conceptualising it that has become quite influential in recent years, but Clear Hold and Build of course has a longer lineage. It was developed by the United States Army, the three elements being civil military operations, combat operations and information warfare. So you’re talking about some of the same kinds of operational priorities but you’re talking about something that was designed specifically to deal with a guerilla force and of course that’s NOT what we’re dealing with in this country so they’ve had to adapt it somewhat to domestic uses.

HOST: Then again, that kind of goes back to the question of how do we see some differences when this is applied with a CIA operation like Phoenix operation, or Department of Homeland Security or military, there are certain differences that we’re going to see but there’s a lot of similarities too because when all is said and done it comes back to an occupation, an army of occupation, and it’s interesting to see how many people were observing that this felt to them, like occupied territory. Some of the tweets that were coming out were saying that they couldn’t believe that this was in their backyard, i guess after watching it in Ferguson and watching it all across the country. It does have a strange feeling when it’s, ‘now it’s here’. I guess that’s where we’re needing to get to from here cos I guess there’s a guy called Sun Tsu and he talks about if you can defeat your opposition’s plan then you’ll win the battle without ever taking casualties. So let’s go back to the plan again. We can see the three pillars, the pillars are resting on a foundation of information control, and that would appear to be how to defeat the plan. They have to control that information. And in the age of Twitter it doesn’t look like they’re doing that well. But it does seem to explain alot of the strange things we’re seeing, like we’re seeing tweets of them going into churches, Ferguson, which would be sanctuary I guess, and you can actually see the people tweeting from the areas saying everything short of sanctuary, safehouse. You can see the attack on the media, begins to make more sense.  So let’s zoom in on the microscope here, and there’ll be a picture that we’re talking about. But now we’re looking at the very base, that those pillars and the roof are sitting on. There’s six things there. The first one is intelligence. How does this apply to people having an occupation used on them in Baltimore? What’s going on with intelligence?

GUEST: They have all kinds of ways of gathering intelligence on the population, the target population. The poor black population of Baltimore in this case. They have everything from human intelligence, that is people embedded among the protesters, we saw this to great effect of course for many years, and they also have signals intelligence – they can gather through such newfangled devices as the Stingray which conducts wireless surveillance of enemy communications, allows them to jam cellphone signals, to force cellphones to connect to it, and to collect mobile data without people’s knowledge. And they’ve been using it, this is specifically something that was deployed in Baltimore. They also have Open Source Intelligence like I was talking about before; we think about social media as something that we can use to fight back in this information war but of course it’s also a tool that can be deployed by law enforcement for their own purposes. So in Baltimore you saw real-time tracking of protest events, you saw attempts to preempt the protest events by drawing on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, to paint a picture for them, gather intelligence for them about where the next protest was going to be, where the next crowd was going to gather. This is the new frontier, this is predictive policing, or PredPol as it’s known and this has a lot to do with counterinsurgency coming to the police, and it’s intended to basically predict where and when crimes or, let’s say, protests or riots are going to happen before they happen and who would be the most likely culprit to participate. And then to send, to basically have a search capacity, where you can send in forces to those targets to stop them before they even happen. So that kind of information control, through intelligence gathering, through predictive policing, is the new frontier when we’re talking about that information control base there. And that gets into information ops as well.

HOST: And that’s the other interesting point about this is it does not seem to be something that’s a simple little picture in a schematic. It’s not just intelligence, it’s how does the intelligence apply to the information operation. Or how does that apply on the media op. And again that goes back to the whole concept of the Department of Homeland Security and the Fusion doesn’t it?

GUEST: It sure does. So alot of these Fusion Centres use these means to good effect. To create a kind of unity of command but also an effort where intelligence can feed into information ops, and media ops, and can then be parlayed into actionable information for them and of course demobilising information – information that is denied to us. So the information ops can take many forms from sort of electronic warfare, you know when I was talking about the Stingray, Hellstorm technology – which is a form of psychological warfare, electronic warfare. Perception operations to disrupt – disruption of political communications on the part of protesters, and the corruption of the decisions that protesters take through this counterintelligence counterinformation campaign. Cos you can’t make informed decisions about what to do, how to protest non-violently if you have imperfect information. So that plays into all six of those pieces of the information control regime.

HOST: Would this apply to where the kids had rocks thrown at them by the riot police, the SWAT team? Was there an information operation probably – I don’t want to get into too much speculation cos we’ll know sooner or later. That’s the good part about this – it’ll all show up in discovery! But is that a form of information op when you put out a ‘there’s going to be an attack, a purge’ on some TV show – and have this complete story pre-made up and the pieces in place, the tank and the armour… I guess what I’m trying to say is, is that an example of an information operation?

GUEST: It’s certainly the product of an information operation – leading up to that of course we had operations already underway by Baltimore Police Department to neutralise these protests from the Saturday before. As to whether the purge was something that came from high school students just acting the fool or came from information ops, is still a matter of speculation.

HOST: Yeah nobody seems to be stepping up to claim where that came from. Which is another pretty good indication of usually a false flag – and I guess, would that be another type of media ops? So once again, this is like another way of looking at the same thing, but then the media operation would be again, I guess, if you had reporters with cameras in place to show pictures of the kids throwing the rocks – and this is a theoretical, this is not what happened in Baltimore because we still don’t have all the data yet – which would be, an information op! [Laughter] Media ops – could you give us a short view on what would be a media op.

GUEST: As they’ve gained quite a bit of control over our media without even having to do it in the name of the U.S. Government of course, they can do it through private corporations, with which they’re working very closely, so you know, somebody like Fox News is going to be there, ready to take pictures of the kids throwing rocks, whether they’re sent there directly by the U.S. Government or not, they’re ready to do it at the bidding of their employers.

HOST: That’s an interesting point to try to get out to people here too, is people want to portray this as, you could never have this big of a conspiracy. The conspiracy itself is driving it, that’s what it’s designed for. Once you set this machinery in place, it’s a go.

GUEST: I would hesitate to call this a conspiracy because just the normal operations of our security and intelligence apparatus would explain this. You don’t have to have a huddle in a back room with people twirling their moustaches for this to work, it can just happen because it’s set up to happen that way.

HOST: Again, Doug Valentine points out that this was created during the Vietnam war, the Phoenix program modelled after Ford motor company used a ‘command post’ system where they would have directors from on high and they had computerised statistics that would tell them whether or not they were meeting their goals or not – again, that’s what it was modelled on so that’s why you’re seeing the similarities. So on the other side of the box, first off do you think there’s a reason why they’ve got these three things kind of set – they’ve got three counters on the other side of the intelligence box – counterideology, countersanctuary, countermotivation. Again they’re all interlinked. What’s in each of those?

