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The Halliburton peanut butter files

After this week's revelations that the Pentagon, on behalf of Halliburton, has been spying on a US protest organiser "in the national interest" I would like to know, as an Australian Halliburton "activist", how much the Australian Government has been spying on me.

I would also like to know how our Government can continue to rely upon, in matters of national security and international invasion, an intelligence system that can make such a stupid mistake.

Every "conspiracy theorist" looks in shadows for faces but perhaps some have greater cause for concern than others. Looking at what's happened to Parkin I reckon that I qualify for an extra dose of paranoia.

Scott Parkin has assisted orchestrating, from public ground, events that draw media attention to the ethically questionable and financially corrupt activities of a company installed in its "pole position" by the Vice President of the United States.

The US Army kept files on the fact that he handed out peanut butter sandwiches in front of a Halliburton office. The Australian Government arrested and deported Parkin because the US Army had files on him. Does this mean that Parkin was kicked out of Australia for serving sandwiches in Texas? Sadly the answer is most likely "yes". Our Prime Minister says he won't be allowed to return.

Parkin's legal efforts to retrieve information pertaining to his deportation resume in a fortnight. Will the Australian Government continue to protect the internationally sensitive information, or confess that they accepted the word of the US Army without opening the manilla folder for a read? Will our spy network confess that it "leaked" false information to journalist to protect the "Peanut Butter Files"

Aside: a couple of things not in Newsweek

Newsweek did not comment on Parkin's deportation, or make any assumption that the Australian Government used the fact that the US Army had a file on him as the reason for deporting him. They don't say that the Howard cabinet was so eager to please the Bush White House by kicking out a Halliburton protester that they might have, being aware that such a file existed, not bothered to check what was in it.

Newsweek doesn't say that if ASIO had tried to protect non-existant information by leaking a lie then they would be perceived as extremely incompetent by the international intelligence community.

Newsweek also doesn't say that if Kim Beazley was briefed that the US Army had a file on Parkin as a possible terrorist, but didn't ask about the currency and accuracy of the information, he would also appear to be a twit.

On the same Houston Indymedia that the US Army were monitoring appears the name of a certain Australian from time to time.. he's even currently linked there from the front page of international watchdog Halliburton Watch's website. He has been shown on Australian national television putting up placards on KBR land (while standing on the public footpath) and his blogs and emails have been read by state and national politicians of many political persuasions. His postings have been creating ripples of concern in Australia for two years now, and he shows no signs of stopping.

Who is recording my activities? When I walk with my daughter to school is there a car in the street recording the event? Are phone calls to my friends and family monitored. When those military base files were found in a bin very close to my house, was this to serve as possible grounds for my arrest? Do my emails go through a computer in Canberra? These questions may have been laughable a week ago, but look what they've done to Scott!

If ASIO have been protecting those files then they've surely got a good one on me. After, during the Rumsfeld protests, helping hang the No War banner on the pillars of Adelaide's Parliament House I'll have one in America too. However, I can't be arrested and deported.

If somebody wanted to bring me in for questioning it probably wouldn't be hard to find a reason. When my family, friends and supporters ask the Government why, will the Prime Minister, the Attorney General, the Foreign Minister and the Defence Minster say that the fact that the Americans have a file on me was sufficient grounds to put me into a Detention Centre?

In using the files that Newsweek has uncovered, the integrity and reliability of Australia's intelligence system, and our politicians' unswerving response to its information, have been shattered. If ASIO can be so wrong about something so simple, how can they be trusted in evaluating more complex matters. such as the status quo if international terrorism in Australia? On the merits of their conduct in the Parkin Incident, it can be perceived that ASIO are a conduit for the US Government to manipulate the Australian political system, dispensing disinformation that Howard and his Henchmen can use without need to question.

The Australian Government can, in any situation, no longer claim innocence in their activities by claiming belief that their information was irrefutable. In the hindsight of this comparitively minor event, basing any judgement or activity on faith in ASIO could only be classified as negligence, and guilt of creating any death and/or destruction brought about in this way can now be laid at the doorstep of Parliament House in Canberra.

Earlier statements that Australia entered into the invasion of Iraq based on assessments of our own espionage must also now be reconsidered.

If an agency that considers a man with some sandwiches an international terrorist threat has lead us into war, and brought about the creating of anti-terrorist hysteria on the basis of its information, we should withdraw from that war until we are once again certain we can rely on our knowledge.

In the meantime... to any of you ASIO twits who might be in my neighbourhood, be warned... I am known to be prone to violins (and accordions) my attack cat is guarding the door, and my dog doesn't care who feeds her.

I'm happy to give you an extra piece of infomation that you might not have... I'm particularly fond of peanut butter. You won't know this unless you have a camera in my kitchen.

After the revelations this week regarding how you and your US counterparts have been violating Parkins' civil liberties, I wouldn't be the least bit suprised.

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Howard should intervene on Halliburton Visas - ACTU

Released on Tuesday and apparently ignored by the media, this statement sums up the problems that Halliburton has stirred up for itself here:


The ACTU calls on the Prime Minister to intervene in Australia's immigration program to guarantee that temporary work visas are not being abused amid reports that employers are rorting the system by importing low-paid foreign workers to fill job vacancies that should be filled by Australians.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today:

"There is mounting evidence that the Federal Government's migrant worker system is out of control - leading to both the abuse of foreign workers and Australians being denied job opportunities.

There are stories of workers from Indonesia and the Philippines being underpaid, overworked and abused while working in Australia under these temporary work visas.

