More on that pesky (for the government) and ongoing Dotcom story

Russell Brown has the Hard News (as does Bryce Edwards)about the latest revelations surrounding the ongoing Kim Dotcom saga (for new readers, go here and here to see why this might be interesting to those of us who analyse conspiracy theories). To summarise:

  • Political pressure from the government of the day was applied so to override the SIS and Immigration New Zealand’s (quite legitimate) worry that Dotcom’s criminal past was a liability, and
  • The new information now renders more likely the claim that Dotcom was granted residency in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in order for the FBI to grab him.

The former claim seems easily satisfied by the available evidence, so attention is on/questions are being asked of the Government to explain why the Minister responsible, Jonathan Coleman (or a member of his staff) put pressure on supposedly neutral civil service organisations to grant Kim Dotcom residency. He was, as we now know and they knew then, someone who said organisations had legitimate concerns over, given that he was under serious investigation by the FBI.

The latter claim, about how this evidence of political pressure renders the associated conspiracy theory – that Dotcom’s residency in Aotearoa (New Zealand) was engineered to make it easier for the FBI to get at him – is, if not rendered entirely plausible, getting closer to being judged as being probable. Certainly, as hypotheses go, it looks like the more general claim, that something very dodgy indeed happened in the process of granting Dotcom his residency1, is very probable indeed (thus making some claim of inappropriate political activity probable) and if we add to this the complicity of the police and the GCSB in improperly surveilling and raiding Dotcom, the increasingly unlikeliness of the Prime Minister’s claims to have never heard of Dotcom prior to the raids, it looks as if we really should consider a theory about a conspiracy (a sub-type, in this case, of inappropriate political activity) as being in the pool of the best available explanations for the events in question.

I’m not saying the conspiracy theory is the most likely explanation. Rather, I’m saying that we should be considering that possibility seriously. There is another available explanatory hypothesis that goes something like “The Minister put pressure on Immigration to let Dotcom gain residency, despite the SIS’s concerns, because the government wanted Dotcom under the wealthy investor immigration scheme.” That hypothesis certainly fits the evidence and whilst you can still ask “Why did the Minister ignore the serious implications of the FBI investigation into Dotcom?” the answer to that question is likely to be framed in terms of “But think of all that filthy, filthy lucre he is going to spend whilst on us whilst living here?” rather than “Conspiracy!”

The question, then, is which of the two aforementioned hypotheses is more independently likely? I.e. Which hypothesis would we consider likely based simply upon past/prior behaviour by the government? Frankly, I think you could be forgiven for saying “Either!” Given what we know about the motivations and standards of the current National government, it seems that it might just be about getting Kim Dotcom into the country as a wealth-creating machine. Yet, given what we know about National’s standards of governance and accountability, it does not seem unreasonable to think that they have no qualms about acting unethically and supporting quasi-legal, sometimes illegal actions by institutions associated with the state.

So, there seems to be prior form in favour of either hypothesis. Then again, both might be true (although that would be confusing).

For someone who wrote a book defending belief in conspiracy theories, I’m often very loathe to say “This looks like a warranted conspiracy theory to me!” However, in this case I’m increasingly of the mindset that if it turns out that there isn’t some conspiracy going on which explains the increasingly bizarre story of Kim Dotcom and the Government Who Wanted to Send Him to America, then National has an issue with the public’s perception of just how transparent its government’s actions are.

Notes

  1. Even the leader of the political party Dotcom funds has stated she would have been loathe to grant him residency, given the available information.

About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.