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May 18, 2011

New powers mean ASIO could spy on WikiLeaks

A new bill that has received little attention will dramatically expand ASIO's powers to spy overseas, including on organisations like WikiLeaks.


A new bill before parliament will significantly increase ASIO’s powers to conduct offshore surveillance and extend surveillance to organisations such as WikiLeaks, just months after legislation widened ASIO’s power to share the results of its spying.

The Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 was introduced into the House of Representatives in March without debate and is currently the subject of an inquiry by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. The inquiry deadline has been brought forward from September to June. So far there have been just six submissions (including ones from the Attorney-General’s Department and Queensland Police predictably supporting the bill) — reflecting the small number of stakeholders who are across the significance of these sorts of changes to legislation affecting intelligence services.

In March, ASIO’s powers to share information from wiretaps and computer access with other agencies were significantly expanded by the Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Act, which sailed through Parliament with the support of the government and the Opposition, to the fury of the Greens.

The new bill goes further and expands ASIO’s power to undertake surveillance activity offshore in two keys areas:

  • Currently the collection of foreign intelligence is limited to when the Attorney-General “is satisfied that the collection of that foreign intelligence is important in relation to the defence of the Commonwealth or to the conduct of the Commonwealth’s international affairs”. Under the bill, those criteria will be expanded to “the interests of Australia’s national security, Australia’s foreign relations or Australia’s national economic well-being”; and
  • “Foreign intelligence” is redefined to relate to “intelligence about the capabilities, intentions or activities of people or organisations outside Australia”. Under current legislation, it is limited to “intelligence relating to the capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign power”. Similarly, the concept of a “foreign power” has been redefined — currently it applies to “a foreign government, an entity that is directed or controlled by a foreign government or governments, or a foreign political organisation”. Under the bill, it will become “people, organisations and governments outside Australia”.

The new definitions free ASIO up to undertake surveillance offshore in relation to Australia’s economic interests – for example, the negotiation of BHP and Rio’s new iron ore contracts in China. But it also enables ASIO to spy on people and organisations overseas that do not fit the current definition of “foreign powers”.

As Dr Patrick Emerton of Monash’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law points out in the centre’s ubmission, the current definitions in the act already allow for “non-state actors” (for example, who might be engaged in terrorist activities aimed at Australia) to be targeted — “most non-state organisations that threaten the security of Australia would be captured by the existing notion of foreign political organisation”. The expansion, however, would enable Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to be targeted by ASIO. As Emerton says in the submission:

“Currently, information about WikiLeaks probably would not constitute foreign intelligence — because WikiLeaks is (arguably) not a foreign political organisation, and its activities do not threaten Australia’s security (as defined in section 4 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth)). But WikiLeaks is an organisation, and Mr Assange is a person, outside Australia, and their activities evidently do have implications for Australia’s foreign relations. This example shows how the notion of “person or organisation outside Australia”, combined with the notion of “Australia’s foreign relations”, very considerably expands the scope of ASIO’s potential activities.”

Other non-political groupings — in the strict sense — such as Anonymous would also be legitimate targets under the revised definitions. One Anonymous operation brought down the www.aph.gov.au site and two Australians were subsequently convicted for participating.

As the Law Council explains in its submission, the current threshold test for spying on Australians domestically is significantly more stringent than that for overseas, and must relate to matters that are important in relation to security, which is then defined against several criteria. The amendments would enable much easier surveillance of Australians who go overseas and participate in political action.

Potentially, they may also enable surveillance of Australians engaged in action online, even if they are still in Australia, as long as it relates to “the capabilities, intentions or activities of people or organisations outside Australia”. For example, Australians participating in Anonymous operations, or perhaps even supporting WikiLeaks or other whistleblower organisations online, may now be legal targets of ASIO surveillance even though they are in Australia and not doing anything that relates to Australia’s security.

The bill also makes life easier for ASIO by expanding the remit of computer search warrants to include any information on the computer during the life of the warrant, not just when it was issued; ensuring ASIO can share employment-related information about people without them ever being able to access that information and clarifying ASIO’s immunities from Commonwealth and state civil and criminal laws.

“The government brings forward a bill expanding ASIO’s powers once or twice a year, consistent with the unrestrained funding and staffing increases the agency has received,” Greens Senator Scott Ludlam told Crikey. “This current bill is the most ambitious we’ve seen. It will allow our clandestine intelligence agency to pursue covert campaigns against organisations like WikiLeaks or get involved in commercial espionage, presumably on behalf of Australian exporters.”

One of the ironies of national security legislation, of course, is that the Opposition, which is usually to be found instinctively saying “no” to anything proposed by Labor, disappears on the issue, ensuring the passage of these bills. “The government won’t need to justify such extraordinary overreach,” said Ludlam. “Because they know the opposition will vote for anything with ‘national security’ in the title. I think it’s a profoundly dangerous and unnecessary expansion of ASIO’s powers.”



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62 thoughts on “New powers mean ASIO could spy on WikiLeaks

  1. Mike Jones

    ASIO spying on Wikileaks ? I’d call that 15 all. Julian’s serve.

  2. Climate Change

    I think its one of thise bill, where there are 5 people in the Reps and 5 in the Senate and its all over in 30 seconds

  3. Michael James

    There is a key reason for at least one change.

    •“Foreign intelligence” is redefined to relate to “intelligence about the capabilities, intentions or activities of people or organisations outside Australia”. Under current legislation, it is limited to “intelligence relating to the capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign power”. Similarly, the concept of a “foreign power” has been redefined — currently it applies to “a foreign government, an entity that is directed or controlled by a foreign government or governments, or a foreign political organisation”. Under the bill, it will become “people, organisations and governments outside Australia”.

    This is because of the rise of transnational terrorist organisations such as Al Qaida. They don’t qualify as a natin, but their effects can be greater than the actions of nation states.

  4. Ian

    This is horrendous. More and more state control and interference in people or institutions who present no harm to the people but threaten government’s control of them and the exposure of the underhand and non transparent actions of our governments.
    Wikileaks is a case in point. The public need to know what their governments are doing on their behalf.

    We are becoming more and more like the US – a morally bankrupt regime whose least concern is social justice or the well-being of people (their own and the rest of the world’s).

  5. MLF

    The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation subject to legislative changes so that it can carry out Security Intelligence Operations in the post-AQ, post-WL world? Shocking!!!!!

    JA wouldn’t mind anywho, he is all for phone-tapping it seems.

    In inferring that ASIO would engage in industrial espionage Senator Ludlam has made a pretty nasty allegation against the organisation that is charged with the responsibility for our national security.

  6. zut alors

    1984: on my calculations we’re currently running 27 years behind schedule. But making fast ground.

  7. graybul

    ‘The price of freedom . . eternal vigilance’! Consider . . an essential empowerment OR essentially intrusive leading to reduction of existing freedoms.

  8. Amused for now

    The most important point here for me is that ASIO used to be an internal agency. We had ASIS for foreign intelligence gathering. I see a turf war here between competing agencies as they fight for product to justify their budgets.

  9. Michael James

    Not suprised that Greens Senator Scott Ludlam aopposes anything that might smack of more effective Defence and National Security issues, having read their policy that is laughingly called “Peace and Security”.

    I can see that they live in a fantasy land where the UN is the answer to all problems and if we all sit down and talk it out there should be no need for a defence or national security / counter-terrorist capability.

    As the rest of us live in the real world, it’s fortunate indeed that the Greens are unlikely to ever be in a position where the nation’s secuirity is in their hands.

  10. freecountry

    The expansion from “foreign power” would also enable ASIO to spy abroad on home-grown terrorist organizations which may be inspired by Al Qaeda but independent of it.

    The authority to collect information appearing on a computer during the life of the warrant would enable ASIO to install spyware surreptitiously on a computer, if a court issues a warrant for them to do this. The AG department says in its submission: “This amendment is not intended to change the law, but rather to clarify the intent of the provision and ensure consistent language is used throughout the provision.”

    The point most in need of closer examination is the proposed inclusion of “economic interests” as things to be protected by espionage abroad. Does that mean ASIO can spy on the trade secrets of export competitors, or only spy on export competitors who are suspected of spying on us? Would it have enabled us to be better prepared for the AWB scandal if, as some suspect, our American competitors were doing the same sort of thing in Iraq and exposed AWB for their own commercial reasons? Would it enable us to make more effective inquiries about the intentions of Chinese companies seeking to takeover major Australian export assets?

