Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on Nicky Hager’s new book

August 14th, 2014

Illustration by Tim Denee

According to Minister of Everything Steven Joyce – whose duties now extend to fielding questions about Nicky Hager’s new book Dirty Politics – Hager has got it all wrong, and the apparent collusion recorded in its pages between the prime minister’s office and blogger Cameron Slater is really no more than business as usual between government on one hand, and the journalists they brief as a matter of course on the other. Nothing to see here, move on.

If that’s true, one wonders why almost all the key players mentioned in the book have gone to ground, and don’t seem to be available for interview. To date, the other well-worn route of response has been to cast aspersions about Hager’s motives and to denigrate his modus operandi. Prime Minister John Key laid out that line of defence yesterday – even before Dirty Politics was out of the box – by trying to write Hager off as “a screaming left wing conspiracy theorist” who didn’t really know what he was talking about. Methinks the PM protests too much.

The simple antidote to all this ad hominem abuse is to read the book. I doubt that many people who do read the book – and especially the emails that provide the bulk of its narrative – will feel very happy about how politics is being conducted in this country right now. That’s the thing. Hager hasn’t needed to clothe the content in a conspiracy theory: the emails speak very eloquently for themselves. Just as in The Hollow Men, the damning material is right there in black and white, in the contributions of Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, Carrick Graham, Judith Collins etc. And that’s the real problem for Key with this stuff; if he didn’t know about the conniving that has been going on right under his nose, he is incompetent. If he does know, he is complicit.

By now, most of us know the general thesis of the book and how it came to be written. As Hager explained at the book launch last night, Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil website got hacked and crashed in January, in the wake of widespread outrage over a particularly vile posting by Slater. Thousands of emails were collected, and were eventually handed over to Hager.

So what do the emails reveal? Primarily, they show Slater to have been a major cog in the National Party’s spin machine. It is a spin cycle that’s been designed to allow Key to project a likeable public persona and deliver the positive messages, while keeping himself at a plausible distance from the “dirty tricks” techniques that are (a) being outsourced to National’s flunkies in the blogosphere and (b) then get beamed back into the mainstream media coverage. It is kind of ironic that Kim Dotcom is being accused of money laundering, among other sins. On the evidence in Hager’s book, the government has become a dab hand at laundering the seamier side of its own political operations.

The government’s systematic use of the blogosphere to outsource its negative campaign messages is of such an extent as to introduce an ugly new dimension to our political culture. It also runs counter to any notion of healthy open government for the leader to be presenting a carefully-constructed facade to the public, while his underlings do the hatchetings of its opponents (and/or its erstwhile friends) behind the arras. Hager’s book suggests for example, that Rodney Hide was pressured into resigning as Act Party leader by threats that Slater was about to publish release inappropriate texts allegedly sent by Hide to a young woman. There are many revelations in the email trail that the book draws on extensively.

One’s level of tolerance for this sort of thing will vary from reader to reader, but on the evidence presented by Hager, Key’s press officer Jason Ede played some part in the hacking and/or use of material hacked from the Labour Party’s computer system in election year 2011. On a regular basis, it also seems that Ede would contact Slater when an OIA request was about to be released to the media or to the Opposition parties; allegedly, Ede would invite Slater to lodge a request for the same information and then release it to Slater first, so that Slater could help to nullify the story. On another occasion, Ede allegedly primed Slater to request certain SIS secret documents, which were then speedily de-classified on the understanding that Slater would use them to humiliate Labour leader Phil Goff. Ede may also have assisted Slater with the framing of OIA requests in order to enable Slater to attack MFAT staff who were opposed to Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s programme of reforms at the Ministry. And so on.

Moving right along, some readers are likely to be appalled by the climate of collusion between Judith Collins and Slater and their apparent readiness (see pages 49-50) to use access to the likes of ACC information to settle scores and go after critics and suspected enemies. There are also revelations that content was published under Slater’s name on Whale Oil that was actually written and paid for (at a rate of circa $6,500 a month) by lobbyist Carrick Graham who, like Slater, hails from an old National Party family. These ghosted postings would routinely target academics and others critical of the tobacco and alcohol industries, or – in another example – to attack and undermine campaigners against the sugary drinks known to be linked to New Zealand’s obesity epidemic.

