SEPTEMBER 16 / MARCUS LOGAN

An electric round of applause cascaded around Auckland’s Town Hall, as Edward Snowden’s face appeared on the big screen as Kim Dotcom’s “special guest” for his ‘Moment of Truth’.

The entire audience were on their feet, overwhelmed by the presence of the world’s most high profile whistle-blower, appearing to talk to us about the New Zealand government and our Prime Minister.

After hearing from Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Robert Amsterdam, it’s fair to say the people in attendance walked away absolutely buzzing over the information that had been displayed.

However, after getting home and seeing some of the feedback about the event, a number of issues have become apparent.

The Focus on Kim Dotcom

The ‘Moment of Truth’ was not about Kim Dotcom.

It was about mass surveillance of New Zealanders under the GCSB, the inner-workings of the National Government to allow mass surveillance to take place, and the details of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement that is currently in negotiation.

It was clearly noticeable how little of a role Kim Dotcom, or the Internet Mana party, played on the night. I had expected a few shameless plugs here and there, but not once did Laila Harre or Dotcom tell people to vote for their party, they merely told them to vote.

However, this is not the way in which the New Zealand media and the wider New Zealand public have interpreted the event.

The primordial focus of what has been written/spoken about, are based on the character of Kim Dotcom.

People cannot seem to look past the entertainment factor of Doctom’s persona, something that has been perpetuated by the New Zealand media.

The fact he is overweight, has a criminal history and a thick accent seem to have immediately turned people off to the information presented by the speakers at ‘The Moment of Truth’, so I think it’s time to clarify a few issues.

Some Background Information

In case people have forgotten amidst the Kim Dotcom hype, a few of the people who shared their findings about John Key and the National government were slightly more high profile than Kim.

Edward Snowden – The most famous whistle-blower in history. Snowden single-handedly informed the world about the shady, covert operations run by the National Security Agency and was recognised around the world for his efforts to protect independent freedom and human rights.

A short list of Snowden’s credentials: The Guardian’s 2013 Person of theYear, First place on Foreign Policy’s 2013 list of leading global thinkers, 2013 Sam Adams Award Winner, Runner-up for Time Magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year, 2013 German ‘Whistleblower Prize’ for “bold efforts to expose the massive and unsuspecting monitoring and storage of communication data, which cannot be accepted in democratic societies”, and the Ridenhour Truth-telling Prize in 2014, and the list continues…

Julian Assange – Co-founder and editor in chief of WikiLeaks, the website that gained international attention for exposing government and corporate wrongdoing as well as releasing proof of war crimes committed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2010, Assange received the Sam Adams Award for “an intelligence professional who has taken a stand for integrity and ethics. Time Magazine’s 2010 People’s Choice Award for Person of the Year, in 2011 he was awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal for Peace with Justice – an award that had previously only been given to three people – Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Llama and Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda.

Glenn Greenwald – Journalist, lawyer and author, Glenn has worked for some of the most high profile news outlets in the United States, and was the journalist chosen by Edward Snowden to release information about global surveillance programs.

Greenwald’s journalism has earned him numerous awards; 2009 Izzy Award for Independent Journalism, 2010 Online Journalism Award for Best Commentary, 2013 George Polk Award for National Security Reporting, and most notably the prestigious Pulitzer Prize Award in 2014 for his reporting on the National Security Agency.

Now that we have some perspective on the real characters that need to be focussed on, we can deal with the information that was presented by these three guests. 

All three men, unequivocally agreed and produced evidence that the Key-led government went about conducting a mass surveillance program that collects metadata on all New Zealand residents who use the internet and corresponding digital technologies.

The legislation allowing the GCSB to conduct mass surveillance was passed through parliament on the back of John Key’s insistence that no New Zealanders would be subject to surveillance – this was proven undoubtedly false.

