Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)

About 200 people attended a meeting on Islamophobia on May 31. The meeting was co-chaired by Steve Jolly, a Socialist Party member and Yarra city councillor, and Monique Toohey, a board member of the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV). Toohey told the meeting that the harassment of Muslims had made many of them fearful of going out in public. Ghaith Krayem, the president of the ICV, said that under proposed new laws people could be deported by the decision of a minister, based on suspicion, with no right to challenge claims made by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
This speech was given at the Refugee Action Collective protest in Melbourne on April 8. * * * We are here to protest against the indefinite detention of a group of refugees who are claimed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to be a security threat. These are people who have been officially recognised as refugees who were at serious risk of persecution in the countries they fled. Yet they are detained indefinitely because of negative ASIO assessments.
Police removing the plastic sword.

So it turns out the “sword” confiscated during the September 18 terror raids in Sydney's north-west — you know Australia's largest terror raids everwas actually plastic. That would be the “sword” the cops had placed in a plastic bag that the media made such a big deal out of to terrify us all with the “threat” of a “random beheading”. Plastic. It was a fucking plastic sword.

Samuel Johnson famously said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” and so it was that Attorney-General George Brandis insisted ASIO's raid against a former spy who exposed Australia's spying operation against East Timor in the interests of Woodside Petroleum was in “the national interest”. The raid targeted a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer who exposed the spying program Australia ran against the East Timorese government in 2004 during negotiations for the $40 billion Timor Sea oil and gas fields to which Woodside held the rights to develop.
Last month, the High Court heard a case brought by lawyers for Ranjini, a Tamil woman who was accepted as a refugee but is being held in indefinite detention because ASIO considers her a security threat. Ranjini is one of 47 people in this situation. They face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in detention because ASIO claims that they are “likely to engage in acts prejudicial to Australia’s security”. Ranjini’s lawyers said detaining people for life without charge, trial or conviction for any crime is illegal. The High Court has reserved its decision.
A new investigation has shed light on Australia’s role in the overthrow of Chilean leftist president Salvador Allende and exposed the continued veil of secrecy surrounding the precise activities of Australian intelligence agents, 40 years on. Allende was elected president in 1970, but was deposed on September 11, 1973 by a US-backed military coup that put General Augusto Pinochet in power. Pinochet remained in power for 17 years, presiding over a regime of terror that left thousands dead or disappeared.
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. * * *