Aug 27, 2014

Time to codify, not just extend, national security powers

If our security agencies always act within the law, codification of their extensive surveillance powers shouldn't be a threat to them.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

One of the subtler but more important moments in the recent history of national security laws is being played out within the inquiry into the first set of national security law reforms, currently being considered by the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. It’s to do with the logic behind the constant extension of national security powers in favour of agencies like the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Federal Police at the expense of individual rights.

Since the Howard government used the War on Terror to dramatically expand both anti-terrorism laws and the funding of security agencies, the powers of security agencies have constantly increased, with near-annual amendments to legislation like the ASIO Act or the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act to grant them further powers.

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4 thoughts on “Time to codify, not just extend, national security powers

  1. GideonPolya

    Australian Intelligence already has too much power and funding and should not receive more until it cleans up its act and demonstrably starts protecting Australians from US-backed Israeli state terrorism and subversion (see my detailed and documented dossier sent to the MSM, MPs and the AFP and entitled “Racist Zionism and Israeli State Terrorism threats to Australia and Humanity”: https://sites.google.com/site/palestiniangenocide/racist-zionism-and-israeli ; also see Gideon Polya, “50 Ways Australian Intelligence spies on Australia and the World for UK , Israeli and US State Terrorism”, Countercurrents, 11 December 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya111213.htm ).

    Pro-Zionist Mainstream Media censorship assists this dangerous perversion Thus on 26 August 2014, The Guardian Australia published an article by Bill Rowlings OAM (CEO, Civil Liberties Australia), “Will ASIO spy on world leaders at the G20 – soon you won’t be allowed to ask”, The Guardian Australia,: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/26/will-asio-spy-on-world-leaders-at-the-g20-soon-you-wont-be-allowed-to-ask .

    I attempted to post the following carefully researched comment but it was CENSORED by The Guardian Australia, presumably for containing things that the endlessly censoring Guardian Australia (see “Censorship by the Guardian Australia”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/home/censorship-by-the-guardian-a ) does not want its readers to read, know about or think about :

    CENSORED COMMENT. Excellent article by Bill Rowlings. Some further key points must be made in the interests of Australian liberty.

    1. Australia shares its intelligence with the “5 eyes” (the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) but no mention is made of the 6th eye, the Israelis. According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Phillip Dorling: “The United States National Security Agency routinely shares intelligence data with Israel without first sifting through it to remove information about US citizens or the citizens of close allies including Australia, according to a top-secret agreement disclosed by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden” (Google “US shares raw intelligence on Australians with Israel”).

    2. Australian Intelligence is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars more and more draconian laws violating our human rights from the Coalition – it is on the crest of a foreign-manufactured wave of Islamophobia, anti-Arab anti-Semitism and “terror hysteria” and all on account of the Sunni rebels in Iraq and Syria who are evidently prepared to try to match US Alliance barbarity with barbarity of their own. It is likely that hundreds of ISIS rebels have been blown to bits in disproportionate US “turkey shoot” responses to the awful beheading and there is a clear prospect of tens of thousands more rebels to be thus killed due to an “endless” and disproportionate US Alliance involvement in this civil war that threatens a lucrative non-Russian gas supply for Europe.

    3. There is no mention by Australian Intelligence, politicians and media of Australian “foreign fighters” involved in the horrendous war crimes of Israeli state terrorism in Gaza, the Occupied Territories and the wider Middle East, not least in the latest Gaza Massacre involving 2,100 killed, 10,000 wounded, 450,000 rendered homeless and 1.8 million people traumatized in response to zero (0) Israeli deaths from Gaza rockets in the previous year.

    4. In the last 50 years only 4 Australians have been killed by “terrorists” in Australia, 3 of them in the Hilton Bombing (that many believe was actually due to an operation-gone-wrong of Australian Intelligence) and the other a medical clinic security guard killed by a Right to Life fanatic (none of the “terrorists” were Muslims).

    5. In contrast, Australian Intelligence does not deserve more money and powers when it demonstrably fails to protect Australian citizens and their relatives from the ACTUALITY of Israeli and dual citizen Australian-Israeli tasering, shooting, bombing, killing, mangling, torturing, kidnapping, robbing, and imprisoning Australians and their relatives, in addition to large-scale Israeli violation of Australian sovereignty through huge passport fraud, spying and subversion of MPs, media and institutions (for a detailed and documented dossier sent to Australian MPs, media and the AFP Google “Racist Zionism and Israeli State Terrorism threats to Australia and Humanity”; also Google “ways Australian Intelligence spies”). END CENSORED COMMENT.

  2. j.oneill

    I am far from the first person to remind people that Australia is unique among the so-called western democracies in not having a statutory Bill of Rights. Rather than address this issue successive governments make further and further inroads into our civil liberties, all rationalised under the threat du jour. The net result is that we have a situation that is far from a democracy in protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens.

    George Williams wrote an excellent article on the point with regard to freedom of speech in the SMH last week. His modest proposal was for freedom of speech to be incorporated into the Constitution. I would go further and suggest a wholesale Charter of Rights along the lines of either the Canadian or New Zealand models.

    The alternative is to slip further and further down the path to a security state where no-one has any safeguards against zealous politicians and the ever expanding ambitions of the spook agencies.

  3. Luke Hellboy

    Just tell the security agencies that if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear. They’ve been parroting that line since Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster of Queen Elizabeth I.

  4. klewso

    Two words – “Sayed Latif”.

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