Snowden says New Zealand had access to ‘X-Keyscore’, the data harvesting programme which has been at the centre of the international spying scandal which his whistle-blowing uncovered, and that he himself had seen records of New Zealanders online interactions and metadata.

He also revealed the NSA have stations in place in Auckland and another area in the northern region of the country.

None of Snowden’s previous disclosures about the USA, Canada, Australia and Britain have ever been disputed.

Glenn Greenwald’s work has earned him the most prestigious honours in the journalism world. As a journalist, Greenwald is subject to International Journalism Law – anything he says must be factual otherwise he is viable to be sued for defamation of character along with many other journalistic by-laws – he MUST be correct in his reporting.

So then, should it not be worthwhile to investigate the information these men are presenting about our government?

What personal agendas could this collection of people have in releasing their information about New Zealand? Far from Dotcom’s “henchman” they are campaigners of human rights and personal freedom.

How would Julian Assange or Edward Snowden benefit from altering the political environment in our country? The belief that Dotcom merely paid Greenwald to be there is also inaccurate – when offered a payment for his services, Greenwald refused and insisted the payment go to a charity of his choice.

Of course, Dotcom has his personal agenda which many people are tired of, I know.

I am too.

However, the issues raised here pertain to the functioning of our society and democracy, they go deeper than Kim Dotcom’s personal disputes and for now these should be cast aside.

Privacy is a crucial aspect of individual freedom and human rights. It’s proven that our government and the GCSB have systematically worked to take away these rights.

This should not be acceptable by the leader of our country – the concept of democracy is completely undermined when our rights are stripped from us without our consent and in secret.

“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.”

This phrase has been thrown around a lot in the last 12 hours, when it comes to mass surveillance.

Funnily enough, it actually originated from Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany.

If you have nothing to hide then please: remove the curtains from your windows, the locks from your bathroom, release your bank account details, purchase history and conversations to loved ones for all to see. Hey, even let me come over and take pictures of you in the shower.

It’s not about having nothing to hide, it’s about having things that are nobodies business. Especially not the business of overseas corporations or conglomerates. The internet has emerged as a staple of our everyday life and there is no avoiding leaving a digital trace, the secret monitoring of our digital lives is a crime against our cyber freedom and works to undermine democracy in this country.

The Role of Journalism in Society

It may be worth the mainstream New Zealand media outlets brushing up on the actual role that journalism is supposed to play in a functioning, democratic society.

Journalism was established to be the “fourth estate” within society, meaning that it’s primary duties were to act as a “watchdog figure” in keeping the government honest, and keeping the people informed about what they are up to.

Now then, the information released about the GCSB and dishonesty within John Key’s government should be an absolute field day for journalists and reporters, right?

Information and proof about governmental wrong-doing has been released by some of the most high profile human rights activists of our time. And yet, all I have seen is coverage focussed on Kim Dotcom’s “revenge campaign”.

It should be considered a travesty to journalism to trivialise the issues raised by Snowden, Assange and Greenwald and allow their findings to be overshadowed by Kim Dotcom.

However, there is not much time left until the election will be decided. So who will you trust? John Key?

The man unable to avoid allegations of corruption, dishonesty and deceit? Who has publicly been put on blast by some of the leading truth-seekers of our time?

Of course he will use Dotcom as a scapegoat to detract from the issues being raised, as will much of the biased media in the country.

It seems much of the public are victims of Cognitive Dissonance. The simple refusal to hear anything that challenges the status quo and challenges their comfort zone living and ideological beliefs.

I suggest you re-read Snowden and Greenwald’s track record and set of claims before deciding Key is off the hook or that Dotcom’s Moment of Truth was a failure.

Marcus Logan is an independent journalist studying at AUT. Check out his website here.

You can also follow Marcus on Twitter @marcuslogan00

About The Author

Wake Up NZ is a team of dedicated truth-seekers from all over New Zealand. We are committed to disseminating information that the mainstream media fails to bring to you.

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