Immigration Minister Vanstone admitted yesterday that her Department is currently investigating allegations that US Vice President Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton imported Indonesian workers to dig ditches for its gas extraction operations in the South Australian desert.

Newspaper reports state the Indonesians worked 12 hour shifts for 80 days without a break and were paid little more than they would earn in Indonesia while being housed in poor conditions at a Halliburton work camp in the Cooper Basin late last year. (Adelaide Advertiser 13-14/2/2006)

The case of the Indonesian workers in the SA outback follows other recent examples of abuses of the Government's migration program

Vanstone defends Halliburton over "slave trade" claims

Senator Vanstone will need to look after Halliburton. They're the quickest way to generate a globally-competitive population increase.

I'm extrapolating from the story in tomorrow's Australian:


IMMIGRATION Minister Amanda Vanstone has rejected claims construction company Halliburton Australia exploited Indonesian workers hired to work in the South Australian desert.

The Adelaide Advertiser newspaper reported that the company, a subsidiary of US giant Halliburton, had paid the Indonesians as little as $40 a day.

The newspaper said Australian co-workers had claimed the Indonesians, who were digging ditches in the outback, were made to work 80 days straight and were given poor accommodation.

The Muslim men were also served meals laced with pork, it was claimed.

In a statement today, Senator Vanstone said four Indonesian workers employed at the Cooper Basin gas operation were receiving appropriate payment for their work.

"I have been advised by my department, which has checked with the sponsor - Halliburton Australia - that the men were in fact being paid an appropriate salary," Senator Vanstone said.

"Reports that the overseas workers were only being paid $40 and $80 per day are grossly inaccurate.

"I'm told these figures are in fact day bonuses, which were being paid in addition to the men’s' salaries."

Is Vanstone authenticating the accuracy of her information, or will she leave it alone so that she has a loophole at the inquiry?

Halliburton Imports Slave Labor To South Australia -Advertiser

Halliburton Australia has a major part of South Australian business activities. Its Adelaide office was fomerly the company's global headquarters for infrastructure.

Under the trading name of KBR it is employed by the State government and local councils. It has been involved in construction of the Port River Expressway and has proposed a development project for Lake Alexandrina.

Halliburton is also employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to carry out international aid contracts on Australia's behalf, and has many defence industry contracts.

In South Australia's outback, Halliburton has been flouting Australia's industrial relations laws by employing foreigners at wage levels inappropriate to Australian ethics.

By referring the Advertiser's questions to its head office in Houston it has revealed where its South Australian activities are truly conducted from.

On evidence of such a flagrant violation of Australian trust, the ethics involved in all the company's interaction with all levels of government in South Australia must now be called into question. If companies such as Halliburton want to play in Australia, they must learn to play by Aussie rules.

Given the Australian Government's avoidance and denial of knowledge of Australian bribes paid to the Saddam government of Iraq, it is highly unlikely there will be an Australian probe into Halliburton's questionable activities.

As Halliburton Australia is a wholly owned US subsidiary its activities in Australia could be subjected to a probe by the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

ASIO and the Brothers O'Reilly.. the other side of the slice

Ciaron O'Reilly, who has had his photo taken with both Nelson Mandela and East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao, was, while returning to Australia last week, detained for questioning by ASIO.

O'Reilly was reportedly was a member of the "ANZUS Ploughshares" which disarmed a B-52 Bomber in upstate New York during the 1991 Gulf War. He was also a member of the "Jabiluka Ploughshares" that disabled uranium mining equipment in the Northern Territory in 1998.

In 2003, O'Reilly, in a protest aganst Shannon Airport's use as a refuelling depot for US warplanes en route to Iraq,

[from warontrial.com]

Before the illegal invasion & bombing of Iraq, five members of the pacifist Catholic Worker movement made their way into Shannon Airport and non-violently disarmed a U.S. navy war plane in the early hours of February 3rd. 2003.

The Pit Stop Ploughshares Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon, Ciaron O'Reilly & Damien Moran spent 4 to 11 weeks in Limerick Prison. They went to trial in March 2005 on two counts of Criminal Damage -€100 and $U.S.2.5million.

Penalties if convicted carry a maximum of ten years imprisonment.

The March '05 trial collapsed on the 6th day when Judge O'Donnell called a
mistrial, dismissed the jury, and instructed the media not to report on the reasons for the mistrial.

The October '05 re-trial collapsed on the 10th day, after Judge Donagh MacDonagh agreed with Defence counsel that his attendance at the Bush inauguration in 2001 (amongst other meetings with Bush) was grounds for his removal from the case, in that his role was tainted with a 'perception of bias'.

Over 100 international & numerous Irish anti-war activists converged on
Dublin for both trials. They were occasions for public witness against the war, with evenings of celebration of the disarmament and public meetings concerning ongoing Irish involvement in the war on Iraq.

 Two years later, while Dubya was in town for a UN-EU summit, 10,000 people marched through Dublin against Irish support of the US.  When that was done, Ciaron and Co pulled a media stunt that attracted the attention of the American press.

[from CNN (direct link no longer available) ] 

Irish protesters used Shakespeare to blitz George W. Bush on Saturday, invoking Macbeth, a ghost and a witch to cast a spell on the U.S. president and drive him, symbolically at least, from Irish soil.

Some 500 demonstrators marched on Dromoland Castle, the 16th century turreted mansion in western Ireland where Bush met European Union leaders for a summit.

When they were stopped at a police road block, they staged their own version of Shakespeare's bloody Scottish tragedy.

First, a ghost with a whited-out face read the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Then a woman dressed as Lady Macbeth read a list of Iraqi victims.

Finally, a woman dressed as a witch with a black pointy hat and a flowing cape cast a spell on a man wearing a Bush face mask. The man crumpled to the floor as the witch ordered him to leave Ireland and end the occupation of Iraq.

The protesters held up a banner adorned with a quote from Macbeth, Shakespeare's powerful drama of death, destruction and ambition in feudal Scotland.

"There's the smell of blood still," read the banner, on which was painted a gory hand. "All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."

Some 50 police officers watched the drama unfold from behind their roadblock, just half a mile from the castle where Bush was staying for the EU-U.S. summit. The protest passed peacefully and the crowd dispersed after around 90 minutes.

The staging of "MacBush" was one of several events organised by demonstrators to show their anger with the president's visit.

Some 10,000 people marched through Dublin on Friday night in opposition to both U.S. policy in Iraq and Ireland's decision to host Bush and allow U.S. jets to refuel at one of its airports en route to the Gulf.

 While awaiting his trial to resume, O'Reilly has returned to Australia to visit his family.  Ciaran's brother Sean was one of five activists arrested while staging a protest at Pine Gap late last year. 

[from Webdiary]

The arrests were not over however. Sean and Jessica had driven to the front of the base and were holding a banner in what they thought was a  non-arrestable action (Jessica had a plane booked in 5 hours time to Melbourne, and Sean was due to catch one the next day). They were not expecting the anger of the Federal police.

We had been to the front of the base twice to picket and pray. Each time they had happily assured us of our right to be there. Now they were intent on revenge and decided to confiscate our cameras and any interesting documents.

As soon as Sean politely asked them what law allowed them to do this he was arrested and charged with hindering police. No receipt was given for anything taken and as yet nothing has been returned.

 As Brother Sean was more than likely to be one of the family members that Ciaran was going to visit, and as the Brother's O'Reilly had both participated in a protest against  a Joint Australian/US training exercise,  ASIO was about to be faced with two efficient activists  with networks over two countires- brothers against Bush.

ASIO, no doubt still in the afterglow of deporting Scott Parkin, pulled Ciaran aside for a chat as soon as he set foot on Australian soil.  Apparently just in time the intelligence officers remembered the inquiry into their conduct pertaining to Parkin,and that they had no way of stopping the travel-weary activist from entering Australia.

Martin Hirst has written a lively account of Sean O'Reilly's ASIO interview

[from Crikey]

The interview took place in a secure room at Brisbane airport and one of the questions agents asked the jet-lagged O'Reilly was whether he'd had previous dealings with ASIO. "Well you're a secret organisation," he replied, "you tell me if I've had dealings with ASIO agents before."

 With such a reverance to protocol, no doubt we'll be hearing more of the brothers O'Reilly very soon.  I hope so.


No probs, Richard. At first I thought I'd been stood up (!), but it soon became obvious that you've been well occupied. (I wonder sometimes if you sleep at all!) I was going to need to do a fair bit of thinking together clarifying aims and ground rules etc anyway - not things to be done in a hurry, I think.

I've appreciated the work you've been doing following the AWB scandal. In fact, the job you and Craig did on Follow the big money was a triumph - a better summary than anything I'd seen anywhere. You are right to concentrate on that, I think, although the news from Project Safecom today about ASIO's questioning of an activist's intentions straight after a 30 hour flight from Ireland is concerning.

Robyn, I'm sorry I haven't

Robyn, I'm sorry I haven't talked to you... this AWB thing is sucking in my mind!!

Let's hang for a little, and see if the US calls a Senate Inquiry into AWB USA. What a chain of worms this would set off! If we're lucky an investigation by the US Department of Justice into foreign corrupt practices by its corporate citizens in Australia is very close at hand. The investigation's first stop after the AWB (to vindicate the US wheat trade stance) will be Halliburton / KBR. Manipulation of tendering processes, bribing of local businessmen... all such concepts would be needful of exoneration.

At the rate events are unravelling, this could take place in weeks, maybe while Parkin's Australian court case is being reported by Newsweek.

By then the Howard cabinet will wish they'd never heard the name Scott Parkin, let alone introduced him to the Australian public.

It's definitely time for a beer. And, I'm beginning to think, patience.

(Mind you, Valentine's Day is sooo tempting...)

Flower power

Perhaps we should send all of them forget-me-nots!

Fiona: An excellent idea, Robyn. Mixed with love-lies-bleeding? But...definitely not heart's ease.


Bringing in the sheaves,...

On the other hand, say it with $heaves of grain…

Wheat for Saddam, peanuts for security


1 February 2006

Sen Norm Coleman
Senator for Minnesota
US Congress

Dear Senator Coleman,

Thank you for revealing to the Australian public the misconduct of the Australian ambassador regarding the wheat bribe to Saddam.

The peculiar shame of this matter is amplified by the United States’ large casualties in Iraq.

We hope, when you speak to Ambassador Richardson, that he is able to tell you how he, as head of Australia’s Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), allowed this matter to occur at a time of war.

Please accept our kindest regards.
Peter Woodforde

To butter or not to butter?

In labelling Scott Parkin, a person of seemingly good if determined character, as a threat to national security without specifying how he is a threat, ASIO has made the boundary to acceptable behaviour in Australia much less clear in people's minds. As the boundary shifts with the new anti-terror laws (or does it?), the illegal in the area of political activism is no longer easily understood. In my opinion that is a dangerous situation which must be corrected. Since ASIO will not clarify what made Parkin's behaviour unacceptable, it would seem testing of the limits is necessary to find out where they are.

Coretta Scott King died today. That fact alone makes me want to commit to some sort of action which honours the legacy of her work for civil rights. And I would love to learn more about Ghandhi, King and NVDA (and even Halliburton), and to work with other 'Diarists.

However, I'm naturally cautious until I'm sure of my ground, and this "Peanut Butter Revolution" will be quite an undertaking in whatever form it ends up. I'll sleep on it and ring you at the pub, Richard.

The Peanut Butter Revolution

Since the former Soviet republics and satellites have taken all the good colour words, and since the only Australian analogy that I can think of for “velvet” is crimplene (thank you, Dame Edna), it is important to consider carefully the word or words that best characterise the forthcoming (if not imminent) Oz revolution. It seems to me, Richard, Robyn, Bryan, and John Henry Calvinist, that you are on a winner with peanut butter (whether smooth or crunchy). And honey.

However, Richard’s notion of letting a thousand flowers bloom in Canberra also has its merits. I have carefully considered what offerings would be most appropriate in this galère, and now make the following suggestions, taking it from the top:

John Howard: a bunch of Honesty – preferably dried, for the better display of the pieces of silver.

Philip Ruddock: a newly-opened blossom of the Dead Horse arum lily, with the hope that he enjoys the fragrance.

Amanda Vanstone: a bouquet of Venus Fly-trap, for pedagogical purposes.

And last, but not least,

Kim Beasley: tulips (need I say more?)

dead flowers

Fiona...being something of a scholar myself, I noticed that several eminently-suitable flowering plants were unselected by your good self - and, since you included Dead Horse arum lily, I suspect that we are already well-out of conventional flower symbolism territory.

And, so - therefore - who deserves the mandrake (in all its senses), not to mention the poppy, datura, and stinging nettle (especially one of the gigantic forest tree versions, for added media impact...albeit delivery might be a problem). I could go on here, but I think the point is made. Besides, given the vegetative intellects we have "running" things "for" us, such imagery is particularly poignant... Any takers?

Fiona: Given that I'd completely forgotten to include Lord Downer of Baghdad, perhaps he should receive a (small) nosegay of rosemary and rue? (Even though that means reverting, albeit briefly, to the conventional language of the flowers.) But thank you for your most helpful suggestions, John Henry Calvinist. Datura particularly appeals, although I suspect that it – and hemlock - should wait for a somewhat more "group" occasion....

on the giving of flowers

Fiona (alas, missing her Ed.)...Personally, albeit somewhat outside the immediate Australian context, I'd immediately thought of "our" President Bush as deserving the datura...what with his bizarre perceptual distortions, and irrational power fantasies...not to mention the whole "speaking with God" business.

Still, as you rightly say, we could well enjoy witnessing a group encounter w/datura & hemlock, albeit the Parliamentary cleaning staff would have a big job on their hands (literally?) re the aftermath. Still, I'm sure they would endure same with fortitude, buoyed up by the knowledge that they'd never have to encounter any of these clowns again.

Poppy should clearly, however, be reserved for the member with the worst memory. Any (pointed) suggestions? And...I still can't quite find a candidate for the mandrake award...

Fiona: John Henry Calvinist - re memory, I couldn't possibly comment. And, as for mandrake - don't tempt me!

Protesters, Councils, The Long Arm...

I've had this on file since last year, and this seem like a good time to post it. It's the ins and outs of protesting at the Halliburton Headquarters by the folks who have been doggedly making their point. These protest diaries are from Edward Cranswick:

Graham Smith has organized a protest against Halliburton/KBR that we (he and I and a third man who participated on three occasions) have conducted from 4:30-5:30 PM on Thursday afternoons over the past two months. The general scheme has been to put up a banner outside of the KBR building at 186 Greenhill Road, Adelaide, and hand out leaflets to cars that stop for the lights.

On the first day we protested, I handed a leaflet to police car waiting along the median strip for the light -- it was accepted without comment -- but a few minutes later, a large and angry police officer stopped on his motorbike and got in my face, telling me that standing on the median strip handing out leaflets was illegal and that I had to move along. I did, but a few minutes after he left, I returned and have not heard from the police myself since then.

When I went to Canberra for a week, Graham mounted the protest alone and immediately received more police attention, leading to the postponement of the protest for about a month. Below is his summary of his interaction with the police and local municipal authorities about the protest:


Greenhill Road median strip is a large grassed area separating east and westbound traffic. Banner set up on area seven metres by fifty metres. Banner 10 by 1 metres.

May 19, after 5 weekly rallies two police arrive in a police car, pull up on the median strip and ask me if I have permission to be there... no... gotta go. I say a number of police cars have gone past and one actually stopped on the median strip to ask how long I would be there and left. They then say "maybe there has been a complaint" ... "maybe about distributing leaflets in traffic. Yes I had been doing that on the inside lane when traffic stationary. Where do I get permission? "Perhaps from dept main roads." They ask me for ID I was carrying a drivers license and obediantly gave it to them. They took details and appeared to verify its authenticity and wrote down details. They asked for a leaflet and I gave them , the male, one. I began to pack up and they left.

A number of letters were written to obtain permission to rally every Thursday for an unspecified period. There are three organisations for the median strip, north and south side of Greenhill Road: Transport SA, Adelaide city Council, Unley City Council.

Transport SA would not "support" a rally or banner on median strip... "distracts motorists". "There will be a prang."

Adelaide city council would not allow a 10 by 1 metre banner "week after week". It was all a bit vague. Maybe you can have a little banner. "This is public land." Cannot be done.

Unley city council said you do not need a permit for this sort of thing. It is public land so go ahead. If you cause "offence" then more consideration may be required.

June 23 resume rally with 10 by 1 metre banner by footpath on Unley council side of Greenhill Road and two effigies and replica of U.S flag on northern Adelaide city council side. Nothing on median strip...Edward distributing leaflets. Graham distributing leaflets from northern side, walking along gutter and offering leaflets to passenger side of stationary traffic. Forty or so were handed out in this way. Police stop and tell me there has been a complaint about me handing out leaflets in traffic. I say I have been walking up the gutter and handing out leaflets in that way. On no occasion (not even once) did I venture into traffic this afternoon so there were no grounds for complaint (bike riders yes). The policeman said "Oh" and that I was to make sure I don't go out into traffic. I do not intend to under any circumstances and that I could carry on. It was finish up time so we went home.

A lot of bureaucratic confusion over a couple of protesters, wouldn't you say? I can guess where the complaint came from.

When No-War protested there in 2004 a passerby approached me and asked what we were doing. After I explained he asked "Is this new information? Why has nobody complained about this before/?" He wasn't really listening to the answer, as he was requesting the SBS reporter to turn her camera away from them. He then went back into the KBR building, from whence he came.

We know from Edward and Graham that one bordering council permits a median strip protest, and that the other only "doesn't support it", so I'd reckon that right in the middle of Greenhill Road would be the place to stage an event.

We might need the paperwork for when Halliburton sools the police onto us.

Robyn, the voice of reason

Robyn, given the past and present international locus of that office (foreign aid central, Asia Pacific central, global infrastructure central) Greenhill Road would indeed be the ideal place for such a workshop, and Bryan would be the one to do it.  It's public land, the police had no objections last time we were there (actually we were handing out flyers from the median strip), so problems shouldn't arise.

Actually, there's been a fellow named Edward Cranswick down there for the last two years, who, with a few No War supporters has been incessantly handing out flyers directing motorists to my blog on Your Democracy .

 Being our home town, and knowing a few folks, generating a reasonable number of attendees wouldn't be a problem.  Forty $5 admissions would cover Mr Law's airfare.

We can hand out sandwiches to motorists with an attached note explaining why. 

Logistically much more simple, and It would serve to demonstrate the same point.  If we do it before the March State election it would be a double-edged sword.  I know a couple of polllies who might be interested in attending.

Hamish has my phone number, or you can get to me through the pub.  We should talk soon.

Litmus & peanut butter

Richard, while I'm happy to pack sandwiches for a trip to Canberra (depending on the date), I don't agree that "Conducting such an exercise in such a manner would create a clear message, in one way or the other".

If the CIFA file was NOT used to deport Parkin, then the success of a peanut butter action will prove nothing except that peaceful demonstrations which garner little media attention are still possible in Australia.

What might be more interesting would be to test whether the teaching of NVDA is still permissable, and get Bryan Law down to conduct a similar workshop (or someone else who is not so busy dealing with the consequences of recent efforts) - perhaps in the parklands across from the Halliburton office on Greenhill Rd in Adelaide!

Crunchy, with honey

Hi Richard, and thanks for all the updates on Scott Parkin.  Thanks too for Robyn's contributions, and the thinking about how the security forces will now operate in relation to dissidents and nonviolent civil disobedience.

I'm glad to see Scott and his friends pursuing the issues.

I'm glad I'm an Australian citizen who was born here, because that makes it real hard for the government to deport me.

Robyn, I'm organising two nonviolence workshops at present.

One in Cairns on 18/19 March will focus on exploring the power dynamics of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, and will explore the role of small, autonomous affinity groups.

Another in Alice Springs on 22/23 April will cover much the same territory.  Both workshops will select a local issue (peace, environment and/or social justice), analyse current social forces and key opportunities for change, then design and carry out a set of interventionary nonviolent actions aimed at a specific campaign goal.

At some point (Before Christians Against All Terrorism go to trial) I'm going to teach sessions on "How to Break into Pine Gap Terrorist Base", complete with maps, models, hints and practical tips.

I decided last spring that I would push these new security laws as hard as I could to establish an acknowledged right to teach and practise nonviolence.  I'm in a good position to do it.  (I'm already being noticed and surveilled by ASIO, Australian Military Intelligence, AFP, NT and QLD Police that I know of - hi folks!)

One tactic I'm advocating is the small, autonomous affinity group.  Such a group establishes trust, agreed operating procedures, parameters - and then goes off to plan the detail of an action which fits the overall campaign theme in a movement. 

Such groups are able to carry out high leverage actions that engage people from all walks of life.

The use of street theatre a la Parkin is essential to ratcheting up the leverage.  The peanut butter sandwhiches work strongly on so many levels.  Childhood memory, a more open mind, humor, ordinaryness, and on it goes.

Such an action need not be a media action, and it can be done with 5 or 6 people.  It can be fun, even exhilarating.  It can be profound.  Anyone can do it.

Such an action needn't be civil disobedience either.  There is plenty of room for the creative building of community support, using all the tools in which we're proficient.

I simply argue that individuals and groups need to also develop a capacity for resistance.  We need to become the sand in the hydraulics of the war machine.  Slow it down.  Transform it.

If I lived in Canberra I'd show up for peanut butter and jelly.

Robyn Clothier...

Robyn Clothier: "After Scott Parkin’s experience of Australia, we can only assume that all organisers of protests and teachers of protest techniques, if not all protesters, can legally be subjected to the same sort of treatment that Scott received."

Agreed entirely.. this is why I'm proposing a 'test case'.  If a Peanut Butter Protest is allowed to occur, then the activity is one permissible by Australians on Australian soil.

As you say, the grounds that Parkin was advocating violence are plainy unsubstantial, which brings us back to the CIFA file on Parkin's highlighting of Halliburton's overcharging for food in Iraq.

If this file was used to deport Parkin, then the success of a similar action will set a precedent nullifying any possibility of such an action's criminality in Australia. It will be proven that the Government doesn't have a leg to stand on.

On the other hand, if it's disallowed we will have on our hands a 'litmus test' of the status quo of Australian civil liberties.

I've been heavily involved with organising a "Live Music" protest that saw five thousand people gather with dignity at the steps of Adelaide's Parliament... all that is required is that the people involved conduct themselves with decorum.

Conducting such an exercise in such a manner would create a clear message, in one way or the other.

Spooks don't need breakfast spreads

I hate to be the fly in the … peanut butter, Richard, especially after all this "nutty" and fun stuff (sorry, its the best I could come up with!), but I’m not convinced ASIO needed to have Scott Parkin flagged as a person of interest because of the incident in the CIFA file. I am prepared to believe Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Ian Carnell’s conclusions that:

a. ASIO did not have, at the relevant time, information which would have justified recommending against the grant of a visa and took a close interest in Mr Parkin because of information received about his activities once in Australia.

b. There is no evidence or reason to think that ASIO’s security assessment in respect of Mr Parkin was influenced from elsewhere within the Australian Government or by external bodies.

c. The security assessment was based on credible and reliable information and the legislative requirements were met.

As someone who is occasionally “active”, I found this media release which summarises the public portion of Mr Carnell’s report very interesting reading.

The trouble with taking Mr Carnell at his word is this. ASIO chief, Paul O’Sullivan, admitted before a Senate enquiry that Scott Parkin had not been violent in Australia, Ian Carnell states that The Australian’s story about him was wrong in its assertion that Parkin advocated the rolling of marbles under police horses’ hooves, and Parkin himself, and both fellow workshop-presenters and attendees have denied he was advocating violence. So I am also inclined to believe that Parkin was not advocating violence, as violence is usually understood.

Without credible information to the contrary, I am forced to conclude that Parkin was arrested, kept in solitary confinement, deported and charged $11,000 for the privilege because the wording of the legislation governing ASIO’s activities allows its officers to interpret non-violent direct action as “politically motivated violence” (PMV).

See what you think of the following excerpts from Ian Carnell’s report (my emphasis):

The risk to security assessed by ASIO as relevant to Mr Parkin’s case was PMV. PMV is defined in section 4 of the ASIO Act as including:

a) Acts or threats of violence or unlawful harm that are intended or likely to achieve a political objective, whether in Australia or elsewhere, including acts or threats carried on for the purpose of influencing the policy or acts of government, whether in Australia or elsewhere;...

“I should note that "Australian national security" is a concept which covers Australia’s security, defence, international relations and law enforcement interests.

Look also at the following sections from the Attorney-General's Guidelines in relation to ASIO’s performance of their duties:

ASIO's functions are concerned with protection of Australia from PMV, or the carrying out of Australia's responsibilities in relation to such conduct. As such, they are required to be anticipatory in nature. The intelligence that ASIO collects need only be relevant to a risk that such conduct may be engaged in, or to a reasonable apprehension that it is being or has been engaged in...

The threat could be perceived by ASIO rather than declared by the subject of the investigation…”

The unlawful harm could be indirectly caused … (and) could also extend to acts in which the harm is in the result, rather than in the act itself”...

The above considerations apply whether the object of the violence or threat is the government of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory, or the government of a foreign country with which Australia has responsibilities in relation to security matters...

Despite the assurance that “Section 17A of the ASIO Act provides that the Act shall not limit the right of persons to engage in lawful advocacy, protest or dissent and the exercise of that right shall not, by itself, be regarded as prejudicial to security”, I think ASIO officers were able to use wording like the above in the Act and guidelines to interpret Scott Parkin’s teaching as a threat to national security because, as a result of attending his workshops in “spirited protest”, the number of people engaged in active protest may have increased and those protests may have resulted in harm to property or persons, despite his intentions.

Carnell explains that the 1990 Determination of the Director-General of Security (a classified document) defines the matters that are and are not to be taken into account in relation to security assessments. I found it particularly interesting that he signs off the report with a suggestion that now might be a good time to review that determination.

Meanwhile I think you are right to be concerned that your assessment of the national interest may not concur with ASIO’s. After Scott Parkin’s experience of Australia, we can only assume that all organisers of protests and teachers of protest techniques, if not all protesters, can legally be subjected to the same sort of treatment that Scott received.

But I would be happy to be proved wrong, particularly by a fair and public testing of the evidence in relation to Scott Parkin in a court of law.

a query

My only question is... smoothy or crunchy?

Food For Thought

Fiona, I've just put a loaf-worth in the freezer for a start.  Remember the bit in Wag The Dog about the campaign to get 'Mericans to  throw their old shoes in public bins to show their support for the "returned soldier"?  In this way we could turn the tactic back on the buggers!

To "say it with flowers" Valentine's Day would be ideal.  Perhaps Senators Brown and Stott-Despoja, both stalwart Parkin supporters, could deliver them for us? Does Margo still reside in Canberra? It would be great if she was involved in this also.

We need a Canberra location to publicise as a sending point... this would also give ASIO somewhere to raid if they decided to pre-intervene. Any Canberra Webdiarists that are game? I'll happily take a bus up to give a hand.

Would Dick Smith donate some peanut butter to the cause? Are there sympathetic bakers somewhere? Should I shut up now?

In the movie, they had a song, conveniently "retrieved" from the Smithsonian for broadcast... any librarians with ideas? Eric Bogle, Jimmy Barnes, the Johns Schumann and Farnham, James Blundell.. would any be prepared to pen the verse?

I will shut up now... but it's Food For Thought.

Playing (to) the peanut gallery

To His Serene Highness, Prince Pyotr O’Taliban (aka Bombardier extraordinaire), greetings! Et salutations, mon vieux! (No, we won’t do the Sieg Heils today; that might get the Boyz just a teeny teeny bit too …(far) up themselves … and that would NEVER do.)

And to Richard Tonkin, mon ami, vive les sandwiches à beurre d'arachide! As for 6 June 2006 at 6 pip emma (EST) – not to mention the suggested inundation of ce beau Philippe – jolly good wheezes, old fruit. Let’s (as the inimitable Eartha once crooned) do it! (or them, as the case may be).

In the meantime, may I exhort all my stalwart colleagues, compatriots, and co-conspirators, whether in, within, or out of arms, eternal vigilance! (Not to mention sedition, fomentation, rebellion etc., etc., calloo callay…) Remember, be alert … but NOT alarmed!

(Oh, and from Fifi to Peter, woof woof!)

Choke, pause and regather

To paraphrase the PM, while reading Peter "is there a behaviour modification program I can take to think like that?" Woodforde's post, my cup of tea paused at my lips... as it spurted out my nose.

This may be an inappropriate time to provide unfamiliar readers with a recap of the Parkin Incident, but what the hell. Guy Rundle's piece on Crikey last year says it best.


Seasoned ASIOlogists are currently having a keen argument about whether the detention of Parkin has been ordered by the government after a request/demand by the US, or whether it is simply a case of the spooks reviving their role as an aggressive political player, directed against the Left. 

There are compelling reasons to think it's the former. Parkin's focus on Halliburton is by now well known, but he's not just any old anti-Halliburton activist – he knows more about the company than pretty much anyone around, and he's been a key organiser of campaigns against their AGMs and HQ in Houston (see Taking Direct Action Against Halliburton). Halliburton is of course more than just a company – it's the company that continues to pay Vice-President Dick Cheney a pension/retainer while he occupies public office.

Halliburton is practically an arm of the government and vice-versa, and it is particularly sensitive at the moment. Why? Hurricane Katrina. Kellogg Brown Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, is in the running for huge contracts to effect the clean-up and reconstruction of New Orleans at a time when it is under the gun for overcharging the US government more than $1 billion for services in Iraq.

If the Bush administration has stepped in to silence Parkin, it's a spectacular own goal for all concerned, since the whole of the Australian public sphere has become a megaphone for Parkin's anti-Halliburton activities. But just because the idea was stupid doesn't mean they didn't do it – it might have been a product of sheer megalomania, or a shot across the bows of activists to show that the administration is going to play dirty in these post-Katrina embattled times.

Extrapolation of the first sentence of the last paragraph:  if ASIO has stepped in to help the Bush administration silence Parkin, then it is not working for the Australian government.  If the Australian government has stepped in to help ASIO help the Bush administration silence Parkin, then it isn't working for the Australian people.

The second sentence remains the same.

Peter, did you hear about the day that ASIO raided Myer?  They'd heard that Bed Linen was on the third floor.

Mark Ross...

Mark Ross, with such a surname you'll be familiar with the concept of persecution, pertaining to the Highland Clearances of Scotland?

Local farmers, many Rosses, were told by their church-leaders that being removed from their land to make way for foreign developers was a punishment for the sins of their ancestors. I've been to the church where the Rosses camped while waiting to emigrate, and seen "We are the wicked generation" scrawled in a window.

Five generations later, I'll soon be forced out of my area due to corporately inflated rent increases... sigh.

Actually it all sounds a bit familiar...

A friend of mine used to play bagpipes at the Irish Club, and was amused to find himself in a photo with a DSTO employee that was shown to said employee while questioning association with such a reprobate... these things do happen, even to bagpipers. If photos were being taken at St Paddy's Day Marches ten years ago, they're being taken at No-War protests today.

Just Ask Part Two

Well Richard I got that ASIO file thing wrong.

The situation that I was thinking about regarded the time when NSW Police Special Branch were caught keeping files on different folks in Sydney. This was something they were not authorised to do and were, therefore, obliged to disclose the content of the files upon request of the subject.

I remembered my friend telling me the story a few years ago but, obviously, got my police agencies mixed up. Sorry.

Subversionary tactics

For some time, one of my friends and I have included either or both of the phrases "Osama bin Laden" and "Al Quaeda" in every telephone conversation. Perhaps we should extend our activities to our emails. Perhaps we should all adopt this tactic in all forms of communication.

After all, nothing quite like blinding the so-and-so's with too much material.

Yours in subversion.

Make Ruddock Nuttier?

What about a couple of thousand peanut butter sandwiches sent to Phillip Ruddock, care of Parliament House Canberra? When it comes to the crunch, would the A-G be Krafty enough to get the point?

Fiona, if enough people followed your technique simultaneously, do you think we'd blow a fuse somewhere? How about on 6/6/06 at 6pm (EST)?

Peanut paste sangers


O yep, FiFi. Subversive is as subversive does.

Try a further madding touch for the knuckledraggers over at Telstra™ Hughes: constant mention of “cached Barrett Rifles™,” “heavy cal depleted Uranium cartridges” and the “stashed Glocks™, mortars and RPG7s.”

Not to mention “I is got tons of gelignite, Monsignor, from the German submarine, begorrah!” Say that last line, and you’ll have blokes (and sheilas) with false beards all over ya. Probably disguised in green bowler hats and carrying shillelaghs.

All saying “Top of the morning to ye,” out the passenger’s window of shiny new Falcons, to be sure.

Brief aside: Got that Boyz in the Asiohood? May you all get goitres on your cods, you weak, bludging numbskulls.

They can protect us from the peanut paste sangers of Scott Parkin.

They condone and applaud the torture of David Hicks or terrorising those poor bastards running away from TNI ethnic cleansing in West Papua.

But they fall over themselves smoothing the path for Saddam Hussein’s $300 million bagmen among the Liberal-National Parties and their traditional cronies.

Was there a kickback for our “Security Services” too? A bit on the side for the Boyz?

I notice that Howard and his boyz have been backing their utes up to the various “security” services with zillions while quibbling over farthings for mums or the mentally-ill on pensions.

And every line in every Australian health budget.

Australia has NO security services worth pissing on, and that’s a deliberate policy outcome by Saddam’s very happy chief bagman at Kirribilli.

Imagine Commissioner Cole and Co calling on some security bigwig to explain how an Australian instrumentality/public monopoly funded an alleged enemy with alleged weapons of mass destructive terror. And drumming his fingers while they ran the peanut paste line.

The point hasn’t been lost on US wheat growers in this Congressional election year.

Ah, that’s Deputy Sheriffs for you. They’re always playing the greenhorn posse off against the guys in black hats, for very dirty money.

And the shopping channels won’t touch it. Dirty money is, after all, their game too.

For every Laurie Oakes or Paul Bongiorno, there is an army of shopping channels’ bimbos and bozos to spoon down the monstrous lies the PM’s Private Office doles out like baked beans out of a big tin.

With Coke for afters. Any kind you want, courtesy of Hallibuton. Thanx D**k.

Pyotr Taliban Woodforde, not a bagman, a bombthrower - got that, Boyz? But still camped by a billabong. With me bloody .303, so watch ya k’n arses, ya dirty sneaky security dingoes.

One wonders if Ag & Stock would pay a bounty for each of ya scalps and tails. BANG!!!

I love the smell of $ecurity shit in pants in the morning. Smells like…prick Tories.

Hamish: Oh Peter! I missed ya mate.

Just ask.

Well done Richard.

Keeping an eye on Haliburton and Co. in Australia may not be as sexy as pontificating on the latest Middle East developments but, I believe, it has far more relevance for Aussies.

Regarding your ASIO file, although I'm too knackered tonight to go googling the topic, I do believe that you can simply ask ASIO or the federal police to see your file or confirm its existence.

A good friend of mine had the pleasure of pissing off Gareth Evans by telling certain unpopular truths about East Timor and as a result, said friend, believed that he was being checked out by the Feds/ASIO.

I'm fairly sure (but will confirm in the morning) that said friend was able to find out whether there was a file on him or not.

Of course, that was pre-terror law days.

Having mentioned ASIO three...D'oh!, four times... in the same email, I assume there is a red light flashing on a computer screen in some basement in Canberra. Therefore...

I have two dogs, I love peanut butter and the back door is never locked.


Every time I read a piece like this I waiver from either feeling that authorities are completely incompetant and as the writer says, "an intelligence system that can make such a stupid mistake." or thinking there is a political agenda to silence the government's critics and ASIO is happy to assist . Perhaps it's a bit of both. Whatever, but what possible good can any of this do our country?

We've already heard how Bush's efforts in spying upon thousands of Americans yeilding nought but the recourses used must have been astronomical.

Until we have an effective opposition that can get over it's "me too-ism" it will get worse. If Beazley and co insist on being identikits of the government what possible reason is there for anyone to elect them? Howard's been setting the agenda for 10 years and has successfully led the Opposition like sheep. The one man who had the slightest hope of breaking Howard's stranglehold on debate, Mark Latham, was a victim of an intense media hate which works against the best interests of Australians and benefits private business. I doubt any of this will change until we see the backs of Bush, Howard and Blair but we will be feeling the effects for years to come.

In the meantime I hope if people like Richard Tonkin do get hauled in for any reason, they speak up despite the threats they face.

What ever happened to Richard?

Michael de Angelos: "...I hope if people like Richard Tonkin do get hauled in for any reason, they speak up despite the threats they face."

I would like to thnk that people such as ourselves may have something to say as well, for I suspect if Richard were to speak out he would be in even greater poo. After all Richard has all our interests at heart and he may be putting himself at risk at the expense of his family.

If Richard ever goes missing I would like to see a "What happened to Richard campaign??" No good sitting on the side lines for we would be just as guilty as not standing up for our convictions (and Richard's welfare) as those arm chair warriors of the COW who do nothing but cheer from the sidelines.

Vale Richard Tonkin, a true Aussie rebel., and  he has done nothing to hurt anyone, unlike the COW.

A Good Bloke our Richard

Richard, a bit foolish of you, old son, admiting to having a cat and dog. After all are they not WMD? Just as well you didn't say anything about your dog having a liking for peanut butter for that will really get you in the shit.

ASIO, if you are out there I do not have a cat or a dog, but I like peanut butter.

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