Monthly Archives: November 2013

Operation 8: The evidence and police spying methods

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

There was a lot of evidence and this is a very long post (9,114 words).

The previous post in this series examined the threads that led into Operation 8. In this post we will examine the information or evidence collected by the police to weave into those threads to create their terrorism narrative. It is also a revealing look at police spying.

The information collected by the Northern Special Investigation Group (SIG) amounted to over 100,000 pages and a stack of video recordings. In writing this post and the previous one I have read through hundreds of pages of court documents, interception warrants, affidavits and other material. I have watched the video evidence again. Over a period of months I have spent over two hundred hours summarising and analysing all of it.

The collection of information involved dozens of detectives and other police officers with meticulous attention to detail. That was the collection and collation that was meticulous, not the analysis.

Based on nearly 52 years’ experience dealing with people in various fields in the public, private and community sectors I broadly categorise the way people work into three types:

  • Those who focus on the detail and build understanding upwards from the detail into a coherent picture;
  • Those who focus on the big picture and don’t bother about the detail; and
  • Those who first discern the big picture (or pictures) from an overview of the detail before they delve into the detail to confirm or contradict those impressions.

It is of course a generalisation and it is stereotyping but it is a useful if not entirely accurate stereotyping. I try to include a mix of types in the teams I put together for tasks or projects.

Those who start with the detail are prone to cognitive bias, to making and forming unsubstantiated assumptions and conclusions from bits and pieces of detail without actually seeing the big picture. Big picture people on the other hand are equally prone and fall into other cognitive biases by not confirming their initial impressions against the detail. The best intelligence analysts are those who start with the big picture (or pictures) and then delve into the detail. Starting with the big picture does not mean forming a fixed opinion and then seeking out the detail to confirm that opinion. It requires an open mind, able to work with ambiguity, prepared to question any assumptions and conclusions reached in the process and to start again if necessary. In delving into the detail the good analyst always keeps one eye on the big picture so as not to lose sight of every potential interpretation.

As Miyamoto Musashi the famous samurai strategist wrote in another context in the 17th Century in his classic text “Go Rin No ShoThe Book of Five Rings”:

“Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things”.

“Sharpen the twofold gaze, perception and sight”.

The impression I get from the police documentation is that poor old Detective Sergeant (now Detective Senior Sergeant) Aaron Lee Pascoe must be a details person with a single gaze – sight alone. To be fair to poor old Aaron his bosses were the same. For the Operation 8 intelligence process was indeed meticulous in the collection of information and in the collation of that information into a cohesive narrative. But I have come to the conclusion that there was no competent analysis that would have turned all of that information into intelligence, and indeed no analysis that would have identified gaps or holes in the information that needed to be collected before reaching any firm conclusions. I have a suspicion based on a reading of the documentation that there was no meaningful expert analysis at all.

The proof of my assertion is that their preferred terrorism narrative fell over at the first hurdle when prosecutions under the Suppression of Terrorism Act were disallowed by the Solicitor General in November 2007. Their fall back narrative which was “participation in a criminal group” fell over in front of a jury in March 2012.

I will describe the evidence the police collected in nine categories and a tenth they didn’t get to:

  1. Finding suspects through network analysis;
  2. Profiling the suspects;
  3. Informant information;
  4. Who attended the wananga and when, and what were they wearing;
  5. Covert reconnaissance and observation;
  6. Video in the bush;
  7. Weapons and Molotov Cocktails;
  8. What were they saying?
  9. What did the police think they were planning? and
  10. What were they really planning?

The intelligence process never quite got to the last point which is surely the whole point of the intelligence process. The police and the prosecution later tried to infer a number of probable acts, firstly terrorist acts then criminal acts, but they could not back any of it with solid intelligence. They were relying on conjecture to get them over the line.

The surveillance warrants for February, March and April 2007 were based on alleged or suspected offences under the Crimes Act 1961. From May to October 2007 the warrants were issued under the Crimes Act 1961 and the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002, indicating either that the police had formed their terrorism conclusion and narrative as early as May 2007, or that they simply wanted to use the greater powers of the Suppression of Terrorism Act to get around the legal constraints on the surveillance they wanted to do. Both may well be true.

The May 2007 warrant application to the Court by Detective Inspector Bruce Good indicates that by then the “analysts” had already decided on a terrorism narrative:

“The purpose of this application is to obtain evidence of terrorist offences as outlined in paragraph 2 above which I believe have been committed and to prevent further terrorist offences being committed”.

They had not of course uncovered any terrorist offences by May 2007, nor did they ever uncover any. But they proceeded as though they had. They had already made up their minds and proceeded to mould their evidence around that conclusion.

But first, on a personal note …

The trail of evidence shows that on 3rd October 2006 the police compiled a profile on me and on other members of my staff. From then until 20th December 2006 they did five background checks on me including a check on my military background. On 20th December 2006 the names of 58 suspects were submitted to the Army to check if any had military service. I was one of the suspects. The check returned five positives including me. As far as I am aware none of the other four had anything to do with the wananga. So they were very interested in me and they dug deep including doing a background check on my whanau. They didn’t get far with that – a daughter was not registered with my surname and two other children were registered in Australia.

They were certainly trying to tie me into their narrative. Given the relative poverty of most of their targets they might have needed to find someone who was funding the “terrorists”, or maybe even a military master mind, to make their narrative complete. Who knows what they were thinking. They may also have pulled my mobile phone records from Vodafone but they would have been very disappointed. I hardly ever use it, certainly not for phone calls and only rarely for text messaging.

Nevertheless they now have me in their intelligence database where presumably I will remain forever. I don’t think they have my fingerprints or DNA yet. Perhaps they’ve downloaded my poetry looking for intimations of terrorist inclination in my random musings. I hope they load the contents of this blog site into their database too, as a permanent record of their incompetence.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, back to the evidence.

Casting around for suspects

Operation 8 appears to have been formally launched on 10th May 2006 with a request to Telecom for call data relating to John Murphy.

  • For the first month it was an Auckland and Canterbury centred operation focused mostly on Jamie Lockett, John Murphy, Kelvyn Alp, Kyle Chapman, and Jason Orme; a right wing conspiracy.
  • It had picked up Taame Iti through his association with Lockett and Murphy. There were only a few other Maori in the network analysis at that time. They included the late Milton Hohaia because he had been in contact with Taame Iti. A background check noted that in 1998 Milton was part of a protest group at Waitangi and he was linked to an associate of Taame Iti.
  • In that time they must have picked up information that wananga were being run in the Urewera and that Lockett was or would be attending them. Two police officers, D. Petherick and M. Cartwright, travelled to Whakatane and Te Urewera on 26 June 2006 “in attempt to locate camps”.
  • Through to the end of September 2006 the operation was still focused on Jamie Lockett, John Murphy, Taame Iti and Milton Hohaia. On 13 September 2006 profiles of all Taame Iti’s known associates were logged into the Operation 8 evidence.
  • By 3 October 2006 I was linked into the network, possibly through telephone calls made to Rangi Kemara at my office by Taame Iti and Jamie Lockett. By 4 October 2006 Rangi Kemara had been linked into the network.
  • By 18 October 2006 Emily Bailey from Wellington was linked, and by 24 October 2006 Marama Mayrick was in. The link was made to Urs Signer by 30 October 2006 probably through his girlfriend Emily.
  • In October 2006 the links from Taame into the activist networks had been made. From that time network analysis (see below) brought more and more suspects into the net.
  • In mid-November 2006 a police party deployed into the “Urewera forest” to conduct reconnaissance and a scene examination. They set up an observation post and heard shots being fired as though they were a shooting practice on a military firing range.
  • Through November and December 2006 more people were added to the network which started to widen and deepen. Taame Iti, Jamie Lockett and Rangi Kemara were the central figures in the network.
  • By early in 2007 the focus had shifted from Auckland to the wananga in the Urewera.
  • In mid-January 2007 a family tree for the Iti whanau was compiled and a check was made in “TESA” and revealed 54 subscribers with the last name “Iti”. At the same time family trees for the Lambert, Bailey, Himona and other whanau were being compiled and bank accounts were being accessed.
  • Reports of activist activity under surveillance in Wellington by the Wellington SIG were also added to the evidence.
  • There was a report on an anti-Howard (Australian PM) demonstration on 16 February 2007. The names mentioned were V. Morse, U. Signer, M. Eden and R. Gilchrist. Rob Gilchrist was the police intelligence informant and agent provocateur. Another report and photos on an anti-war demonstration at Parliament on 20 March 2007 was logged. Names were V. Morse, U. Signer and L. Rochford.

In the early months of Operation 8 network analysis was the main activity, casting around for people to link into the network of suspects.

All of the police documentation and evidence states that Operation 8 began in December 2005 with “collating and analysing intelligence relating to a group of political extremists who are meeting and receiving military firearms training in an isolated area of bush in New Zealand.” However the Operation 8 evidence strongly suggests that not to be the case. It suggests that it was an operation aimed initially at Jamie Lockett and that it did not focus on Taame Iti and his wananga in the Urewera until mid-May 2006.

The evidence alleging “terrorism” and presented to the courts in affidavits (to obtain warrants) and in trial evidence also relates mostly to the nine month period from January to October 2007. The police seem to have deliberately fudged the original intent of Operation 8 and the length of the operation, perhaps in order to add credence to their terrorism narrative.

The network was built from a bunch of Pakeha with Taame Iti on the periphery, and changed over time to a network with Taame Iti at its centre. The police were also reading text messages through the latter half of 2006 indicating some activity in the Urewera and began to try to locate and monitor that activity. The network analysis continued throughout the whole of Operation 8.

Network Analysis

This form of intelligence gathering is as old as the hills, building data on the social networks of targeted individuals and groups to find out who they are talking to or conspiring with. In my day we used to compile computerised database profiles of individuals and networks (foreign not domestic), and gradually build their profiles, but the harvesting and data entry was mostly by hand. In these modern times it has become a high art form (for IT geeks and mathematicians) through the automated harvesting of email, landline, mobile phone, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other communications and social media metadata and content. Sophisticated algorithms are then used to digitally analyse that metadata (i.e. who is talking to who), combined with time and frequency analysis, to build pictures of inner and outer networks and to predict likely conspirators or terrorist and criminal networks. A lot of that data can be obtained from open sources without warrant just by harvesting what is freely available on the Internet, and sophisticated software is commercially available to do just that.

Operation 8 was not that sophisticated and it appears that after harvesting metadata mostly from mobile phone communications but also from email and landline communications the Northern SIG team did the analysis the old way with pencil and paper, or spreadsheets perhaps. The phone metadata was obtained from Telecom and Vodafone under warrant. As new phone numbers were added to the networks the harvesting from Telecom and Vodafone increased from month to month with new phone numbers added to the electronic sweep. A great deal of effort was put into identifying the people associated with the phone numbers. Most but not all of them were identified.

The police were receiving daily emails from Telecom and Vodafone providing metadata and text messages from landlines and mobile phones.

They also used the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) code to identify mobile phones. Every mobile phone has a unique IMEI code. The SIM card is identified by the phone number. The phone itself is identified by the IMEI code. The IMEI code of a phone on the mobile network can be obtained under warrant from the provider, in this case either Telecom or Vodafone. In at least one instance they used the IMEI code to identify a user who was changing SIM cards on the one mobile phone. By identifying the use of one SIM card they were able to identify the same user on the other SIM card.

By far the most effort was put into the mobile phone networks. They tried to intercept the AoCafe forum and encrypted chat group communication for the juicy encrypted stuff without much success. Visual and video surveillance was also used to discover who people were associating with and talking to. A lot of effort was also put into the visual and video surveillance of individuals to track them from their homes to Ruatoki to prove that they were attending the wananga. Many of them travelled together, met along the way, or met at their destination. So that surveillance served the dual purpose of network analysis and wananga attendance.

The police also used the Births, Deaths and Marriages register at Internal Affairs not just to find birth details of their suspects but also to discover marriage and other relationships. They were not just building social networks but familial networks or family trees as well. With no Maori on their intelligence team they didn’t build the tribal networks.

In their network analysis they spread the net far and wide. It is quite standard practice to build the networks out to at least three degrees of separation, that is, out to three connections from the target. That can bring a lot of people into the network. In my case I was just one degree of separation from at least five of the primary targets or suspects. Which partially explains why they were so interested in me for about three months in 2006. Most people who were background checked would still be unaware that they were but if you talk to someone who talks to Taame Iti or one of the other primary suspects you might have been checked.

Network analysis does not provide definitive proof of past, present or planned activity but it is a valuable starting point for more targeted intelligence collection by other means. It was for instance the method by which Osama bin Laden was eventually tracked to his compound in Abbotabad in Pakistan even though bin Laden used no electronic communications at all. It was done through the identification and tracking of his most trusted courier.

The thing about network analysis is that it is a blunt instrument, especially now that everyone carries a mobile phone and phone metadata can legally be harvested by GCSB and passed to the police. I would think that network analysis out to about 5 degrees of relationship would scoop up just about every New Zealander into a suspect database.

Scary stuff.

Now that the Police have Facebook and Twitter to harvest it gets even scarier. For instance the average Facebook user has 190 “Friends”. So if you start with my own 500 Friends, my Friends have 95,000 Friends, and their Friends have over 18,000,000 Friends.

Much  scarier isn’t it. And time consuming and counter-productive of course.

Profiling the suspects

As new suspects were added to the network the police built profiles on them. The profiles on their main suspects were quite shallow, especially those on Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert and Rangi Kemara. Deeper profiling would have yielded more valuable information and would perhaps have led the intelligence gathering in different directions. These are most of the sources of information that were accessed:

  • Police intelligence database (NIA – National Intelligence Application);
  • Police weapons licence records;
  • Court records;
  • Births, deaths and marriages register;
  • Electoral rolls;
  • Defence Department personnel records;
  • Banking records;
  • Credit card statements;
  • Companies Office database;
  • Transactions on TradeMe and at other traders;
  • Power company client records;
  • TradeMe;
  • Overseas travel movements, in one case as far back as 1983, another from 1992;
  • WINZ records;
  • Passport office records;
  • Customs records (airport arrivals and departures);
  • Property ownership records;
  • Vehicle ownership records;
  • Car registration records;
  • NZ Post records;
  • CCTV footage;
  • Web searches; and
  • Newspaper articles.

There is no indication that tax records were accessed but they certainly would have been available.

The police almost certainly ran their network of suspects through the NZSIS database. There are several items in the Operation 8 evidence with the notation “Document withheld”. Some of those probably refer to NZSIS background checks and possibly to information from GCSB. They may also contain undeclared evidence of further unlawful or illegal surveillance activity by the police.

Public and private information about individual New Zealanders is becoming increasingly digitised. Data matching, data mining and data correlation are becoming increasingly automated. Governments are giving more and more surveillance powers to the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. They will very soon have access to every individual’s complete set of private information from the keyboard. The collection and collation of information as it was done during Operation 8 will become more and more automated, faster, more efficient and increasingly commonplace.


