Tag: Security

Should Australia’s Counter-Terrorism Laws Cost Us Our Civil Liberties?

This is not just theory. Doing away with fundamental rights in the name of security is dangerous. In the 1970s, the UK interned hundreds of suspected IRA supporters in an effort to quell the civil war in Northern Ireland. However, in the following months, conflict increased dramatically.

Ultimately, it was admitted that this preventative detention generated greater support for the IRA. Rather than keeping the population safe from violence as promised, the policy stoked community divisions. In that case, when it came to terrorists, doing away with civil liberties caused greater bloodshed. We ignore that lesson at our peril.

via Should Australia’s Counter-Terrorism Laws Cost Us Our Civil Liberties?

Berkeley Protests Prompt Local Police to Push for Drones

Carey Wedler
January 14, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA-Following uproarious police brutality protests in Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Area last month, local cops are moving to employ drones in their police work.

 Bloomberg reports that Berkeley and Oakland, both part of Alameda County, are seeking to use unmanned aerial vehicles. The city of San Jose is also eager to do the same.

The departments say they will be used for hostage situations, active shooters, search and rescue operations, and disaster response. Captain Tom Madigan, a captain at the Alameda County Sheriff’s office, claimed

“Through our research we learned that a small, unmanned aircraft can support first responders in situations which would benefit from having an aerial perspective, and that by having that it could expose dangers that could otherwise not be seen.”

It is unclear what specific emergency situations Madigan is referring to, but instances of police abuse and misconduct are overwhelmingly common. For example, last month there were multiple cases of aggressive police overreach during police brutality protests. In a protest that marched from Berkeley to Oakland, two undercover California Highway Patrol officers were revealed by protesters and one drew a gun on the crowd. Oakland also has a history of police abuse.

In San Jose, there are similar long-standing injustices. In 1999, at least 100 complaints were filed with the NAACP against excessive brutality and racism by the police in one month. In 2014, the problem of harassment continued. One San Jose officer was recently cleared of any wrongdoing after he tweeted to protesters:

“Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you. #CopsLivesMatter… By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun.”

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Instances like these make it difficult to trust police departments with unmanned drones, especially after California Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of a bill that would have required law enforcement to obtain warrants before spying.

Joe Simitan, a supervisor in Santa Clara County (where San Jose is located), echoed similar skeptical sentiments:

“’Trust us’ isn’t going to work…For any agency or department of the government at any level to simply say ’trust us, we can be counted on not to abuse the technology’ – that’s just not going to fly.”

Nevertheless, drones in Alameda and Santa Clara were purchased last year. In the face of opposition, Alameda County spent $97,000 on two in December.  The news broke just days before the Berkeley protests were heating up, and Sheriff Greg Ahern drew sharp criticisms of secrecy and privacy violations. He denied the validity of such concerns. San Jose spent $7,000 on one drone in January 2014. All three were bought without input from the communities using funds from Homeland Security.

In San Jose, city council approval is required before police can move forward. Several meetings on the topics have already been held and all three cities will need FAA approval before flying drones (San Jose police challenged this last year). All three are steadfast in their desire to incorporate their use.

In spite of the appearance of authorities attaining consent, however, many are hesitant to accept police drones. Policy Director of Technology and Civil Liberties at the ACLU Northern California, Nicole Ozer, said

“Drones are very small and they’re very invasive. They could be monitoring, recording and retaining vast amounts of information on innocent activities.”

80 law enforcement agencies were using drones in 2013, but police comprised only 5% of all drone applications submitted in 2013. 37% were submitted by “academia” with 31% by the Department of Defense. CNN recently obtained FAA permission to use drones, as well.

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While police can say the drones will not be misused, the government’s track record is not to be trusted. The Patriot Act was supposed to keep people safe from terrorism, but it is now public knowledge that it is used far more commonly for drug arrests. NSA surveillance is also supposed to keep people safe, but the agency passes information on to the IRS, DEA, and local police to spy on Americans for non-terrorism “offenses.”