GUEST: Sure. So countermotivation, it basically denies people, it’s a sort of way of making it irrational for people to participate and its waging the cost at such a high level, such a high cost, for people to participate in a non-violent protest or a non-violent insurgency let’s say. Countermotivation is basically making it so that it’s almost impossible for people’s motivation to outweigh those costs. So to give people a disincentive to do anything really, to go out of their homes. This can be reinforced by the security pillar – as we saw when the National Guard was enforcing the curfews – but it also can take the form of psychological warfare – where you’re saying, okay, we’re going to expel all these high school students. We’re going to get all these high school students expelled for exercising their rights, for going out and protesting. So that’s a way of countering the motivation that people have. Counterideology is equally important. This was designed during the Cold War when they actually had this War on Communism – now they don’t have the same kind of singular ideological enemy, but they have seen fit to use propaganda, use denunciations of the ideas that people might have, who are out on the streets. You’ve seen this in Occupy, and more recently in the treatment of anarchists, you’ve seen this in the treatment of the Black Lives Matters protesters, portrayed as a sort of, an inherently violent ideology, and attempts to really deprive social movements of their base in the population by saying well ‘this is a foreign ideology’, ‘this is a hostile ideology’, ‘this is a violent way of thinking’. Countersanctuary of course is to deny them places to go, space to be in, just the space to operate in. This can take the form of, as we saw in Ferguson with the church, denying them physical space. They can also deny them their space in cyberspace. In recent years the technologies that are available to them, they’re using to deny people even their ability to operate and to communicate in cyberspace.

HOST: So we’ve got these six things – and again, you’ve really given a clear picture, of how they’re all interlinked, and interwoven with all the other pieces. I guess a lot of what appears to be random, may not be what it appears to be at all. And I guess that might be a really good way of saying that’s what information control is all about.

GUEST: That’s right, that’s right.

HOST: One of the most interesting things to all of this though, with Kilcullen, basically he was credited as doing such a good job in Iraq with this version of COIN which came with the idea that he and Valentine have a worldwide Phoenix program. At the same time, we have the person who was the Ambassador to Iraq who just now came out with the article saying ‘hey this is doomed to failure – it always fails – it failed in Vietnam – it failed in Iraq – it failed in Afghanistan’ – so it’s not like this is some kind of perfectly created machine that’s going to win, in fact it’s doomed to fail. So I kind of guess that brings us to our third section here. With all of this gloom and doom what do you see as the good news, of being able to identify, hey, we’re having counterinsurgency used on us? What’s the good news here? We’ve got twenty minutes to find that!

GUEST: There’s no success here for the counterinsurgency campaign. There can be temporary wins, there can be pacification, they can disrupt and deter people for a time, from going to the street or taking part in protests. All of that – that can look like success, but really in the long term it’s inevitable, it’s doomed to fail, and it’s inevitable that a population will not respond to this by embracing those it sees as occupiers, those it sees as an occupying force. As you said, you didn’t see that in Vietnam, you didn’t see it in Iraq or Afghanistan and you’re certainly not going to see it here in the United States, I think where people have higher expectations of some basic degree of democratic legitimacy, so once they have access to this information, once the information control is broken, then the other pillars are much more likely to fall. We have a crisis of legitimacy in this country right now and part of that is flowing from the fact that like never before – we’re seeing what’s going on, we have access through some of the new tools that we were talking about, to unprecedented information on the kinds of activities that our government is engaged in. Of course there’s much more that we don’t know, that is going on, but the information control I think is much more tenuous than it used to be, as is the control over the population in the sense of legitimacy, because they have power but they don’t have the kind of legitimacy that they’re used to having when they carry out these kinds of operations – you’re not just talking about fighting a foreign enemy anymore, you’re talking about targeting civilians – targeting citizens. So I think it sounds really dire today but there is a silver lining to it in that people I think generally are waking up to this and there have been successful attempts to contain the growth of the security state, there have been successful attempts to reign in some of these programs, some states, ones that you wouldn’t even expect like Montana have passed legislation saying that they don’t want the 1033 program, that is the program to funnel surplus military equipment to law enforcement. We’ve had states like Washington State, where there were drones that were going to be introduced to police protests there and they said no, we’re not going to have drones policing our protests. There have been efforts in New York City and elsewhere, and I think we’re seeing a real conflict over this now, in New York City and elsewhere to stop the over-policing of protests and to actually bring civil and criminal complaints against the police department and in the case of Chicago you’ve even seen reparations that were won for domestic dissidents and other prisoners who were tortured in previous decades and of course Chicago is where we saw that black site during the 2012 protests. So this stuff is hard but there are real local wins, that I think people can take heart that it is possible to put the brakes on this thing, at least at the local level, and if this crisis of legitimacy continues I think we’re going to see some developments at the national level as well.

HOST: We’ve got about 14 minutes left and one of the most crucial things I’ve seen that is good news is how much airtime you seem to have gotten with this counterinsurgency. You’ve been talking to The Nation magazine. The corporate media has actually been paying attention here, to me that’s a big change. What do you see as having driven this, what’s going on here? Why are the corporate media suddenly doing their job?

GUEST: Well I think it’s not that they’re suddenly doing their job, but they don’t really have a choice. This is something that everybody is talking about. It’s something everybody cares about. Everybody who knows about this, who learns about this, knows that it is an issue that is something that is of the utmost importance of their lives, whether or not they’re politically active or whether they’re out there protesting, this is something that’s going to affect all of us, it’s going to affect our children, our grandchildren and so on so forth. I think that there’s simply a demand for it, that there hasn’t been for some time. A demand for information, a hunger for information about this and for some sort of analysis of what’s going on. And I think people feel short-changed by the information that they had been getting previously and they’re demanding to know more.

HOST: I keep thinking back to the scenes in Baltimore, and Ferguson, where you’ve got people telling corporate media, go home. And basically if you’re following it on Twitter and seeing what the people who actually live there are saying and seeing, and seeing what’s going out on CNN, or some of the other corporate media, I don’t want to just single out their bad behaviour… Did you pick up any kind of a change when you’re talking to corporate people who are suddenly covering this story? Do you see any kind of, how do they seem to you? Do they actually seem to be understanding? Or, did they get it before but were just paid not to, or… what’s your impression from talking to the corporate media, what do you see changing there?

GUEST: So my feeling is that nothing fundamental has changed with the corporate media.

HOST: [Laughter] Well I was hoping you had some better news than that!

GUEST: Well nothing fundamental. Though I think at the margins, at the edges, you see some shift. One of the things I think of during Occupy, is actually, even the corporate media became a threat, because to have a camera covering what was going on, to have people seeing what was going on, even that was perceived as a threat even if it was CNN, even if it was the New York TImes. I was out there with a camera at the front lines in 2011 and they were beating up anybody. Including mainstream corporate journalists. So I think some of the individuals in the media have changed their view, and feel that this is a threat not just to protesters but to them, and they’re exercising their rights as members of the press, the so-called free press. There are many people who are questioning what the legitimacy these kinds of tactics have, these kinds of tactics that we see in the streets.  And I think as individuals, they’re covering it differently. I think as institutions, it’s going to take more for them to change in a more fundamental way, and for that you’re going to have to talk about new media, you’re going to have to talk about democratising our media on a more systematic level. But for now, I think there is a cultural shift. A shift in the discourse, a shift in the way that people are talking about these things. There’s a sense among many of the population that if the corporate media isn’t here to tell us the truth then we’re going to need someone else to do that. So I think it’s an existential crisis for them because it really gets down to the role of the media in a free society, and if this isn’t a free society, then what is the role of the media then.

