Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Former PM Condemns Australia for Abandoning Assange and Abdicating Sovereignty

Originally published at WikiLeaks Central on 1st December 2012.

In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with WL Central, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has accused the current Gillard government of acting as though Julian Assange "doesn't exist, that he's not an Australian citizen." Mr Fraser slams the existing relationship between Australia and the United States as "far, far too close" and claims Australia is "a strategic colony of the United States, under current circumstances."

Condemning both major parties for doing "everything they can to help the United States and nothing that would offend the United States", Mr Fraser claims that "in many ways our parliament has abdicated Australian sovereignty".

"If we could ever again get a government that would stand up for Australian independence, that government would of necessity have to do a number of things that the United States would not like," said Mr Fraser, citing a range of issues, from US bases to immigration policies, where the government was failing in its duties.

"And nobody is held accountable. Nobody pays the price. Nobody loses their job. Nobody is demoted. Nobody is fined. Now, you have to have accountability."

The former right wing Liberal Party leader says today's supposedly left wing ALP government is "far more right than I was". Defending his own record in government, which included conscription for the Vietnam War, the establishment of "shared" military facilities such as Pine Gap, and rumours of CIA involvement in the dismissal of the Whitlam government, Mr Fraser insisted that even former ALP PM Paul Keating, who recently condemned Australia's' diminishing influence, "underestimates the danger of the current relationship with the United States."

Full transcript below the fold. Audio link here.

* * * * * * * * *

TRANSCRIPT (starting after 1 min chat)
WLC:
"I've really enjoyed following your tweets. I guess it's interesting to see a person in your position using Twitter as a way to make your voice heard because it's something that the rest of us all struggle to do."
MF:
"Well I think it's important that people be heard. The way political parties operate today, you get a great deal of regimentation and not much individuality. There's certainly individuality on Twitter."
WLC:
"There certainly is - there's no shortage of it! Speaking of individuals, Bradley Manning's finally had his day in court, Julian Assange is still in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. How do feel that the Australian government, in particular, has handled the issues of WikiLeaks, and Assange in particular?"
MF:
"The government to me appears to have acted as though Assange doesn't exist, that he's not an Australian citizen. Quite clearly the United States has been very annoyed and put out at what has happened. The government has demonstrated - and the Opposition would be no different - on more than one occasion that they want to do everything they can to help the United States and nothing that would offend the United States. You know in many ways our parliament has abdicated Australian sovereignty. That's something that I think is more than disappointing."
"Assange... Bradley Manning, if he you know did as alleged, took secrets or whatever, and then gave them to WikiLeaks, or for that matter to anyone else, then he is guilty of all sorts of things under American law. It would seem though from some of the reports that he's been pretty harshly treated in the lead-up to the trial. At least now he gets his day in court.
"For Assange, at one level what WikiLeaks has published is no different from any newspaper publishing something that they get told by a public servant. It might be more serious, it might be more wide ranging - it certainly has been - but if you are going to say that if any whistle-blower or any person in the public service who tells something to a newspaper - and then that newspaper publishes it - is guilty of a serious offence, well then that is going to stifle the media in a very, very major way. The person who gives the information might well be, and probably is, guilty of an offence, but so far we have not tried to suggest that the person who publishes it is guilty of an offence."
WLC: "I guess from Bradley Manning's point of view, if you are a witness to war crimes then you have an obligation to speak up for them. So as far as, I guess that's a legal argument in his case."
MF: "Well I guess it is. But the West in recent times - and not only the United States - has been prepared to condone things from their own administrations or from their allies which they would certainly brand as war crimes or terrorist acts if undertaken by an opponent. In other words, you know, double standards most certainly apply. The torturing that went on in American jails in Iraq or Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay, the way that 'enhanced interrogation' was approved right at the very top by Rumsfeld and the President himself, and his signatures on documents approving the techniques - I've seen it - that, I think, is really guilty of War Crimes. The other thing about it is -"
WLC:
"I was just wondering, in your own time as Prime Minister of Australia, how you would have dealt with something like WikiLeaks. Obviously, the technology is totally different, but I was looking through your Wikipedia entry, and you were Minister for the Army in 1966 and actually handling Vietnam conscriptions, and became Minister for Defence in 69, and resigned in 1971 because you thought the Prime Minister was getting too involved in your portfolio, allegedly, which lead to the downfall of Prime Minister Gorton. People would say, especially with regards to the, with the possibile CIA involvement in the overthrow of the Whitlam government, those issues of US involvement with Australian politics go a long way back. So how do you think that things have changed since then?"
MF:
"I don't really believe that the CIA has been involved in domestic Australian politics. I didn't at the time, I don't now. There are many faults that we have in the relationship that we have with the United States, including during the Vietnam War. Because while we made a very substantial contribution - about 8,000 troops for Phuoc Tuy Province - we had no say in terms the overall strategy and conduct of the war. And you know I think that's very difficult. And even in those days I said I would never want to be involved in a war with the United States unless I had somebody in the inner councils, with strategy in relation to [the way] that war was undertaken. You know, we've never achieved that.
"But at another level, Americans influence on our defence machine, on the purchase of defence equipment, on the way that equipment operates, joint exercises, joint planning, I think the relationship between Australia and the United States is far, far too close. I am told - I can't prove it but I am told - that when a new White Paper comes out on Defence programs a few years ahead, as happened two or three years ago, that America is almost involved every step of the way. Now this should be an Australian matter. There are many things where we might have interests in common with the United States, but there are certainly Australian interests which we do not share with the United States.
"You know, we live in this part of the world, the United States doesn't. They can ultimately withdraw to the Western Hemisphere. We are part of East South East Asia and this is where our future lies. And what Paul Keating said about it all the other day is totally right, but I think Paul underestimates the danger of the current relationship with the United States."
9:50
WLC:
"I think you have spoken out about, I think you had a letter to the 'White Paper on Australia's Asian Century' where you spoke about US drones coming to the Cocos Islands and troops in Darwin and the possibility of a [US] Naval Base in Perth and again - without trying to have a go at you, I'm just looking back at history - and like, Pine Gap started in the 60s and got underway in the 70s, and then we've got North West Cap and the Geraldton base, which are all part of ECHELON, and that's a history of perhaps conceding sovereignty to the US over time. And again I am just interested, how you think it's come to the point, that the US influence has become so sort of toxic now."
MF:
"Well, the relationship has gone far further and is far deeper than it used to be. There'd be, um, Pine Gap, as originally established, was an information gathering operation. It was not something that was integral to American space warfare or nuclear warfare. North West Cape, as I am advised, is now critical in relation to cyber warfare, it's um, well it's again warfare in space. Its purpose has changed very significantly from that which it was in the earlier days.
"But look, a number of things have changed. The Cold War is over. I believe the West needed to show a concerted, if possible, unified, approach to the Soviet Union, which I regarded as an aggressive, outward-thrusting power, looking for opportunities. You know, we forget these days, and it's before most Australians were born: they put down the Hungarian Revolution in 56, they put their tanks into Czechoslovakia for the third time in 1968, there were Communist insurgencies in Thailand, in Malaya, an attempted Communist coup in Indonesia. So it was really a very, very different world.
"But when the Soviet Union blew apart, there was then an opportunity to establish a different kind of world. Instead of having two major Superpowers sort of balancing each other, as the Soviets and the United States did, there was just then one Superpower, absolutely supreme militarily and economically. Now there was a great opportunity to try to make a partner of Russia, for example. But that was blown totally by pushing NATO, whose job had been done - its job was to hold the Soviet Union and not to allow them to take over all of Europe, they only took over half of it, but that half had been freed. Instead of saying NATO's job was done, that's fine, that's great, they pushed NATO to the very boundaries of Russia, including all the countries of Eastern Europe, and trying to include the Ukraine and Georgia. Now, in other terms that would be like trying to include Mexico in an offensive alliance against the United States. If anyone tried to do that, they'd go bananas. So the chance to establish a co-operative relationship with Russia was pushed aside.
"And in addition to those mistakes, I think the United States has changed very significantly. It has become deeply divided ideologically, we've seen the recent debate and the Tea Party's philosophy is deep and strong. The idea of American supremacy, of American Exceptionalism, of America's obligation to spread Christianity and Democracy worldwide, is very deep in a lot of America. And I don't think that existed through the 50s, 60s, 70s. It's a different America, in my book."
14:53
WLC:
"Would you agree with Eisenhower's characterisation of the military-industrial complex, and do you think that those people have perhaps acquired too much power in the US, and that same sort of power is now corrupting Australian policy and politics?"
MF: "Well, it's not power from Australian terms. It's the influence and power of the American Defence machine within Australia. It's influence over our own Defence Department, over our Armed Forces, over the equipment they buy, over their operational procedures. We really, we are a strategic colony of the United States, under current circumstances."
WLC:
"I know in 2006 you warned against the continued involvement in the Iraq War and the possibility of Islamophobia growing in Australia, and the treatment of David Hicks, and in 2007 you supported a Getup campaign along those lines, and the following year you were being called out by a Liberal MP as a "frothing at the mouth leftie". And after that you resigned from the Liberals. Do you think that Australian politics has moved so far to the right that, like, you were the leader of a right wing government in Australia but looking at Gillard's government today do you feel that they are in some ways more right than you ever were?
MF:
"Oh, they're far more right than I was. Because whatever my reputation in terms of - and I suppose I was regarded as leading a right wing government because of my attitude to the Soviet Union, which I did regard as a dangerous force in the world. But if you look at the record of my government in relation to human rights, human rights legislation, the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Freedom of Information legislation - which was stronger then than it is now - the way Vietnamese refugees were treated compared to the way refugees are treated today, the values which I carried out in government are really the values which I still fight for."
17:20
WLC:
"Just going back to what you said about not believing that the CIA was involved in Australian politics. I know that Gough Whitlam in his book, he said, he claims that Warren Christopher, the former US Secretary of State, said to him that "the USA would never again interfere in Australian politics." So I guess his interpretation is that that word "again" implies that they did interfere. And Sir John Kerr was a member of a CIA-backed "Association for Cultural Freedom" before he became Attorney General. Do you have any comment on that?
MF:
"Well, you know, what you've said, I know that Association. I think many of its members were good and honourable people and they were determined to oppose Communism and it was their way of doing it. I knew a little of what they were doing and I didn't know of anything that was untoward or that would cause concern. They were certainly very much opposed to Communism. But I was too. I still do not believe that the United States was involved in any way.
"Look, if you look at the record, Gough had many grand ideas, but he could not run a team. And look at his changes of ministers and the arguments he had with his own ministers, look at the scandals that went on for 18 months before the end of 75. The 1974 budget was budgeted for increasing expenditure of 14% in real terms, and you know if anyone tried to do that today they'd be told they had to get out of power very quickly. The next budget was a 22% increase in real terms. So you didn't have to look to any foreign influence, you just had to look to things that Gough did himself.
"One of things I would agree with Gough... No if I could just... Gough had a sense of Australian identity. Keating had a sense of Australian identity. And I think I did. And I would agree with both of them when they stood up for Australia and for Australia's independence. Now, the United States may not like that. If we could ever again get a government that would stand up for Australian independence, that government would of necessity have to do a number of things that the United States would not like. I mean one of them: take troops out of Darwin!"
20:20
WLC:
"One of the interesting things which Gough Whitlam set up which your government overturned was a Ministry of Media. I'm just looking now at what's happened with the media landscape in Australia and round the world, particularly the Leveson inquiry in the UK, and perhaps Rafael Correa's changes to the media in Ecuador, and wondering if others?"
MF:
"Well, I think it's an absolute nonsense to say that the media can self-regulate. This is like saying that banks can self-regulate, that you don't need a Reserve Bank. Or it's like saying that the corporate community does not need an ASIC to see that corporations stay within the law and don't rob their shareholders blatantly and openly. So there needs to be an appropriate supervisory structure for banks, er, for the media. It will be interesting to see how the debate unfolds. You know I don't, I wouldn't want a Ministry for Media, I wouldn't want a Minister involved in doing this. It needs to be independent. But I also think it needs to be established by a statute, so that the media itself will have to pay attention to what it does. But once it's established by statute, that's the end of whatever the government does. If the government want to have any influence on it, they are going to have to change the law. And you really need a process which will enable you to put people in charge of that media supervisory body who are totally independent. You know, one way of helping to ensure this may be that the appointment has to have the agreement of both the government and the opposition. But it would not be all that easy to get the balance of such a body right. But I am sure that if it is going to be effective, it would need to be established by legislation."
22:56
WLC:
"Yeah, personally I think if you have corruption in government then it's hard to see how anything that is set up to control the media or the banks is going to be effective. And I guess that's why I'm a strong supporter of WikiLeaks because I think that transparency that WikiLeaks provides is really the key to change in a real sense. For example, the Visa-MasterCard blockade on WikiLeaks is an example of corporate ability to try to silence media. Now we're in a landscape where the media - the mainstream media as it's called - is struggling to make profits, so perhaps that whole media landscape is changing and the way ahead is more to be defending independent voices such as Julian Assange's.
MF:
"Well, independent voices certainly need to be defended. Those independent voices though, need to stay within the law as it is. If the law is wrong, then there has to be a campaign or an attempt to get that law changed. Look, I passed the first Freedom Of Information legislation. The major opponents of that legislation were not my own ministers but the Commonwealth Public Service. And a lot of things are classified, at different levels of security, that do not need to be classified. I agree with you that maximum transparency is very important. And people sometimes classify documents for no other reason than to protect themselves.
"Transparency, openness - but for that to work you need something else. You need accountability. And if you take the Palmer and Crowley reports into the Department of Immigration, they reveal great grievances were exposed, wrongs against individuals, an Australian deported and nothing done about it even though it was known that the Australian had been illegally deported. And nobody is held accountable. Nobody pays the price. Nobody loses their job. Nobody is demoted. Nobody is fined. Now, you have to have accountability."
25:50
WLC:
"We've had calls for inquiry into the Iraq War..."
MF:
"Well, I've supported that. Because I believe we just followed Britain and America. And I have no doubt that they knew that what they were saying about Weapons of Mass Destruction was false. They just thought they could get everyone's agreement, that's a good reason to have the war."
"I'd like to get back to something you said a while ago, because I think it's not the most malign influence in the United States. You referred to the Military-Industrial Complex. The changes in American ideology which I think have done enormous damage were the changes that were initiated really by the formation really of the Neoconservatives, by their statement of principles which was published in 1999. And by their consequent influence, especially in the second Bush government, their influence in think-tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. And if you look at that statement of principles clearly, and boiling it all down, it's really saying America will only be safe if the whole world is a Democracy. It's America's job to try and persuade the world to be a Democracy. But if we can't persuade them, then we do it by force of arms. I think that people who probably passed exams with First Class Honours at Yale or Harvard were totally naive, even stupid. They believed that if you get rid of Saddam Hussein, a benign democracy would emerge and Democracy would flow from Iraq throughout the Middle East. Now you might find that far-fetched but I really believe that is what the Neo-".
(APOLOGIES: recording was cut short just before end of interview. )

The Guardian's Vendetta Against Julian Assange


Originally published at WikiLeaks Central on 25th November 2011.

Ever since Britain's The Guardian newspaper co-operated with WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange to publish the greatest document leaks in history, they have pursued a relentless smear campaign against him. As Assange's likely extradition to Sweden looms, this campaign has now ramped up to a point where it has jumped the shark.

Since March 2010, The Guardian has published over a dozen articles criticising Assange (with only a small fraction of that number published in support). There is a singular lack of substance to these ad hominem attacks, which originate from a small circle of closely-connected journalists. And curiously, nearly every one of these critical stories includes the words “anti-Semite” and/or “Holocaust denier”.

So does The Guardian believe Assange is an anti-Semite? Surprise, surprise, the allegation is never made. Rather, Assange is smeared by a tenuous association with an obscure journalist named Israel Shamir, just one of several hundred journalists with whom WikiLeaks has worked in recent years.

Such a co-ordinated campaign of character assassination amounts to shamefully abusive behaviour for a major media outlet. It's time those involved were held to account...

THE MAIN CHARACTERS

Alan Rusbridger 

As the Guardian's editor-in-chief, Rusbridger directs editorial policy and has the final say on publication. If the Guardian is pursuing an agenda, Rusbridger is behind it. From Wikipedia: "He is a member of the board of Guardian News and Media, of the main board of the Guardian Media Group and of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian and The Observer, of which he is executive editor. Rusbridger received £471,000 in pay and benefits in 2008/9."

Given the nature of these allegations, perhaps it's worth noting that Rusbridger's wife is Jewish and his daughter was involved in an anti-Semitic controversy while working as a Guardian comments moderator.

David Leigh

Rusbridger's wife's brother David Leigh is editor in charge of The Guardian’s Investigations Team. An attitude of hissing contempt for Assange runs throughout his book "Wikileaks - Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy", which Leigh published with Guardian colleague Luke Harding. In that book, Leigh published the password to the CableGate files (plus the "salt") although the Guardian has ever since blamed Assange for the unredacted cables' release.
Leigh has never properly explained what Assange did to deserve such visceral treatment. He frequently refers to a secretive meeting where Leigh claims the Australian wanted to release US cables unredacted because "informants deserve to die". Assange claims he never made such a comment, and WikiLeaks has always worked hard to redact leaked documents. But even if he had said it, would that single comment justify a never-ending campaign of hate from a supposedly respectable newspaper?

James Ball

Now employed as a full-time journalist under David Leigh, the youthful James Ball is a former Wikileaks staffer who apparently took a few things with him when he left. He has made a career writing about his dissatisfaction with Assange, and his “insider” experiences have formed the basis for most of the Guardian's reporting. Ball claims to support the principles of WikiLeaks, "but not the principals". He previously worked as a researcher for Heather Brooke, the woman who passed the CableGate file to the New York Times and then wrote her own WikiLeaks book slamming Assange's character. Ball is now publishing a WikiLeaks book of his own. Ka-ching!?

Israel Shamir

The man whom the Guardian regularly labels a “notorious anti-Semite and Holocaust denier” was born to Jewish parents and served with the Israeli Defence Forces before moving abroad and converting to Orthodox Christianity. An independent journalist who claims to have worked with the BBC and Haaretz, Shamir has adopted a variety of aliases while reporting from various locations in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. Is he an anti-Semite? Even some informed anti-Zionist campaigners believe so. Perhaps you should make up your own mind. Here’s Shamir's own explanation of his controversial views.

But here's the thing. Even if you DO believe that Shamir is an anti-Semite, how does that justify The Guardian's vendetta against Julian Assange? Assange claims to have only met Shamir twice; Shamir was given the same level of access to a restricted set of WikiLeaks cables as dozens of other journalists around the world; and WikiLeaks has ridiculed The Guardian's claims that Shamir was paid for his services.

So what's the real agenda behind this Guardian campaign of smear by association?

THE STORIES

17th Dec 2010

Andrew Brown's Guardian blog begins: "WikiLeaks's spokesperson and conduit in Russia has been exposed in the Swedish media as an anti-semite and Holocaust denier..." The Swedish media source he cites is Expressen, which is part of a right-wing media group owned by the Jewish Bonnier family.

31st Jan 2011

A Guardian extract from the Leigh/Harding book is titled: "Holocaust denier in charge of handling Moscow cables". The extract quotes “one staffer” and “one insider” - both of whom appear to be James Ball. It also describes “internal WikiLeaks documents, seen by the Guardian” without revealing Ball as the source.

5th Feb 2011

Writing in The Guardian, self-styled Web guru Evgeny Mozorov, pre-emptively declares Assange finished. He throws in an obligatory Shamir reference, albeit fairly recognising him as “a stranger” to WikiLeaks.

16th Feb 2011

Assange contacts Private Eye magazine to complain about an article linking him with Shamir, including leaked emails suggesting Assange does not find Shamir’s writing anti-Semitic. Liberal Conspiracy, "the UK's most popular left-of-centre politics blog", gives a Hat Tip to James Ball for the story. Hmn, I wonder where Private Eye got those leaked emails?

NB: Private Eye, which was "frequently anti-Semitic" until the 1980s, is not always so concerned about anti-Semitism.

24th Feb 2011

David Leigh tries to put the boot into Assange. In an article titled "It's Julian Assange's own 'tizzy' that bamboozles", he ridicules Assange's complaints, casts aspersions on his lawyers, and then (bizarrrely) lectures him about keeping his private life out of the media.

1st March 2011

A week after a judge rules that Assange should be extradited to Sweden, Private Eye's Ian Hislop opens fire in The Guardian. Assange responds: "Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase. In particular, 'Jewish conspiracy' is completely false, in spirit and in word."

3rd March 2011

John Kampfner, CEO of Index on Censorship, cites Israel Shamir as his central reason for not supporting WikiLeaks.

9th April 2011

Esther Addley writes in The Guardian: "Douglas Murray, director of the centre for social cohesion, challenged Assange over the website's sources of funding, its staffing and connections with the Holocaust denier Israel Shamir, who has worked with the site."