It is “coincidental” that police are moving to use drones as dissent against law enforcement grows nationally as well as in the Bay Area. Jesse Arreguin, a Berkeley city council member who represents the area where UC Berkeley is located, said

“Berkeley and the Bay Area have a long history of political discussion, protests and debate, and there’s
a real concern around the use of these drones under those circumstances, and the broader privacy issues.”

Given the public outcry, there is at least some hope the drone programs will be deterred.

National Police Freedom Laws are in place

G20 police from outside Queensland will be exempt from local investigations

It will be ‘close to impossible’ to resolve complaints against 1,500 police brought into Brisbane for the G20, lawyer says

The 1,500 New Zealand and interstate police sent to bolster G20 security in Brisbane will be exempt from local investigation of public complaints.

Any allegations of mistreatment by those officers, who will make up a quarter of the largest peacetime security force in Australian history, would instead have to be pursued with oversight bodies in Auckland, Sydney and elsewhere.

While outside officers are slated to play a background role, lawyers say their legal status affords them virtual immunity from disciplinary action over any involvement in rogue policing that, along with violence from protesters, marred previous summits.

The NZ and interstate police, who will don G20 police caps while retaining their own respective uniforms, will be sworn in temporarily as Queensland police.

But it is understood those contingents will carry their own officers to handle public complaints while in Queensland, with the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) retaining oversight “in limited circumstances”.

A CCC spokesman said this could include scenarios where “their conduct adversely affects the performance of functions or exercise of powers of the Queensland police service or a QPS officer”.

“The CCC understands that interstate and New Zealand police jurisdictions will have officers in Queensland to manage any complaints that may arise which could affect seconded officers,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) in NZ said it would “retain jurisdiction over any New Zealand police officers for scrutiny of their conduct in the G20”.

“Members of the public wishing to pursue a complaint about any alleged misconduct by an NZ officer seconded to the QPS could complain to the IPCA,” she said.

A prominent Queensland criminal defence solicitor, Michael Bosscher, who is admitted to practice in four other states and territories, said the prospect of resolving a complaint against outside police was “close to impossible”.

“Trying to follow through a complaint in relation to a non-Queensland police officer, either interstate or internationally, would be an onerous task and unlikely to generate a reasonable outcome,” he said.

“Any person operating as a law enforcement officer in Queensland, regardless of where they come from, should be subject to the same scrutiny and oversight as a Queensland police officer or an Australian federal police officer.”

Legal observers are critical of the wide-ranging powers given to police under the G20 security act. Officers can declare assemblies unlawful if they disrupt the summit or if one person in a crowd commits a property crime, such as graffiti.

This raises another concern about the lack of scrutiny of the lawfulness of arrests of people who might be released without charge, or receive notices excluding them from the city centre without having to appear before a magistrate.

Bosscher said police had been given “unprecedented powers under this piece of legislation and as is nearly always the case, the necessary checks and balances that accompany those types of powers have not been put in place”.

“This leaves members of the public open to wrongful arrest with no right of recourse and heavy-handed tactics and abusive actions by police not subject to disciplinary proceedings,” he said.

A team of 60 Queensland solicitors has undergone training to act as independent legal observers, in part to head off a repeat of scenes during Toronto and London G20 summits when police removed identification during clashes with protesters to evade complaints.

The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties has raised concerns that lack of awareness of the depth of police powers during G20 could lead to arrests of peaceful protesters and ordinary citizens.

Many of the 1,100 people arrested in Toronto in 2010 were held for periods of up to 17 hours before being released without charge.

The Toronto Star documented complaints ranging from heavy-handed arrests of uninvolved people caught on the fringe of protest scenes to alleged rape threats made to an independent journalist.

In Brisbane, as in Toronto, judicial oversight will only extend those who are charged and appear via videolink before magistrates working 24-hour shifts from 10 to 17 November.

The chief magistrate, Ray Rinaudo, has ordered that arrangements be made for televising proceedings via videolink while the courts are physically closed to the public from 15 to 17 November.

His office has not yet released details of how proceedings will be viewed remotely.

The assistant police commissioner Katarina Carroll, who is overseeing police operations for G20, has said authorities want those arrested “processed and in front of a magistrate as soon as possible”.

She told the Courier-Mail on Tuesday the 24-hour courts were set up “so that those arrested are not detained for longer than is necessary.”