Other chapters in Dirty Politics deal with Slater’s celebrated role in the Len Brown sex scandal expose, and with the attacks made on David Cunliffe and Kim Dotcom this year. The attack on Winston Peters for what Key revealed as being three visits to the Dotcom mansion – a triangulated release of information that apparently involved Key, Slater and NZ Herald gossip columnist Rachel Glucina – is discussed at pages 122-123. Hager sums it up in these terms:

Key did not control Slater, but when it came to smearing the reputations of their political opponents, they willingly worked together. Key was not responsible for everything Slater, [David] Farrar and colleagues did; but as leader of the National Party and head of the prime minister’s office, he was directly responsible when his staff and the party worked with them. The bloggers were now a routine part of John Key’s political management. The Winston Peters three-visits hit had been a typical collaboration and there were more to come.

The series of attacks on David Cunliffe this year also seems to have involved Ede, who appears to have been tasked with monitoring the Labour leader’s every statement and action – including the photographing of Cunliffe by Ede in Copperfields café at Parliament – and then feeding a rolling series of negative images and information to Slater. This strategy was in line with techniques successfully deployed by the Republican Party which (p126) had proved to be a key ingredient in the successful campaign to defeat Senator George Allen. Hager, again:

He lost, the [Republican] study suggested, because ‘his opponent had a staffer whose sole job was to record everything Allen said in public’ Any time he said anything stupid, or anything that could be made to seem stupid, it was ‘put on the Internet within 24 hours’ and seen by large numbers of people at almost no cost to the campaign.’ Someone appeared to be playing this role in New Zealand, and feeding the results to the attack blogs.

From there, the attack lines could feed back into a mainstream media increasingly dependent on blog analysis. Crucially, as Hager says (p 132) “the trick of political management is not to get this or that press release covered ; it is about framing how journalists perceive issues.” In Cunliffe’s case, a series of small mis-steps (and in one case, a trap sprung by the government’s access to historical documents released with suspicious speed to the media under the OIA) have seen Cunliffe successively framed within the mainstream media in terms of a narrative of bungling and distrust. In the process, the negative perceptions of the Opposition leadership have probably received more media attention this year than the government’s own (lack of an) economic strategy and its likely third term agenda. The two track strategy – which has successfully insulated a popular Prime Minister from the collusion of his office with the attack blogs – has worked like a dream (until now) for the National Party. It is working far less well for the health of our small democracy. In summing up about the government’s strategic love affair with negative campaigning, Hager concludes by repeating at the outset, a chilling quote from National Party strategist Simon Lusk:

“There are a few basic propositions with negative campaigning that are worth knowing about. It lowers turnout, favours right more than left as the right continues to turn out, and drives away the independents.’ In short, many people stop participating in politics. If politicians cannot be trusted, if politics looks like a petty or ugly game, and if no one seems to be talking about the things that matter, then what’s the point of bothering to participate? Just leave them to it. There are innovations in US Republican Party thinking on this point; election tactics do not have to be just about winning votes; they can be equally effective if groups of people in society just stop voting altogether. We should not assume that everyone thinks low voter turnout is a bad idea. Sitting in the midst of the negative politics was John Key…

So far, the objections to what Hager has exposed – and how he’s gone about it – seem trivial. Especially when set alongside the ample evidence he provides on a variety of related subjects – from political attack gambits to systematic union bashing to tobacco and alcohol industry pandering, to the evidence of Slater trawling for sex scandal information from sex workers that he could use for hits against the politicians and journalists he didn’t like – that Hager has amassed. It is an ugly picture, in toto. Briefly, let’s go through the usual objections:

1. Hager either stole the emails or was a receiver of stolen goods. Well, duh. If people are manipulating the political and news agenda in secret, chances are they won’t confess to doing so, and won’t be volunteering the evidence. What Hager has done is whistle blowing. The motive is to disinfect politics, and to better inform the public about the nature of those people standing for re-election to higher office. As one commenter in the blogosphere has already pointed out, there is a difference between the tactical use of taxpayer funded intelligence services against one’s political opponents – for which the book gives a disturbing example – and the outing of that practice for the public good. In any case, Slater can hardly complain. As the book shows, Slater began his jihad against Labour by being complicit with how the hacking of the Labour Party website was exploited. He has now been exposed by much the same means. Some would see that as karma.

2.Everyone is doing it. Hardly. As mentioned, one of Slater’s early coups came via the hacking of the Labour Party website and the subsequent pressure put on Labour Party donors. There is no evidence of the Clark administration doing likewise, on anything like the scale portrayed in the pages of Dirty Politics. Moreover, many of the actions in question seem to have been orchestrated from the ninth floor of the Beehive. This is not simply a case of Bad Attitudes common to the Beltway. It has involved abuses of power by some of the most powerful people in the country.

3.Cameron Slater may be a nasty piece of work, but that doesn’t mean John Key is to blame. True, there’s a lot in Hager’s book to suggest that Cameron Slater is not a nice person. Yet the book is not simply a case study in the psychopathology of Cameron Slater. Ask yourself; if Key’s hands are as clean as usually presented, why has the Prime Minister been ringing this patently grubby guy on a regular basis? (Such co-operation goes way beyond Helen Clark’s occasional calls to members of the press gallery.) Can Jason Ede – one of Key’s closest advisers on the ninth floor – really have worked on an entirely rogue basis with Slater for so long, without his leader’s knowledge and consent? To swallow that, we’d have to believe that Key and Slater didn’t mention Slater’s relationship with Ede during their phone chats, and that Key and Ede in turn, didn’t discuss what Slater was up to. That seems unlikely, on both counts.

Finally, it would be tragic if Dirty Politics merely gave people more grounds for cynicism and turned them off politics altogether. The reverse has always been Hager’s intention. Ever since he published Secret Power back in 1996, his aim has been to make government more open, and to render the exercise of power more transparent. This book is no exception.

There’s a further moral to this story, on a somewhat smaller scale. After the Hollow Men debacle, you wouldn’t think the National Party would need a second lesson that anything you commit to the digital realm can be – and eventually will be – exposed in public. Chortle and connive away online at your peril, because inevitably it will become public knowledge. From now on, surely no young, ambitious bright spark around Parliament and no Cabinet Minister with an eye for promotion will want to be seen dead collaborating with Cameron Slater. If it does nothing else, Dirty Politics may succeed in turning Slater into a political pariah: or at the very least, into a major election liability for National.

Hopefully, a lot of voters will read Hager’s book. They may reach the conclusion that Slater has been only a tool. The real culprits – who should suffer for it at the ballot box – are the people in the Beehive that Slater has served so assiduously.

RIP Jack Shallcrass
Word overnight is that the great New Zealand educationalist, writer and humanist Jack Shallcrass has died. This 1992 essay gives a lovely portrait of the man, and his view of the world.


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    1. 43 Responses to “Gordon Campbell on Nicky Hager’s new book”

    2. By SHG on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      I must confess, when reading a text on the book and its allegations, if I encounter the word “hacking” I kinda turn off. It’s just a red flag of “author doesn’t know what he’s talking about”.

    3. By Grump on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Possibly most chilling is how close this is to Republican (actually all of) US politics. The far-rights like Slater will always be fewer in number, because mathematically there can only be a few people at a time with obscene levels of wealth. So they have to try to garner votes in other ways – misinformation, smears, propaganda and hatred politics. The psychology is simple enough, and the more noise there is during a campaign, the less people have a chance to gauge and analyse policy for themselves: it works in their favour.