  11. michael r james

    The only saving grace, or compensation, is that as these organizations grow they become less and less efficient usually reaching near total dysfunction. And it is an auto-catalytic process, speeding up as the size and management increases. They become obsessed with internal security and with inter-agency rivalry, often to the detriment of their overall mission–ie. protecting themselves rather than us.

    Witness how hopeless the FBI was revealed to be after 9/11. Not only had they ignored their own staff warnings (who were too low in the pecking order to break through the highly bureaucratized and heirarchical organization) but the eventual bombers they already had in their system and identified as “no fly” were not picked up because they later admitted they did not want to share the photos and information with the TSA (Transportation Security Administration).

    In this country which spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined, almost an hour into 9/11, well after both planes had crashed into the WTC, the best air-defense they could muster were two jets from a distant air-base, which (true story, I am not making this up) due to a cock-up flew in the wrong direction for the first 20 minutes–they were well over the Atlantic ocean before it was corrected, and a few minutes after turning the United Flight 93 hit the ground.

    This is the reason why the Americans created the Department of Homeland Security to try to get all of them to work together. They did a good job with Katrina, in fact, a heckuva job.

    Just like with Sony, if ASIO builds giant databases with all of our important information the biggest risk will be that they will almost certainly get hacked–or it will get left on a laptop in the backseat of a taxi in Bankok airport. I guess our relative puny size will stop it getting to the size like the CIA where a million people are cleared to read diplomatic cables.

    I am also reminded of a joke current when I lived in France during the visit of the Pope. People were seriously alarmed if the Sûreté (roughly equivalent to our AFP) were put in charge of security because they were convinced the service would probably manage to inadvertently kill the pope themselves.

  12. botswana bob

    What was that old saying from the anarchists? Whoever you voted for the government got back.
    All we can hope for is that the Greens stand up long enough to be counted–so far they have been little but a Green collared lap dog.
    I presume this will pass as the other branch of the LABORILS–phony Tony & Co–are certain to vote for it.

  13. Liz45

    Has anyone read the Anri-TErrorism Act of 2005? Nothing here surprises me. In that Act(Howard didn’t take it to the 2004 election either, and it was passed along with changes to WorstChoices either on Melbourne Cup Day or the one after) almost anyone could be charged. It’s worth reading. I downloaded it from the internet at the time.

    @MICHAEL JAMES – Re belittling The Greens policies. I suppose you think that anyone in the Middle East who kills someone in the West is a terrorist, but it’s OK for us to bomb them to bits, or support countries that do – to wit one United States? They’ve left so much depleted uranium around in many countries, that birth defects and cancers are on the increase to an alarming level. Crimes against humanity I call it! What did the people in Afghanistan or Iraq do to deserve this? Or Kosovo? Or Honduras or Haiti?

    Governments are frightened. Not from real terrorists, but from people like you and I knowing the truth. It’s the knowledge that the truth is accessible that has made some call for assassination and extermination of Julian Assange. God forbid that we should have a right to know who’s being killed or maimed in our name! Shock horror! That someone’s been locked up in solitary confinement for making public a grave and awful act of multiple cold blooded murder including children, in a war zone is testamony to how jaundiced our thinking is about who the ‘goodies’ are and why we’re allegedly different to THEM. We’re not!

    In fact, if I was living overseas and saw murderous images of a foreign power in this country, killing friends and neighbours; destroying essential services and detaining young boys and other innocents, I reckon I’d get fired up with hate and the desire for revenge too! I don’t blame those people for hating me, I blame the murderous thugs who organised it – our so-called leaders! (ASIO probably has a file on me already. I’m not bothered.)

    It would appear, that our Govt has the right to spend over $80 million of our money every day, on Defence, but we shouldn’t have a clue how it’s spent, nor should we even have the right to ask how, where or why?Shock horror that we might object to invasions in order to steal resources or just empire build?

    If I hear Abbott rant once more about the ‘people’s anarchy’ etc I’ll scream. Hundreds of thousands of us rallied against the invasion of Iraq, only to be firstly laughed at, then abused and demeaned. Millions rallied around the world, and it mattered not! So much for Abbott’s belief in people power. What bs! His supporters re climate change/carbon tax are zilch by comparison. He took no notice, nor did he support our right to do so! Hypocrite!

  14. klewso

    Good, just what we knead, another coat of bureaucracy, to keep us from finding out what our government, of either breed, is really doing?

  15. klewso

    Bob – “Labrils”? Something to do with “kissing”/”sucking”?

  16. freecountry

    [“I suppose you think that anyone in the Middle East who kills someone in the West is a terrorist, but it’s OK for us to bomb them to bits, or support countries that do – to wit one United States?”]
    Are you arguing that two wrongs make a right?

    Terrorism is not synonymous with warfare or killing. It is a particular strategy of making war by hitting soft targets, causing peaceful civilian populations to fear random violence anytime, anywhere. Those peaceful civilians are then (if they are naive enough) motivated to lobby their governments to support their attackers’ agenda.

    An enemy which identifies with no state, is therefore immune to conventional deterrence, and which is unscrupulous enough to promote its cause not by attacking its enemies but by attacking politically influential innocents, is unusually hard to defend against. This does not justify throwing away our own ethics (rather, it makes our own ethics all the more crucial because of the psychological nature of the war) but it does make it necessary to leave no stone unturned in finding ethically justifiable ways to fight it.

    At times the US has crossed the line and it must (and in fact it does, constantly) examine its conscience over this. The fact that its former Soviet enemies, and its current Jihadist-theocracy enemies, do far worse on a good day than the US has ever done on a bad day, does not excuse all the US’s foreign policy mistakes, but should be noted for balance.

    The state of world politics left over from the 20th century is a mess. Some historians are starting to describe the epoch from 1914 to 1990 as one long global war. Socialism was pushed to the extreme of totalitarianism, nationalism came to be a byword for the extermination of minorities, and the concepts of freedom have been replaced by a kind of fundamentalist obsession with democratic majority rule. Where many of the 19th century popular heroes were scientists, innovators, or defenders of human dignity, we’ve gone back to having war leaders and killers for our folk heroes, just as our ancestors did in the dark ages.

    We didn’t make the world like this, we’ve just got to live in it, and we’ve got to try to deny control of the future to groups of people who think that God smiles every time they send a child to blow up a bus with a suicide bomb. So the way our governments do it makes you angry? Me too at times. I was one of those at the Iraq protest which was so spectacularly ignored. (Actually, by chance I was next to Peter Garrett and his family in the Domain, where excess numbers of protesters were diverted instead of Hyde Park.)

    By all means object to the way the new world order is run. But please don’t go promoting the interests of organizations that specifically target innocent women and children in order to get your attention, because when you do so, you give those methods positive reinforcement.

  17. Ian


    Who then did the US terrorists target in their house raids of innocent people in Iraq?- just innocent men? And because their (the US’s) innocent victims are not specifically targeted does that mean they can kill them over and over again and the best response we get out of them is oops! sorry! didn’t mean to do that! And they carry on as before. And what in Gods name are we still doing in Afghanistan and still supporting those American maniacs in their other occupations and their flagrant disregard of the Palestinians in their wholehearted support of Israel.

    You and Michael James should take a good look at the history of the US and other imperial power’s interventions in the greater middle east and note their support of brutal dictatorships that continue right now. 9/11 didn’t happen in a vacuum and the unfortunates killed in that episode are no less innocent than the hundreds and thousands of victims in these wars. Don’t forget the US’s role in Latin America too.. oh and Africa.

  18. michael r james

    Hey Freecountry, you should go over to Adam Schwab’s piece in today’s CDM. Specifically the comment from JamesH’s (no relation): short extract:

    JAMESH Posted Wednesday, 18 May 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    This is called the operation of automatic stabilisers. Every economist in the world is aware of this – except for Sinclair Davidson, Rand Paul, and Adam Schwab.]

  19. Liz45

    @FREE COUNTRY – Terrorism is not synonymous with warfare or killing. It is a particular strategy of making war by hitting soft targets, causing peaceful civilian populations to fear random violence anytime, anywhere. Those peaceful civilians are then (if they are naive enough) motivated to lobby their governments to support their attackers’ agenda.