The warrant served on TradeMe by Detective Sergeant Pascoe was outrageously broad and collected information on something like 3000 accounts.

“Then there’s Detective Dean Winter who left the police very quietly in 2006 and then surfaced in a cushy job as head of security with Fairfax’s online auction site TradeMe only to again be quietly shoved out the door when he was caught colluding with detective sergeant Aaron Pascoe, the cop responsible for the seriously dodgy October 2007 “Operation 8″, to pass on information the police were certainly not entitled to”.

Informant information

Informants are officially known as Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) and are registered and managed (or handled) by the Covert Operations Group (COG). They are available to the various Police operational units.

The Operation 8 documentation shows that at least two registered police informants provided information during the operation, and that there were possibly another two or three registered or casual informants:

  • one was Auckland based and provided the most informant information to Operation 8, specifically in relation to Jamie Lockett and his supposed involvement in terrorism training in the Urewera;
  • one was probably based in Wellington and provided some information about the Wellington based activists;
  • one provided information about Taame Iti in mid-2006;
  • there may have been another who provided limited information about the timing of some of the wananga in the Urewera, but this may be the same person as the one above;
  • a further person who was interviewed by the Operation 8 team and may have provided some general information about attitudes, beliefs and intentions; and
  • the Operation 8 team had access to profiles built on various people by the Threat Assessment Unit who also used informants to build their database.

This form of Intelligence is known as HUMINT (Human Intelligence). In the modern world of Intelligence there is often too much emphasis placed on non-HUMINT sources. It is now relatively easy to intercept, photograph and video. However the most important information should be about the suspects’ intentions to act, or not to act. That requires someone, a person, to gain access to the minds of the suspects, to their thinking. It requires the use of undercover agents or reliable informants.

By deliberately excluding Superintendent Wallace Haumaha and his team from Operation 8 the Police had no way of gaining insights into the real thinking and intentions of their suspects and had to resort to unverified assumptions.

Who attended the wananga and when, and what were they wearing

The police put much effort into this aspect of their intelligence collection. They needed to prove that individuals attended specific wananga on specific dates. They did that through network analysis to generally identify those in the network, and by visual and video surveillance to track individuals to Ruatoki.

They also used text messages obtained under warrant from Telecom and Vodafone. The dates for wananga were notified by text message. Individuals confirmed that would be attending by text, arranged to pick each other up or to meet along the way by text, and told each other where they were or when they would be arriving by text. Almost all of the coordination of the wananga was by text message. It was a rich source of information for the police and they were reading it for months.

Throughout most of 2007 the police were covertly (and unlawfully) video recording some of the activity at the wananga. They used that video footage to identify specific individuals involved in specific activities and to do that they relied in part on the clothing people were wearing. That is the reason why the “termination” warrant specified so many items of clothing that they were looking for, and the reason why they seized so much clothing during the searches on 15th October 2007. Some of those who were subjected to the searches report the police being particularly excited when they discovered items of clothing with the Tino Rangatiratanga flag emblem. I’m lucky the detectives didn’t discover the two TR flags at my office; one large flag and one small storm flag. I could have been done for possession of a TR flag.

Much of the clothing they were looking for was so generic, worn by so many people, that some of the clothing seizures resembled high farce at the time.

Despite the effort the Police put into identifying participants they came to this conclusion in October 2007:

  • not all attendees at the training camps had been identified by Police;
  • intelligence suggested there was an unknown “local group” in the area who could pose a threat to Police; and
  • the feelings of the community towards the participants in the training camps were largely unknown and thus it was stated that “the existence of sympathisers and supporters for their cause cannot be discounted”

The first was a statement of fact. The second and third conclusions were in fact nothing more than wild assumptions.

Cellphone location tracking

There is no evidence that the police wirth the assistance of GCSB accessed the global cellphone location tracking capability of the NSA. However there were several evidential documents withheld from the defence lawyers. Cellphone providers can also track phones under warrant. There is also technology such as the “Stinger” device available to police forces to conduct their own warrantless cellphone location tracking.

These technologies do not appear to have been used in Operation 8 but in the Police affidavits there were redacted paragraphs that referred to “Police Surveillance Techniques”.

EFTPOS location tracking

The police had access to banking records as part of their profiling process but they also used EFTPOS records to track the movement of suspects as they travelled to and from the Urewera.

Covert reconnaissance and observation

Throughout Operation 8 covert surveillance and “tailing” on foot and in vehicles was conducted on several suspects. Routine sighting reports were filed by police officers who saw them going about their daily lives. Some came into more intense surveillance than others. Examples are:

  • Jamie Lockett was followed around Auckland as he went about his daily life.
  • Video surveillance was in place for months outside the house where Rangi Kemara lived in Auckland. He was also followed around Auckland.
  • Surveillance was conducted on his workplace.
  • On 26 June 2007 Valerie Morse was seen walking up Adelaide Road, Wellington.
  • On 9 July 2007 “Emily Bailey spots cops at Railway Station taking photos of her”.
  • 28 August 2007. Valerie Morse flew into Wellington Airport. Picked up by Urs Signer and Emily Bailey. Several reports indicate that the airlines may well have been required to notify advance travel plans of suspects.

Some attempts were made to carry out visual reconnaissance and surveillance in the bush at Urewera. It seems not to have been very successful. Surveillance of the wananga was then carried out by placing video cameras at wananga sites before the wananga and later retrieving them.

  • On 21 April 2006 Constable Macey was hiking when he came across Taame Iti and others at “a makeshift camp”. No weapons were present. This routine intelligence report was added to the Operation 8 evidence on 29 June 2006 after the operatrion turned its attention to Taame.
  • On 22 June 2006 “Petherick and Cartwright travel to Whakatane and Te Urewera to attempt to locate camps”. The surveillance on Jamie Lockett and Taame Iti had by then learned of the wananga.
  • On 15 November 2006 Detective Senior Sergeant Jago (now Detective Inspector) travelled to the Urewera with his team to install video cameras. He was accompanied by a team from the Special Tactics Group (STG) including Sergeant Mark Miller and Senior Constable Tony Masterton. The STG team was there until 19 October 2006. They carried out some audio surveillance but did not manage any visual surveillance.
  • On 9 January 2007 Miller and Masterton and others again travelled to the Urewera to install video cameras and conduct on-the-ground surveillance. They were there until 15 January 2007 and again on 23 January 2007 to retrieve the cameras.
  • From then until October 2006 video cameras were installed at the time of each monthly wananga except for the March 2007 wananga which was cancelled.

Audio and visual surveillance of the wananga activities did not contribute much to the collection of information and seems to have been abandoned after the January 2007 wananga in favour of video surveillance only. All of the covert reconnaissance, covert audio surveillance, and the covert visual and video surveillance on private land without permission was unlawful.

Video surveillance

The police conducted or attempted to conduct video surveillance at seven of the wananga on the following dates:

  • 17 – 18 November 2006
  • 10 – 13 January 2007
  • 27 – 28 April 2007
  • 22 – 23 June 2007
  • 17 – 18 August 2007
  • 14 – 15 September 2007
  • 12 – 13 October 2007

They were aware that wananga were being held from about June 2006. They had some evidence that Jamie Lockett attended one in September 2006. The wananga for 27 – 28 March was cancelled.

The video footage was used as evidence to show what some of the wananga participants were doing in the Urewera. It did not however provide any indication of why they were doing it.

As it was visually sensational (except to the expert military eye) it became the pivotal evidence around which police and prosecution built their case in the courts, and in the media after suppression was lifted. Visual evidence of this nature is far more compelling than documentary or verbal evidence and far more powerful in that it has a subliminal effect, entering directly into the unconscious minds of the public, jurors (and judges) without passing through the filter of the conscious mind.

The police and prosecution fought hard through several court appearances over a four year period to retain this pivotal evidence as admissible even though it was unlawfully obtained. They succeeded in the case against the final four accused, the “Urewera Four”.

To the trained eye and conscious mind of the military expert the video footage showed three distinct activities although the police chose through their lack of expertise, and for the purposes of their own terrorism narrative, to conflate the three activities into a single terrorism scenario:

  • Most of the activity was weapon training and infantry minor tactics including patrolling and contact drills, presumably conducted by Vietnam veteran Tuhoe Lambert perhaps with other expert assistance;
  • A demonstration of tactics used by civilian military contractors in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. These involved personal protection (bodyguarding) and convoy counter-ambush drills. The police chose to ignore the evidence that this was an entirely different activity and to interpret it within their terrorism narrative.
  • Experimenting with “Molotov Cocktails”, homemade incendiary devices made from bottles filled with petrol and/or other inflammable liquid.

None of that activity on its own was actually illegal unless it could be shown through other information that it was intended as training or rehearsal for terrorist or criminal acts.

War games or infantry minor tactics

Having watched the video footage many times I am still of the expert military opinion that the standard of “training” was so superficial and so inexpert that none of the participants would have been proficient enough to go to war against anyone, let alone the NZ Police or NZ military, whether as individuals or as part of a terrorist team. From my military perspective they were playacting and even if some of them really believed that they were becoming foot soldiers for the cause they were dreaming. That much could be determined just from watching them, and their “trainer” Tuhoe Lambert would have known that too.

Nevertheless the video footage was accepted at face value and fitted into the terrorism narrative.

A study of the uprisings in North Africa provides an interesting perspective. Whilst the instigators of those uprisings were political activists the shock troops who led the fighting were the Ultras. The Ultras are the tribal football fans across Europe and North Africa who battle each other in the streets on a weekly basis and fight vicious battles with the police who try to restore order. They are combat hardened and tactically sound, especially when fighting against the police. In Tunisia, Egypt and Libya the Ultras from opposing football clubs combined forces and were in the vanguard of all of the fighting. In Libya they were joined by Libyan military defectors and by special forces from other countries. In Egypt the Ultras were supported by the Muslim Brotherhood youth wing. It takes more than an activist and a dreamer to make a fighter.

The Operation 8 team did no analysis on the capability of those they saw in the videos to actually carry out what they were accused of. None of the main accused, Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert and Rangi Kemara, were physically capable of leading the activities they were accused of. They were all overweight and unfit, one had diabetes and another was suffering from debilitating heart disease. There were no alternative leaders or combat leaders identified. Below them, after a few weekends in the bush at which there was only sporadic attendance except by the core group of activists, there were no combat ready troops.

There would be only two groups of Maori who would be able to fulfil that role, the criminal gangs and ex-military personnel. In the early phases of Operation 8 the police searched for ex-military personnel who might be involved including looking closely at me. They found only Tuhoe Lambert and later Rau Hunt. Knowing the military and ex-military community as well as I do I would be very much surprised to find military or ex-military personnel involved in terrorism or similar criminal activity. Most of us really are loyal New Zealanders who believe in our oath of fealty to Queen and country, as corny as that sounds. Accepting however that there are always exceptions to the rule I would expect that the contract price for an ex-military gunman would far exceed the ability of Taame Iti and his band to pay.

There have been many revolutionary dreamers who have fantasised about involving the gangs as shock troops in their revolutions. The gangs are not motivated by politics. They are motivated by money and their price is beyond the means of armchair revolutionaries and Taame Iti. The police did access the bank accounts of their primary suspects and would have found that all of them were skint.

Civilian military contractors

Despite the fact that the “trainer” in the October video, Rau Hunt, was in real life a civilian military contractor with experience in Iraq the police chose to ignore the relevance of that.

The October video showed that the activity at that wananga was almost entirely a demonstration of the techniques employed by civilian military contractors. Their skills are based on military skills including a high level of training in infantry minor tactics but their job is different. They provide close protection or bodyguards for civilians in the warzone. A major part of their job is also the protection of vehicles and convoys, and fixed installations, from attack or ambush. Their vehicle counter ambush drills are based on military drills that we all learnt and practised as part of basic infantry training.

One of the drills was clearly a counter ambush drill in which the client or VIP was hustled out of and away from the vehicle under attack. The standard drill is to get the client into another vehicle and away from the ambush, or to a safe location out of the line of fire, until the operators (bodyguards) are able to win the firefight and contain the situation. The police chose to interpret that as kidnapping.

At the trial in 2012 the prosecution’s own expert military witness agreed under cross examination that the scenario could have been a rescue from an ambush, especially as the person being taken from the car was not restrained.

In March 2012 I informally interviewed Rau Hunt who is a retired naval petty officer. His understanding was that Taame Iti had invited him to the wananga to see if any of the younger men would be suitable to be trained and employed as civilian military contractors. It is lucrative if dangerous employment. Rau and I agreed that it was unlikely that anyone without a strong military or police background would be suitable to be employed. He has since confirmed that none of those at the October wananga went on to employment as a civilian military contractor.

Rau Hunt was nevertheless accused and charged. The charges against him were eventually dropped after the Supreme Court ruled the video evidence unlawful. I find it highly unlikely that a professional like Rau Hunt would put a lucrative livelihood at risk for any hair brained terrorism scheme such as the one the police alleged. It simply doesn’t make sense. The lack of expert intelligence analysis by the police, and their single minded focus on only one interpretation of the information they collected and collated, put an innocent man’s career on hold for six years.

I empathise with Rau as the police tried to take down my business at Parnell on 15th October 2007 and in doing so would have put me and my staff out of employment. We stopped it in the High Court. Like Rau Hunt we too were all innocent bystanders.

The introduction of a civilian military contractor to the wananga in October 2007 might have indicated a shift in direction away from the war games that had been the focus to that point. It might not. It is the job of intelligence managers and analysts to find out. However the police chose to ignore that possibility and to assume that the demonstration by Rau Hunt was part of their terrorism narrative and to carry on with their armed paramilitary operation which was already in the process of being launched. That was a failure of analysis.

Weapons and Molotov Cocktails

Molotov Cocktails

A Molotov Cocktail is an incendiary device originally devised for use against armoured and other vehicles. It is basically a bottle containing petrol and/or other inflammable fluids with a cloth wick attached. The wick is lit and the bottle thrown at the target. When the bottle breaks the fuel ignites. The bottle needs to be of a type that holds enough fuel to be effective and not so strong that it doesn’t break on impact. In my day when we learned about booby traps and other improvised weapons the old fashioned milk bottle was an ideal container.

The Molotov Cocktail is known to be used in Europe and elsewhere by anarchists in their battles with the authorities, including police.

After the August and September 2007 wananga the police recovered several beer bottles from the area. They were mainly Steinlager bottles and a few Crown lager bottles. There was evidence (cloth and fuel) that they had been used as Molotov Cocktails. Several were broken and several had been used but did not break. They had been thrown against an old oven. The video footage from one wananga showed some individuals throwing what seemed to be bottles.

I used the term “experimenting with Molotov Cocktails” in the previous section because it was obvious to me that they were not proper Molotov cocktails. I could have described it as playing with Molotov cocktails.

