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Edward Snowden says that John Key is lying about mass surveillance in New Zealand

Edward Snowden says that Prime Minister John Key is lying about mass surveillance in New Zealand

Here is a reprint of Edward Snowden's report on mass surveillance in New Zealand reported in the Intercept.

Like many nations around the world, New Zealand over the last year has engaged in a serious and intense debate about government surveillance. The nation’s prime minister, John Key of the National Party, has denied that New Zealand’s spy agency GCSB engages in mass surveillance, mostly as a means of convincing the country to enact a new law vesting the agency with greater powers. This week, as a national election approaches, Key repeated those denials in anticipation of a report in The Intercept today exposing the Key government’s actions in implementing a system to record citizens’ metadata.
Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE.” It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic. I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance.
The prime minister’s claim to the public, that “there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance” is false. The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks.
If you have doubts, which would be quite reasonable, given what the last year showed us about thedangers of taking government officials at their word, I invite you to confirm this for yourself. Actual pictures and classified documentation of XKEYSCORE are available online now, and their authenticity is not contested by any government. Within them you’ll find that the XKEYSCORE system offers, but does not require for use, something called a “Five Eyes Defeat,” the Five Eyes being the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and yes, New Zealand.
This might seem like a small detail, but it’s very important. The Five Eyes Defeat is an optional filter,  a single checkbox. It allows me, the analyst, to prevent search results from being returned on those countries from a particular search. Ask yourself: why do analysts have a checkbox on a top secret system that hides the results of mass surveillance in New Zealand if there is no mass surveillance in New Zealand?
The answer, one that the government of New Zealand has not been honest about, is that despite claims to the contrary, mass surveillance is real and happening as we speak. The GCSB provides mass surveillance data into XKEYSCORE. They also provide access to the communications of millions of New Zealanders to the NSA at facilities such as the GCSB station at Waihopai, and the Prime Minister is personally aware of this fact. Importantly, they do not merely use XKEYSCORE, but also actively and directly develop mass surveillance algorithms for it. GCSB’s involvement with XKEYSCORE is not a theory, and it is not a future plan. The claim that it never went ahead, and that New Zealand merely “looked at” but never participated in the Five Eyes’ system of mass surveillance is false, and the GCSB’s past and continuing involvement with XKEYSCORE is irrefutable.
But what does it mean?
It means they have the ability see every website you visit, every text message you send, every call you make, every ticket you purchase, every donation you make, and every book you order online. From “I’m headed to church” to “I hate my boss” to “She’s in the hospital,” the GCSB is there. Your words are intercepted, stored, and analyzed by algorithms long before they’re ever read by your intended recipient.
Faced with reasonable doubts, ask yourself just what it is that stands between these most deeply personal communications and the governments of not just in New Zealand, but also the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia?
The answer is that solitary checkbox, the Five Eyes Defeat. One checkbox is what separates our most sacred rights from the graveyard of lost liberty. When an officer of the government wants to know everything about everyone in their society, they don’t even have to make a technical change. They simply uncheck the box. The question before us is no longer “why was this done without the consent and debate of the people of this country,” but “what are we going to do about it?”
This government may have total control over the checkbox today, but come Sept. 20, New Zealanders have a checkbox of their own. If you live in New Zealand, whatever party you choose to vote for, bear in mind the opportunity to send a message that this government won’t need to spy on us to hear: The liberties of free people cannot be changed behind closed doors. It’s time to stand up. It’s time to restore our democracies. It’s time to take back our rights. And it starts with you.
National security has become the National Party’s security. What we’re seeing today is that in New Zealand, the balance between the public’s right to know and the propriety of a secret is determined by a single factor: the political advantage it offers to a specific party and or a specific politician. This misuse of New Zealand’s spying apparatus for the benefit of a single individual is a historic concern, because even if you believe today’s prime minister is beyond reproach, he will not remain in power forever. What happens tomorrow, when a different leader assumes the same power to conceal and reveal things from the citizenry based not on what is required by free societies, but rather on what needs to be said to keep them in power?
Thank you.

On behalf of New Zealanders who care about democracy, freedom and human rights; and the importance of not allowing manipulative sociopathic people rule over us (because "rule" is their goal), I would like to sincerely thank Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept and Julian Assange for their service to the public in general (and recently, the New Zealand public in particular). 
I would also like to thank Bob Amsterdam and Kim Dotcom for also helping expose the degree to which the privacy and liberty of New Zealanders has been endangered by Prime Minister John Key and the National government; in the interest of John Key and National consolidating their power and control, and to support their corporate cronies. The underbelly of main stream media and the entertainment industry are also involved.
You are our heroes, and we sincerely thank you for coming to the rescue of our democracy and human rights.
Amongst the qualities a hero should have include determination, loyalty, courage, perseverance, patience, focus, intrepidy and selflessness. (Ricky Martin)
The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. (Felix Adler)
A hero has faced it all: he need not be undefeated, but he must be undaunted. (Andrew Bernstein)

Dirty Politics in New Zealand - Whose Who in the Whalegate Political Scandal

Dirty Politics in New Zealand

 Whose Who in the 

Whalegate Political Scandal

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.” - Wendell Phillips, 1851

In his most recent book, Dirty Politics, investigative journalist, Nicky Hager exposes the hidden ugly underbelly, and malicious Machiavellian machinations of the National Party over the past 8-10 years, predominantly under John Key. 

Dirty Politics shows the unprincipled actions of John Key's senior staff - a situation (like many others) that Key denies knowing anything about. But what's the likelihood that the man who was known as the "Smiling Assassin", while he worked as a currency trader prior to entering New Zealand politics, was kept in the dark  regarding multiple vicious campaigns by his press secretary and other collaborators to neutralise competitors for the political gain of the National Party? 

