The FBI (and ASIO) stole my girlfriend

The FBX Blog: The Unfolding Story

 

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Overview

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.[1]

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).[2] 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”[3]

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.”[4]

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.

Conclusion

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.

(http://www.cwdowner.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=42&Itemid=23)

  • 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.

http://www.miningsearch.com/mining-search/our-team/

  • 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.

[1] Jane Perlez and Raymond Bonner, 28 January 2006 New York Urges U.S. Inquiry in Mining Company’s Indonesia Payment, The New York Times

[2] 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

[3] Jonathan Freedland, 19 October 2013, The GCHQ scandal is not about the Guardian. It is an insult to parliament, The Guardian.

[4] 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

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Reports of eye witness accounts of Freeport human rights abuses

Freeport, by its own account, has co-operated with, financed and supported the Indonesian military in West Papua. More disturbing, there have been multiple eye witness reports of Freeport security taking direct part in human rights abuses in the past, with multiple sources commenting on different incidences, in different places at different times. (However, to date, allegations of Freeport’s involvement in human rights abuses have not been proven in court).

Denise Leith notes multiple first person accounts including witnesses to killings. In an illuminating chapter on human rights, she describes 8 eyewitness accounts of abuses by Freeport security summarised below[1]:

The ACFOA report contains eyewitness accounts of Freeport security involvement in the shooting of villagers.

  1. Survival International circulated an Amungme video of Jacobus Niwilingame testifying to detention and abuse at the hands of Freeport security.
  2. LEMASA documented in 1997 specific cases of ‘assaults, disappearances and rapes’ it attributed to Freeport security.
  3. Masmus Tipagau, a Freeport employee, reported to a journalist he had witnessed Freeport security beating a man for playing cards.
  4. An unnamed source from the Freeport concession claims Freeport security involvement in the death of Amungme villager Naranebalan Anggaibak who was tied and dragged behind a car on 24 December 1994.
  5. An article in The Nation said a Western traveller claimed he had been detained by Freeport security (and TNI – Indonesian armed forces) for several hours.
  6. In the documentary Blood on the Cross, Yudas Kogoya states a Freeport employee piloted the Freeport helicopter ‘in which the military travelled to Geselama, where it massacred innocent villagers on 9 May 1996’.

Well regarded Australian scientist and Australian of the Year in 2007, Professor Tim Flannery also reported an eye witness statement about Freeport security abuses:

  1. In his book Throwim Way Leg Tim Flannery describes a young Papuan boy Arianus Maripu who died after a severe beating (p284-291), and who had told Flannery before he died that he had been beaten by Freeport security.

Flannery had worked in the Freeport concession and came to the conclusion that “…the company had little control over its security forces, which, he believed, received their orders from TNI.”

There are many difficulties and challenges in proving allegations of Freeport employee’s direct involvement in human rights abuses, including the understandable reluctance of eyewitnesses to publicly testify.

Irrespective of the fact that court cases brought against Freeport in the US have been dismissed and failed to implicate the company in any of the human rights abuses inflicted against indigenous protestors in West Papua, many people hold the view that Freeport is nevertheless implicated in the killings and other abuses because it finances the Indonesian military in West Papua, has allowed the military to use Freeport property, as well as providing it with other material support such as transportation and accommodation potentially leaving the company vulnerable to allegations of Bougainville style war crimes currently being defended by mining major Rio Tinto.

“While Freeport cannot be blamed directly for the human rights abuses the military commits, neither is it completely free of culpability. Despite what Freeport says, there is an undeniable connection. The military was charged with protecting the company; the company accepted, and indeed required this. The military culture is violent and lacking in accountability, and the company has always known this….and its continuing relationship with the Indonesian military leave the company vulnerable to accusations of human rights violations in the past, and the future.”[2]

A speech to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999 by U.S. congressman Faleomavaega directly informed congress of concerns about alleged Freeport human rights abuse:

‘‘Specific allegations have been made to Freeport’s direct association with human rights abuses undertaken by the Indonesian government on Freeport land. Freeport facilities are policed both by Freeport security and the Indonesian military; Freeport feeds, houses, and provides transportation for the Indonesian military; and after any incidence of indigenous resistance against Freeport, the military responds while Freeport looks on.In 1977, when West Papuans attacked Freeport facilities, the Indonesian military bombed the natives using U.S.-made Broncos and a Freeport employee sent an anonymous letter to Tapol on August 6, 1977, writing ‘any native who is seen is shot dead on the spot.’ …. Although Freeport likes to shift blame onto the Indonesian government, Press reports that ‘One recent Western traveler was told by a Freeport security employee that he and his coworkers amuse themselves by shooting randomly at passing tribesmen and watching them scurry in terror into the woods and Amnesty International reported that the military used steel containers from Freeport to incarcerate indigenous people.’Mr. Speaker, ultimately I believe in the goodness of people and in the goodness of the Members of this body. I believe that, as we are made aware of human suffering and gross injustice, we will rise to say enough is enough.”[3]

Unfortunately, the U.S. Government has done very little to help the people of West Papua and justice seems a long way off.

Author:

[1] Denise Leith 2003, The Politics of Power Freeport in Suharto’s Indonesia, University of Hawai’i Press, p235-236.

[2] Denise Leith 2003, The Politics of Power Freeport in Suharto’s Indonesia, University of Hawai’i Press, p219.

[3] H9196 Congressional Record – House, 30 September 1999 Indonesia’s Shameful Military Occupation of East Timor and West Papua New Guinea. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/

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My experience with the media – targeting legislators and officials

 

Contents
Overview….p1

A personal account: meetings with the Fourth Estate…p2
The media and Elected Representatives…..p3
Reprisals against my Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek…..p4
Threats to the Commonwealth attorney general’s office…..p5
Former Attorney General, Philip Ruddock, MP…..p7
First meeting with Ruddock – December 2011:….p8
Second meeting with Ruddock – April 2012:….p8
Third meeting with Ruddock – May 2013:….p9
Conclusion….p12

Overview

The hunter hides undetected behind a camouflaged screen known as a blind or in a little covered bivouac, maybe up in a tree to reduce their chance of detection, blending in with the surroundings, riffle fixed on the targeted killing zone awaiting its quarry. Just so, the western “free press” offers camouflage for the propaganda of the intelligence agencies which produces and suppresses certain types of story to achieve secret, undisclosed objectives. Agents masquerading as part of the free press, undercover journalists and editors, move freely within the ranks of the media and have their work published and broadcast undeclared to an all too often unsuspecting public.

We all know about the limited spectrum of debate and repetitive, narrow views expressed by our corporate media – we all feel that something is wrong, or at least not quite right: that this culture of blandness and self censorship did not arise by chance. The ubiquitous and virtually unanimous pro-war reporting in the lead up to the Iraq War in 2003 put paid to any doubt about this.

The flow of propaganda in the mainstream media has disenfranchised and disempowered much of the public. This is how a teacher in a political focus group held by Naomi Wolf in America describes the feeling of alienation and frustration:

“We’re not having those debates anymore. It feels now as if we never really had those debates. We’re not talking anymore about when does life begin, what does it mean to go to war, what does it mean to be an American. You always feel there is a story behind the story when you are reading the news – a story that you are not privy to. Sometimes you feel that there is all this stuff going on behind our backs. I feel that, and I try to know what’s going on.”

The co-option of the media as a critical tool of democratic accountability is arguably the biggest threat to national security faced by western nations. The public’s vulnerability to wayward intelligence agencies is not some abstract threat, but imminent and real.

The former chief justice of the Family Court in Australia, Alastair Nicholson affirmed the vulnerability and concern this way in an article about the shame of the “Australia way”. He was speaking directly about the travesty of “border protection” through indefinite detention and abuse of refugees who came to Australia as “boat people” seeking asylum. He warned that a system that permits the egregious abuse of detaining men, women and children indefinitely in isolated prison camps is a totalitarian danger beyond the reach of law “lying in the path of us all”:

“How did we get ourselves into this state? Australia is rapidly becoming an international pariah, riding roughshod over solemn treaty obligations into which it has entered like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Refugee Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

…we are all extremely vulnerable to the abuse of power by our governments which have and are engaging in such abuse but directing it to a small and unpopular minority of non-citizens that they are able to demonise.

Let there be no mistake however that legally, there is little to stop our government treating us in this way as well. The current behaviour by successive governments to asylum seekers should be a salutary lesson of the dangers lying in the path of us all.”

In a system that permits these egregious abuses, and which ASIO oversees, there is not a single person that is safe from its reach, no one has protection if ASIO turns its sights to a new target. People naively think we are safe from secret police abuses in Australia for example, or the UK or the US because we don’t have a history of such abuse against common citizens. People think that living in a first world democracy they are somehow guaranteed due process, freedom and justice. Just look to the well known example of Germany: it too was a country that once had no history of gross secret police abuses. Prior to the great stress that country went through in the 1920s and 1930s people were naive, blissfully ignorant of the threat they lived under.

It seems that in good times democracy can endure constraints on freedom. However, in times of great stress, history has shown people and societies do terrible things to each other if democratic protections do not exist. The triggers to such breaking points can be many – including, for example, major biological events, a severe financial crash or a major war.

Anglo bloc citizens, including Australians, could all find themselves marooned from rights to due process, treated like refugees in their own country. Our supposed safeguards against secret police incursions are already weak and broken; most people don’t see it because we are currently living in good times, but when and if stressful times arrive, it will be too late to do anything about it: the morning after Kristallnacht is not an opportunity for populist reform. The time to fix the threat from our agencies is now.

A personal account: meetings with the Fourth Estate

I have approached multiple journalists in the USA and Australia with my allegations of FBI and ASIO interference and abuse following publication of the report on Freeport McMoran. One journalist picked up the story – an independent who also for many years had a column in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) – he was a prominent columnist in a prominent newspaper and it seemed like finally I was getting some mainstream media exposure for this story. However, for a number of reasons, I suspect that it was not his choice alone to cover it.

Firstly, the article (Ackland, Richard 26 February 2010, Secrecy is a denial of our rights, Sydney Morning Herald) contained a significant error that was to ASIO’s benefit – it said the information I had published in my note on Freeport McMoran had been provided to me in secret documents that somehow I had managed to obtain. This was wrong. I never received any documents and I had never indicated otherwise. Indeed, while I had spoken to a number of people about Freeport, it is not clear that anyone ever even gave me any anecdotal information, let alone a document, that was not already in the public domain on all issues concerning Freeport, the killings and the State Department investigation. It is not clear if the error in the Ackland article was intentional or not, or whether it was subsequently introduced by an editor or someone else, but it had the impact of falsely reassuring readers that the intelligence agencies only go after someone with good justification – if you receive a trove of classified documents for example. But this is absolutely not the case. I received no documents, but evidently, as a Wall Street analyst I had received good information from the people I had spoken with.

Further, the Ackland article seemed to come with certain additional baggage. The SMH ran an ASIO front page headline breaking story stamped “exclusive” in bold red letters within the next day or so. I wondered whether this had any bearing – such as a thank you gift to the SMH for helping out. As a follow up I offered Richard Ackland more details and information but he never wrote another instalment. However, in his weekly column over the next two weeks he published veiled references to my case though did not mention me by name. More mysteriously, in the week following his article I had lunch 3 times with someone who I knew well, at their invitation. Over lunch, they expressed interest in the article and encouraged discussion of events raised in it. Lunch, however, three times in the same week was very unusual and this particular person I knew had been pressured by ASIO in the past. It was all a bit odd and it left me wondering whether the article had been a plant, part of a fishing expedition, agreed with the SMH, to encourage me to talk about something ASIO might find of interest – though I can’t imagine what that might be.

The reality is if the agencies can target me and get away with it, they can target you, they can target anyone – any professional, for example, young or old, can be set upon if the result of their work or opinions offends, challenges or scares people in power. Every citizen is at risk – any of us can be targeted, whatever their position, anytime.

I have approached multiple journalists, only to find most associated with mainstream organisations, connected to the intelligence agencies and willing to promote their agenda, particularly so in the state owned media in Australia, the ABC.

My personal communications with many mainstream journalists reveals their close ties to ASIO or other Australian agencies. I had this email exchange with another journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald which he followed up with a veiled phone threat:

Me: What do you think of the royal commission angle?

Journalist: I think it’s interesting and worth exploring. But unfortunately my interest  will turn on your ability to persuade me as to the credibility of your claim;      notwithstanding my acknowledgement the other day that you will not have with you          hard evidence, as I would expect in other spheres.

The sentiment of a journalist wanting to confirm credibility is to be expected but in this case, not genuine on their part. Reasonable inference, not verifiable evidence is the nature of exposing ASIO and other intelligence agency scandals. Allegations are constantly made and published in the media with attribution, disclosing with agreement, the names of sources. In my case, my MP had deemed my allegations credible and raised it in parliament, and lawyers I had engaged to review my case had affirmed it credible. However, this journalist took no efforts to verify I had worked on Wall Street as an analyst, or to review other verifiable aspects of my allegations. He had no intention of running my allegations, not because they weren’t credible, but because he had a conflict of interest – an unholy association with the intelligence agencies in surrender of his public duty. This same journalist called me, not long after this email exchange as part of a series of 3 back to back calls dovetailed with others, delivering a parsed message – each person revealing a different part of it, that I was at risk if I continued with my work exposing this story.

In another personal example, a journalist from the ABC I had been exchanging emails with and who I met on a few occasions mysteriously brought a random photo he said he found on the internet to a meeting with me. The photo showed a large group of volunteers at the Sierra Club from which he was able to point out my former girlfriend, unaided by me, based on a “lucky guess” he said. This journalist was acting more like a member of the secret police than a frank and fearless member of the Fourth Estate, delivering a message, taunting me and had no intention of pursuing the matter through an independent media exposé.

The Fourth Estate is captured by corporate-political interests, its independence critically compromised. It has been largely reduced to a sophisticated tool for propaganda: the Iraq War coverage in 2003 is a perfect example – all major news outlets fell in line with the US government in its illegal push to war; there was little if any dissenting opinion, no public debate. The supposedly diverse and free media spoke in unison, the deafening lack of dissent noticed everywhere.

The media and Elected Representatives

The trail of intelligence agency intrusive activity domestically is very evident in the use of the media against elected officials. It is the attacks on government officials and other community leaders using the media that give the intelligence agencies one of their most powerful advantages but it also creates vulnerability – like leaving a calling card with a watermark evident to those who know how to look. They carry out reprisal attacks on their targets using the media to shame, humiliate or reward; they blackmail and intimidate; and help to bring about the election and ejection of the peoples’ representatives. Some of their signature attacks are described elsewhere here, including a brutal attack on a former Australian member of parliament Ross Cameron and the attack on the Wikileaks Party and its candidates in the lead up to the 2013 federal election in Australia, in particular Alison Broinowski – in both cases the scope of ASIO interference was not disclosed in the reporting, the public was duly deceived and democracy successfully undermined.

Over a number of years, I have approached my US representatives, at times with considerable persistence: my NYC congressman Jerrold Nadler sits on the House Judiciary Committee; and my NY senator Charles Schumer sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee (both committees have oversight responsibility for the FBI). My approaches were of no consequence to either. Neither Schumer nor Nadler took the matter before their respective committees, despite a member of Nadler’s staff, Celine Mizrahi, initially stating that the matter would be taken to the committee. It wasn’t and the office stopped taking my calls and returning correspondence.

This section looks at three cases of threats or payback delivered through the media; the first involving my MP Tanya Plibersek; the second, the staff in the Attorney General’s office; and third, the former Attorney General Philip Ruddock, MP.

Reprisals against my Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek

It is rare indeed to find anyone in power who will speak out in an effort to hold the agencies to account, let alone be critical of them. My Sydney Member of Parliament, Tanya Plibersek raised my concerns about abusive ASIO surveillance and interference in a speech to the Australian Parliament 28 March 2007. 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:

“I do not know whether it is true that he is the subject of ongoing surveillance. The difficulty for him is that, despite his own contacts with officials in Australia and despite the fact that I have written to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, he cannot know whether he is or is not the subject of surveillance. If allegations have been made against him, he has had no opportunity to answer those allegations. This has put enormous stress on his family. The reason I am raising this in the parliament is not because I am convinced either way of the truth of his concerns but because we have a situation where an Australian citizen is convinced—he makes a convincing case—and he has no opportunity to know whether there are allegations against him and how he can respond to them.” click

Neither ASIO nor the Government responded to the concerns she raised, which remain unanswered to this day.

As an example of the problem of controlling agencies like ASIO, shortly after Ms Plibersek responsibly raised my concerns about them in the Australian parliament, the media ran a series of personal attacks that targeted her husband who held a senior position within the state bureaucracy. The articles highlighted some embarrassing aspects of his personal past, but in the interests of appearing balanced also mentioned that he was a talented individual. What is not clear is why an article about one independent government bureaucrat so prominently linked to his partner when it is an issue that has nothing to do with Ms Plibersek. Some of the articles include a very large photograph of the two of them together which no one could miss. Articles included: The Daily Telegraph 14 April 2007 (Saturday Interview, Roger Coombs, p78); The Daily Telegraph, 15 April 2007 (Politics; ‘I didn’t think I would survive being in jail’, Linda Silmalis, p3); and The Sun Herald 15 April 2007 (New education boss doesn’t have the expertise, Brian Chudleigh, p31).

The articles were a clear personal rebuke. Targeting family members sends a chilling message. The timing and substance of the articles just two and a half weeks after she raised my case in parliament cannot be proven as payback for breaking silence on ASIO abuses, but viewed with other such instances, described below, it fits a chilling pattern. It is not clear where the attacks originated – whether with the journalist, editor, sub editor, publisher, PR firm, or other, and it is not clear at what level complicity exists – only that the attack found its way into the mainstream media.

Other MPs, public bureaucrats and their family members have been chided, embarrassed, or had threats exposed in the media following my providing them with evidence of ASIO abuse, and their offers of assistance. Two cases are briefly described below, firstly concerning staff in the Commonwealth attorney general’s office; and secondly, a family member of former attorney general Philip Ruddock.

Threats to the Commonwealth attorney general’s office

On 26 May 2011, I sent a complaint letter to the Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland outlining my dissatisfaction with ASIO and critical of the poor job IGIS was doing in oversighting the agency. I requested he review the matter since ASIO operates from within the Attorney General’s department, while IGIS reports to the office of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

I was in periodic contact with the AG’s office staffers by telephone over the following months and I had several very positive and productive conversations with them. I found them to be genuine and helpful. They responded to my concerns with intelligent and relevant questions, assured me that this was an important matter and that they would advance it to higher levels within the department. It was evident they were aware of the risks posed to citizens by a wayward and poorly oversighted spy agency like ASIO.

However, the positive interactions with staffers abruptly came to an end. Inexplicably I was advised the matter had been forwarded to the office of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to deal with the aspect of my complaint that concerned the poor performance of the oversight body IGIS. I felt I had been fobbed off by the AG’s office. They would have nothing further to do with my complaint, including that aspect of it directed against ASIO, which they are responsible for overseeing. It was a strange and unexpected about face.

I promptly received a curt letter from PM&C that annoyingly, dismissed my complaint and reaffirmed support for IGIS without investigating any of my claims. It references a full investigation, but a full investigation was never completed by IGIS. Indeed, IGIS had specified clearly that it had undertaken not to do a full investigation and had closed the case. It fortified the intelligence bureaucrats’ impenetrable stonewall and ended scornfully, saying: “The Government is satisfied with the IGIS inquiry and will not be pursuing the matter further.” The word “satisfied” is greatly overused by politicians and bureaucrats. It is intended to convey a sense of responsible review but is ultimately a meaningless statement. The word implies “due process”, “transparency and accountability”, and “fair and just” but is an empty, overused phrase. It in fact says nothing about the integrity of the officials and process that was followed, and hides the very real possibility the process of review consisted of nothing more than rubber stamping the IGIS statements.

Indeed, according to my lawyer, the preliminary investigation made by IGIS in 2004 need constitute none of the case facts or third party testimony, let alone consider my testimony and evidence; the preliminary investigation conducted by IGIS need not constitute anything more than asking the director general of ASIO if I am a legitimate ASIO target. The protection of the public by the office of IGIS need extend no further than this question. If the director general states that there was no substance to the complaint then IGIS had satisfied the obligation to conduct a “preliminary investigation” and the investigation was closed.

Despite the letter from PM&C, I stayed in touch with the AG’s staff hoping for possible further assistance from them. However the Canberra Times on 25 September 2011 published an article with headline “AG staff probed over rort allegations” that indicated a handful of the AG’s staff were now under investigation for false overtime claims and their jobs would be at stake in the event of an adverse finding:
“Senior staff in the Attorney-General’s Department with high-level security clearances have been investigated for allegedly rorting their overtime and obtaining financial benefits by deception, according to internal government files.”
There were never any follow up articles to the AG’s senior staff rort allegations in any of the papers. The timing and public nature of the announcement for an apparently common type of problem, was not particularly news worthy, particularly for a mainstream paper. But it appears to be another case of the media targeting individuals that had position and power over ASIO at a time they were investigating my complaint about ASIO misconduct – and it seems to have had the impact intended.

Communication with the AG’s office staff came to a prompt end. Despite attempts throughout September to November to re-invigorate the issue through conversations with the Attorney General’s department, no one would touch it – a surprising reversal in attitude given their initial support. My complaint subsequently went nowhere.

Media attacks, are very successful in sending people scampering for cover. The reality is no official with power over ASIO wants a full investigation of the matter for fear of what it might reveal and the difficult consequences that might result for those involved, no less so the captured regulators and their investigators.

I was being treated like a character from Kafka’s novel The Castle – who stood against the system in pursuit of a seemingly unobtainable and futile goal – government accountability, truth and justice. Kafka’s character spent a lifetime in the castle lobby waiting for a meeting with the king that never occurred. One will grow old trying to hold the intelligence agencies to account in America, Australia and the other Five-Eye intelligence sharing partners (UK, Canada, NZ) by attempting to find the right elected representative or regulator that will stand up for and represent you and your cause, that will investigate allegations, even when it is their duty to do so. The democratic promise of due process is sorely rebuffed by a constant stream of lame excuses and stonewalling officials that make one’s head spin as if in a maze with random arrows plastered all over the place each purporting to point to the exit, but all of which are false leads that go nowhere.

Former Attorney General, Philip Ruddock, MP

Moving on from efforts to work with the current attorney general’s staff, I met with MP and former Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock in his Sydney electoral office after a mutual contact put us in touch. He was attorney general from 2003 to 2007 in the conservative Howard government. As AG he had departmental responsibility for ASIO during a historical period in which he oversaw the introduction of new legislation to expand ASIO powers in the “War on Terror”. He subsequently oversaw the prosecution of alleged terrorists in which tactics used by the department received harsh criticism from the judiciary for the investigative methods employed which forced the government to drop its cases in a blitz of negative publicity.

People say it takes an unusual sort of person to be a good attorney general, and many doubted Ruddock had the skills to get the balance right between civil liberties, human rights and security. Indeed, a leading lawyer, Phillip Boulten SC, who had defended several terrorist suspects was critical of his stewardship and the governments’ scruple. He said:

“Philip Ruddock abolished many procedural safeguards for refugees and asylum seekers and made an art of incarcerating innocent men, women and children who had committed no crimes. He called this “border protection”.

Governments of all types in Australia and in most western democracies have been camouflaging their policies on terrorism for the last 5 years. In an attempt to convince people that they are working towards the creation of a stable, just and secure political environment, governments have declared a seemingly never ending “war on terror”. In reality what they are doing is establishing the basis for a never ending state of fear where supposedly only those in power have the ability to keep people safe and secure.”

The AG and oversight bodies do little to govern or rein in the excesses of ASIO. A subsequent Attorney General, Nicola Roxon (2011-2013) reported she refused to sign a warrant for an intercept requested by an ASIO agent because ASIO could not explain why the intercept was necessary. Astoundingly, the agency chided her, saying that never before had an Attorney General refused the agency a request for a warrant irrespective of whether or not an explanation was provided.

After the Howard government lost the 2007 election Ruddock retained his seat of Berowra in Sydney’s northern district and continued life in parliament as an opposition backbencher and senior figure in the Liberal party. Given the controversial period of history and the decisions of his office while he served as AG, I held little hope he would intervene on my behalf. However, people said he was a man driven by strong Christian values, and politics being politics, the changing winds of time and a new office in opposition, I thought I would take the opportunity to meet with him and present my case of ASIO abuse. The meeting, I hoped, had the potential to move my case forward, perhaps spark a belated push for accountability and justice from our intelligence community.

First meeting with Ruddock – December 2011:

I met with him at his offices on three occasions in a large Sydney suburban office block off a busy road in Pennant Hills. The first meeting was in December 2011. He was running a few minutes late and I sat in the small reception area in front of a glass walled counter that felt a bit like a ticket counter in a railway station. There were historic black and white photographs of his electorate on the wall and a table full of policy statements and government pamphlets. The office manager opened the security door and invited me though. We walked by some work stations and into a large office with the desk across the room by the window, a separate table and work area, and a couple of couches facing each other near the door. The office was neither new nor showy, but quite comfortable and had a well used feeling to it, suitable to meet both dignitaries and members of the electorate alike. Work papers and files sat on the desk by the computer screen, and behind him were books on shelves and cabinets. Mr Ruddock got up from his desk to greet me. We shook hands and he showed me to the couch by the door which the office manager had left ajar after leaving.

He took the facing couch opposite me and broke the ice by mentioning our common connections including the person responsible for making our introduction. He gave me a long, standard summary of the structure of the Australian intelligence industry and some key dates, the sort of plain vanilla background that could be found on government websites, before we moved onto my situation. It was a cordial and relaxed meeting.

He indicated that he had read the background material I had sent him about my problems with ASIO I had experienced since 1996 but asked me recap. I briefly outlined the situation starting with my work on Wall Street as a mining analyst covering Freeport McMoran, the eyewitness testimony of the company’s alleged involvement in the killing of indigenous protestors at is Grasberg mine in West Papua, Indonesia and the US State Department investigation of the incidents alleging Freeport’s involvement. We touched on Henry Kissinger’s prominent role with the company, my former girlfriend’s role with the FBI, the lack of interest from IGIS to progress to a full investigation of my allegations ASIO concerning inappropriate ASIO involvement in the matter and abuse. I took the opportunity to mention QC Ian Barker’s comments in a letter to the editor published in the Sydney Morning Herald that any prosecutor dealing with ASIO could tell you that the agency frequently broke the law and was rarely held to account, to which Philip Ruddock replied only that he was friends with Ian Barker and caught up with him occasionally.

After completing the summary of my problems with ASIO, he appeared to be in thought for a moment as he looked up at the back corner of the office, then said he did not recall my case. Whether he said this because he had no choice as it would be illegal for him to disclose otherwise I don’t know; but he left me hopeful by saying he would take a closer look and there was potential for an investigation of ASIO in relation to this matter – something that had been denied me by IGIS. I was encouraged and hopeful that this first meeting may lead to some positive outcome. We corresponded a number of times in February and early March.

On the 23 February he sent me an email in which he offered to forward my complaint about ASIO and IGIS to the Prime Minister:

“Dear XXXXX

I’d certainly be happy to bring your detailed submission to the PM’s attention – so if you can put together a detailed complaint, including all the correspondence thus far, I’ll then forward that on with a covering letter.

Yours sincerely

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP”

However, he subsequently reneged on the above offer saying that he had changed his mind as he now believed that the matter had been adequately reviewed by others. He provided some reasons, though I did not find them credible as we had discussed these together when we had met in December and I therefore remained unconvinced.

Second meeting with Ruddock – April 2012:

In March 2012, I emailed to request a second meeting in follow up to the first, which he granted and scheduled for April. However, around this time, an article appeared in The Australian about alleged impropriety by his daughter and mentioned both her and Philip Ruddock by name. The article in The Australian (16 March 2012, Legal aid link to coal protest faces probe, p7: click) alleged she had attended a public meeting on an environmental matter in conflict with the government. It indicated that the government had threatened to launch an investigation into the allegations and cut funding to the small non profit organisation that employed her (NSW Environmental Defenders Office). The article prominently states that the NSW Premier had “…asked senior bureaucrats to report to him on Ms Ruddock’s involvement”.

It is never clear to the public where the impetus for a story originates, whether it be with the journalist, editor, publisher, PR agent or some other source. However, what is clear is this particular story lacked any significance, it was not a newsworthy item in its own right, certainly not for a national mainstream paper. But the threat of a discretionary investigation against his daughter for a trivial perceived impropriety – her attendance at a meeting, was a nasty public personal attack on one of his family members and therefore a personal attack on him.

When I subsequently met with Philip Ruddock in April, there was a noticeable change in his tone and demeanour from our previous meeting several months earlier. He said he had made some enquiries into my case – but clearly something had changed – the cordiality was still there in part but now there was also sneer and scorn. I do not know the reason, whether he received misinformation about my matter from his access to well placed people or whether he had been intimidated by the threat to his daughter, or a bit of both. In any event, he was no longer willing to offer assistance.

He indicated he knew much about my matter, and asked what proof of ASIO malfeasance I had. If I did have proof of malfeasance, he taunted, could I prove that any harm had resulted. Mockingly, he said he would talk to anyone I could bring forward as a witness, but he would not advocate for a formal enquiry – such as in a royal commission, where witnesses are legally protected when providing testimony against the agencies. Of course, as former AG, he knew that all ASIO operatives, collaborators, informers, etc., would be constrained by contract gag clauses, sometimes running to several pages in length, with criminal penalties for unauthorised disclosures. In effect, he was asking me to bring forward a whistleblower, someone to come forward on threat of incarceration – and trust him to do the right thing.

Again, I suggested a formal, wide sweeping investigation of the agencies, a royal commission, for example, might be a better way to go, as had been suggested by the Hope Royal Commission – a mandatory review of the intelligence agencies every 5 to 8 years or so. He scoffed at the suggestion! He taunted that ASIO cases take time to run their full course, many years sometimes, and if targets are ever declared innocent victims of agency abuse, it is only because the investigation likely didn’t run long enough! It is clear the oversight bodies, in wilful blindness look not to see. The reticence to impose a royal commission on the intelligence agencies smacks of appeasement that stems from fear.

Third meeting with Ruddock – May 2013:

I met with Philip Ruddock for a third time in May 2013, about a year after my second meeting with him. But nothing in his response to me had changed from our previous meeting – it too was disappointing and indicated I had hit another stonewalling dead end. He offered nothing of substance by way of assistance, and like a faithful ‘public’ servant demonstrated his obstinate solidarity with the agency he oversighted but no evident support for ensuring ASIO treated the public justly and acted with integrity. I told him I intended to publish the names of ASIO operatives and was writing a book. He eyed me with a quiet sneer and without looking at it described my list as “informants” and asked with a barely concealed enmity how I intended to publish and distribute my book. His sneer slowly morphed into a slight grin while he paused for my answer. As the former political head of ASIO, he knew the barriers and depth of ASIO penetration into the world of writing and publishing better than anyone. The NSW Writers Centre, for example, is a hornet’s nest of ASIO activity and no established publisher in Australia would be defiant enough to publish and distribute such material. It was clear from this meeting that he was not going to push for any kind of investigation of ASIO, no judicial oversight or royal commission.

After the meeting I sent him the below email, and later forwarded it to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security which has oversight responsibility of ASIO (and which he is a member of).

From: XXXXX Wilson [mailto:XXXXXXXXXX]
Sent: Thursday, 20 June 2013 10:37 AM
To: ‘pjcis@aph.gov.au’
Subject: FW: XXXXXXXXWilson – ASIO – PJCIS

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am forwarding an email I sent to Philip Ruddock last week related to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security oversight of ASIO in relation to a royal commission with broad terms of reference.

I would be pleased to brief you directly on the issues raised if you would like further information.

Thanks and regards.

XXX Wilson
Tel: XXXXXXXXXXXXX

From: XXXXXX Wilson XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX]
Sent: Friday, 14 June 2013 5:08 PM
To: ‘philip.ruddock.mp@aph.gov.au’
Cc: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Subject: XXXXX Wilson – ASIO

Dear Philip,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me again several weeks ago concerning the issues I have faced with intrusive ASIO interference. As you recall, this interference has occurred since I published a report as an analyst on Wall Street in 1996 that touched on the killings [of indigenous protestors] at the US listed Freeport McMoran’s massive Grasberg gold and copper mine in West Papua (note attached).

