Sunday, August 18, 2013

Exposing Australia's #Mediaocracy


We all know that US citizen Rupert Murdoch exerts an unhealthy influence on Australian media and politics. But Washington's pernicious influence on Australian media goes much deeper that that. This post exposes a few US stooges.

1. Sydney University's Malcolm Jorgensen

A recent article in The Conversation, "With Bradley Manning convicted, what now for Julian Assange?" is based on the clearly stated premise that "WikiLeaks seeks to end the power of governments to judge when national security decisions should be closed to public scrutiny."

This is simply not true. To quote Julian Assange:
"Yes, sometimes the State Department and other organizations have a responsibility to keep things secret for a limited period of time... As a publishing organization, we have a responsibility also, and our responsibility is to publish fairly and fearlessly and represent the whistle-blowers who bring us material. And it's all right for different bodies in society to have conflicting roles. That's what keeps all our different organizations honest."
When confronted with solid proof that he had completely misunderstood (or deliberately misrepresented?) the goals of WikiLeaks, Malcolm Jorgensen, the article's author, simply did not care.  Neither did The Conversation, which published the article, or The Delimiter, which re-published it (for attention-hungry sites like these, faux "controversy" generates hits from outraged readers, which helps pay the bills).

It comes as no surprise to learn that Jorgensen is a PhD Candidate in United States Foreign Policy and International Law at the University of Sydney. Or that Hugh Jorgensen (his brother, I would assume from their photos and mutual re-tweets) is a Research Associate with the G20 Studies Centre at the Lowy Institute, which specializes in peddling US talking points.

Now you might expect a Sydney Uni PhD candidate to be able to follow some basic logic and have at least a passing respect for facts. But clearly that's not the key to success in @MalcyJorgy's world. And clearly it doesn't matter to media organisations like Sky News, which give him a platform as a talk show "expert".

2. Fairfax Foreign News Editor Chris Zappone 

So what about a more respected media organisation like Fairfax newspapers, which regularly publishes ground-breaking WikiLeaks stories from Phillip Dorling? Let's look at this recent article by Fairfax foreign news editor Chris Zappone. While the first paragraph sounds positive, it is just setting up the inevitable smackdown:
"complications await a WikiLeaks Party Senate victory should it make a positive showing in Australia’s elections."
Zappone suggests there will be conflict with the Greens (despite no evidence of this) and the WikiLeaks Party will be  a "not-so-productive disruptor in Australia’s federal politics". He says Assange's plan to elicit leaks from other Senators "would be extremely messy" and the award-winning editor lacks a "grasp on bigger, non-technical political realities".

Finally, after conjuring standard US government concerns about "the tilting of power towards an authoritarian Asia... notably China with Russia as an enabler", Zappone concludes: 
"the prospect of converting Australia’s Senate into Assange’s playhouse should give even transparency-minded Australians serious pause." 
Interestingly, this fact-free thought-bubble article was not published in Fairfax (yes, they do have standards) but at an online news site known for underpaying writers. So do editors on the Fairfax foreign news desk need a little extra pocket-money these days? Or is this just another example of the kind of US-friendly propaganda required to pursue a career in Australian media?

I only ask because Mr Zappone does not seem to be very well informed. When the UK Foreign Minister, William Hague, visited Australia in January, I begged journalists like Zappone to confront him about Julian Assange's plight. Zappone's response?
"Assange isn't part of his portfolio."
Zappone later apologised for his mistake. But AFAIK Hague never faced a single question about Assange from the Australian media.

So.. stupid or evil? You decide.

UPDATE 1:

For the benefit of commenters who think this is just a personalized rant, consider this: last week Foreign Minister Bob Carr lied live on Australian TV, falsely claiming (again) that there is no evidence of a US Grand Jury against WikiLeaks.

Nobody in the Australian media reported his lie, and my solicitations to various political media fact-checking sites were ignored.  We Aussies live in a mediaocracy, and it is not ALL Rupert Murdoch's fault.

UPDATE 2: 

Hilarious. Repeated requests for anyone in the Australian media to call out Bob Carr's lie were ignored. But when Julian Assange answers questions  a week later, @ABCFactcheck calls him out on a technicality. WikiLeaks provides evidence to show that Assange was actually correct, and the ABC just ignores it. Even ABC boss @AbcMarkScott has no response!

Turns out both editor & presenter are US trained media stooges. Editor Russell Skelton is a Fulbright scholar from Stanford University. Presenter John Barron is an associate of Sydney Uni's US Studies Center

Then I see my old friend @MalcyJorgy (also an associate of ) has posted this disgraceful Sky News interview with Stan Grant aout the Bradley Manning trial. A few highlowlights:
Jorgenson says: "The US has made it clear that there is an arguable case against Assange."

Grant asks: "What are the obligations on us, and those whistle-blowers as well, living in a Democracy?... Are [Manning, Assange and Snowden] putting at risk the democratic rights of the majority by leaking this kind of information?"