HOST: Good point, got about 10 minutes left and you’ve really kind of touched on some interesting points. For those of us who’ve been around Occupy from basically Day 1, the issues that we’re raising today aren’t exactly news to us. Basically we have, in the former show with Doug Valentine, to a degree, this IS what drove Occupy underground, although that has been overblown according to some of the other experts we’ve been talking to. But it is breaking down. The media is beginning to have to cover this. You were there at the original… were you there at Occupy Wall Street in New York?

GUEST: That’s right. September 17th 2011.

HOST: I’m a newcomer. I didn’t come in til about October. [Laughter]. That’s when the rest of the country started going up for grabs. That was an interesting point in time. We’re still seeing people… are you following Decentralise Occupy down in New Zealand?

GUEST: Yes.

HOST: She’s one of the people who was basically… was never a journalist, never in her wildest dreams she even wanted to be a journalist, but she is a reporter because she saw it wasn’t being covered anywhere else.

GUEST: That’s right.

HOST: You were at the Battle of Boston – I guess that was a couple of months after, was that December?

GUEST: There were several… and the battle of Chicago of course, in May 2012, was really one of the places where we saw some of this new type of policing really deployed in full force. At the North American Treaty Organisation protest (#NONATO), the anti-war protest that Spring. But we saw it from the first I think, they’ve had this stuff under development and they’ve had it in the wings and a lot of the infrastructure I was talking about, the tactics and the weapons I was talking about, they were out there on the streets… they didn’t use them to the extent that they have in the past year. But they had the sound cannons, the long range acoustic devices (LRAD), the less-lethal weapons and all that. All the cameras, that they have, that they were integrating to try to surveil what Occupy was doing, you know I think the groundwork had been laid, of course, long ago and we’re just starting to see the full glory now.

HOST: The credibility is beginning to switch to our side since the other side has been caught lying, the corporate side, so many times. We talked right before we started recording… that a lot of the protesters who had been arrested in the battle of Chicago actually went to the black site that has just now been brought up into mainstream news and reparations even. That’s that same site.

GUEST: Yeah so the black site had been used for many years, to take prisoners of various sorts that the Chicago Police Department didn’t want to, or, didn’t have the goods on yet. They didn’t have the means to bring them up on normal charges so they would take them to this warehouse in Homan Square, in the case of the Chicago protesters, had them chained to a bench, in a wire cage and they apparently ended up charging three of them with domestic terrorism after they sent their own agents to set up this elaborate plot involving molotov cocktails and all this, it was an elaborate act of entrapment that they used to set up some of these protesters who didn’t know any better, didn’t know who they were dealing with. But in a lot of cases you’re seeing the counterterrorism campaigns as kind of having to invent terrorism, or terrorist plots to justify its own existence and Chicago is one example of that.

HOST: And one may well turn into another one, at the end of the day…

GUEST: That’s right, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those black sites turning up in Baltimore either.

HOST: I get the impression that you’re probably dead on target on that one too. In fact what’s really interesting is that when we were talking about this in Ferguson, we found not one but two Fusion centres operating in Ferguson, population 20,000 people. The numbers I keep seeing, it varies all the time. I don’t think there even is a clear picture of how many Fusion centres are operating at this point. That number doesn’t seem to be very realistic. With about 5 minutes left to go, there was something else I wanted to touch on… and I think I managed to forget it. There was one I was wanting you to remind me of…

GUEST: Well I know we were supposed to talk about… Chicago and…

HOST: Oh, that’s it! Infraguard! I was hoping you’ve got something on Infraguard, cos that’s the side of the Fusion centres that’s REALLY spooky. We’re not seeing much on Infraguard.

GUEST: That’s right, and this is actually just one piece of a larger puzzle, which is the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) for policing and for Homeland Security. Infraguard is just a link in that chain that the FBI is specifically responsible for. So they have over 55,000 members as of 2012, I’m sure it’s grown since then. But it’s an association of U.S. business, U.S. corporations, and the FBI, to put their minds together basically, to combine information sharing and intelligence functions with coordination and collaboration on efforts to prevent disruption and ensure business continuity as they would call it. But that can mean anything from, disruption can mean anything from an Occupy protest to a terrorist event but they don’t make any distinction, so, they’ve been using Infraguard, they’ve been using other councils like the Domestic Security Alliance Council and some of these advisory councils within the DHS; the Homeland Security Information  Network is another one, like Infraguard, that DHS is anchoring, that allow constant communication and coordination of public and private sectors to respond to what they see as the ‘threat environment’ that they face, as they call it. The threat environment makes no distinction between violent and non-violent activities so you’re seeing the use of these networks and organisations that were developed under the pretext of protecting Americans, actually being turned against them.

HOST: And again Doug Valentine’s observation here is that that basically parallels how the Phoenix program worked out in the 60s and 70s, the Vietnam War version. It’s a pattern that just keeps repeating until we stop it repeating but the difference is that very few people knew what the Phoenix program was in 1973 or 74. I think there’s a significantly larger amount of people who are beginning to get a handle on just how bad this situation is, as far as liberty. It’s interesting to see some of the tweets talking about the left-wingers on this one, but they’re divided from the right-wing. There’s been some observations like where’s the right-wingers on this one, where’s all the liberty people. And another classic example of that would be the Bundy Ranch situation, where the right-wing were there, on police militarisation, but the left-wing wasn’t too much there or showing up for that one. But the 99% – do you have any, in the last minute, how do we get the 99% to hang together so that we don’t all hang separate?

GUEST: Yeah, that’s the million dollar question.

HOST: Trillion!

GUEST: Yeah, trillion. There are some things that still unite us, no matter what the political ideology that might motivate us might be. One of those things is the desire to live our lives, free from constant government surveillance and constant government interference and control of what we do. There’s one kind of freedom that I think the ‘right’ takes for granted there, and that’s fighting for the right of businesses to do what they want, but what about the freedoms of individuals, what about the freedoms of communities like those in Baltimore, to just live their lives. That’s something basic right there that’s written into our constitutional laws, it’s supposed to be guaranteed to us. But I think this is one thing that the ‘right’ and ‘left’ have in common and that’s nobody wants to be followed around 24/7 and be a target of information ops or psychological warfare on their own block, or in their own country. That’s true of Iraqis, it’s true of Afghans and it’s definitely true of Americans. I think that, you know, if there’s one thing that’s going to unite us, in these final years of the Obama administration it’s the realisation that our democracy is under threat, our freedoms are under threat and it’s going to take collective action and some serious pushback to stop it.

HOST: Well, that pushback is underway and I can’t think of a better way to end this show. That pretty much says it all. I want to thank you for being with us, you’ve done a great job of making a really complex situation, by design, a lot clearer for us. Any last thoughts?