Following our conversation about Australian intelligence agency misconduct, it is interesting to note the recent media reports of former US National Security Agency (NSA) analyst Edward Snowden who has disclosed the extensive intelligence capability and abuses of the US government in operating an all encompassing communications dragnet domestically and abroad. Associated with this disclosure is that the US is targeting a large number of people everywhere in the world, including Australia, and in turn is sharing this information with its counterparts in foreign agencies, including Australian intelligence agencies.

The possibility of such foreign government intelligence activity in Australia was something we touched on when we spoke. Their direct involvement in Australia obviously makes the need for a warrant from the Australian Attorney General of no consequence in matters where Australian agencies can simply get such information through back door channels – ie, via their US counterparts in this instance. Based on the NSA leaks, there now seems to be little doubt that the US has the capability to bug my phone and all my communications, if they were inclined to do so, without need for the Australian government’s direct involvement or consent.

An example of recent media reports quotes Snowden telling the Guardian newspaper, “I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.” (Edward Snowden Search Began Days Before NSA Surveillance Program Reports Went Public, Reuters, posted: 06/12/2013 6:40).

It has also come to my attention, that an ASIO operative, who was aware that I had met with you on two previous occasions in 2011/12 was actively engaging staff at the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) in mid 2012. This person is active in a local XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX community group XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and engaged the EDO on the pretext of seeking legal assistance for this campaign. On several occasions this person (not named below), who I know has been actively recruiting for ASIO, has made reference to Kirsty Ruddock and taunted that they were getting to know at least one of her office colleagues well, taking them to lunch, etc – with the intended implication that ASIO was actively recruiting within the EDO’s office. Based on this, ASIO, it seems, considers its brief to include the targeting of family members of officials responsible for oversight of the intelligence agencies.

I believe that ASIO is operating without adequate constraints in Australia, that it is operating outside its mandate and abusing its powers. Lawyer Ian Barker, QC has maintained this point of view for some time as outlined in the attached letter I sent to the committee you sit on, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. I attach the letter as a reminder of my experiences with ASIO and my inability to obtain a commitment from any Australian oversight authority to investigate my allegations of intelligence agency abuse in Australia, despite persistent efforts. The current oversight process operates in a way that provides no protection to people subjected to ASIO abuses and offers no outlet that protects the rights and interests of people targeted by ASIO (I have attached Tanya Plibersek’s comments to parliament to this effect).

The current revelations about the NSA’s conduct and Australia’s involvement might serve as the required scandal you referred to as being a necessary catalyst to launch a wide sweeping royal commission into Australia’s intelligence agencies. As we discussed, the Hope Royal Commission recommended that there be a mandatory royal commission into the Australian intelligence agencies every eight years or so, but this was never put into effect.

When we met recently, you and I discussed that I would name various ASIO operatives – agents, collaborators and informants active in my case. I have provided you a list of names previously. Operatives I intend to name initially include:

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, son of former ASIO Director General XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX)
XXXXXXXXXXXX, staff member of the Green’s Senator Rhiannon
XXXXXXXXXXXX, Sydney, stockbroking analyst
XXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX, Sydney businesspeople
XXXXXXXXXXX, Melbourne, former lawyer
XXXXXXXXXXXX, Central coast NSW and Boston, USA
XXXXXXXXXXXX, Sydney, former business consultant
XXXXXXXXXXX, Sydney, former stockbroking analyst

I would be pleased to discuss with you or provide further information on any of the above. Please let me know if you would like further details.

Best regards.

XXXXXXX Wilson

With no mainstream or official channels open for redress of the injustices of the intelligence agency abuses I released the above to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (around the world), various MPs, journalists and civil rights groups. The public, albeit restricted release of intelligence agents’ names in Australia is not considered in the public interest, unlike the US where covert FBI agents, for example, are treated under the law like any other government employee – if they reveal their covert status to someone that is a matter for them, but the media is free to publish it, in the public interest, if it sees fit.

In Australia, I approached a number of journalists at the Sydney Morning Herald, amongst other news media. One of the journalists called me a month or two later and made a veiled and menacing threat, barley concealing their undercover status, and told me to release no further names of either ASIO agents or their suspected minions.

Conclusion

The intelligence agency crackdown on the Australian public and media has continued to become more severe. In October 2014, draconian new ASIO legislation enables the agency, under a single, general Australia wide warrant to access computer “networks” and to enter anyone’s personal computer. The agency is authorised to alter files, remove and delete whatever it wants in any computer attached to the “network”. ASIO agents have been given immunity from the law – except for the specific offences of murder, torture and sexual assault. However, perjury, destruction of evidence and tampering with witnesses is evidently allowable. Details of ASIO’s “special operations” cannot be published by the media or bloggers – even where operations have gone seriously wrong; even if agents have killed, sexually assaulted or tortured people. Furthermore, names of ASIO agents cannot be leaked and revealed – under threat of prison terms of 5 or 10 years depending on the offence. And public interest has been removed as a possible defence in these cases.

Astonishingly, in the lead up to this new legislation, the media offered little resistance. Barley a whimper was heard despite the significant and disturbing risks the laws pose for journalists reporting on national security and crime, and the threat such restrictive legislation poses to one of the key institutional pillars of our democracy.

The role of the media in pushing intelligence agency propaganda is increasingly evident – both in what is published and what is not. The pattern of attacking non compliant politicians and other officials in newspaper articles and threats of investigation is compelling, however, one cannot state categorically that they were the interference of ASIO as opposed to mere coincidence. Nor can it be said that any bureaucrat or politician allowed the threat of payback or blackmail to intimidate them and influence their integrity and independence. What can be said, however, is that there is a pattern of well targeted specific attacks or threats that appeared in newspapers around the time I met with officials concerning intelligence agency abuses.

ASIO has ready access to the media and the articles follow an intimidating pattern, clearly threatening or humiliating the people targeted. The public exposure of officials and their families in the media to unsubstantiated or suspiciously timed allegations, and public threats of official investigation appears to be a key weapon of ASIO, used to deter politicians and stop bureaucratic enquiries into their activities.

Placing threats and smears in the media against politicians and other critics might be an effective way to stop enquiries into ASIO and to further the career interests of ASIO staffers, but not a great way to further Australian democracy and national security interests.

Those who control the media, have the power to control the people. And where there are opportunities to control and influence the people, the intelligence agencies will be found actively engaged. Agency influence over the media appears pervasive at every level – journalists, editors, publishers. The intelligence agencies it seems, have built myriad links into the media, such that the media behaves more like a state run enterprise than a free one. It would be interesting indeed to have an independent commission document and report on the extent of intelligence agency media relationships and influence.

In the next section I review two hatchet jobs: one targeting former Liberal MP Ross Cameron who spoke out against the Iraq War of 2003, and the other targeting Wikileaks Party candidate in the Australian federal election 2013 – Alison Broinowski. https://mininganalyst.net/2014/09/29/australias-tryst-with-tyranny-asio-hatchet-jobs/

 

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Australia’s tryst with tyranny: ASIO hatchet jobs on politicians.

Contents
– Australia’s curious case of Ross Cameron, MP (page 1)
– The government’s lawyers weigh in on how elected representatives ought to behave: (page 3)
– Wikileaks Party, Professor Keane, ASIO and the September 2013 Australian federal election. (page 5)
– Australia’s criminalisation of political activity (page 6)

The Magna Carta in 1215 is considered to be the beginning of democracy in England. It is a legal document that imposed constraints upon the rule of the unpopular and absolute monarch King John who until then had ruled with arbitrary decrees and absolute power. Immediately prior to this, the king had been faced with a stark choice: share power or perish in the face of rebellion. The Magna Carta stripped him of absolute power and transferred certain rights and civil liberties to others in the kingdom. Democracy has since offered stability and a powerful, peaceful feedback loop to power elites in England and other countries around the world that have adopted it that is lacking in authoritarian regimes.

