The FBX Blog: The Unfolding Story
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There is no hard and firm definition of what makes someone a ‘dissident’ in the US, no red line one crosses from being a regular citizen to becoming a political target of the state. But once that line is crossed, one is sanctioned, kneecapped, the silent, democratic way, in secret, isolated and cast aside socially and economically as effectively as if renditioned to a remote halfway house enroute to a gulag archipelago somewhere in Siberia.
Dissidents on Wall Street
In my case, I found where the line is drawn after publication of a work report on the US mining company Freeport McMoran Grasberg mine killings. I thought the report could possibly meet with professional rebuke from within the corporate hierarchy and a chance I would lose my job if the world were truly corrupt. But as a gross understatement, the actual response it drew was considerably more vicious. I had not envisaged the full-on onslaught the US and their allied foreign intelligence agencies were inclined to launch. They would attempt to take control of my life, isolate me and diminish my hopes, happiness, and “place in the world” across all aspects of my life.
At the time, I was a young mining analyst, with a recent Wharton MBA working in the NY equity research division of SG Warburg (now part of UBS). One of my research reports (published 12 March 1996; click) had raised the issue of NYSE listed mining company Freeport McMoran, which was under investigation by the US Department of State following widely reported eyewitness allegations it was involved in the killing of indigenous protestors at its massive, remote Grasberg gold and copper mine in West Papua, Indonesia. The project has had a long history of killings, and the brutality seemed to be spiralling out of control with seven indigenous protestors shot and killed in a short period around Christmas Day 1994. Some of the protestors were reportedly killed at point blank range, inside steel shipping containers on Freeport property. For a sensitive topic it received unusually wide publicity and the US State Department had taken the unusual step of launching a formal investigation.
West Papua has been plagued with security challenges since Indonesia took control in 1969 and large scale open pit mining commenced in the Grasberg region in 1972. From the 1990’s, on the back of expansions at the Grasberg mine and subsequently huge increases in the price of commodities, in particular gold and copper – the mine’s major outputs, Freeport generated inordinate wealth and became the largest tax payer in Indonesia.
Security at the mine has always been an issue for a number of reasons, not least of which was the injustice of the brutal Indonesian military led annexation of the territory with support from the US prior to Freeport commencing mining operations there; and also the ongoing subjugation and abuse of the traditional Melanesian inhabitants, many of whom were indigenous tribespeople displaced by the mine where there remains unrequited landright claims.
In 2003 Freeport publicly acknowledged it directly paid Indonesian military and police units and officials. In 2005, the New York Times reported that the company had paid US20 million dollars between 1998 and 2004 for these services including paying one individual US150,000 dollars. The size of the payments Freeport makes to the Indonesian military and police appear to have increased significantly over time: the company’s SEC filings, for example, indicate spending on internal civilian security in 2011 was US37 million dollars plus an additional US14 million dollars paid directly to the Indonesian government and military – a total of US51 million dollars spent in relation to Grasberg – just in 2011.
Allegations of Freeport corruption are in regard to possible breaches of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The New York City pension funds had raised the issue of the legality of direct payments to Indonesian officials with Freeport since at least 2002 when they requested the company disclose full details of all its payments to the military and police. The requests were rebuffed by Freeport.
Further, in 2011 the United Steelworkers (USW) sent a letter to the DOJ that the company be investigated following recent disclosures by the Indonesian police of receiving direct payments from Freeport: click.
Freeport says there is “no alternative to our reliance on the Indonesian military and police…” Indeed, Freeport CEO Jim-Bob Moffett reported security matters relating to the mine as the ‘new cold war’, and anthropologist Hugh Brody has called it the militarization of mining.
The 1994 Christmas Day massacre in which 7 people were killed, and which was widely reported in the world media, represented just a small portion of the 37 indigenous protesters reported killed in the vicinity of the mine in 1994 and 1995 alone. With the killings of 1994-95 attracting worldwide attention, Freeport’s public relations machine went into overdrive. It paid for extensive advertising, including full page ads in the New York Times, made an infomercial, threatened to sue journalists and academics covering the matter and withdraw a financial donation made by the company to endow a chair in environmental communications at Loyola University in New Orleans.
But what is little known and not reported is the role the FBI played during this time to lower the profile of Freeport’s controversial Grasberg operation and silence discussion in the US that included targeting Wall Street analysts.
The use of FBI power in this way is all the more disturbing given the agency’s dual role in helping to identify and interview eyewitnesses to the alleged Freeport human rights abuses on location in West Papua. Numerous eyewitnesses over a period of time have reported multiple human rights abuses by Freeport claiming the company’s security personnel were involved in beatings and killings of indigenous people, at times colluding with the Indonesian military: click. (Claims of Freeport’s security personnel involvement, however, have not been tested and substantiated in court).
However, Freeport’s problems weren’t limited to eyewitness allegations of company personnel being directly involved in human rights abuses, a notion ‘reinforced by overwhelming evidence’ provided in two independent human rights reports in 1995. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a US government agency that supports US investment offshore, in a letter dated 10 October 1995 cancelled its US$100 million political risk insurance to Freeport citing environmental degradation. In setting out its reasons for doing so, OPIC implied the company had misled both it and the market on its environmental record.
Indeed, it appeared Freeport was increasingly apprehensive about the prospects of a backlash and the potential for shareholders (some with very deep pockets) to launch a lawsuit against the company for misrepresentation of its activities in West Papua. The last thing, it seemed, the FBI and Freeport wanted was Wall Street analysts to factor these issues into their valuation models of the company and pass comment directly to fund managers around the world, despite commentary by the wider media within the US about problems at Freeport.
The research report I wrote dated 12 March 1996 followed media reports of further killings and strike activity at the Grasberg mine. Indeed, from Freeport’s point of view, things were spiralling out of control at and around the mine, and Jim Bob had been summoned, under pressure from President Suharto to settle the disquiet. He arrived at Freeport’s Timika airport on the 13th March 1996 amidst a military lockdown.
Below is a paragraph from the 12 March 1996 Wall Street report that triggered the FBI’s interest:
“Our view is that increased military presence poses potential for escalation of the violence in the mid term, heightening the political risk of Freeport’s investment in Irian Jaya. Ultimately, Freeport needs to deal with the civil aspects of this situation to allay investors concerns, and possibly also those of the US Department of State. The timing is unfortunate for Freeport as it coincides with the arbitration over whether $100 million in OPIC political risk insurance should be rescinded. The company has increasingly come under scrutiny following reported human rights abuses in the area of the mine and also concerns over its environmental record. The latter was cited by OPIC last November as the basis for withdrawing the $100 million in insurance.”
The report touched on the Grasberg killings and environmental concerns and indicated a civil rather than military solution was preferable in resolving labour disputes at Grasberg. In the scheme of things it was a relatively mild report, but the response of the authorities shows how extremely sensitive they were, and remain, to the issues raised.
The mere mention of Freeport in the context of human rights and environmental abuses raised the company’s profile with investors in a way that had potential to create a negative financial backlash against it. Indeed, over the years, substantial investment funds have dumped their holding in Freeport on ethical concerns about the company’s activities, including the large Government Pension Fund of Norway which received much publicity when it dumped and blacklisted the company’s shares in 2006. Other government funds to blacklist Freeport shares include New Zealand (2012) and Sweden (2013).
The FBI’s attacks on domestic political targets are intended to intimidate and shape key US institutional cultures. In a leaf taken from the mafia, the agency establishes its authority by maliciously attacking those who stray ‘outside’ its political boundaries and ensures the people it seeks to influence ‘witness’ or know of the attack in order to sow fear, subservience and self-censorship into key institutions and industries. It culls and pursues its targets where it calculates there is little risk of political ricochet, blowback that might result in unintended repercussions, and the corollary to that, potential political ramifications or criminal prosecution of the agency.
However, there are other potential ramifications to its actions. Targeting analysts’ opinions on Wall Street potentially distorts economic signals to the wider market, which includes investors, regulators and politicians. One wonders if the S&P and Moody credit rating agency analysts whose companies published reports prior to the GFC on the financial stability of the mortgage brokers had operated in a culture free of state interference and were at liberty to write what they thought without fear of reprisal, whether the devastation subsequently wreaked by the GFC on so many innocent people might have been averted or mitigated through earlier preventative action.
The confluence of titans
Grasberg is one of the largest, most profitable mines in the world and is expected to remain in operation beyond 2040 – at least another 30 years. Production in 2011 was 882 million pounds of copper and 1.4 million ounces of gold, contributing US5.4 billion dollars to Freeport’s revenues and US2.9 billion dollars to gross profit.
The advent of the internet brought new transparency and enabled news of the 1994-95 killings to be relayed to media outlets and NGOs around the world. The FBI and Freeport were nervous about blowback – particularly in NY, where the financial community played a key role in the financing of Freeport’s activities. But it was impossible for corporate PR and the FBI to entirely stop the backlash against Freeport. Indeed, large investment funds have their own extensive research teams staffed with lawyers, sector analysts, and compliance officers, and their budgets extend to commissioning leading external technical experts to provide detailed opinions on any issue under consideration.
When the Government Pension Fund of Norway dumped their holdings in Freeport on ethical concerns, it did so following a thorough analysis of the impact of riverine tailings disposal at Grasberg on the environment and health and safety of local communities (report). From their point of view, this was the most accessible issue to get data on, and while not the only concern they had about Freeport, it was sufficient to come to a decision. With US240 billion dollars under management it is the highest profile fund to blacklist the company.
Indeed critics rightfully claim that lending agencies, and institutions such as Australian commercial banks Westpac and ANZ which were part of the syndicate of banks that financed Freeport’s mining activities in West Papua in the 1990s, should demand environmental and social accountability from their clients and in turn provide accountability and transparency to their own shareholders about such investments. Without such demands, these banks and others that lend money to finance Freeport’s Grasberg mine appear to have accepted the corrupt business practices that prevailed under Suharto and subsequent governments.
It has been my experience that certain institutions involved with the financing of Freeport, at least senior people employed by those institutions, viz Westpac and ANZ, and also Warburg for example, in the wake of my new found notoriety as a target of the FBI and ASIO, had aligned with the intelligence agencies and interfered with my new job search, and career.
My experience on this issue with ANZ and Westpac, as well as other banks, serves as a reminder, and another example, of the close link between bank employees and intelligence agencies and the manner in which they work co-operatively with each other.
Meeting with the FBI and Freeport
In response to the analyst report, the FBI’s threat came promptly – delivered by their man who had been sitting among the analysts in Freeport’s New Orleans’ boardroom where CEO James (Jim Bob) Moffett had just conducted the annual analyst briefing and Q&A. It was May 1996, and my report had been published two months before. The FBI’s man came up to me and threatened me in an icy tone that left no uncertainty as to its ill intent. He was around my age (early 30s) and dressed in a business suit. He had stood beside me as I spoke briefly with the CEO after the meeting and in which I had asked a question about the investigation into the killings.
As I started to move away from the CEO and out of the boardroom alcove, the FBI’s man moved with me. Emerging from my shadow, he stepped squarely into my space and without introducing himself said directly, using my first name, “…I respect you for asking that question but you might wish you hadn’t,” referring to my question to the CEO during the briefing.
I replied “So what, what do I care? What can they do to me?”
He said “You might not want to find out”. I held his gaze for a moment and then moved away. It was a threat in no uncertain terms. More accurately, it was a disclosure, that like tarantulas walking over one in their sleep, the FBI, the supposed protector of democratic freedoms in the US, had emerged from its dark cover and was now on the prowl.
In 1996, the Grasberg killings two years earlier had seemed like a distant memory and of no apparent connection to my life in NY. Nor did it seem of particular relevance for my girlfriend. But we were innocent and naïve! It was payback. The FBI honed in and targeted my various personal relationships – work, social and family – looking for dirt on me, but also in an attempt to undermine my career, undermine my support network and isolate me. From the outset, they focused their attack on my relationship with Susan, my long term girlfriend.
Susan graduated from Dartmouth in the mid 80s with a liberal arts degree and was now a professional environmental advocate living in NYC. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club. Complicating matters, she was an undercover FBI agent and had been for around 6 years, since she was 27. She discussed her work with me on occasion and at the time she was involved with pursuing environmental outlaws on the east side of the US.
Threats and interference from the FBI
My report had been well received by investors, but evidently, not so well received by the CIA, the DOJ (Department of Justice) and the FBI where it apparently was a matter of grave embarrassment. Since its publication and Freeport’s analyst briefing, I have faced strange and unpredictable headwinds. Over time, I learned this was the FBI playing the heavy hand of what can most accurately be called ‘police state’ payback, with vast numbers of undercover agents in the hundreds of thousands, each earning a pittance, employed in numbers that greatly exceed the agent head count disclosed on the FBI website, using tactics more commonly associated with the former Stasi of East Germany or the KGB of Russia, or indeed, the Grand Inquisitors of the Middle Ages identifying and ridding the world of heretics. These headwinds affected my career, my relationships and ultimately forced me to leave the US.
The FBI’s dark arts were turned against me for reasons that have nothing to do with protecting democracy, freedom or justice, and everything to do with bending American law to the will of power and money.
Throughout their reprisal attack on me, they have colluded with and liaised closely with their counterparts in the Australian intelligence agency ASIO (I am a dual American/Australian citizen). And there is no recourse, no protection against them. Their activities are officially hidden, protected by state secrecy laws and an oversight culture in the US (and Australia) that looks the other way.
The intelligence agencies in the West, like their kin in parts of the world with more notorious reputations, use their powers ‘strategically’ – for institutional enhancement or to embellish individual career paths, but not necessarily to protect and advance American (and Western) values of the masses which expect justice, truth and equality. These values have now been surrendered to political expediency, replaced with the sophistry of the new elite: realpolitik – where policy choices are made on the basis of how far into the future the decision maker’s calculus can forecast benefits accruing to their self interest.
At the time the FBI and ASIO campaign commenced I was young, 33 years old, new to Wall Street, a relatively unknown analyst with limited influence. I had no connections into the political world that could be called upon to pull strings and haul the FBI into line on this issue. The FBI seeks targets where it calculates there is little risk of political ricochet, blowback that might result in unintended repercussions for the agency, such as increased scrutiny and accountability of its activities – and the corollary to that, criminal prosecution.
While my Freeport McMoran research report and questions obviously hit a sensitive chord with certain powerful people, one of the key factors in the agency choosing to target me seems to have been my ‘new boy on the block’ status with lack of political connections to hit back and cause them problems. I was an easy target.
In the FBI’s calculation, it is a one sided fight – the FBI builds its influence and power, like a schoolboy bully – attempting to crush someone in full view of select analysts, bankers, journalists and those who shape institutional and corporate cultures; they send a message that to speak out in this democracy against vested financial and political interests will result in ‘unregulated’ retribution. In the FBI’s calculus, there was virtually nothing I could do about their attacks, though this changed with the advent of social media, the power of which the FBI did not foresee.
FBI targets my girlfriend
The FBI did not initially tell Susan they were targeting me. They kept the details quiet from her and obviously from me. In fairytales true love prevails, but in real life love has cracks and relationships have periods of respite – cracks which the FBI helped to engineer in my relationship with Susan, then ruthlessly exploited.
Once the FBI had helped facilitate the split between Susan and me in late 1997, through tactics we later learned included the deletion of phone messages to each other, had me distracted and her miffed, they gave her access to the FBI file they had been building on me since March 1996, the date of the offending Freeport report. Mischievously, they told her I was the subject of a criminal investigation in relation to my work; but this was a false justification for the file, it was an outright lie, and the ‘investigation’ in fact political payback. However, the FBI got the result it intended, the three year relationship between Susan and me was damaged and never recovered. But their payback was just beginning.
Many years later Susan told me I could not imagine how surprised she was at the moment she saw my name on the FBI files. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing…but she did believe it! That she was one of ‘their own’, an undercover FBI agent, only made it easier for them to betray her. She was young, inexperienced and foolishly did not doubt the integrity of the FBI! She accepted their word and their files as legitimate, took them at face value because she was in the habit of trusting and being obedient to them.
Her response at the time she was given the files, however, paled in comparison to how she reacted when she found out later that they were part of an FBI setup – a hatchet job. She said she had been physically sick and vomited.
I learned the truth about the FBI’s involvement in this revenge attack from Dr Steven D. Garber (White Plains, NY; formerly NYC – see details below), one of Susan’s colleagues and a ranking officer at the FBI who had apparently managed the operation for the FBI. In 2004, on one of my return trips to NY, he told me all during a long walk in Central Park. He had been closely involved in managing the payback for the FBI and his intention in telling me was malicious, like twisting the knife in a stabbing victim: to rattle and perturb my psyche.
The FBI’s timing in its disclosure was deliberately chosen, once Susan was married and pregnant with her first child, for maximum impact and to ensure there was no way back for our relationship, just in case any ember remained that could re-ignite the fire that once burned.
Steve’s disclosure to me was in the days before mass social media networking and the FBI assumed this story would never be heard.
The hollowing out of FBI oversight
My various efforts to have the agencies held to account have failed. Attempts to do so in the US include:
- Letters to the FBI’s and DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General – the offices responsible for FBI oversight. My allegations and complaints have been rebuffed with deceitful and disingenuous responses.
- I have approached my New York federal elected representatives Senator Schumer and Congressman Nadler – but on both fronts I have been stonewalled. Any effort made by my representatives to engage the agencies on my behalf was rebuffed, again with deceitful and disingenuous responses from the agencies, and subsequently my matter was then dropped by my elected representative. Further, it appears the FBI has co-opted a staff member within Congressman Nadler’s office.
- My representations to the two Judiciary Committees have been rebuffed. In the case of the House Judiciary Committee, preliminary interview records and case files in relation to my allegations and complaint have disappeared. Again, it appears that the FBI has insiders positioned within the oversight agencies to circumvent the complaints process and undermine accountability.
My Sydney Member of Parliament, Tanya Plibersek raised my concerns about abusive ASIO surveillance and interference in a speech to the Australian Parliament in 2007. A transcript is available in Hansard (28 March 2007); click to read. She pointed out the injustice of Australian law, whereby Australian citizens have no rights to receive official confirmation of ASIO allegations against themselves and therefore no opportunity to respond to them. Neither ASIO nor the Government responded to the concerns she had raised which remain unanswered to this day.
My Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon also raised the matter in 2012, this time in Senate Questions on Notice (SQON) directed to the Australian Prime Minister and the Attorney General but which produced the typical blow-off answers here and here. At least one of Senator Rhiannon’s staffers I dealt with is an ASIO operative. A letter I sent to the Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security apparently raised heads but resulted in no action: Letter to PJCIS.
Oversight of the FBI’s activities in the US is a rigged game (likewise with ASIO in Australia). The oversight agencies are a tease; a public deception. They blatantly deceive and shamelessly lie, protected from higher standards by a cloak of secrecy that shrouds their self defined ‘national security’ activities. Statutory authorities and their ‘team’ bound bureaucrats are neither sufficiently independent nor culturally free to act impartially. Furthermore, the intelligence agencies are able to recruit, or position their agents within the various oversight groups and undermine their independence. It is my experience that intelligence agency accountability has been thoroughly undermined, completely hollowed out, like termites with an insatiable appetite, the agencies have invisibly hollowed out the grand old structures for accountability that our democracy depends on.
Following revelations of the NSA leaks by Ed Snowden that started June 2013, The Guardian describes the shocking implication of the oversight committees’ lack of efficacy, and most disturbing, the committee members admitted they didn’t have a clue what the intelligence agencies were actually up to:
“In our system, parliament is meant to be sovereign. Yet here, in GCHQ [depending on your country substitute NSA, FBI, ASIO], is a state agency operating apparently beyond the reach of parliament, extending its remit without the permission or even the knowledge of MPs. Of all the revelations of the last few months, among the most shocking was Chris Huhne’s admission that he had had no idea what GCHQ was up to – even though he was a cabinet minister with a seat on the national security council. MPs need to put aside the issue of the Guardian, which merely switched on a light in a darkened room, and realise that all this is an affront to parliament.”
In Australia, Ian Barker QC, a leading lawyer, wrote of the lack of ASIO accountability:
“Any defence lawyer having anything to do with a case involving ASIO will know that its agents habitually act outside their powers and routinely abuse them, always in secret. It is rare indeed for their conduct to be exposed.”
The sole potential domain for justice, if there is any at all in such matters, in holding US (and Australian) intelligence agencies to account, appears to be the courts. As yet, this is not something I’ve tested, though some of my lawyers in Australia have been interfered with leading me to have early doubts about the system’s integrity.
ASIO interference with lawyers in Australia
I was most surprised by ASIO’s brazen interference with my solicitors and barristers in Australia. Lawyers I retained to advise me on ASIO related matters at various times revealed they were in possession of private details about me, and they tried to influence my instructions or discourage me in ways that benefited ASIO.
Between 2005 and 2012, three lawyers in Australia I had retained at various times collaborated with, and were conflicted by ASIO while they were assisting me on ASIO related matters. Two of the three used the tactic stated below.
Frequently, their tactic was to delay, waiting till the last minute to show me a draft for review of their submission to the courts. Invariably, the draft was full of errors, riddled with them – factual, grammatical, spelling, multiple repeats of paragraphs – it was a mess, and many pages of it. It was a long way from suitable for submission. At the same time the lawyer would express doubt about continuing to represent the matter and indicated they were inclined to pull out.
In each case I complained to IGIS – the Australian Inspector General of Intelligence and Security who has considerable statutory investigative powers and is meant to oversight, investigate and restrain ASIO. But IGIS has never investigated any of my complaints. Both Ian Carnell and his successor, Vivian Thom have stonewalled and provided no information – have looked into none of the illegal activities I reported despite having vast powers to do so. It is now my view that IGIS is culturally incapable of serving public justice. Its statutory existence seems only to serve as a public decoy, giving the public false confidence that justice occurs, but in reality it is a barrier which helps protect the intelligence agencies from justice and accountability.
Around 2008/09, I retained the services of a Sydney based barrister with a specialisation in human rights. After briefing him, he told me that he found all aspects of the background details provided to him credible. He said he believed it plausible that Freeport was directly involved in the killings in Indonesia, as per the eyewitness testimony, though not proven, and hence the sensitivity of the issue, and the possibly that the FBI or CIA were directly involved in, or had prior knowledge of the killings; that the FBI was involved in harassing me as a deterrent to others and as an effort to lower the profile of the matter; and that the FBI’s files about me collected over years in the US found their way to intelligence agencies in Australia. He accepted all this as possible and plausible. But perversely, and disingenuously, he said he wouldn’t accept that ASIO was in some way involved.
Once things started to heat up, he rejected all the evidence in relation to ASIO, without providing any reason, even though he accepted similar evidence pointing to the FBI’s involvement in the US. Despite the evidence in Australia, he had advised me over a 12 month period and knew it well. His excuse for not representing me further was that he did not accept ASIO would get involved in a matter that was ostensibly American. He made no case for denying their involvement, but he declined to do further work for me. It seemed blatantly clear he had been influenced by direct contact with ASIO and had decided not to assist me for nefarious reasons.
I sent a complaint letter about my lawyers and ASIO interference to the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) – the Australian watchdog that is meant to constrain ASIO. He wrote back, not denying the relationship, but said only that there had been no ‘inappropriate’ contact identified between them. IGIS evidently in its independent assessment did not consider it inappropriate that ASIO would target a lawyer retained by me to advise on ASIO related abuses and then enter into secret discussions with them on ‘national security’ grounds. It is hard not to conclude that, at best, IGIS’s sense of justice contains a high degree of cultural bias.
In Australia, the definition of “national security” is determined by ministerial discretion, a flexible, moving definition, giving rise to a situation that undermines the rule of law and leads to injustices: It encourages the intelligence agencies to act illegally, unethically and outside their mandate in the comfort that the Minister will defend their misconduct.
Aside from legal and political barriers to justice, there are also cultural issues. One Australian lawyer said outright in refusing to represent me having seen my briefing documents – “We won’t represent you. This is a business first of all and defending your matter will harm our business due to the nature of the adversary”. He said his senior partners would not fight against another law firm as this would be bad for business – in their view threatening referral work and may be damaging to their reputation in a culture that protects its own. Let alone would they consider an action that involved ASIO!
There seemed to be injustice at every level of government I dealt with.
Intelligence agency efforts to undermine the rule of law now seems to be getting attention, at least in the U.K. following the disclosures by Ed Snowden of the NSA’s capabilities and mass intrusions globally. Aware that information secretly gathered by the NSA is flowing back to allied governments, the U.K. Law Society is looking to take measures to protect the rights of individuals who are suing state security agencies:
“Lawyers representing people who make serious complaints against the police, army or security services fear the industrial-scale collection of email and phone messages revealed by the Guardian over the past four months is threatening the confidential relationship between them and their clients, jeopardising a crucial plank of the criminal justice system.
“These are absolutely fundamental issues,” said Shamik Dutta, from Bhatt Murphy lawyers in London. “The NSA revelations are having a chilling effect on the way a crucial part of the justice system operates….He said mass state surveillance had combined with the introduction of closed material proceedings in claims against the state and cuts to legal aid to drastically weaken citizens’ abilities to hold the authorities to account.”
Indeed, it is not only lawyers that our intelligence agencies appear to be interfering with but parliamentarians and the parliamentary process itself. One high profile, courageous and up-and-coming Member of Parliament, Ross Cameron, Liberal MP for Parramatta broke ranks with the governing Liberal Coalition under Prime Minister John Howard and, guided by his conscience and electorate, spoke out against the Iraq War in 2003. In Cameron’s case he found out how ASIO operates without ever realising the agency had targeted him in retribution for his outspoken opposition to the Howard government’s push to war in Iraq.
This post on Ross Cameron is included on Mininganalyst as it vividly demonstrates the overreach, hidden role and abusive power of domestic intelligence agency activity in Australia. ASIO hatchet job on Ross Cameron
The Wikileaks Party’s election prospects in the September 2013 federal election also seems to have drawn ASIO’s attention and interference. Sydney based party candidate and academic Alison Broinowski found herself fending off ardent attacks from unlikely and unexpected aggressors such as Sydney University Professor John Keane (Director, Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at Sydney University) who at other times was an ardent supporter of Wikileaks in what is reminiscent of a classic undercover ASIO attack on the political prospects of an unfavoured political party. click
The European scourge
The European scourge of the 20th century is making its way to the US in the 21st century: unlimited power of national intelligence agencies. Further to the inability to hold the agencies to account, counter threats have been made to me to desist. Threats include those of personal harm; negative media delivered by agency aligned/paid journalists; damaging my business; jailed for treason for naming government agents that have been involved in this abuse; and the most bizarre and sick warning of all – the threat posed by government agencies that have the power to mobilise and break up or destabilise families, that they can fabricate reasons to remove children from their parents – something Susan said was considered a fair tactic by the FBI – specially reserved for ‘dissidents’ who the agency believes are deserving of such treatment. Susan was not joking; she was deadly serious.
The FBI (and ASIO) has thrown nets over all my communications, identifying and targeting friends, associates and colleagues. They have approached old friends and current, and in cases succeeded in recruiting them. Over the course of my life, I have had many hundreds of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Several dozen of these I am now aware of have been approached, and in cases interfered with and recruited. In addition to people I already knew, others have made themselves known to me, in cases befriending me, only later to reveal their involvement with an intelligence agency.
One of the more intrusive things the FBI did was to plant an agent in my New York apartment where the person had access to all my stuff. Unbeknownst to me at the time, after I advertised for a sublet tenant, one of their agents applied – he was the only one of two applicants to come by for an inspection. The agent, Michael Mills, occupied the apartment at 170 West 74th Street (Upper West Side) for a number of years after I departed New York and returned to Australia.
All up, I have had a dozen or two agents, or informants, collaborators, etc make themselves known to me, in each of the US and Australia, as part of the ongoing harassment and interference I have experienced since publishing the note on Freeport in 1996. The names of these agents, wedged between the government, the constitution and the people, are gradually being disclosed below in successive updates of this note.
Not much has changed in the intervening years since 1996. The killing of indigenous people continues in West Papua, Freeport McMoran’s operations have at least another 30 years life there beyond 2040, and I will remain on the FBI target list, it seems forever.
America is full of good people, it is a great country. Its leaders, if allowed to govern with the support of strong democratic institutions to ensure accountability to the wider electorate, to good people, will take America, and the world, to a better place.
The plight of indigenous people caught in military conflict zones, with domestic and foreign backers funding armed violence to secure resources, deserves much greater public attention: West Papua, Nigeria, DRC and elsewhere. It is moral bankruptcy for the world’s most powerful to target indigenous people for their resources on account they are easy military targets; no match for the US or other industrialised societies and their modern weaponry. Killing men, women, and children of all ages, as if they were legitimate military targets; indiscriminate killing of people who have no means of defending themselves is a war crime. Indeed, international mining major Rio Tinto is accused of helping the government forces during the Bougainville war in PNG, by lending the military trucks, accommodation, secretarial services, communications equipment and other material support, and has been named in a US class action law suit for complicity in atrocities and war crimes. The allegations are denied by Rio. At the time of writing in 2013, the court action was ongoing.
Further details to come
This story starts with what the US (and Australian) intelligence agencies did to my girlfriend and me while we were living and working in New York, set against the background of the killings of indigenous protestors at the Freeport McMoran Grasberg mine in West Papua, Indonesia and subsequent human rights investigations.
The details are set out below [details to be posted].
Postscript [Updated 27 March 2014]
I have sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the FBI on a number of occasions, most recently in 2014. The FBI has lied to me and my attorney in its processing of my request to release files it holds about me, and in cases it has taken them over 12 months to respond. It denies it has done anything untoward, denies any of its agents are involved despite my providing them with names and details. I have no doubt of their involvement following agent’s disclosures to me, and have no doubt that the cause of their interest is in protecting the public image and financial market credibility of Freeport McMoran. Further, the FBI sent the following tersely worded statement following a complaint I sent to the Department of Justice, which they forwarded to the FBI: “[the FBI] has determined that your complaint does not warrant the initiation of an investigation. We consider this matter closed”.
I have sought to work through the official channels for accountability and truth from the FBI, only to be thwarted at every turn. The FOIA and intelligence agency oversight system in the US (and Australia) is thoroughly broken, a sentiment shared by all attorneys I have spoken to who have experience dealing with these agencies. As a result, I am disclosing details of my case publicly, including the names of FBI agents and collaborators.
Aside from the above, other undercover FBI agents and collaborators self-disclosed include:
- Michael Mills: the FBI agent who moved into my apartment in NYC and occupied it for several years when I sublet it before my return to Australia.
- Kathleen Walton: former mining analyst at Merrill Lynch in NYC.
- Matthew Levey – Kroll Associates, Inc (New York City midtown office): consulting work case manager 2003 and 2004. Former State Department employee.
- Jeffrey S Robards: corporate finance, formerly Ernst & Young (E&Y) NYC. Now working for C.W. Downer & Co – a boutique M&A firm in Boston.
- Stephan Chenault and John Klotz: volunteers Sierra Club NYC Group since 1990s.
- Ben Worden, Rob Haggerty and Allison Dey (Tucson area): FBI agents involved with Diamond Mountain Buddhist group in southern Arizona and California.
- George Schneider and Livingston Sutro (Sierra Vista, AZ); Jennifer Conner (NYC): Associated with Diamond Mountain Buddhist group in southern Arizona.
- Paul Whitby (Tucson): biologist.
- Robert Schultz – Albuquerque based head hunter. MRC Mining Search.
- Steven D. Garber – (wife Andrea – collaborator) additional details: biologist; lived in Manhattan for much of the 1990s, before taking a two year posting to teach biology at Embry Riddle in Prescott, AZ. Books authored include The Urban Naturalist (New York. John Wiley and Sons. 1987). PhD in Ecology, Environmental Sciences – Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Newark. B.S. in Natural Resources – Cornell University.
ASIO agents, informers and collaborators self-disclosed include:
(to be disclosed)
[The names of 9 ASIO operatives were disclosed June 2013 to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, several journalists at the Sydney Morning Herald, a number of politicians, and the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security – around 12 in total. This led to ASIO retaliation and further threats to destroy my family and business. As one well placed politician told me, “there is not really anywhere to turn: the police are in on it, they’re all part of it; you can’t rely on them.”]
The above memoirs are based on the author’s records and recollection of the events depicted. The author has taken all reasonable steps to verify his recollection against contemporaneous records. It is, however, possible that he has misremembered or misinterpreted some events. Dialogue may be paraphrasing of actual conversation. The author would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers matters differently with a view to correcting any errors or omissions. The author has asserted his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This material is being released as work in progress in draft form that will be updated and extended over the coming year.
Copyright 2014 by Mininganalyst. All rights reserved.
 Jane Perlez and Raymond Bonner, 28 January 2006 New York Urges U.S. Inquiry in Mining Company’s Indonesia Payment, The New York Times
 Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global, Recommendation of 15 February 2006. http://www.regjeringen.no/pages/1956975/F%20Recommendation%20Final.pdf
 Jonathan Freedland, 19 October 2013, The GCHQ scandal is not about the Guardian. It is an insult to parliament, The Guardian.
 Matthew Taylor and Nick Hopkins, 14 October 2013, GCHQ mass surveillance putting right to challenge state at risk, say lawyers, The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/oct/13/gchq-surveillance-right-challenge-state-law