2nd Sept 2011

A Guardian editorial blames Assange for releasing the unredacted Cablegate files: "[WikiLeaks] has dwindled to being the vehicle of one flawed individual... occasionally brilliant, but increasingly volatile and erratic." There is no mention of David Leigh's password gaffe, nor of disgruntled ex-WikiLeaks staffer Daniel Domscheit-Berg, whose comments to German media triggered the public exposure of the files.

2nd Sept 2011

Former WikiLeaks insider James Ball writes: Why I Had To Leave WikiLeaks. In this article, Ball cites Shamir as his reason for leaving WikiLeaks, although he also says "the last straw" was Assange's decision to publish the full, unredacted CableGate file (never mind it was his new editors at The Guardian who published the password). Ball also claims that he was worried that after the most important cables had been redacted, "a large volume of cables would remain, of little interest to any media organisation." And yet, when the unredacted cables were released, Ball took no further interest in them. He nonchalantly Tweeted that the media had “had their turn” with the cables, and it was the public's turn now.

18th Sept 2011

Nick Cohen goes to town with a disgusting smear piece in The Guardian: "The treachery of Julian Assange". Cohen claims that the Shamir allegations render anything Assange ever says or does meaningless: "One can say with certainty, however, that Assange's involvement with Shamir is enough to discredit his claim that he published the documents in full because my colleagues on the Guardian inadvertently revealed a link to a site he was meant to have taken down."

26th Sept 2011

Ignoring basic media principles, David Leigh reviews the “unauthorised autobiography” of Assange: "It's a shame Assange couldn't get on with the Guardian... Assange shows, regrettably, that he is living in a fantasy world."

2nd Oct 2011

Karin Olsson, Culture Editor at Sweden's Expressen, is invited by a Guardian editor to write another substance-free smear piece: "Julian Assange: from hero to zero". She calls Assange “a paranoid chauvinist pig [who] cuts an increasingly pitiable figure”. As with the Nick Cohen article, this smear is widely reprinted in newspapers around the world, including Australia's Fairfax media. Once again, Assange's over-hyped association with Shamir is the central pillar of the attack. And as usual with these Guardian smear pieces, readers' comments are overwhelmingly disgusted at the author.

8th Nov 2011

James Ball wades back into the fray, ostensibly in protection of women's rights: Israel Shamir and Julian Assange's cult of machismo. While slammming both men as misogynists, Ball repeats tired claims that Shamir gave unredacted US cables to the President of Belarus. Readers comments – including mine – are again overwhelmingly hostile to the author.

CONCLUSION

The stories above are by no means a conclusive list of Guardian attacks on Assange. And of course WikiLeaks has been unfairly treated in many other media outlets – particularly in the USA – although curiously the Shamir controversy is generally ignored elsewhere.

So why is The Guardian, of all papers, pursuing such a petty, unprofessional, and unsubstantiated smear attack on Julian Assange? Is his barely noteworthy association with an obscure journalist really cause for so much fuss? Is this an embarrasingly unprofessional editorial grudge born from personality differences? Or can it all be about maintaining control of target audiences in the newly digitised media world?

Wikileaks has laid bare the naked corruption of our ruling elites and their media enablers. So what is The Guardian's agenda here? Who is driving this vendetta and why? Alan Rusbridger has some explaining to do.

PS: More discussion on this post: http://jaraparilla.blogspot.com/2011/11/guardians-vendetta-against-julian.html

UPDATE 1: 

An interesting timeline from the comments at my blog:

17/12/10, 4pm - Andrew Brown publishes blog with all source links still in Swedish language. Obviously a rush job as they didn't even bother to translate these sources. Brown even apologises for this at the end of the article. As well as smearing Israel Shamir it also seeks to smear his son, Johann Walstrom - Witness E in the Swedish case and a favourable witness for Assange - by association with his father.

17/12/10, 7pm - The Guardian writes 3 articles on the Belarus cables and 3 on the Cuba cables. It then uploads all its redacted Belarus and Cuba cables to Wikileaks. Some are very heavily - and apparently unnecessarily - redacted. Bear in mind that Israel Shamir was the first journalist to write about the Guardian "cable cooking".

17/12/10, 9pm - Nick Davies publishes the notorious "10 Days in Sweden" hit piece, which shamelessly distorted the leaked police protocol, kicking off the personal smear attacks against Assange in the English-speaking media.

UPDATE 2: 

Andrew Brown is the religious ("belief") editor at the Comment Is Free (CIF) section of Guardian. He lived in Sweden previously and still writes about it regularly. He invited Karin Olsson to write the Assange smear, as she admits here.

UPDATE 3: 

Following Channel 4's "WikiLeaks: Secrets and Lies" smear-filled TV documentary, wikileaks.org has published full details of the Guardian's involvement and producer's correspondence: http://www.wikileaks.org/Guardian-s-WikiLeaks-Secrets-and.html

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My #CensusFAIL Parliamentary Submission

This is my submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the 2016 Census failure. Submissions close tomorrow.

2016 Census Submission To Parliamentary Enquiry

20th September 2016

The 2016 Census has been an extraordinary failure at every level, and should have been abandoned as soon as this became clear. Unfortunately, it is all too typical of the unaccountable Neoliberal ideology plaguing Australia and the Western world today.

