Police today claim the find of an assault rifle in nation wide roundup proves they are on right track.
In a much ballyhooed nationwide dragnet by the New Zealand Police, at least a dozen alleged ‘terrorists’ were picked up this week on charges relating to an alleged para-military training camp in which the accused supposedly romped in the Bay of Plenty. In a Punch and Judy moment, New Zealand Police Commissioner Howard Broad held a press conference Monday where he alleged the Country was under threat from a hodge-podge group of violent revolutionaries that included disparate groups ranging from Maori activists and environmentalists to peaceful protestors. Despite the fact that the Police Commissioner came equipped only with his allegations, the mainstream media switched into overdrive to broadcast his domesday message. TVNZ devoted the first ten minutes of its broadcast Tuesday to let all potential tourists in the world considering New Zealand know that a man with a gun in New Zealand is the face of terror. The Police say more arrests are anticipated.
TVNZ reporter Haden Jones promptly called kiwisfirst.co.nz Editor Vince Siemer to inquire about Jamie Lockett, one of the accused. When Mr. Siemer responded that he did not know Mr. Lockett, Mr. Jones relayed that Lockett stood accused of ‘counter-terrorism’ and that he had mentioned the www.kiwisfirst.co.nz website. After a short discussion, the common link was determined to be Shane Wenzel, a political activist and bankrupt who lives in Takanini. Mr. Wenzel is currently being prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office for overstating projected income in order to get a home mortgage, proving the Serious Fraud Office will leave no pebble unturned when it comes to diverting attention from the fact it has failed to prosecute the serious ‘Big Rock’ white collar criminals who are defrauding millions of dollars from honest New Zealanders. Mr Siemer had met Mr. Wenzel in August to discuss a story on judicial inequities in New Zealand. However, when Mr. Wenzel emailed evidence that basically did little more than confirm the national debt, the story did not advance.
Like Iti, Jamie Lockett is a thorn in the craw, photogenic and articulate rabble rouser. The police hate him. He has had scraps with the Police and has had his shoulder separated by them in a previous arrest. More troubling, he had the audacity to complain publicly about his treatment. In another encounter with Police he kicked a constable in the head. He became a marked man and a subject of repeated police harassment. At the same time, he unwittingly became one of those rare individuals who stands up for what all of us believe we have, consider we are entitled to, but truly do not – freedom and the right to due process.
The proof goes beyond Jamie Lockett. It was reflected in Tame Iti’s (photo above) arraignment today – where no one was allowed in the ‘public’ courtroom. Mr. Iti has been an outspoken advocate for Maori sovereignty for years. The picture of him shooting a New Zealand flag several years ago has been shown every hour somewhere on New Zealand fed TV in a blatant attempt to incite hatred of Maori causes and corrupt public perception of what he truly advocates. New Zealander’s who have barraged the airwaves with cries to lynch these bastards can be excused for overlooking that we have all lost the fundamental legal protection of presumed innocent and for jumping to conclusions without getting the facts. This is because most of us acquire our opinions based on the ‘impartial’ media. Certainly we can count on this media to let us know if bureaucrats are leading us the way of Hitler’s Aryan Nation. History does not repeat itself.
Moreover, why would a TV ONE reporter who had been in his office in Auckland a good part of the day be introduced as being on location ‘all day’ in the Bay of Plenty if this was not the truth? Of course it would have nothing to do with the fact that the Police Commisioner worked the networks into a lather over this ‘breaking news’ story, only to then feed them drivel in the absence of hard data the media reasonably thought would be forthcoming once they went to air with the story. If anything, this example proves the police public relations have beaten the media at their own game.
Kiwisfirst delved into the secret world surrounding these numerous accused terrorists. It seems that Lockett and his fellow Accuseds’ crime has more to do with their legal tactics and exercise of free speech than any subversive actions. On this point, it is telling that the Maori party in Parliament has come out in defense of Tame Iti. They know enough to be legitimately concerned about police and court tactics. Until the NZ Police branded Iti a terrorist, no one felt threatened by this very public Maori activist.