When Key entered New Zealand politics in 2002, it was decided that the image of a "Smiling Assassin" would not do. Key was re-branded by his party spin doctors to project the image of a plain folks "Mr. Nice Guy." But this plain folks "Mr. Nice Guy" has an estimated wealth of $50 million - presumably made in his years working in the banking system as a foreign exchange dealer (because he did not come from a wealthy family). 

The ever smiling, plain folks, "Mr. Nice Guy" is a King of Spin - well trained by his press secretary and PR people. New Zealanders are used to his smooth, glib responses to questions. He is expert at dumbing down the news. His common modus operandi is avoiding questions, denying the truth, pleading ignorance, and using sarcasm to cut down the questioner and divert from the issues he has been asked about.  While he has dipped into innuendo, name calling and labelling on occasion - he has primarily served as the smiling cover boy for the National Party. 
(Check out - Spotting Spin - the Tricks of the Trade and spot the spin the next time you hear Key speak:

In the meantime, just 2 doors away, in his press secretary's office, and in multiple other
offices of the National Party - the seamy public relations "Attack Machine" side of the National Party has been active - covert, malicious and destructive. Attack blogs, front organisations and astroturfing were amongst the destructive tools of "Black Spin" used by the covert Black Ops type "public relations" arm of the Prime Minister's office and their collaborators. Dirty Politics shows continuous collaboration between the Prime Minister's office, toxic bloggers and sympathetic mainstream media to arrange attacks on National's opponents, so as to influence elections.

The Whalegate scandal refers to the use of poisonous public relations, and abuse of main stream media, and social media to deliberately smear the reputation of those in opposition to the National Party (or those the National Party big wigs and their PR people did not like for any reason, whether they belonged to any political party or not). 

Collaborative efforts to deliberately undermine the campaigns of competitors (and even others in the National Party itself, who were not judged to be sufficiently right wing to be tolerated); not to mention others who were seen to stand in the way of the primary perpetrators has apparently been the order of the day for years.

One of the main organisers and conduits of the National Party's political "black ops" is said to be senior National Party staffer and spin doctor - John Key's press secretary, Jason Ede. With his office only two doors from Prime Minister John Key, reflecting his power and influence in the National Party, Dirty Politics links Ede and others, (including Justice Minister Judith Collins) to one of the major villains in this story - blogger Cameron Slater and his blog Whale Oil.

Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics outlines how Cameron Slater used his blog to deliberately smear the reputations and undermine the political campaigns of National Party competitors, and more. It appears that he was prepared to stoop to anything. That proved to be his undoing.

27 January 2014, a 26 year old west coast man died when the speeding car in which he was a rear seat passenger, slammed into the side of a wooden house on Greymouth's main road, after a brief police chase. He was his parents' fourth and last son to die tragically. His brother Dan had died in the Pike River mining disaster. His brother Jessop, was run over and killed by a drunk driver at the age of 7, and his brother Brett died in a fall at age 19. Needless to say this was a great tragedy for the family. But Cameron Slater copied a newspaper article about the accident onto his Whale Oil blog and said: 
Feral dies in Greymouth, did the world a favour."

There was outrage over this. As part of the backlash, hackers targeted Slater's site in retribution. A "denial of service" attack was launched against his blog, overloading his server and shutting down the website for 3 days. It appears that the hackers also gained access to his computer.

Some weeks later Nicky Hager received an 8GB USB device, the contents of which appeared to have originated from the attack on Slater's website. On the USB were thousands of documents that revealed different aspects of the National Party "Attack Politics" strategies. 

Since then, the hacker has been publicly releasing relevant documents under the name Whaledump. The releases of the documents to date have been largely limited to those that have proven that members of John Key's administration or the participants have lied when they have denied the truth of what Nicky Hager has written.

Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics, the machinations of Cameron Slater and his Whale Oil blog, and the related Whaledump dump of documents by an anonymous hacker have yielded a rare insight into the dark and dirty side of politics - New Zealand's Whalegate scandal.

I won't go into the details of what went on. It is much better to read the book (which is available in hard copy from local book stores, and from Amazon Kindle). It's hard to believe that people so closely affiliated with people of power in government have been able to get away with being so consistently cunning and malicious for so long. Reading the book is an eye opener. 

In this post, I will introduce Nicky Hager and some of the main characters in Hager's saga of Dirty Politics:

This will include:

  • Nicky Hager
  • The Anonymous Whaledump Activist
  • Cameron Slater
  • Jason Ede
  • David Farrar
  • Simon Lusk
  • Aaron Bhatnager
  • Jordan Williams
  • Carrick Graham
  • Judith Collins
  • John Key

Nicky Hager

I will introduce Nicky Hager first - because the typical National Party negative spin has labelled him and his writing in a derogatory fashion. Name-calling and derogatory labelling is a frequent form of malicious "Black Spin" used by the National Party administration - to avoid addressing real issues. 

Nicky Hager is a New Zealand author and investigative journalist. 

His first book - Secret Power - New Zealand's Role in the International Spy Network was about New Zealand's involvement in the US run Echelon (Five Eyes) spy network (consisting of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Hager was one of the earliest to write about the secretive ECHELON worldwide electronic spy network. In 2001 he testified before the European Parliament on his research into the network.

His second book Secrets and Lies: The Anatomy of an Anti-Environmental PR campaign was about a global public relations company Weber Shandwick Worldwide which had been hired by Timberlands West Coast Ltd to run a secret campaign against environmental groups such as Native Forest Action between 1997 and 1999.The book describes its tactics of: surveillance of meetings, monitoring the press and responding to every letter to the editor, greenwashing, the use of SLAPPs, cleaning anti-logging graffiti and blotting out campaign posters in public places, and managing to install its pro-logging educational materials into schools.The year after the book’s publication, the new Labour government passed the Forests (West Coast Accord) Act 2000, which halted the logging of publicly owned native forests and the provision of a $120 million transition package for the West Coast economy.