We need to see this #CensusFAIL in the context of the government's continued invasions of citizens’ privacy (with both major parties complicit). As Edward Snowden revealed, we are now helping the USA spy not just on all citizens of Australia, but on all citizens of the world. Neither major party has a problem with that. Quite the opposite: both major parties have supported draconian Data Retention legislation robbing citizens of the right to privacy. It is an appalling situation.
The ABS decision to retain names and addresses for Census 2016 was never adequately explained, because it is indefensible. We citizens were told by the (ir)responsible MP that "it doesn't matter" because so many of us willingly give up our privacy to companies like Facebook. But in fact intelligent citizens want nothing to do with such companies. And anyway, nobody is going to charge you $180/day if you don't join Facebook.
THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE PROTECTING CITIZENS' PRIVACY, NOT EXPLOITING IT.
If the government abandons its responsibility to me, and fails to protect my privacy, there is no reason why I should willingly co-operate with further attempts to exploit me. Now I see the government wants to privatise the ASIC database. What happens if a future government decides to privatise the Census database? This is where we are heading.

The ABS wants to hold onto my name and address for years, tied to my family's personal information, and yet government institutions around the world are hacked regularly and this information (on millions of Australians) represents a prize target for hackers. Sorry, but I have no confidence that the government can be trusted.
And by the way, I used to work with IBM on the Gold Coast. IBM handled #CensusFAIL security and an ex-colleague Phillip Ny made headlines when he said that this data would "inevitably" be lost. He deleted that tweet, presumably under pressure of losing his job, but he was right. Those of us who understand software security have a much better idea of the threats than petty bureaucrats and careerist politicians.
The people who should be facing court over this #CensusFAIL disaster are the imbeciles at ABS who have wasted countless millions of dollars and destroyed public confidence in their institution.
The damage has now been done: millions have not completed the census, millions more have provided unreliable data because they rightly do not trust their government. Nobody but the fools responsible should be punished for it.
Sincerely,
Gary Lord.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Oz #CENSUSFAIL and IBM


Today Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull assured citizens that the security of their Census 2016 data was 'absolute'.

"The security of their personal details is absolute and that is protected by law and by practice," he said. "That is a given."

But at almost the same time, Philip Nye, whom the Australian called "an IBM global security executive" on the Gold Coast, declared on Twitter that Australia’s sensitive census data will “inevitably” be hacked.

Nye made another important point: how would Australians even know if their census data was hacked?

“Since Australia doesn’t have mandatory disclosure laws, will we ever find out when Census data is inevitably breached?,” Mr Nye asked Prime Minister Turnbull and Gold Coast MP Steven Ciobo.

(NOTE: The government has proposed a "mandatory disclosure" bill to force organisations to disclose when they’ve had a ‘serious data breach’, but it is yet to be passed.)

Philip Nye deleted his tweets soon after the Murdoch media picked up on them, presumably because IBM have been the outsourcing partner for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) since 2011, when more than 2.6 million households across Australia submitted Census forms via IBM's web-based eCensus solution.

Of course, that was before Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that all our phones and computers were being spied on by the US National Security Agency (NSA), with help from Australia's Pine Gap spy base.

So who are you going to believe? The Prime Minister who turned the NBN into a farce, or a security expert from IBM (who actually handle the ABS security) plus a former ABS staffer plus many other IT experts and privacy advocates?

The government is still insisting the 2016 Census will go ahead as scheduled on August 9th, despite calls from Independent Senators and MPs and the Greens to delay it and respond to privacy concerns.

It's also worth noting that IBM helped Adolf Hitler track all the Jews in Nazi Germany and manage their transportation to concentration camps. They still prefer not to talk about it.

Full Disclosure: I spent seven years working as a Technical Writer at IBM's Gold Coast office. In my opinion IBM is a corporation with no moral compass.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Some Thoughts On Australia's 2016 Election

Well I have not read any interesting analysis of Australia's recent election, so I will write something myself...

First thing to say: this boring, meaningless election was completely unecessary. PM Malcolm Turnbull cited his government's inability to pass union-bashing laws as an excuse to call a double dissolution election, but the Governor General should have denied his request. Industrial Relations laws hardly bring the nation to a standstill, so there was no real emergency. Anyway, the Abbott-Turnbull government was barely able to pass ANY laws through the Senate, because they flatly refused to compromise their blinkered neoliberal ideology. And of course the fact that this IR bill was barely even mentioned during the campaign (or since) proves that it was just a pathetic excuse.

Turnbull called the election early because his popularity was sinking steadily ever since he ousted the even less popular Tony Abbott. He should have called an election back then, citing the need for citizens to endorse the change of leader, but (a) he is too arrogant, and (b) his party was badly fractured and he could barely control his cabinet, let alone the country. And now, after barely scraping a win, he faces resignation calls from his own side. Karma?

This is the fate of nearly all Western political leaders today: the longer they stay in power, the less popular they become. The only things that seem able to sustain them are relentless "terror" fear-mongering and wars. So while the Liberals ruthlessly ridiculed the ALP's Rudd-Gillard-Rudd shenanigans, they end up facing the same conundrum. After a few expectant months, voters start to see past the smiling cheerleader's face and realise that nothing is really changing that will be of benefit to their lives. So given an opportunity, they express their disgust.

It was the same thing with the #Brexit vote in the UK, which stunned the world a week before Australians voted. And such expressions of disgust will continue until the major parties abandon their failed neoliberal agenda. It's worth noting that both the Coalition and ALP have seen their percentage share of the vote falling steadily since Gough Whitlam was ousted in 1975. The Reagan-Thatcher neoliberalism which blossomed in the 1980s is now toxic but we're still waiting for something to replace it.

