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?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Australian Journo Grills Foreign Minister on Assange Case

Transcript of exchange between a Canberra journalist* and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop:

Journo: Ms Bishop, do you have any comment on the latest news about Julian Assange?

Julie Bishop: No. Next question.

Journo: But Ms Bishop, it's been five years since accusations of so-called "minor rape" were levelled against Mr Assange - an Australian citizen - and the Swedish prosecutor has failed to pursue the case before the legal statute of limitations expired. She previously insisted it was against Swedish law to question Mr Assange in the UK, and yet Sweden questioned 44 other suspects in Britain over the past 5 years. Have you raised this lack of due process with your Swedish counterpart?

Julie Bishop: As I understand, there were two women involved. And the statute of limitations is only expiring on one woman's allegations. It therefore remains a legal case between the Swedish government and Mr Assange, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment.

Journo: So does the Australian government plan to keep doing and saying nothing for another five years? Seriously?

Julie Bishop: We have given Mr Assange the same level of consular support that we give to other Australian citizens in similar situations.

Journo: That's not true. For example, you personally intervened to speak up for an Australian woman who was detained in the Middle East. And former Foreign Minister Bob Carr joked in his book about how he had upset Mr Assange's mother by ignoring the case. He lied on national TV a week before the last election when he said he had no idea about the US Grand Jury investigating WikiLeaks -

Julie Bishop: Let me just repeat myself once again. This is a consular matter. It's up to the High Commissioner in London to provide whatever assistance he thinks is necessary.

Journo: But the High Commissioner in London is Alexander Downer, who was complicit in the "supreme crime" of invading Iraq as part of the US-lead "Coalition Of The Willing". He was also complicit in the cover-up of Australian Wheat Board sales to Saddam Hussein. He's hardly a fitting person to trust when it comes to protecting an Australian whistle-blowing journalist from the US government, is he?

Julie Bishop: That's an outrageous thing to say. Who let this person in here?

Journo: Ms Bishop, can we just go back to the latest news from Sweden? Will you at least consider expelling the Swedish Ambassador to Australia?

Julie Bishop: What? Why on earth would I do that?

Journo: Well, for starters, he has misrepresented the case and tried to intimidate Australian journalists into silence.

Julie Bishop: Well, that sounds like a very good idea.

Journo: Expelling the ambassador?

Julie Bishop: No, silencing journalists. Security! Remove this man!

(* not an actual journalist, nor - sadly - an actual conversation. Of course no journalist prepared to question the Foreign Minister in this way would even be allowed access. But it would be nice if they could at least try.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

#3years2long Message From Christine Assange


This is the text of the message from Julian Assange's mother Christine, which was read out in her absence (due to flu) at the Sydney #3years2long rally yesterday:

Welcome!...and many thanks to supporters old and new for being here today, to stand up for justice for Australian journalist Julian Assange, and his work as Editor in Chief of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

Although uncharged with any crime, anywhere in the world, at the request of the US , the UK Govt has detained Julian for nearly 5 years now, under constant 24 hour surveillance and house arrest.

Today marks 3 yrs of his refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Ecuador granted Julian political asylum due to threats on his life and liberty by the US Govt and its agencies.

Again, bowing to US pressure, the UK Govt breached international law with a 3 year ongoing 24 hr police siege of the Ecuadorean Embassy, preventing Julian leaving to take up lawful residency in Ecuador. This misuse and waste of police time and money has cost the UK taxpayer upwards of £10 mill and climbing.

London's Lord Mayor has expressed concern that these resources would be better spent on real policing. Perhaps this money and police resources could be directed into a thorough investigation of the longstanding serious allegations of unsavoury criminal activity among a certain group of politicians in the UK parliament!

For the past 5 years Julian has been denied legal rights and justice. For the past 3 years the UK Govt has denied him even the basic human rights given to prisoners..the right to have a minimum of 1 hour a day of exercise, fresh air and sunshine.

Why is this happening to an uncharged multi-award winning investigative journalist? Could it have something to do with Wikileaks busily exposing corruption in high places?

Blockading Julian in the embassy for the past 3 years has ironically backfired on the US. With more time on his hands Julian and Wikileaks have been even more prolific, transitioning from being perceived as a maverick outsider to a globally respected and trusted media organisation.

With a new state of the art submission system and sophisticated archival and search facilities, Wikileaks is leading a transformation in journalism, and is now a valued resource for investigative journalists globally. Thanks to whistleblowers and Wikileaks the world has recently been informed about the details of the biggest so called Free Trade Agreement in history, the TPP and her ugly sisters TISA and the TTIP.