GUEST: Well, just, information is power. Whether it’s in the hands of the power players or in the hands of the rest of us. So the more information we have, the better equipped we’re going to be to wage this fight for our freedom. Everyone should be doing this work, this is work that everyone could be doing. Just keep an eye out cos they certainly are.

HOST: Michael, thanks for standing. To our audience: thank you for standing. And if we don’t get blown out of the air again, we’ll be back in another week with another story.

To view the original podcast blogpost including more than a dozen source links please click here.

Listen to the podcast here

[Transcribed by Suzie Dawson [@endarken]. This transcript was live-blogged. Thank you for watching!]

Flashback Interview Transcript: Chris Yong On #GCSB

FLASHBACK INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT:

Suzie Dawson (@endarken) interviews @chrisyong for @OccupyNZ

ENDARKEN: Hi Chris, thanks for talking to Occupy New Zealand today. We had a great time at the candidate selection for The Internet Party.

CHRIS YONG: Wasn’t it something else?

ENDARKEN: It was amazing! We thought your speech was really standout because of your references to Snowden, and also to the GCSB movement last year and the way that it inspired you. I’m really interested to know what you think about the Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone statements that came out today, where they mentioned that hundreds of devices can be surveilled by the state due to any one warrant. What impact do you think that has for New Zealanders?

CHRIS YONG: OK, well first of all, we’re talking about warranted searches, but we’re also talking about the fact that it can go two hops wide. In my opinion, that’s just too far. It’s one thing that if there is a legal reason to find out information, and there’s a warrant for it, OK, that can be acceptable and understood. But when you’re going two hops wide, you are going to catch a whole heap of innocent people in this grand spy information gathering network and possibly innocent people can be dragged… well.. they could be connected to something which they don’t even know. Data is all about how you interpret it. When there’s too much data and someone is trying to fit an agenda to that data, it’s just bad news. So, two hops – far too wide, far too much.

ENDARKEN: So what can we do to take back possession of our data in New Zealand? How do we get away from being pigeon-holed into the databases of corporations?

CHRIS YONG: Look, I think… one of the revelations that has come out recently is just, for starters, getting secure in every single device that you use. Find out, all the sites, all the apps, what you can do to protect yourself from that easy level of spying. I mean, obviously there’s the next level again, where they’re suggesting people can go in through the backdoors of these IT companies, and that’s a whole other issue that needs to be looked at. But in the short term, when it comes to the basic things you can do, just use secure connections.

(Cameraman: do we need an explanation on what the two hops is exactly?)

ENDARKEN: Sure! Do you want to tell us about the two hops – I know that it was Keith Alexander of the NSA who first let it be known that was two hops – we assume by default that the GCSB also implements two hops being that we are a member of the “Five Eyes” Echelon network. [CORRECTION: It has been suggested that this was actually first revealed by James Clapper, DNI]

CHRIS YONG: Well, OK, if you think about it, two hops is essentially… another way to think about it is two degrees of separation. Two degrees of separation will cover every single New Zealander in this country. What that effectively means is that if intelligence has targeted one person that they want to look at, they’re going to be able to gather data on every single person, they’re going to be implemented in this particular warrant. That is unnecessary. That is just… it’s, once again, they’re looking for a needle in a haystack and everyone is going to be considered a suspect. You could be completely innocent, I mean hell… two hops, you could hardly now someone, but you’ll be that connection.

ENDARKEN: We know that 88 New Zealanders AT LEAST were illegally spied on by the GCSB, but they won’t confirm who they are. Would you like to see that list of names released, would you like those people to know what happened to them?

CHRIS YONG: Absolutely! I mean look, the fact of the matter was, is that, under the law then, that was illegal OK. And I don’t agree with the change that happened in August of 2013. But the fact of the matter is, they got targeted, they were caught up in something that noone had a right to do. So at the very least, I absolutely think that they should be told about it and then, if we can do it, get a formal apology but at the very least they need to know that they were the target of this mass surveillance that was illegally performed.

ENDARKEN: And it would certainly bring a lot of people a sense of closure to know, exactly what did happen. Thanks so much for talking to us Chris, that’s awesome, we appreciate your time.

CHRIS YONG: You’re welcome.

SOURCE VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRgSqghnK9o

FOOTAGE COURTESY OF @OCCUPYNZ, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Occupy Achievements: Proving Unemployment Is An Illusion

Much has been said about the achievements of the Occupy movement – that it changed the narrative both in the realms of political campaigns and at street level; that it awakened, engaged and activated the millennial generation; that it scared the shit out of those in power.

All these things are true but often asserted by those who looked in from outside the encampments, rather than those who were co-habitating within them. Without intending to detract from those externally affected and inspired by it, the experience inside each Occupy was exponentially more insightful as it gave a real-world example of how a different society could function, from within its embryo.

With this new series “Occupy Achievements” we intend to explore and translate, from an insiders perspective, some of the most significant social achievements of the Occupy movement and expand its acknowledged successes to include these major factors.

At the four autonomous occupations born from Occupy Auckland specifically, we witnessed and participated in the creation of new systems of employment, social justice, education, economics and distribution of resources, political representation and media.

These topics and more will be covered within the series, beginning with employment.

Modern Employment and The Great Myth

In modern times, the non-financial benefits of employment are well acknowledged. You feel better about yourself when you are productive and engaged with your peers; when you are active and outdoors; when you are serving others and enhancing yourself, your skills and attributes, completing tasks and achievements.

This is why the conventional concept of unemployment is not only financially crushing but also socially, spiritually, psychologically and even physiologically detrimental to the human condition.

Our countries and their governments are obsessed with unemployment statistics as a measure of economic performance and growth. We are conditioned to believe that unemployment has always and will always exist in some form, and that we’d best avoid it like the plague. Never is it suggested for a moment that 0% unemployment is an achievable goal, let alone one we could attain today, if given the will and the way to circumvent conventional thinking and employ (pun intended) a structural change for all our betterment.

For unemployment exists only so long as we believe The Great Myth that it always must, and fail to engage in what employment really is: service to others for mutual benefit.

The Working Groups (Just Do It!) 

This post isn’t about an idea, or a concept, or a dream. It’s about what has already been done and worked. The backbone of Occupy was its working groups. Dozens of times a day we had curious passersby that stopped to ask questions or just to chat, volunteer for working groups and embarking upon their first shift within half an hour of happening across the encampment. Why the enthusiasm? Simple. It was something new, novel and different sure. But the very nature of the working groups and the way they functioned, was alluring beyond reproach.