The methods of the FBI and ASIO, as well as other Western security forces, are driven by ideological factors. If the public is apathetic and passive in acceptance of the intelligence agency decision to move away from democratic values to a state controlled system of government the general population will find it has a heavy burden to carry – despite the current economic success of China and Singapore: history has shown how centralised governments respond in times of great social stress with ruthless treatment of individuals which democracies are designed to protect. Populations that want the benefits of centralised control in the good times, give up the benefits of being part of a democracy with strong protection for individual rights in difficult times. If the public is too inclined to accept the world as presented by those in power uncritically, and to accept the erosion of their democratic rights, it risks a confrontation with the darker side of political reality that people are corrupt and no system is perfect, or near perfect – as Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” And Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, warned, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Our democracy is increasingly controlled and undermined from all angles by faceless intelligence agencies. They help select, shape and mould our legislators, and through them foist their foreign and domestic policies on the public – no matter how unpopular, unjust or in the case of war, violent.
In Australia, the intelligence agencies systematically and secretly manage the pool of candidates presented to voters rooting out those they deem unacceptable: to those familiar with their techniques, it could be seen that they undermined the Wikileaks Party and its candidates who contested the 2013 federal election, among others, and conducted a covert operation against Ross Cameron in reprisal for his outspoken opposition to the Iraq war in 2003.

This segment is included here as it vividly demonstrates the overreach, hidden role and real world impact of power exercised abusively by domestic intelligence agency activity.

Australia’s curious case of Ross Cameron, MP

In Australia, parliamentarians have the right to vote their conscience, to cross the floor on any issue and vote with the opposition. However, parliamentary discipline is strong and members rarely do so. While members who cross the floor may be penalised by their party for doing so and find their career options constrained in the future, what is interesting is how this control is enforced by ASIO on matters it secretly declares to be national interest priorities.

ASIO, as an institution that reflects and shapes establishment values, acted in a way reminiscent of inappropriate Australian responses in past eras to political pressures of the day such as the White Australia Policy, the Stolen Generation, the Maralinga British nuclear test site in South Australia on Aboriginal traditional lands, the Vietnam War and today’s mandatory immigration detention of asylum seekers: it self-declared the national interest and unofficially took charge of Australia’s push to war as an issue of national importance – that the country must support the US in going to war no matter what – even an illegal, pre-emptive war as Iraq was.

The intelligence used to justify the war was falsified, and in hindsight the consensus of opinion is that the US invaded Iraq to secure access to low cost energy, to block the Chinese and give it lock in a key strategic advantage over the Chinese economy and geopolitical claims in the region. Energy is not such a pressing concern since the US discovered huge amounts of low cost energy at home in oil shale and coal seam gas reserves in the decade that followed the invasion of Iraq. It cost the lives of 500,000 innocent civilians in Iraq plus soldiers, and around 5,000 US and coalition soldiers and was a massive reputational blunder for leaders in the West. Indeed, in 2011 a War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia found President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair guilty of war crimes in absentia.

It seems principles of truth, justice and freedom were the exceptional traits of the Founding Fathers and several generations of persecuted American pilgrims, than an enduring and defining trait, absent in modern day political America.

The problem with the intelligence agencies like ASIO and the FBI/CIA is that they are bestowed with totalitarian powers, free of effective oversight, and seemingly beyond the control of legislators. Restoring control of these agencies, potentially via judicial oversight seems to give the greatest chance of holding them accountable. In Australia, the Hope Royal Commission envisaged and recommended mandatory, broad ranging royal commission’s every 8 years’ or so that would investigate the intelligence agencies. A radical departure such as this from current practice, would be the closest thing to a revolution Australia has seen. Control of what is arguably Australia’s most powerful political authority, the kingmaker and destroyer, would pass from a secret cabal of unknown individuals to the public via an open and accountable judicial system of review, and no doubt uncover many jarring political and spy agency scandals.

The secrecy and associated lack of accountability gives the government and ASIO the power to selectively abuse the human rights of groups of Australians they want for political gain and hide their activities behind the mantra of “national security”. It is an egregious betrayal of Australian values and of our country’s legal commitment to UN treaties:

[T]he government wants to pick and choose whose rights it respects and whose it violates with impunity. This is not a democratic ”rebalancing”. It just gives more power to the powerful, and leaves the powerless with even less. It is perverse, facile and fanatical.

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 realising the agency had targeted him in retribution for his outspoken opposition to the Howard government’s push to war in Iraq. When ASIO’s ideals clash with the publics’, elected MPs are caught in the middle. With all of its unconstrained power, and collaborative oversight in tow, what did ASIO do when it wanted something against the moral will and best interest of the Australian people? Read below.

Ross Cameron: The below press clips reveal the public face of Cameron’s confession and infidelity but conceal the involvement of ASIO in his setup and downfall. Cameron acted honourably in calling for the truth before agreeing to declare war on Iraq and in doing so acted within his parliamentary powers, and in accordance with his duty and his conscience. Such leadership qualities resulted in an early end of his political career in a very ASIOesq way. The sordid and ruthless Machiavellian methods deployed to achieve this result are more generally associated with the behaviour of a despotic regime, not readily observable by a naive democratic public, not reported in the controlled mainstream media and virtually never find their way into the courts.

1. Some articles describing Cameron’s ‘convenient’ downfall:
The ‘convenience’ of the downfall and the precise timing of the release to coincide with the eve of Cameron’s re-election campaign, as well as the reliable, time tested deployment of ‘honey traps’- female agents briefed and trained to seduce their target, bear the hallmarks and motivations of an ASIO sting, which is a more credible explanation of the events than the ‘mere’ bad luck, poor judgement, career suicide, self confession and coincidence described by the mainstream media.

An editor of a mainstream newspaper would presumably not publish such a story without knowing there was an absolutely irrefutable source; concrete evidence behind such allegations that would stand up in court (presumably recordings/video). Conveniently, not one of the articles found on the web (nor elsewhere) name the woman involved in the scandal. Just as conveniently, none of the articles linked either the woman or her flatmate who just happened to be a journalist for a mainstream paper, to ASIO.

Article 1: (click) I’ve cheated: ‘Family man’ MP’s bombshell, from The Sun-Herald, August 15, 2004

Article 2: (click) Scandal MP Ross Cameron plans a return to politics From: The Daily Telegraph, September 15, 2011

At the time of writing (Dec 2011), a google search for Ross Cameron turned up multiple press clips and entries on the web. But only negative stories had survived the censors cut and remained accessible – those related to his downfall in 2003; or those that contained otherwise disparaging comments about some aspect of his subsequent endeavours. The positive articles had been removed. There were no articles found, despite wide reporting in the mainstream press of the day (2002-03), that reveal the honourable defence Cameron posed in raising the level of public debate, the risk and sacrifice he made in articulating the shortcomings of the government’s arguments presented to the public by the then Liberal Prime Minister John Howard who repeatedly cited false intelligence in a series of ill-reasoned justifications for the push to war in Iraq. Indicative of ASIO’s involvement, this very positive part of Cameron’s history has been illicitly removed from the web.

2. Some articles describing Cameron’s attempt to hold his government accountable:
In an effort to rewrite history, the censors from ASIO have removed all mention of Cameron’s conscientious objection to the Iraq war from the web.

The current-day censors from ASIO appear to have stripped the internet bare of all material that could be construed as supportive of the honourable role Ross Cameron played in holding his Party and the Government of the day accountable for their decisions. It is expected that elected government representatives have a reliable and accountable debate in full view of the public, particularly about a matter that could see the country enter an unpopular, and possibly illegal, pre-emptive war. Cameron demonstrated political leadership, and his views reflected the general sentiment of many in his electorate and indeed the general sentiment of the country. He did the right thing to speak out; his undoing was that he did so in a country that does not have a genuinely free and healthy democracy; one that does not hold wayward intelligence officials to account.

It is unfortunate that our intelligence agencies remove such MPs and likeminded people from office, not to mention the methods they use to do so. Without a doubt, their methods are a national disgrace. ASIO’s covert heavy handedness deprives the country of healthy democratic debate and potential strong future political leadership.

The government’s lawyers weigh in on how elected representatives ought to behave:

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to hear the Australian Solicitor-General, Dr David Bennett speak. He was the government’s chief lawyer during the antagonistic Bush/Blair/Howard years. His legal opinion had great influence on government matters – contentious issues such as the Iraq War, as well as what legal constraints should be imposed on the country’s intelligence agencies.

