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Hager book contains leaked emails to 'obnoxious' blogger

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Leftwing writer and activist Nicky Hager has released his latest election year book: this one containing allegations of a long-term dirty tricks operation run out of Prime Minister John Key's office.  

The book, Dirty Politics, alleges use of security services' information and communications against political opponents.

The book starts with what is already known: that a prime ministerial operative, Jason Ede, regularly feeds information to Cameron Slater, who writes the blog "Whale Oil" and who Mr Hager described as "obnoxious" at tonight's book launch at Wellington's Unity Books. 

The book builds on that information though: in an echo of Mr Hager's most famous effort, The Hollow Men, the book contains leaked emails between National Party figures. 

The book also alleges Mr Ede hacked into Labour Party computers and fed the resulting Information to Mr Slater. 

Mr Hager says he got the information through "a lucky break" because, after Mr Slater’s blog attacked West Coast residents as "ferals" earlier in the year, the Whale Oil blog was hit with a series of denial of services attacks.

As a result of these attacks – and here Mr Hager has been somewhat vague – emails were obtained and these found their way to Mr Hager. 

"The book is based upon a large number of internal communications between the National-aligned blogger Slater and a network of National Party figures," Mr Hager says in a statement.

"The documents are very revealing about Slater and his collaborators, including much that is shocking and distasteful.

"But, much more important, the documents also cover politicians and Beehive staff, showing the highly coordinated National Party attack politics used year after year throughout Key's prime ministership.

"You are not going to believe how bloody awful it is."

Mr Hager's 2002 book, titled Seeds of Distrust, about genetically modified corn almost derailed Labour’s election campaign that year and that of former prime minister Helen Clark.

In The Hollow Men Mr Hager detailed private emails to and from former National leader Don Brash after the 2006 election.

Mr Key yesterday sought to discredit Mr Hager.

"Most people know that Nicky Hager is a screaming left-wing conspiracy theorist. He's hardly an authority on these matters … I'm not terribly worried," he told reporters.

Chapter 2 of the book relates email exchanges between Mr Ede and Mr Slater following the discovery by a member of then Labour leader David Shearer's office, John Pagani, that one of the IP addresses for hacks into the Labour database was registered to National Party headquarters.

According to the book's reprinted emails, Mr Ede emailed Slater on June 14, 2014, to note Mr Slater "stood out like dog's balls because of your damn Mac!" as Pagani tracked the hackers by "matching IP neighbourhoods and the types of computer we use."

"In my case," wrote Mr Ede, "I wish to offer a hearty sigh and celebrate dynamic IP addresses."

Mr Slater, who is about to launch a privately funded news service, was quoted publicly accusing Pagani and others of lying, when confronted at the time.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said she could not comment on whether Mr Ede still works in the Prime Minister's Office, saying "I'm not sure of his official title at the moment, but he's still involved."

More by Rob Hosking

Comments and questions

I am sure this staffer acted unilaterally and without John key's permission or knowledge

I doubt if the PM would remember giving permission for something like that anyway.

So Cameron Slater is 'obnoxious" because among other things he uses information that was supposedly got from hacking the Labour Party computers. Then Hager goes and writes a book based on emails received from a hack on Slater's computers.
Hypocrisy should be the title of the book.

It is all about what is in the public interest. What Hager does is beneficial and what Slater does is just muck-raking.

There is nothing beneficial to the public interest in Hager's writings. Never has been and never will be. His criticising Slater is the pot calling the kettle black.

So don't you think there is any benefit to the public in making information available? I don't know about you but I like to think the an informed public is a good thing. Ignorance is not bliss.

Which is true, so I assume that you therefore have nothing against Whale Oil making public the information on Labour's website? And therefore issue a very big "meh" when it comes to this book?

But mum, he did it too!

Methinks Lindsay F protests too much.

It's all very well disliking the truth being out..

It doesn't stop it being the truth.

And it's utter nonsense to suggest there is nothing beneficial in learning more about the dirty world underpinning the ambitions of self-serving politicians - and those snuggling up close to them.

But why do we vote for them. Don't we deserve better?

Surely it is in the public interest to see what tactics labour are employing as well.. yet there is no mention of this. How is this presenting a balanced argument? It is just as much muck-raking as slater. Where has Hager even presented his findings to those involved for comment?

What have New Zealand done that is so bad that we have to suffer the likes of Whaleoil, Hagar, Dotcom, et al

If it wasn't them, there would be others keen to roll in the muck

You're right... Whaleoil certainly has cleaned up the entire blog in the last 6 months or so though...

