The rhetoric of security service "failure"

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In both the case of the Christchurch fascist terrorist attack and the recent US Capitol insurrection, there is a frequent refrain that the security services "failed" to do their job. This is not the case. They have done their job perfectly well.

In the Christchurch case, the security services said that they held no information about the fascist who massacred 51 Muslims. They have apologised to the Muslim community for the "incorrect" prioritisation of threats, of not taking seriously white supremacist violence when it was brought to their attention. But the analysis of this as "failure" obscures the fact that the NZSIS, GCSB, NZ Police and other government institutions such as Immigration NZ as well as numerous MPs have been actively involved in creating and promoting the idea of Muslims as an existential threat to "national security" for 20 years.

From Ahmed Zaoui to the "many headed hydra" to "jihadi brides" to terror watchlists, the NZ state has sought to terrorise and criminalise Muslims for decades by effectively painting a giant target on their backs.

The very idea of "national security" in a settler colonial state that was established through violence is the continued domination of white settler power by way of the institutions of violence, divide and rule, and the 'othering' and creation of an enemy. It is literally the security of the powerful masquerading as the security of all. The security services, police and other institutions of the NZ state exist to protect them from challenge within.

The same analysis applies in respect of the US Capitol insurrection last week. The idea that there was a failure obscures the very real way in which the security services have not just simply turned a blind eye to the actions of fascist organisers, but have actively participated in creating the targets for their terrorism. Yes, there have been police officers who have lost their jobs for assisting the fascists rioters. But when the acts of Police are to regularly murder young black men in cold blood, when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency puts babies in cages, and holds people in the gulag they call Guantanamo with no charges and no chance of ever leaving, fascists can rightly say that they are doing nothing more than that the state is already doing.

It is imperative that we stop talking about security service failure and start talking about the NZ state's responsibility for terrorism against Muslims, Māori and those who are 'othered' by the white colonial settler state.

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