Australia has a habit of shaming itself on the world stage generally at the hands of the LNP. Kevin Andrews did it Tony Abbott made us a laughing stock and now Peter Dutton’s defence of the AFP raids on the Press have convinced the world we too are like Turkey and Bangladesh. (ODT)Photo: Innes Willox said investors would be unnerved if public servants could access confidential data. (ABC: Jeremy Story Carter)Related Story: Labor should ‘think carefully’ about national security laws in wake of AFP raids, MP says
Australian Industry Group chief says the AFP raids “set back Australia’s reputation internationally”
He is concerned the precedent set by the raids could extend to business
He says the AFP’s reputation has also been damaged
Well, it’s quite simple. Let’s imagine for a moment that I’m working for a highly sensitive department… Say something to do with stopping the boats. As we all know, “on water” matters are highly confidential… Or at least they became highly confidential after Scott Morrison became Immigration Monster; before that, everyone was free to publicise any information at all about boats arriving whether they were real or only imagined. Anyway, let’s imagine that I’m working in the department that’s in charge of stopping the boats and I discover that, in fact, the boats haven’t stopped and that there are boats arriving, sometimes carrying as many as twenty people. I quickly work out the realm is under threat because the government is secretly sneaking these so-called asylum seekers into the community and nobody has noticed even though we know have as many as three or four hundred happily minding their own business and enjoying their new life in Australia.
As a patriotic Australian, I’m outraged. I make copies of the necessary evidence and I smuggle it home where I… suddenly remember the AFP raids. And then it hits me. I can’t go to the media because I’ll almost certainly be exposed. No, I decide. I can’t take the personal risk.
See, it’s not the press that will have the problems. It’s the whistleblowers themselves. There’s no need for concern because in the future, the press won’t get the information so we won’t know whatever it is the we should be concerned about so we can all just keep going in blissful ignorance, happy that the government knows best and is having a go and helping me with my aspirations.
How good is Australia, eh?
*Just for clarification, AFP stands for Australian Federal Police and not Anti-Free Press.
Australians have a right to be fearful about the rise of terrorism, Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour says.
The Ashbygate Trust reveals that Federal Police have investigated allegations James Ashby perjured himself in his court case against Peter Slipper and have referred the matter to the Commonwealth prosecutor.
The AFP are an enigmatic lot. Like any police force anywhere, there are good cops, bad cops, diligent cops, bludging cops, smart cops, dumb cops.
And like any police force anywhere, upper command levels are subject to a range of political pressures — from demands of performance to demands of look the other way.
The role of the AFP in Australian life is both subtle and overt. From deep surveillance to the gaudily-painted vans at any airport. The Bali 9 busts will forever haunt their corporate memory, but other things you’ve never heard of have saved our collective bacon.
So we’re not sure what the AFP are up to in the matter of perjury allegations against Ashby.
Back on 8 September last year. Michael Danby MP. Labor member for Melbourne Ports, wrote to Robert Bromwich, Director of the Department of Public Prosecutions, pointing out that, in an interview Ashby had recently given 60 minutes, he’d more or less confessed he lied in his affidavit:
To its credit, the DPP acted and referred the matter to the AFP. On 21 October, AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney, National Manager Crime Operations, wrote to Danby,
‘The AFP has assessed the matter and will undertake an investigation into the allegation. You will be advised of the outcome in due course.’
A reference was given to ‘Mark McIntyre, National Co-ordinator Special Reference’ for any further enquiries.
Then, on Tuesday 17 February, Danby’s office wrote to Channel 9, producers of the 60 Minutes programme, to advise them:
‘Our office has just been advised that the AFP have referred the issue back to the DPP for them to make a final recommendation on whether perjury was committed.’
We don’t know what they have advised the CDPP, but we shall see — good, bad, diligent, bludging, smart or dumb.
We live in hope it is the former on all counts.
Michael Danby refers James Ashby to Federal DPP http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/michael-danby-refers-james-ashby-to-federal-dpp,6876#.VA-MJKNFwmE.twitter … @IndependentAus -Danby compares Ashby integrity to a $3 note.
You know, I have to wonder how many of these old farts aren’t just bored. If they lived on the East Coast, they’d hop a free bus to Atlantic City for the day, get a free buffet lunch and a roll of quarters to gamble with. So the Kochs offer them a free lunch and a comfortable bus ride — maybe they’re just doing what they’re told. Legislators act like a deer in the headlights with these people, but I do wonder how much of a threat they really are. Readers?