Jorgenson replies: "That's certainly one of the implications..."

Jorgenson then repeats his lie (see above) that Assange does not believe governments should ever keep any information secret, and repeats another lie from Australia's Attorney General Mark Dreyfus (that Manning and Snowden are not REAL whistle-blowers because everything they revealed was legal).

Stan Grant asks if Assange, Manning and Snowden are "putting the rest of us at risk?" Jorgenson says "there is a strong case to be made for that."

NOTE: SBS became much more US-friendly when Stan Grant replaced . Grant went from SBS to the World Bank then CNN. And to think that Stan is the son of an elder of the Wiradjui people. Poor fella my country...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Letter To Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus

I just sent the following email to Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, after he today claimed that neither Bradley Manning nor Edward Snowden were "whistle-blowers" because they did not expose evidence of government "wrong-doing".
Mr Dreyfus,
You have the honour to represent one of the highest levels of law in Australia. You clearly do not deserve it.

As an Australian citizen, I was sickened and ashamed by your comments asserting that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are not "whistle-blowers". You claimed they have not exposed "government wrong-doing". Do you realise the whole world is laughing at you?

For the sake of brevity, and because he is currently facing a lifetime behind bars, I will only discuss Bradley Manning's revelations in this instance.
Below are some key facts that PFC Manning is accused of making public. 
There is an official policy to ignore torture in Iraq.

The “Iraq War Logs” published by WikiLeaks revealed that thousands of reports of prisoner abuse and torture had been filed against the Iraqi Security Forces. Medical evidence detailed how prisoners had been whipped with heavy cables across the feet, hung from ceiling hooks, suffered holes being bored into their legs with electric drills, urinated upon, and sexually assaulted. These logs also revealed the existence of “Frago 242,” an order implemented in 2004 not to investigate allegations of abuse against the Iraqi government. This order is a direct violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by the United States in 1994. The Convention prohibits the Armed Forces from transferring a detainee to other countries “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” According to the State Department’s own reports, the U.S. government was already aware that the Iraqi Security Forces engaged in torture.
U.S. officials were told to cover up evidence of child abuse by contractors in Afghanistan.


U.S. defense contractors were brought under much tighter supervision after leaked diplomatic cables revealed that they had been complicit in child trafficking activities. DynCorp — a powerful defense contracting firm that claims almost $2 billion per year in revenue from U.S. tax dollars — threw a party for Afghan security recruits featuring boys purchased from child traffickers for entertainment. DynCorp had already faced human trafficking charges before this incident took place. According to the cables, Afghan Interior minister Hanif Atmar urged the assistant US ambassador to “quash” the story. These revelations have been a driving factor behind recent calls for the removal of all U.S. defense contractors from Afghanistan.
Guantanamo prison has held mostly innocent people and low-level operatives.


The Guantanamo Files describe how detainees were arrested based on what the New York Times referred to as highly subjective evidence. For example, some poor farmers were captured after they were found wearing a common watch or a jacket that was the same as those also worn by Al Queda operatives. How quickly innocent prisoners were released was heavily dependent on their country of origin. Because the evidence collected against Guantanamo prisoners is not permissible in U.S. courts, the U.S. State Department has offered millions of dollars to other countries to take and try our prisoners. According to a U.S. diplomatic cable written on April 17, 2009, the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners requested that the National Court indict six former U.S. officials for creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture against five Spanish prisoners at Guantanamo. However, “Senator Mel Martinez… met Acting FM [Foreign Minister] Angel Lossada… on April 15. Martinez… underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the U.S. and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship”.
There is an official tally of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Even though the Bush and Obama Administrations maintained publicly that there was no official count of civilian casualties, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs showed that this claim was false. Between 2004 and 2009, the U.S. government counted a total of 109,000 deaths in Iraq, with 66,081 classified as non-combatants. This means that for every Iraqi death that is classified as a combatant, two innocent men, women or children are also killed.


U.S. Military officials withheld information about the indiscriminate killing of Reuters journalists and innocent Iraqi civilians.


The “Collateral Murder” video released by Wikileaks depicted the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two journalists working for Reuters. The Reuters news organization has repeatedly been denied in its attempts to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters photographer and his rescuers. Two young children who were present in the attempted rescue were also seriously wounded. Ethan McCord, a U.S. army soldier who can be seen in the video carrying wounded children to safety, has said that whoever revealed this video is a “hero.” An internal U.S. military investigation concluded that the incident was consistent with the military’s “Rules of Engagement.”
The State Department backed corporate opposition to a Haitian minimum wage law.


