Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ths SIS hunt for WMD

WMD? WTF? SIS proves vigilant in its idiocy...

In November 2009 it was revealed that the SIS met with the University Vice 
Chancellor's Committee, urging lecturers to be vigilant about students 
acquiring knowledge about Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD) and to 
encourage them to spy on students.

They also distributed large quantities of a brochure the SIS had 
produced, titled "A Guide to Weapons of Mass Destruction: Your role in 
preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction" (the brochure 
can be downloaded from the SIS web site ( This raised a bit of consternation and the president of the Tertiary Education Union, Tom Ryan, rejected the SIS's intrusion into the right of academic freedom.

This in turn prompted the editor of the Dominion Post to write a stunningly imbecile response, 'SIS right to be vigilant'. The DomPost pointed to two incidents in NZ,  the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior by French agents and the case of  two Israeli citizens caught forging passports, to argue that NZ "does not have some special immunity against terrorism" and therefore we all (not just the SIS) have to be vigilant.

An interesting choice of examples. Neither of the two incidents involved WMDs and the passport forgery was hardly a case of terrorism. In neither case were the perpetrators students, nor did they seek or gain any information from academia. However, in both cases they were employed by countries that stockpile WMDs and with whom NZ has friendly relationships. If the government is so worried about WMDs getting into the country, wouldn't the first step be to cut all ties 
with countries that manufacture and stockpile them?

The October 15th Solidarity group were keen to play their "role in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction", so they thought they'd give the SIS a hint. Every year in October, the manufacturers of WMDs meet in Wellington for a conference, during which they no doubt exchange information about the proliferation of  these weapons.
Exactly the kind of activity the SIS is asking universities to report.

Strangely enough, though, neither the SIS nor the Police were keen to hear about it. Many people have been protesting against this weapons conference for years. Some have even pointed out where the main organiser lives, but instead of thanking these model citizens for their vigilance, the police arrested them and charged them with 
unlawful assembly.

So the advice to students and academics is this: if you hear or see  anything about WMDs, double check before dobbing anyone in. Remember, there are two types of WMDs - good ones and bad ones, and if you accidentally report the good ones to the SIS you could be in trouble.

The original of this article was published in issue 16 of the October 15 Solidarity Newsletter. All newsletters can be found here: