Saturday, April 21, 2018

Heroes Of Veracity v. Mountains Of Pure Bullshit

We stand on the cusp of a revolution which may go either of two ways. Certainly the status quo cannot hold. Western nations have been accelerating towards Fascist authoritarianism for some time. The advent of online communication and social media threatened to give ordinary citizens more say in how their societies are run, but governments have successfully blunted this opportunity with draconian “anti-terror” laws. Where does that path end? Anyone can brand their enemies a terrorist – as the USA has done to Julian Assange, for example – and these laws are already being abused for political gain.

But it doesn’t end there. The “Fake News” epidemic is another sign that the status quo cannot hold. Look at all the attacks on Russia being made with no hard proof – Putin rigged the US election, he tried to kill Skripal, he was behind chemical attacks in Syria, etc – then look at the real world consequences of these stories: Russian ambassadors expelled around the world, sanctions, a deadly bomb attack on Syria by US, UK and French warplanes, nervous talk of nuclear war. Are we suddenly in a world where wars can be started by lies, without hard proof? Or have wars always been started with lies, but now it’s just much harder to hide them from 24/7 global discussion?

In any case, the centre cannot hold. Western democracies face a crisis of legitimacy. On critical issues like global warming, leaders simply ignore the will of the people. Meanwhile the West looks away as Israel commits slow genocide in Palestine, or while the Saudis massacre whole cities in Yemen. But still they dare call their own selective military actions “humanitarian”? No, we are not the good guys any more and we cannot pretend to be. So a threshold approaches…

Either the Establishment collapses, bringing an end to Neoliberal inequality, or we enter a new era of global dystopia, where an ever-shrinking select few control the news, the economy, the military and – increasingly – the robots. Don’t laugh: billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are well aware how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will change the world, even if most people still have no idea. The old Jetsons cartoons promised a future where robots did all the work and people had almost unlimited leisure time. But what if the robots take all the jobs and people are left to die on the sidewalks? If robots are the means of production, and the global elite own the robots, well then the working class is no longer necessary.

Add to that bleak future waves of immigration due to climate change and our continued disastrous wars, and it becomes clear that huge changes await us in the near future. The Establishment can only continue by cracking down harder and harder on any threats to their control. They will eventually have to effectively throw Democracy (what’s left of it) out the door and rule by force. Or they will collapse, and then the big question is: who and what will take their place?

At the moment I think UK Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn is a key figure. He promises a return to old ways, a more gentle and caring government, an end to foolish wars and maybe even some accountability for past war crimes. No wonder they are so desperate to stop him. But how far will they go? Some senior military people have already threatened not to acknowledge his victory if he wins an election and becomes PM.

Meanwhile in the USA the Clinton Democrats are in their death throes, desperately hurling every weapon they can find at every target who opposes them, madly trying to blame everyone but themselves for Hillary’s 2016 appalling loss to a bloated, bigoted, bullshitting reality TV star. The Democrats are not trying to hide their massive influence on the media and intelligence services, who have formed a laughable “Resistance” and are doing whatever they can to sucker the public into supporting them again (never mind their exposed corruption, that’s never gonna change).

Midterm elections are coming up. If the Democrats fail badly, it could be the end of this farce. But if they win, they will continue blaming Russia for every evil under the sun until they can bring down Trump and take over again. Then what? Pure bullshit rules, with a naked cabal of corrupt politicians, lying media hacks and psychopathic military leaders seeking endless wars for profit.

Of course, that’s much the same as what Trump is delivering these days anyway. It’s just a different bunch of assholes in charge. But we do like to cling to the hope that maybe Trump is different, maybe this time, or next time, he will dare say NO to the Deep State spooks and the military warmongers. Keep dreaming, kids, it’s all we’ve got.

The USA is past the point of no return. The best we can hope is that the Democrats collapse in a broken heap, leaving angry voters looking to rebuild something more useful. That’s how Corbyn came to power in the UK, but it’s hard to see shadowy Democrat elites making the same silly mistake as Labour and allowing an old socialist with “no chance” on the ballot. Anyway, how long would it take for the Democrats to rebuild? Do we have that much time? Keep dreaming.

Here in Australia, everything is utterly fucked. I can’t even begin to describe how bad things are or I will not stop. The best thing we’ve got going for us is the Greens, and they are going nowhere in a hurry these days. In New Zealand, a new young Prime Minister looks promising – but don’t they always? Hello, disillusioned Justin Trudeau fans. Let’s see if Kim Dotcom can wake up the Kiwis a bit; at the moment he still faces a hostile media and entrenched Five Eyes control behind the scenes. 

The European Union is a mess, as beautifully illustrated by widespread Establishment support for Spanish Fascist violence against peaceful demonstrators in Catalonia.

Which brings me back to Julian Assange. What happens to him now? I cannot believe he will ever sign away his right to free speech, as Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno insists he must. So his six year incarceration in the embassy becomes even more tortuous without access to the Internet, visitors (except his lawyers) or even a phone. How long can he survive in that hostile environment, which is getting dangerously close to solitary confinement? And what the hell is happening back in Ecuador, where Moreno is blaming everything on this predecessor, Rafael Correa, including the “inherited problem” of Assange’s political asylum. Moreno insists he will still protect Assange “as long as his life is in danger”, but meanwhile he is cosying up to US diplomats. I often think Julian is the canary in the coalmine of global dystopia; if he goes down, we are all in deep, deep trouble. Maybe if Julian can just hang in there till the next election, Corbyn might do the right thing? Keep dreaming…

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Julian Assange: The Flashing Red Light

According to Julian Assange, censorship is always a sign of fear. It expresses weakness. It is like a flashing red light that tells everyone, "Hey, there is something to see over here." It is also a tacit admission by censors that their system can be reformed through the power of free speech - why else would they fear it?

In fact, as Julian told Hans Ulrich Obrist in May 2011, this understanding is a key to how and why WikiLeaks was first established:

"So, it was an epiphany to see the signal of censorship to always be an opportunity, to see that when organizations or governments of various kinds attempt to contain knowledge and suppress it, they are giving you the most important information you need to know: that there is something worth looking at - to see if it should be exposed - and that censorship expresses weakness, not strength."

From this perspective, it is fascinating to look at how many powerful people and supposedly benign institutions have tried - and failed - to silence WikiLeaks. What we discover is that Julian Assange himself has now become that flashing red light. By repeatedly trying to silence and smear him, the censors of truth have only exposed themselves.

In 2010, just when WikiLeaks revelations about Iraq, Afghanistan and the US State Department began rocking governments around the world, Julian was falsely labelled a "Double Rapist" on the front pages of global newspapers. Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest, even though the allegations (which remain unproven, because Sweden never filed charges, so innocence should be presumed) were not considered crimes in other countries. On December 7th, 2010, the British police threw Assange into Wandsworth Prison and locked him in solitary confinement for ten days, only releasing him after supporters posted a massive £140,000 bond. He was shackled with an electronic GPS ankle bracelet and forced to report daily to the local police station. Senior US political figures called for Assange to be arrested, tortured or assassinated. US banking giants, with the help of PayPal, cut off WikiLeaks' access to funds.

Publicly, the British government insisted that Assange was being treated like any other suspect. But we now know that the UK Crown Prosecutor privately assured Sweden that this would not be treated like a normal case. In fact they even asked the Swedes not to come and question Assange in London, which would have been normal procedure. And then they destroyed the paperwork, before the case was even closed! And we only know this thanks to documents obtained by an Italian journalist, Stefania Maurizi, who is still pushing for more information. The British press have been too busy assassinating Assange's character to even investigate the case.

The US media, the CIA, the Australian government, and many others have similarly tried to smear or silence WikiLeaks and Assange over the past eight years. But self-censorship has also become a major problem: people exposed to so much relentless anti-WikiLeaks propaganda are prone to fall silent, or modify their views, lest they too be branded an "enemy of the state". On Twitter, for example, many journalists insist they support WikiLeaks journalism, but repeatedly express contempt for Julian Assange. It's difficult to get these people to even discuss the facts of his case, because they don't really want to know. They ignore you or block you instead.

What we see is that Assange and WikiLeaks have broken no laws, but instead have broken an unspoken taboo. We are not supposed to look at power too closely, lest the whole artifice of society crumbles. Supporters of the Establishment everywhere assure us that chaos is the only alternative. We are encouraged to tolerate a degree of corruption because after all, that is how the world works. Business is business. None of us are perfect. Now run along, children.

Can YOU handle the truth? Most people, it seems, cannot. Most don't want to break the taboo. They are scared of what they might find. They are scared of the unknown. They are scared of possessing knowledge, because then they might be obliged to do something about it. Better to know nothing than become complicit through inaction.

With an untrustworthy media and the explosion of social media, we find ourselves surrounded by myths. The corporate media peddles myths about who is good and who is bad. For example, compare reporting on Saudi Arabia with Venezuela, or Israel and Russia. This year, many Europeans were shocked to see their leaders endorsing Spain's violent attacks on Catalonian protestors. But the same leaders had worked together in 2013, forcing the Bolivian President's plane to land when the USA thought Edward Snowden was traveling on board. We rarely see networks of power at this level exposed so clearly.

The persecution of WikiLeaks and Assange reveals how corrupt power works in this world. With enough money and the right connections, you can become untouchable. But if you dare push too hard to discover the truth, you will be relentlessly attacked and destroyed. This is not acceptable in a world where the Neoliberal orthodoxy is collapsing, inequality is on the rise, and we urgently need to solve global problems like climate change, resource wars, and the consequent massive flows of asylum seekers.

So don't believe the hype. Don't censor yourself. Get involved. Speak up. Support those with the courage to put their lives on the line for the truth. Together we can change the world.

Friday, June 30, 2017

"Hello Snowflakes" - Epic Twitter Rant from Julian Assange

This is a compilation of tweets from @JulianAssange today. These tweets come in response to a push for social media organisations like Twitter and Facebook to censor content that is deemed "dangerous".
Hello snowflakes. I will do a small tour now of some censorship double standards that I have a deep personal experience of, namely threats to kill.
I don't think people should threaten to kill others, but I don't think companies should be in the game of determining what is a threat and what is not because any such system will be played by those with greater access to the internals of the system.
This is clearly the case with Twitter and other mediums, where [there are] biases about how close to the in-group that runs the censorship system the complainer is, and their relative social standing of the complainant. This is true of all justice systems which is why - except for the greatest extremes - we should avoid them, because they are inevitably bringers of intense injustice to the most excluded or marginalized - i.e those people who need justice the most are the least likely to get it. This is why Twitter et al should get out of the justice game and let users chose how to interact with others without adjudication.
Now for some examples of the reality I live with every day. I would like people to compare these extremes to the judicial beheadings [Twitter founder] @Jack and others have served upon those who don't match their politics, or who do not have the type of prestige that @jack seeks to being himself close to.
First of all, let us start with the basic compilation of death threats against me (and my staff) for attempting to educate people by telling them the truth (there is no greater sin). This abridged compilation by 2012. It forms part of the background of why I applied for and received asylum. Do you like the soundtrack? 

I am proud of it. It is Flight of the Bumble Bees by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov slowed 9000x. Here it the original:
Is that cool or what? You have to have fun while compiling your death threats. Here's the extended version which includes some against @WikiLeaks as a whole and @xychelsea too from memory:
Now for the more recent. Starting with Hillary Clinton's joke about droning yours truly which came out in 2016 (though we had heard about it years before):
Here's Hillary Clinton herself responding; missing is "I would never condone killing the staff of any media".