They used the wrong sort of bottle to start with. The small beer bottles are very hard to break. I believe that they are made that way to prevent them from being easily broken and used as weapons to “glass’ people. There were a number of bottles produced in evidence by the police that were not broken even though they seemed to have been thrown. To make sure they would break on impact the Steinlager bottles would need to be thrown with great force against a hard target such as a vehicle, or an old oven. Ideally a Molotov cocktail should break even when lobbed onto a street surface.

The cloth wicks were also stuffed into the top of the bottles. The proper way to make a Molotov Cocktail is to wrap the cloth wick around the neck of the bottle to ensure that the fuel ignites after the bottle breaks, and not before. A cork or stopper can then be put into the neck of the bottle to make sure it doesn’t leak fuel before impact.

These were not real working Molotov Cocktails and some of them didn’t work anyway.

During the trial the prosecution could not produce evidence to show what they might have been used against. However like the video footage the bottles produced in court were pivotal evidence for the same reason. It was subliminal visual evidence that would sway a jury despite other evidence. At one point it was suggested by the prosecution that the Molotov Cocktails could have been used to set fire to a forest. I would set fire to a forest using a jerry can of petrol and a box of matches.

Playing or experimenting with Molotov Cocktails is not against the law although the law was bent in this case to describe them as illegal restricted weapons. Using them against persons or property is illegal and the police did not have evidence of that.

The weapons

In addition to the Molotov Cocktails a motley collection of rifles of various calibres and a small number of shotguns were seen carried by the wananga participants during their tactical exercises. A pistol was also seen but evidence suggests that it was a replica or a starting pistol. The weapons were seen in January, April, June, August, September and October for periods of about two days each time. Incidentally that would comprise about 12 days total, hardly a sufficient period to train a terrorist group to any level of proficiency. At some of those wananga shots were heard indicating that some of them were target shooting. There was no evidence that the weapons were loaded at other times. Nine rifles and a shotgun were seized on 15th October 2007.

It is not illegal to carry a rifle and to use it for target shooting if you hold a firearms licence. Rangi Kemara had a current firearms licence for the 6 weapons which were seized from his caravan and car on 15th October 2007. However the charge was that they were “in possession except for some lawful proper and sufficient purpose”. Rangi Kemara had by then become a bit of a collector of firearms. However he bought most of them on lay-by. I know because I paid him and I didn’t pay him enough to indulge in that expensive hobby.

The rifles were also a variety of calibres requiring different sizes of ammunition. That would have been a logistical nightmare keeping up a supply of ammunition to a terrorist group.

There was also police evidence that Rangi Kemara had tried to buy a grenade launcher from a weapons dealer. The only “grenade launcher” available outside the military is not actually a grenade launcher but a flare launcher that imitates a grenade launcher. It is still sold as a grenade launcher. The actual grenade launcher fires 40mm grenades available only to the military. The grenades are very expensive. The imitation grenade launcher has a smaller 37mm calibre and fires 37mm flares. It cannot fire the 40mm grenade. The police obviously did not expertly analyse that piece of evidence and if they did they would not have persisted with their grenade launcher theory unless it suited their narrative to do so.

No evidence was presented to indicate how proficient the accused were in the use of weapons, or whether they were proficient at all.

What were they saying?

None of the foregoing evidence is proof of terrorist or criminal intent regardless of how sensational the presentation of the evidence. To find that proof the police either needed to have an undercover person within the group or to intercept conversations or other communications that would prove intent. They did not have anyone undercover but they did bug several conversations.

Interception devices or bugs are of several types. Some devices intercept and transmit in real time to the Crime Monitoring Centre on Thorndon Quay in Wellington where monitoring staff are on duty 24/7. That type of intercept probably relies on good mobile phone reception. The Crime Monitoring Centre was involved in Operation 8. Some devices can be installed and remotely switched on and off. Some can have the intercepted product retrieved remotely. Others need to be physically retrieved. The technology is evolving rapidly.

Probably the most information was picked up from a bug in Rangi Kemara’s car, especially the conversations between him and Tuhoe Lambert as they travelled to and from the Urewera. In April 2007 over a four day period the police intercepted and recorded 17 hours of conversation between the Rangi and Tuhoe. They also intercepted conversations that Rangi had with various activists who travelled in his car at various times.

They had warrants to bug Taame Iti’s car but did not succeed in placing it until towards the end of Operation 8. They did place a bug in the flat he shared with his partner in Taneatua and recorded several conversations between them and some conversations with other visitors.

A bug or bugs was placed at one venue on one weekend in a “hut” which was actually part of a disused marae. Recordings of several conversations were retrieved.

Text message exchanges were also obtained from Telecom and Vodafone and some of those were about the purposes of the wananga.

This part of the Operation 8 intelligence collection, collation and analysis process deserved the most intense and expert analysis because it goes to the heart of what was intended by the group of suspects and what definite plans, if any, they had to further their intentions. It was not analysed at all. It was simply accepted at face value and added into the evolving terrorism narrative.

This korero was about going to war, about a revolution, about doing robberies to raise funds, about Tuhoe freedom fighters, about studying IRA and Al Qaeda manuals, creating chaos, bombing strategic facilities, urban warfare, obtaining weapons and ammunition, and assassinating the next prime minister (John Key). The korero established that Rangi Kemara has established himself as the weapons “expert”, of sorts.

Jamie Lockett

Reading through Jamie Lockett’s profile and contributions to the korero the first thing I would have done as an analyst would be to sideline him out of the operation. Whatever he is, he is not a political activist or anyone who sympathises with their causes. He definitely did not fit into the Ngai Tuhoe nationalist cause at all. He was purely and simply a man with a deep seated and obsessive grudge against the police. His war talk was bullshit and bravado. His association with the wananga participants quite bizarre.

Perhaps it just suited AMCOS to leave him in the mix and to fit him up with a terrorism conviction. He was after all the initial target of Operation 8.

The Ngai Tuhoe nationalists

The main contributors to this korero were Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert and Rangi Kemara. It was extensive and full of war talk. A lot of their korero was pure fantasy. Surprisingly very little intercepted korero of real substance came from Taame. There was nothing at all to indicate that he had a grand plan or indeed any specific plans. He talked of going to war but only in a general bullshit sense and in generalities. I would have thought that a serious intelligence operation would have put a lot more effort into intercepting his korero. Perhaps GCSB did and it hasn’t been declared. But on the other hand he does tend to speak in riddles.

Not all of the Maori in the suspect group were Ngai Tuhoe nationalists. What would have helped the Operation 8 team to differentiate the Tuhoe nationalists from other Maori would have been a tribal affiliation analysis. They didn’t have the expertise to do that or even to recognise that it would have been useful.

From an analysis of the korero Rangi Kemara seems to have been the main link between the Ngai Tuhoe nationalists and the activists.

The peaceniks, environmentalists, animal rightists, anarchists and others

A lot of the activist korero was intercepted in Rangi Kemara’s car. Some of it was about their own activism interests rather than Ngai Tuhoe nationalism. The Wellington activists seemed focused for a time on an impending visit by President George W. Bush and some of the korero was about assassinating him. Apart from the trash talk about catapulting a bus onto him there was a brief conversation about getting a long range sniper rifle. That was pure fantasy. Apart from that the activists didn’t have much to contribute to the intercepted conversations. A few of them were acquiring weapons but there was no korero about any definite plans.

The impression I got was that the activists were a group separate from the Ngai Tuhoe core and were not really part of the Ngai Tuhoe cause.

Analysis of the korero

As someone with a fairly long association with Maori activists, a 20 year career in the Army including active service, and a background in intelligence analysis I found it difficult to know where to start in an analysis of all of this korero. The Operation 8 team had none of that analytical expertise and didn’t even realise that they needed it. As noted earlier they had excluded their Maori experts anyway. My initial reactions on reading through it the first few times went something like this (excuse the language but I did leave out the “f” words):

  • Shit, this is serious stuff, you really were planning some sort of armed action, what were you thinking you lot;
  • Hah! Bullshit and bravado;
  • What a load of trash talk;
  • Here we go, the boring old revolutionary crap chat again;
  • Nah, you don’t seriously think that you lot could pull that off do you;
  • What a bunch of warrior wannabes;
  • Get real. If I were to command even a small force against you I’d take you all out before you could get out of bed, you dumb-arses;
  • Are you guys crazy;
  • You are crazy;
  • Blah blah blah more trash talk;
  • Yeah right!
  • E hika ma, this is just one big fantasy, or maybe a whole lot of fantasies happening together;
  • This is definitely not what it seems. There’s no way at all that they can live up to their trash talk. It needs to be analysed properly.

That sort of describes it. Disbelief. After several readings my impression was also that it was all horribly unfocused; harum scarum stuff, bullshit and bravado. And there was a lingering question in my mind that needed answering and still does, “Were they hyping themselves up, or was it bullshit and bravado for an audience?  Or both”

I am not alone in my scepticism about the police interpretation of all of this korero. At the court hearing into the prosecution of Fairfax Media for contempt of court almost a year later the Solicitor General David Collins tried to explain to the court that some of the korero contained in the leaked and published affidavit was pure fantasy. He was referring specifically to a korero about assassinating President George W. Bush by catapulting a bus onto his head.

It wasn’t analysed at all. It is so unbelievable that in the first instance I would have backed up on the analysis and compiled deeper profiles on the principal actors with the help of competent psychologists and then used the psychologists to help analyse the intercepted korero. I have compiled such a profile on one of the principals and will publish it at a later date to show that it would have had a direct bearing on the outcome of Operation 8.

As an analyst, for me it raised more questions than answers. It is the job of the analyst to ask the questions and to seek answers to those questions. For the police it just provided the answers they were looking for to flesh out their pre-determined and preferred terrorism narrative. That narrative did not of course pass the test and was ruled out by the Solicitor General a few weeks after 15th October 2007. Their alternative criminal group narrative based on the same faulty analysis or lack of analysis fell over in front of a jury about four years later.

Police Commissioner Broad admitted after the paramilitary operation that the police had no evidence of an impending terrorist act. That means that their intelligence operation had not identified from the intercepted korero any plan to conduct general or specific acts of violence, criminality or terrorism. Broad sort of admitted that an 18 month intelligence operation had nothing specific to predict.

Yet he convinced the Prime Minister and Cabinet otherwise and went ahead with his own unbelievable fantasy and unleashed the cowboys in black fancy dress. The mature leadership response and the professional intelligence response would have been to put more effort into finding out exactly what was going on before going off half-cocked, to use a military analogy.

What did the police think they were planning?

The affidavit presented to the District Court on 10th October 2007 to obtain “termination” warrants authorising the paramilitary operation and dozens of search and seizure raids around the country clearly stated two things:

  • that the Police did not have final conclusive evidence to back up their terrorism narrative; and
  • that they “believed” that as a result of their paramilitary operation and other raids they would uncover the evidence they needed.

Nevertheless these are the conclusions reached by the police from their “analysis” of all their “intelligence”.

 “During these training camps the group has undertaken the following training Activities:

  •  Using firearms, including drills with live rounds
  • Conducting ambush exercises
  • Loading and unloading drills with different weapons
  • Posting sentries around the training areas
  • Patrolling drills using military techniques and contact drills
  • Moving around with firearms in the high ready position
  • Simulating ambushing vehicles
  • Counter interrogation training, which included holding guns to participants’ backs
  • Training in the use of Molotov Cocktails”

“The aims of the group has been shown through the following intercepted communications, which I believe shows they ultimately want to secure an independent Tuhoe Nation, as follows;

  • To be legitimately recognised as an independent nation
  • To gain control of the Urewera National Park
  • To remove ‘Pakeha’ people from their farms

“The type of actions the group intends to achieve their aim has been shown through the following intercepted communications, which I believe amounts committing multiple terrorist acts, which have been described as follows;

  • Using modern styles of war like in Iraq with small squads doing their own missions
  • Killing and Confronting Police
  • Going to war for ten years
  • Small groups going out to cause chaos in the name of Tuhoe
  • A strategic bombing campaign
  • Using extreme violence and actions that would divide Aotearoa
  • Urban Warfare
  • Following the tactics of the IRA
  • Fighting based on Guerrilla tactics
  • The same as what happened with the IRA in England
  • Going to war over the issue of water
  • Actions that are sudden and brutal so people would think it was AI Oaeda
  • Killing John KEY after the next election when he is Prime Minister
  • Killing Pakeha
  • Going to war”

“I believe that the above mentioned persons are part of a group of people who have been training in the Tuhoe Forest, Te Manawa o Tuhoe and Ruatoki Blocks of land and surrounding area wearing camouflage clothing and using military style semi-automatic firearms, Molotov Cocktails and they are committing the offences of Participating in a Terrorist Group, Unlawful Possession of Firearms and Unlawful Possession of Restricted Weapons”.

“Information to date suggests that the group intends to use the firearms to take control of an area of land. I believe that this land will most probably be in the Tuhoe area of New Zealand”.

What were they really planning?

In future posts I will look at other possible scenarios based on the same evidence, had the collected and collated information been properly and expertly analysed. Significantly expert analysis would have raised questions about the single minded terrorist narrative, questions that would have required more information and clearer evidence about the intent of the wananga before launching an all-out paramilitary operation by the cowboys in black fancy dress. I will also look at other factors that would have influenced the building of alternative scenarios.

The trail of evidence

This post is concerned with tracking the evidential trail from its beginnings in network analysis and profiling of suspects to the activities and intent of the wananga conducted in the Urewera. The network analysis was straight forward. Better profiling might have saved them some work. Identifying the dates of the wananga and who attended was straight forward. However as the evidential trail gets closer to 15th October 2007 it becomes less evidential and more speculation and belief, although the events the police witnessed and the conversations they overheard were real enough. What was missing was expert analysis and open minds.

The post also serves to demonstrate how police go about collecting evidence in support of their operations, some of their techniques and processes. It might also serve as a case study for activist security although that is not the intention.

Almost all commentary on Operation 8 has assumed, speculated and theorised that the operation was politically motivated or that it had colonial origins, that it was a continuation of coercive policing of Maori from colonial times, or that it was deliberately aimed at Ngai Tuhoe in general and its long running campaign “Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe”. There were many other theories, most of them passionately argued.

The trail of evidence however shows that it started as an operation aimed at a bunch of right wing Pakeha, possibly trying to link Jamie Lockett and his then mate John Murphy into some serious criminal activity involving Kelvyn Alp, Kyle Chapman and Jason Orme. Through his networking activities Taame Iti of Ngai Tuhoe was linked to John Murphy and Jamie Lockett (see previous post). The late Te Miringa Milton Hohaia of Taranaki (Director of the Parihaka Peace Festival) was an early suspect linked to Taame.

The operation remained Auckland focused and for a while included me (Rangitane, Te Whatuiapiti, Kahungunu) as a prime suspect. At the same time as me Auckland based Rangi Kemara of Ngati Maniapoto became a prime suspect (and remained a suspect right through to the 2012 trial). From Taame and Rangi the network of suspects widened and the focus shifted to the Urewera and to the wananga Taame was facilitating and Rangi was attending, and thence to those from the Urewera and from around the country who also attended the wananga. Lockett remained in the network of suspects. Murphy, Alp, Chapman and Orme dropped out of the picture.