Seeds of Distrust: The Story of a GE Cover-up was a study of government processes and decision-making under New Zealand's Labour-led government. The book details an incident in November 2000, during the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, when government officials were alerted to evidence of an accidental release of genetically-modified corn plants, which was illegal under New Zealand law. The book traces the stages of industry lobbying and government decision making leading up to a decision to regard the incident as insignificant, and to keep it secret from the public.

In November 2006 Hager's book The Hollow Men: A Study in the Politics of Deception was published. The book details a wide range of National Party internal party documents including emails which were leaked by six National Party insiders. The documents were written by the party leader Don Brash and a wide range of people associated with him. The origin of the book was the exposing of Exclusive Bretheren secret funding of National Party election advertising during the 2005 general election. It describes the National Party strategy discussions and the techniques the party advisors used to try to win the 2005 national elections. The thinking behind major speeches, media management, election advertising and election messages is shown in the participants' own words. Many of the party's previously anonymous major donors were identified and relations with them were documented.

In August 2011 Hager published Other People's Wars, an investigation into New Zealand's role in the "War on Terror". Using leaked military information, Hager highlights the difference between what New Zealanders were told about New Zealand's role in Afghanistan and Iraq, and what the leaked documents show. The book demonstrates the role of public relations in blurring the lines between the idea of military as a public service and the agendas that the New Zealand Defence Force was orchestrating for foreign interests. Hager concludes that New Zealand needs greater accountability and neutrality in its armed forces.

The book was recognised internationally - with the well known investigative journalist Seymour Hersh stating in a review, “Nicky Hager has more knowledge and understanding of the American intelligence world in Afghanistan – both its good and its very bad points – than any reporter I know."

In 2013 Nicky Hager was part of a group of investigative journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that investigated the use of tax havens by the wealthy elite seeking to avoid or minimise taxes.

This background on Nicky Hager is provided to show that contrary to spin by John Key and others in the National Party - Nicky Hager is a world renowned investigative journalist, not a casual blogger or left wing conspiracy theorist. 

Investigative journalism takes courage. In fact, the book shows that collaborators on the Whale Oil site were hopeful that by divulging Hager's contact details to people in Hong Kong, that Nicky Hager might be killed by people angry over the Tax Haven / Dodgers exposé by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (of which he was a contributor). How's that for nasty and vicious?

One of Slater's collaborators - Cathy Odgers (blog name Cactus Kate) lives in Hong Kong, where she works as a lawyer. Her reaction to the ICIJ expose on tax havens and tax dodgers was to send an email to Cameron Slater and co, and is recorded in Dirty Politics:
"Make sure when Cam finds it that you repost where Hager lives...The leaks he is involved in include tens of thousands of rich Chinese. Mainland and HK. It would be a disaster if they all knew where he lived. He may even need police protection. I've spent all day telling clients it is not our company but have asked a few how they would react if they knew a bit about the people publishing the material. I was delighted to assist with the full details for Mr. Hager. These Chinese can be very vicious when they lose face... Chop chop for Nicky."
(Cameron Slater and Matthew Hooten both replied to this request naming Hager's address. Slater appended property records and wrote: "Here are Hager's details for your clients.")

While there are numerous examples of unethical, unprincipled behaviour in this book, this is yet another incident that illustrates how low this lot were prepared to go. 

Anonymous Whaledump Hactivist

No details are currently known about the person who sent the USB stick to Nicky Hager. It is assumed he is one of the hackers that hacked the Whale Oil website in retribution for Cameron Slater's cruel comments on the death of the young man in Jan 2014. 

Since the book was released (and following the initial spin, avoidance and denials) the anonymous hactivist has published quite a number of the documents on Kim Dotcom's filesharing site:
Some extracts have been reproduced in the media.

Kim Dotcom is a highly controversial character who owns the site. He denies that he is the hacker, or knows the hacker.

Cameron Slater

Egotistical, malicious, and machiavellian - Cameron Slater is certainly one of the villains in this book. He is a blogger who publishes the Whale Oil blog. (Slater is the son of former National Party President John Slater.) He is mentioned over 100 times in the Hager's book - Dirty Politics.

As previously noted, in January 2014, Slater published a brief post with the headline,"Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour" with regard to a young man who died in a car crash. The post led to objections from the general public as well as death threats and hacking attempts on his blog site. Slater moved his family in response to the threats, but refused to apologise to the family. In lieu of an apology, Slater offered the following: 
"Where is it written in the rule books that you have to take into account people’s feelings?”

Slater had been exercising his poisoned pen writing for many years before this incident. A far right, pro-National, pro-corporate cyber bully, Slater has been blogging since 2005. John Key's office and the administration of the National Party would have been well aware of the attack nature of his posts - but a number collaborated with him anyway. 

John Ansell, National's expert in negative campaigning, apparently sought out Slater during the 2008 election because he wanted to keep John Key's "Mr. Nice Guy" image free of the taint of attack politics that was being waged covertly in the background. The Whale Oil Blog (along with the complementary KiwiBlog by David Farrar) were to become primary "Black Ops" social media tools to take down the opposition.

As with most cyber bullies Cameron Slater has used the "Black Spin" of innuendo, rumour and gossip to tarnish reputations (primarily the reputations of those deemed an impediment to the National Party objectives, whether the individuals were politicians or not). Also consistent with cyber bullying, Slater personally identified victims and deliberately published materials that were severely defaming and humiliating - the intent being to tarnish their reputation, and following on that their credibility in the eyes of the public.