    Indeed! Sometimes it’s as a result of illegal invasions by countries with supreme war fare and other utilities. Even Kofi Annan said that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. Moreover, the US knew damned well that Iraq was not armed to combat their onslaught. Since when has it been honourable to use these horrific weapons against unarmed people? The people of Afghanistan were not responsible for 9/11. In fact the alleged perpetrators were from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and ?. None from Afghanistan. Bush reiterated that ‘our argument is not with the people of Afghanistan/Iraq’? So why bomb the beejesus out of them? Why did they invade houses in Fallujia and kill whole families, not even allowing people to pick up or care for the dead or injured. Fallujia was almost rubble when they finished.

    How do you justify Abu Graib? The people did nothing to deserve this. How do you justify Guantanamo Bay? How can the US/Britain/Australia and others stand up and mouth platitudes like freedom and democracy blah blah, when they’ve murdered 1.4 million in Iraq, and who knows how many in Afghanistan. We don’t even keep count of how many we butcher! Honourable indeed! Sickening!

    How can the people defend themselves? Where does it say that they don’t have the right? If we want to take the high moral ground, why didn’t we abide by the Geneva Conventions re our responsibilities as occupiers in Iraq? As far as I know, they still don’t have fresh running water or electricity or sewerage. We’re supposed to ensure those vital services are repaired/protected. The Geneva Conventions say so. Have you ever read them? I suggest you do!

    Instead, Paul Bremmer tore up their Constitution and re-wrote it – to enable the stealing of OIL! Bush divvied up the spoils before the invasion began. Don’t try and make it sound like some act of moral principle please! I’ll really be sick!

    Most of what you’ve written is just so much bs. ‘We didn’t make the world the way it is’ bs is just that. We did and still are. We had a choice to say ‘no’ to Bush. We didn’t. Don’t try and smooth it over as though we’re just making the best of a bad situation. We helped create that ‘bad situation’ by getting into bed with the US – without question. All the rubbish that goes on about the Middle east blah blah is sickening. The US is after Gadaffi but hardly says a word to Bahrain or Syria or??Their idea of democracy and freedom revolts me. They’d allow your head to be cut off too if it was in their interests! The hypocrisy is so thick, the air is unbreathable at times.

    If I hear Hillary Clinton’s platitudes one more time I’ll puke! They have a ‘kill or capture’ mentality about anyone anywhere? I call that terrorism! I’m not dressing it up or excusing it for you or anyone else. Thankfully, lots of people around the world have woken up too. I suppose that’s one thing to thank Bush/Blair/Howard for! Made some people take off their idealistic glasses and see the revolting reality. The biggest terrorist in the world is the US – and we helped them! So that makes us terrorists too! We allowed torture, killing, maiming, cluster bombs, depleted uranium and the detention of people who the US know are innocent in Gittmo!

    I feel ashamed and dirty!

  20. AR

    Given that Bumbler..err..Bomber Beazley once proclaimed, apparently seriously & without irony, “I always believe everything the Intelligence services tell me…” why would anyone be surprised that this Bill, along with the Rodent’s 2005 one, sailed through unopposed?
    As noted above, the main result will be more empire building & turf wars, as inevitably happens when organisations grow beyond a crucial size, more & more of the available resources go to maintaining the structure to the neglect of the ostensible purpose and THAT occurs when the organisation is open & publicly accountable.
    When it’s a bunch of spooks, fugeddaboutit.

  21. kennethrobinson2

    Actually the terrorists are not hard to find, just go to parliament.
    It wont be long before door are being kicked in and we crikey people will be denied the right to complain.

  22. 6-0, 6-0

    ***One of the ironies of national security legislation, of course, is that the Opposition, which is usually to be found instinctively saying “no” to anything proposed by Labor, disappears on the issue, ensuring the passage of these bills. “The government won’t need to justify such extraordinary overreach,” said Ludlam. “Because they know the opposition will vote for anything with ‘national security’ in the title. I think it’s a profoundly dangerous and unnecessary expansion of ASIO’s powers.”****

    There it is, right there!..why is there never any opposition to these bills which sneak through rubber stamped? Which individual initiated the legislation? Was it ushered through late at night?…on a long weekend? This is typical of bipartisan Australian politics when it comes to the puppets who dance for their international masters. Eventually, this bill is really all about the eventual linking-up of all the Western Intelligence Services through a master database of commercial, corporate and personal information. We surrender our freedoms through apathy.

    Thanks to the journalist who wrote this article.

  23. Bodeka


    Great summary Liz.

  24. Liz45

    @BODEKA – Thank you! I recall reading the Anti-TErrorism Act of 2005 and found it almost impossible to believe, that an Australian Govt would give itself the right to arrest and charge someone ‘for any other purpose’? Crimes of violence or threats of same against the country, but ‘for any other purpose’? If I had any thoughts that Howard & Co had any decency or integrity or even cared about the freedoms of their citizens, that was the end of them. We could end up like other countries, with people being arrested for just disagreeing with the govt. Workers, unionists, women protesting against crimes of violence against them and their kids. Very sobering isn’t it?

    By the end of today, another $85 million will have been spent on Defence, while a couple who’ve been caring for their disabled son or daughter for 30 years or more won’t even be able to have a weekend respite; or a family will have to leave their severely disabled child at the hospital door, as they’re just too damned sick and tired to continue – 24/7 care! Shameful isn’t it?

    Obviously,the Gillard Govt has proven what others here have said – there’s no difference between the major parties. Sometimes when they’re carrying on in the Parliament I yell at the TV – ‘stop the childish bs, you’re just two sides of the same coin’ – in too many areas, sadly!

  25. bluepoppy

    Isn’t foreign intelligence gathering already within the scope of ASIS and DSD? And don’t security agencies now enjoy greater cooperation and sharing of intelligence since the harsh lessons of 9/11?

    It was concerning to read that ASIO is being used to further Australia’s economic interests overseas. When did this fit within the national security portfolio other than in preventing terrorist acts or sabotage against Australian installations.

    This sort of stance is the stuff of which people are getting weary, such as the Wikileaks revelations about big-ag companies influence on the US Government to impose sanctions and pressure on European countries to accept GMOs. These sorts of behaviours and actions could easily be categorised as a terrorist act. Perhaps we need a new Act to define terrorism including where governments are involved in the downfall of regimes that do not foster their best economic interests.

    Would Wikileaks be a target for these agencies and if so why when it is one of the few organisations seeking greater transparency and accountablity. When did those goals become an act of terrorism. It would seem when economic interests are threatened this transfers into the scope of national security. Bizzare.

    National security agencies are necessary but better and more egalitarian foreign policy would act as the greatest deterrent and a far better approach in counter-terrorism. Even Sun Tzu said the best way to defeat your enemy is not to make an enemy in the first place

    Better and more equitable foreign policies would mean security agencies could spend their time undertaking the work for which they were originally chartered.

  26. Glenn Brandham

    Thanks Liz, love your work. You were ok too Bernard, thanks for the heads up. This is why I pay subscription.

  27. freecountry

    So the test of whether anything is in the public interest now is whether it is good or bad for Wikileaks? Let’s just define anything that threatens the interests of Julian Assange as terrorist.

    Assange seems to have become the Messiah, so I’d like you to think about this note among his archives at (( classic-web.archive.org/web/20071020051936/http://iq.org/#Thenonlineareffectsofleaksonunjustsystemsofgovernance ))
    [The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.
    Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.]
    If this is, as it appears to be, an insight into his reasons for launching the Wikileaks project, then it suggests that Assange is not trying to make the US more open and accountable, but rather to bring it down as a power, by degrading the usefulness of its lines of communication.

    I realize some people here (including at least one proud supporter of terrorism in the narrow sense I described it above) would see that as a messianic mission and wish more power to him. For those of you who still have your heads screwed on, it should cause some concern and some hard-nosed questions about whether that’s really Julian Assange’s intention.

  28. bluepoppy

    Why is the word “Messiah” being used lately to diminish an opposing view. I think most people are sufficiently fed up with BS and cynical not to ascribe any sort of messianic kudos to anyone.

    Regardless of what you think of Assange or Wikileaks, do you believe governments should be more transparent and accountable. Wikileaks is an organisation like any other and after reading Domscheit- Berg’s book Wikileaks also has its problems, but the aims are generally sound.

    “Bringing down” a government is strongly worded phrase admittedley however governments aslo conspire to bring down other governments in various ways via diplomatic pressures and even threats, if there is a perceived economic interest. Is this okay?

    The goal should not be to bring down governments unless they are despots and no longer serve the people who elected them. Most of the time it can be done via the electoral system and better if there is some choice at the ballot box. Sadly there is often not as wide a choice as one would hope in a democracy. Greater transparency and accountability, as tired as those words might become, would reduce the need for the expansion in terms of what defines national security.

    Much of national security is theatre to reassure the public that things are being done to protect them but if you look behind the facade much of it is mismanaged by empire builders and resources often poorly distributed. Mistakes are swept under the carpet and whistleblowers like Andrew Wilkie (and others including those of whom whistleblower reports are not made public) are maligned to save face.

  29. Liz45

    @GLENN – Thank you!

    @FREE COUNTRY – I realize some people here (including at least one proud supporter of terrorism in the narrow sense I described it above)

    I don’t believe that the US or any other country has the right to be ‘the super power’ particularly if they gain that title by invading small countries with violence and death, and/or interfering in others such as Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the like. The 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela was a very good example of the evils of the US. If not for the people there, they’d have succeeded. If by supporting democractically elected govts regardless of the peoples’ choice is your idea os supporting “terrorism” then you’re the one whose thinking has problems.

    What the British did to Deigo Garcia was and still is a disgrace. The President of Haiti, democratically elected by the people was removed by the US twice! Why? Because he started talking about allocating monies to the poor for health, education and employment vs horrific poverty, the same as Hugo Chavez has done, and he’s delivered too. If we think it’s OK for the US to do that, then we’re a bloody sick lot without much hope.

    As for referring to Julian Assange and others like him as “Messiah” It’s not only childish, but leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Assange seems to be a committed person to me. He’s obviously not wealthy, doesn’t exploit others and has exposed areas that were positively evil – such as mass murder of unarmed citizens including little kids.

    You seem to forget or ignore the obvious. If these rich powerful countries want resources in other countries, let them buy them, not kill and steal them. Do overseas countries have the right to come here and steal our iron ore or coal or beef? Of course not, it’s a crime. Why should it be OK for the US or Britain or anyone else to invade, kill, maim and steal resources. The countries where this is happening right now are many. The big oil companies are part of the injustice and punitive actions taking place, including unionists/residents being sentenced to death while the rep from big oil sits in the so-called court room! The ‘crime’ was to protect the waterways of the village, or decent wages etc. This is how the US allows its wealthy companies to do business. Sadly Australia has and probably still does engage in such tactics too. The 1960’s in Indonesia is a good example of this!

    It’s happening re the mining of gas. It’s going on in the US and in Qld and NSW as we speak! We don’t have any rights if gas is found 30cms below ground, regardless of whether it’s on agricultural land or public space or private property.

    You should watch the program that was recently on SBS – ‘Gasland’! Then see who’s promoting ‘terrorist’ type tactics; how these activities are ruining peoples’ health and how little power they have to fight big money and big government. Look at the role of Halliburton/Cheney/Bush etc.

    The new ‘provisions’ to ASIO? Will that mean that ASIO will involve itself in investigating farmers who object to their land and privacy,( not to mention fresh water being ruined) could find themselves in Court charged under these new laws? Will they use this as ‘any other purpose’?
    Put ‘Gasland’ into your search engine and take a look!

  30. Bodeka

    @Glen Brandham

    If Marg Simmons had her way, the subscribers could be writing the head-lines…and I agree with her.

    It’s the New Media, editorial interaction with the community. For eg, the subscribers, at least, should be able to nominate possible subjects for editorial and discuss various angles of how it could be presented. Either that or bring back chq-book journalism, I say!…mmmmm!!!…chq-book journalism…yum.

  31. MLF

    If ever there was an argument for extending ASIO’s ‘powers’ it would be the increasing volume of Crikey nutters who think a perfectly acceptable way of airing a political grievance is strapping a bomb to yourself and blowing people up.

    Laws or no laws, governments spy. They spy on us, they spy on each other, they are spied upon. Getting all righteous about ‘taking away our freedoms’ doesn’t change that – although it does interest me what freedoms you think are being impinged upon by a secret service wanting to monitor the activities of an organisation that is (not impartially) releasing stolen classified documents. Anyway, I digress.

    Would you be better off living in one of the many, many nations that don’t have legislation to govern the activities of their secret services? Because surely if there are no laws of this kind we’d be able to live safely and securely, right?

    Make them accountable, demand more transparency. Abso-bloody-lutely (I note that moaning on Crikey forums doesn’t actually do anything in that regard… but you already know that I’m sure…).

    But at the same time perhaps be just a little bit grateful that you live in a country where those who undertake these activities can be held to account if they exploit their powers against citizens rights. Hundreds of millions across the world don’t. What are you doing for them?

  32. MLF

    Actually, hang back, I just realised you won’t actually be doing anything for them because we should all be minding our own business, keeping ourselves to ourselves and letting the rest of the world run itself the way it sees fit, right?


  33. 6-0,6-0


    You have such an intricate understanding of these issues and I always enjoy reading your comments… a shorter leash would set you right-off.

  34. Liz45

    @6-0, 6-0, Thank you!

    @MLF – If ever there was an argument for extending ASIO’s ‘powers’ it would be the increasing volume of Crikey nutters who think a perfectly acceptable way of airing a political grievance is strapping a bomb to yourself and blowing people up.

    As opposed to wealthy countries using cluster or depleted uranium bombs and killing scores in one go, but wait, there’s more? Make the cluster bombs a pretty colour and design them so they look like toys, and you can blow little kids legs, eyes and arms off, perhaps weeks later? Or use DU and you can watch the deformities for years, and see the kids dying from leukemias for decades, perhaps more? Then there’s always Hiroshima and Nagasaki! Very sophisticated and ‘proper’? Kill them in the hundreds of thousands, and keep killing them and destroying their genes for 66 years? Oooppps! I forgot Agent Orange! Now that was a sophisticated weapon. Nothing crude about that lot? The US still refuses to acknowledge that they used it let alone accept any responsibility. How noble of them! Gee, makes me feel proud to be an allie of uncle sam!

    Yes, I see how you get disgusted with those who are so poor that they can only use their bodies to fight back against that lot! Very crude! I’m not condoning that, I’m just picking through the bs – again! See, I’m old enough to have watched the news coverage of Vietnam – the kids, the little girl running naked along the road, screaming with pain and terror! The executions. Then there’s the whole revolting stuff since!

  35. 6-0,6-0

    @ MLF

    ***If ever there was an argument for extending ASIO’s ‘powers’ it would be the increasing volume of Crikey nutters who think a perfectly acceptable way of airing a political grievance is strapping a bomb to yourself and blowing people up. ***

    You need a day job.

  36. Ian


    I feel exactly as you do but am rather sick of arguing with some of the “—–“s (you fill in the blanks) that infest this forum.

    I would add one more thing to your commentaries that you may have overlooked and that is that Obama is no better than Bush was in spite of his so called oratory skills.

    In Australia, thank God for the Greens without whom there would be precious little morality displayed by those the masses continue to blindly elect as their representatives.

  37. Liz45

    @IAN – Yes, Obama is a great disappointment, not only to me, but the rest of the world. The Noble Peace Prize???I even set the alarm to watch the Inauguration, the crowds etc? Silly me? He’s already responsible for more drones in his presidency than Bush ordered in his whole 8 years. I heard the young woman from Pakistan, Fatima Butto assert that 2000 Pakistanis have been killed by these strikes. One thousand less than was killed on 9/11 – that was terrorism, the deaths of Pakistanis? Collateral damage, no doubt! Or worse still, an ‘ooops’ moment!

    Obama’s speech today re the Middle East, voicing concerns re Hamas allegedly denying Israel’s right to exist, but as a young Palestinian lawyer pointed out last night on Lateline, Israel has never asserted that Palestine had a right to exist! Again, overwhelming bias in favour of Israel? Surprise! Surprise!

    Thank God for the Greens indeed! They get my primary vote each time – since 1984 anyway!(Hawke gave us the ‘middle finger’ and gave the OK for a 3rd uranium mine – against ALP policy.)

    I guess we just have to plod on! Sometimes I get really despondent re the people you refer to, but can’t ignore the bs! If only for the simple reason, that they think adopting the same tactics and attitudes re supporting the countries that ‘bully’, we’ll one day see different results? That miraculously, killing and maiming other human beings; stealing their resources and instilling oppressive behaviours on the survivors, will somehow produce different outcomes?

  38. MLF

    6-0, 6-0 – yes, and given food, electricity, fuel and mortgage prices, a night job too.