She said it was a joke--a bit like her election campaign? It's certainly not good to threaten our staff or torture our alleged sources. Here's a fun poster from the Washington Times. Goes with the article "Assassinate Assange". A "?" added later.
It was no joke to the 40k Libyans she killed while Secretary of State in a bid to stamp her lunatic ticket.

Here's noted Obama hagiographer, @MikeGunwald then at @TIME, now promoted to "Senior writer" at Politico. Quality sycophant.
These "journalists" love nothing more than to threaten to help assassinate me and my staff and my sources for telling the truth. They couldn't dream of our accuracy or independence. I have abiding contempt for their lack of standards and craven character.
Here's the NY based Mediaite which is owned by Dan Abrams a former ABC "journalist"; sister is an Obama judge.
The article is from June 6 this year. Notice how all the snowflakes were up in arms about this threat to kill someone for speaking. No?
Julian then listed over two dozen tweets that included threats to kill him, his family, and/or WikiLeaks staff. He tagged them all with the hashtag #TolerantLiberal.

There's thousands more on killing me, our other people, maiming, bombing, kidnapping, imprisoning for trying to educate people. What can I say? Liberals ain't liberal. They've fallen into bed with the worst elements of state hardpower & love censorship and death.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Did USA Interfere in Australia's 1975 Election?

Originally published in New Daily as "Heavy Meddle: Did USA interfere in Australian election?" Republishing here because it was almost impossible to read on that site.

While Americans digest the news that Russia almost certainly tried to influence the election that delivered Donald Trump the presidency, new research indicates the US is an old hand at trying to sway votes in other countries.

Political scientist Dov Levin of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University says the US has attempted to influence elections overseas as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000.

Levin doesn’t include Australia in his data set, even though he admitted to The New Daily this week the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam government had been “one of the primary candidates” he’d examined.

“However when I checked this case out, the documents from a recent comprehensive collection of declassified US government documents on US foreign policy towards Australia during those years provided no evidence of such an American intervention in the 1975 election campaign for one of the parties,” Levin said.

Others, closer to home, are more inclined to believe the Americans did interfere in one of the most turbulent periods in Australian political history.

Australian author Andrew Fowler told The New Daily it was broadly accepted America tried to interfere in the Australian political situation in 1975 that led to the Whitlam government being dismissed and then voted out in favour of Malcolm Fraser weeks later.

Fowler, author of The War on Journalism: Media Moguls, Whistleblowers and the Price of Freedom, told The New Daily while the evidence America wanted to see the end of the Whitlam government was circumstantial, “there is a considerable amount of it”.

Others, like Australian-born, British-based journalist John Pilger are even more convinced that the 1975 poll was subject to US interference.

In his book A Secret Country, Pilger wrote that former CIA agent Victor Marchetti explained the US-Australian relationship thus: “So long as Australians keep electing the right people then there’ll be a stable relationship between the two countries.”
Nixon and Nixon weren't fans of the Whitlam Government. Photo: Getty
Nixon and Kissinger weren’t fans of the Whitlam government. Photo: Getty

The comfortable relationship between Australia and America, which had endured since World War II, almost came to an end when Australians elected the left-leaning Whitlam in 1972.

The new PM believed that a foreign power should not control his country’s resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He was particularly discomfited by the existence of American bases on Australian soil.

Whitlam demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, a giant vacuum cleaner which, as Edward Snowden revealed, allows the US to spy on pretty much everyone and anything.

Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told Pilger: “This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House … a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion.”

Author Fowler said Australia’s politicians repeatedly stated there was little difference between America’s best interests and those of Australia.

“But we know from the statements of former prime ministers Malcolm Fraser and Paul Keating that is not the case,” he said, adding: “The problem is they don’t tell us that when they’re in office.