By one person using multiple personas in the anonymous comment  section, Slater's collaborators created the illusion that multiple people supported his vicious attacks. He was constantly on the look-out for dirt (particularly of a sex scandal, or related to drinking etc) - and went so far as to offer a "bounty" for dirt. He encouraged his followers to submit photographs or videos of his targets that were humiliating, or were misleading when taken out of context.
(You can read more on astroturfing, sock puppets, persona management and front organisations as forms of propaganda here:

He, along with his collaborators (which included the Prime Minister's press secretary Jason Ede) illegally accessed data from the Labour Party website - and deliberately publicly used this information to undermine Labour during the elections.

Slater and his collaborators not only acted to undermine their opposition parties through cyber bullying; but did their best to interfere with potential coalitions. 

They also attacked opposition policies in a nefarious manner - including the use of front organisations and campaigns which they ran against policies that were contrary to National's - pretending the organisations and campaigns represented genuine non-politically aligned grass roots movements. 

One example of a "front" organisation they ran was the "Free Speech Coalition". They dreamed this up - to to attack Labour's Electoral Finance Act, and add to the "Black Ops" attack on Labour for the 2008 election. Similarly, they established a front anti-MMP campaign, and a "Vote for Change" campaign which was another front for far right National and ACT propaganda - geared to attack their opponents.

Slater was not satisfied with taking down the opposition. He, along with National's advisor Simon Lusk decided they were king makers - and used the "Black Ops" cyber-bullying and propaganda to influence the National Party's own candidate selection process - their objective being to insure that National (and ultimately New Zealand) was as far right as possible. 

Slater's attitude (in which he was supported by his good friend, National MP, Justice Minister Judith Collins) was that if National took a hit from someone, then that person became Slater's target for "double" retribution.

Slater was well funded for his Blog. Lobbyist Carrick Graham (who lobbies for the tobacco and other industries) is reported by Hager to have paid Slater ~$6,500 per month to post blog articles written by Graham, in the interest of various industries. Slater published these ghost written articles - and supported the corporate line, to a large degree by attacking those opposing the corporate interests Carrick Graham represented. Slater was also used as a "Hired Gun" by the PR Company Sweeney Vestey during the Ports of Auckland labour dispute - once again his role was primarily to attack his sponsor's opponents.

Cameron Slater and former tobacco PR man Carrick Graham were also behind an aborted scheme to sell NZ Army tanks to overseas military buyers.

A good part of the data used in Dirty Politics was likely from the hack of Slater's web site. So there is a great deal of information that reflects what Slater said and did. This is best appreciated by reading the book, and the related leaked documents.
Cameron Slater has complained about the hack. 

He filed a complaint with the Privacy Commission about the hacked email and social media conversations in Hager's book, Dirty Politics - which paints a picture of a National government which encourages attack politics through blogs.
But the commission has recently decided Slater had himself breached the privacy of businessman Matt Blomfield, after the blogger published dozens of posts on Whale Oil, based on a computer hard drive of Blomfield, which he had obtained. The Director of Human Rights Proceedings will be prosecuting him over five days in October 2014.

Barrister Simon Judd, who is prosecuting the case for the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, said Slater was defending the case by claiming he was a journalist and not subject to the Privacy Act. He said it would be argued Slater was not a journalist -- and even if he was, the material he published on Mr Blomfield was not a "news media activity".

The picture Dirty Politics paints is of a number of malicious, vicious, Machiavellian characters - who collaborated over years in covert, destructive, black ops type, black spin - in the interest of the National Party; with the likely knowledge and collaboration (if not orchestration) of the office of John Key - with Cameron Slater and his Whale Oil blog (and David Farrar's Kiwiblog) being primary tools of attack.

Jason Ede

Jason Ede was up until recently, Prime Minister John Key's senior media advisor (press secretary). He is paid (to date an unknown amount) by the public as ministerial services staff.

He is described as having played a central role in Dirty Politics - as the organiser of the "Black Ops" attack politics - mainly utilising: Cameron Slater's Whale Oil blog and David Farrar's Kiwiblog.

It is said that since the publishing of Nicky Hager's book, John Key has been distancing himself from Ede. There is some doubt regarding this claim. Despite the revelations, Jason Ede's input is considered so core to the National Party's spin, that he is still working at the National Party's head office in Wellington. This says a lot about the National Party's commitment to Dirty Politics.

He clearly has not been banned from parliament offices. He was spotted in the Parliamentary complex last week - with a security access swipe card.

Parliamentary press gallery journalists have been investigating John Key’s senior spin-doctor, for some time. 

Michael Fox says that his office made requests back in October to the Prime Minister to explain the role of Ede and his relationship to Cameron Slater's Whaleoil blog: 
'When asked by Fairfax Media in October about Ede's relationship with Whale Oil, the spokeswoman said Ede was a senior adviser in the National leader's office. He provided communication advice and support to the prime minister and to National Party MPs, including in the area of social media and other media. "Jason works a lot in the area of social media and that includes getting out National's message to a range of bloggers and other social media sites," she said'

There are at least 100 references to Jason Ede in Nicky Hager's book - showing how close the relationship was between the Prime Minister's office and the cyber bullying pro-National blogger. It is claimed Ede was a conduit of information for both of the attack blogs. 

Given his role as described by Michael Fox this would indicate that communication would likely have been very frequent. Ede would have been reading the blogs on a regular basis; and would have recognised their destructive nature. 

The book also indicates that in 2011 Ede planned to write a book about Helen Clark for release just before the election - intended primarily to attack Labour, but Harper Collins went cold on the book.