Leaked diplomatic cables show that in 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince pushed then-Haitian President Rene Preval to come out in support of powerful textile manufacturers who sought to block a popular minimum wage increase. These factory owners, who produce apparel for large brands like Nike and Nautica, had benefitted from recent free trade agreements that had severely lowered wages and working conditions in Haiti. A series of cables show that the US Embassy closely monitored the movements and activities of student protestors supporting the $5/day minimum wage bill. The bill’s supporters had argued that the increase was justified in light of rising inflation and food costs that had led to widespread starvation. According to the leaked cables, the U.S. delegation dismissed the proposed minimum wage increase as nothing more than a populist measure aimed at appeasing “the unemployed and underpaid masses.” Ultimately, the U.S. delegation succeeded in their efforts when President Preval agreed to block the increase.
The U.S. Government had long been faking its public support for Tunisian President Ben Ali.


The Tunisian people were already well aware of the corruption plaguing the autocratic ruling family, which for decades had abused their rights. However, the United States government had long presented a public image of strong support for the Ben Ali regime. The U.S. campaign of unwavering public support for President Ali led to a widespread belief among the Tunisian people that it would be very difficult to dislodge the autocratic regime from power. This view was shattered when leaked cables exposed the U.S. government’s private assessment: that the U.S. would not support the regime in the event of a popular uprising. While extreme economic hardship and popular discontent with rights abuses had already set the stage for an uprising, this new information played a critical role in transforming the landscape of political possibilities in Tunisia. The Tunisian people finally realized that, contrary to the U.S. government’s public relations efforts, they weren’t really up against the full force of the world’s superpower. Within one month, Ben Ali became the first Arab leader to be swept from power in the ongoing democratic movements in the region.
Known Egyptian torturers received training from the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.


According to a leaked diplomatic cable from Cairo, the head of Egypt’s notorious State Security Investigative Service (SSIS) thanked FBI Deputy Director John Pistole for the “excellent and strong” cooperation between the two agencies. In particular, the FBI’s training sessions in Quantico, Virginia were of “great benefit” to his interrogators. Another cable documented what the US embassy considered “credible” allegations of human rights violations by the SSIS, including torturing prisoners with “electric shocks and sleep deprivation to reduce them to a ‘zombie state’”. After the autocratic Mubarak regime was driven from power in the recent Egyptian Revolution, protestors stormed the “Amn Dawla” headquarters of the SSIS to uncover further evidence of torture and abuse. They posted these documents on their own site, known as “Amn Dawla Leaks.”
The State Department authorized the theft of the UN Secretary General’s DNA.
According to the “National Humint Collection Directive,” a secret document that was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and published by WikiLeaks, US diplomats were authorized to collect “biometric” and other sensitive information from top UN officials as well as UN representatives from other nations. The leaked documents show that “biometric data” specifically included samples of the officials’ DNA, among other forms of personally identifying information. They also ordered diplomats to collect credit card information and secure passwords. These activities contravene the 1946 UN Convention.
The Japanese and U.S. Governments had been warned about the seismic threat at Fukushima.


A cable from December 2008 showed that officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency had warned the government about the danger posed by potential seismic activity in the area. The official stated that Japan’s “safety guides for seismic safety have only been revised three times in the last 35 years.” He also noted that the government had fought against a court order to close down another nuclear facility that was not adequately prepared for an earthquake. After being ignored by the Japanese government, the IAEA official also warned the U.S. ambassador to Japan about the looming threat from possible earthquake damage. These warnings went unheeded. The International Atomic Energy Agency has now ranked the Fukushima disaster as severe as Chernobyl.
The Obama Administration allowed Yemen’s President to cover up a secret U.S. drone bombing campaign.


Since December 2009, President Obama has authorized a secret drone bombing campaign in Yemen. A year later, WikiLeaks revealed that Yemen’s President Saleh had agreed that his regime would “continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.” These drone strikes have killed large numbers of civilians. One of the strikes that occurred shortly before the cable in question was written had killed 55 people, 41 of whom were classified as civilians (21 of these were children) according to a report by Amnesty International. This US military operation in Yemen, which persists to this day, has not been officially acknowledged by our government.
* * * * 
Watch (again) this video of US troops murdering innocent people in Iraq, including a Reuters cameraman, and tell me there is no "wrong-doing" here:

http://www.collateralmurder.com/

So what happened to those who perpetrated this horrific war crime? What happened to those who lied about Saddam's WMDs in order to justify that war for oil which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan himself described as "illegal"? No evidence of "wrong-doing" there???

What happened to those who massacred civilians in Fallujah, leaving radioactive waste that will continue to cause birth defects for generations? What happened to those who massacred over 100 people in the Afghan village of Gurani (a video which Manning also leaked to WikiLeaks but which was stolen before it could be released)? What happened to those who tortured Bradley Manning for six months, leading the State Department spokesman to resign in disgust?
Do you call this justice? Do you seriously claim that there is no evidence of government wrong-doing here? Are you fucking insane? Or just another Zionist stooge?

Why the hell would you expect Australians to vote ALP party in the coming election when you do not even have the guts to stand up for the truth?
What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? How do you sleep?

You disgust me and you do not represent me. Resign.

Gary Lord
@Jaraparilla
Please feel free to contact: mark.dreyfus.mp@aph.gov.au

With thanks to the Bradley Manning Support Network.