The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is Australia's national security service, and promotes itself as being responsible for protecting Australia from all kinds of attacks — from terrorism to politically motivated violence. This fairytale should not be taken seriously. Established in 1949 by the Ben Chifley ALP government, ASIO’s primary purpose has always been to carry out spying, disruption and provocation against left and progressive forces on behalf of the established order. It is Australia’s political police — our very own secret police organisation.
In the next few weeks, protests will be held around the country against the Australian government’s complicity in the PRISM spying scandal. These demonstrations were called in response to the anger and frustration many Australians felt at the eroding of their civil liberties for the benefit of Australian and US imperial interests with the support and assistance of large internet companies.
You have to hand it to the United States authorities. When they were caught red-handed engaging in almost unimaginable levels of illegal spying and espionage against citizens and governments around the world, they responded, rather than sheepishly apologising and begging forgiveness, by furiously demanding other governments hand over the man who exposed its crimes against them. It is like being caught at the scene of a murder with the murder weapon in your hand and shouting at police: “This is an outrage! I demand you give my knife back!”
Information revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the PRISM spy program — which used data from giant internet companies, such as Google and Facebook, to carry out mass surveillance of people outside the US — has provided new evidence about the warrantless spying on civilians by the US government. Although a government spying on civilians is hardly new and will not come as a surprise to many people, what is concerning about this case is the size and number of companies involved and the apparent ease with which this data was obtained.
The Tamil Refugee Council released this statement on May 22 *** The decision to release Tamil widow, Manokala, and her six-year-old son, Ragavan, from indefinite detention was a welcome move, and opens up many questions about ASIO’s adverse security assessments, the Tamil Refugee Council said. A spokesperson for the Tamil Refugee Council, Trevor Grant, said the release cast grave doubts about the legitimacy of the secret assessments that have left 55 refugees detained indefinitely, most for between three and four years.
Over the last eight months at least seven political activists around Australia have been approached by federal or state intelligence agents for information about other activists. Green Left Weekly spoke to human rights lawyer and researcher Dale Mills who explains what rights activists have — and what they should do — if they are approached for information by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) or other political police. * * *
I received a knock on the door on April 16 from two members of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, better known as ASIO. The two told me they would like to have a conversation. When I asked what they wanted to speak about, they told me they were doing their job — protecting “national security” — and had a few questions about my involvement in political campaigns in Sydney. Apparently the latest threat to “national security” is “political violence” in the activist community.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released this statement on April 8. *** At 2am on April 8, 28 ASIO-negative refugees — 24 Sri Lankan, two Iranian and two Rohingyas — began a hunger strike at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) detention centre. They have gathered on the playground inside the detention facility.
Australia’s spy agencies are seeking to drastically expand their powers to spy on Australian citizens online and through social media. They are also hoping to collect and keep the phone and internet data of all individuals for two years. Some of the proposals appear to be broad enough to allow whistleblowing groups like WikiLeaks to be directly targeted.
News Limited’s flagship newspaper, The Australian, said in a September 2010 editorial that it wanted the Greens to be “destroyed”. The paper’s latest attacks on Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, which include allegations she held secret meetings with a high-level KGB spy 40 years ago, confirm that its editorial bias hasn’t budged an inch.
Refugee rights activists representing groups and individuals from Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney, and the Blue Mountains met on December 3 to plan campaign activities for this year. It was the first national gathering of refugee rights campaigners since federal Labor's 2007 election, and fittingly occurred on the same weekend as the ALP's national conference. Labor further entrenched its anti-refugee policies, in particular offshore processing.
Iranian cleric Dr Mansour Leghaei is being removed from Australia after being resident here for 16 years. Immigration minister Chris Evans has refused to allow Leghaei to stay, following an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). Leghaei has committed no crime, incited no hatred and is the father of one of Australia's “working families” — that demographic otherwise loved by the Australian government. As he is not an Australian citizen, he is unable to challenge ASIO's security assessment.
A secret review of Australia’s intelligence services has proposed giving them new powers to spy on Australians, carry weapons and conduct secretive paramilitary operations in other countries. Powers to carry weapons are proposed for employees of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), which has already received a vast expansion of legal powers since 2001, extra personnel and a new purpose-built Canberra headquarters.