It is not remotely plausible that Ede would have failed to mention what was going on to his boss, just 2 doors away. 

David Farrar

David Peter Farrar is a New Zealand blogger who writes the blog - Kiwiblog - which is apparently one of the 2 attack blogs of the National Party covert black spin program. He set up Kiwiblog in 2003.

Since he left his full time job in the office of the National Party leader (a role which Farrar describes as that of a strategic analyst) in 2004, Farrar has had a market research company called Curia Market Research Ltd, which has one main client - the National Party

His focus is on what the National Party has to do to improve its place in the opinion polls. Though most parties use volunteers to canvass, the National Party pays Farrar to do this too.

Curia reports to the National Party leadership. While Slater supported his blogging with income from printing articles by corporate lobbyists and by attacking their opponents; Farrar's National Party income from "market research" weekly polling, and canvassing for the National Party. This has supported his National Party aligned blog activities. 
(It is unknown whether Farrar's pro-National polling and canvassing activities are at public expense.)

The canvassing and polling work shows Farrar working at the heart of the National Party strategy, integrated into the party's week-by-week political management.

Curia's address is given as a building on Willis St. The building is in fact the National Party headquarters. The polling staff are often drawn from Young Nationals - so this is far from independent polling.

Farrar's blog formula is a constant flow of news and analysis that, in a somewhat more civilized way than Slater's Whale Oil - defends nearly everything the National Party does, and attacks nearly everything it's opponents do, or detractors say.

Farrar and Slater are reported to often work as a tag team to push a National Party message or hammer the opposition.

Jason Ede was reportedly in continuous contact with David Farrar - and periodically got the National Research Unit  staff to prepare material for Farrar's blog - Kiwiblog (even though, like Whale Oil, the Kiwiblog portrays itself as a politically independent grass roots blog).

Farrar played a lead role in the 2007-8 in the anti-election finance reform campaign (called the Free Speech Coalition), and a background roll in the anti-MMP campaign and his most recent campaign is the New Zealand Taxpayer's Union launched in 2013. In each of these cases, these campaigns which serve National's interests have been portrayed as a "politically independent grass roots program." When you read, Dirty Politics, you will see that this is not the case.

He along with Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater are described as collaborators in using black spin to manipulate who would win party seats, leadership bids etc.

Farrar's name also appears at least 100 times in the book. According to Hager, unlike Slater - Farrar did not just collude with and receive information from the prime minister's office and the National Party. He was contracted to them, earned most of his income from them and was intimately part of their strategies.

His disclosure statement on his blog does not mention his close relationship to National; and that he is chief pollster of the National Party. Nicky Hager points out that the disclosures on the Kiwiblog is largely camouflage. A major conflict of interest (in terms of showing lack of independence) is not cited. Mainstream media did not correct this false notion of independence, when they posted articles by Slater or Farrar. Whether this is because they didn't know the truth, or didn't care is unknown.

The book describes various schemes Farrar was involved in (including the coordinated attack on Len Brown). Once again, it is worth reading the book, and the Whaledump docs.

Simon Lusk

An article from 2013 by Andrea Vance provides some background on Simon Lusk - who is one of the major players in Hager's book. She describes him as an arch political fixer who shuns the limelight, rarely venturing from his home in Havelock North. He maintains a strict silence about his clients - mostly wannabe National MPs. 

But his name is also mentioned at least 100 times in the book.

According to Dirty Politics, he along with the other Nasty Nats collaborators (primarily Cameron Slater and David Farrar) conspired to unseat ACT leader Rodney Hide.

He is said to charge $10,000 to manage an electorate election campaign. Contrary to the claim of a centrist ideology in Andrea Vance's article; Nicky Hager's book provides insight into Lusk's far right ideology, and his goal to turn New Zealand politics permanently to the far right. It outlines the unsavoury tactics of his far right collaborators (mainly Slater and Farrar) who have assisted him in his campaigning for far right candidates.

Apparently, leaked National Party minutes last year revealed concerns about breakaway training camps for local body candidates, run by Lusk and Slater. According to the notes, then-chief whip Michael Woodhouse reported "a disturbing discussion that he has had with Simon Lusk that highlighted his motivations and a very negative agenda for the party".

Lusk doesn't make his money through politics - but is reluctant to say what he actually does. "I contract part-time to a number of long-term clients . . . my background is strategy and marketing." 
(Interesting - Is the "Smiling Assassin" or "Crusher Collins" or the IDU on Lusk's long-term client list?)

Aaron Bhatnagar

Aaron Bhatnagar is a former Auckland city councillor and describes himself on the internet as a business investor. He has done a lot of work for National, and is said to be a close confidant of John Banks.

In “Dirty Politics”, Nicky Hager revealed that Bhatnagar was the one who was sniffing around the Labour web site and discovered the insecure data - later downloaded by Slater, Ede and the, so far, unnamed National Party IT whizz. His name is mentioned 90 times in the book.

Bhatnagar is a Whale Oil fan (and is described by Cameron Slater as "a friend of the Whale"). He posts comments under the name “Business Correspondent Winslow Taggart”. He is one of the bloggers with whom Slater often talked over his attack plans.

Bhatnager appears to be more on the fringe of the in crowd of black ops collaborators. He is described as more of a support person, or scout between senior National Party members and Cameron Slater. 

He was nominated by John Banks to the Board of the Real Estate Agents Authority. Judith Collins (claiming she does not know him) said: "I believe Mr Bhatnagar is ideally suited to this role on all levels" and appointed him to the $20,000/year position on the REAA 26 April 2013.

Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams describes himself as a constitutional and commercial lawyer. He supports the far right of National and ACT.  