      The only real power people have against the corrupt sewer of the ilk of the Slaters is to think about what you want for the country and vote for that – NOT for the billion-dollar facade that is “Key, the guy I could have a beer with”.

    4. By jane on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      I agree with most of what you say Gordon, however I do wonder if Hager’s book will turn people off politics and will do exactly what the email you quote from Simon Lusk says will happen.

      I also am struggling with the fact that this is hacked material, and although I am not surprised by the information in the book I just can’t get passed the fact that Hager is a campaigner for privacy and yet is prepared to publish hacked (private) information. To say it is for the public good does not sit well with me.

    5. By Kevin Reilly on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Good on you Nicky Hager,the truth will set us free from this morality corrupt government, no leadership just a bunch of self serving punters who have lost the plot when it comes to serving one’s country.

    6. By Martin B on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      There is a big distinction to be made between a hacker who is principled and reveals secret information to be published for little or no money, and a troll who is well paid to ferret into peoples’ digital lives to trawl for dirt.

      A conspiracy between the Prime Minister (through his staff) and such a vile troll is the kind of Machavellian scenario we thought had disappeared with the Enlightenment. Perhaps Key didn’t get the memo.

      There truly are no secrets. It would behoove those who seek power to remember that. This is John Key’s wake up call.

      It is to be hoped that young people would vote to counteract this monstrous cabal, and I hope they understand that not all politicans are so hungry for power, and so bereft of ideas with which to convince the voting public, as our current crop of corrupt National nonentities.

    7. By Teddy on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      The way we talk to each other is what shapes our world. Not only in public, but in private as well.

      Groups like Loomio – building online tools for citizen democracy, and working now with new political movement Podemos in Spain – are demonstrating that the best guardian of quality and integrity in our dealings with each other is transparency.

      Nicky Hagar has helped to make the quality of our exchanges in political life more transparent. Now the challenge is to move past the naming and shaming, and to start to get something positive and transformative from this experience.

    8. By reason on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Slaters blog has always been a national party sewer and now it’s blown a valve and covered a few of them in their OWN nasty shit.

      I think John Key is a nasty greedy man `with a large streak of dishonesty.

      I think he enjoyed slaters ‘work’ and took a hands on approach with his attack dog buddy.

      Recently Key made a remark in Parliament about having a draw full of sleaze on political opponents ……… he forgot to say he’d be passing it all along to slater.

      He also said he read slaters blog a bit ….. to make sure he’s faithfully posting up the prime ministers office dirt perhaps ? .

      Finally Slater should be awarded for his contributions to underhand sneaky national party muck raking.

      The trophy should be a ‘shoe cam’ ….. and the camera should be mounted on one of John Keys shoes.

    9. By Delia Morris on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      If Nicky is lying than sue him National MPs. If you do not, we will all wonder why.

    10. By Ann Johns on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Jane, you cannot be serious. You should be grateful that we have a man of his calibre, who will take the hit for being a whistle blower, for the good of our democracy. Does it not bother you a whole lot more that this govt has made a mockery of our democracy and that they are liars and thieves themselves? Let the sunshine in so even ppl as worringly silly as you can see the truth.

    11. By robinp on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      “author doesn’t know what he’s talking about”

      SHG, this is a poor argument, no explanation of why it is true, merely an attack on the integrity of the person. the word “hack” is a well-known word in English, most readers will i think understand what the author is saying. also, Hager has shown over the years that he does “know what he’s talking about”, so the statement form you is wrong on multiple levels. good on the guy for revealing this, Slater’s methods have always been vile, bullying and anti-democratic (shut down debate, smear the opposition), i’m surprised to see JFK getting involved in something so dumb, how could this not backfire?

    12. By David on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      I’d love to have a beer with John Key
      I’d love to have a beer with John
      I’d need at least a couple
      So I wouldn’t be so bothered by his smiling scone
      We’d drink to this lovely country
      Where the atmosphere is great
      I’d love to have a beer with John Key
      And Slater his mate

    13. By Mike lynds on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      This is really evil on a scale that is hard to believe. Most of the public will be shocked and amazed at how all have been hoodwinked. While politics can be a sometimes abusive business we expect our representatives to act with some respect to fellow Kiwis. This is a power at all cost mentality where you have to wonder what these folk have been doing these last years to take this country forward at all levels. Obviously not much.Keeping power has been the only driver.