These 3 treaties were to be kept secret from the public until 5 years after being signed. This Trojan Horse of ruthless US corporations would turn our Parliaments into brothels and our politicians into mere pimps of Wall St...A corporate caliphate straddling the world like a giant octopus with its tentacles reaching into and controlling every aspect of our lives..undermining our environment, businesses, farms, health services, civil rights, democracy and sovereignty.
Julian and the Wikileaks team have reached out to protect  whistleblowers and journalists world wide. After helping Edward Snowden to safety, in 2013 they set up The Courage Foundation. The board of directors also includes lawyers, journalists and whistleblowers from the CIA, FBI and MI5. The Courage Foundation gives whistleblowers and journalists the skills and resources to protect themselves from political persecution, and runs the Legal Defence Fund for Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers.
Since being trapped in the Embassy by the UK Govt, Julian has found the time to write and co-author 3  highly informative books and produce 2 powerful films on power and corruption...all of which were well received. His book "When Google Met Wikileaks" is a constant reference for those interested in the Surveillance State.
Last year the European Parliament invited Julian to address them on corruption based on the Wikileaks Cablegate documents.
Wikileaks has been successful in its legal actions against the 3 big corporations, Pay Pal, MasterCard and Visa, who were involved in the illegal Banking Blockade against Wikileaks donations.
Shining a light on the absurdity of Julians extradition case was instrumental in getting the European Arrest Warrant legislation changed in the UK, so that UK citizens can no longer be extradited without charge.
We need a brave new media for our Brave New World of Globalisation and Mass Surveillance. The world needs whistleblowers and journalists who will give us the truth, so we have the correct information to solve our problems, and protect ourselves from the abuses of power.
Julian once described Wikileaks as "The Intelligence Agency of the People"
It is a fitting description!
The truth..from the people.
For the people.
Funded and defended
By the people.
Julian and the Wikileaks team have shown extraordinary courage under fire.
The UK Govt has shown extraordinary cowardice!
Julians fight for justice and freedom is everyones fight for justice and freedom.
His future is our future and our children's future.
Despite everything, Wikileaks and Julian are still standing, and we are all still standing with them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PROTEST! Scott Morrison Address To Sydney Boys High School

I am a former student of Sydney Boys High School (class of 1982) and I am appalled to hear that former student Scott Morrison MP has been invited to address a Sydney Boys High School fundraiser on 15th April.

I urge all students, staff, parents and old boys to not only boycott but also protest loudly against this event. Mr Morrison is a shame upon the school and the nation.



There has been widespread media coverage of Scott Morrison's heartless and criminal treatment of desperate asylum seekers. Unfortunately the ALP is trying to be as tough as the LNP on these issues, so only the Greens and a few Independents are speaking out in parliament, but there are lots of outraged human rights groups and even the UN has condemned Australia's actions.

The most well known case involves Reza Barati, a 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker who was bashed to death at the detention centre on Manus Island on 17 February 2014. Morrison totally washed his hands of the incident, refusing to keep the Australian public and media informed about the murder, even though Australia was responsible for Barati's well being (and all asylum seekers).

http://www.theguardian.com%2Faustralia-news%2Freza-barati

Another case involved a 24 year old Iranian named Hamid Kehazaei, who got a cut on his foot while awaiting processing in Manus Island. Due a lack of medical treatment, Kehazaei contracted cellulitis, which developed into septicemia on Manus. He was finally flown to Brisbane, but it was too late -he was declared brain dead after a heart attack. His family had the unhappy task of switching off his life support. Again Morrison washed his hands of responsibility, with his own department of course taking over another useless inquiry.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/03/asylum-seeker-declared-brain-dead-medical-evacuation-manus-island

The UN has repeatedly condemned Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, saying Australia is systematically violating the international Convention Against Torture by detaining children in immigration detention and holding asylum seekers in dangerous and violent conditions on Manus Island. Among many other things, the UN cites 2 asylum seekers who say they were tied to chairs by security staff and threatened with “physical violence, rape, and prosecution for ‘becoming aggressive’” if they refused to retract statements they had made to police about the murder of Reza Barati.

http://mg.co.za/article/2015-03-12-un-australia-violates-torture-laws

The 31-year-old United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is one of the most widely supported conventions in the world. Some 157 countries have signed the convention. Australia ratified the treaty in 1989 and is legally bound by it.