Williams had attended International Democrat Union (IDU) meetings and was convinced that a Taxpayer's Alliance would be a good tool to help the far right win elections. 

The International Democrat Union (IDU) seems important in terms of shaping the far right ideology of a number of the people in this book.  

It is an international group that describes itself as a working association of over 80 Conservative, Christian Democrat and like-minded political parties of the centre and centre right. (In this case centre right is still far right and very much into free market [globalist] think). 

It claims that members assist each other to win political arguments and win elections. The IDU also organises campaigning seminars for politicians and party workers. These involve exchanges of information on campaign technology, fund-raising techniques, opinion polling, advertising and campaign organisation (which sounds a bit like a school for Black Ops Political Spin).The IDU claims it plays an essential role in enabling like-minded, centre-right parties to share experiences in order to achieve electoral success. 

(It must be remembered that it is Simon Lusk's ambition to turn New Zealand politics permanently to the far right. In this, he is apparently supported by Slater, Farrar and Williams).

Williams started The Tax Payers Union (based on the Taxpayer's Alliance in the UK), which is likely intended to serve as a propaganda front for far right National Party and ACT interests. It will likely be used to attack the opposition on the basis of the cost of public services; and the pro-National attack blogs will pick up on it's claims - making a small self-interested group appear to be larger and more representative than it actually is. 
(Cameron Slater more or less attributes this amplification effect as being caused by lazy journalists and main stream media - who pick up stuff from blogs, and repeat partisan information, as if it were the independent truth. The documents indicate that Slater brags about his ability to manipulate the mainstream media.)

Williams was also spokesperson for Vote for Change, a small lobby group that campaigned against the retention of the MMP electoral system.  National (or at least the far right) apparently does not feel that MMP is working in it's favour. Based on the book, the Vote for Change campaign looks like it was another propaganda set-up to attack its opponents, and formed part of a social media assault during the 2008 election.

Jordan Williams is mentioned 37 times in Hager's book. He is reported to have offered to get copies of Rodney Hide's texts for Slater and Lusk; offered to go take incriminating photos of Winston Peters; dug deep for the dirt on Len Brown; and altered wikipedia posts on a Labour MP who had suggested that Slater had helped Judith Collins leak the controversial ACC Bronwyn Pullar email.

Carrick Graham

Lobbyist Carrick Graham is another major player in this book. He is the son of former National Cabinet Minister Sir Douglas Graham. He has been the money man behind Cameron Slater and his controversial Whale Oil blog. His name is mentioned 65 times in the book.

Carrick Graham was a spokesman for British American Tobacco in New Zealand from 1996 until 2006. He has also represented disgraced former Hanover boss Mark Hotchin. He now runs Facilitate Communications, which promises to "help defend and enhance [the tobacco industry] reputation and corporate image".

According to the book, Cameron Slater was paid ~$6,500/month, by Carrick Graham. Graham provided Slater with articles supporting the tobacco industry (and other industries) to post on his blog, as if he wrote them himself. In addition, Slater wrote attack blogs, attacking opponents of the tobacco industry (and other industries his sponsor Carrick Graham paid him to support.) Slater would target academics, health professionals, government health officials, and others critical of the tobacco, alcohol and fast food industries who spoke against Carrick Graham's interests.

But, Graham did have other clients besides the tobacco, alcohol and fast food industries.

Nicky Hager's book suggests that posts that began appearing on the Whale Oil blog criticising the BSC Contractors in 2012 were organised by public relations man Carrick Graham on behalf of Crest Commercial Cleaning, which could not bid for government contracts because it was not a member of BSC.

Crest Commercial Cleaning managing director Grant McLauchlan says: "We have not specifically paid Carrick Graham to run a smear campaign on Whale Oil". 
[Notice the weasel wording here: "We have not specifically paid..."].

The Service and Food Workers' Union national secretary, John Ryall, says when the union was told that the agreement between the Government and cleaning companies would be scrapped, it knew something had gone awry.

Judith Collins

Judith Collins is a New Zealand politician and lawyer. She has served as Minister of Police and Minister of Corrections. She is currently serving as Minister of Justice and Minister of ACC. 

She has attracted controversy on multiple occasions. One included claims of partisan handling of the David Bain case. 

In March 2014, Collins came under fire after an overseas trip where she 'dropped in' (though subsequent documents show this was planned) for a dinner with 2 senior members of Oravida (a New Zealand company which exports to China - of which her husband is a director) and an un-named senior Chinese official. 

The company was having trouble getting it's milk into China. Opposition parties say Ms Collins' Beijing dinner was about smoothing the way for her husband's company Oravida's milk exports to China, which were facing obstacles by border control agencies following the Fonterra botulism scare. Ms Collins denies the claims.

Over the following weeks the Labour Party continued asking who the Chinese official was. Collins did not provide his name, which House speaker David Carter described as "very unsatisfactory". Accusations of abuse of power, and conflict of interest were raised. 
John Key did not take any action against Judith Collins.

Judith Collins name is mentioned at least 100 times in Dirty Politics. She is supported by the far right leaning characters in the book - who like her "Crusher Collins" attitude. 

She was Minister of Police and Corrections. Following the right wing, failing US model, she supported 3 strikes and you're out legislation (which has served to keep jails full to over-flowing in the US privatised prison-industrial complex). She approved the management of a new prison by a private UK company (which has since been the focus of a major scandal in the UK); and she approved NZ police using tasers and having increased access to guns.

She is shown as one of the closest political associates of Cameron Slater. Slater and his right wing cadre were contemplating her replacement of John Key as Prime Minister - as a reward for her patronage, and tough as an old boot attitude.