    14. By John Monro on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Nicky Hager is a true hero. For me, John Key has for a long time perfectly encapsulated everything I truly detest about politicians and politics. His unctuous grin and his slippery hide have concealed a venal and conniving personality, suited as it is for one of the worlds most useless and amoral jobs – a currency speculator – but utterly corrupting in his present political position. How this man has pulled the wool over so many peoples eyes and much of the MSM is the wonder of our age. Nicky shows how this is done. You insulate the person at the top while the minions do the dirty work. Much like the Mafia really. And didn’t Al Capone eventually get caught out for tax evasion? Perhaps John Key will eventually be caught out by truth evasion. But more worrying than any of this is that Hagers work exposes the nakedness of the MSM and their own corruption. If the MSM had been doing there job this sort of politics by innuendo and cynicism would have been exposed long ago. The MSM are the means by which this corruption is maintained and distributed. That’s why for instance the Dom Post pointedly omitted to put Hager’s news on the front page. We live in increasingly anti democratic times. However very soon all this will seem as some minor and parochial historical footnote as the main problem for us is the imminent collapse of our entire world economy.

    15. By SHG on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      robinp: the entire Internet-savvy community of NZ knows that the Labour webserver was not “hacked”. It was left wide-open by its administrator and the contents were indexed by Google. Then it turned out that – in an act of breathtaking stupidity – the webserver had been used as confidential-document storage by someone, and all THOSE documents were being published by the Labour webserver to the world at large, and those documents contained names and passwords and configuration files and god knows what else.

      Nobody broke into anything, nobody “hacked” anything.

    16. By John on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Hagar couldn’t come up with anything, when asked on TV3 to provide evidence of his claim that the Prime Minister was linked.

      Hagar twice failed to come up with anything, when asked what the killer blow was.

      His claim that he has discovered that the Labour Party website was hacked and no one knew about it, is totally false in every respect.

      It was in every mainstream newspaper for days at the time. It was a gaping hole in security that everybody could look into.

      It is hypocritical in the extreme for Hagar to use illegally obtained private communications, to complain about legitimately obtained website information.

    17. By Maggie on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      There is white hacking, grey hacking, and black hacking. Kudos to Nicky Hagar for providing the evidence to the public who this government, if you can call it that, is here to serve and to be accountable. The only people this harms are the ones doing the harm-they are the black hackers. We need more people like Hagar.

    18. By john on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Hagar complains about illegally obtained information. And does the same himself.

      Hagar complains that politicians are trying to influence the election (duh). And does the same himself.

      Hagar complains of attack politics. And does the same himself.

      But perhaps that’s to be expected from someone who tried (and failed) to be an extreme left wing politician.

    19. By JohnM on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Seriously, these trolls with their “I’m having difficulty with this hacking thing” and “Hagar couldn’t come up with a smoking gun”

      Firstly, as Gordon has said: have you even READ THE BOOK?!?!?!?!?!?

      You go for the cheap shot, because intelligent people don’t just go for the “Yes No” answer. It’s called context and totality.

      Secondly, on the use of hacked material:

      Okay, the NSA hacks peoples emails, eavesdrops on the globe. That gets exposed. The material exposing that underhandedness is passed to a writer.

      What you’re essentially saying, is that such nefarious behaviour is okay, because you didn’t know about it before. Therefore, if as long as you don’t know about it, things must be going perfectly in lala land.

      I notice often you people can’t criticise the *substance*, only the method. As for a gaping hole that everyone could look into (referring to the Labour servers being hacked), yes, everyone could have. But they decidedly chose not to pursue that did they.

      Seriously, keep burying your collective heads in cement though, you must have your work cut out now that the unseemly mess is unravelling.