The recently released Moss Review shows that that allegations of sexual abuse of children and of women in the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru were known from as early as June 2014. At least one rape allegation was reported in August 2014, while other asylum seekers told staff they’d been threatened with gang rape. But it was not until October, as days of combative protest seized the detention centre, and acts of self harm by children spiked dramatically – from seven in 12 months, to 10 in three days – that the government chose to act.

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/24/leaked-transcripts-from-moss-review-reveal-nauru-at-risk-of-dramatic-meltdown

All this happened on Scott Morrison's watch, even though he has now been moved to the Education portfolio. More stories about Scott Morrison here: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/scott-morrison

And all this time Scott Morrison and the Abbott government have condemned whistle-blowers like Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, or Save the Children, rather than deal with the horrors being unleashed against innocent children and some of the world's most desperate refugees (many fleeing countries like Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, where the Australian government has helped contribute to chaos and destruction).

I do not care that many uninformed, uncaring or racist Australians willfully ignore or even celebrate such horrific activity: it is still evil and criminally wrong.

I *do* care that my old school, which should be teaching good values to the next generation of Australians, is elevating the stature of the man who oversaw these horrendous policies.

Sydney Boys High School should cancel Scott Morrison's invitation to speak on 15th April - he is a shame upon the school and the nation. 

I urge all caring staff, students and ex-students to not only boycott this event but also protest loudly against it until it is canceled. 

Regards,
Gary Lord,
Class of 1982.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Freedom, Flight and The Falcon

Reposting here my July, 2013 interview with Christopher Boyce, whose experiences as a US whistle-blower were documented in the 1985 Sean Penn movie “The Falcon and The Snowman.” As previously published at WLP site.




“I did what I did because I was 21 years old and full of myself,” says Christopher Boyce. “My main motivation, at that point, was to hurt the secret apparatus of the federal government. That’s what I wanted to do.”

Boyce, now aged 60, spent 25 years in prison after being convicted of selling US government secrets to the Russians. In January 1980, after three years in custody, he escaped from a California penitentiary and went on the run, robbing several banks before being recaptured 19 months later.  He now readily concedes that both the sale of the information and the robberies were major mistakes.

“My revelations would certainly have had far more impact if I hadn’t done what I did,” Boyce admits. “Because ultimately, the crimes became the story, and not what was actually revealed.”

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to condemn someone who commits treason, or somebody who runs around with a gun robbing banks. It’s another thing entirely to look beneath the veil at their motives and see what those motives reveal.”

In 1974, Boyce found himself working in the secretive “Black Vault” communications center of a US aerospace firm, where he had free access to allegedly “misrouted” Central Intelligence Agency cables. And like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden some 40 years later, he became increasingly angry at his government’s covert actions around the world.

What particularly incensed Boyce, however, were CIA discussions about removing Australia’s Prime Minister from power, along with CIA infiltration of Australian workers unions. At the time, Gough Whitlam was proposing the withdrawal of Australian troops from the Vietnam War and the closure of US military bases including Pine Gap. But Australia was nevertheless a loyal US ally, whom Boyce believed deserved to be treated with more respect.

So, given that Whitlam was deposed anyway in 1975, does Boyce think his revelations had any real effect?

“I do think that my revelations did have some sort of an impact,” says Boyce today. “Immediately following my trial for espionage in 1977, President Carter sent Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Australia for the express purpose of promising former Prime Minister Whitlam that the United States would never again interfere with the domestic affairs of Australia. To me, that was an accomplishment.”

Until very recently, Boyce believed that the USA was staying true to its word. But Edward Snowden’s recent revelations of massive NSA global surveillance – including Australia – have prompted him to wonder if he has been na├»ve.




“Most of the time, American domination of Australia is not heavy-handed in regards to Australian internal affairs,” suggests Boyce, who maintains an interest in “all things Australian” but only follows Canberra politics closely during elections.

“Nevertheless, Australia always fights in America’s wars. Australian foreign policy is American foreign policy. From the American standpoint, Australian status as an American client state is not about protecting Australia. America doesn’t have friends. It has interests.”

Boyce believes the USA “replaced the Brits” after Pearl Harbor and Australia today is a client state “like a very autonomous Alaska, so lightly harnessed as to make waywardness infrequent.”

So given all that, would he do it all again?

“No. I think Australians can take care of themselves. I think that Australian power brokers knew perfectly well of American interference in their internal political affairs, but I don’t believe the average Australian knew about it. I think alerting them to that was a good thing.”

What if WikiLeaks had existed back in the 1970s?

