Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shut It, Gibney

Film-maker Alex Gibney has published a deliberately uninformed response to John Pilger's criticism of both his movie - "We Steal Secrets: the Story of WikiLeaks" - and another uninformed New Statesman article by his executive producer, Jemima Khan.

Given that WikiLeaks has published a comprehesive response that demolishes much of Gibney's arguments, there is really no excuse for the New Statesman to continue publishing such rubbish. But just for the record, let's deconstruct this latest Gibney nonsense...

The first eight paragraphs are just meaningless twaddle without a single salient point.

Paragraph 9 states: "No government – including the UK – would selectively undo its laws for a particular individual." This is patently false. Sweden rendered two Egyptians to the CIA, for example, and the current Swedish Ambassador to Australia was closely involved in the cover up. The UK government has similarly manipulated laws for political purposes. Ask the Chagos Islanders about it. Para 10 is more twaddle. Pilger says Swedes “manipulate rape allegations at will” and he is damn right. Read the book "Sex in Sweden" if you don't believe it.

Para 11 is carefully worded. Lots of "if proven", "appears", may not have been" and even a "hypothetical". But then Gibney states that "The UK courts have concluded that the alleged actions by Assange – if proven – would be a form of rape in the UK or Sweden." This is a perfect example of UK law being manipulated to suit a particular case (as mentioned above). If Gibney has read the complete response on this particular issue from WikiLeaks, he certainly does not even try to address it.

Para 12 says Assange "must be given due process every step of the way". Even a cursory examination of the Swedish case reveals that due process was thrown out the door long ago. The Swedes closed the case and told Assange he could leave Sweden, only to have a small group of politically aligned officials reopen the case and leak supposedly confidential discussions with police to the media.

Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny falsely stated that it was illegal to question Assange in the UK, only to later back down and admit it had happened before. The Swedes went to Serbia to question an alleged murderer and took an entire court to Rwanda. Now Ny refuses to explain why this cannot be done again, and (disgracefully) the UK and Australia refuse to demand it.

 Gibney quotes Ny: "Subject to any matters said by [Assange], which undermine my present view that he should be indicted, an indictment will be lodged with the court [after questioning]." Read that carefully: SUBJECT TO ANY MATTERS SAID BY ASSANGE. In other words, depending on his response to questioning!

But that doesn't stop Gibney leaping to conclusions in para 13: "Put another way, in Ny's formulation, he cannot be charged unless he is on Swedish soil." That is not what Ny said at all, Alex. "So long as he refuses to go to Sweden he LIKELY can never be charged," says Gibney. Likely? What nonsense. Again, read the full WikiLeaks response to David Allen Green if you actually care about the facts here.

Para 14 accuses Assange of being "silent regarding the vicious online attacks by his supporters on the Swedish women". And yet any lawyer worth his salt would advise Assange not to make any public comment about the women. This is just Gibney publicly goading Assange into saying something he might regret. Assange is not responsible for what his supporters say (myself included) and the two women have likewise failed to speak up in public: so where is the outrage at THEIR continued silence?

Para 15 states "There is no proof that any [US] charges have been filed or are even imminent." Well of course there is no conclusive "proof", nor will there be until the US government is good and ready to unseal that supposedly non-existent indictment. But WikiLeaks have continually said they don't expect things to change until after Bradley Manning's pre-trial hearings finish. I suggest Gibney pay close attention to the latest revelations.

The last three paragraphs are just more smear and innuendo.

This attempt at a logical response from Gibney is really just pathetic, misleading drivel. New Statesman readers should demand better from their writers, and much, much better from their editors.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Attorney General's Response to my #FOI Request

Here is the response to the FOI request I filed months ago (my bold text except for headings):

Dear Mr Lord

Freedom of Information Request

I refer to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the Act) received by this
Department on 5 December 2012. You have sought access to:

All information the government has obtained regarding my personal activities in support of
WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, or any related matters (e.g. political protests against Iraq War).
This includes any documents from AFP, ASIO, ASIS or other government agencies, including any
records of internet or phone data surveillance.

Pursuant to arrangements under section 23 of the FOI Act, I am authorised to make decisions in
relation to this matter on behalf of the Department.  After having made appropriate searches and
enquiries, I can confirm that documents of the type you are seeking are not held by this Department.
Accordingly, I am obliged to refuse your request under section 24A of the Act.  That section allows an
agency to refuse a request if all reasonable steps have been taken to locate the documents sought and
it is satisfied that the documents do not exist or cannot be found. For the above reasons, I am satisfied
on this occasion that documents of the type you have requested are not held by the Attorney-General’s
Office or this Department.  Furthermore, the ASIO and ASIS are exempt from the FOI Act and so information

cannot be obtained from them under the FOI Act.  You could however forward your FOI inquiry to the AFP and
the Attorney’s Office  

Right of Review

Should you wish to have my decision in this matter reviewed, you have two options.  Firstly, you
are entitled to request an internal review of my decision by a senior officer of this Department.
Should you wish to pursue this option, you should write to me within 30 days of receiving this letter.

Alternatively, you are entitled to request a review of my decision by the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner (OAIC). Should you wish to pursue that course and action you should
write to the OAIC, within 60 days of receiving this letter, at GPO Box 2999, Canberra, ACT, 2601.
You are also entitled to make a complaint to the OAIC about the way the Department handled your
request.

Yours sincerely


Andra Eisenberg | Senior Legal Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Office of Corporate Counsel
Australian Government Attorney-General's Department | 3 - 5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600
T: +61 (2) 6141 3274  E: Andra.Eisenberg@ag.gov.au  
In other words, if we ARE spying on you, we are not going to tell you. Coz we don't have to.