Waihopai – NZ’s Trojan horse. (Immigration NZ and the SIS – its garrison.) PART I
Blog No. 166.
As I blocked out the first draft, this blog looked as though it would grow into something far too long to inflict on readers at Christmas time. It will, therefore be broken down into three separate blogs, each I hope of considerably less than two thousand words: these, to be produced at fortnightly intervals over the Christmas period. Much of what they will have to say has already been said in previous blogs – but there are some new developments, which readers might find of interest. I’ll start with two seemingly unconnected anecdotes: a story always leavens the bread.
Around the mid-1960s, our battalion of armoured infantry was deployed to BAOR (the British Army on the Rhine.) The mission was to prevent the Red Army’s barbaric hordes pouring across the North German Plain to snuff out the beautiful flowering of civilisation that had re-established itself in Western Europe, after the horrors of the war that had ended twenty years earlier.
To defend its civilisation, NATO’s civilised tactic of choice was to plant nuclear mines in the major river systems. These, could then be detonated to initiate a tidal wave of water (inevitably bearing the corpses of multiple civilian river-side dwellers and dead fish) to wash away the Red armour, as it attempted to cross the river further downstream.
I recall a lunch time in the mess at which the battalion’s Commanding Officer held forth with some mirth on a briefing he had attended earlier that week. The briefing, attended by various senior officers of the NATO armies (including some from our newly incorporated allies in the Bundeswehr) had been given by a much decorated officer of Royal Engineers, on the planting of these nuclear mines. Throughout the briefing, this stalwart war-veteran had referred to the Red Army as ‘Jerry.’
The second of these apparently unrelated (which I promise will turn out not to be) anecdotes is taken from last weekend, when I joined a neighbour for a seasonal glass of wine.
Sometime ago, while the NZ media still enjoyed a modicum of independence, my neighbour had been editor of the local newspaper. It was at a time when there remained an element of unease among the NZ public about the function and possible implications of the Waihopai spy station that the David Lange administration had allowed to be erected to US specifications – just a few kilometres from where this blog is now being written.
In an editorial, my neighbour had mentioned the possibility that this new listening station might be used for eavesdropping on the residents of New Zealand. The following week the editor received a call from a Mr Parker, who asked if he could hop over from Wellington and have a chat.
Why I recount this anecdote is that it throws direct light on a matter that has long interested me. Many of my previous blogs have touched on the trials and tribulations of CIA whistle-blower Harmon Wilfred and his wife Carolyn. Indeed, much of my understanding of the current state of international affairs has come about, directly and indirectly, as a result of my exposure to this long-standing friendship and business relationship.
Their story, which has been followed through several blogs (starting here https://khakispecs.com/?p=2118 and multiple press releases) has been consistently ignored, suppressed or deliberately misrepresented by the NZ mainstream media. Consequently, politicians and immigration officials alike, in the absence of any public outrage or pressure, have been able to dismiss and ignore the Wilfreds’ and their lawyer’s complaints concerning their on-going abuse at the hands of the NZ government.
This situation has changed since earlier this month. Joe Cederwall of Scoop NZ, posted the first and only detailed and accurate report of the Wilfreds’ story to have appeared in the NZ mainstream media. https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1811/S00083/christchurch-investor-couple-separated-by-inz-for-3-years.htm It is not surprising that Scoop would appear to be the only mainstream media outlet in NZ that is neither foreign owned and controlled, nor dependent on corporate advertising for its survival. (More of this in Part III this blog.)
Up to this point the two salient events in the relationship between the Wilfred’s and the NZ media had been, firstly a protracted series of deeply calumnious (seven?) articles written, over several years, by the Christchurch Press’s lead journalist, Martin Van Beynen. Secondly, much to their great disappointment, the Wilfreds had heard only a week before the much anticipated publication was due, that the editor of the Otago Daily Times had decided to spike what would have been a comprehensive and accurate article, carefully researched over three months by one of the ODT’s top investigative journalists. A subsequent letter to the editor, asking for a reason for the decision, received no acknowledgement.
Each of the above two events had aroused my disbelief. The Van Beynen articles (which were the subject of a complaint I took to the Press Council, subsequently to be dismissed) were written by a journalist of considerable professional standing. Though working only a ten minute drive from the Wilfreds’ place of work, never once did this paragon of professional virtue visit, or even telephone them.
