Yesterday there was some excitement over some e-mails from the Hager book which made it look like Cactus Kate had published Nicky Hager's address so the Chinese triads could kill him, over his work exposing money laundering.
i know Cactus well and she is an unlikely assassin.
The reality is that people sometimes say jerky things in private e-mail conversations. I suspect most of us have done it. I'm sure I have. Go through what must be over 100,000 e-mails from me, and I am sure you'll find some where I have said offensive and jerky things.
Cameron often says things in e-mails about how the Headhunters are going to deal to this person, and the triads to this person. I've lost count of how many times I've seen a reference to this. People often boast and skite in e-mail, and that doesn't mean it represents what actually happened. With Cameron the proportion is perhaps a bit higher than for most of us. Rodney Hide writes in the HoS on how it took him just 10 minutes to check and verify the claims about him being blackmailed were false. Basically a couple of people heard some gossip, talked about using the gossip, but of course never did.
Hence it is easy to take a few dozen of the worst e-mails from someone, and make them sound like they are a major criminal figure, or the such.
Take for example, me. I'm generally not a vengeful person. But if you were tape recording my phone when I worked out that someone had planted a spy into my office (and one that appears to still have been there maybe just three weeks ago), then you would have heard me swearing and promising bloody retribution.
Then 24 hours later I was fine, after going for a run, which is a great way to calm down. But if you had hacked my phone and heard my initial thoughts, I'd look really bad.
I can't recall if I ever say the e-mails talking about Hager and triads or something. But if I did, I wouldn't have been taking them seriously. Its preposterous.
When a threat is real, I will take action. A few years back there was a nasty guy who made death threats on his blog against Sue Bradford. His blog was hosted by Google, so no way to work out his identity. I realised he had once or twice commented on my blog, so I proactively went to Sue Bradford's office and told them I had info which could help identify him. They told the Police who contacted me, and I gave the info to the Police. Sue's politics are not my own, but I despise political violence. But people mouthing off on e-mail about the triads doing “chop, chop” is not the same.
There's also been some focus on the case of Simon Pleasants, a former Labour staffer who worked in ministerial services, who some thought might have leaked details of ministerial housing. I do remember that exchange, and I said that I knew Simon well, regarded him as a good guy, and do not think he would have been involved in any way. My advice was not followed, because well Cam doesn't tend to be the advice taking type.
But also worth putting this in context. It was unfair to blame Simon just because he was a former Labour staffer. But when a former Labour staffer leaks cabinet papers from MFAT to Phil Goff, then people get suspicious of all former political staffers. When people stick spies into my office, I wonder if I need to start vetting my staff (I won't). What I'm saying is that because of the actions of a few extremists, people like Simon do get suspected because of their former political role. If you know them, like I did, then you'll say Nah would never be him. When you don't, and some information has been leaked, then they do become the number one suspect – unfairly. Blame the former Labour staffer who leaked the MFAT cabinet paper as much as you blame others.
So again, people say jerky things in e-mails. I am one of them. I can't recall anything horrendously jerky from me, but I'm sure if you go through 100,000 e-mails you'll find some, and they will get published somewhere someday.
Meanwhile it appears the spy may still be in my office. A closer reading of the book reveals stuff from barely a few weeks ago. So he or she has been stealing scripts for many months. Is he or she just stealing scripts? Is he listening to conversations and passing it on. Is he or she trying to access the office computer? Are the scripts going just to Nicky Hager, or being shared with other political parties? How much of my company's information has been stolen by this person? What fun questions I've got to grapple with.