It was 2006, and I was invited with a small group of 15 or 20 people to hear him talk at the Harvard Club in Sydney. Judging by my previous encounters with some of the other attendees present, the meeting was well represented by ASIO operatives.

Like many of Bennett’s contemporaries who held top political office at the time, he was suffocatingly arrogant I thought. He brashly declared that elected officials in parliament always ought to toe their party line. There was no room for compromise. It is not a unanimously held view, nor is it law, but he reduced a complex matter to a simple black and white outcome. He was unequivocal. In his view, a vote for an individual candidate is always a vote for the party they represent. As such, the candidate, if elected to office, is always duty bound to be on message and vote in accordance with their party’s dictates, on all matters, without room for individual electoral considerations.

Of course, an electorate’s reasons for voting a candidate into office is more complex than his assessment allows – but it is evidently a simplification that enables bureaucrats to make decisions, based on binary inputs, sometimes with devastating results.

No one in the US, or Australia for that matter, anticipated at the time of the 2000 US presidential election, the likelihood that in the next presidential term the US would launch an illegal war in Iraq based on fabricated intelligence, and without UN sanction. Why should every electorate in the country, and every individual representative, blithely support such a war, particularly when the burdens and benefits accrue so disproportionately across different segments of the country. Why should party lines be automatically followed in such a case?

Certain electorates bear a disproportionate burden in sending their young to fight the country’s wars, especially in the US, but also in Australia – poor, uneducated adolescents take the brunt of bearing that burden – the nations’ shock troops and foot soldiers. Their elected representatives should be able to vote their conscience to reflect the overwhelming sentiment of their electorate when they vote to authorise sending their country to war or not. Conscription likewise – who could be expected to remain politically disengaged while the government, on a false pretext, forced their sons and daughters to go to war. What does ASIO (and the FBI) expect elective representatives to do? Turn a blind eye to matters that their constituents, and in the case of the Iraq war, the country, cared deeply about?

I saw the impact of war on these poorer communities firsthand – in the small desert town of Wilcox in southern Arizona which I visited a number of times from 2003 to 2008. It is an impoverished old western rail town. Its dry and dusty streets are mostly deserted and are lined with basic, low cost box like homes. I recall the disturbing image in its post office of a wall lined with photos of the community’s many young people who had died fighting for their country since 2003 in the Iraq War. The huge number of deaths, represented by multiple ethnicities, was a burden borne by this small community way out of proportion to the rest of the country.

What responsibility do elected representatives have to inform their constituents of the dangers – should they not serve as “safeguards against secret machinations” of state? Could it be expected that not even one representative could be found with the courage to stand up against nefarious state conspiracies, even when their own constituents’ lives, the very people who trusted and voted for them to represent their interests, are at stake? As Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of America, chief of staff to General Washington, and influential framer of the constitution asked in considering the redemptive power of the legislature, “Can it be supposed there would not be found one man, discerning enough to detect so atrocious a conspiracy, or bold or honest enough to appraise his constituents of the danger?”

The separation of powers should have protected Cameron from being ravaged by ASIO in standing up for his constituents. What did ASIO expect Cameron to tell his constituents (and the FBI the congressman whose district includes Wilcox)? The fact that Cameron wasn’t protected is an indication of how precariously we are positioned as a democracy and how damaging to our democracy the intelligence agencies have become.

Echoing Hamilton’s sentiment, prominent Australian lawyer, Tony Fitzgerald, QC who led the investigation that exposed massive state corruption in Queensland under Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, said in 2013 concerning politicians’ responsibility to the public:

“I cannot believe that people yield up the ability to act in accordance with their conscience in order to act in accordance with the directions of the party. It makes no sense to me that the faceless men tell you how to vote.”

Notwithstanding these electoral complexities of elected representatives having the right to vote their conscience and district’s constituent interests, the rigid response of the intelligence agencies was intent on one thing – to destroy the careers of dissenting elected representatives, and as much of their private lives as they could reach – family life, social life – as punishment for not toeing the line. And the government’s lead lawyers were in lock step.


Wikileaks Party, Professor Keane, ASIO and the September 2013 Australian federal election

I attended a presentation by Professor John Keane (Director, Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at Sydney University) at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) in Sydney 19 November 2013.

The title of his presentation was “People Power in Global Politics”. I found it commendable that he praised the good works of Wikileaks for exposing government corruption and its role in helping to strengthen democracy, yet odd that he had been very critical of the Wikileaks Party during a previous presentation at Sydney University in the lead up to the earlier September Australian federal election, an election in which the Wikileaks Party was standing several highly qualified and credible candidates.

Why did professor Keane attack the Wikileaks Party in such an overtly political way by making detrimental statements in the lead up to the election given his evident ideological support now?

Alison Broinowski, a candidate for the Wikileaks Party, who was also in the AIIA audience, asked him a question about this inconsistency, however, in answering he evaded the substance of her question. Moreover, another member of AIIA in the audience, who had contributed nothing to the conversation, burst out very forcefully in his defence calling out something to the effect that Alison’s question was nonsense and didn’t need to be responded to. It was an attempt to disrupt the exchange and change the topic – evidently coming to the professor’s aid in an attempt to save him the embarrassment of having to respond to a very good, well targeted question.

Professor Keane’s inconsistent but well timed statements in public, at a critical time in the electoral cycle, damaging to the Wikileaks Party election prospects, and the odd defence he received from a member of the audience at the AIIA event who aggressively came to his assistance has the hallmarks of ASIO interference all over it, something I have become quite familiar with over the years. The only vehement attacks I heard against the Wikileaks Party and Julian Assange in the run up to the September federal election came from government intelligence minions.

Unfortunately, ASIO is not required to disclose its surveillance and interference operations in Australia, even when directed against a political party or any other of its equally nefarious activities designed to further establishment interests. Further, I think back to my college days, reminded of when some of these eccentric looking old men and women professors were quietly sounding out individual students on whether they might like to interview for an agency job – fulfilling the role of resident recruitment officer, a ‘talent-spotter’ or campus ‘agent provocateur’ for some intelligence agency on campus.

If democracy means freedom of the people to choose, then we fall short of the definition in Australia.

http://sydney.edu.au/arts/government_international_relations/staff/profiles/john.keane.php

Australia’s criminalisation of political activity

It is surprising the ways the legal system has been co-opted to penalise political activity in Australia criminalising reporting on ASIO operations by the media and disclosing agents’ names – even where those agents are likely operating outside the law; and very likely they are acting recklessly and outside of Australia’s wider national interests for short term commercial gains, with links to scandals such as the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) Iraq kickbacks and bugging of the East Timor parliament during a commercial negotiation over gas rights.

ASIO abuses these protections to its benefit, so as to give the agency illegitimate and widespread access to Australian power and decisions of policy, rightly the preserve of the parliament and its elected representatives. Any ASIO insider that breaks ranks and discloses ASIO interference with Australian political parties, their representatives or candidates, ASIO involvement in civil society and such like faces years in jail. Any newspaper editors and journalists that publish details of such leaks also face years in jail, even where ASIO is acting illegally and outside its mandate. What should be a free and open democratic process, transparent and accountable, has been brought in behind closed doors within the country’s powerful intelligence agencies. The agencies motives and agendas are not subject to verifiable scrutiny and its office holders not democratically elected, whose agenda’s are all too often self serving – concentration of power and political order, glory and reputation. It makes a mockery of democracy and due process.

People opposing ASIO interference in domestic politics risk being jailed if they expose ASIO shenanigans. Domestic politics is rightly the domain of civil, democratic society. Despite being billed as a free, democratic country and self righteously critical of countries that lock up political prisoners, Australian citizens risk being jailed for their political involvement. Any agent, informant or collaborator in the know – on the inside, about the setup and downfall of Ross Cameron would be faced with a jail sentence if they disclosed such activity, likewise relevant employees of any news organisation that ran the story.

The number of people jailed in Australia for exposing ASIO activities as insiders is not known. What is clear, however, is that where the jailing has occurred for exposing illegal or inappropriate ASIO interference in domestic political squirmishes and policy matters, it has created a class of Australian political prisoner. It a sophisticated ploy intended to hide and deny their existence. In outlawing such disclosure and effort to fight back on domestic political involvement by ASIO, Australia has criminalised legitimate political conduct. Like other countries that hide this disturbing reality, they are labelled criminals, are prosecuted in closed courts and are shunted off to a prison to spend time behind bars.

