Our political masters can't resist referring to home-grown ISIS recruit Mark Taylor as the "bumbling jihadi." But when it comes to bumbling, these politicians have him beat after nearly 20 years of trying to produce a Terrorism Suppression law that is actually fit for purpose.
Last week came the latest fiddling, the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill, designed specifically to address Taylor's possible home-coming from detention in a Kurdish-controlled jail in Syria.
To "protect the public from terrorism," Taylor, and others like him, will have to wear electronic surveillance anklets, have their internet use and phone calls monitored by police, not communicate with "specific" persons, and report regularly to police.
His reading material will be censored, his activities and choice of jobs restricted, and he will be banned from possessing, among other things, "domestic chemicals above a certain quantity." Breaches of the order could result in imprisonment.
On the carrot side, reintegration and "disengagement from radicalising influences" services would be offered. This regime of control and brain-washing could last for six years.
It's a far cry from as recently as last March when Justice Minister Andrew Little was threatening the "complete clown" Taylor that if he returned, he'd be subject to breaches of the Terrorism Suppression Act, with its maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment, the Crimes Act and the Marriage Act "because he is a bigamist as well."
But since then the legal experts have decided there's no evidence he's actually committed a terrorist act. Posing with an AK-47 for social media shots is just not the smoking gun required by existing law - which will also be great news for Shane Jones, the Minister for Upsetting the Prime Minister, given his recent rifle range photo shoot.
As Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman says, the new law is "dog-whistle law-making." She suggests there's plenty of existing law to cover the situation. In particular, she's concerned about the human right's implications of the bill, and I agree.
Since the Twin Towers terror attacks in New York in 2001, our police and security agencies have been showered with money and personnel and given access to the private lives of citizens. It's hard to believe the state doesn't already have the ability to monitor Taylor's activities on his return without the need for yet more draconian means of control.
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In particular, giving police the power to "deradicalise" citizens should be alarming to everyone. Do we really want the local constabulary triggering such decision-making? Their track record is not encouraging.
Back in 1922, the police dragged then Catholic Bishop of Auckland, James Liston, before the Magistrate's Court on a charge of sedition – punishable by death – for his St Patrick's Day speech in the Town Hall.
He'd told a cheering audience that his parent had been driven out of Ireland "because their foreign masters" - the British - " did not want Irish men and women peopling their own land, but wanted to use it as cattle ranch for the snobs of the Empire."
The jury found him not guilty but added the censorious rider that his words were a "grave indiscretion."
Jump forward to the eve of World War 2 and the police were bashing on the door of Rene Shadbolt, head nurse at Auckland Hospital's casualty ward. She had volunteered to lead a team of three nurses to assist the legitimate Republican Government in the Spanish Civil War. The police accused her of heading a communist cell. She told them "I've never been even a secretary of a tennis club."
Leaping to the present, in 2014, the police were forced to apologise to the people of Tuhoe and provide a confidential settlement for their bumbled Operation Eight raids near Ruatoki in October 2007 under the Terrorism Suppression Act. The Solicitor General subsequently refused to press charges under the "incoherent and unworkable" Act.
Now the Government is admitting, in the introduction to the new Bill, that because of "significant difficulties" in securing evidence from overseas of Taylor's involvement in terrorist activities, "a criminal prosecution … is not viable."
That being so, this bill will "manage and monitor" him regardless, and, if we're not careful, the Bishop Listons and Rene Shadbolts and the Tuhoe "terrorists" to come.