    Liz – seriously, I can’t get into this with you again because even when I say – yes Liz, I agree with you – you argue with me anyway, so I just don’t see the point.

    Ian – yes, thank god for the Greens, I agree. You might note that it IS possible to support someone/something yet be critical of them at the same time.

    The Greens are not in it to win it, they are not in it to be in control because they know – well at least Bob knows which is why he maybe doesn’t want to hand over the reigns – that as admirable and philosophically sounds as their policies are, they, fully functioning, do not work in the real world. They are not in it to be in power – they are in it to be the third force, the alternate voice, the balance of power that makes governments listen to the needs of the people they are supposed to be representing. And yes, thank god for them. But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything they say and when it comes to national security and foreign policy the Greens have no credentials and they know it. Which is why its interesting that Bernard chose to quote from them for this piece. Especially a quote that, as we can see above, leads people to the assumption that ASIO are now in the business of supporting commercial interests. Again, I digress.

    Time and again I’ve said on these boards that people fight the wrong fight – your comment about Obama speaks to this in volumes. If ever there was a man in US political life since RFK and MLK who wanted to make a real difference to people and the world, who was IDEOLOGICALLY BOUND to support policies that bring some equity into global living, it is Barack Obama. Not just a ‘Democrat’, much more than that. More than Clinton, more than Ford, more than LBJ, JFK and all that power-hungry lot put together. A man of integrity and intelligence who knows EXACTLY what its like to have your opportunities limited, to be subject to hatred because of the colour of your skin or the religion you choose to follow. A man who knows EXACTLY what can be positively done to change that.

    He wanted to throw money into education, healthcare and infrastructure, he wanted to support workers rights not the rights of business, he wanted to take a serious and cautious approach to foreign policy, he wanted to close GB and bring detainees to trial – he wanted to do all that and more and I reckon if you compare lists, Bob Brown would have all those things written down too.

    But he hasn’t. Nope he hasn’t. And if Bob was PM he wouldn’t have done it either. But what you all don’t seem to get is that its not because either man lacks integrity, social awareness or commitment to a more harmonious and tolerant world – its because of the system they are operating in.

    But instead of railing against that system – where 1% of the worlds population own 40% of its wealth and 100% of its power, instead of railing against that and revolutionising against that and supporting this man (and others like him) who have the SAME GENERAL IDEALS THAT YOU DO – you find it much easier to write him off with “government blah blah”, “all the same blah blah” pseudo-idealistic nonsense that achieves nothing.

    You think that your wise to the man, that you know what’s really going on, that you can see through government b–ullshit and are ‘waking up’ to the world.

    You are absolutely wrong. You are doing EXACTLY what that 1% want you to do – you’re so busy tearing strips off people who are essentially on the same side as you that you let the 1% carry on and screw over the rest of the world, expanding their power, expanding their wealth, limiting opportunity and r–aping social services to the point where they will no longer exist.

    Oh yeah, you’re all on the right track here. With friends like you all, we’re all in for a terrific ride.

    Call me a “—-” all you like. I’ve heard far worse from far better.

  39. freecountry

    [Assange seems to be a committed person to me. He’s obviously not wealthy, doesn’t exploit others and has exposed areas that were positively evil – such as mass murder of unarmed citizens including little kids.]
    I would say Julian Assange had no problem exploiting secret informants in Afghanistan for his own purposes last year.

    Following Taliban statements that it would use Wikileaks information to hunt down informants, Julian Assange told The Times that some of those identified informants had been “telling soldiers false stories … creating victims themselves”.

    When the Times asked him if that justified exposing them to Taliban punishment, Julian Assange replied: “It doesn’t mean it’s OK for their identities not to be revealed.”

    Of course, Assange has a higher purpose. Based on his own words above, that purpose is not the usual purpose of someone like Bernard Keane, who exposes government conduct in order to hold governments to a higher standard. Assange is not seeking to improve the conduct of the US; he seeks instead to disable its ability to conduct foreign affairs. He hopes this will lead to the US having a “decreased ability to hold onto power” and being “exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.”

    Again, that’s a goal that many of the more extremist Crikey readers would approve of, just as you approve of suicide bombings, and presumably the leaders who organize those suicide bombings, while themselves remaining alive and comfortable. Exposing the identities of informants in Afghanistan was not a careless mistake by Assange; it was a deliberate strategy to deter future informants from giving any assistance to the US, and Assange defended the justice of this by claiming that some of those informants had made up stories.

    This is the hero you look up to?

  40. freecountry

    That interview by The Times is behind a paywall, but it was summarized in the Australian: (( theaustralian.com.au/news/world/publication-of-afghan-informant-details-worth-the-risk-wikileaks-founder-julian-assange/story-e6frg6so-1225898273552 ))

  41. Liz45

    @MLF – Liz – seriously, I can’t get into this with you again because even when I say – yes Liz, I agree with you – you argue with me anyway, so I just don’t see the point.

    And then you spend x number of paragraphs not only disagreeing with me but ridiculing me and others who dare think in a similar vein? Very strange! And women are accused of being illogical?

    Obama DID SAY a lot of things, but in reality he’s just gone along the same route as Bush, if not exceeding Bush. Take Guantanamo Bay; Military commissions; Peace?(by sending even more planes to kill innocents?) Health Care; Education – the list goes on. He’s hardly taken a stand on anything. Now I have some sympathy with the idea that the president doesn’t really control/lead the country, corporate America does, but he’s really disillusioned a lot of people, because he DID give them/us hope. He’s kow towed to those who have the real power!

    It’s been my experience, and this is shared by a lot of people in the US, that every President (in my lifetime anyway) is ‘worse’ than the one before. Clinton’s flowery image hides the reality of the backward step he took in many areas – take Health, for example?

    As to your assertions of my opinions helping or??the 1%? I think you forget the fact that prior to the last election, Bush’s popularity was down to the teens, 20’s? And this was shared around the world. There’s been many surveys that revealed, that the majority of people around the world fear the US more than almost any other country – this increased under Bush. Obama has done nothing to make people feel better – except perhaps at home, if the obscene gleeful rallies after he got rid of bin Laden is an indication. I suggest it will be short lived?

    I think you’ll also find that Blair is about as popular as Qld feels about rain? I may even join the rally in Sydney later in the year, just to let him know how ‘popular’ he is? I find it quite amazing that you rubbish my attitude, beliefs etc, but think it’s at best more ‘prudent’ to stay on the side of war criminals who don’t think anything of murdering innocent kids – all for the bigger picture of course! That makes it OK. As a mother, that would give me so much comfort while I held my blood spattered dead child with half its head blown away!

    Just proves how ungrateful those pesky women are from the middle east!

    You don’t agree with anything I’ve said, so don’t insult my intelligence by your platitudes and paternalism, like in your opening paragraph! I could almost feel the taps on my head!

    @FREE COUNTRY – To my knowledge, the US stated that nobody had been killed or injured by Assange’s release of info. It’s interesting that you gloss over, don’t even question the reality of too many in Iraq/Afghanistan or now Pakistan where people are deliberately murdered as just part of the rules of engagement, but denigrate my view that unarmed citizens should have the right to defend themselves and their families from ‘guns in uniform’?
    Many in the military in the US agree with me – many have left – refuse to go back due to what they viewed while in Iraq or Afghanistan – that it had nothing to do with WMD’s or bringing democracy to the people.

    It’s difficult to just pick out one sentence here or there and then judge a whole interview on those few words – very clever! I’ve seen several interviews with Julian Assange. I don’t recall querying his motives by his answers. And didn’t the Times, like The Guardian turn against him? They stayed long enough to get their front page headlines, and then ‘bit him’?

    The argument I have with you and others, is that you think it’s OK for the big bullies to spend our money on illegal acts like invading sovereign nations with out reason – but we have no right to quibble let alone be involved in decision making? And that they can break all the rules by locking up innocent people without access to the Law etc. If you approve of that sort of government, good for you – I don’t!

    If you think the fight is just – why don’t you join them? I think all so called leaders who instigate conflict should have to be at the front of the battle – with their wives and kids along side! Then we’d find out how just the ‘good fight’ is? It’s so easy to send other peoples’ kids to be killed and do the killing isn’t it? Let’s go back to the ‘good old days’ when the leaders led the charge!