“The fact is, WikiLeaks didn’t exist back then, so it’s hard to answer that. Some people have asked me why I didn’t take what I learned to the press but the fact was I didn’t have the connections that someone like Daniel Ellsberg had. I didn’t know anybody at the New York Times and I probably wouldn’t have been taken seriously if I had approached someone there.”

Of course, that is exactly what happened to young Bradley Manning, who tried unsuccessfully to contact the New York Times and Washington Post before finally sending his files to WikiLeaks. And Christopher Boyce, who survived years of confinement in isolation, along with a savage gang beating and a murder attempt, is well aware of Manning’s plight.

“The government has treated Manning in a manner that amounts to torture for the express purpose of discouraging anyone else from doing what he did,” says Boyce, who particularly deplores Manning’s long spell of solitary confinement.

“Month after month of that becomes torture. It becomes destructive to a person’s psyche and to their sanity.”



But as he also notes, courage is contagious. “There would not have been an Edward Snowden if there hadn’t been a Bradley Manning. The next Snowden who comes along will be following in both of their footprints.”

So what would Christopher Boyce advise anyone thinking of blowing the whistle on the U.S. government today?

“I would advise them that if they are going to do it, don’t do what I did. Don’t cooperate with a foreign intelligence outfit. Figure out what your ultimate destination is. Go there first and then speak out. That way, that which you are revealing will be the story, and not the chase.”

Boyce says this is exactly what is happening to Edward Snowden today.

“The media is focusing too much on the chase instead of focusing on what he has revealed – which is a huge, secret apparatus of the federal government spying on the American people. I think that the excitement of the chase is causing the media to lose sight of what Snowden attempted to achieve.”

No doubt drawing on his own experiences as a whistle-blower on the run, Boyce is particularly concerned for Snowden’s safety.

“He’s going to have a difficult time even getting to Ecuador, or anywhere else. He’s going to discover that the police and the military there are not the friends of the left wing President. They are the friends of Washington. And eventually, that left wing government will be replaced.”

“When they capture him, they’re going to throw him into an isolation cell in a supermax prison and his life will become hell,” says Boyce.

“Their effort will be to, in effect, torture him before the world just as they have tortured Bradley Manning. Their aim is to put fear in the hearts of anyone else who is thinking of doing the same thing. So that anyone who even considers it will think: ‘How can I endure that?’”

It’s a brutally honest assessment from a man who has experienced the horrors of the US prison system first hand. And he doesn’t see much hope of Snowden escaping this destiny.

“The only way that he’s really going to be safe from the United States will be to just vanish on his own and not rely on the help of any government. In order for him to do that, he will have to maintain a total discipline in his personal actions – he will have to utterly cut himself off from everyone he has known, from his family, from his friends, and just go into deep cover. I personally think that’s the only true safety he’ll ever find.”

But Boyce also recognizes that Edward Snowden is acting on higher principles, with more important considerations than his own safety.

“I don’t think Snowden’s greatest fear is that the federal government is going to get him. I think his greatest fear is that he will have accomplished nothing, and that nothing will have changed.”

“As my wife Cait says, the average young American is more interested in if he has enough cream in his latte than in protecting his own civil liberties. I’m sure there are tens of millions of Americans that are outraged that they’re being spied on by their own government, but I don’t really think they’re ever going to do anything about it.”

“The secret apparatus of the United States government is organized and it’s powerful, whereas the American people are not. They’ve become like soft sheep. And if they decided to complain, how would they do that? I don’t see anyone in Congress calling for huge reforms.”

If that sounds like a bleak conclusion, consider the life experiences that inform it. Christopher Boyce today is a man who cherishes each day of freedom, even as the freedoms we all take for granted become increasing threatened. If we want to see a brighter future, it’s up to all of us to make it happen.


Cait and Christopher Boyce with Vince Font

NOTE: Chris and his wife Cait, who acted as his lawyer before marrying him when he was released from prison in September 2002, are about to release a book about his experiences in jail and on the run, her 15 year battle with cancer (she postponed treatment to help him get paroled), and their life together ever since. For news about their new book “The Falcon and The Snowman: American Sons” (co-authored by their friend Vince Font) please follow @CodenameFalcon on Twitter or their highly readable blog.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Anti-WikiLeaks Troll Gets BBC World Service Platform

I was gobsmacked this week when the BBC World Service invited Sandra Eckersley, a notorious anti-WikiLeaks online troll, to a radio discussion forum about (of all things) Australian counter-terrorism measures. Obviously this had nothing to do with WikiLeaks - so why was the BBC giving her a platform to air her views? Was there more to Sandra Eckersley than I knew?