And so we've seen 2016 election results favouring independents and minor parties, including the hate-filled Pauline Hanson team. The Coalition have stoked xenophobia as an excuse for war and then as justification for treating refugees like hardened criminals, so there's more karma when crazed bigots steal seats off them. By the way, only one Australian newspaper editorial backed Labor (Melbourne's Sunday Age). Hanson voters tend to be under-educated and badly informed. Where do you think they get their information?

It's also worth asking why the Greens did not do better in these circumstances. In the early weeks of the campaign, both major parties went to great lengths to attack the Greens, with the usual help from Murdoch and the increasingly right-wing ABC. New leader Richard Di Natale was excluded from all the leaders debates, even though journalists complained they were boring. But I've seen criticism that Di Natale failed to differentiate the Greens from the major parties, and I think there's some truth in that. I manned a Gold Coast booth for the Greens on election day and heard a lot of disenchanted young voters complaining "they are all the same."

I remain hopeful that the Greens can do a lot better. With no signs that media hostility will decrease, social media is the key. It's not enough to tour the country tweeting photos of the happy, smiling people you meet. Creative memes, informational graphics and clever hashtag campaigns are far more likely to interest new voters. But instead of another blistering Youtube speech from Senator Ludlam, for example, the 2016 Greens campaign seemed to get side-tracked with minor announcements. I'd like to see a more relentless focus on the big issues: climate change, corporate power and government transparency.

It's now a week since the election and the votes are still being counted, but any new government is likely to be very unstable and already there's talk that Australians might need to go to the polls again soon. If that's the case, I'd like to urge readers to get involved NOW with the Greens, who are the only party in Australian politics really capable of changing things. At the small booth I manned, for example, there was a 5.99% swing to the Greens. While that wasn't enough to unseat our super-safe Liberal Party MP, it could be the difference between Queensland getting one or two Greens into the Senate. The local Greens candidate confirmed that having somebody there with How-To-Vote-Greens cards makes a noticeable difference to the final results.

So what are you waiting for? Go to greens.org.au and get involved. Otherwise the next election will be just as boring and meaningless as this one was.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Australian Human Rights Commissioner Embarrassed Over #ASSANGE


An embarrassing letter from Australia's Human Rights Commission (published below) falsely claims that Julian Assange "has been charged". It says Mr Assange "has an opportunity to defend himself before the Swedish Court", when in fact he has been denied this opportunity precisely because, after more than five years, he still has NOT been charged. The letter further states that the Assange case is outside the Australian Human Rights Commission's jurisdiction, even though their own motto (as shown in the letter) is "Human rights: everyone, everywhere, everyday."

Dated 9 Dec. 2015, the letter is signed by Kelly O'Grady, the Executive Assistant to the President of the Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs. It was sent in response to a request for assistance from an Assange supporter named Chris.


To make matters even more embarrassing for Gillian Triggs, less than a month later, the United Nations ruled that Julian Assange has been unlawfully detained and should be immediately released and paid compensation by both Sweden and the UK. 

And then perhaps the ultimate embarrassment for a left-wing spokesperson: being rightly exposed by right-wing media commentator Miranda Devine. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention announced its decision on Friday 5 February 2016. Two days later, Miranda Devine published the following article in Rupert Murdoch's Sydney newspapers (this was not published online): 

Professor Triggs needs to realise that Julian Assange is also an asylum seeker. He has been granted political asylum by the government of Ecuador, and the United Nations has ruled that he has been unlawfully "arbitrarily detained" since 2010. He has NOT been charged by the disgracefully and willfully incompetent Swedish prosecutor, who  still has not even gone to London to question him. And how is anyone supposed to defend themselves in a court of law when they have not even been charged with anything?

Julian Assange did NOT choose to seek political asylum in order to avoid a court case in Sweden, as the letter above insinuates. The Ecuadorean government granted him asylum because of "multiple high-level threats against his life and liberty" from the USA. 

It's time for Gillian Triggs to apologise for the letter above, set the record straight, and speak up for the human rights of award-winning Australian journalist Julian Assange.


Julian Assange is Australia's one and only political refugee. He has been deprived of his basic human rights - including the right to fresh air, sunlight, and medical attention for 6 months of pain - precisely because he dared expose the US government's human rights abuses.

How is it possible that Gillian Triggs is not even aware of these basic facts? Who's rights is she really protecting? Australian citizens, or the US government?

When fellow journalist Peter Greste was awarded the Australian Medal For Human Rights in 2015, Gillian Triggs praised him at the ceremony, which took place one day after the letter above was sent. If that's not "outside her jurisdiction", then why is Assange?



Note: attempts to contact @GillianTriggs on Twitter today have been unsuccessful. I will keep trying for a response and update this post with more information as it comes to hand. Please let me know if you have any more relevant information: @jaraparilla.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Australia's Future: US Client State? Fascist State? Both?

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism - ownership of government by an individual, or by a group.”
 - US President Franklin Roosevelt.
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism, because it is a merger of State and Corporate power."
 - Italian Fascist Dictator, Benito Mussolini.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has spelled out the Abbott government's chilling vision for the future of Australia's Defence Forces. There are two key themes: closer integration between government and industry, and closer integration with the United States. In other words, lots of US corporations will be making lots of money from Australian taxpayers, especially if we continue to be involved in ill-considered US military adventurism. But don't worry, voters - there will be opportunities for Australian businesses to reap profits too!