    20. By Jane on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Ann, i have huge respect for Gordon’s blogs and appreciate his sense of fairness and investigation that he puts into everything he writes. To voice my uneasiness about privacy Is not a sin against humanity, and neither does it make me a silly person, it is important to consider these issues alongside the appalling abuse of power that Hager has uncovered. For those of us who want this government out we must be able to question and consider issues such as privacy – and to voice uneasiness without being called names and put down by people who are supposedly on the same side.

    21. By clairbear on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      The biggest problem I have is that it has been released as a book with a few simple facts that may well be damaging but hardly a books worth. If he was true to his need to give people this information, all the main facts could have been outlined in a simple article about the size of yours here – for example you have summarised the main points above. Also why have people gone to ground, simply because the timing of the relase of the book was simply designed to do that – It needed to be close enough to an election so that it would not be possible for anyone to do anything about it. Anyone saying anything at this late staged would simply be dammed if the did dammed if they did not.

      There is no reason other than Hagar wanted to write a book and have it targeted for political effect for this information not to have been release months ago.

      This suggests to me that over and above the facts there is a lot of conjecture designed to impact.

      But anyway what is important here is both you and Hagar (and now the Greens) have said it is OK not to respect peoples privacy if you suspect that they are not very nice people. So it was OK to spy on and hack Dotcom, OK to spy on and hack Whale oil, and alright to spy on or hack any people who we don’t like – but it is not ok to spy on or hack information from people we like.

    22. By Andrew on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      So John Key says he will not read Hager’s book, or even ask Judith Collins to clarify/respond to what she’s been accused of..
      Well, obviously not, because that’d place her in the awkward position of having to lie or admit the truth, both of which could get both of them into trouble.
      For a group (much like the ACT party) which supposedly places such value on accountability, I seriously can’t see how anyone can accept Key’s refusal to even ask the question of Collins as anything other than totally gutless.
      Is this really how people believe a leader should act – that won’t even PUT THE QUESTION to the accused member of their caucus? Jesus wept.
      Roll out all the usual cliches against Helen Clark, she at least expected accountability of her ministers.

    23. By Andrew on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Clairbear – that is the most excellent collection of non-issues assembled in a single comment.
      By your own logic, perhaps you should write a book yourself..?

    24. By fdx on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Hagar does the voting public a service by exposing the vile means this crocked government will go to to remain in power to further its own agenda, if he has used emails that the authors would have never released because of the illegal and damaging content then so be it.
      It is like a white lie johnny boy, sometimes it’s justified.
      If Hagar is influencing the election by exposing the truth then that is a good thing, I for one want to know when the leaders of this country are telling lies and acting in an underhand manner that also can influence the election.
      Don’t shoot the messenger john, that is bad form and shows a weak argument.
      A failed politician but a successful author and great investigative reporter is a good thing in my opinion, we need more of them rather than the lame media and odious bloggers that pervade now.

    25. By Lesley on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Is Clairebear saying that a paper publishing an article and making money is different than Nicky Hagar publishing a book and making some? The point surely is dealing with the information gleaned rather than resorting to the personality politics which are hallmarks of the National clobbering machine

    26. By Grump on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      @ Clairbear

      Actually, your biggest problem is that you’ve obviously set your agenda before applying any kind of analysis. It’s not a unique trait – look at all the ‘team key’ sheep. Nothing will change their minds, it’s like religion to them. This is the demographic which keeps the Slaters and their hate-politics alive.

      It’s a hard thing to overcome ignorance and prejudice – even heroes like Mahatma Gandhi had to break through that barrier – but it can be done. Good luck.

    27. By Kumara Republic on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      There’s so much whale oil in the burst sewer, that it’s starting to go rancid. And rancid stenches are difficult to clean off.

