Friday, November 09, 2007

Great Balls of Fire

Wellington's annual Guy Fawkes display was one of the reasons I came back to live here. It goes off, every year without fail. I saw this year's from my street and the scale was all wrong. The noises were off and the lack of awe amongst most of the neighbours was almost palpable. To really get the feel for it, you have to be down the harbour amongst the throngs of Frank Kitts or Waitangi Parks, before wandering off home in the fug of gunpowder that drifts down towards Newtown.

Ah, the sights! The smells! Takes me back to my first terrorist camp:

Five years old and playing with fire. The Soccer Mums would be furious. If you can't take a pram along to displays of large things that explode, well, they should all be banned, right? And this, on the second anniversary of Rod Donald's death. Rod was a strong believer in the right to have fun with gunpowder, yet the Greens say silent.

It's a very interesting yarn between Kathy Ryan and Police Commissioner Howard Broad, discussing "going to the supermarket." It sort of confirms the grapevine stuff, and raises more questions than it answers. What is clear from Howard Broad's circumlocutions is that the threshold of the Terrorist Suppression Act is too high.

It ain't easy being a cop.

As John Ip confirms in the rejoinder, Howard Broad's comments are very disconcerting comment. Howard Broad wanted to prosecute under a law that doesn't exist. The Terrorist Suppression Act has justifiably high thresholds. It was designed in the usual way of platitudinous mumbo-jumbo UN treaty nonsense, hurriedly and for show only. It's not a working model. To ensure that a threat to life, limb or utilities had to be absolutely imminent, two checks were put in place. Both the Attorney General and Solicitor General had to agree to the charges being laid. Michael Cullen abdicated his responsibilites and left the matter entirely in the hands of the Solicitor General, David Collins QC.

Lacking the name of the supermarket, how to get to the supermarket, and what they were going to buy. That's the threshold the cops couldn't reach, even after simultaneous dawn raids, checkpoints, and numerous breaches of innocent people's dignity, reputation and right not to have automatic weapons pointed at them by balaclavaed amoured cops. All those hundreds of pages of inadmissable evidence or illegal wiretapping, depending on how you look at it.

This "early intervention" guff is the stuff that confirms my wildest fears. This is Margaret-Shields-seeing-skulls-in-rum-advertisements crazy. The Police Commissioner would like to see the threshold lowered so he can pre-emptorarily, unilaterally surveil anybody playing silly buggers in the bush and spouting nonsense about taking over the world. Are they going to tap Helen Clark's mutterings on her next Norwegian Wood holiday?

Between the Idea
And the Reality
Falls the Shadow