That doesn’t quite fit with any of the conspiracy theories. And it doesn’t completely fit with the terrorism narrative the police eventually put together. Nor does all of the evidence they collected and collated.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Weaving the police “terrorism” narrative

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

which was full of holes

Operation 8 brought together a broad range of activists into the series of wananga facilitated by Taame Iti in the Urewera between 2005 and 2007. It must have seemed like Christmas to the police, especially to police intelligence, who had been watching all or most of them anyway and would never have expected them all to converge on the one place joined together in common purpose; which they later thought was terrorism.

The police spooks must have wet themselves in excitement. They should have paused to ask themselves if it really was possible for a totally disparate bunch of activists to find common illegal purpose, and to keep that illegal purpose secret or expect it to be kept secret, given that  all or most of them knew that they were always or almost always under some sort of surveillance. The excitement prevailed and no-one in police intelligence or in the chain of command stopped to question that assumption. When you’re following your nose into an intelligence operation you really should pause occasionally to draw breath, to look about you for other information that may contradict your nose, and to critically engage the brain.

In the next post I will outline the huge amount of information or evidence the police collected and examine how and why the “analysis” of that information led them into the conclusions they made.

These are some of the threads, general and specific, that were woven together to become Operation 8:

  • 9/11 to 15/10
  • The compact between Labour and Maori destroyed
  • Taame Iti & Tuhoe Lambert;
  • Rangi Kemara & Teanau Tuiono;
  • Jamie Lockett & Phil Le Compte;
  • The anarchists, peace activists, environmentalists and animal rightists;
  • Aotearoa Café;
  • The military connection; and
  • The threads that weren’t.

9/11 to 15/10

The Al Qaeda attacks on the USA on Tuesday 11th September 2001 by mostly Saudi Arabian terrorists, the Bush/Cheney initiated “war on terrorism” that followed, and the security paranoia that began in the the USA and swept across the Western world was a thread that led directly to the armed paramilitary operations at Ruatoki, Taneatua and Manurewa on Monday 15th October 2007.

New Zealand followed the USA lead with the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002 which did not specify any crimes not already covered by the Crimes Act, or which could not have been introduced into the Crimes Act by amendment. Its real purpose was not to specify new crime but to appropriate to the State and its security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies vastly increased powers of surveillance, search, detention, arrest, secrecy and suppression. In doing so it eroded democratic rights and freedoms that had been built into the democratic ideal and practice over many hundreds of years in the pursuit of which countless lives had been sacrificed. All without any appreciable increase in the direct threat to New Zealand or a threat that could not have been dealt with under existing legislation and within existing powers.

The new security regime also imported “security theatre” from the USA through which the paranoia and  empire building foreign policy aspirations of the Bush/Cheney administration were converted into mass public hysteria through lies, propaganda and a range of highly visible “security” measures. In introducing legislation and policies to combat terrorism the Bush/Cheney regime introduced new previously unthinkable mechanisms designed to control the population of the USA. The NZ Government blindly and subserviently followed with its own population control measures.

The increased budgets for the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies spawned a raft of new special units and staffs dedicated to the task of finding and prosecuting terrorists. The NZ Police widened the meaning and scope of terrorism to include domestic political activists, and cynically used their new specialist terrorism intelligence units as political intelligence units. In doing so the police raised the stakes, their own level of paranoia, and the level of antagonism between themselves and political activists to new highs.

During the 1981 Springbok Tour and the sometimes violent confrontations between protesters and police the police weapon was the long baton. By 2007 pepper spray was routinely carried and used, and tasers were on trial. The police also had a paramilitary force armed with pistols, carbines and rifles. Not only had the police raised the level of antagonism between themsleves and political activists, they had also increased their weaponry. And they had demonstrated through their increasingly confrontational tactics when dealing with political activism that they had no respect at all for the democratic right to dissent, demonstrate and protest.

In that climate of internationalised Bush/Cheney paranoia, and increasing NZ Police paranoia, antagonism, aggression and confrontation, it should not have been surprising that the level of paranoia in the activist groups increased in direct proportion. No doubt a few might have fantasised about arming themselves against the threat from within the supposedly democratic State.

The fourth Labour Government led initially by David Lange (1984-1990) had been a friend of the peace movement and other activist causes. In that government Helen Clark herself was a key link to the peace movement. Caught up in the paranoia of the Bush/Cheney “war on terrorism” the fifth Labour Government led by Helen Clark (1999-2008) bought into the security, intelligence and law enforcement agenda that quite quickly marginalised and criminalised political dissent. The fourth Labour government under the guidance of Sir Geoffrey Palmer had introduced important new consitutional legislation including the Bill of Rights. The fifth Labour government put in place legislation that started the sliding erosion of those rights that continues unabated to this day.

The compact between Labour and Maori destroyed

Not initially related to the terrorism paranoia but developing alongside it was a hardened attitude to Maori activism. The Lange government started a process that paved the way for new forms of relationship between Maori and government. In 1998 while still Leader of the Opposition Helen Clark was humilated and reduced to tears at Waitangi. That no doubt hardened her personal attitude to Maori political activism.

In January 2004 the Waitangi Tribunal reported favourably on a claim to ownership of the seabed and foreshore. In January 2004 also Don Brash triggered a racist response in New Zealand with a speech at Orewa. The Clark government, in a signal decision in November 2004 motivated by political considerations, legislated to extinguish any Maori claim to the foreshore and seabed despite widespread protest. In doing so it destroyed a decades long electoral compact between Maori and Labour. The Maori Party was the result.

The Clark government had created new enemies for Labour out of old friends both Maori and Pakeha, and by granting undemocratic powers to the police and others had institutionalised some of those new antagonistic relationships.

Within that general atmosphere of betrayal and distrust Ngai Tuhoe was steadily working towards recognition, validation and settlement of its claims. The first of many claims was laid in 1987 and the Waitangi Tribunal heard them between 2003 and 2005. There was no guarantee that the Clark government would negotiate towards the outcomes Ngai Tuhoe wanted and to many it seemed that it would not. The gievances against the Crown run deep and there has been a simmering collective anger passed down through the generations. No doubt many in Ngai Tuhoe were impatient with the process. And there were a few hotheads, but they were held in check.

Taame Iti & Tuhoe Lambert

Taame has been an activist for decades, since the days when they were called “radical Maori activists” and rated as equally subversive as communists in the minds of the watchers and some politicians like Robert Muldoon. Taame’s activism became more focused on the Ngai Tuhoe cause as the years rolled by. He even rates his own entry in Wikipedia:

“As the Maori nationalist movement grew in New Zealand in the late 1960s and 1970s, Iti became involved. He protested against the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa, and he became involved with Nga Tamatoa, a major Māori protest group of the 1970s, from its early days. He joined the Communist Party of New Zealand, and went to China in 1973 during the cultural revolution. He has taken part in a number of land occupations and held a hikoi to the Parliament of New Zealand”.

There can be no doubt that he has been under surveillance for all or most of that time, whether by NZSIS or NZ Police. Taame and my old mate Willie Wilson were comrades in the union movement and the Communist Party together. Robert Muldoon certainly kept an eye on them through NZSIS and once named Willie in Parliament as the most dangerous man in New Zealand. There can also be no doubt that Taame knew that he was under surveillance from way back then and that whatever projects, protests and schemes he was involved in would be observed. In many interviews with the media he has said as much. He seemed to carry on regardless and do whatever he decided to do anyway. Of all the activists in New Zealand who are or have been under surveillance, or who think they have been under surveillance,  Taame stands out as one who has learned to live with it as part of his life. Unlike many he has never seemed overly-concerned and has rarely if ever protested about it in righteous indignation, or wishful thinking.

In the Operation 8 police evidence a police intelligence note from 2002 noted that he was seen at Mangere in the company of Rangi Kemara. They weren’t up to anything but his presence was noted anyway, and filed in a police database in case it became useful. In that case it did become useful for it seems that it might have been the first time police intelligence had added Rangi Kemara to his social network. Rangi didn’t have a police record. Social network analysis of persons of interest is going on all the time to build a picture of who might be involved in the activities of the people the police are watching. That’s partly what mass surveillance of the Internet by GCSB is about. They’ve probably got me tagged as part of his network as well as half of all Maori. They must have put the late Tuhoe Lambert into that network from about June 2006; maybe earlier.

On 16th January 2005 Taame shot a flag on the marae as part of an elaborate theatrical presentation before the Waitangi Tribunal sat to hear the Ngai Tuhoe claim. Local police understood what it was about, were not perturbed and did nothing about it. But after the matter was raised in Parliament by some righteous MP he was charged by the police and in June 2006 was convicted and fined.  At the time of the trial he was already under surveillance as part of Operation 8. On 4th April 2007 his conviction was overturned on appeal. That was just six months before the armed paramilitary operation in which he was arrested as an alleged “terrorist”.

It would be interesting to find out who in Wellington made the decision in 2005 to charge him with firearms offences. Commissioner Broad and Deputy Commissioner Pope had not been appointed at that time. Was Helen Clark involved.

On 27 February 2007 Taame was tipped off that someone was talking to the media who were interested in his wananga activities. On 28 February 2007 Melanie Jones of the Sunday Star Times contacted Taame and told him SST had received an anonymous letter that suggested he was “doing guerilla training for activists in the Ureweras”. The police intercepted that communication. Taame knew from a tip off on 3rd June 2007 that his wananga activities in the Urewera were under police surveillance and had been discussed at Police Headquarters. The police obtained those text messages.  He received another tip off about police surveillance in September 2007. In June 2007 an intercepted conversation clearly indicated that Taame knew they were under surveillance. He did nothing to stop or hide what he was doing.

The late Tuhoe Lambert was an Auckland based Vietnam veteran who was also dedicated to the Ngai Tuhoe cause and who was involved in the wananga in the Urewera with Taame Iti. He came under surveillance from early in 2007 as a result of a check of the Births, Deaths and Marriages database at Internal Affairs, looking for the relatives of his brother who had  become part of the network analysis. Tuhoe Lambert then came under surveillance himself, was linked to Taame Iti and his activity in the Urewera and eventually became a prime suspect with Taame Iti and Rangi Kemara. Tuhoe had previously been interviewed at length by Melanie Reid of TV3 about his Vietnam service and through that had created a public profile. Melanie interviewed him again after 15th October 2007.

In September 2007 Taame travelled to Fiji to meet Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. He was accompanied by John Murphy of Remuera. The spooks would certainly have been monitoring that visit and had certainly added Murphy to the Taame Iti network quite some time before that. We will meet Murphy later.

Rangi Kemara and Teanau Tuiono

Rangi and Teanau are good friends. I met them both through the NZ Maori Internet Society which I co-founded in the 1990s and which they joined early on. Rangi eventually came to work for me as my IT manager, part time at first then full time from early in 2004. Rangi was arrested at Manurewa at Tuhoe Lambert’s place on 15th October 2007. He had been staying there in a caravan. The next day Teanau’s place at Palmerston North was raided but he was not arrested.

Teanau was a moderator of the “Tino Rangatiratanga” email group that started in the 1990s.  Rangi was also involved in that. I was an early subscriber and contributor to the group. Teanau has fairly close links with the Wellington activist community and with the international activist community as well. He’s an activist, with a law degree, and acknowledges that he has probably been under surveillance for a while, especially because of his international links.

Rangi discovered through a source in the IT industry that his email account was under police surveillance some time in 2002 or 2003. There was no possible reason for that other than the fact that he was Maori, was becoming an IT specialist, was friendly with a number of activists including Taame Iti, and had been a contributor to online activist discussions. That could almost describe me as well.

Both Rangi’s and Teanau’s connection to Operation 8 probably began in 2004. That year started with Don Brash’s racist speech at Orewa. Then there was the Labour Government’s decision to extinguish any Maori rights to the seabed and foreshore, followed by the hikoi to Parliament to protest that decision, Tariana Turia’s resignation from the Labour Party, and the formation of the Maori Party. Throughout all of that the police were spying their hearts out.

Rangi and Teanau were in Wellington in March 2004 when the National Party website was defaced, probably in protest at all of that anti-Maori stuff that year, sparked off by Don Brash at Orewa. The website hack was aimed at Don Brash. The upshot of that is that the police electronic crime laboratory suspected Rangi the IT whiz of doing it, and perhaps had his mate Teanau in the frame as well.

Now, defacing a political website on the information super highway is no more serious than defacing a political billboard on any other highway. The recent revelations about wholesale spying by NSA, GCHQ, CSE, ASD and GCSB have finally proved that the Internet is open slather anyway. Our government is the biggest illegal hacker of them all. We already knew that at the time, and in my company we took our security seriously and built industrial strength protection around the websites on our servers, including our own websites. Most people actually believed the companies that built their websites, and believed that they were secure. We knew that most of them weren’t and we also knew that a lot of corporate websites were being hacked but that no-one was admitting it. It would embarrass them to admit that their supposedly secure websites were not. That’s why I say that defacing a political website billboard was and is a petty offence happening all the time, if it is an offence. If you want to protect your billboard on the information super highway or any other highway you should put a high fence around it topped by broken glass and razor wire with a strong lock on the gate. And don’t just believe the guy who takes your money and tells you there is a fence around it when there isn’t, like the Emperor’s new fence. If you don’t properly secure it and your electronic billboard gets the graffiti treatment then it’s your own stupid fault. Don’t go bleating to the police.

Anyway the Electronic Crime Laboratory (ECL) went after Rangi in a big way for allegedly doing a bit of graffiti on the National Party electronic billboard that was out on the highway without a proper fence around it. They seized all of his computers. But they didn’t find the computer they thought was used for the hacking of Brash’s billboard, or any evidence on the computers they did seize, and they didn’t charge Rangi with the hacking. All they had was that the hacking was done from a hotel connection in the hotel Rangi had stayed at in Wellington so it might have been him and it might not, and it might have been a Pakeha.

The person at ECL who was after Rangi was Juergan Arndt who later turned up at our office on 15th October 2007. He failed in 2004, and he failed again in 2007. The alleged 2004 hacking incident was mentioned in police evidence as one of the threads that led into Operation 8. It would seem that both Rangi and Teanau were in the crosshairs long before Operation 8 started and that they stayed in the crosshairs. And that was one of the threads by which both of them were woven into the Operation 8 narrative.

I had told Rangi in 2004 that because of his brush with ECL the police would have him under surveillance forever. He knew that. At a later time I also told him that he would be under surveillance because of his association with our friend Taame Iti and the wananga activities in the Urewera. He knew that too.

Computers were seized from a lot of locations around the country on 15th October 2007 and in the days afterwards but the ECL and Juergan Arndt were focused primarily on Rangi’s home workstation and on my fairly sophisticated IT network at Parnell. I will tell you why in another of the threads but I reckon that Fritz was also motivated by a bit of unfinished business from 2004.