  42. freecountry

    You’re a bit selective yourself Liz45. On Wed at 6:35pm I did not say that all US foreign policy actions are justified, and I did encourage you and others to scrutinize and challenge those actions. I said nothing denying the right of people to take up arms to defend themselves, except that they should shoot at their enemies, rather than killing innocent civilians in order to mobilize them for political pressure.

    I’m also not very impressed by “freedom fighters” who take cover behind schools, hospitals, and other concentrations of civilians, and then spin up the news cameras ready for when the defending fire inevitably kills some of those civilians. I have difficulty understanding how someone with a conscience can reward such behaviour with your political support.

    Whether the Times “turned against” Assange or not, has nothing to do with the fact that Assange did what he did, said what he said, and spoke cavalierly about those he placed in danger (whether or not they managed to flee in advance of Taliban reprisals). Human lives are not important to him, they are just pawns in a bigger game he is playing to change the world. Collateral damage. Even the uncompromisingly freedom-loving organization Reporters Without Borders recoiled from his methods when he went beyond the pale.

  43. freecountry

    As far as freedom fighters taking up arms to defend themselves, you glorify the likes of Hamas, but I never heard so much noise in the media about the Kurdish PJAK in northern Iraq, Iran and Turkey, because they only kill their enemies. They do not, as a rule, kill innocents, or deliberately expose their own civilians to defensive fire for the sake of publicity.

    The same was true of, for example, the Bougainville Republican Army in PNG, and the Fretilin resistance during the Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste. Both of these military organizations took care to fight their battles away from civilian populations and to target only their oppressors, and consequently they received no such support from the free world.

  44. MLF

    And so it continues.

    Liz, you may be an expert at ‘she who can shout loudest and longest’ but you really do need to work on your reading and comprehension skills. You see my name and get hepped up on your assumption that I’m pro-war, woman-hating, child-burning, god-fearing US loving clown who disagrees with everything you say. You do not even show me the courtesy of actually READING what I write before firing off at me – the 1% thing you completely and totally buggered up, but that’s not surprising given you didn’t read what I actually wrote.

    And you can’t even get the basics right – despite your favourite jibe at me of being a misogynist, I’m a WOMAN, with br–easts and children and PMS and everything – and yet also a preference for a logical argument. Obscure, I know. I tell you that every time and every time you get it wrong.

    Like I’ve said to you so many times before, even when I agree with you you fight with me. So like so many times before, unless you want to have a real argument whereby you listen to what I’m saying and we debate the issues properly, then I’m done.

  45. Liz45

    @FREE COUNTRY – you glorify the likes of Hamas Show me where I’ve glorified Hamas?

    The fact is, that Hamas was elected by the people, and the US/Britain etc immediately set out to ensure that in reality it didn’t happen. The US has done this to many countries for decades. In fact, since the end of ww2 they’ve either invaded or interfered with almost 50 countries – some of them like Iraq, more than once. They don’t just pick on the Middle East, they have done it in some many countries in Latin America, some of them twice, like Haiti – removing Astride just because he was going to govern in the interests of the people – above the interests of the US! Watch john Pilger’s ‘War on Democracy’ or ‘The Revolution will not be Televised’ (about the US coup in Venezuela, 2002).

    I remember Reagan’s warning to the people of Nicaragua about 20+ years ago, when they’d had the audacity to vote for a left wing President/govt – words to the effect, ‘you’ll keep on doing it until you get it right’? Imagine if someone told the populations of the US/Britain or Australia that? We all know now what happened to the people of Nicaragua – El Salvador too! At about the same time. I remember listening to peoples/journalists reports about the horrors of the military, paid for and supported by the US. Do you?

    @MLF – If you think that your last post was agreeing with me, all I can say is that your comprehension is pretty warped. If that’s agreeing, well???

    The part about Obama is a case in point. I argued that he didn’t do what he said he would. That he promised to and didn’t. You agreed with that, but then blasted me for expecting him to. Sorry if I believe that if you give your word, over and over and over, you do it when elected, not cut and run like he’s done. “Yes we can” is a joke?

    The major point is that the US killing machine has only escallated under Obama, not diminished! The ‘Gittmo files’ clearly revealed that the US is knowlingly detaining innocent people for their own ends – to show the rest of the world that they can do it. Aren’t we tough on terrorists or some other s**t? If they wish to do that, they shouldn’t stand up and mouth platitudes about ‘democracy and freedom’? It’s embarrassing now!

    So like so many times before, unless you want to have a real argument whereby you listen to what I’m saying and we debate the issues properly, then I’m done.

    Yes, mum!

  46. Liz45

    @FREE COUNTRY – About the Kurds in Northern Iraq! Remember the first gulf war? What was it called, ‘Desert Storm’ directed by Stormin’ Norman wasn’t it? Who was the president then? George Bush Snr I believe? The US encouraged the Iraqis, including the Kurds in the north to stand up to Saddam Hussein, which many of them did! Then the US changed their mind. They decided that ‘better the devil you know, than the unknown’ so they backed right off. To the extent that Saddam had the freedom including the air space to murder the Iraqis closer to Baghdad? and used mustard gas on the Kurds? I can still see the images of those little kids lying dead on the ground. Some of the US troops never got over watching this take place. They were ordered not to impinge on Saddam’s helicopters etc in the air, and did nothing while the executions took place on the ground – after they were tortured, of course! Most admirable of the US – again!

    I think you and MLF could read a book written by an american called, ‘American Torture’, which takes in the end of ww2 until the days of Hicks and Habib in Gittmo! Might put a dent in your idolizing the US, and making breaks for their disgusting behaviours!

  47. Liz45

    Assassination Nation: Are there any limits on President Obama’s license to kill?

    As part of its war against violent extremism, the Obama administration now claims a right to kill Americans without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object.

    By James Bovard

    May 19, 2011 “CSM” – -May 17, 2011 — Rockville, Md. — How much evidence should the US government be obliged to show before it kills an American citizen?

    None, according to the Obama administration.

    And how much evidence should the government be obliged to possess of an American’s wrongdoing before officially targeting them for killing?

    That’s a secret, according to the Obama team.

    As part of its war against violent extremism, the Obama administration now claims a right to kill Americans without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object. On May 6, the US government launched a drone attack to try to kill a US citizen in Yemen. The Obama administration alleges that Anwar al-Awlaki, an American born Muslim cleric, helped spark killings at Fort Hood, Texas, and an attempt to blow up a jetliner in 2009. Mr. Awlaki might be a four-star bad guy, but government press releases and background briefings have not previously been sufficient to justify capital punishment. The drone attack failed to terminate Awlaki, though two other people were killed. The story continues here!


  48. 6-0,6-0

    I have good sourses and copies of documents that throw doubt on Saddam Hussein gassing the Kurds. Also, Hammas is a Mossad brain-child.

    Obama?..carefully selected and groomed years ago to be the US president today. He’s the biggest neocon of them all…and he’s a Democrat. Where is the promised reforms? He pledged a quick end to US involvement in Afghanistan. He is a liar.

  49. Liz45

    @6-0,6-0 – Interesting! Who did it? the americans, to make it look like Saddam Hussein?Of course the US don’t admit, that each time someone brought up what Saddam was doing to his people in the UN, the US voted against it or vetoed it! He was OK while he was ‘their’ bastard! I wonder how many gifts Rumsfeld was given? Does he still have them I wonder? Margaret Thatcher had some too! So much for their concern over the plight of his people??Blah blah!

    As for Obama – I just kick myself for being such a gullible fool as to think those really in power would allow him to change the status quo? Silly me! And at my age, I should have more sense! Guantanamo was going to close etc. I used to think JFK was pretty good too! But, the things I found out later burst the bubble somewhat. Mind you, I think he was on the right path – as was Robert? That’s why they were both murdered! Same as my one of my heroes, Martin Luther King jnr – they killed him on my birthday too! Couldn’t have a pesky black advocating changes that would require decent wages, rights etc for those ‘uppity folk’?

    Noticed how the ex presidents are buddies? Sickening isn’t it?

  50. infofreak

    One of Assange’s old mates from Melbourne seems to be doing ASIO’s work for them. Not sure if this is for real but it’s an entertaining (if disturbing) thought: http://www.brandedalive.com. I especially like the idea of Assange publishing leaks in crossword puzzles and James Ellroy novels. Not sure how feasible a No Secret Service is though.

  51. Ian


    On the Greens you say “that as admirable and philosophically sounds as their policies are, they, fully functioning, do not work in the real world.”