He appeared to take as his main source a former hotel manager, whom the Wilfreds had dismissed (and who was subsequently convicted in a criminal court) for theft. A secondary source was of equally suspect motives; a former director of the Wilfreds’ hotel business, who, as the Wilfreds’ company was on the verge of collapse after the Christchurch earthquakes and under Van Beynen’s relentless media onslaught, had been dismissed for an attempt to force the company into liquidation so she could purchase the profitable core of the business for a peppercorn.
Last year, I met Van Beynen for the first time. He appeared in euphoric mode while being lionised by a group of fellow investigative journalists at their annual conference in Auckland. I put out my hand and introduced myself to him. At first the penny didn’t drop and then it clicked. “How dare I greet him like this? I had no right to be attending such a conference.” Furthermore, he would have me know that ‘he knew infinitely more about the Wilfreds than I could ever possibly know.’ Now that was quite a claim from a reporter, who had never interviewed, or spoken to the Wilfreds, but must have known that I had been their friend for more than fourteen years and in business with them of at least twelve.
Later, what worried me about the ODT decision not to publish such a carefully prepared article, was that no one in government should have known that the writer of the article had been visiting Harmon’s Lincoln home, studying his extensive archive and was on the point of publishing the first truthful article on his case. And then I realised that two weeks’ earlier, I had mentioned, en passant, in a letter to the Ombudsman, that the article was about to appear. At that stage, I was still sufficiently naïve to believe, that despite NZ’s lack of a written constitution, the Ombudsman acted as an independent watchdog over other government agencies and that the necessary firewall would prevent leakages.
Any CIA whistle-blower would be aware of the Agency’s standard operating procedure for discouraging any future such mavericks from within their ranks and for punishing those, who, having already blown their whistles, have lived to tell the tale. This standard pattern is destruction of personal reputation, followed by bankruptcy (if one can be arranged, as it was in Harmon’s case) and the ruination of any subsequent career and life ambitions. What happened to Harmon at the hands of the Christchurch Press fitted this pattern exactly and what happened at the ODT ensured that the damage done to his personal reputation would not be undone for several more years.
My initial conclusion about the media’s extensive silence was that, as with so many other British institutions, our government had copied the secretive ‘D’ notice system that allowed them to put out a blanket restriction on certain news items. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSMA-Notice Van Beynen’s eager destruction of the Wilfreds’ public reputation would have been a separate matter: the result of a direct intervention and what must have been a comprehensive briefing about NZ’s national interest from NZ’s Security Intelligence Service, acting as stooges for the CIA.
Despite many enquiries among the NZ media people I happen to know on an amicable basis, I could come up with no hint of the existence of an equivalent to the UK’s D-notice system. Only now do I realise that such a system is not necessary in a country of so few media pressure points. When required, on a case by case basis, a suited gentleman of military bearing will visit the editor in question and inform him or her of their patriotic duty and of what New Zealand expects.
Those in positions of responsibility would defy such blandishments at peril to their company’s future good relationship with the government that is the source of so much of their stock in trade. When a sin of commission, rather than of omission is required, then the national interest can be called upon yet again; as with Van Beynen, a gentleman from the SIS can pop along and explain what needs to be done to enhance a journalist’s career and the well-being of the nation. (I hasten to add that, just as Trump has no proof that Khashoggi was murdered on the orders of MbS, I have no proof that such a briefing of Van Beynen ever took place.) It is however the only possible explanation I have for the aberration in Van Beynen’s professional standards and his absurd claim that he knew more about the Wilfreds than I did.
Just last week I read of another such case in point. Ever since the Guardian’s offices were raided by MI6 and its hard drives smashed to bring it to heel over its reportage of the Edward Snowden affair and his revelations about the abuses of the Echelon system of which Waihopai is a part, a penitent Guardian has appeared eager to do its bit to oblige the security powers that be – despite the risk that that might involve among its relatively educated readership. https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2018-11-28/guardian-vilification-julian-assange/ Jonathan Cook is not a light-weight journalist! New Zealanders need be under no illusion that such power is not also wielded when required by the staunch guardians of the nation’s welfare, who occupy the seats of power in the SIS.
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