As for Lockett, his police problems led him to associate with disenfranchised groups. Certainly Maori figure predominantly in these groups. What is amazing through all of this drama is the tremendous amount of police resources spent on pursuit of Lockett and Iti. The Police have stated that this investigation is more than a year old. One would reasonably expect a return on this extraordinary investment. But where is it? We are still waiting.
Given the extreme news coverage, it is reasonable to ask where the evidence is from this year long police escapade. The Police suggest these subversives were a lethal and imminent threat to the entire nation because they had guns and – nebulously purportedly but not yet demonstrated – Napalm (jellied petrol)! Did someone say Petrol?! Barricade the women and children!
There is also the promoted suggestion by police that the group had para-military uniforms. Come to find out that in any other country these ‘uniforms’ are called camouflage and are sold in truckloads at Wal-Mart. Only in 21st century New Zealand is this construed to imply an Al Queda-type attack is imminent when the perpetrators additionally have that mass murder weapon petrol concealed in the tanks of their cars.
Perhaps most significantly, the year-long investigation produced no evidence of any of this at the press conference. Still, we should trust the Police. The Louise Nichols case, where her alleged Police attackers had to be produced from their jail cells where they sat on another rape – unbeknownst to the jury in the Louise Nichols’ rape trial – should give us comfort here. Oops. Forget that example.
Lockett’s current problems appear to stem more from his recent association with groups that promote Admiralty Law and ‘Negative Averment’. Admiralty Law deals with honour and sovereignty. The emphasis is overwhelmingly on jurisdiction over the accused. Negative averment constitutes a statement of fact that requires proving by the party making it. It challenges the assumption that all parties recognize a legal authority or charge, instead relying on the law that presumes every man to perform the duties which it inherently imposes. This regularly is based on the premise that it is virtually impossible to prove or disprove a negative (i.e. the Loch Ness Monster does not exist). These arduous legal arguments can seem annoyingly pedantic to the novice. Often times it can come down to the correct written spelling of an Accused’s name or whether the Crown’s allegations are based on a ‘fictional’ allegation against a mortal man who has not personally pledged allegiance to the generally recognized legal authority. A negative averment quite often alleges that the plaintiff did not have the capacity to bring the legal action.
Nonetheless, in a country where our judges commonly receive only three years of tertiary education, many courts have been befuddled by the arguments. Shane Wenzel had recently spoken with Jamie Lockett about a broad-based education program that would be promoted to teach these techniques to the public – as well as the platform that fines imposed by a debt-ridden nation constitute involuntary servitude. Consequently, judges privately sought assistance from the Police and the New Zealand Solicitor General to quash what they identified as a small but growing problem. The upshot of this ‘plot’ is that only in New Zealand can people who advocate the letter of the law – however quirky their interpretation – be labeled ‘terrorists’. The new Solicitor General David Collins’ quick-draw willingness to form the posse in response is exceeded only by his personal ambition to be the next hanging judge.
Admittedly, Lockett does not pursue his quest in the manner of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. He is a bitter man. Still, it is a travesty to label him a subversive intent on overthrowing the government of New Zealand and hold him without bail. The irony is that this heavy handed police and court action has raised his profile and shown him to be a patriot to many.
The New Zealand Police have promised that more damning evidence lies ahead and have indicated that charges under the Terrorist Suppression Act are imminent. In the meantime, Iti and Lockett have been denied bail as the local and International uproar mounts. A public protest has been organised for Friday morning in front of the Auckland District Court.
Prime Minister Helen Clark is advisedly more cautious in her public statements, only going so far as to relay the official Police line as being just that. Perhaps she has learnt something from the Louise Nichols case. Whatever Helen Clark has learnt, what we will see in the weeks ahead will be a lesson to us all.