Nicky Hager specifically includes Judith Collins when he refers to the documents showing: 
"the continuous close ties between the prime minister's office and the attack dogs, the role of Judith Collins and the inside story of the political issues and campaigns they manipulated - layer upon layer of hidden activities and dirty politics."

"The main beneficiaries of the political attacks are the National Party and it's senior politicians."

He says that Slater and Collins:
"were drawn together by right-wing politics and a shared attraction to aggressive and often petty attacks."

Hager says:
"Slater was a devoted supporter of Collins, using his blog to promote her and attack his critics. Collins, in turn, fed a continuous supply of material to Slater: public press releases, political gossip, tip-offs and serious leaks."

The right wing Judith Collins wrote a note of approval of Slater's blog post he and Lusk had written about the internal Auckland National Party politics:
"Loved your utu post," she said. "Personally I would be out for total destruction... But then again I've learned to give is better than to receive.

Collins and Slater often talked by phone. In the evenings and weekends they chatted via Facebook. In work hours, Collins emailed him directly from her sixth floor Beehive office. There are hundreds of emails between them, including many from her private email address.
She would begin some emails to him titled: "For the tipline."

Hager says:
"What Collins and Slater shared most were their dislikes and enmities. Their hostility towards many people in the National Party was at least as strong as their dislike for their political opponents."

They had what they called, the Double Rule. If someone attacked them, they gave back twice as much.

Dirty Politics also revealed that Collins had passed private information about a public servant on to Slater. Collins had thought that the public servant had leaked information about her Cabinet colleague Bill English misusing his housing allowance. If a minister had suspicions about a staff member there were formal process to follow. But, despite knowing the character of Slater's blog and the reaction that would follow - Collins collaborated with Slater, leaking information. This effectively had the employee publicly tried and hanged on Slater's blog. Collins did this with the belief that knowledge of her role in the leak would remain secret. Slater published the information on his blog - and the public servant subsequently received death threats.

In addition, the book says when that when ACC accidentally leaked private details of thousands of claimants to Bronwyn Pullar in 2012; an ex-prostitute friend of Slater's was worried that her file was among them.  Slater apparently told her he'd call Ms Collins and find out; and later told the prostitute that he "spoke to the minister". Slater then appeared to know details about the leak before they were made public. 

Pullar's support person, former National Party president Michelle Boag, who was mutually despised by Collins and Slater sent an email to Collins about the Pullar case. Pullar's name and Boag's role as her support person, was then leaked to the press. (Collins claimed she did not do it, but the email had been sent to her.) 

It is speculated that Slater had given the story to David Fisher of the Herald because he had given a number of other stories to the same journalist in that period. By inserting Slater in the middle, Collins could claim she had not leaked the information to the Herald. Slater complained to his friend Bhatnagar regarding Hamish Price: "He was telling anyone who would listen that Collins leaked to me (Slater) and I leaked to Fisher."

On 4 April 2013, Judith Collins announced a raft of proposals to hold cyber bullies to account for their bullying and harmful online behaviour. But in Hager's book she is shown to be BFF (best friends forever) with her fan Cameron Slater - who has been writing cruel and destructive posts, geared to undermine opponents of National party policies etc for years. And in the book, she is documented to agree with Slater that anyone who dissed the National Party etc should get "double" punishment from Slater.

Probably the most telling quote from Collins in this book - a sentiment shared by autocrats and dictators throughout the ages is:
"If you can't be loved, then best to be feared."

John Key

John Key, who is currently Prime Minister of New Zealand, first entered New Zealand politics in 2002 and has led the National Party since 2006.

When Key entered New Zealand politics in 2002, it was decided that his former image in the finance industry of a "Smiling Assassin" would not do. 

Key was re-branded by his party spin doctors to project the image of a plain folks "Mr. Nice Guy." The ever smiling, "Mr. Nice Guy" is a King of Spin - well trained by his press secretary and PR people. He is mentioned in Hager's book by his full name 35 times, and by the name Key at least 100 times.

New Zealanders are used to his smooth, glib responses to questions. He is expert at dumbing down the news; avoiding questions, denying the truth, pleading ignorance, and the use of sarcasm to avoid issues. But the media and the public are not taking John Key at face value now. His spin and repeated denials in the face of facts, is serving to make the public more cynical than ever about politicians. This is not good for democracy in New Zealand - because when voters become apathetic due to distrust of politicians and don't vote - those on the right and far right still vote.

Prime Minister John Key has been trying to distance himself from the backlash of Dirty Politics. But one of the villains in the book, Jason Ede, is one of John Key's senior press secretaries. Ede's office is (or was until recently) only two doors down the hall from John Key.

Just 2 doors away, in Ede's office - the seamy Poison Pen Public Relations "Attack Machine" side of the National Party was active - covert, malicious and destructive. It is highly improbable that John Key was left out of the loop by his senior press secretary. 

John Key knew Cameron Slater. It is highly improbable that Key was unaware of the nature of Slater's blog, given it was one of the two attack blogs Ede fed information to. Hager says that Key did not control Cameron Slater, but when it came to smearing the reputations of their political opponents, they willingly worked together; and the attack bloggers were a routine part of John Key's political management.

Hager discusses the set-up of David Cunliffe by the National Party, and the attack spin put on a normal ministerial procedure - and the fact that Key had been aware of this.

Hager also includes a documented conversation in which Slater indicates that John Key had phoned him regarding the grieving mother of the young man who had died in January 2014 to reassure Slater that he (Slater) should not feel bad about upsetting the mother.

