Has the New Zealand Government unwittingly defined the U.S. Government as a terrorist entity?

I’m not a lawyer, so this may be a naive interpretation, but it seems to me there is a prima facie case that the U.S. government is a terrorist entity under the terms of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Here is my argument:
1. The U.S. – U.K. led invasion of Iraq was illegal.

Centre for Economic and Social Rights “Tearing up the Rules: The Illegality of Invading Iraq”

“Law Groups Say U.S. Invasion Illegal”

Prominent neo-conservative and supporter of the war, Richard Perle, admits the war was illegal.

Tony Blair’s own legal advisors thought the war was of questionable legality.

2. That makes much of the conduct of the war ‘terrorist acts’ under the terms of the Terrorism Suppression Act.

Section 5, 1(c) Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

The charge in summary – committing terrorist acts in armed conflict, namely: for a political purpose, causing terror in a civilian population, unduly forcing a government to abstain from doing acts (in this case, from being a government), by means of death and serious bodily injury, serious risk to health and safety of the population, destruction and damage to property of great value, major economic loss, major environmental damage, and serious interference with and disruption of infrastructure facilities likely to endanger human life.

Evidence of the factual basis:

The Human Cost of War in Iraq – a CESR study of the likely civilian and human consequences of the invasion of Iraq

Beyond Torture: U.S. Violations of Occupation Law in Iraq

3. That makes the U.S. government (and all other participating governments) liable to designation as a terrorist entity, according to the Act. (Section 20, Terrorism Suppression Act 2002)

4. That would make it illegal to have any business dealings with the U.S. government, or to provide support to the U.S. government’s activities. (Sections 8-10, Terrorism Suppression Act 2002)

6. That would make providing intelligence to the U.S. via Waihopai Spy Base illegal. (Sections 8-10, and possibly 13, Terrorism Suppression Act 2002)


Given the appalling behaviours that occur in this world of ours, and given the broadness of the Act’s definition of terrorism, particularly in Section 5, paragraph 3(c), there may be a number of other governments, (Israel comes to mind) and also a number of multinational corporations that are potential candidates for designation as terrorist entities.

It would take a brave government to take such a path, but, at first glance, it does appear to be a possibility under the law. It would certainly make a strong political statement in support of the rule of law, internationally, and of New Zealand’s disapproval of the violation of international law by powerful states and international organisations. There is precedent for such a course. Outrageous and illegal actions by states, or in the name of states, have not always gone unchallenged. (Thanks to David for drawing my attention to the following examples).

Successful legal challenges to illegal acts:

In 2006, former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet was charged with 36 counts of kidnapping, 23 counts of torture, and one of murder for the torture and disappearance of opponents of his regime. Pinochet died before the trial could be completed. An overview of the legal events and processes can be found here.

In 1986 the Peace Foundation initiated a campaign to have nuclear weapons declared illegal, which after a decade, was successful. In 1996, the World Court Judges decided unanimously that: “… a threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law”.

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