NASHVILLE-In December, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, got the deal he wanted from the Obama administration: Tennessee would accept more than $1 billion in federal funding to expand Medicaid, as allowed for in the Affordable Care Act, but Obama aides would allow Haslam to essentially write staunchly conservative ideas into the program’s rules for the state. He dubbed the reformed Medicaid program “Insure Tennessee.”
But the state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the national conservative group whose foundation is chaired by controversial billionaire David Koch, argued Haslam was just trying to trick conservatives into implementing Obamacare in their state by giving it a new name. AFP campaigned aggressively against Haslam’s plans for the next six weeks, even running radio ads blasting GOP state legislators who said they might vote for it.
On Wednesday, Haslam’s bill died in a committee of the Tennessee state senate. The vote was one of the clearest illustrations of the increasing power of AFP and other conservative groups funded in part by the Koch brothers.
When the coalition of conservative groups allied with Charles and David Koch announced recently they would spend $889 million over the next two years, much of the discussion was about how that money could shape the upcoming presidential election. But AFP and other Koch-backed conservative organizations may be having their biggest impact on state politics, where targeted advertising and a strong organization can make a huge difference.
“We’re the third-worst state in the country for accepting federal dollars,” said Andrew Ogles, AFP’s state director said in an interview here. “It’s time for us to stop. Anytime we have a problem, instead of coming up with a Tennessee solution, we run to the federal government with our hands out. No more.”↓ Story continues below ↓
The aggressive action in Tennessee by AFP was not unusual. The group, started in 2004, now has chapters in 34 states. The state operations’ general goals, like AFP and other Koch-allied groups nationally, are to oppose tax hikes, increases in government spending and what they view as excessive regulation.
But AFP is playing a unique role in effectively serving as a conservative watchdog against fellow Republicans at the state level. In many states in the West and South, like Tennessee, both houses of the state legislature are controlled by the GOP and the governor is also a Republican. The policy debates are between more moderate Republicans and the party’s conservative wing.
ORLANDO-Citizens of the “Sunshine State” were left stunned this week after federal law enforcement agents took time off from drug-interdiction duties long enough to round up a group of miscreants in central Florida’s Osceola County. In a shocking deviation from the norm, federal agents participated in a well planned and effective sting operation that netted around a dozen members of a white supremacist group, “The American Front.”
The U.S. Justice Department has long considered central Florida a hotbed for white supremacist recruiting. A spokesman for the FBI, Corporal Robert ‘Bat’ Guano, stated that “We keep a close eye on central and northwest Florida because of the low average IQ of its citizenry. It’s really easy for a charismatic leader to convince these idiots that all sorts of weird conspiracy theories are actually true. Combine that with the native population’s hatred of minorities and love of firearms and you have a volatile combination.”
Over the weekend FBI and ATF agents posed as rodeo clowns in an operation code-named “Roundup” that took place at a barbecue and picnic held at the American Front HQ in rural Osceola County. The headquarters consists of a modified 1986 vintage mobile home and an above ground swimming pool (stocked with catfish) resting at the center of around ten acres of partially wooded property.
The agents cleverly ingratiated themselves by entertaining kids at the event while the adults were attending mandatory automatic-weapons drills and a grenade-toss contest. The miscreant offspring were treated to traditional Cretonian children’s games such as “pin the crime on the nigger,” “kick the Jew into the minefield,” and “beat on the fag with a baseball bat.”
After a laid back afternoon of barbecue, draft beer, and plotting the overthrow of the U.S. government, the group members were surprised to learn the clowns they had hired to entertain the kiddies were actually highly trained undercover agents from the FBI, DEA, and ATF.
“We certainly did surprise them,” said Special Agent Matt Helm, of the Orlando Field Office of the FBI. “We recovered AK-47’s, grenades, night vision equipment, and a lab apparently set up to manufacture the nerve agent ricin, among other things.” Agent Helm was quick to point out that there was no threat of a chemical weapons stockpile in the area because all the group had managed to manufacture so far was a particularly impure batch of methamphetamine.
Local law enforcement officials were not surprised at the haul of illegal weapons and drugs. They have expressed concerns about the group and had plans to infiltrate it. However, they have been consistently thwarted by county and state elected officials who depend on under-the-table cash donations from the American Front and other right-wing groups for both their campaigns and vacations to Bangkok. It seems the Justice Department had to get involved to get anything done, as is so often the case in Florida.
Arrested were Marcus and Patricia Faella, Christopher Brooks, Richard Stockdale, Kent McLellan, Diane Stevens, and ten other group members. They have been charged with a wide variety of crimes ranging from plotting to overthrow the federal government to bestiality involving unwilling miniature goats.