Hagar's last 30 seconds on Campbell Live tonight was kinda telling I thought.

You obviously prefer ignorance over bliss

The Slaters, Harawiras, Dotcoms, et al are ignorance personified and no I do not "prefer" them, I detest them.
As for Bliss? Don't personally know her.

It's a dishwashing compound. I think most supermarkets stock it.

OH! Thanks for that Min. I don't do dishes. Will it do dirty laundry? If it does then this election campaign could do with a truck load. Cheers

Rob - I am unclear as to why you describe Hager as a "leftwing".. His books so far have not dealt with ideology from a centre left perspective. Instead he has tried (not so well, in my opinion, from my work experiences) to show the covert & silent role of heavy government interference in peoples lifes & liberties. This is something even "right wingers" using your parlence, would celebrate!

And name one book or occasion when he has criticised Labour or the Greens. The word obnoxious should be used to describe Hager.

Surely this book should fall under the Election Act rules

The Seeds of Distrust. Damn near derailed Helen Clark in the 2002 election.
... So you're of the opinion that anything critical of the government should be banned in election year? Only?

Yes, Anon failed epically with that call.

Read "the hollow men"!

Good point and I think Rod is just parroting the PM. Apart from being a Values Party candidate back in 1978 Hager has remained apolitical. However, some of his stuff is the domain of the left wingers, e.g. environmental issues and pacifism.

he also propounds this theory that whatever government is elected next month, the world is heading inexorably towards one world government. It would be interesting to get the party leaders of all colours to comment on this

Politicians aren't honest? Well duh!! I don't think many people will be surprised about that. That's why we need less politicians and why they should have less power over people's lives.

In reply to Dav, it is so blindingly obvious that the author of this new novel is left wing, that it makes me wonder if you are still at university? Hager is so left wing that he cannot see the folly of his feeble opinions. His writings automatically discredit themselves and are no threat to the Government. Why doesn't the NBR ask him if he is a member of the Greens?

Ha ha! Do you know what a university is? Can you define "left wing"? If his writings 'are automatically discredited" (how? By magic? Dont be foolish, please) then why is their so much vitriol and spin against him? FYi, I hold an economics doctorate from an American 'top 20' university (and have been in this country for 12 years with my kiwi partner!).

Vitriol & Spin against him.... more likely highlighting the massive irony of Hager and his deliberately one-sided attempted political hit-piece again...

Same Hager - different election...

Would any "credible" investigative journalist cover both ends of the political spectrum? Maybe even talked with those whose emails he has stolen / used to profit from?

Is Hager's hypocrisy larger than the irony of it all, or visa versa?

Dav, I think people would believe he wasnt left leaning if he presented balanced arguments in this book. Sure there maybe dirty politics but it is being used on both sides. Just look at labour and all their infighting etc and their smear attacks. If he were unbiased then surely he would be shining a light on all political parties rather than just National. You cannot in good conscience tell me that if this is in fact happening it is just limited to National. His attacks also follow that of all the opposition where everything is trying to be linked to John Key to discredit John Key - I am only in my early 20's and can see through this i would be very concerned if you cant.

Oh dear Dav - shouln't have mentioned the 'economics doctorate'. Be very foolish to take you seriously now I'm afraid.

Oh wow! Politicians leaking information to the media to obtain political advantage and curry favour!

Mind boggling revelations? Which planet does Hager come from?

storm in a tea cup

Winston Peters has compared these revelations to Watergate and Nixon. Are there criminal allegations which require the police to investigate further?

Haha, the same Winston Peters who claimed he knew nothing about donations from Owen Glenn? And that Huka Lodge had been sold?

Perhaps National breached copyright when they illegally hacked in and stole the Labour Party member list. Can we have them deported to America under the new 'guilty till proven innocent copyright laws'!
The timing of this book is slightly more obviously pointed than the apology for the Tuhoe raids... which should really have happened on the anniversary in October.

I expect the allegations that the PM's office using the SIS to source material to attack opposition MPs would merit prosecution, as one example. The PM's statutory control over the secret services is not a licence for that sort of stuff, I hope you'd agree.

But Key's resignation would be necessary before the police could get involved, I expect.

These days it will probably need to be a private prosecution for the first 6 months, until the authorities can no longer ignore it.

Shouldn't the criminal allegations be about Hager using stolen property?