    Well.they may or may not work – some are not yet proven but many are by other countries – on drugs for instance (Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal) and many countries have policies that better protect their environment in various ways (Japan on its forests, Europe on climate change) on social justice (the South American countries like Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia) on more equality in income and wealth distribution ( the Scandinavian countries) . No doubt there are many more examples too.

    Besides what gives you the idea that current foreign and security policies are working? I would say, and the evidence supports the fact that the policies of America and its vassals are not working, certainly not for the countries who are victims of our aggressive interference; certainly not for Americans… and for Australians as Liz indicates they are, at the very least, a waste of money and I say, achieve absolutely nothing for all that waste.

    On Obama. Don’t be confused by the man’s words which is most of what you will you get if you follow the corporate media news, including SBS and the ABC. Right from the word go his true agenda became very apparent. He appointed those responsible for the financial train wreck, like Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke to fix it. Ditto with his Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. And on health care he would not even listen to the voices calling for a single payer or public option which were favoured by the majority of Americans. I repeat. He would not even listen. He has escalated the war in Afghanistan, made no changes to the ridiculous pro Israel policy financed mainly by the US and so on. If there was ever someone who did not deserve the Nobel Peace prize – and their have been some exceeding poor choices in the past (Kissinger for instance) – it is he.

    My advice to you is to check your facts and try hard to steer away from ideologies that have no factual ground nor moral worth.

  52. Ian


    Do you watch DemocracyNow at all (on the internet) because you certainly are well informed about American foreign policies etc and this progressive daily news/current affairs program certainly informs its viewers of what is really happening in America and the world and provides many leads for learning more?

    Others on this site would surely benefit from opening their minds and listening to a few of their broadcasts as a top up for a daily dose of The Australian or West Australian which I now avoid like the plague.

  53. Liz45

    @IAN – I haven’t yet, but thanks for the tip. Is the presenter Amy ?????

    I pledged to never buy a Murdoch paper after Whitlam was sacked. You may not remember(old enough) that the role Murdoch played brought about serious complaints from journalists who worked for him? I’m pretty sure they stopped work to protest! Oh, for those days?

    I broke that pledge once a couple of yrs later when there was a front page article re radiation from tests conducted by China? from memory! He’s(Murdoch) a hateful bastard who only cares about his empire. It’s disappointing that more people haven’t realised this fact, but perhaps??? eg. My eldest brother reads the Telegraph religiously – he’s very conservative, as are most of my siblings. There’s about 3 of us out of (9) now 7, who aren’t. Most frustrating at times. They’re not interested in broadening their information base – I realised years ago that we only get bs from Aust. government/s etc, regardless of who’s in power? Sad isn’t it!

    Bob Hawke was a sell out, not just to the ALP but the country as a whole. It was due to him that the uranium policy broadened. He also used scabs to fly planes, and sucked up to the rich like Packer/Bond etc. The only ‘good’ thing he did was take Tasmania to the High Court in order to save the Franklin River. That’s it? Did nothing else for the ‘little person’? We’ve just gone downhill since! Keating is a legend in his own mind. In reality, he’s always been an arrogant, sexist pig. His recent behaviour re Clover Moore showed, that he’s only got older, hasn’t grown up!

    I receive daily newsletters from different sources in the US, like Alternet and Information Clearing House. They cover a wide range of issues with ICH printing essays, articles etc such as John Pilger and Ray McGovern(ex CIA of over 20 yrs who was very critical of Bush’s wars – he admitted to the Vietnam War also starting on a lie – he worked at the CIA then, and said they were too weak to stand up to Johnson etc?) He’s been interviewed in several documentaries about the Iraq War – on Free documentaries!

    It’s http://www.freedocumentaries.org they have a wide range of topics, and apart from individuals personal internet allowances, there’s no charge to download. Lots about all the wars, Iraq, Vietnam, 2nd ww etc. Michael Moore’s docos including ‘Sicko’ which is an eye opener. Amazing really! I’m glad I live here!

    I’ve also been on the website of rawa. These are women in Afghanistan who are striving for justice for women and children. Their website is http://www.rawa.org but I can’t stay too long as it’s very confronting, but then I think that if they have to live it, I can at least be ‘confronted’? Some women are burning themselves to death rather than put up with the violence metered out by the males, either husbands or just the war lords, mujahadeen, taliban or ???Appalling! More orphans in Afghanistan than any other country, and more kids with only one parent and loss of limbs. I think the average age of Afghanis is in the early 30’s. Many of the older folk and littlies have been killed due to wars. Great work we’ve done there isn’t it? While we prop up Karzai who allowed the right of men to rape their wives to become Law last year from memory? We didn’t even blink, nor did the US! Only decent men and women around the world via the net spoke out- as far as I know?

    I’ve read Malalai Joya’s book, ‘Raising my Voice’ and last October? I went to Sydney to see her speak about what’s happening in her country – Afghanistan. She was elected to the Parliament but was ‘suspended’ because she insists on speaking out about the killers, rapists and robbers who make up the Parliament. There are Taliban, war lords, mujahadeen and others (some who hung around after the Russian military left) in the Parliament? We’re not told that of course! Her life has been threatened 5 times(that I know of) and she has to keep on moving around her country in order to stay alive. She’s been threatened with rape also. She’s only about 33 – a very brave young woman, who has to go under an assumed name for security purposes. Karzai and his brother are both crooks. His brother, allegedly, is in the opium business? Nice family! Her book is a great read – certainly paints a different picture than the bs we’re fed!

    I find that time is an issue. I’d have to sit here all day to read everything that I’m interested in, and do other important things as well – like making new dressing gowns for 3 grand kids – I promised, and I’m running late? I’ll be in trouble from ‘miss 8 – going on 30?’

    Kind regards.

  54. Dennis Menace

    Slightly off topic…or is it? Just add the http://at the front.


    It appears Strauss – Kahn was dragging his feet in coming up with a new world currency plan for the IMF. There is no place in the IMF or future French presidency for a man with a conscience…perhaps?

    “Under any scenario the Strauss-Kahn affair comes at a key moment. Attempts at saving the global economy and world moneys, since the end of 2008, have all failed, raising the stakes and risk each time. What we may now witness is historic change as the IMF’s real situation seeps and leaks out, under the tinsel wraps of just another sex scandal.”

  55. Dennis Menace

    Slightly off topic…or is it? Just add the necessary at the front of the link.


    It appears Strauss – Kahn was dragging his feet in coming up with a new world currency plan for the IMF. There is no place in the IMF or future French presidency for a man with a conscience…perhaps?

    “Under any scenario the Strauss-Kahn affair comes at a key moment. Attempts at saving the global economy and world moneys, since the end of 2008, have all failed, raising the stakes and risk each time. What we may now witness is historic change as the IMF’s real situation seeps and leaks out, under the tinsel wraps of just another sex scandal.”

  56. Liz45

    @DENNIS MENACE – I’ve been following the activities of both the IMF and the World Bank over the years, and it seems to me that they cause more havoc than they assert they ‘fix’? They may loan money to countries in trouble, but then insist on unreasonable demands that cause the most impoverished in that country to be even more so. Some countries tell them to get lost, particularly some in Latin America. The poorest people in some of these countries end up losing their markets as the IMF demand that they take imports, often of an inferior quality but cheaper. I hardly think that’s something to be proud of.

    Also, this situation is hardly “just another sex scandal”? I think “just another sex scandal” is a person having an affair while they purport to hold marriage sacred etc or someone being homophobic and then being found to be gay, not a situation like this. The allegations in this case are of a serious criminal nature, that allegedly include force and imprisonment? Hardly a trivial matter. Part of the reason why these crimes are increasing both in substance and sadly, too frequently with violence, is the view too many people have, frequently male persons, that they have inalienable rights to womens’ bodies, and the crime is in being caught! If the reporting was accurate, it would appear that this is not his first ‘attempt’ at “just another sex scandal”??

    I suggest you tread carefully when these awful crimes reach the public gaze. I’m sure the alleged victim doesn’t think it was “just another sex scandal”? She was violated!

  57. Dennis Menace


    I think you misunderstand my lady. The inference is that this whole saga is being written-off under the guise of just another sex scandal, but beneath the sheets DKS is being disembowled from his position within the IMF due to his failure to implement draconian measures to usher in the “new” world currency the way the IMF want it….all this under the pretext of sexual assault…comprende amigo?

    I agree with you that the World bank and IMF are tools for the world elite to create poverty and hegemony.