The BBC World Service "Have Your Say" radio program was being broadcast live from Sydney, for the first time ever, and the discussion was titled "How Big Is Australia's Terrorism Threat"?

Sandra Eckersley (center, with sunglasses) and the BBC panel.

Panel guests included Neil Fergus, CEO of Intelligent Risk, Clare Murphy and David Connery from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, plus constitutional and civil rights lawyers. Media was represented by infamous Murdoch shill Miranda Devine and the Guardian's Paul Farrell, who has done some good reporting on anti-terror laws and events. So what qualifications or expertise did Sandra Eckersley bring to this discussion?

Nothing.

The presenter brought Sandra Eckersley into the discussion (at 14:48 minutes) but did not explain why she was there - instead he invited her to personally explain "who you are and what you do". Sandra then introduced herself as "an event producer professionally, but also a bit of a social commentator on Twitter and um, ah, with the newspapers".

In other words, a nobody.

Just another shrill voice in the endless ocean of tweets and online media comments. Not even a popular voice: despite posting over 72,000 tweets, @SandraEckersley has only 1,233 followers. She has written a total of three Humour & Satire articles for an obscure opinion site, focussing on hairdressing and fashion.

So why did the BBC think she deserved a seat at a table discussing Australia's anti-terrorism issues?

Don't get me wrong: I am all for hearing more ordinary citizens' voices on air. But why Sandra Eckersley, of all people?

Sandra later tweeted that she was invited to the discussion by someone at the BBC in London. Who was that? How did they get her contact details? Why did they think she would be suitable?



WHO IS SANDRA ECKERSLEY?


It's no secret that the US government has a monster Grand Jury investigating WikiLeaks, with the NSA hoovering up as much information as they can collect on Julian Assange and his associates. They have also revealed a sizeable budget for online grassroots activism (aka propaganda) targeting perceived "enemies of the State" (as WikiLeaks and their supporters have been officially labeled). If you wonder what such initiatives might look like when implemented in real life, you only have to check out Sandra Eckersley and her online friends.




Sandra has dedicated years of her life to trolling the #WikiLeaks and #Assange hashtags on Twitter, spreading daily lies and misinformation. She also attends WikiLeaks events and rallies in person - so much so that after one Sydney event, Julian Assange's mother complained that Ms. Eckersley was stalking her. She made a live appearance in the audience of ABC TV's Q&A show to ask a misleading question about Julian Assange to WikiLeaks' lawyer Jennifer Robinson, and she made an official complaint (allegedly 70 pages long!) about the ABC's excellent Four Corners investigation into Assange's Swedish sex allegations.

Sandra also appears to have been involved in a fraudulent WikiLeaks Forum trick to gather information on Julian Assange supporters, then abort the deceptive Avaaz.com petition which lured them in. The willfully deceptive WikiLeaks Forum has connections to an exposed paedophile who infiltrated WikiLeaks as an undercover FBI agent.




Interestingly, when she is not tweeting about Assange, Sandra frequently post tweets that support Australian Labor Party (ALP) policy. Sandra became active against WikiLeaks while the ALP was in power, so if she is being paid by someone, there could be an ALP link.

Has Sandra also been to London? Has she stalked WikiLeaks supporters outside 3 Hans Crescent? Is that where she made contact with her BBC friends?

Is Sandra Eckersley being paid to spy upon, harrass and spread disinformation about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks supporters? Or are we to believe she is just a normal (albeit strangely obsessed) citizen? Either way, the BBC World Service should explain why they invited her onto a show about terrorism in Australia, and who made that decision.

The BBC has a poor reputation as a UK Establishment tool. Elevating people like Sandra Eckersley to media commentariat positions only further damages the BBC's credibility.

UPDATE 1: 

Sandra responds on Twitter that she was invited onto the BBC World Service show by BBC World Service producer Chris Ancil:


I have now asked Chris Ancil to explain why he invited Sandra onto the show.

Sandra also attempts to prove her credentials as an anti-terror expert by citing this short comment that appeared on ABC "Insiders"... um... nine years ago (whoop de doop). Ironically, "Insiders" is regularly criticized for exclusive use of, erm, "insider" voices.

UPDATE 2:

BBC World Service producer Chris Ancil refuses to explain why Sandra Eckersley was invited on the show, who recommended her, or how he got to know her.

24.75 million people in Australia, over 4.75 million in Sydney, huge participation rates in social media, and we are supposed to believe that Sandra Eckersley was chosen at random to speak about a serious subject, despite her total lack of qualifications or experience in the area? Bullshit.