Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Wellington Cables

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  • chris,

    maybe in Foggy Bottom Wellington isn’t exactly considered the most effective allocation of the A-list talent? :)

    You Warner Brothers stooge you.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Why did both governments consciously keep the news quiet?

    1. Helen would have had to admit it and that would not be a good Labour look before the election. Far better to just let things ramble along as if we were real mates but not look like we were assisting.

    From a leak:

    When the U.S. Administration decided in March of
    2009 to seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, New
    Zealand, which was also on the ballot, withdrew its name so
    the United States could run uncontested.

    How timely...just af ew months later it was August 29th 2009.

    Helen and Labour??
    Change of government (executive) in both US and NZ after elections in November 2008 may well be relevant to the agreement to formalise full intelligence-sharing in 2009.
    And consciously not telling us would be the system's default position on secrecy about secrecy, which I suggest John Key did not bother to engage brain on, ie he was relaxed about that.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Some of this stuff just rubbish, frankly.

    Well, intelligence gathering is all about sources:

    Former Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive, diplomat and Government adviser Charles Finny has been named by WikiLeaks as the United States’ top Kiwi contact.

    But Mr Finny denied being a spy and said the “key contact” mentions were flattering. He is quoted often in the US diplomatic cables controversially made public by website WikiLeaks, and in a cable from May 19, 2006, was singled out as a “close [US] embassy contact”.

    An example of Finny’s analysis here, on his old blog the Wellington Hive.

    My prediction was that Fran OSullivan would be the Embassy’s main Wellington source but she’s close friends with Finny, so maybe that’ll come out later. I’m also picking Tim Groser to be another informant for the US.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    An example of Finny’s analysis here, on his old blog the Wellington Hive.

    Well, that would go some way to explain the failure of US intelligence...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Hmmmm...I would swear that when i woke up an hour ago that a lot of these posts were not here.....And now....they are???? Russell???

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    Why did both governments consciously keep the news quiet?

    There's a fair degree of anti-Americanism on the left, so I can understand why Clark didn't want to yell it from the rooftops.

    Not sure why Key hasn't made more of the news though.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW, in reply to ScottY,

    But why would the head of the UN Development Programme have known about this let alone be yelling from rooftops?

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to ScottY,

    There’s a fair degree of anti-Americanism on the left, so I can understand why Clark didn’t want to yell it from the rooftops

    No US nukes was the Labour left's trade-off back in the day for swallowing the Douglas dead rat.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Doesn't Wikileaks justify releasing confidential information on the basis that it is of great moral, historical or political importance? Since most of this does not meet such criteria this just reinforces my scepticism of the whole business.

    It maybe interesing to know that the Bush administration had such a well informed and positive opinion of Clark but I don't see how that meets the supposedly high threshold Wikileaks claims to have. It all looks completely random.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    Did either ONe News or 3 News cover this at all ?

    If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be that surprising.

    In the “Sunday Star-Times” article yesterday, a number of journalists were listed who were considered by the US to be “open-minded” and received free trips to the States, where I assume they were made more “open-minded”.

    This lot was reported by the “Sunday Star-Times” to include key people in the TVNZ and TV3 news rooms. Unfortunately, while the front page article is available online, yesterday’s page three expansion on that article naming the reporters isn’t. www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/news/4449679/WikiLeaks-Kiwi-leak/

    Would you want to run a story about your own reporters being subverted?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Doesn't Wikileaks justify releasing confidential information on the basis that it is of great moral, historical or political importance?

    No, it doesn't.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    it's not the first time that the continuation on another page of a story in the SST hasn't made it to the electronic edition ... might be incompetence rather than conspiracy ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    You put it differently. Your claim is that they "**justify releasing confidential information** on the basis that it is of great moral, historical or political importance". This buys into the idea that confidentiality (that is to say, secrecy) in the dealings of our elected representatives and public officers is the default and inherently just, correct course of action, as opposed to something that circumvents the consent of the governed and needs in turn to be justified. WikiLeaks emphatically makes no such representation.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    In the “Sunday Star-Times” article yesterday, a number of journalists were listed who were considered by the US to be “open-minded” and received free trips to the States, where I assume they were made more “open-minded”.Would you want to run a story about your own reporters being subverted?

    That's pretty silly. My wife went on one of those trips earlier this year: the only 'subversion' is that she attributed the State Dept ('This trip was made possible . . .') at the bottom of all the stories she filed.

    We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance...

    The NZ Wikileaks cables released so far (9/1490) aren't mind-blowing, but you can't pretend they're not of historic value in documenting the changing relationship between NZ and the US.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    might be incompetence rather than conspiracy ....

