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ASIO Appeal on Scott Parkin Verdict

Richard TonkinRichard Tonkin is an investigative citizen journalist from Adelaide. His last piece on Webdiary was The Ballad of Scott Parkin.

by Richard Tonkin

It is now possible that the outcome of Scott Parkin's Federal Court case will become a Federal election issue. Spook-squad ASIO have been granted leave to appeal the verdict. Should their appeal fail the Howard Government's only option will be to censor the issue on grounds of national security. Given the timespans involved this would probably occur just before the next Australian elections.

It's an amazing amount of fuss over a few peanut butter sandwiches. We know ASIO were aware of a file about them, as its existence was reported in a world-renowned US magazine. We know that ASIO would have, given that Parkin's prior activities were in the US, made its security clearance based on US intelligence. We can make a fair guess from this (as I've said before) that ASIO was at least aware of the Pentagon's Parkin file.

What they did have, however, was the looming date of September 11 2005 and without doubt a notion in their heads that a "security threat" story released on that date would have considerably added dramatic impact in highlighting the need for increasingly alert security agents.

I have no doubt that many in the Australian Cabinet, particularly the Ministers for Immigration and Foreign Affairs, would have been happy to please Dick Cheney. An antagonist of the former Halliburton CEO's business interests would have been too good a target to miss. A story publishable on September 11 of security, immigration and federal agents working together to catch a dangerous activist would, you'd have to think, be too tempting a propaganda exercise not to attempt to enact. Was the apple in Parkin's eye too devilishly delightful for PM Howard's Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve (with apologies to Malcolm B Duncan) to resist? Here's a good adage that works for me- it's that "if something is too good to be true, then it probably is." It might also work for senior Liberal politicians.

The lawyer representing the Director General of Security told the Federal Court that it's decision to allow Parkin to read documents leading to his adverse classification could cause irreparable.harm unless it was was set aside. Charles Gunst, QC, for ASIO boss Paul O'Sullivan, said it was expected that ASIO ransack its files and open them for scrutiny. He said the resulting identification of documents might cause harm to national security. He also told the court that its earlier decision provided a precedent in which applicants could have access to documents merely by asserting without proof that a wrong decision had been made in their security assessments. It would seem that ASIO are fairly grumpy to be on the receiving end of their own style of tactics, and being probed without choice.

In a War On Terror with such a major propaganda front, that the co-operative efforts of US and Australian intelligence communities has lead to such inept mishandling of a single Halliburton protester would make Coalition Of The Willing information gathering once again appear incredibly inept. This, have no doubt, would be regarded as a scenario not in the Australian national interest

The fact ASIO have gone to such extraordinary lengths to protect their knowledge of Parkin implies that whatever they're concealing will not be revealed. Should they fail in their appeal they still have a final option. Attorney General Ruddock can exercise his self-ordained powers to silence the matter. It's highly likely that, if a verdict that ASIO deems inappropriate is returned, and given such publicly stressed importance of overturning the court's verdict, Ruddock might be forced to act. The Federal Court will be aware of such a possibility.

Justice Peter Heerey said the matter raised important issues about the court process and national security. In other words, this has now become the litmus-test of the relationship between the Australian legal and intelligence systems.

Given that the Parkin case has taken all of this year to get this far, there's a strong possibility that the verdict on the ASIO appeal will not be handed down till the latter part of next year, when Prime Minister Howard is expected to call an election. This could mean that the Australian Government, facing a public that is already suspicious of co-operation with the Bush Administration over the invasion of Iraq, could be casting their votes after having recently seen an action of unprecedented authoritianism. On the other hand they may finally have just been informed of Government supervised deceit and negligence by the agency that is supposed to be one of our front-line champions in this war.

The ultimate choice will be our Prime Minister's. Whichever way he goes, the Australian judiciary will eagerly await his verdict to determine how much more power he will have over it in the future. If our legal system tells the public to fear its legislators on the eve of an election, Mr Howard himself may finally have something to fear... an electorate voting to protect its civil liberties.

Court quotes sourced from The Age.

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Parkin: ASIO's report on ASIO (2005)

"While the precepts of natural justice would point to providing Mr Parkin with the details of the security assessment and allowing him to respond and suggest ways in which the evidence and considerations might be tested, security considerations of the kind described above would appear to reasonably preclude this. Even to attempt to allude in general terms to the elements of the security assessment would be problematic in this way.

I appreciate that Mr Parkin and others with doubts about his treatment will most likely find this vexing, but it is inevitable given the nature of the matter being examined."

-Ian Carnell, Inspector General Of Intelligence and Security,
November 2005

Mr Carnell took it upon himself to conduct an inquiry into ASIO's handling of Parkin.  He is quite clear that his terms of reference don't include the actions of DIMIA and the AFP after they were given the security classification, and says how he's recommended to the AFP that they look at Greg Sheridan's ASIO leak in the Australian (remember, the story of how Parkin was going to teach Aussies how to roll marbles under horses' hooves?) and I wonder whatever happened to that investigation.

Mr Carnell came to the following conclusions:

 

  • (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.
  • (d) ASIO did not act improperly in the course of speaking to Mr Parkin about the possibility of an interview with him.


 Mr Carnell seems to think that ASIO's assesment methods might be out of date.  He closes his report by suggesting that "While application of this 1990 Determination to Mr Parkin’s case did not raise concerns, it is a useful practice to periodically review key guidance documents and refine them in the light of experience and current circumstances."  Back around then cameras were still clicking around the Adelaide Irish Club in case anyone was connected to an Irish terrorist, so you can guess that ASIO methodology from that time may be a little out of sync with the current War On Terror.  In no way is being a Halliburton protester the slightest bit similar to being an IRA abettor.  It seems to me that ASIO might still be assessing according to outmoded and draconian criteria.

Carnell refers to a classified document titled "“Comments on ASIO security assessment in respect of Mr Scott Parkin” and says that paragraph 18 says why details can't be placed in the public domain.  He also clears ASIO of being influenced by Halliburton or its proponents, but doesn't say how he reached this conclusion. He says that "Given the appearance of normalcy and the absence of indications even suggestive of outside influence, as well as the firm sworn evidence, it must be concluded that outside influence was not attempted and did not occur."  In other words, if he can't see that it happened then it didn't happen.

Whitewash. 

Logical explanation please.

When my Wife and I were in Queesland prior to that State election - we were seriously shocked at the media attack on the Labor Government who had done so well - irrespecitive of  Howard's "changing world".

Fortunately because of his style of leadership, and with the commodities boom in his State, Peter Beattie retained the trust of the Queenslanders.

The Howard "New Order" Liberal's claim that they have continued the Prosperity Boom started by the Keating Labor Government prior to 1994. Is that a fact?

"New Order" Liberals, lets consider the entire media spin.

IF our  NATION'S "prosperity" is due to the last decade of Howard's "New Order" Liberals, and there has not been any contibution from the Labor States and Territories - then that would indicate, according to the media, that the Howard government is responsible for the good or bad economic accounts?

WHY then, does the media claim that a poll (secretive of course) indicates that the NSW economy has a chance of going into recession? Holly Mackeral, there must be a chance of Labor winning.

The Federal assessment of the NATION'S economy balances the good with the bad.  The booms in Queensland and Western Australia make the National figures look good.

But, how do they rack up to the individual States and Territories?

You are damn well right.  They don't.

So, just understand the media.  They will try to convince you that the overall national economy is good - and of their making.  This is done by the " New Order" gimmick of claiming that the efficiency of the State and Territory Labor Governments is due to the "Chicken livered" Costello treasury. Fair dinkum.

Wake up Australia - and NE OUBLEI.

 

Explanation

Ernest William, no explanation is needed regarding the state of the State of NSW, even Minister Costa admits that the dreadful state of affairs is all the fault of the Reserve Bank.

"WHY then, does the media claim that a poll (secretive of course) indicates that the NSW economy has a chance of going into recession"? 

It was not a media POLL that alerted us to the alarming finance figures, oh yes I forgot, you don't read the venal media.

The crimes of the Howard government.

Let’s have a reality check.

Howard's "New Order" was created by the US 9/11 disaster - no matter who knew about it or who perpetrated it.

The evidence points to the competitive multi "intelligence" agencies of the US knowing about the "culprits" and their intentions of causing as much harm as possible with aircraft. Why was nothing done?

Nevertheless, the "terrorist" attack on the "bastion of liberty and freedom" had the effect of completely changing the entire world and its perception of the value of diplomacy. Can you imagine the effect on the stock markets if the Bush Administration was found to be guilty of gross negligence in that catastrophe?

Money - money is all.

For whatever it is worth, the US and, of course, Australia, have provoked as many countries of the Muslim faith as they can, using the Hitler style of "hatred will unite" against the "enemies of democracy". And yet, the good friends of the Bush regime are the very nationals who are alleged to have committed the crime: Saudi Arabians. And Muslims.

No rhyme - no reason.

The attack on the WTO by ex-Marine McPhee was dealt with, quite properly, as a major crime. And the much advertised American justice system worked and punishment was administered in accordance with the laws.

Yet, the effect of the WTO Towers act of bastardry has caused (or given cause for) some world governments to remove from their people the democracy they are claiming to defend. And while some contributors to this forum are apologists for Howard's suppression of dissent, they nevertheless use this oasis of free discourse to defend his removal of the very freedom they exploit. Fair dinkum.

It seems to me that, perhaps, the unpleasant facts of globalisation are being hidden by an orchestrated enormous upheaval of world peace. And while terrorism is now a saleable political excuse for the removal of freedom and liberty, we in Australia, have to depend on a mainly foreign business media for information.

While being given only world opinions which are sanitized to avoid any contrary information to the anti-globalisation goal of the Big 8, our government is continuously abdicating their duty of care.

"They hate us for our values". Would that apply equally to the Muslim countries as it does to the US?

It is a mad, mad world which is controlled by the powers that be.

Paul Keating recently suggested that, if we continue to give total freedom from responsibility and deregulation to the media, they will control the outcome of all democratic plebiscites. I believe we are already there.

If I had the freedom of expression under the Howard sedition laws as I understand them - his government's continued oppression could cause much more than the demonstrations of good people, and I would advise against this.

Howard has made ASIO aggressive and not protective; the respect for the Federal Police is at an all time low due to their behaviour.

The secrecy of how much our privacy has been removed is excused by the US sponsored paranoia of "terrorism".

I weep for my country.

The "New Order" Liberals and their scams.

I wrote an article in WB entitled "Changing all Portfolios - what is the comparison?" 

In it I quoted a SMH Article by Adele Horin dated 12 July 2003.  It was called  "When Lawyers abandon justice for Howard". The Author of that piece noted:

"Of all people, you would expect lawyers to be outraged by the treatment of David Hicks and the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  Of John Howard's 17 member cabinet, 10 are lawyers.  Of his 30 member front bench, 18 are lawyers."  End of quote.

That was 3 December 2006.

Bush's "Man of Steel" employs an enormous "think tank" of Howardists, at taxpayer expense, to be prepared in approaching elections to eliminate any "baggage" which could possibly expose him.

Then on 6 December 2006, The Age printed an article called: "Hicks turns up heat on PM."  This tells of Lawyers (not Howard types) that will lodge documents in the  Federal Court today seeking an order forcing the Howard Government to protect his rights as an Australian citizen by bringing him home.

The well-oiled "New Order" Liberal "think tank" responds in its normal false manner by having the SMH print an article entitled "Bring Hicks home, say Liberal MPs".  This was also printed 6 December.

What a coincidence, especially since it is the essentially "the same old Liberal backbenchers" pulling the "same old" scam of - "we can have an effect on Howard's decisions".  Fair dinkum.

This young Australian has been in the Guantanamo Bay torture prison for 5 years.  Where were these hypocrites during that time?

Hicks was faced with a Military Court which "The Man of Steel", Ruddock and Downer supported as fair and appropriate.  The U.S. Supreme Court however, ruled it illegal. Where was Petro Georgiou then?

Bush invented another style of Military Court which Major Mori, the American lawyer defending Hicks claimed, was also illegal. "Ploppy pants", Ruddock and Downer repeated that they wanted him tried.  Where was "lawyer" Dana Vale then.

Now Howard wants "baggage" like David Hicks OFF the radar - so his always available sycophants act out a performance of "free thinking" - in Howard's "New Order" - not bloody likely.

In the elections of 2001 (Tampa, Babies overboard), 2004 (Senior U.S. Rupublican Government members interfere for Howard) "ploppy pants" promised the world and - took away our rights and freedoms.  He claimed that he had a mandate for all matters which MAY have been muted during his term of Office.  Fair dinkum.

Now we are in for another several months of Howard commenting on everything from jam tasting to the NASA' Moon trip (which he will probably claim was his idea).

I have always believed that the spiteful little schoolboy is predictable.

For one - he cannot stand being opposed in any genuine manner - only when a scam is on.  He cannot debate, he has lost every debate to Labor Leaders since he became Prime Minister in 1996.  He MUST have everything his way like the Speaker in Parliament.  Like Costello withdrawing from the Liberal Leadership challenge in 1995 - elected unopposed.

His recent scam of a challenge from "Chicken livered" Costello when he knew the comparison with that clown could only suit him.

But I believe this.  IF the going gets tough and there is the slightest chance that he could lose the next election - he will retire - just like his idol Menzies did in 1966 when Vietnam was becoming a disaster.

He will be controlled by the Corporations and their perception of his chances.  I believe that THE AUSTRALIAN and the DAILY TELEGRAPH, Howard's favourites, will also give an inkling of his intentions up to or around July 2007.

It will either be a snap election then or Howard will chicken out.

NE OUBLIE.

 Ernest

Ernest William, "He cannot debate, he has lost every debate to Labor Leaders since he became Prime Minister in 1996". That's true but he has won all the elections, which Labor could not do. Have you ever wondered why this is so?

It could be because Labor did not have policies that the people would accept and that they keep changing their leader every time things get tough.

You watch when Harry Potter picks his frontbench this week and there will be a few unhappy members who did not get the positions they wanted. The knives will be out again. After all, if you have "forks in the road" you might as well have knives to go with the forks.

Media "Terrorists"

Parkin would have, Marek, made a better guinea pig with a certain bit of foreknowledge.  If it wasn't for that pesky US rag uncovering  ASIO's "secret intelligence" at its source, the Pentagon, credibility may have been maintainable at a pinch.  However, with the details of the Pentagon file now disseminated across the US, ASIO's "cover has been blown."  Now Parkin is a guinea pig whose well-being is being monitored internationally.

The case that Robyn (hello!) brings up is disturbingly similar  He and Parkin have one major thing in common.  It's not what they've done, but the fact that they are known media activitists with an ability to use mass media in a manner  that the powers that be (to borrow from Ernest) would consider to be "against the national interest"    That's what sets such people apart from others, and why they are preferably kept outside of the country.


Unquestionable?

Unquestionable? Yes, it would seem subjects of ASIO decisions are not entitled to know the basis of those decisions, and our parliamentary representatives are not entitled to answers either

 

Natasha Stott-Despoja asked a question without notice on our behalf in parliament yesterday regarding ASIO's prevention of the entry into Australia of Ruhal Ahmed. Ahmed is one of the subjects and narrators of the film The Road to Guantanamo, and was told he has been assessed "to be directly of indirectly a risk to security". His experience of 2 years detention in Guantanamo Bay after being captured by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan is portrayed in the film. He was released without charge in 2004 and repatriated to the UK, and recently many other countries have seen fit to grant him entry to promote the film.

 

In reply to Senator Stott-Despoja’s question, Senator Ellison told her it would be  inappropriate to comment on the confidential details of specific cases, but provided no assurances that Mr Ahmed would be told why he is considered a security risk.

 

I have not seen the film and have no idea what Ahmed was doing in Afghanistan, but if I am to have faith in our security forces and the laws which govern them, I need to know that there are systems in place which ensure that the liberties of innocent individuals are not constrained without cause. Since Ahmed was not charged by authorities in the US or the UK, it would seem likely that he and his friends were inadvertently caught up by hasty decisions made in the turmoil of war. I can accept that mistakes are made. What I cannot accept are systems that prevent the correction of such mistakes.

 

Getting to know some people who have dealt with DIMA, I have witnessed how powerfully the mistakes of public servants can affect lives, and of course some of DIMA’s mistakes did make it to the centre of the public radar so that “cultural reform” was initiated within the department. I doubt that ASIO officers are less fallible than DIMA’s, but I can see no checks and balances in place which ensure that justice can be done if ASIO has erred initially. There is a complaint system but how does one complain if one can’t know what it is one is accused of.  How are we to know that the culture within ASIO is not worse than DIMA’s if not even our parliamentary representatives are entitled to answers? And the big unanswered question - just how dissident does one have to be before one is detained?

 

Litmus Test

Richard Tonkin;

If ASIO wins they will be Unquestionable.

And perhaps this sheds some light on what's going on here. I can't help but think that this whole affair is a test run with the goal of seeing how far ASIO can go with their new security laws. As a low level threat and non-citizen, Scott Parkin was the perfect guinea pig.

Even laws need to be tested to see if they work.

International focal point

For those who missed the Newsweek article, here's a little bit.

A Defense document shows that Army analysts wrote a report on the Halliburton protest and stored it in CIFA's database. It's not clear why the Pentagon considered the protest worthy of attention—although organizer Parkin had previously been arrested while demonstrating at ExxonMobil headquarters (the charges were dropped).

But there are now questions about whether CIFA exceeded its authority and conducted unauthorized spying on innocent people and organizations.

A Pentagon memo obtained by NEWSWEEK shows that the deputy Defense secretary now
acknowledges that some TALON reports may have contained information on U.S. citizens and groups that never should have been retained. The number of reports with names of U.S. persons could be in the thousands,
says a senior Pentagon official who asked not be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The Australian deportation was already an important issue in one country when the US story was printed.  Parkin is now at the centre of civil liberties violations in two countries.   The files collected on him in the US could well turn out to have been illegally gathered, but if ASIO knows this fact  it will be trying to suppress it.   Using illegal documents from one country to deport someone from another is something they also won't be keen on publicising.  Hence the importance of the appeal decision.   If ASIO wins they will be Unquestionable.

 
 

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