Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on why we shouldn’t genuflect to calls for secrecy

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Reportedly most (and possibly all) of the Royal Commission investigation into the Christchurch mosque shootings will be closed to the general public and to the media.

Oh sure, come delivery date in December there will be some kind of “public-facing” document containing conclusions and rationales, but there will have been no interim way of scrutinizing the inquiry’s rigour, or how fairly its findings reflect the evidence.

What is it about New Zealand… that the moment something happens involving our defence forces or security services, a blanket of secrecy gets tossed over the proceedings? This only undermines public faith in the competence of the services being exempted from scrutiny. The usual justification is that if any inklings of how the security services do their job were allowed to escape into the public domain, this would provide wrong-doers with a ‘how to’ manual to avoid detection. Hey, if only the security services were that good. On the evidence though, serious jihadis and white supremacists aren’t waiting to discover chinks in the fortress of SIS invincibility before they make their moves.

This should be a no-brainer. By all the available evidence, the SIS imported the priorities of our Five Eyes security partners (jihadi terrorists) into a New Zealand context where they had little or no relevance. In doing so, the SIS missed the real threat. Therefore, the SIS shouldn’t now be allowed to invoke secrecy around the same flows of information whose downstream consequences are what this Royal Commission has been set up to evaluate.

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