The Kim Dotcom affair has gone from being a French farce to a New Zealand Watergate.
Taken together with the cavalier manner in which the law was flouted during the Urewera Raids, it is clear that neither the bureaucracies who laughingly operate under the moniker of “intelligence” nor their distracted lap dogs - the politicians who are supposedly overseeing operations for the greater good of democracy - have an ethical clue between them.
In looking to explain various actions and statements by Johns Key and Banks, Bill English, the New Zealand Police, the FBI and our domestic equivalent, we have a few options to choose from. Incompetence, memory loss and outright stupidity each have something to recommend them. I also have a fondness for the euphemism employed by Dotcom's lawyers when discussing testimony by a senior member of the constabulary: “economical with the truth”.
Does there come a time when excuses like, “I didn't read/understand what I was signing” or “I forgot” become unacceptable? Does a mountain of factual evidence to the contrary mean anything?
When John Banks comes over like an amnesiac, claiming to have but scant acquaintance with Dotcom, despite actual film footage of the two men hugging, the electronic equivalent of a paper trail detailing a relationship of social warmth between ideological soulmates and proof that he took legal advice on the best way to disguise donations from his rich buddies as “anonymous”, we are faced with the antipodean equivalent of Richard Nixon.
Let's not forget either the stark nature of Banks' hypocrisy. This is a God-fearing man who cloaks himself in his Christianity and good deeds, swears off the drink and enjoys a rather narrow view of sexuality. If Banks is the face of pious righteousness, we would be better served by drunken deviants.
It is tempting to suggest that the ever pliant, to-the-Right-of-Attila-the-Hun Epsom electorate would be as well represented by the Beast of Blenheim, another who has difficulty admitting his crimes. They would certainly vote for him if John Key told them to.
Call me a cynical conspiracy theorist, but has the fact John Banks wasn't charged with an offence anything to do with the fact that he was once a popular minister of Police? Would an everyday citizen be able to hide behind the line that he didn't know what he was signing? Judging both parties by their actions in the Dotcom affair they richly deserve one another. It's just a shame that the taxpayer has to pick up the cheque.
It is equally dismaying that the taxpayer finances spying on New Zealand residents at the behest of foreign powers.
Even if you concede that we need a secret service in this country - and last time I checked the Cold War ran out of steam in 1991 - it is difficult to see how a rotund German guilty of nothing more than running a YouTube-like service is a threat to our so-called “national security”.
Given the complicity of Bill English and/or John Key in the illegal surveillance, maybe the mantle of New Zealand's Richard Nixon sits better on them. On a previous visit to the United States Mr Key showed off his flawless Kiwi accent and razor sharp wit on David Letterman's show, a stunt that cost us $10,000 collectively in payoff money. Perhaps on his current, supremely well-timed trip to Hollywood he might take an acting class with Anthony Hopkins, Frank Langella or Alec Baldwin, three of the better latter-day Nixon impersonators.
On his return Key could pass on the tips to his co-conspirators, ensuring all three could stand up at press conferences and intone the “I am not a crook” monologue with the same stoney-faced rectitude as Tricky Dicky himself. It's a line that could well complement Banks' steadfast assurances about slush fund sources, or serve to offset any lingering doubts about what Bill told John and when. After all, if the GCSB is going to act like Gordon Liddy on a fishing expedition you need plausible deniability. In reality John Key is not an American president on the verge of impeachment nor are Banks and English “his men” in a Woodward and Bernstein sense.
All the more reason, then, for an independent inquiry. Let's have one standard of law for all and punish those who transgress it, especially any who misuse the powers of office.
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