According to court documents the group had planned to cause “some kind of disturbance” at the Orlando city hall building, and were also looking forward to the yearly counter-protest of May Day activities this spring.
The property on which the American Front headquarters stands was found to be honey-combed with mysterious tunnels leading nowhere. Sandbags and railroad ties were stacked in defensive positions around the trailer and swimming pool area. The trailer itself was riddled with holes caused by inaccurate machine gun fire from the mandatory weapons training sessions. There were also gaping holes in the walls of the trailer that authorities believe are meant to be rifle ports but could just be caused by rats.
Marcus and Patricia Faella were released after posting one million dollars bond. As is usually the case, their henchmen were left to rot in jail.
Harsher penalties for intelligence whistleblowers in Australia will deter future whistleblowers like Edward Snowden from speaking about Australia’s surveillance and intelligence gathering.’
The referral to the federal police of journalists covering asylum seeker policy raises serious questions about the freedom of the press in Australia
Journalism in Australia is not a crime. Despite this, journalists who have reported on immigration and asylum seeker issues have been referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation in a series of attempts to prosecute confidential sources and whistleblowers.
This is a move that should alarm all citizens. It’s not an attack on any particular news outlet. It’s an attack on those who have reported on matters of significant public interest in the increasingly secretive area of asylum seeker policy.
Journalists from Guardian Australia, News.com.au and the West Australian have all had their stories sent to the AFP by customs, the immigration department and the defence department to ask the AFP to track down their sources. There may be journalists from other news outlets involved.
All journalists have confidential sources to help gather information and build their stories. Sometimes those sources speak out at great risk, and that confidentiality must be protected. The free flow of information is the bedrock of a journalist’s work.
These kind of attacks severely damage the confidence between reporters and their sources and pose a grave threat to effective and responsible journalism. When the federal police go knocking on the doors of a reporter’s sources, sources will soon dry up. People will be scared. And that is exactly the point.
Part of the problem is that the laws surrounding leaks are so broad. The Commonwealth Crimes Act criminalises essentially any disclosure of government information, regardless of the seriousness, regardless of the intent, and regardless of the public interest. Despite recommendations by the Australian Law Reform Commission to amend these laws, we have yet to see any change.
The whistleblower protection scheme introduced in 2013 under the previous Labor government provides limited protections for disclosures to the world at large, and favours protected disclosures internally or to oversight agencies instead. This means that whistleblowers who provide information to journalists can still be left with little protection from the law.
This can’t be viewed in isolation. There is a much broader series of measures at play that all point towards an increasing overreach by the federal government into legitimate reporting and public interest disclosures.
Any of the journalists that are listed in the AFP referrals could have had their phone and web records accessed. It doesn’t take a warrant, just a short one-page form. And there is no privilege or special protection for journalists, a consideration that is being debated right now in the UK. The looming mandatory data retention legislation will compound the problem by ensuring a much greater range of web data is consistently available to government agencies for up to two years.
The insertion of a new offence into the Asio Act that criminalises any form of disclosure about “special intelligence operations” could see journalists jailed for reporting on important intelligence related stories. Harsher penalties for intelligence whistleblowers in Australia will also attempt to deter future whistleblowers like Edward Snowden from speaking about Australia’s surveillance and intelligence gathering.
The Australian government has shown great concern for the awful plight of Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues who have been jailed in Egypt. They have shown great concern for freedom of the press in the wake of the terrible Charlie Hebdo attacks in France.
That concern must extend to the work of serious public interest reporting in Australia.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if I may, I would ask you one question:
Would you like to live in China, a police state whose untrammelled greed has knowingly destroyed its environment for the benefit of the elite?
The arable area of Australia is roughly the size of Vietnam. That’s if we cut down every tree. This sliver of life is all that stands between us and shitdom, a la Easter Island on ice.
But frack it, right?
Somewhere, in a boardroom far, far away, a man with receding hair and a striped shirt asks two crucial questions:
What is this Artesian Basin? And is it money?
He is obliged to maximise returns to stakeholders — known in some circles as “sausageholders”. And the sausage is pointed directly at our heads. The trickle-down effect.
Worse, he has friends. Lots of them.
And didn’t our prime minister do well? Certainly well enough to enthuse the crowd at the recent World Cup opener against our former Gulf War allies, Kuwait.
Make no mistake, ASIO reports to Parliament. Or, in 2015, Peta Credlin, who for the time-being is the Australian lower house.