It was the easiest recruitment sell of all time. The barrier to entry? None. Required experience? Zero. What was required to participate? A living breathing body, with the desire to do so. Training? On the job, free of charge. Specialist skills? If you have them, use them. If you don’t, we still have a job for you anyway! Uniform? No thanks, we aren’t robots. Just a coloured strip of material or ribbon to indicate which group you were working with. Coordinator positions? On rotation, or as mandated by consensus. Hours? Four hours a day. If you want to work more you may. Everyone is a volunteer after all. If your job is done faster than a four hour shift, sweet. If your job needs more help, flag it so others can step up. Everyone works in small groups or autonomously if they prefer. Don’t like your team mates? Join another working group. You don’t even have to ask permission. Just rub your name off on the whiteboard and write it under another working group. Bingo, you’ve just changed career path. When can you start? Now!

Education programs allowed those with special skills to share them with an unlimited number of interested learners free of charge (this will be covered to a much greater extent in a later post.) But because there were no restrictions on curriculum, it wasn’t only the traditionally educated or skilled who were teachers. Anyone with knowledge about anything could pass it on to others, and only those interested in that knowledge need attend or listen.

The Big Questions

But who cleaned the toilets, you may ask? The people who wanted the toilets cleaned. With our own eyes we saw people who were “unemployed” and in many cases “homeless” transform in a matter of minutes to having shelter (a home), community (friends) and a job (activity).

The effects were immediate. We saw the eyes of people who had arrived in abject misery, light with the promise of opportunity. We watched them flourish, their pride and more importantly their hope, being restored in front of us.

But how can they survive without money, you may ask? Well here’s the thing. You can’t eat money, and you can’t build an effective shelter out of it. However, we can feed each other without money and we can house each other without it. Humans have literally been doing both since the dawn of history. The real human rights are the rights to food, shelter and love, because we had all three before money ever showed up on the scene. That we need money to live is as big a lie as that unemployment is a ‘fact of life’.

“Give What You Don’t Need, Take Only What You Need”

This is the true secret to how the economy operated though we’ll go into this deeper in a later post. It is more commonly known as mutual aid, a form of resource-based economy.

Occupiers emptied their houses, workplaces, friends and families’ places, of all the unwanted junk that is completely superfluous to modern living. No matter what items were donated, there was someone or some working group at Occupy that could put them to good use.

Farmers and fishermen who wanted to contribute something brought food and fish. Orchards brought bags of excess fruit. Anything that someone has in abundance is a cheap donation to them – but gratefully received by those without access to the resource under ordinary circumstances.

Participation in a working group, any working group, or if you saw a need you could even create a new working group, gave you equal rights and access to the resources and services of the occupation as every other participant. Thanks to the wonders of human innovation and collaboration, there was always enough to go around.

And unemployment? 0% baby.

0%.

In Conclusion

People can argue until the cows come home whether resource-based economies are workable, flawless systems or whether they are unrealistic. What they can’t do is deny that the systems we employed really did help people and make a meaningful difference in their lives.

The evictions of the Occupy movement didn’t just rob us of the use of public space, but had a terribly damaging impact on the lives of those to whom we had restored hope and opportunity. As usual, those in the most dire circumstances paid the highest price from the forceful dissolution of the occupations.

Those who were once again left with nowhere to go. No home, no shelter, no community, no job.

The real effect of the evictions was that once again, unemployment would pervade civil society under the guise of inevitability, in open denial and defiance of Occupy’s brand of evolutionary social progress.

But for those of us who remember what was achieved, whose lives were positively affected by the compassion and mutual aid engaged in at the occupations, whose imaginations were ignited – we do not forget. The evictions only served to scatter us like seeds on the wind – seeds that now propagate far and wide, and as the messages of Occupy continue to spread and penetrate, the work continues.

TO BE CONTINUED….

Written by Suzie Dawson (Member)

OCCUPY AUCKLAND MEDIA TEAM

#GCSB FAN FICTION: “Meagan’s First Story” by Kiwi Occupier Lyn Ny

The following is a piece of fan fiction by Kiwi Occupier Lyn Ny. Any resemblance to persons or organisations living or dead, or events, is merely coincidental. Allow your imaginations to run free!

Meagan’s First Story

By Lyn Ny

The room was generic, corporation-style meeting room. A large, fake timber table held sway over a flotilla of small, uncomfortable chairs; a water cooler stood in one corner; windows looked over an ordinary city view. On the small, uncomfortable chairs were an eclectic group of people. There were some in very businesslike suits and ties and others in jeans and t-shirts.

An outsider, Bill thought, wouldn’t instantly know the purpose of this group. They were clearly not physical labourers although Sarah and Joe were starting to show the benefit of their gym sessions. A discreet hiccough brought Bill back to business.

“Right then, that about covers everything except this latest GCSB leak. Another leaked email has surfaced calling them out on the actual number of people being surveilled. It includes a list of 1243 people under active investigation – not the 88 they ‘fessed up to earlier. Now I don’t care one way or another how many people our government agencies are looking at – that’s their job for fuck’s sake. Somebody has to protect us from cyber attacks, industrial espionage and terrorist bomb plots but we’d better print something for the punters. Our official angle should reassure the public that security is paramount for us to compete in the current global financial climate. You wanna make an omelet you gotta break some eggs. Even those in the lens would agree, I’m sure, that the threats to our country, our government and our economy are worth some loss of privacy. Any takers?”

He looked up at his bunch of journalists and was met with a wall of apathy. This was not going to be a rewarding mission. The story and that paper’s stand were a foregone conclusion. One of the effects of mainstream media was to kill any investigative spirit, especially with potentially career damaging investigations into the activities of the government or its agencies.

Tentatively Meagan raised her eyebrows and met Bill’s gaze. “Can I have a crack at it?” she asked. Meagan, who was naturally on the shy side, had only just started working for the paper which was the most read daily in the country. Meagan’s appearance; small, young and pretty, often lead to her being overlooked. Her quiet nature added to her non-threatening appearance and allowed her to get close to people and gain their confidence and trust quickly.

“Sure, why not! I’ll send you the email for background and you can get started. I want to print the story on Thursday so have it ready for editing on Wednesday. It’s a human interest story – the political issues are far too complex for us to cover in any depth and we want to reduce people’s concerns. There are over 4 million people in this country and 1243 is a paltry number in reality. The vast majority of our readers are NOT under surveillance and are unaffected by this information – those that are must have done something to attract attention! Come and see me if you have any problems and keep me posted. And that’s it for today. Let’s get on with it!”

Meagan followed everyone from the room and started planning the first story of her new journalist life. How to begin? The computer on her desk advised her of two new emails – one from her sister and the other from Bill with the leaked list of GCSB targets. Today was Tuesday and she’d have to work fast to get anything juicy to print by the deadline.

The list wasn’t in any apparent order. It looked like any database with name, address, date of birth, phone numbers and email addresses. There was nothing to differentiate one entry from any other. She spent some time on Facebook searching for matches. An hour of that found more than half of those on the list. Trawling through their friend lists netted three who shared mutual friends with Meagan. Another half hour of Facebooking left Meagan in no doubt about why these people had attracted attention. Posts about fluoride, Palestine, Five Eyes, global financial schemes, derivatives, fracking, deep sea oil drilling, HAARP, environmental destruction and political corruption featured large on all three profiles. All three re-posted numerous articles from Al-Jazeera, RT News and Occupy with news from Egypt, Spain, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Syria, US, England, Canada and Australia – extensive coverage of national and international topics, protests, rumours, fact, speculation, opinion and comment.