Teanau’s house was searched but he was not arrested. Like me he contacted a lawyer who made sure the police did not exceed their lawful powers of detention and arrest. As in my case the search warrant itself was probably obtained improperly.

Jamie Lockett and Phil Le Compte

We met Detective Sergeant Phil Le Compte when he turned up at our Parnell office after we got an interim injunction to stop the search and seizure operation that was aimed at all of our computers. Le Compte worked at AMCOS, co-located with SIG, the special intelligence unit that ran Operation 8. On the surface he was not involved in Operation 8. But the cat certainly was curious.

Now to Lockett. The earliest record of Jamie Lockett in the Operation 8 database was on 24th September 2005 when he was observed in the Mount Wellington Domain in Auckland wearing a balaclava and carrying “something like a rifle”. The next record is on 5th February 2006 when he was reported to be at Waitangi with John Murphy.

Patrick Gower wrote this about Jamie Lockett in the NZ Herald on 27th October 2007.

“Whether it is proved right or wrong, Jamie Beattie Lockett will wear the title “terror suspect” with pride. It sits nicely alongside his boasts of being “the most trespassed man in New Zealand” or “84 arrests but 79 walk-aways”. Lockett has been at war with the police for years. He goads officers, they arrest him on disorder-related charges. It goes to court, he defends himself – and as his record shows, quite often beats them. Lockett will then take a private prosecution against the officers he claims have wronged him. It is a routine that has made him a regular fixture in the courts”.

“The 46-year-old stands apart from his 15 co-accused because he does not have an underpinning philosophy. Those who know Lockett say he is no anarchist or Maori activist: he is driven instead by a seemingly pathological dislike for police, said to have begun when an officer spat in his shoe while he was being held in custody. It began a belligerent feud that has become so all-consuming it has left him penniless, seen him fall out with friends, and means few who know him can recall what he was like before it began”.

“Terror suspect Jamie Lockett has been under tight police surveillance for at least 18 months. He was confronted by undercover police officers dressed as tourists at Waitangi Day 2006 and clearly told – while standing toe-to-toe with one detective – “we will be right on your tail”.

“The confrontation at Waitangi Day forms part of a short film titled Jamie made by friend and film-maker Miles Watson. It shows Lockett talking to uniformed police before two undercover officers dressed in board shorts and T-shirts take over. Lockett and one of the officers stand toe-to-toe as the “on your tail” warning is issued”.

The “undercover” police officer who stood toe-to-toe with Lockett was Detective Sergeant Phil Le Compte and the confrontation was not a coincidence. One of the main police protagonists in the long running feud involving “84 arrests and 79 walk-aways” was Phil Le Compte. It was personal. They hated each other. Lockett has told the story of how they had come to blows some time before the incident at Waitangi and how he had beaten Le Compte in the ensuing fight.

Lockett was at Waitangi with John Murphy. Murphy was a seemingly wealthy used car dealer who lived at Remuera, quite near to the late Sir Paul Holmes. On 5th March 2006 David Fisher of the NZ Herald wrote:

“There’s a Maori flag flying in one of Auckland’s poshest streets – and it’s raising the ire of some of its more influential neighbours”.

“Used car salesman John Murphy of Victoria Ave, has traded the New Zealand flag’s red, white and blue for the red, black and white of the tino rangatiratanga flag. Mr Murphy took the Kiwi flag down and ran the Maori flag up the pole just before last year’s election [17th September 2005]”.

“I went to see [Maori Party co-leader] Pita Sharples before the election to see how I could help because I believe in him,” Mr Murphy said at his $1.2 million home yesterday as a waiata played over stereo speakers. “So I put the flag up. And I’ve got a lot closer to Maori since I put it up.”

At the time of all of this Jamie Lockett was living with Murphy in Remuera. The two of them had embarked on their new cause to support Maori. They had tried to meet with Prime Minister Helen Clark and were supposedly at Waitangi to offer Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples $10 million to support the cause. It all sounds rather improbable. Their attempts to engage with the politicians had brought them renewed police attention.

Shortly after John Murphy had started to fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag in Remuera it was noticed by Rangi Kemara. Rangi was on his way home from his work at my office, noticed the flag and stopped to introduce himself to Murphy to find why he was flying it. He told me about it the next morning. One thing led to another and John Murphy and Jamie Lockett were introduced to Taame Iti. Network analysis had now connected them.

Detective Sergeant Phil Le Compte must have been beside himself to have Jamie Lockett joined to a “counter-terrorism” operation in the Urewera. The prospect of having him lined up on a terrorism charge would have been beguiling. Alas it was not to be, he was charged with arms offences, and he eventually got off that one too. 85 arrests and 80 walk-aways.

Did Phil Le Compte have any role in kicking off Operation 8? Was part of the motivation behind Operation 8 to put Jamie Lockett away for a long time on a terrorism conviction? We don’t know. Le Compte was one curious cat at my office in Parnell on 15th October 2007.

Since the Supreme Court appeal and the subsequent dropping of charges against most of the Operation 8 accused Lockett seems to have gone quiet. Phil Le Compte, son of Alan, was put back into uniform and sent up to Kaitaia. One can only speculate why but the feud seems to have subsided. Geographical distance has worked its magic. Lockett is still around but I hear that he has since done a three month stretch inside. 86 arrests and 80 walk-aways?

The interesting thing about the surveillance of Lockett and Murphy is that they are the main targets in the Operation 8 database of evidence up until July 2006 when the main focus shifted to Taame Iti. This is the timeline:

  • 4 May 2006 – “Surveillance log starts. Auckland Court. J. Lockett, J. Murphy, M. Watson”.
  • 10 May 2006 – “New investigation Op 8”. Request to Telecom about cellphone data for J. Murphy. Was this the actual start of Operation 8?
  • 17 May 2006 – “1st search warrant. T. Iti, J. Lockett, K. Alp, J. Murphy, K. Chapman” [probably cellphone records]..
  • Throughout May and June 2006 the database records are mostly concerned with links from Jamie Lockett and John Murphy to right wing white supremicists and members of the Direct Democracy Party; Kyle Chapman, Kevin Alp and Jason Orme.
  • 19 July 2006 – “1st search warrant. J. Lockett, T. Iti, M.Hohaia”

Perhaps Jamie Lockett led the police to Taame Iti and not the other way around. In which case Phil Le Compte would certainly have played a leading role at the start of Operation 8. Here’s the question – was Operation 8 already under way as an operation aimed at Jamie Lockett before it switched its focus to the Urewera? The police have always said it was an operation that started in the Urewera but the evidence of their Operation 8 database says otherwise. They’ve indulged in a bit of parallel construction of evidence.

The other interesting thing about Jamie Lockett and Operation 8 is that he too knew that he was under almost constant surveillance by the police and did nothing to hide his activity. In fact he had a record of provoking police into arresting him.

The anarchists, peace activists, environmentalists and animal rightists

So how did all of those activists from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and elsewhere come to be involved in the Urewera. Taame Iti is a networker and a collector. He collects people. A millionaire associate at one time was arts patron Jenny Gibbs although she disassociated herself from him after the Operation 8 arrests. He drew millionaire John Murphy into the network. There have been many influential people drawn in. He spreads the word about the Ngai Tuhoe cause as far and as wide as he can. He does it through his theatrical protests and the media, through his acting, through his painting, through his networking and through his wananga in the Urewera. He is the unofficial Ngai Tuhoe spin doctor.

But if they wanted a terrorist warlord they wouldn’t leave it to a spin doctor. They’d look for someone else, someone like me with high level military training, not Taame Iti and not even the late Tuhoe Lambert. By the way the only people ever to have approached me about that were two young Black Power members who asked me to run a wananga for them on guerrilla warfare. It was a long time ago and I didn’t of course. But Taame did arrange to have me briefed about the Ngai Tuhoe claim, as “a person of influence”, by chief negotiator Tamati Kruger. Flattery will get you nowhere Taame.

Ngai Tuhoe have been quite brilliant in their image making and have portrayed themselves as the last holdout against colonialism and the last repository of traditional ways of life and values. They have their history of invasion, suppression and confiscation which has been told and retold from generation to generation. It finds expression in “Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe” the ongoing never ending cause for some form of political autonomy. It is a compelling narrative that has created an aura around Ngai Tuhoe of the Urewera, the children of the mist. It is a narrative that is true, as far as it goes, and the substance of their claim is valid.

Another narrative is that Ngai Tuhoe is not an entirely united “iwi”. There are at least two hapu opposed to the direction of negotiations with the Crown. Ngai Tuhoe is also fast heading into becoming a corporate iwi like all the rest of the corporate iwi. I’m sure they’ll deny it but that’s their future. They’re becoming through the claim negotiation process a modern or neo-tribal “iwi”. And most of them don’t live in the Urewera, with perhaps the largest number of them living in Auckland. Those out in the diaspora are living ordinary mainstream lives as beneficiaries, workers, public servants, academics, teachers, nurses, firemen, policemen, soldiers, broadcasters, journalists, businessmen and businesswomen, criminals, and whatever else you can think of. They are concerned with raising their families and getting ahead if they can just like everyone else. Most of them are never going “home” to live in the Urewera although many of them are frequent visitors.

It’s the first narrative that draws in the romantics and the idealists to support the Ngai Tuhoe cause. It’s the narrative that has been brilliantly portrayed in academic publications, on film and in the media. It’s the narrative that would have drawn all of those activists to the wananga once invited. Were they drawn in to help Ngai Tuhoe wage war, or were they drawn in by the romanticism and idealism of the Ngai Tuhoe narrative which is the longest running ever in-your-face challenge to the sovereignty and closely guarded power of the NZ Parliament? The stuff of activists’ dreams.

Te Kotahi A Tuhoe ki Poneke, a group of activists to support the Ngai Tuhoe cause, was formed in Wellington in November 2006.

So were they there to wage war or to dream? Some of the activists actually refused on principle to participate in the war games in the bush, and went off somewhere else when that was on. The police didn’t tell you that but it’s true. Those ones at least weren’t there to wage armed warfare on anyone. Nor were the rest.

But some of them did act out a bit of fantasy in the bush. None of them would have made the grade into my platoon.

We know that after 9/11 police intelligence units had focused their attention on activists in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. We know that they paid informants to infiltrate the activist groups and to act as agents provocateur. It should have been no surprise to any of them that police intelligence followed their noses to the wananga in the Urewera. The police interpretation of what they saw there was the real surprise.

Am I soft on activists? Over the last 35 years since I retired from the Army I have met and become friends with a lot of activists of all varieties and causes, Maori and Pakeha. I have worked with quite a few on various projects, socialised with many who were also artists, writers and theatre goers. Some of them had SIS files going right back to the 1940s and 1950s. And do you know what? They are ordinary people just like the rest of us; mostly nice people and some who are not of course. Instead of looking through keyholes or relying on lunatic infiltrators the spooks should get to know their targets personally. They’d be a lot less paranoid if they did.

Aotearoa Café (AoCafe)

In the early days of the World Wide Web we had the Tino Rangatiratanga email discussion group at I was an early subscriber and sometime contributor. I’m still one of 1,394 subscribers but these days I never contribute. I got tired of it although some of the discussion was interesting.

There were the leading activists of the day, the people who set the activist agendas and did the stuff. Ideas were debated and things were organised. News was passed on. Like every online discussion group or Facebook group most of the people were watchers who read some of the stuff but never contributed. There were a few people who led most of the discussion. Then there were the armchair activists who had a lot to say and bugger all to contribute. Some of those were radical and legendary activists in their own minds, full of revolutionary rhetoric but who never got off the sofa. Much the same as the online crowd today.

If the post-9/11 era police spooks had been spying on some of that promised but never delivered revolution they would have been positively orgasmic. But the revolution was all trash talk and no-one seriously believed it except for the dreamers. The real activists got on with their activism.

We discovered one fact about online Maori discussion groups, especially activist groups, and that was that there were a lot of journalists watching and reading, waiting to pick up a story. And there were the cops hoping to uncover our conspiracies, or perhaps just looking for early warning of protests and other events.

Fast forward a few years to our company in Parnell. From early 2004 onwards we got serious about our communications security. Having been in the intelligence and military game myself I was always aware of the insecurity of the telephone, fax and email, and acutely aware of the vulnerability of websites and IT networks. We ran our own email server, file servers and web servers with our own and some of our clients’ websites hosted there, and we had to make sure that they were secure from hacking. Nearly all web servers are the subject of almost constant hacking attempts, usually by curious hackers from all over the globe just looking to see what damage they can do. Our Maori websites have long been the target of racist nerds in New Zealand and elsewhere trying to take them down. And from 2004 onwards we were aware that police intelligence were interested in Maori websites, data and communications.

We believed then and still do that it is our own responsibility to protect our data and communications and that if we get hacked it will be our own fault. The total takeover of the Internet by NSA, GCHQ, CSE, ASD and GCSB (known as 5-Eyes) has caused us to rethink that but we still do our level best to be as secure as we can, even from them.

In 2006 we moved all of our internal company communication away from email onto a more secure encrypted platform. To this day we hardly ever use email for business communication. Communications security was part of our business and we took it very seriously. We were early adopters of encrypted applications, including end to end encryption where we held the encryption keys, rather than server side encryption where you trust the providers to hold the keys and to do the encryption for you.

In April 2004 my IT manager Rangi Kemara set up a website of discussion forums with an encrypted chat room. It was to all intents and purposes an updated version of the old “Tino Rangatiratanga” discussion group with much the same subscriber base as the original, but with a new generation of subscribers as well. There were a range of forum topics that covered just about anything a group of Maori might want to discuss. The site was called Aotearoa Café – “AoCafe” for short. It consisted of three separate means of communication’

  • AoCafe Forums – public discussion forums
  • AoCafe Chat – encrypted chat rooms located initially on a separate server
  • Aotearoa Email – located on a free email server in the USA

The end-to-end encrypted chat room within AoCafe was state of the art. There was a lot of the usual armchair revolutionary crap chat going on as well as some serious real time discussion. I subscribed (using an alias) and Rangi would sometimes get me to log in to take on or take down the odd “educated” person who baffled everyone with their ignorance dressed up as knowledge. I monitored it from time to time to see what was going on. The revolutionary crap chat was as unrealistic and as boring as it always has been.

The encrypted chat room software at AoCafe was the same as one of the applications we adopted from the overseas hacker community to trial for our own internal company chat room. It was very very secure especially when the private chat room facility was used by two or more subscribers.

AoCafe Forums and AoCafe Chat resided on my company webserver in Parnell for a while until taken offsite to separate standalone webservers. For security reasons it was better not to have a Maori activism website on a normal webserver with other websites in case it came in for some extra attention from racist hackers and others.

The police were aware of the AoCafe from 23rd June 2004. Based on intecepted text messages from late 2006 mentioning AoCafe, indicating that the recipient should login to AoCafe, Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe first did a search of its open membership list on 5th March 2007. From then on the Operation 8 applications for warrants included AoCafe Forums, AoCafe Chat and email as intercept targets. The interception was to be done remotely with the assistance of Orcon, the provider that hosted the AoCafe server after it was moved from my premises. However the server for the encrypted chat room was not co-located at Orcon with the main AoCafe website. It was at another offsite location.

