No such excuse could be advanced in Hager’s case. The revelations in ‘Dirty Politics’ have no implications for national security, other than to undermine confidence in those responsible for it. New Zealanders can be sure that the intelligence services hold a file on Hager that is a metre thick. They would know that he knows how to protect his sources – probably better than they do. It would have been obvious to even the dimmest officer on the Force that the raid would find nothing and would serve no purpose other than to satisfy someone’s petty yearnings for retribution.
I’ve been on a business trip down south for a few days – paying no attention to the news. I noticed among the two hundred or so emails awaiting me on my return, one detailing the recent police raid on Nicky Hager’s home.
Prior to reading Hager’s most recent ‘Dirty Politics,’ I had read his first book ‘Secret Power,’ which he published in 1996. As a result of reading his first, I have found it worthwhile to read all his subsequent publications. ‘Secret Power,’ with all its minute detail of painstaking research, would make a boring read were it to be read today in the post Snowden era.
In it, eighteen years ago, Hager, who in contrast to Snowden had no insider’s access to information and had to rely on his virtuosity as an investigative journalist, revealed to those who were interested, virtually all the facts of mass surveillance and other abuses of secret power, for which Snowdon has gained so much international recognition. I have concluded that Hager’s journalistic integrity is such that if he says something, it is far more likely to be true than any smooth talking politician’s denials. The subsequent dumping of the embarrassingly exposed Collins and Ede would imply that I am not alone in recognising the accuracy of his work.
Hager’s book showed a government, which valued wealth above other human values and was indifferent to the increasing gap between the haves and the ‘ferals,’ who have not. It was a government for which the retention of political power ranked above ethical considerations and for which democratic opinion was an obstacle to be overcome by spin.
Despite Hager’s revelations, the New Zealand voters decided that this was still the government they wanted. This raid should reassure them that it will continue much as it was before.
It is not a good-look for the future of New Zealand’s democracy that the police should be called in to intimidate journalistic whistle-blowers. In England, the official threats to the Guardian newspaper, which resulted in the enforced destruction of its hard drives, on the off-chance that they contained (which they didn’t) Snowden documents that might be hacked by hostile foreign powers, could be feebly justified on the grounds of ‘national security.’