In his Canberra address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia on August 26th, Mr Andrews outlined key elements of the forthcoming Defence White Paper, which seeks to guide strategy for the next decade or more. The government wants a "high technology future force" but this "will depend on our capacity to partner with... the US industrial base, as we are doing now."

In fact, these plans will ensure that Australia loses all pretense of sovereignty and becomes fully consumed into the sprawling US "military-industrial complex" (as former US President Eisenhower famously termed it in his 1961 farewell speech). Mr Andrews seems delighted at the prospect, repeatedly embracing closer integration between Canberra, Washington, and military industries.

"In the past," he says, "not enough has been done to recognise the importance of industry’s contribution to Defence and national security more broadly." Does he want medals awarded to the CEO's of major arms companies, or statues erected in their honour? No, he wants a "new way of doing business".

In the future, says Mr Andrews, "it will be mandatory for Defence to consider Australian industry in the formal capability development process."

"For the first time, government will recognise the vital role of Australian industry as a fundamental input to Defence capability."

Does that sound like the government is ready to outsource the defense of our nation to private companies? The language being used certainly sounds like all-too-familiar "privatisation" talking points.

Mr Andrews warns that "our defence industrial base is no longer structured or managed to provide major platforms in a timely manner." Apparently, whatever these "platforms" are, this is the Labor Party's fault.

"When the Government was elected in September 2013," says the Defence Minister, "six years of prolonged under-investment was placing Australia’s security in jeopardy."

The irony is that Australia remains one of the safest nations on earth, where people from countries we help destablize flock (if they can) to seek refuge. Our government is helping the USA spy on all our citzens, plus our neighbours, so there's very little chance of anyone springing an attack, even if they wanted to (which they don't). Our Navy boats can even invade Indonesian waters with impunity! The only real enemies we face are the terrorists our government has helped the USA create.

But Defence White Papers are all about imagining potential future enemies, not building peace. In this paranoid worldview, where fears can be exploited for profits, the only way to be safe is to "build an even closer partnership between government and industry" which will "spur more affordable war winning technology." In other words, ever more money for ever more weapons.

And of course: "The US Alliance will remain fundamental to our security and defence planning, and the highest priority for our international cooperation."

Mr Andrews repeatedly embraces the Orwellian term "rebalance" to describe the USA's expanding military presence in Asia-Pacific region. It's a puzzling term: does it imply that the Pacific rim was once "balanced" - perhaps after the USA bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or does it suggest that the US military itself has been out of balance since they launched their ill-considered attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan?

At any rate, Andrews wants to "enhance military interoperability with the United States" (such as the very expensive Talisman Sabre war games), "exercise joint collective capabilities" (hello Pine Gap and the NSA) and "demonstrate our mutual resolve" (to do what?). He praises the growing US Marines base in Darwin, saying Canberra wants to see more "enhanced cooperation", particularly between the US and Australian air forces and navies. And, perhaps with a nod to Jeb Bush's Neoconservative friends, he welcomes US plans to "sustain & advance US military superiority for the 21st Century... within a resource constrained environment."

Yes, Minister, we all know how "constrained" US military spending is. 



On the vexed question of submarines, Kevin Andrews says he has been "fundamentally guided by the key principles laid out by the RAND Corporation, which we commissioned to conduct a detailed review of the Australian naval shipbuilding industry". But the RAND Corporation, originally formed by the Douglas Aircraft Company, is a global think tank mostly financed by the US government and US corporations. If Australian government and military decision-making is now "fundamentally guided" by such US entities, have we already been absorbed into the US military-industrial complex?

"To date," the Defence Minister continues to boast, "Australia is the only country approved to acquire and operate both the Super Hornet and Growler – two aircraft that are at the absolute forefront of the United States’ air power capabilities, reflecting Australia’s position as a trusted capability partner."

Indeed. The US military jealously guard their top secret hardware and software, prompting many allies to complain when they do not get full access to control billion-dollar purchases. But is Australia really a "trusted partner" or just an obedient, well-trained "poodle"? Either way, the US military industry is already making good money from us. Australia is buying eight P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft from the US, as part of a $5 billion investment, plus fifty eight F-35A Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), at a cost of at least $12 billion, even though they have been widely ridiculed as a massive waste of money. And there's more where that came from.

"US prime companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have been identifying international opportunities and awarding contracts to some of Australia’s most innovative companies," declares Mr Andrews with pride. And over fifty Australian companies have been "approved" for the new Australia-US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty. These, presumably, are the businesses that stand to reap profits from future years of "defence" spending. No doubt they are generous political donors too.

If this is really the future for Australia's military spending, we are all in a lot of trouble. Businesses are designed to grow from continued profits, and there are only two ways to continually grow military industries: either endless wars, or reckless, wasteful over-spending.

Only a deeply irresponsible government would commit Australia to such a path. So where is the Opposition on this - ready to speak up for Australian sovereignty? Or are we already a US Client State?

And where are the saner voices within the Australian military? Our grand-parents and great-grand-parents died fighting the threat of Fascism as it spread across Europe. Will we now meekly surrender to this new threat of Neoconservative, Neoliberal, 21st Century Corporate Fascism?