Accordingly, the men and women ASIO find themselves beholden to a bunch of Fruit Loops with a wildly erratic security/publicity agenda. Add to their complications the silent-movie AFP and kill-happy local police and you can start to have some sympathy for them.
There is another pressure, too — money. The guys in the striped shirts. The guys who are pointing their sausages at you. ASIO has a very ordinary track-record in resisting instructions to focus on commercial targets.
So, we find ourselves at the mercy of striped-shirts and an avariciously-instructed domestic security body.
If this goes on, environmental degradation and police state will follow as night does day. You might not notice the creep for 10-15 years or so, but you will.
As they say, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.
The AFP’s worrying foray into politics
Would airport security stop the ex Archbishop of Sydney George Pell’s personal assistant for two hours in an enclosed room and refuse to tell him what was happenning or that of the Anglican Archbishop? I don’t think so
The Australian National Imams Council expressed anger that one of its most senior members, an assistant to the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, was pulled up at Sydney airport on Thursday on the way to the Haj, a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
The Imam, who met Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis recently, was stopped at the boarding gate, stripped of his mobile phone and iPad and kept in a room for two hours without explanation, the general manager of ANIC Samir Bennegadi said.
Mr Bennegadi said the Imam was treated in an unprofessional manner and he wondered, if this could happen to one of the most senior Imams in Australia, what could happen to the rest of the Muslim population when, “especially during this time, the Haj, we have hundreds of people leaving Australia every day”.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has been felt around the country and people are reporting graffiti on mosques and attacks on homes. Threatening letters have been sent to businesses, bookshops and religious leaders with handwritten messages such as “we will fight you … terror for terror … blood for blood and … bomb for bomb”.
Cars, and houses have been vandalised women threatened but true to form the man in the fruit salad uniform
NSW Police Superintendent Mark Walton said
officers would not “stand guard” outside mosques that received bomb threats, purportedly from the Australian Defence League.
He said that, other than the letter from the league, there were no credible threats to security being investigated during Operation Hammerhead, a NSW operation to increase police visibility that was launched after terrorism raids on Thursday.Despite a car damaged with offensive comments and women threatened to be set alight.
Passenger ejected from flight over notebook doodles
A Melbourne man was hauled off a Tiger Airways flight by federal police on Saturday after claims he was seen doodling and writing sentences in a notebook satirising the current terrorism threat.
“The irony is I was writing a sentence about the absurdity of the fearmongering when we live in such a happy country of ice-cream and beaches and fluffy things,” he said.
Other doodles include a sketch of a chandelier – Mr Buckworth is an interior designer – and the play on words: “Terrorismadeup.” In a cartoon of a child clutching his head, Mr Buckworth wrote in a thought bubble: “Tyrannosaurus Rex. Terodactyl. Tarantula. Terrorist.” The interior designer has now been blacklisted by the airways. Don’t fly Tiger!!!
No’ chatter’ when it comes to threatening Muslims, vandalizing their property, abusing their presence on the street. Threatening to set a woman in hijab alight isn’t regarded as serious. The racist bogans are only up to mischief are they? Korans shredded, shock jocks vilifying a whole community. Andrew Bolt’s daily sling that’s just good old Aussie banter is it. But when Muslim kids open their mouths you jump on them with a totalitarian fist. How about some consistency in the application of your laws. How unbalanced is Team Australia?
Those Muslim kids you caught who you admit knew they were being watched may just have been pulling your agencies chain. If I was 19 and I and my mates knew somebody was trying to eavesdrop we certainly would. Because our first reaction would be to give you the symbolic finger
Explosives mistakenly left at Sydney Airport by federal police during sniffer dog training
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has been left red-faced after an explosive device used during sniffer dog training was left in a suitcase at Sydney Airport.
The AFP apologised after the suitcase, containing about 230 grams of plastic explosives, accidentally ended up in the hands of a female passenger on Tuesday afternoon.
The device, which was not live, was hidden inside the unclaimed suitcase during what the AFP said was a “routine canine exercise”.
The suitcase containing the explosive device was then mistakenly given to the woman whose luggage was damaged during her flight.
The woman only discovered the device once she was in Cessnock. She took it to the local police station, where officers evacuated their building as a safety precaution.
AFP Sydney Airport commander Wayne Buchhorn said the AFP was taking the error seriously.
“The canine instructor who inadvertently left this device behind has been identified and will be the subject of a formal Professional Standards Investigation,” he said.
AFP = Awfully F***ing Pathetic