All three seemed to be a cross between new age hippies and anarchists. Their threads included fruity talk of rising awareness, the masses awakening as if from coma, vibrations, energy, the cosmos, self-sufficiency, unfucking the system.

Meagan picked up her phone and dialled.

Redstar answered almost instantly “Yo!”.

“Hey, Redstar. How well do you know Terry Daniels?” Meagan asked without preamble.

“Well enough – why?” Redstar’s response was tinged with suspicion.

Meagan ignored his question. “Can you get him to lunch today do you reckon?” Redstar demurred and Meagan hastily added “My shout – anywhere you want.”

While Meagan waited for Redstar to get back to her she filled in time by searching the internet for anything related to GCSB. There were dozens of entries. Apparently the more secret a thing is the more it gets talked about. When Redstar phoned back 45 minutes later Meagan had read many articles on the GCSB and had learned surprisingly little.

By chance, Terry Daniels was in the city for a few days and was keen to meet up for lunch at 1:30ish “and bring pot” was Redstar’s stipulation “lubricate his vocal chords – lol!”

Meagan packed up her laptop and got organised for her first real interview. She left the office and stepped into a beautiful afternoon – sunny with a breath of breeze – perfect for walking the few blocks to Father Ted’s.

Redstar and Terry were sitting at a footpath table sipping beer and chatting. Meagan stifled a pang of disappointment on seeing Terry. He was pretty ordinary – 40-ish, average height, a little on the cuddly side, long greying brown hair and blue eyes, in blue jeans and white t-shirt. He didn’t look like a terrorist that’s for sure.

“Hi there, thanks for meeting with me Terry. What’s Redstar told you?” asked Meagan as she pulled out a seat and got comfortable.

“That you’ve just embarked on a career as a mainstream propaganda merchant with the Herald is all” Redstar quipped. “We’re both busting to know what you want with him.”

Meagan had her, almost true, story ready. “The editor wants a story about activists in New Zealand. Nothing meaty but plenty of scope to highlight some issues that get people off the couch and into the streets.”

Terry grinned broadly. “Cool! I love to talk. What do you want to know?”

Before Meagan could answer a slim, smiling young man, David according to his tag, came to take their lunch order. Redstar ordered big – lamb shanks and kumara mash, garlic pizza bread, stick date pudding and a jug of lager. Meagan and Terry ordered less extravagantly and all three reached for cigarettes and settled in to talk. “Are you all good with me recording? It’s more efficient than taking notes.”

“Sure, why not. I’m quite sure you’re not the only one recording us.” He laughed cheerfully as he spoke.

Meagan fought a pang of guilt that she had fudged her real purpose which she covered by pulling a joint from her pocket. Using marijuana is illegal and smoking it in public was risky but fun. Meagan reasoned that if anyone called the Police the evidence would be long gone before (or if) anyone came to enforce the law. She lit up and passed the joint as she set up her Ipad. “So who else is recording and why?” she asked innocently.

“I think it’s more like who isn’t?! I reckon Auckland Transport is a front for the Men in Black for a start. They’ve got surveillance cameras everywhere – intersections, motorways, streets, buildings – fucken everywhere! No need to follow anyone once they’ve hit the auckland motorway system – it’s all on film and they’ve probably got long range microphones and all the whizz bang spy gear. I’d love to know how much of ratepayers money goes to surveillance… or on anything else for that matter. Polly Black may be crazy or a spook but I agree with her that Council should tell us where our money is being spent before we hand it over. The CEO’s $800,000 salary doesn’t appear on their little pie chart! And then there’s the CGSB and the cops and the guys watching the watchers. I reckon that’s real job creation. We gotta pretend we can keep this collapsing financial system running somehow.”

Conversation stopped for a moment as David arrived with their meals and took an order for drinks. If there was a single word to describe Redstar it was gusto. He took to his meal with it and was obviously enjoying this afternoon treat. There’s nothing a conspiracy theorist likes more than the company of another conspiracy theorist it seemed.

“Bloody Polly Black! Merlin was right from the start – she’s a cunt! But she does have that one point – why should we pay rates to a Council when we don’t know what it’s spent on? he added, resuming the conversation.

“Damn straight! And while we’re on Auckland Council – guess who the contractors are for the rubbish, poison water supply and public transport? Redstar – you know this one.

“Yup – Veolia” put in Redstar obligingly.

“And guess who does water and refuse and transport for Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton? Or Paris? London? Washington? Sydney? Tel Aviv? I’m making some of those up” Terry admitted “because I can’t remember how far the tentacles of that particular wheke (octopus) reach – nor do I know if its head is in Israel or France. It’s a bugger having no internet but must make it harder for the heebie jeebies to keep tabs on us.”

This gave Meagan opportunity to get to the heart of the interview. “You sound like you think you are being watched. Why would you think so?” she asked casually.

“Do you want the long story or the short one?” Terry responded.

“I’ve got all day – the long one please.” Meagan was happy that Terry was so keen to talk. And with that Terry spilled forth on the many reasons he could be a target of particular attention. Redstar chugged on through his sticky date pudding with a bourbon on the side. He knew the story and enjoyed hearing it again.

As Terry talked Meagan became more and more amazed at how wrong her first impression had been. Terry was far less ordinary than he seemed.

“I was interwebbing one Saturday when I saw a Herald photo of thousands of people marching up Queen St under an “Occupy Auckland” banner. I was inspired and soon discovered what turned out to be a life-changing movement. I trolled YouTube, hungry for knowledge of the amazing people holding vigil in Zucotti Park at Occupy Wall St. Like mushrooms, Occupy sprung up everywhere. Their message resonated with millions of people globally. The world is being run by and for the 1% who hold the majority of the world’s financial wealth.

I visited Occupy Auckland in Aotea Square that Monday and was in awe of what they had achieved over a weekend. The normally empty, too-perfect lawn was alive with colour and movement. Tents, flags and placards lent a carnival air. People were everywhere and had come from everywhere – Unite, Mana, Socialist Aotearoa, the Nurse’s Union were all there with banners and tents and rosettes and slogans. Notice boards displayed meetings and meals and support groups and tutorials. Movies and music played, throngs of people were queuing for food and working groups were forming to deal with issues peculiar to this unusual form of protest. I was drawn in by the enthusiasm and optimism of this disparate group. I brought food and helped with meals and meetings. Occupy and occupiers became my life.”

Terry stopped talking and all three turned at the sound of a shouted chant from the nearby street corner. “O-C-C-U-P-Y what do we do? OCCUPY!” the disturbance was walking towards them in the form of a man in a black hoody, black jeans and boots, with a backpack. As he drew near Terry gave the man some tobacco and he went on his way. “Sir Occupy Auckland – awesome dude!” he said by way of explanation and he picked up his story.