It is not plausible that Key was left out of the loop, or was unaware of what was going on. If it were true (as he frequently claims when asked about controversial subjects) that he doesn't know anything about this latest scandal - then one must conclude he is an incompetent, irresponsible, mindless puppet. But, it is highly unlikely that the "Smiling Assassin" who has accumulated $50 million in wealth is either witless or a puppet. It is highly improbable that he was unaware of the machiavellian machinations, going on under the aegis of one of his senior press staff just 2 doors away from him.

His repeated denials are just spin.

Jason Ede is still working for the National Party (and may still be on the Beehive payroll). Nor has Key done anything of substance to Judith Collins or any other staff who have been implicated. This is not a surprise - as, his denials aside - he was likely party to the process.

Besides attacks on political opponents and others - Nicky Hager says that John Key's government has been exceptionally aggressive at attacking and trying to silence: scientists, journalists, academics, public interest groups and any other people who publicly criticised it's actions.

Hager says that Key's administration had been intolerant and organised in the pressure it covertly applied to certain journalists who questioned National policies etc. Pressure was exerted directly (and through their employers). They became subject to slurs and insults - and the attack blogs were used for this purpose.

Nicky Hager says that lack of independent media scrutiny is why John Key's government could get away with running the friendly, relaxed leader image while being involved in continuous attack politics.

Besides writing the book, Nicky Hager recently gave a talk (along with retired Appellate Judge, Sir Edmund Thomas). In the talk he noted that after he wrote his book Hollow Men, he was told by one of the main characters in Dirty Politics, that the core of dirty politics in New Zealand is based on a toxic public relations system, that apparently originated in the Republican Party in the U.S.

Based on the talk and the book, this apparently involves a 2 tier public relations system, that is well into the dark side of public relations. It uses propaganda tools. It involves the use of social media and mainstream media to sway public opinion, or dumb down the public so they do not interfere with what the government is doing or wants to do:

1. Overt PR that is "above the line (belt)"

Above the belt PR includes practices whereby the source of the PR is known, and various spin techniques are used to persuade people to believe an idea or act in a certain way.

The leader and elected representatives are typically trained to put on an honest, friendly "Mr. Nice Guy" public person; and they are trained to avoid answering questions they don't like.

On the one hand, this may involve pictures distributed in media whereby the smiling politician is shown doing folksy things with members of the community. This is a long-standing form of PR, particularly around election time, and is reasonably benign (albeit it can be misleading.) 

You don't need training to tell the truth. But secrecy, lies and deception seem to the norm for many politicians. They are also trained by their PR handlers to use spin to avoid questions they don't want to answer.

This is done to prevent the public from knowing the truth, because the truth could be embarrassing for them or the government; and knowledge of the truth could cause the public to disapprove of what they are doing; and prevent the public from acting in the way the politician wants.

This serves to dumb down the public, so they won't object to what their elected representatives are up to; and is contrary to the principles of transparency and open government and undermines democracy.
(Here is a link to the types of spin that are commonly used by politicians as well as advertisers. You can make a game of it during elections, and you and your family can challenge each other on who is the quickest to identify the spin)

This type of "ass-protecting" behaviour by politicians, directed by PR people is unlikely to change. But, spin is a sign that the full truth is being hidden. This makes it very important for responsible media, and the public to be able to identify spin, challenge it, and dig deep for the truth once spin is recognised.

2. Covert PR that is "below the line (belt)"

This is where the Dirty Politics and Poison Pen Public Relations comes in.

This includes the use of social media, and partisan members of the mainstream media to smear political opponents; and members of the public or organisations (including unions etc) that speak against government policies; anyone that results in negative publicity to them or their party; and anyone else they don't like.

Nicky Hager shows in his book that toxic bloggers often get tips on material to use in smear campaigns directly from government sources. 

It is clear that unfettered surveillance is a potentially powerful tool for evil purposes in this regard. It is likely that this is one of the main reasons that the U.S. government spies without restraint on everyone in the world.

Having access to the data of people in positions of power or influence (or famous for any reason) that shows they or members of their family did something they would be ashamed of, or wrong-doing of any sort gives the U.S. government a political advantage domestically and internationally. Dirt can be used to smear people, or put pressure on them to do things the way the U.S. or it's corporate and military-industrial-surveillance industry masters want. No doubt there may be guidelines that allegedly prevent this; but you can bet your bottom dollar that some of the millions of people with access to surveillance data troll it for dirt and other information to use for their advantage, or the advantage of their political or corporate or other cronies.

Besides being given "tips" directly from government, the pseudo-arms length poison pen attack bloggers solicit their followers for dirt, offer rewards for damaging photos or material, and use illicit means such as hacking to find damaging material.

This also includes the use of front organisations that pretend to be independent and representative of the grass roots. While there might be a nominal management, they in fact collaborate with the black ops PR team - with the intent to attack people and policies the party does not like.

Below the belt PR includes other practices whereby the source of the PR is typically hidden or masked, and morally unacceptable techniques are used to manipulate people to believe an idea or act in a certain way.

In conclusion - Dirty Politics shows continuous collaboration between the National Party Prime Minister's offices, toxic bloggers and sympathetic mainstream media to arrange attacks on National's opponents, so as to influence elections.

Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics illustrates how toxic and destructive the machiavellian black ops Poison Pen Public Relations spin (propaganda) is. It shows that black spin has become a normal "attack" tool by the leaders of the New Zealand National Party and their staff. 

The book exposes the corrupt use of public relations, and abuse of power by members of the National Party, their staff and others. 

The use of attack bloggers and propaganda front organisations to create the illusion that these attacks are independent of the National Party - is shown in Dirty Politics to be exactly that - an illusion.

The book is a must read for New Zealanders who want to know what the government is up to; and want an honest trustworthy government rather than an unprincipled, untrustworthy one. 

In the event that it is out of stock in your favourite book store, you can buy the Kindle edition from Amazon.