Carroll also revealed this week that at least two people would be banned from the “declared area” in Brisbane’s city centre. The “prohibited persons” have the option of appealing against the decision.

But under the G20 act, police may choose not to reveal the reasons for their decision if that would threaten national security, the safety of informants, relations with another country or break Australian laws.

If police cannot locate those they have banned, they are permitted under the act to circulate their names and photographs to media for publication.

Three families how many more were effected by this

Melbourne shooting: Person ‘who made threats against PM’ shot dead, two officers stabbed in Endeavour Hills

Updated 19 minutes agoTue 23 Sep 2014, 10:08pm

A person, who reportedly made threats against the Prime Minister, has been shot dead and two police officers from the joint counter terrorism team have been stabbed in Melbourne’s outer south-east.

The incident occurred near a police station on Heatherton Road in Endeavour Hills about 7:40pm (AEST).

One of the officers who was stabbed is an Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer and the other is a Victoria Police member.

They have both been rushed to hospital and it is understood one is in a critical condition.

The AFP are expected to issue a statement shortly.

Paramedics confirmed they attended the scene but would not comment on the condition of the stabbing victims.

Remember when Abbott said “more Jakarta less Geneva” what a cretin. He’s spoilt everybody’s Sunni holiday. Try to get Travel insurance

So much for the pivot to Asia

Posted about 10 hours agoFri 19 Sep 2014, 10:11am

Focus on the region As Australia battles violent extremism, perhaps we should ask Indonesia what  is the best thing to do.

Our focus on joining the war in the Middle East has effectively derailed the so-called pivot or rebalance to Asia. We should be focussed more on our own immediate region, writes John Blaxland.

This was supposed to be the Asian century. but the Middle East’s shenanigans were like a red rag to a bull.

After the 200,000 or so estimated deaths in Syria in the last few years of conflict failed to crystallise a response, all it took was two American journalists and a British aid worker to be beheaded for the West, led by the US, to be goaded back into the fray.

And to what end?

With the Sunni heartland captured, there was little impetus for them to press far into Shia and Kurdish territory. There’s also considerable local resistance as they are not welcome there by Iraq’s Shia and Kurds, let alone among the concerned neighbouring states.

Defeating them in detail is virtually impossible. They remain well ensconced in Syria and happily blend in among the local population in the cities and towns where aerial precision targeting is of limited utility and generates considerable negative repercussions. Actions in Syria also are likely to earn the wrath of an aggressive Russian administration under Vladimir Putin. Have we thought that through? I think not. Then what do we do?

Support for the US alliance is an enduring priority and one that continues to receive widespread support across the community in Australia. But how much is enough? Are we not better suited at focusing on regional engagement in Australia’s neighbourhood? The Us thought so.

Australia has been surprisingly front-footed about offering to participate in the US-led coalition far from Australia’s shores, citing domestic concerns as a primary motivator for seeking to extinguish the flames of extremism in Iraq. Yet it was in Indonesia, in Bali and Jakarta, where Islamist extremism has most directly affected Australians  not in Australia.

As Australia seeks to deal a blow to violent extremism, perhaps it is appropriate that we ask what Malaysia and Indonesia think is the best thing to do. Perhaps, as modern democracies with a predominantly moderate Muslim electoral base, they might have some pointers for us Mr Abbott. Whether our actions are helping or hindering the cause. Our efforts in the Middle East can be expected to have significant knock-on consequences in South-East Asia as well.The focus on Iraq appears to have effectively derailed the so-called US pivot or rebalance to Asia. Shouldn’t this concern our Australian policymakers, countries, shouldn’t we remain focused on regional security concerns, while America is distracted once again by the Middle East.

Instead Australia has appeared equally willing to abandon the pivot. throwing its weight and its policy efforts into the Middle East rather than its own immediate region.

A significant rethink of policy positions is in order as  it is not the disengagement from the Middle East and beyond that we had been told was to be expected.

We should return to Prime Minster Tony Abbott’s  advice way back when he was spouting  “more Jakarta and less Geneva”, or anywhere else for that matter. Malcolm Fraser is so right that he is the most dangerous PM we have seen.