“Governments and their agents and enforcers couldn’t ignore the Occupy movement and came down with enormous force all over the world to crush it. We lasted about 3 months before the Council got serious about moving us on. I got a call for help early one morning when police and security guards were forcefully evicting Occupiers. The 15 minute trip to town seemed to take forever and the scene that met us was devastating. Fences, security guards and police surrounded the Occupiers while tents and other belongings were being wrestled into trucks. A minister in black robes stood sentinel over the chaos with tears rolling down his face.

A French tourist begged me to help. I fought my way onto the arena, ducking under outstretched arms like a rugby player. By now mainstream media had arrived and the audience bristled with cameras and phones and megaphones. I was taken swiftly by police and locked in a cell for the first time in my life.”

“We filmed everything! Including four cops with the same badge number – Z557. Cunts!” Redstar interjected with passion.

Young David arrived at this point with fresh drinks. “Have you still got the video? Can I see it?” Meagan was skeptical that such a serious breach actually occurred but Redstar flicked open his phone and sent the footage to Meagan.

“There you go. Put that in the piece!” he dared and Terry resumed his story.

“As soon as I was released I went back to the Square. The situation was still horrendous and I did what I could to support Occupiers and frustrate the officials. In the end the CEO of the Council read from his official document that if I didn’t stop camping in the Square I would be arrested for trespass. When I told him I couldn’t stop doing what I’d never done he was unphased. He had the dogs arrest me and I was one of a dozen or so named as a defendant in the Council vs Occupy case and was subsequently found guilty. Of a thought crime! I was a member of the public, a fucking ratepayer, in a public place sharing the same views as the Occupy ‘campers'”. There was a momentary pause as Terry thought broodingly of these events.

“But that was three years ago.” Meagan broke the silence, “Do you still think you’re under surveillance?” Although she knew that Terry was still being watched the Occupy involvement didn’t seem to justify continuing surveillance. There must be more to it.

Terry smiled. “Maybe. New Zealand’s population is small and there are relatively few real targets. The cops and media did a great job of giving me an unjustifiably high profile. apparently my detainment was shown all over the world. One of my friends watched it on TV in Japan! Fuck’s sake! Of course, once Occupy was dismantled in the Square that left me at a loose end. I couldn’t get work in my field because the Council would have been my best employment prospect and they’d never hire me after Occupy. I was too old and over-qualified for most jobs. I became involved with the education protests and the housing bullshit in Glen Innes. I became a target for local police in Auckland Central and Counties Manakau. The cunts began calling me by name when I was out and about. I don’t remember now how many times I was locked up. My favourite arrest involved some real activists from the Springbok days. There were always MP’s floating around putting their faces out there for photo ops in the safer protests but only one willing to take any real risk. Hone Harawira stood up for the Glen Innes community. I was so proud to be arrested with him at G.I.”

“I think the government and cops were getting pretty stressed. They had their hands full of Occupy and Anonymous and Kim Dotcom. They were stomping hard on anyone with a rebellious bent. Still are I think but I’ve been out of the loop for a while. It got too hot for me in the city – became dangerous. The local cops started targeting us. My daughter’s life was endangered after a serious car accident. She was arrested for obstruction after hitting the windscreen of a car that she was a passenger in – denied medical treatment for a potentially life-threatening head injury. Council used a pretext to take our old dog and tried to kill her. I had to take that to the High Court.”

Meagan was finding this story unbelievable. Cops, council and government working together to harass a protester seemed a bit dramatic. She made a mental note to follow up some of these side stories. She encouraged Terry to continue by asking “So you’re not living in Auckland anymore?”

“No. And that’s another story that may or may not have caught the GCSB, or more likely JK’s personal attention, given that it was his mortgage scheme that lost me my house.”

“How does that work – he’s the Prime Minister. What does he have to do with mortgage schemes?” Meagan was genuinely curious.

“He wasn’t always the PM. His background is world finance – Merrill Lynch, Wall St. He devised a system that ensures banks’ continued profit if their customers default. The mortgage documents are all sold so that the banks effectively double dip. It’s known as derivatives or hedge funding or sub-prime lending. Lend money to poor people who can’t service the debt, sell the document and foreclose – win/win for the bank.”

Meagan was even more cynical. Surely that would be fraud. Another lead to follow up. “So you lost your house? How? Because you couldn’t pay?”

“Kind of. I got very stubborn and refused to make payment once the ASB told me that they did not hold my original mortgage document. I told them I wouldn’t pay unless they could produce it… so they began foreclosure proceedings and I had to sell up in a hurry. My wife and I now live over an hour away from the city – and our family and friends. It’s been a very difficult time for us. She’s been diagnosed with PTSD but we’re slowly recovering. Having non-fluoride water helps. We are now in a remote location with no income, no internet and poor phone reception. Can’t pay power or phone or rates so it’s like sitting on a bomb.”

“That begs the question then – why are you still being watched?” Meagan couldn’t help herself from interjecting.

“I don’t know that I am but odd things happen that make me wonder. Cars parked for no reason within sight of the house. Doors open when we come home that were shut and locked when we left. “They” don’t like dogs and I think they try to get rid of them. I have three now – that should piss them off!” This thought obviously gave Terry some grim pleasure.

Redstar looked up suddenly with a strange expression on his face. “Why did you want to meet Terry? I mean – why Terry?!”

It was clearly time to come clean. Meagan found the email from Bill and, without a word, showed Terry the attachment. His face moved through confusion and understanding to…what? Satisfaction? Relief? “I fucken knew it!” He almost shouted. “Bastards! Look Redstar – how many names do you recognise? It looks like our Facebook friend list! I fucken knew it! I’m not surprised by this – it’s no secret how I feel about the Crown, the Government and its enforcers.”

With that outburst Terry picked up his glass and drained it. He looked ready for action. “You want to know what I really think. How I’m a real threat to society? Or Government more likely!” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Somewhere along the way I met up with a freeman and, like Occupy, it seems to fit me like it was made for me. I didn’t sign up to this system. I was registered with the New Zealand Government before I was old enough to object, before I understood the implications of belonging to a corporation registered as The New Zealand Government. ‘We’, the people, are not New Zealand – it only exists as a legal entity. Money is wrong. Jesus died because he was against the use of money and wage slavery. Government didn’t like it then and still don’t. We are born free and have the right to live free. That means without the need to generate money and not as a possession of the Government or anyone else!” Terry’s passion was almost scary and other patrons were beginning to glance in his direction.

“Two questions: are you Christian and how can we live without money. We need to work to earn money to live.” Meagan
was genuinely interested.

“That’s the big lie, right there! We are taught to believe we need money to live but we know it’s not true. We need air, water, food, shelter and companionship – not money, which is nothing. A bit of paper or a number on a screen. It’s not even money – it’s debt. We need to work to live but the money is there so that “they” – the 1% – don’t have to work. Here look at this.”

With that Terry drew a quick doodle on a napkin:

“You see it’s like a tree. The tree lives because it takes nutrient from the soil. We’re the worms making the food (money) for the tree to live. If we stop doing it the tree dies!”