Jason Ede could go to prison if the hacking allegations prove correct a la
Andy Coulson. Watergate brought down a president. Prediction that John will throw Jason under bus pretty damn soon if any whiff of criminality

Hindsight does not appear to have invalidated the contents of Nicky Hager's past books or articles - rather the opposite. He has upset both National and Labour governments in the past and does not appear to be particularly political. It's just that whenever he exposes things that those in power (corporate or government) wish to not be exposed, the classic ad hominem statements appear, in attempts to discredit the messenger just as it is appearing in many of these NBR comments.
Lets debate the content, not the author.

I couldn't agree more.

So let me get this right. A journalist (Slater) has sources? Politicians and others leak him information. That's the crux of Hager's book? I don't know which is the more accurate, Hager is desperate or pathetic?

Why employ a government to govern not spend their time trying to destroy their opposition. This behavior corrupts the democratic process and should not be tolerated. Democracy only exists if voters are being told the truth and anyone spending so much time on spin has very little interest in providing the true story. I wouldn't employ anyone that takes my money on one hand and cheats and lies to me on the other. I won't be voting for one either!

I didn't realise 2006 was an election year...

I don't doubt that this behaviour from our politicians (from all parties) has gone on for many is only because of advancing technology (and an illegal act of hacking) that people have managed to find a trail to put this together. Seeing as Hager is such an upstanding member of the community I take it he immediately reported his illegal gotten information to the police?? Not likely....

Good point - I wonder if Hager should be charged with "The proceeds of crime" since he used stolen IP and info to then try and generate revenue from... instead of reporting or returning the stolen property to police?

Will Hager need to share proceeds with Cameron Slater for using his IP for Hager's personal profiteering?

If Hager's left wing status undermines his writings, what does that say for the journalism of NBR?

Some people here think NZ is a corrupt free country.

Politicians in NZ have fingers in all sorts of pies and make laws based on self interest only, look at housing and how many have rental properties.

In Asia, corruption is overt and a way of life, in NZ it is covert, it is done under the table.

Self interest and dirty politics are here to stay to the detriment of most New Zealanders.

NZ deserves better than the swine that are currently at the trough. Sadly most NZers are gullible and believe that PR spin machine that is #TEAMKEY.

Voters think that they’re thinking, but what they are really doing is inventing facts or ignoring facts so that they can rationalise decisions they’ve already made. Once you identify with a political party, the world is edited to fit with your ideology.

We all silence the cognitive dissonance through self-imposed ignorance.

The people who comment online or on television who are most certain are almost always certainly going to be wrong.

“The dominant danger [for pundits] remains hubris, the vice of closed-mindedness, of dismissing dissonant possibilities too quickly.” -
Philip Tetlock

The only way to counteract the bias for certainty is to encourage some inner dissonance. We must force ourselves to think about the information we don’t want to think about, to pay attention to the data that disturbs our entrenched beliefs. When we start censoring our minds, turning off those brain areas that contradict our assumptions, we end up ignoring relevant evidence.

I'd like to agree, but I can't.

The growth of the Green vote, and to a lesser degree, that of the other minor parties, and the regular oscillation between N & L on the gvt benches, shows that some voters are indeed open-minded and willing to shift their support.

Agree it doesn't seem particularly newsworthy that a blogger gets a leak, and it does seem ironic the allegations of criminality are based on stolen evidence. Two wrongs, to coin a popular phrase.

"The people who comment online or on television who are most certain are almost always certainly going to be wrong".
You pose a wonderful conundrum
By your own admission your wrong and therefore so am I.

Wow, look at all the marvellous ad hominem in these comments (and whataboutism).

If Key misused the SIS as his own private spy agency for political gains against his opposition, then that is a major issue.

Why should NZers be comfortable with our government having the SIS at its disposal if it is so blatantly willing to misuse it?

So much for "if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear".

Is it my imagination or has the first line of this article been edited to try and manipulate the Nicky Hager Wikipedia article. I can't remember seeing "Leftwing writer and activist" when I first looked at this article.

Coincidence or collusion?

Whale Oil 14 March 2014 reports Judith Collins under attack from Labour:
"Either that or they are just making up nasty smears with no foundation whatsoever."

Judith Collins 14 August 2014 about new Hagar book attacking Whale Oil:
"I think that's just bizarre. So I'm just not quite sure what he's talking about. But look, it's a smear campaign," she says.

So what's next:
John Banks:"I've done nothing wrong so why would I resign?”
Jason Ede (sometime in Aug): "I did nothing wrong why would I resign?”

Richard Nixon: I had no prior knowledge of the Watergate operation.
John Key: I had no prior knowledge of Kim Dot Com before January 20

Deja vu or deception?