By June 2007 the police had still not been able to place their remote interception devices at the AoCafe sites. However they had obtained the database of unencrypted forum communications at the address from Orcon but had not been able to read the contents. As at 1st August 2007 they had still not been able to place interception devices on any of the three websites associated with AoCafe. By 30th August 2007 they had located and at their new location and had begun partial interception but had not been able to decrypt the chat room conversations. On 26th September 2007, just over two weeks before the paramilitary operation, they still had not managed to break into the encryption.

Sometime between 2004 and 2006 my company IT network and communications came under the scrutiny and surveillance of police intelligence, or the electronic crime lab, or both. We had written a small program that resided on our firewall server and that logged all attempts to hack into our network, and then traced the origin (or IP address) of the hacking computer and identified who it belonged to if it could. That’s all very simple stuff if you know how. One morning we discovered that an unsuccessful attempt had been made from a NZ Police owned range of IP addresses, indicating that it was probably a NZ Police computer. We thought that was pretty dumb to use an identifiable police computer to do some spying.

We found out on and after 15th October 2007 that one of the primary targets of the computer seizure operation was AoCafe. It was recorded in police evidence as “Al Qaeda like encrypted communications” and they thought it was the central communications hub for a terrorist network. They couldn’t hack into it so they assumed the worst. We know they tried and perhaps they enlisted the aid of GCSB as well. On 15th October 2007 they came looking for AoCafe files on my web server at Parnell, but they were no longer there. They did seize the offsite server it was on but there were no chat logs on that server either. We don’t as a matter of course allow applications or programs to store logs on our servers. And so there were no deleted logs for them to forensically restore. We had long been in the habit anyway of forensically “scrubbing” our hard drives and servers of all deleted files so that they could not be restored and read. It was just another aspect of the security measures we researched and implemented as a matter of course. But Maori folk aren’t supposed to be that sophisticated are we.

That was another thread in the narrative of Operation 8. After 2004 the ECL had Rangi Kemara under surveillance at home and at our office, they knew of and were suspicious about AoCafe and couldn’t hack the encrypted core of it. When Rangi and others were linked with Taame Iti and the wananga in the Urewera they had in their feverish imaginations uncovered an Al Qaeda like encrypted communications hub for a terrorist network, on my servers.

Did some of the 18 accused use AoCafe to communicate. Of course they did. And one or two of them had AoCafe chat logs on their computers that were retrieved by the police. But mostly they used insecure mobile phones. They were not in the main sophisticated electronic communicators. If they had seriously been plotting terrorist stuff they would have seriously secured their communications as well. They’re all smart people and one or two them are savvy about communications security.

Rangi Kemara was heard by the police to say this about the communications of the activists, indicating that he knew that wananga communications by mobile phone were probably being intercepted.

“… but at the same time they use their cell phones to communicate which means they might as well ring the Police and provide their story to media”

The military connection

There were two identified military people picked up and charged in the operation. The late Tuhoe Lambert was a Vietnam veteran having served in Victor Company RNZIR as a rifleman in 1970. After Vietnam Tuhoe had left the Army and had apparently done a short stint overseas as a contract soldier. The other was Rau Hunt who had been a petty officer in the Navy and who had later become a civilian military contractor in Iraq. Both were identified by the police as military trainers at the wananga and were charged.

On the periphery there was myself, a 20 year Army officer and war veteran with active service in Borneo (1966) and Vietnam (1967), and I was Rangi Kemara’s employer and occasionally in contact with Taame Iti and others involved in the wananga. There were other Vietnam veterans in the Urewera, not directly involved in the wananga but in contact with Taame Iti and some of the wananga participants. I had served with a couple of them. We all knew that there was firearms training at the wananga but were not concerned.

However in the period from October to December 2006, before the focus of Operation 8 shifted from Auckland to the Urewera, I was a prime suspect and the subject of numerous probes by the police. The police also ran a check with Defence on 58 suspects including myself to see if there were any with military backgrounds. They got five positive responses including me. None of us remained in their crosshairs after the focus shifted to the Urewera.

Tuhoe Lambert was not tied into the network until early in 2007 and Rau Hunt became part of the network analysis from about April 2007.

Tuhoe Lambert was identified as the trainer who was conducting “patrolling” type activity over a period of a few months. I watched all of the video evidence several times. I quickly came to the conclusion, as someone who had spent thousands of hours commanding real patrols on real patrol missions and as someone who had trained real infantrymen over a period of many years that they were just playing war games rather than doing any serious military training. A real infantryman can tell the level of training and expertise at a glance. Some of my former colleagues with Vietnam service and long periods of service after that have since agreed with me.

From the video evidence it was obvious to me that Rau Hunt was not training anyone but was demonstrating the tactics and techniques of personal protection, and vehicle and convoy protection used by civilian military contractors or operators in places like Iraq and Afghanistan., What the police inexpertly saw as training for kidnapping and hostage taking I saw as a demonstration of the personal protection of a client in an ambush situation where the client is hustled out of a vehicle under attack to a safe position or to another vehicle not under attack. Given Rau’s background and experience that was the most logical conclusion anyway.

Long after the era when Vietnam veterans were looked upon with derision, by the 2000’s many younger men looked up to us and respected us and still do. We don’t talk much about what we did but the younger ones are eager to listen to those who are willing to share their experiences. Rangi Kemara spent a lot of time around me, and also created a relationship with Tuhoe Lambert and eventually lived in a caravan at Tuhoe’s place. He was one who respected us and was interested in what we did in Vietnam. He didn’t get anything specific from me about my Vietnam experience but I understand that Tuhoe shared a few experiences. Rangi also never asked me about anything to do with tactics or strategy. We did talk about survival stuff occasionally. Rangi had also met two Ngai Tuhoe people who had served with me in Vietnam who had some experiences and observations to share. He told me about it at the time.

So there were military connections linked to the wananga participants, some of whom were very interested in our exploits 30 to 40 years previously. Why did that extend to some play acting in the bush? I’ll explore that in a later post.

The threads that weren’t

On 15th October 2007 and in the days following about 60 houses around the country were raided. The omnibus search warrant used to conduct those searches was broad in its scope, specifying weapons, equipment and clothing that they were looking for as well as computers. At our office in Parnell they were looking specifically for the AoCafe forums and chat room. But Fritz and his masters had also decided on an act of complete bastardry and they were intent on taking every computer, server and hard drive in the place and on putting us out of business. At most other places they were just fishing for computers where they hoped to find evidence to flesh out their terrorism narrative.

They found nothing of consequence. Those were the threads that weren’t. The police obviously thought they’d find some but they didn’t.

The woven terrorism narrative

Those are the threads that were the basis for the terrorist narrative the police would weave around the happenings at the wananga in the Urewera. In the next post I will examine the evidence they collected to weave into those threads. The finished narrative was full of holes.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: unreasonable, improper, unlawful, illegal, dishonest

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

and that was the police, not the alleged “terrorists”

In my previous posts I’ve been going on about ignorance, racism, paranoia, incompetence, and the lack of intellectual rigour that shaped the intelligence process in Operation 8. The litany wouldn’t be complete without a discussion about honesty, or the lack of it. Police behaviour on Operation 8 has been called unreasonable, improper and unlawful. Illegal is apparently reserved for others. What character trait is it that makes some police officers think that that behaviour, whatever you call it, is acceptable behaviour. Dishonesty?

Bear with me as I make an important point about lawful, honourable and ethical behaviour before I get back to Operation 8.

Lawful, Honourable and Ethical Behaviour

The oath sworn by all police officers is shown below. The oath is administered by the Police Commissioner or by an officer authorised by him (or her).

“I, [name], swear that I will faithfully and diligently serve Her (or His) Majesty [specify the name of the reigning Sovereign], Queen (or King) of New Zealand, her (or his) heirs and successors, without favour or affection, malice or ill-will. While a constable I will, to the best of my power, keep the peace and prevent offences against the peace, and will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, perform all the duties of the office of constable according to law. So help me God.”

The key phrase in that oath that applies here is “according to law”. Each and every constable (i.e. each and every police officer) swears to enforce the law according to or within the law. So help them God of course.

Additionally, “commissioned officers” (Inspectors and above) on promotion to commissioned rank receive their commissions from the Governor General on behalf of the Queen of New Zealand and are held to a much higher standard of responsibility and ethical conduct through their commissioning document. My parchment commission (document) granted to me nearly fifty years ago when I became a commissioned Army officer was the basis of a code of honour and ethical behaviour I and my fellow officers, with few exceptions, upheld. Dishonest or unethical conduct could result in “cashiering”, or the removal of the commission and discharge from the Army (a dishonourable discharge). The parchment commission of an Army officer is a valued possession. It ought to be so for “commissioned” police officers as well and it ought to be the basis for a code of honour and ethical conduct of the highest order.

I don’t have a copy of a police commissioning document but I’m sure that it requires each and every “commissioned officer” to ensure that all policemen under their command properly enforce the law according to or within the law.

A key legal requirement that applies in addition to the oath and the commissioning document is that whereas an individual New Zealand citizen may do anything at all unless it is prohibited by law, a police officer (or any government official for that matter) in the performance of their duties may only do that which is permitted by law. A police officer therefore, regardless of rank or position, does not have any discretionary power to do anything that is not specifically permitted or sanctioned by law.

To do so is to be in breach of the oath and commission, which are the foundations of a police officer’s authority to enforce the law. And to be in breach of the law as well.

There have been many publicly documented instances where both non-commissioned and “commissioned” police officers have acted in breach of those foundations of their authority and responsibility. Yet those breaches often seem to be treated as misdemeanours by the police hierarchy instead of the serious violations of oath and commission that they are. The present police cultural response is denial, cover up and spin which is itself a gross violation of the trust placed in the police force through the oath and commission. Honourable and honest men own up to their mistakes and transgressions.

Men and women of honour would surely live by their oath, or is that an old fashioned concept. Does the oath not mean anything once it has been administered. Is it just a formulaic administrative requirement, sworn and forgotten.

In some ways the culture of denial, cover up and spin bears more resemblance to the Mafia code of omerta than the code of honour one would expect of a police force. There is one intriguing aspect to this and that is the influence of the Police Association in shaping that culture of silence. Would there be a different culture if the Police Executive stood up to the Police Association and broke its power and influence in matters beyond its legitimate concerns of employment, remuneration and conditions of service.

Whereas my approach to conduct and ethics is based on honour, and the need for a code of honour whether written or unwritten, Dame Margaret Bazley’s Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct of March 2007 focused in part on the need for a code of conduct. I think that a code of honour is about an ingrained ethical attitude and a code of conduct is a formal more regulatory approach. The code of honour is a compass point towards which all who subscribe to it navigate in all wind, water and weather conditions. The code of conduct is more limited and is about the set of the sail in any particular condition or set of conditions. It is more limited because it is impossible to prescribe a sail setting for every possible circumstance.

In my time in the Army there were two punishable offences that were broad in scope and potentially serious in their consequences.

For commissioned officers the offence was “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman”, which was admittedly quaint and old fashioned but could be used to cashier an officer for any transgression whether against formal regulations or the informal and unwritten code of honour. Simple dishonesty was enough. For non-commissioned officers and private soldiers the offence was “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline”, which was equally broad and undefined but used to the achievement of much the same purpose which was to ensure ethical conduct. The “conduct unbecoming” offence for commissioned officers was by far the more serious of the two for commissioned officers ought to be held to a much higher standard of conduct.

Those offences have been updated in the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971:

“Conduct prejudicial to service discipline. Every person subject to this Act commits an offence, and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, who
  • does or omits any act that is likely to prejudice service discipline; or
  • does or omits any act that is likely to bring discredit on the service of the Armed Forces to which he belongs or, if he is attached to any such service, either to that service or to the service to which he belongs; or
  • negligently fails to perform a duty imposed on him or her by service order, training, or custom; or
  • negligently performs a duty imposed on him or her by service order, training, or custom”.

Still onerous.

Dame Margaret’s report stated in part:

“I was disturbed to learn that the police do not have any code of conduct or guidelines that provide sworn police ocers with clear guidance on what constitutes appropriate behaviour, in particular appropriate sexual behaviour. It is very clear to me that in order to maintain public trust and credibility police ocers need to adhere to high standards of ethical behaviour, both on and o duty, and police management needs to be vigilant in maintaining a culture that supports these standards”.

“There is, at the time of writing this report, no single code of conduct governing all members of New Zealand Police. Instead, a distinction must be made between sworn members and non-sworn members.

“It came as a surprise to me that, notwithstanding the terms of reference, there is currently no code of conduct in place for sworn police ocers. A draft code of conduct was prepared in 2002”

“I was very concerned to learn of the reliance on the police union for its assistance with arranging the departure of unsuitable members from the police. In my view this should be the role of the employer”.

The Office of the Auditor General has the job of monitoring the police implemention of the recommendations of the Bazley Report and reporting annually to Government. The October 2012 report shows that there has been improvement but that there is still much room for further improvement.

The Bazley report contains a long discussion on the need for a code of conduct for sworn police officers, and on the negotiations and development of a draft code beginning in 2001. As at March 2007 (and indeed as at 15th October 2007) there was still no code of conduct in place. The report recommended:

“A code of conduct for sworn police staff should be implemented as a matter of urgency”.

Section 20 of The Policing Act 2008 now states:

“(1) The Commissioner must prescribe a code of conduct for Police employees, stating the standards of behaviour expected from Police employees.
“(2) It is the duty of every Police employee to conduct himself or herself in accordance with the code of conduct”.

A police employee becomes a constable by taking a constable’s oath after the required training.

It is my opinion that the code of conduct approach does not deal with the essential difference between “commissioned” and non-commissioned officers, and the far higher expectations that ought to apply to “commissioned” officers. That higher expectation is surely the reason they are commissioned officers, in addition to their implied higher levels of experience, knowledge, ability, competence and professionalism. Most people, and possibly most police officers, think that the promotion from non-commissioned to commissioned rank is just another step up the hierarchy but it is not. It invokes much higher expectations of professional and personal conduct. If that is not so in the NZ Police then they should relinquish the process of commissioning which was adopted from the military in the first place as a symbol of status.

There seems to be nothing in either the Police Act 1958 or the Policing Act 2008 that actually authorises the NZ Police and the Governor General to confer commissioned status upon officers of the rank of Inspector and above. The Police Act 1958 states “Commissioned officer means any person appointed under this Act as a commissioned officer of Police” but nowhere in the act is there any legislative authority to confer that commissioned status upon any police officer. Perhaps it has just become an outdated symbol of status rather than the solemn invocation of higher expectations.

The Defence Act 1990 does however legislate for the appointment of commissioned officers in the Armed Forces:

“The Governor-General may from time to time:

  • appoint officers to a service of the Armed Forces:
  • in the name and on behalf of the Sovereign, issue commissions under the Seal of New Zealand to officers of the Armed Forces”

The Bazley report also investigated many other aspects of police culture and made several recommendations in relation to cultural change. The police were very slow to implement those recommendations and that was one of the stated reasons for the non-renewal of the contracts of Police Commissioner Broad and Deputy Commissioner Pope beyond their first five-year terms.

All of that is a long and convoluted way of getting to the point about honesty and Operation 8. In the remainder of this post I will discuss the effect of that police culture in four aspects of Operation 8:

  • the use of the media to shape public opinion about prosecutions or potential prosecutions;
  • the deliberate, improper, unlawful or illegal use of warrants and surveillance;
  • the possible illegal use of GCSB; and
  • the unlawfulness of behaviour during the armed paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007.

In Operation 8 the lead analyst Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe was and is a non-commissioned officer. He has since been promoted to Detective Senior Sergeant and his next promotion will be to the “commissioned” rank of Detective Inspector or Inspector. His immediate supervisor Detective Inspector Bruce Good was and is a “commissioned” officer. The rest of those involved up the chain of command to the Police Commissioner himself were all “commissioned” officers.

The shortcomings, failures, poor conduct and breaches of the law in Operation 8 were mostly those of “commissioned officers“. That supposes of course that “commissioned officers” in the NZ Police are lawful holders of the Queen’s Commission. Which may or may not be the case.

Use of the media to convict defendants in the public mind before they go to trial

Most defendants are already at a significant disadvantage as they confront the judicial system. The police and the state have enormous financial and legal resources at their disposal compared to most defendants and that gives them a huge advantage before court proceedings begin. Legal aid goes nowhere near correcting that imbalance of power. Justice does not come cheap.

The NZ Police have also built a formidable media, public relations and spin machine which they have used to imprint their version of events on the public mind long before defendants have their say in court. That was the case in Operation 8.

In my opinion it is entirely appropriate that the police use the media to solicit further witnesses and evidence to help them solve crime. It is despicable when they use it to prosecute defendants in the court of public opinion and possibly subvert the judicial process. The “public interest” is no defence whatsoever.

Not only did they mount an aggressive paramilitary operation against Ruatoki, and against two family homes in Taneatua and Manurewa, they simultaneously mounted an aggressive media campaign. The media were on the spot almost immediately, well primed by the police media machine. And although they have denied it, it is almost certain that the police leaked a suppressed affidavit to the media in order to further state their own case in public in an attempt to justify their operation against a whole Maori rural community.

The use of a professional media machine to subvert the process of justice is surely another example of the state’s gradual but relentless erosion of hard won democratic freedoms and rights. At the level of the police officers who individually or collectively plan and authorise such media campaigns it is, at its core, dishonest. It may also be illegal for there is nothing in law that expressly permits them to do it.

In September 2011 a few months before the eventual trial of the “Urewera 4” the police sought and obtained the permission of the High Court to release previously suppressed evidence to the media before the trial. Their stated purpose was that it was “in the public interest”. Their blatantly obvious purpose was to continue what they started on 15th October 2007 which was to imprint their narrative into the public mind before it was tested in a court of law. In particular they wanted to release the video surveillance evidence that was devoid of context, was sensational, and was the key prosecution evidence that they had fought hard to retain as admissible. The pretence that they were motivated by “the public interest” was certainly disingenuous and in my opinion dishonest.

Illegal Warrants and Illegal Surveillance

The Operation 8 intelligence process involved large scale misuse of warrants and surveillance. When you or I break the law it’s called illegal. When the police break the law it’s called improper or unlawful. Unlawful conduct by the police can sometimes be passed off as a mistake, or a misunderstanding of the law. But in this case the police through their own evidence in the High Court knew what they were doing was “unlawful” and they did it anyway.

There’s a number of words for deliberate unlawful police behaviour. I’ll be kind to them and call it dishonesty. That describes the character of the police officers who did the unlawful stuff rather than what they did.

Most of the information for this section comes from court documents including affidavits, applications, judgements, briefs of evidence, indictments and memos. Most of it was suppressed at the time. The full import of the dishonesty of the police intelligence operation was not reported in the media because most of this information was suppressed for long periods of time. There were also a large number of court hearings including bail hearings, applications for stays of prosecution, applications for dismissal of charges, hearings about the admissibility of evidence and hearings about judge alone or jury trials. They involved the District Court, High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. All that before the eventual trial of the remaining four accused.

Keeping abreast of the intricacies of that legal battle over a period of over four years was time consuming and at times confusing. The New Zealand public had no hope of understanding what was going on.

Putting aside the criminal trial of the “Urewera 4” in February and March 2012 the central issue in that legal battle was the admissibility of evidence. The two lawyers general in the battle were Ross Burns for the prosecution and Rodney Harrison QC for the defence. Ross Burns was strategically canny and saved the police from total embarrassment. Rodney Harrison is intellectually astute as one would expect of a QC and had been involved in a review of the Evidence Act. It became obvious that he knew more about evidence than a High Court judge and the judges at the Court of Appeal. It seems he always knew his evidential battle was going to the Supreme Court and the documents he tabled at the various hearings reflected that foresight.

The battle began in the High Court in Auckland in August 2008 and ended, via the Court of Appeal, in the Supreme Court in Wellington in September 2011.

Stating it rather simply there was nothing in law that permitted police to enter onto private property to install cameras including video cameras, to record video on that property, or even to retrieve those cameras. To do so would be to commit trespass. They could also not enter onto private property to conduct a general search for unspecified items rather than for a specific “thing”. The definition of a “thing” in the eyes of the law became a point of much legal debate.

Under Section 30 of The Evidence Act 2006 a judge may through a process of “balancing”, if evidence has been improperly obtained, allow that evidence to be produced in a prosecution if on balance the seriousness of the charge warrants it. There was much legal debate over that “balance”.

The retention of the evidence in question was key to the prosecution case and the police fought tooth and nail to retain it.

In the early stage of this legal battle the police tried to argue that multiply owned Maori land is not private land and that therefore they were permitted to enter onto it without permission from its owners. That specious justification has also been used to attempt to prosecute acts on marae. They were totally defeated in that attempt. It was a weak rear-guard action.

In the first group of hearings in the High Court some of that video evidence was ruled inadmissible because either the warrants to obtain it were improperly obtained or because the surveillance itself was unlawful, or both. Some of it was ruled admissible and allowed. The defence made further applications to the High court to revisit the decision but were unsuccessful.

It then went to the Court of Appeal where the High Court decision was endorsed and the appeal denied. From there it went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decision was the balance of the opinions of five judges who differed in their individual opinions.

There were two classes of defendant by the time it reached the Supreme Court. Four people were charged with various arms offences and with “participating in a criminal group”. The remaining 13 were only charged with arms offences which were lesser offences than the criminal group offence. The Supreme Court found that the evidence in question was unlawfully obtained and could not be entered into the prosecution case against the 13, but that it could, by the balancing process previously described, be used to prosecute the remaining four. It was a partial victory for both defence and prosecution.

Chief Justice Sean Elias stated in her decision:

I regard it as a significantly exacerbating factor that the film surveillance was undertaken deliberately without legal authority, in the knowledge that there was no lawful investigatory technique available to be used”.

In circumstances where the police officer in charge of the inquiry knew that there was no authority to be obtained for such filmed surveillance, the deliberate unlawfulness of the police conduct in the covert filming, maintained over many entries and over a period of some 10 months, is destructive of an effective and credible system of justice”.

Shortly after that determination all charges against the 13 were dropped and only the remaining four went forward to a High Court trial.

Crucial to my examination of the honesty of the Operation 8 intelligence process is the evidence of Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe in the initial stages of this four year legal debate. Under questioning he clearly admitted that the warrants in question were improperly obtained and that the surveillance was unlawful. Furthermore he admitted that he knew at the time that that was so. His notes confirmed it. He also stated that he had consulted with his supervisors about the matter at the time. That statement was not backed up by documentary evidence in his notes.

His immediate “commissioned” supervisor was Detective Inspector Bruce Good. Detective Inspector Good has a reputation for, how shall we say it, taking shortcuts. If he did sanction or even initiate the improper obtaining of warrants and the unlawful surveillance he would have taken a giant shortcut indeed and would have displayed dishonest behaviour to say the least, unless of course he himself was ignorant of the law. However we only have Aaron Pascoe’s word that he consulted his supervisors. Detective Sergeant Pascoe was not ignorant of the law. He was just involved in dishonest behaviour no matter how you dress it up as “ends justifying means”. One quasi-legal excuse they tried to run to dress it up was that they somehow had “implied powers”. That failed miserably.

A question that needs to be asked is how far up the command chain that improper, unlawful and dishonest behaviour was known and sanctioned. Did Commissioner Broad and Deputy Commissioner Pope know about it and did they sanction it? Were they among the supervisors consulted by Aaron Pascoe? That is the question.

And if the lead analyst and his immediate supervisor were both involved in that improper, unlawful and dishonest behaviour what else did they get up to? Did anyone present evidence out of context? Did anyone exclude evidence that was detrimental to the police case? Did anyone manufacture evidence? What was the involvement of the Crime Monitoring Centre on Thorndon Quay in Wellington (set up in 2005 by then Detective Inspector Mike Clement) in that improper and unlawful policing? And did all of those “commissioned officers” up the chain of command beyond poor old non-commissioned Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe live up to the code of honour or even the code of conduct one would expect of “commissioned officers”.

We will never know for the politicians have prevented any public inquiry into Operation 8, other than an IPCA investigation into the actual armed paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007.

GCSB and SIS Involvement

It has been established that NZ SIS was involved in some way and briefed Prime Minister Helen Clark and opposition leader John Key. It is not known whether or not it was involved in the illegal surveillance or in the incompetent intelligence analysis. Probably not, although its database of information on individuals would have been available to the police and one, maybe two, of those individuals were foreign nationals.

It has been established that the GCSB illegally spied on over 80 New Zealand citizens or permanent residents over the period that covers Operation 8. The investigations into that matter have not (yet) revealed whether some or all of the Operation 8 targets were among those illegally spied on. It does seem probable for it has been established that at least some of their illegal surveillance activity was at the behest of the police. And as we know the police have a record of playing fast, loose and dishonestly with the law in relation to search and surveillance.

The excuse for GCSB’s illegally spying on Kim Dotcom was that they and the police “mistakenly” failed to properly establish his residential status as a permanent NZ resident. One or two of the Operation 8 targets were also foreign nationals and it is possible that the police and GCSB also made use of that to conduct surveillance against them, and whoever was in their networks. So if they spied on the foreign nationals they would have been spying on all of the co-accused as well.

What does need to be investigated, if ever an inquiry into all aspects of Operation 8 is mounted, is:

  • Whether or not GCSB was involved in Operation 8;
  • If it was involved, the nature of that involvement;
  • If it did provide intelligence to the police have the police created a “parallel construction” of evidence to disguise the trail of evidence from GCSB to Operation 8;
  • If the police did call upon GCSB for illegal assistance was the Crime Monitoring Centre involved in that? Was the Electronic Crime Laboratory involved?
  • Is there any formal or informal relationship between GCSB and the Crime Monitoring Centre and/or the Electronic Crime Laboratory?
  • Whether or not anyone is lying about GCSB involvement; and
  • If they are whether Government is itself involved in a cover up of illegal GCSB involvement in Operation 8.

The Armed Paramilitary Operation

With regard to the operation at Ruatoki, Taneatua and Manurewa on 15th October 2007 Te Putatara would need access to the written operation order, if there was one, to determine whether or not the unlawful actions on that day were a deliberate and dishonest disregard for the law or simply an ignorant and immature “Hi Ho Silver” cowboys’ day out at the expense of innocent bystanders including many women and children. The IPCA has of course determined that it was unlawful (i.e. illegal) in many respects.

“ … the planning and preparation for the establishment of the road blocks in Ruatoki and Taneatua was deficient. The Authority has found there was no lawful basis for those road blocks being established or maintained. There was no lawful power or justification for Police to detain, stop and search the vehicles, take details from or photograph the drivers or passengers.

“A number of occupants were informed by Police that they were being detained while a search of the property occurred, despite there being no lawful basis for such detention. Police had no legal basis for conducting personal searches of these occupants.

“The Authority has concluded that a number of aspects of the Police termination of Operation Eight were contrary to law and unreasonable”.

So who was responsible for all that unreasonable, improper, unlawful, illegal and dishonest stuff?

Despite all the media coverage, the multiple court hearings and the IPCA report the only name that has been put to that stuff is poor old non-commissioned Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe (now Detective Senior Sergeant). So:

  • Who did sanction the improper warrants and unlawful surveillance;
  • Who authorises the media campaigns that undermine judicial process;
  • Who planned and led the despicable armed paramilitary operation;
  • Who sanctioned the unlawful behaviour during that operation; and
  • Who really knows whether Operation 8 targets were illegally monitored by GCSB.

They are certainly “commissioned police officers” who it seems will never be held to account. Being held to account is perhaps not part of the new code of conduct. That’s covered by another code; the code of denial, cover up and spin.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Intelligence Analysis is an Intellectual Activity

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

And there wasn’t much of it in Operation 8.

A wise old man was sitting outside his village. A traveller asked him, “What kind of people live in this village. I want to move from my village?” The wise one asked, “What kind of people live in your village?” The man said, “They are mean, cruel and rude.” The wise man replied, “The same kind of people live in this village too.” After some time another traveller came by and asked the same question and the wise man asked him, “What kind of people live where you come from?” And the traveller replied, “The people are very kind, courteous, polite and good.” The wise man said, “You will find the same kind of people here too.”

It is also said in the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism:

“We see things not as they are but as we are”

The ancients, without the benefit of the modern science of cognitive psychology, understood the human mind and its propensity to see the world as a reflection of itself and to build the narratives it wants to believe. Unfortunately there were no wise men, Jewish scholars or tohunga Maori on the Operation 8 team. Or any sort of scholar for that matter.

Throughout this series I have maintained that Operation 8 was a police cock-up. The reasons for that are partly the ignorance, racism and paranoia endemic still in the NZ Police, and partly just plain old incompetence. The incompetence in the intelligence function of the police prior to the appointment of intelligence professional Mark Evans was the result of a lack of a professional intelligence framework and training, and consequently a lack of intellectual ability. In other words Operation 8 was a dumb operation. The available audit trail clearly shows that to be the case.

“The steps in converting information to intelligence are largely intellectual. To aid the mind, various checks, procedures and processing tools exist, and these in turn help ensure the systematic exploitation and detailed scrutiny of information and provide an audit trail of the intellectual journey”.

– Lance Collins & Warren Reid, “Plunging Point, Intelligence Failures, Cover-ups and Consequences”, Fourth Estate, Australia, 2005.

Intelligence analysis is an intellectual activity. It requires the application of an educated mind to see things as they are, not as we think they are. It is not an activity suited to the mind of the policeman trained only in the investigative techniques of detection of crime after the event. That is the work of detectives.