“So how do we live?” Meagan asked the obvious question.

“We live as we should.” He said simply. “We are born with two jobs – feeding ourselves and caring for others. Give what you can and take what you need.”

“How about education, health, law and order. Who does that if the current system fails?”

“Lol! ‘If’! It does and has failed. We take care of it ourselves or we die. It’s time to man up for fuck’s sake. Stop relying on other people. We’re all grown up now. Legislation doesn’t stop bad things or bad people. It just keeps the slaves in line and creates a revenue stream. There’s a lot of money to be made from the ‘justice’ system.” Terry gave a wry smile that contained no humour. “I don’t have the answers but I refuse to support a system that has the world’s human population prostituting itself, working for money to pay tax for governments to buy guns to kill people to steal their resources and sell them to us. Every time I buy petrol I can feel the dead Palestinian babies under my wheels.”

“Well that’s an interesting way of looking at things. I’m not sure why that makes you a threat though. It sounds like you’d rather opt out and get on with your life. I don’t see how that would make you a threat that needs to be under GCSB’s eye.” The conversation was making Meagan feel uncomfortable.

Terry was quick to respond, “You only have to imagine what would happen to the system and the 1% who benefit from it, if more people thought like me.”

“Or if more people thought at all” grumbled Redstar.

“Yeah, well, most people are so indoctrinated in government schools, brainwashed by TV and fluoridated into compliance. Poor stupid sheeple can’t wake up. You won’t leave the prison if you won’t see the bars. They live in willful ignorance. It’s more comfortable that way.” Terry’s tone was almost forgiving.

The afternoon was cooling off. The “interview” had covered a lot of ground and Meagan wasn’t sure she was any closer to knowing why Terry was on the list but she wasn’t sure how to proceed either. The Town Hall clock struck four and Terry glanced up at it. “I’d better get going while I’ve still got some day left.”

Meagan and Redstar said their goodbyes and thanked Terry for meeting with them, promising to send a copy of the leaked email to Terry and telling him to watch out for the story in Thursday’s paper. They walked together for a while mulling over Terry’s story which was new to Meagan and familiar to Redstar, before going their separate ways.

There wasn’t much point in going back to the office. Meagan could research and write at home more easily and comfortably. She sent a text to Bill as she walked, letting him know that she was on target and would have a story on his desk tomorrow and walked the rest of the way home in heavy contemplation. Every now and then she glanced around half expecting to catch a glimpse of a furtive follower. The afternoon conversation had filled her with unease. She hardly noticed the walk until she found herself in front of her inner city flat. It was an old cottage at the back of the red light district and had a small patch of lawn and white, wooden filigree on the front porch. She glanced at the camera mounted above the streetlights as she walked through the front gate, onto the porch and into the house. As she shut the door behind her she felt a prickle of tension but everything was as she had left it and the feeling soon dissipated.

The night would be a long one – Meagan played the recording of the interview as she prepared a sandwich and poured a glass of win. She made notes on paper as she listened and mentally planned her story. After a quick shower and changing into her favourite sloppy pants and t-shirt Meagan set up her computer at the kitchen table and got down to work. The hours slipped by almost unnoticed sorting what was fact and what hearsay from Terry’s story, writing and re-writing, occasionally returning to the kitchen for coffee and smoking countless cigarettes while she worked. She didn’t notice how tired she had become until she had finally finished the article to her satisfaction and looked up at the dark and silent room. It was just after 4am and time to get some sleep. Pleased with her work and a little nervous at the prospect of submitting it to Bill she decided to call it a night and get some sleep before reading it one last time. Her last thoughts before drifting off were vague and disturbing and her dreams were haunted by kraken-like creatures, enfolding the house and reaching impossibly thin tentacles through the cracks and crevices of the old building, prying and searching and sneaking.

Despite her strange dreams Meagan woke up refreshed and excited about presenting her article. She re-read it, made some corrections here and there, saved the final draft and emailed it to Bill. As she was getting ready to return to the office her phone chirped that she had a text. “Awesome thanks Meagan. I’ve had a prelim read and you’ve done a fantastic job. I’ll tweak it a bit and we’ll publish tomorrow. Check out the Grey Lynn festival this afternoon and take some pics for Sunday’s edition. Good work.”

With a great sense of pride and satisfaction Meagan began to organise herself for today’s mission. Her day passed quickly. She had a blast at the festival, took photos, talked to people and soaked up the sights and sounds and smell. It was late when she returned home. She went to bed brimming with well-being from her first 2 days on the job and her last thought before sleep took her was of seeing her story in print the next morning.

She was awakened early by a dull thump; the sound of the Herald landing on the front veranda having been thrown expertly by the courier as he rode by.

Meagan leapt out of bed and was soon sitting at the table with coffee and a cigarette leafing through the pages of the morning paper for her story. She suppressed some disappointment when she discovered the article on page 17 and proceeded to read the finished product.

GCSB WATCHLIST

The GCSB has come under attack again following the release of another ‘leaked’ email which includes a list of around a thousand New Zealand residents under active investigation. The government agency has an obligation to investigate persons who may be involved with such illegal activities as industrial espionage, cyber-attacks and terrorism. In the current global financial climate these connections have potential to do severe damage to the New Zealand economy. The small number of persons under surveillance are known to have links with radical, international groups worldwide including places of high unrest such as Egypt, Palestine and Syria, regularly express anti-government sentiments and participate in activities detrimental to New Zealand’s interests. these individuals could potentially have severe repercussions on New Zealand’s trade, economic and public safety. One of the recently revealed targets, an unemployed, disenchanted Aucklander, was unsurprised to learn that he was on the list. He openly told our Herald reporter of his involvement with various anti-government groups and activities that would have brought him under suspicion and dismissed this information with a laugh. “I’m not surprised by this – it’s no secret how I feel about the Crown, the Government and its enforcers.”

Meagan finished reading and sat, stunned, while she processed what she had just read. Shame, disappointment and anger made a cocktail of emotions but her rational mind warned her that there was a lesson to be learned from this experience – it would take some time to process just exactly what that message was.

Big Turn Out for #StepItUpNZ Progressive Workshops

Several members of our media team had the pleasure of attending the inaugural #StepItUpNZ workshop series at Auckland University this past weekend. The event brought together a who’s-who of environmental activism and digital media in New Zealand and we scored a couple of great interviews.

Firstly, us interviewing Generation Zero founder and StepItUp organiser Kirk Serpes (@KirkSerpes) about the event:

…and this must-watch interview with ex Green Party leader Jeanette Fitzsimons where we discuss current political issues in New Zealand including the new surveillance bill being rammed through Parliament, and the fall-out from the Dirty Politics scandal.

Other speakers included Roger Fowler from Kia Ora Gaza, Simon Oosterman, Sue Bradford, Chris Hay, Nico Ward, Giovanni Tiso and Russell Brown.

OCCUPY NEW ZEALAND MEDIA TEAM