    28. By Simon on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Isn’t one of the key lessons here the demise of proper investigative journalism? It seems Hager is the only one doing it, hence why his books tend to grab so much attention. If journalists were being encouraged to investigate stories properly, and not parrot press releases, fob off glib door stop interviews as stories or bathing in their own sense of self importance (ie: patrick gower) the likes of Slater and PR spin doctors of the Government, and the opposition, would be marginalised…we just wouldn’t buy it. So my takeout of all of this is please bring back proper journalists, pay them well and pay those who publish and support them to do their job…we all need them to keep the b’ards honest!

    29. By matt on Aug 14, 2014 | Reply

      Clairbear: are you seriously suggesting that the privacy of a crown-engaged agent – who is acting in gross corruption and plainly undemocratic behaviour, which at best wastes energy that could be put to use actually governing the nation – is sacrosanct above all else?

      Go and work for the Knesset, they’re great at invoking “illegality” for everyone else while committing their atrocities.

    30. By Debbie on Aug 15, 2014 | Reply

      Jack Shallcrass is dead?

    31. By William on Aug 15, 2014 | Reply

      Well stated. Actually I detest Cunliffe for exactly these same things. I once helped campaign for him and the odium of the labour camp seeking dirt on his opponent, constantly referred to as the “black bitch” was the most disgusting unprofessional behaviour I had ever experienced. Added to Cunliffe’s arrogance, it put me off politics big time forever. A blight on them all and of all persuasions, not just national which Hager seems to have a particular beef with, but labour and the greens as well.

    32. By Mark on Aug 15, 2014 | Reply

      Why have some of the Key players “gone to ground”? Because the news media wants them to talk about the contents of a book they have not yet read. All they can do is comment on what they do know, which is that the contents of the book was obtained by illegal means, putting the perpetrator at risk of arrest under the crimes act with a maximum sentence of 7 years. But then they get accused of attacking the messenger and not dealing with the contents of the book that they have not yet read.

      If I was faced with such a lose-lose proposition I would also tell the news hunger hounds to push off. And be accused of “going to ground”.

      Quote: “I haven’t read the book, but it is a political bombshell”. Doh!

    33. By BeeJay on Aug 15, 2014 | Reply


      “The biggest problem I have is that it has been released as a book with a few simple facts that may well be damaging but hardly a books worth… “

      Seriously your biggest issue is that making this into a book is too much reading?

      “There is no reason other than Hagar wanted to write a book and have it targeted for political effect for this information not to have been release months ago.”

      He received the documents in April, there were thousands of them (apparently), he need to verify them, analyse them, check them against other sources, and put them into a wider ‘systems’ context. He then released the book less than 4 months later. This strikes me as an insanely short timeframe so no, releasing the information months ago was not really a sensible option.

      “This suggests to me that over and above the facts there is a lot of conjecture designed to impact.”

      Having read most of the book I agree there is conjecture there (in parts) but this is put against documented evidence of past behaviours and methods and provided as circumstantial evidence for the reader to draw their own conclusions.

      “But anyway what is important here is both you and Hagar (and now the Greens) have said it is OK not to respect peoples privacy if you suspect that they are not very nice people.”

      Sorry? Source please.

      “So it was OK to spy on and hack Dotcom, OK to spy on and hack Whale oil, and alright to spy on or hack any people who we don’t like – but it is not ok to spy on or hack information from people we like.”

      You appear to have missed the bit of Gordon’s article regarding the difference between Whistleblowing for the public good and dirty smear campaigns..try again.

    34. By Natalie on Aug 15, 2014 | Reply

      Is Nicky Hager a campaigner for privacy? I thought he was a campaigner for truth. I’m not suggesting everything he says should be accepted as truth, because everybody is tainted by their personal beliefs and convictions. But “privacy” is often used to hide the truth.

    35. By Elyse on Aug 15, 2014 | Reply

      These revelations rank with non-discovery of weapons of mass destruction in the quelle surprise category. Those of us who are not sleep walking have seen George W Bush era, brought to our shores by a currency exchange gambler. Well they do say NZ is about 8 years behind the USA. Perhaps we’ll elect an articulate colored man soon?