”  …  intelligence analysis today continues to be a human practice dependant on the intellectual capacity of individual analysts, notwithstanding the increasing role of technology in the intelligence domain“.

“Intelligence analysis is arguably a critical part of national security as well as law enforcement function, but is dependent upon the intellectual capacity of individual analysts”.

– Corkill, Jeff, “Not Art, Not Science, but Artistry: Why professional artistry should matter to the intelligence community“, in The Journal of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers, Volume 19, Number 1, 2011.

The work of the intelligence analyst:

  • Is the work of prediction based on an assessment of the probability of future events;
  • Is to gather and analyse information about events in the future;
  • Is to draw tentative conclusions and build possible narratives or scenarios based on that analysis, and to test and evaluate all of those narratives and scenarios in order to propose the most likely scenario or scenarios. If there is insufficient information or evidence to confirm or to eliminate a scenario more evidence should be sought;
  • Should always be tested and evaluated by senior analysts not involved in the analytical groundwork leading to the conclusions upon which the narratives and scenarios are based.

That did not happen in Operation 8. The lead analysts were detectives rather than intelligence professionals. As they progressed from December 2005 to the culmination of their work on 15th October 2007 they built a single narrative and a single scenario. They did not consider other possible narratives. They further reinforced that single scenario by only seeking out information to confirm their mindset. Once that mindset developed they would have been oblivious to other information and other narratives and scenarios. They built the narrative they wanted to find.

Even so they obviously knew they did not have sufficient information to support their single scenario analysis. The Operation 8 “termination” phase, including the armed paramilitary operation at Ruatoki and elsewhere and the nationwide computer seizure operation, was designed not just to arrest suspects and to seize weapons and equipment. It was designed to find the information they did not already have to complete their terrorist narrative and to prove the validity of their terrorist scenario. It failed miserably. The Solicitor General gave them a soft landing by blaming the legislation itself when he declined to prosecute the Urewera 17 under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

They had built a single narrative and scenario for which they knew they did not have sufficient intelligence. Then they acted upon it. That was dumb intelligence analysis and management, and dumb policing at the highest level.

How did they get there?

In a previous post we explored the deliberate exclusion of Maori police officers who would have taken a broader and more knowledgeable view. Who should have been involved in the planning and direction, the collection and processing of information, the analysis and production of intelligence.  Who should have been involved in challenging, testing and evaluating the analysis and conclusions, and in planning any resulting action. In all probability the armed paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007 would not have happened if they had been involved.

But they were not involved and so we need to look at what intellectual shortcomings led the “analysts” and their managers to the 15th October 2007 operation.

Another important aspect of analysis as a cognitive process is where subconscious biases or mindsets by an individual or group prevent a full reflection of all available probabilities and conclusions, which can lead to faulty analysis and assessments. Cognitive biases are mental errors which are a normal part of human reasoning “.

– Patrick F. Walsh, 2011, “Intelligence and Intelligence Analysis“, Routledge, New York.

Apart from the fact that they were not trained as intelligence analysts their work was not challenged, tested and evaluated by experienced professional analysts to avoid the pitfalls of cognitive bias.

In a previous incarnation as an analyst I would challenge, test and evaluate the product of the analysts working for me. I would similarly have my own assessments and conclusions challenged, tested and evaluated. It was all part of the process of exposing cognitive bias and eliminating error as much as possible.

Based on their amateurish unchallenged, untested and unevaluated analysis the NZ Police rushed onwards towards a debacle of their own making. Commissioner Broad himself displayed an unbelievable lack of professionalism and incompetence by accepting the shoddy untested work of his intelligence analysts and operational advisors and presenting it to the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) and to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

There was thus a total lack of intellectual rigour in their work from the desks of the analysts to the police commissioner himself.

The competent analyst is a person who is not only educated to reason and think logically but who is also able to put aside personal or cultural bias in the interpretation of information. The mind of the analyst is able to comprehend subtleties and nuances, the multiple shades of grey between the absolute certainties of black and white. The mind of the analyst is comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty while it seeks out information to reduce if not to eliminate that ambiguity and uncertainty.

The competent analyst relies solely on evidence rather than conjecture and must be trained not to jump to conclusions, but to consider all possible interpretations of the information available before offering an interpretation based on that information. If more than one valid interpretation is possible the analyst must present all possible interpretations. If one is chosen above the others the analyst must present evidence supporting that conclusion.

The analyst who is not educated to avoid them will unconsciously employ the shortcuts that the human mind habitually uses to make sense of the world. Our brains sideline or suppress the ambiguity and uncertainty of the real world and create coherent interpretations where they don’t exist.

As award winning cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman puts it, a few thousand years after the authors of the Talmud came to much the same conclusion, “We see the world as much more coherent than it is”.

“Many decisions are based on beliefs concerning the likelihood of uncertain events such as the outcome of an election, the guilt of a defendant, or the future value of the dollar. … Occasionally, beliefs concerning uncertain events are expressed in numerical form as odds or subjective probabilities. What determines such beliefs? How do people assess the probability of an uncertain event or the value of an uncertain quantity? … people rely on a limited number of heuristic principles which reduce the complex tasks of assessing probabilities and predicting values to simpler judgmental operations. In general, these heuristics are quite useful, but sometimes they lead to severe and systematic errors”.

–       Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, 1974, “Judgement under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases”, Science Vol 185, reprinted in Kahneman, 2011, “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Allen Lane.

The mind is inclined to jump to conclusions. What you see is what there is, or all there is. The mind/brain doesn’t allow for what you don’t know or see. It creates reality and certainty only from what it sees and hears. The mind uses unreliable information to reach those conclusions. One can construct very good stories, narratives or scenarios out of very little evidence. All unconsciously. And professional analysts have to be educated and trained to avoid those pitfalls.

“The human mind is an illusion generator … Patterns are everything to us. We hunger for them. We revel in them. They are the basis for art, literature, music, and much more in our lives. But a perceptual system that is so geared to wrestling patterns out of complex arrays of stimuli is bound to produce some false positives”.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways you can make a perceptual mistake. You can fail to see something that is there, or you can see something that is not there“.

– Hank Davis, 2009, “Caveman Logic – the persistence of primitive thinking in a modern world”, Prometheus Books, New York.

Stereotypes are part of that process and provide mental shortcuts in our attempts to make sense of complicated situations. We ascribe stereotypes to groups of people and those stereotypes shape our perceptions and expectations of what people in those groups might think and how they might act. The analyst needs to acknowledge that and to guard against applying stereotypical thinking to his or her work. The police are especially vulnerable to stereotypical thinking for they live their working lives immersed in the world of criminality. They tend therefore to see and interpret their working world through the prism of criminality. There is no problem with that in the work of the criminal detective for the detective is after all tasked with solving crime that has already been committed. The intelligence analyst however has to maintain a much wider and more nuanced view of the world.

Non-Maori have formed and held stereotypes of Maori since the time of first contact. The American David Ausubel observed them and wrote about them in 1960 (“The Fern and the Tiki”, Angus and Robertson). Those same stereotypes persist into these modern times and shape opinions and interpretations about Maori. Non-Maori police are no exception and the stereotype of the Maori as criminal is alive and well. The police have also formed a collective stereotype of the activist, and in their intelligence gathering activities have equated activism with criminality. Whereas a few activists may be involved in some criminal activity most are not, yet the stereotype of the activist as criminal prevails. Based on this stereotype the police seem unable to differentiate political intelligence from criminal intelligence. Maori activists are doubly disadvantaged by this stereotypical thinking.

There is a specific stereotype of Taame Iti as a dangerous and sometimes violent radical Maori and Ngai Tuhoe activist, a former member of the Communist Party and of the “radical” protest movement Nga Tamatoa. The police officers who know Taame do not subscribe to this stereotype but higher up the chain they obviously do. In 2005 when Taame staged a massive theatrical presentation to the Waitangi Tribunal including shooting a flag on the marae the local police were not perturbed. Higher up the chain they invoked the stereotype and in their abject ignorance (and cognitive bias) had him charged and convicted. Later of course his conviction was overturned on appeal. Like the local police I know him as a likeable rogue, a family man with a strong sense of social justice, a strong commitment to the health and wellbeing of his people, total dedication to the Ngai Tuhoe cause, with an exceptional talent for theatrical and often humorous protest. I have watched as he dealt lovingly, gently and patiently with a difficult child, a far cry from the image of “terrorist”. The local fuzz could have arrested him over the phone and he would have arrived at the cop shop under his own steam after breakfast, with his mobile phone, rifle and can of petrol if that’s what they wanted. And the best way to find out what Taame is up to is to ask him. He can be disarmingly open, frank and honest.

Stereotypical thinking leads to confirmation bias, the tendency to search for, interpret and remember information that confirms one’s preconceptions. That leads to expectation bias, the tendency for analysts to believe and produce intelligence that agrees with their expectations for the outcome of their analysis, and to disbelieve, discard or downgrade information or data that conflict with those expectations. Or to the observer-expectancy effect when an analyst expects a given outcome and therefore unconsciously manipulates or misinterprets information in order to find it.

Another dangerous mental shortcut in intelligence analysis and management is consensual validity. It was one of the critical intellectual failures that led President George W. Bush to declare war on Iraq in 2003 based on insufficient hard intelligence, some false intelligence, and on the wrong conclusions believed by all of those around him.

Consensual validity is a very powerful force. In many cases if those around you believe it, it must be true. It is also a prime example of what are called heuristics, or shortcuts that save each member of the group (or species) from having to re-evaluate the same evidence“.

– Hank Davis (2009)

Given that the critical analysis in Operation 8 leading to the belief that a terrorist plot was being hatched does not appear to have been challenged, tested and evaluated with any intellectual rigour, consensual validity seems to be the primitive thought process that led the analysts and their superiors, all the way up the chain to the police commissioner and thence to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, to their conclusions and decisions.

Groupthink is another name for it, or the bandwagon effect.

Heuristics or mental shortcuts are essential in our everyday lives and they work very well in most conditions as we navigate our lives mostly on auto-pilot. We don’t dwell on every problem and every decision we need to make; thousands of them every day of our lives. Heuristics are so ingrained in our unconscious minds that we are rarely aware that we are using them. But if we rely on them, knowingly or unknowingly, in situations when we should bring the intellect or the conscious mind to bear, then we will most likely draw incorrect conclusions. Reliance on heuristics in situations where they should be over-ridden indicates a lack of intellectual ability, or worse, intellectual laziness.

Thus constricted thinking too often leads to plausible yet incorrect conclusions as it did in Operation 8.

“Scholars and the study participants tend to be in agreement that good analysts possess certain qualities regardless of the domain in which they operate. These qualities include demonstrated intellectual capacity, curiosity, a degree of scepticism, and attention to detail. Additional qualities noted by the study participants include, creativity, tenacity, foresight and contextual understanding”.

– Corkill (2011).

I would add that the analyst and managers of analysts should have an advanced understanding of heuristics and a knowledge of how to avoid reliance on those mental shortcuts.

There are now many other identified heuristics or cognitive biases. Perhaps to end this discussion on bias I should mention the Dunning-Kruger effect in which incompetent people fail to realise they are incompetent because they lack the skill to distinguish between competence and incompetence. Much as I would like to I cannot attribute this insight to Tamati Kruger of Ngai Tuhoe but it would seem to be an appropriate observation for Ngai Tuhoe to make about the cognitive psychology underlying Operation 8.

I have defined another psychological effect. I am calling it the “Hi Ho Silver Effect” in which hyped up testosterone fuelled heavily armed cowboys in facemasks and fancy dress disregard the law, human rights and common dignity and decency, as they get their erotic kicks by terrorising unarmed women and children in the misguided belief that the objects of their collective pornographic fantasy really are dangerous outlaws. It involves a total suspension of reality and a high degree of theatricality of the tragicomedy variety. If ever confronted by the Hi Ho Silver Effect the counter to it is to imagine that the cowboys are wearing lipstick, bras, panties and panty hose under their macho getup, and imagine that you shove flowers down the barrels of their guns while silently chanting “Show us your knickers girls, come on, show us your frilly knickers”. For an encore you could ask them to dance the Can Can.

I know, I can’t resist it sometimes. But they really are cowboys and based on their vile and stupid behaviour at Ruatoki, Taneatua and Manurewa I wouldn’t have had any of them in the real combat infantry I commanded in my day.

And that unlawful and unforgiveable behaviour was the direct outcome of dumb analysis and dumb policing.

At a conference in July 2011 a representative of the Victorian Police in Australia spoke of the need for intellectual ability as a challenge facing the Victorian Police intelligence framework implementation. She noted that the Victorian Police were looking to recruit and train university graduates to be intelligence analysts rather than using less well educated policemen.

In response Mr Mark Evans who heads the NZ Police Intelligence system implementation explained that he was working, in consultation with other intelligence agencies, to establish intelligence education in conjunction with Massey University to upgrade the NZ Police (and other agencies) intelligence capability.

Subsequently on 21st December 2011 the NZ Police released a media statement announcing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Massey University providing for collaboration in research, teaching and professional development. Massey would offer a new qualification at its Centre for Defence and Security Studies, a Master of International Security, which contains tailored papers including security strategy, crime intelligence, international law, and leadership and management. Several police officers have joined the degree course. There would be no better case study than Operation 8 to demonstrate how not to manage and conduct an intelligence operation. Except that the NZ Police culture does not allow the admission of failure unless forced to.

Mr Evans said the MOUs timing was appropriate as police launched the new Prevention First operating strategy aimed at making New Zealand an even safer place to live, visit and do business (Source: NZ Police website).

The NZ Police now require their analysts to have specific intelligence qualifications and their recruitment advertisements for analysts to work in the Special Investigation Group now reflect that requirement. It was not previously a requirement and was obviously not a requirement for the analysts involved in Operation 8. This extract from an advertisement in 2012 demonstrates the minimum qualification now required of an analyst:

“The successful applicant will hold the National Diploma in Intelligence Analysis (NDIA) or equivalent or be able to obtain the same within 12 months of employment. If a trainee is the successful applicant they will be put through training to achieve the NDIA”.

The diploma was developed by Mrs Janine Foster while she was at Customs and it is now the industry standard NZQA accredited qualification.  Mrs Foster joined the NZ Police in 2002 when they were rapidly building their intelligence structure in the wake of 9/11. She is now on secondment to Massey University where she teaches the security and crime component of the degree course.

This development in the education of intelligence officers is a clear indication that at the executive level at least NZ Police has recognised the inadequacy of their previous capability (and staff) and the need to increase intellectual capacity in intelligence management and analysis.

That intellectual capacity, essential to professional and competent intelligence analysis, was completely missing from Operation 8. From top to bottom. It was a major factor in the debacle that ensued. It was a dumb operation.

Taku rākau ka hē ki te marahea
My weapon erred in the worst way.

Links: The Operation 8 Series