“The Anzus alliance only matters to the Americans to serve their own interests. The most important part of the alliance, Pine Gap, helps them fight foreign wars. It is no longer just a listening post.”

The War on Journalism records that by 1974 the dominant Murdoch press turned solidly against Whitlam.

The new US Ambassador to Australia, Marshall Green, appointed by US President Richard Nixon, was freshly drafted in from Chile, where the CIA had helped topple the democratically elected President Salvador Allende the previous year.

Before long, communiques to the US State Department reported that Murdoch had issued confidential instructions to editors of his newspapers to “Kill Whitlam”.

With key figures in the Labor Party describing the then bombing in Vietnam as “corrupt and barbaric” and threatening to close the US bases in Australia, the CIA stepped in.

In 1975 senior CIA figure Theodore Shackley wrote to ASIO: “The CIA feel that if this problem cannot be solved they do not see how our mutually beneficial relations are going to continue.”

Pilger records that on November 10, 1975, Whitlam was shown a top secret telex message sourced to Shackley, the head of the CIA’s East Asia Division, who had helped run the coup against Allende in Chile. Shackley’s message was read to Whitlam. It said that the Prime Minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country.

The day before, Governor-General Sir John Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Australian Defence Signals Directorate, another of Australia’s national security agencies, and was briefed on the “security crisis”.

On November 11, 1975, the day Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia, he was dismissed by the Governor-General.

Dr Alison Broinowski, Vice-President of the group Honest History, told The New Daily America’s interference in the Australian electoral processes in 1975 appeared obvious.

“From writings by Marian Wilkinson, Christopher Boyce, John Pilger, Jenny Hocking, James Curran, and others, it is clear that Whitlam came close to closing down the bases and getting sacked in return,” she said.

“The trouble is those who know the whole story are either dead or won’t say how or whether the US actually changed the outcome of the election. If they did, it would only be one of many around the world, before and since.

    “The hypocrisy in relation to Russian interference, if it happened, is breathtaking.”

For his part, Professor Curran, lecturer in history at Sydney University, is less convinced of US involvement in 1975’s tumultuous events.

In his widely praised book Unholy Fury: ­Whitlam and Nixon at War, Professor Curran records the bad blood between President Richard Nixon, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the Whitlam government.

Nixon dismissed the Australian PM as a “peacenik”, Kissinger called him a “bastard”, while senior Australian ministers claimed the White House was being run by “thugs” and “maniacs”.

Professor Curran told The New Daily that while there was a long history of the US interfering in foreign elections, “it doesn’t include Australia in 1975”.

“There was clearly some kind of CIA activity in Australia that was at the very least being actively considered in 1975,” he said.

    “But I found no smoking gun – no documentary evidence – to suggest that the US was involved either in Whitlam’s downfall or the 1975 election.”

Nevertheless, with British, American and Australian US intelligence agencies all working against him, a Governor-General later recorded as being closely supported by the CIA and with the Murdoch press baying for his blood, the Whitlam government fell.

The history books record that an emissary of the US government, Assistant Secretary of State Warren Christopher later told Whitlam the “US Administration would never again interfere in the domestic political processes of Australia”.

Critics argue there is really only one reason the promise has been kept: Australia has been entirely compliant with America’s wishes. That may all be about to change. Trump may not just be about to herald a shake-up in America, but a shake-up of the alliance in which generations of Australian politicians and bureaucrats have placed so much faith.
You can read more on this topic here and here.

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)
"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."
"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."
"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?"
"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 -"
"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?"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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?
"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."
"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?
"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!"
"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?"
"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."
"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.
"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."
"We've had calls for inquiry into the Iraq War..."
"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...


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?


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.


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:


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.


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.


Following Channel 4's "WikiLeaks: Secrets and Lies" smear-filled TV documentary, has published full details of the Guardian's involvement and producer's correspondence:

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.
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.
Gary Lord.