    36. By Ianmac on Aug 15, 2014 | Reply

      From now on, surely no young, ambitious bright spark around Parliament and no Cabinet Minister with an eye for promotion will want to be seen dead collaborating with Cameron Slater.
      The young ones maybe but Slater knows so much about the dirt in the Beehive and especially about Collins/Key/Eade, that they could not possibly ditch Slater because their crumbling world would avalanche into oblivion.
      The senior MPs have no choice but to deflect and deny, and to support Slater.

    37. By Paritutu on Aug 16, 2014 | Reply

      @ William ” I once helped campaign for him and the odium of the labour camp seeking dirt on his opponent, constantly referred to as the “black bitch” was the most disgusting unprofessional behaviour I had ever experienced.”
      That’s a nasty unsubstantiated libellous allegation, which smears a whole lot of people without recourse while hiding behind blog atavar anonymity. Quite likely you are rabid right and never even went near a labour electoral campaign. Go back to the sewer or whale oil.

    38. By Janlay on Aug 16, 2014 | Reply

      Look at the interviews of both Slater and Hager on “The Nation” channel 3 TV show. Slater appears on the verge; overly defensive and frustrated. Then look at Hager and he appears calm/sincere, genuine, informative and able to apologize. Both men from two very different persuasions. One defending a sinking ship and the other trying to help get rid of the rot.

      The elite bankster corporate politicians who put themselves above us all are being exposed all over the world. Their time is coming to a close and not a minute too soon. Captain Steven Joyce is just another “behind the scenes” dictator who laughs at us all on his holier than thou phony throne. Hope NZ wakes up soon and gets out to vote in mass.

    39. By William Garden on Aug 16, 2014 | Reply

      I feel extremely disappointed that a number of journalists, come tv presenters, who admittedly have registered they have a bias towards the National Party, have chosen to state their opinion, their analysis, and have dismissed Hagar’s book out of hand. In all fairness, the book speaks for its self…these are people holding down some very responsible positions having very grubby conversations…that is not dismissible.

    40. By Pam on Aug 19, 2014 | Reply

      I’m not interested in reading this. Firstly, hacking information is THEFT. In days bygone, one would have to read typed or handwritten letters/notes. The more I hear and read about this, I can’t help thinking about Henry VIII, Cromwell etc., so I conclude, nothing is new in history. Imagine the depths Hager has gone to, underground tactics, stealing information and then stressing to get the book published before the elections. Hitler and his merry men and tactics also come to mind. Sick and tired of reading about this in the news paper, TV and radio. All this hype when there are more serious and dire happenings in the Middle East, people being killed, people needing our help, Perhaps Hager could have considered helping raise awareness and money for those people.

    41. By Grump on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

      Good for you Pam! JK needs people like you who are able to form strong and worthy opinions without needing to read! You just *know* you’re right. Let him do your thinking for you, he’ll tell you what you should do.

      Voters ‘can see for themselves’ alright!

    42. By Rowan on Aug 29, 2014 | Reply

      I’m shocked how Hagar is a saint in all of this!
      He had this information for over 6 months but instead of giving the public a chance to find the real truth he turned it into a profit making campaign for himself and the hacker. He should have included himself in his book. Preachers are always the worst!

    43. By Doug Craig on Jan 30, 2015 | Reply

      Kia Ora Gordon,

      Your recent blog on the private work done by GCSB on
      the Cortex Cyber-Security suite of tools is both symptomatic of how some governments think (i.e David Cameron’s relationship with News of the world hackers through Andy Coulson/Rebekah Brooks , also see for examples of cronyism, and the creeping of state controlled cyber intelligence into citizens affairs. The conflating of national interest with business interests (who mainly are National Party supporters) is not new and could in some cases be called corruption.If it were third world (which we may soon join) it definitely would be.
      Welcome to the Brave new world of big Brother.

    44. By Geoff Fischer on Apr 30, 2015 | Reply

      “The republican” (http:\\www, has posted a new critical review of Hager’s “Dirty Politics”

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