  58. MLF

    Ian, thanks for taking the time to reply – it looks like its only just got through mods.

    That’s a fair point on Greens policies, a fair point, and if Finland would have me, you can be sure I’d move there in a New York minute.

    Socialism vs capitalism is not an argument I can have because I don’t fully support either, they are both deeply flawed. I think we need a version of capitalism to encourage innovation, better standards of living, better health, etc. but it needs to be limited and we need real, and I mean REAL social safety nets as well. Social democracy, or whatever you want to call the Finnish example, is brilliant, lets all do that, I’m on board and will vote for that tomorrow. I’m thinking however there’s about 18 million people who don’t want their taxes increased to high-heaven to pay for someone elses education and health care. That’s why it doesn’t work in the real world – or ‘our’ real world at least.

    But lets strive for it, I agree. One day soon we probably won’t have to strive because the 1% rich will be overthrown by the 99% poor – and then we’ll probably go to a Venezuela-type situation (which I don’t think is long-term doable either because absolute power corrupts absolutely and Chavez with his endless presidency is no exception).

    I would say with absolute certainty that ‘current’ foreign policies are not working although I wouldn’t necessarily call them current. I would say that the foreign policies of ALL nations since the end of WWII have compounded upon each other and led to more complex relations and therefore more complex policies which have in turn compounded more – and yes, the US must hold the most responsibility for this, and yes, we are in hell of a mess, I have never said anything to the contrary – despite Liz and others continual inference that I’m a pro-US war-hungry baby-killing (male) capitalist, which I don’t know how mnay times I have to say it is a complete load of sh-it. Why is it if someone disagrees with you on one point that must necessarily be a moron who disagrees with you on all points? I prefer pluralism, yeah.

    Are current security policies working? Well that’s a different kettle of fish in my mind and I think security policies have to deal with world reality. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that governments are guilty of using security issues to manipulate their citizens, a nation’s security services have to respond to environment they are in – but they do not create the security environment. Government foreign policy and general human hatefulness is what has created the security situation of any given point in history.

    So are the policies working at the moment? Well, as churlish as it sounds (and I think that every time I say it) the fact that there has not been a terrorist event on Australian soil is not because no one has thought about it. The fact that there hasn’t been another 9/11 or 7/7 isn’t because AQ went on holiday. So yes, I think there’s some level of effectiveness to them. Does that mean that the government doesn’t need to be held responsible for it part in the creation of that environment? No, it doesn’t.

    When you talk about govts creating the situation we are in, you are correct. But after we all acknowledge that fact (and hope to mercy that someone in power actually decides to do something positive to begin to reverse it) then it moves away from what governments are doing/have done and becomes an issue of people who want to commit terror. And they do, they do want to commit terror. On you, and on me, and on my kids, and on my nan.

    So do I wish the great powers of the world would sort their sh–it out? Err, yeah. Am I glad someone is looking out for me and my family so a bomb doesn’t go off during the football grand final? Yes, you bet your a-rse I am.

    I agree with what you say about Bernanke, I don’t agree about Gates because as much as I dislike the work of the man I think Obama had good reason to put him in the job.

    I disagree with your take on the health care issue – both that he rejected outright a single payer system (he said if he was designing from scratch he would design a single payer system) and that a single payer system was “favoured by the majority of Americans” so implicitly Obama rejected what most Americans want (and lets not forget, deserve).

    Polls show that 6 in 10 Americans want that system, but I can tell you who didn’t want it – Congress. Who didn’t want to extend US Medicare to all US citizens? Congress. Who elects Congress? Supposedly the 6 in 10 who want universal health care but in reality the pharma companies and HMOs with the big bucks and political campaigns. And I go back again to the 1% who control the power.

    So we are just going to have to disagree about Obama. Am I disappointed in him? Yeah. At this time would I want anyone else to be in the chair? No. Because, and I’ll make the point again, how many others in the last 60 years of American politics have had the ideological desire to make the world a more equitable place. Its a real short list.

    Lastly, I didn’t appreciate the “—–” nor do I appreciate the “check your facts etc.” line. I’m not an idiot, I do check my facts, and I (generally, I’m no saint after all) try to have constructive discussions. I mean, each to his own you know and if you have to insult me just to get by then the problem is yours not mine. But its not playing nice.

    Is it not possible to disagree with someone without calling them a “—“? Is it not possible – as I pointed out in my first post to you – that I have the SAME GENERAL IDEALS THAT YOU DO ?

  59. Ian


    Thanks for those internet news and commentary sources. I know and have listened to talks/interviews by both McGovern and Joya and many others on the subject of war etc but my knowledge of Australian political history is limited as I only immigrated to the country in 1986 and only began my journey towards a much more progressive view of politics and greater knowledge of what really is happening in the world some 8 or 9 years ago as a result of a local environmental issue that I naively thought our governments would address. At that time I was anti union and tended towards voting Liberal since I was obliged to vote. The pendulum has now swung as far as it can go.

    I have bookmarked the sites you recommend and will follow them at least for a while as I also have other sites (apart from Democracy Now-yes Amy G presents it) that I include on my home page tabs. IPS news and Project Censored News are quite good sites.

  60. Ian


    “If ever there was an argument for extending ASIO’s ‘powers’ it would be the increasing volume of Crikey nutters who think a perfectly acceptable way of airing a political grievance is strapping a bomb to yourself and blowing people up.”

    Unfortunately as the above illustrates you are not above insults yourself – and yours preceded mine.

    As to the question of the support or otherwise of our security measures. You may feel safer as a result but I don’t and I have no doubt that if Al Quada or anyone else was bent on doing damage to Australia they certainly would be able to. That’s an opinion only of course but we have done our utmost to provide them with a motive for doing so.

    On the Obama healthcare. I don’t blame the man for failing but I do for not even trying and showing those who backed him that he was trying. He sold out to the healthcare lobbyists without a whimper as he did to other corporate interests on financial policy, the war, the environment and on and on. He knows where his own personal financial interests lie. And to boot he has sadly let down the Democratic Progressive Caucus.

    American are left with a horrible choice it seems – one between a worse or least worse option when they cast their votes. This, unless they choose to vote for an independent or Green candidate and since their voices are boycotted by the corporate media most of the people are ignorant of any alternative. Ditto for Australia.

  61. MLF

    Last one from me on this:

    1. I already pointed out myself I wasn’t a saint.

    2. I don’t make a habit of insulting people but I stand by the comment that there is an increasing number a Crikey-ites who think an acceptable way to air a political grievance is to strap a bomb to yourself and blow up innocent people – and yes, that makes them nutters.

    3. ‘Yours preceded mine’ and ‘we have done our utmost to provide them motive’ speaks volumes about the way you view the world and about the way you deal with conflict.

    4. No, I don’t feel safer, that is the point. But increasingly my fear is as a result of people like you appear to be who think what the US government has done/is doing is reason enough to blow up my kids and Liz’s grandkids. I fear people like you that can’t just say – no, violence is wrong, period, and there is never an excuse to kill innocent people. Its not acceptable when the US do it, its not acceptable when dictators do it, its not acceptable when AQ do it, it’s not acceptable when Hamas do it, its not acceptable when Is…rael do it. It’s just not acceptable.

    But you can’t say that. You say – it’s ok when ‘they’ do it because its all ‘our’ fault. Thats why I don’t feel safer.

  62. Ian


    Exactly what would you do if you had your kicked in in the middle of the night and were humiliated or had a family member killed or had your city devastated by a huge imperial war machine? If one day a bunch of strangers arrived in your village and either killed or turned everyone there into refugees claiming their ancestors 2000 years ago lived there and it you had no rights to it? What would you do if you were unarmed or only had small arms and some idea of making explosive devices? Would you just be a little peeved and struggle through the rest of life as best you could?

    I don’t condone violence especially against innocent people but I do understand it and I do wonder what alternative these people, especially the Palestinians have?

    How about you?

    Merely by saying you are against violence does not mean you are, especially if your side is a perpetrator and you do not go out of your way to condemn them or find excuses for them or split hairs about supporting their security policy but claiming the foreign policy is a mess. They are interwoven policies. Without the continuing debacle of our foreign militancy we would not be needing an oppressive security apparatus supposedly for our own protection. (Not that we do need one at the expense of our democratic rights to full accountability by our governments.)

    Viva la Wikileak! And enough bs is enough. I, like, Liz am not fooled by your devious arguments.

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