secret police

Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files
Edited by Meredith Burgmann
Newsouth, 2014
464 pages, $32.99 (pb)

The only thing worse, notes Meredith Burgmann in Dirty Secrets, than discovering that your personal file held by Australia’s domestic political police, ASIO, is disappointingly thin is to find out that your official subversion rating hasn’t warranted a file at all.

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!”
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.
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