The ASIO Act is a draconian piece of legislation. Penalties for breaching the Act include jail terms for crimes such as unauthorised disclosure of the identity of officers, employees, or agents and publication of details of ASIO operations and operatives. Penalties for unauthorised exposure are 1 year in prison. If unauthorised disclosures are made by officers, employees, or agents, the penalty is 2 years’ in jail. These penalties and crimes are now being reviewed and extended by parliament – with 10 year prison sentences now likely to become law.

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in the foreword to his book in 2013, The Whitlam Legacy, made a profoundly important and timely insight that Australia should “never forget the primacy of parliament as the great forum for developing, presenting and explaining policy.” Like at all great politicians his timing, incisiveness and eloquence is superb. His comments reverberate as if in a steel bunker, at a time when the relevance and influence of the Australian parliament seems to be waning, supplanted by the 24/7 news cycle and ever tightening grip of the intelligence agencies on political and personal life in Australia. The prominence, indeed infamy of Australian spies was nationwide news following Snowden’s NSA leaks that Australia had bugged the telephones of the Indonesian president, his wife and senior officials which lead to a terse international backlash.

What is becoming evident, there are benefits to following democratic values and procedure. There are flaws too, but the alternative pursuit of totalitarian ideals, while producing short term benefits, is ultimately a road to ruin. Nowhere is this more profoundly understood than in Germany, where the response to NSA revelations about American spying on German leaders has met with the most astringent, repugnant backlash. The world does not trust these totalitarian tools and will rise against their users if they do not self implode first.

Author: John Wilson

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Wikileaks Party, ASIO and the September 2013 Australian federal election

I attended a presentation by Professor John Keane (Director, Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at Sydney University) at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) in Sydney 19 November 2013.

The title of his presentation was “People Power in Global Politics”. I found it commendable that he praised the good works of Wikileaks for exposing government corruption and its role in helping to strengthen democracy, yet odd that he had been very critical of the Wikileaks Party during a previous presentation at Sydney University in the lead up to the earlier September Australian federal election, an election in which the Wikileaks Party was standing several highly qualified and credible candidates.

Why did professor Keane attack the Wikileaks Party in such an overtly political way by making detrimental statements in the lead up to the election given his evident ideological support now?

Alison Broinowski, a candidate for the Wikileaks Party, who was also in the AIIA audience, asked him a question about this inconsistency, however, in answering he evaded the substance of her question. Moreover, another member of AIIA in the audience, who had contributed nothing to the conversation, burst out very forcefully in his defence calling out something to the effect that Alison’s question was nonsense and didn’t need to be responded to. It was an attempt to disrupt the exchange and change the topic – evidently coming to the professor’s aid in an attempt to save him the embarrassment of having to respond to a very good, well targeted question.

Professor Keane’s inconsistent but well timed statements in public, at a critical time in the electoral cycle, damaging to the Wikileaks Party election prospects, and the odd defence he received from a member of the audience who aggressively came to his defence, has the hallmarks of ASIO interference all over it, something I have become quite familiar with over the years. The only vehement attacks I heard against the Wikileaks Party and Julian Assange in the run up to the September federal election came from government intelligence minions.

Unfortunately, ASIO is not required to disclose its surveillance and interference operations in Australia, even when directed against a political party or any other of its equally nefarious activities designed to further establishment interests. Further, I think back to my college days, reminded of when some of these eccentric looking old men and women professors were quietly sounding out individual students on whether they might like to interview for an agency job – fulfilling the role of resident recruitment officer, a ‘talent-spotter’ or campus ‘agent provocateur’ for some intelligence agency on campus.

If democracy means freedom of the people to choose, then we fall short of the definition in Australia.

http://sydney.edu.au/arts/government_international_relations/staff/profiles/john.keane.php

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FBI targets Wall Street analyst after report on US mining company Freeport McMoran

Embed from Getty Images

I left the USA in 1999, a political refugee after a period of intense FBI persecution. Before my exodus, I was a young mining analyst working on Wall Street for British investment bank for SG Warburg (now part of UBS).

In the lead up to my departure from the US, I faced pervasive interference and disruption from the FBI across all aspects of my life included hacking into and deleting phone messages, interfering in my work and propagating well targeted misinformation at work and socially.

The reason? I had authored a short work report that SG Warburg subsequently published and distributed to fund managers globally. From the authorities point of view, the report touched on a sensitive issue: US mining company Freeport McMoran – which had been implicated by multiple eye witness accounts in the killing of indigenous protestors at its massive Grasberg copper and gold mine in West Papua and was now under investigation by the State Department, though the allegations were never proven in court. This information had also been published by the New York Times.

Unfortunately, my employer did not hold firm in the face of pushback from the FBI, and some of its employees assisted the FBI; as did employees at some of the other banks responsible for funding Freeport, including Australian commercial banks Westpac and ANZ (where some senior employees assisted Australian intelligence – ASIO, in liaison with the FBI, in an orchestrated “payback”).

I had arrived in NY some years’ before with an MBA from Wharton and I felt like I had good skills and job mobility. Life in New York was great. I had felt well established with a long term girlfriend (whom they also targeted) and we had been thinking about getting married.

That the FBI dedicated the resources it did to hound me for publishing on a sensitive topic, though one that was very relevant to responsible investors (indeed, over the years some large fund managers have blacklisted Freeport; see a fund report), says a lot about what the country’s pre-eminent law enforcement agency prioritises.

For my part, while shedding a little light on Freeport McMoran, I learned that the FBI’s tentacles are everywhere attuned to finely nuanced comments about US corporations and revealed this is something the authorities care deeply about – protecting American corporate image on social and environmental matters even when, in cases like this, that reputation isn’t deserved.

While all of this was going on, Bernie Madoff was amassing billions in ill begotten gains on Wall Street, right under the FBI’s nose, something that had apparently evaded their attention for over a decade. This is despite the SEC having previously identified Madoff’s operation as a concern. While Madoff evaded the attention of the FBI, he not only took his clients to the cleaners, but in doing so he confirmed to the rest of the country that the FBI has a favoured status relationship with banks, money and corporate America by failing to act on corporate misconduct right under its nose.

Analyst commentary on sensitive and unpopular truths about American corporate behaviour on Wall Street evidently draws vast resources from the FBI to contain (and which congress funds); while massive frauds in other parts of Wall Street flourish till they become so big they collapse under their own weight.

The FBI looks like it has become every bit what President Truman feared: In 1945, a month after taking office, President Truman wrote of Hoover’s FBI, “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex life scandals and plain blackmail.” Two years later he observed, “all Congressmen and Senators are afraid of him.”[1]

Unfettered FBI persecution and surveillance of innocent people is likely one of the things that elected representatives have in mind when they say that the American political system is no longer a democracy but has morphed into a new form of fascism.

More details and FBI agents’ names disclosed

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.

FBI agents named [27 March 2014]: more detailed report (click).

Some of the 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.

(http://www.cwdowner.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=42&Itemid=23)

–       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.

http://www.miningsearch.com/mining-search/our-team/

–       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.”]

Embed from Getty Images
[1] Jay Stanley, 15 October 2013 On the Prospect of Blackmail by the NSA, American Civil Liberties Union.

Posted in corruption, dissident, FBI, foreign affairs, human rights, intelligence agency, national security, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The FBX Blog: The Unfolding Story [updated 27 March 2014]

 The FBI (and ASIO) stole my girlfriend

[Updated 27 March 2014]

www.facebook.com/Mininganalyst

 Overview

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.[1]

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 were never 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).[2] 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”[3]

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.”[4]

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. 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. 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). https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/38850305/Professor%20John%20Keane%20post%20v1.6.docx

 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.

Conclusion

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.

(http://www.cwdowner.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=42&Itemid=23)

–       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.

http://www.miningsearch.com/mining-search/our-team/

–       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.

 

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[1] Jane Perlez and Raymond Bonner, 28 January 2006 New York Urges U.S. Inquiry in Mining Company’s Indonesia Payment, The New York Times

[2] 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

[3] Jonathan Freedland, 19 October 2013, The GCHQ scandal is not about the Guardian. It is an insult to parliament, The Guardian.

[4] 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

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