Morale was deteriorating and it was all Yossarian's fault

The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.

A message for those who serve on the front lines in our defence forces.

Thank you. You girls and guys do something that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to, under conditions that I would run a mile from. I'm not just talking about the going to overseas places where there's an ever-present danger of having your head shot away or limbs blown off. It's also the preparedness to respond to civil defence emergencies, the search and rescue work, and the standing around for hours through a Christchurch winter's night to stop drunk people having a look around the ruined buildings in the red zone.

So, for all of that ... thanks. Now, if I may have a word with your superiors at Defence HQ?

What the fuck are you doing?

It was bad enough that you responded to John Stephenson's Metro story by publicly calling him a liar, then forced him to go to the High Court to clear his name, only to decide in the middle of that hearing that actually you accepted he wasn't a liar after all and that your response to his story was a mistake. That's some top-flight use of some hundreds-of-thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, that is. Cheers!

But now it emerges that you actually view John Stephenson and his fellow investigative journalists as being "subversives" who pose a threat due to their capacity to "weaken the military, economic or political strength of a nation by undermining the morale, loyalty or reliability of its citizens."

May I just say as a loyal and patriotic New Zealand citizen, whom it is your job to protect and in whose name you operate, that this is NOT AT ALL ACCEPTABLE.


If me, or people like me, finding out what it is you are doing in places like Afghanistan mean that the Defence Forces can't do its job, then you shouldn't be in those places in the first place. End of story. And if you can't accept that these are the conditions under which you operate, then you shouldn't be running the show. End of story.

And G_d help any politician of any stripe who knew that this was your official view of journalism (at least, journalism as practiced by people whom you haven't invited in and taken around on a friendly, embedded jaunt through a "war zone") and then countenanced it. I'm looking at you Phil Goff and Johnathan Coleman.

Here's how it works. We are a democracy. In a democracy, "undermining the morale, loyalty or reliability of the citizenry" is never - never - a reason for trying stop that citizenry from finding out what you are up to. If the Defence Force believes it can't stand naked in front of those citizens and justify its actions, then it those actions are by definition wrong. Because you only possess those guns, helicopters, ships and LAVs that we spend millions and millions of dollars on, let alone have the right to use them to kill people in far off lands, in our name. And if you can't convince me and the people like me that you are using them in ways that I and others are cool with, then you don't have a right to them at all.

End of story.