INDEPENDENT NEWS

Don’t make this a punitive inquiry

Published: Thu 25 Nov 2004 10:48 AM
25 November 2004
Don’t make this a punitive inquiry
Green MP Keith Locke has defended the right of journalists to withhold their sources.
“Helen Clark should make up her mind whether she wants an inquiry to punish the Sunday Star-Times and Scoop over what she calls ‘preposterous’ claims, or whether she wants the truth,” said Mr Locke, the Party’s Security and Intelligence spokesperson.
“Forcing journalists to disclose their sources only discourages whistle blowing, which is often the first step in uncovering wrongdoing.
“Helen Clark should be congratulating the journalists for their public service, as she did when Nicky Hager used secret whistleblowers to kick off the Timberlands scandal. In any case, the reporters’ sources may go before the Inspector-General of their own initiative, if there are guarantees of confidentiality.”
Mr Locke said the Greens wanted a much broader inquiry, like those conducted in America, Britain and Australia.
“Overseas, such inquiries have pinpointed grave inadequacies and suggested improvements. Those inquiries have all been conducted by people outside of a day-to-day role in the intelligence services and their monitoring, and that should be the case here. A without-fear-or-favour investigation across the intelligence service could conflict with the Inspector-General’s more narrow role as an ongoing monitor of the service.”
It is not just the revelations about spying on Maori that worry New Zealanders, Mr Locke said.
“There are a litany of issues. Many people think the SIS has shown gross incompetence in the Zaoui affair. There are concerns about SIS spying on the Muslim and Sri Lankan Tamil communities. The Government’s intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction was faulty.
“We need a thorough investigation of such issues to verify the competence of the SIS, whether it is unjustly targeting the wrong people, and whether it is too uncritically accepting intelligence coming from overseas agencies. We must not simply accept this limited inquiry.”
ENDS

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