    Undoubtedly, but it is unfortunate I couldn't link to the piece online to back my statement up.

    However, I have located a copy. 'Sunday Star-Times' page A5 lists the following journalists as having taken the free US trip offer.

    TVNZ’s political editor Guy Espiner
    Nine to Noon host Katherine Ryan
    TVNZ’s One News boss Cliff Joiner
    Garth Bray
    3 New’s Chief of Staff Justin Short
    and reporter Ali Ikram

    So, no reporting from TVNZ or 3 News then. I would be surprised if it turns up on Nine to Noon either.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    That’s pretty silly. My wife went on one of those trips earlier this year: the only ‘subversion’ is that she attributed the State Dept (‘This trip was made possible . . .’) at the bottom of all the stories she filed.

    Quite. I think it was Tim Hannah who observed upthread that Wikileaks/Assange’s style has the effect of “amplifying the conspiratorial nature of government”. The idea that the journalists were per se “involved” in something bad is distinctly faulty.

    The NZ Wikileaks cables released so far (9/1490) aren’t mind-blowing, but you can’t pretend they’re not of historic value in documenting the changing relationship between NZ and the US.

    Agreed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    So, no reporting from TVNZ or 3 News then. I would be surprised if it turns up on Nine to Noon either.

    The more interesting one would be whether any Sunday Star Times journalists have participated in the scheme. We should probably know that, in the circumstances.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    The more interesting one would be whether any Sunday Star Times journalists have participated in the scheme.

    Espiner was a 'Sunday Star times' employee when he went.

    Other print reporters who went: Audry Young 'New Zealand herald', and Nicky Venter "Dominion post'.

    You are talking this down, but remember this aspect of the story is really the only one we didn't already know.

    Don Brash was pro Nuke ships, John Key is considered pro-American, Helen Clark a controlling manager with a funny and warm side. This stuff we all knew, if we were paying attention. The banner line, "Journalists targeted to promote US views" we didn't know - at least I didn't.

    Espiner claims his trip was career development, yet it was career development not paid for by his employers, but by a third party. That party being the US tax payer through the State department.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    It is still annoying that the press gets to act as a public filter. I suspect the SST's interests are not many of ours. For example, I would like to see the 9 cables on IT, the cables about "Trade and Technology Controls" and the cables about trade agreements. These have a direct impact on my industry and at a time when NZ companies are calling for transparency WRT trade negotiations, they are very relevant.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    You are talking this down, but remember this aspect of the story is really the only one we didn’t already know.

    Thing is, we very probably did. As Danyl notes, his partner included a declaration with her stories and I strongly suspect the others did the same. I'd be disappointed and puzzled if they did not.

    It's basically because their names appear in the context of a Wikileaks cable that it suddenly seems there's a conspiracy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Don Christie,

    It is still annoying that the press gets to act as a public filter. I suspect the SST’s interests are not many of ours. For example, I would like to see the 9 cables on IT, the cables about “Trade and Technology Controls” and the cables about trade agreements.

    We got what seemed newsworthy to Nicky Hager, which is fair enough. There are a quarter of a million cables, so not everything can be processed at once. You could try contacting either him or Wikileaks directly to expedite release of the cables you want.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Influencing opinion leaders is pretty standard stuff and I doubt any of those journos would be silly enough to have their heads turned by one study trip. The thing that got my attention was Young writing her story without acknowledging she was a subject of one of her source materials. But I believe that's a failure of ethics or perhaps just sloppiness, rather than some conspiracy. Please let's not go there again.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    The NZ Wikileaks cables released so far (9/1490) aren’t mind-blowing, but you can’t pretend they’re not of historic value in documenting the changing relationship between NZ and the US.

    It’s interesting but is it worth compromising diplomatic confidentiality. I was under the impression that Wikileaks had some sort of threshold but if they don’t then it is completely random and as with the above comments re NZ journalists and their independence then people will be inclined to join the dots not knowing what other dots have not been made public.

    I don’t see how small amounts of random information is of any use.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    Espiner claims his trip was career development, yet it was career development not paid for by his employers, but by a third party. That party being the US tax payer through the State department.

    Um, yes... and you might want to take a look at how much of the SST's travel content is written by journalists whose travel and accomodation is paid for by airlines, hotels and... publicly funded outfits whose mission is to encourage tourism. Now, do I dismiss it as glorified advertorial? Yes. But as long as it is fully disclosed (even if that disclosure is 6 point italics buried at the bottom of the page) I'm not calling conspiracy.

    And IIRC, Espiner filed copy from the US and there were disclosure statements on all of them. If that's sinister, its no more sinister than the overseas trips political journos take as part of Prime Ministerial entourages.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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