Tinker Tailor Soldier Source

The AFP sanctions espionage and News Corp falsely claims vindication

TO the spymaster, there are no coincidences. Not at first blush, anyway, and not even at the second or third. I will therefore assume it is no coincidence that on the day the ABC published more highly sensitive information about another alleged unlawful killing in Afghanistan (with a pixelated photograph of the supposed culprit), the Australian Federal Police announced it would not bring charges against News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst for publishing illegally leaked and published documents (literally marked “secret” and “top secret”) about plans to broaden the powers of the Australian Signals Directorate. In fact, the AFP says “no-one will be prosecuted.” Confusingly, the Federal Police are also investigating the Afghanistan claims, as well as the ABC’s Dan Oakes and Sam Clark who have published sensational reports on the subject. That controversy has been bundled with the Smethurst case by the nation’s editorial boards to win legislated ‘protections’ for journalists. Far from being dumbfounded by this incestuous mess, Attorney-General Christian Porter said he was merely “frustrated” the prosecution so mysteriously terminated yesterday had taken this long “to resolve.” It’s not clear to me that the AFP and the intelligence agencies are still answerable to elected civilians.

Notwithstanding the possibility the ASD mole was identified and dealt with in-house, the abandonment of the Smethurst brief means two laws now exist in Australia: one for us and another for elites, now including reporters (of all people), who are regarded as legitimate players in the politics of national security. The AFP’s decision is doubly inexplicable because when the High Court ruled earlier this year that the raid on Smethurst’s home was illegal on a technicality, it nevertheless allowed police to keep and make use of the seized documents. That flagged the very real likelihood that the Court was unlikely to later rule the publication of the material was protected by the Constitution’s implied freedom of political speech. Incidentally, AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney says the documents have now been destroyed.

News Corp Australasia chairman Michael Miller reacted to Smethurst’s narrow escape with predictable tabloid hyperbole and straw-man hooey. The AFP raid had been “illegal,” he said, conveniently leaving out the prosaic reason why. Police in all jurisdictions are empowered to raid premises to gather evidence of any serious crime. Journalists’ homes have not hitherto been exempt. “The irony should not be lost on anyone that the story that led to Annika’s persecution was subsequently confirmed as being correct,” Miller crowed. Even if that actually was an example of irony, being correct is no defence for publishing classified material. A reporter who revealed the Manhattan Project in 1943 would never have seen the blue sky again. An ABC spokeswoman echoed Miller’s contrived logic by lamenting that Oakes and Clark are still under investigation for their “factual and important reporting.” This too is balderdash but of a more dangerous stripe. It is for a court – military and/or civilian – to decide if claims of war crimes in Afghanistan are factual or not. The ABC’s contempt for the accused’s presumed innocence – infamously showcased before in its illegal calumniation of George Pell – proves it should never be afforded special status to receive and publish official secrets.

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16 Responses to Tinker Tailor Soldier Source

  1. Rex Mango

    Have not been able to make any sense of this story at all.

  2. stackja

    Australian security no longer secure.

  3. Rex Mango

    Interesting that the Oz today going after Jean Dong the Chinese wonder girl, whereas ABC more concerned about getting our troops done for war crimes.

  4. Bruce of Newcastle

    The punters are voting with their feet, and their eyeballs.

    News Corp closes over 100 print papers, with 14 titles to disappear completely (28 May)

    Over 100 of News Corp’s regional and community titles will no longer produce print editions and instead move to digital-only formats. In addition, 14 titles will cease to exist.

    There are reports this amounts to over 500 job losses.

    I wonder when Newscorp will stop insulting their readers?

  5. Hay Stockard

    Rex,
    In Australia our 4th Estate is the 5th Column and the 5th Column get a pass by the 4th Estate.
    And the AFP maintains is position as Australia’s Plastic Politicised Police Farce.

  6. duncanm

    The AFP raid had been “illegal,” he said, conveniently leaving out the prosaic reason why

    maybe I’m being dense – what was the reason?

  7. Peter Greagg

    I suppose this means that the two classifications of Top Secret and Secret no longer have any legal effect?

    What do Cats say about that?

  8. C.L.

    maybe I’m being dense – what was the reason?

    The AFP warrant was ruled invalid on a technicality; it failed to specify the offence being investigated.

  9. Pyrmonter

    One man’s technicality has a tendency to be another’s profound constitutional principle.

    What secrecy should attach to proposals to limit yet further the privacy of the subject? I mean, why bother with the bureaucratic process of warrant-issuing?

    What secrecy should attach to reports of criminality among the members of the armed forces, evidently conveyed, despite strong reasons not to, by other members of the forces?

  10. C.L.

    The High Court allowed the seized documents to be both retained and fully examined by the AFP. Obviously, no profound constitutional principle was recognised, though an important legal one was: namely, that warrants need to be pointedly accurate.

    What secrecy should attach to reports of criminality among the members of the armed forces, evidently conveyed, despite strong reasons not to, by other members of the forces?

    The secrecy that ensures the accused can be fairly tried if and when it comes to that.

  11. Rob MW

    The ABC’s contempt for the accused’s presumed innocence – infamously showcased before in its illegal calumniation of George Pell – proves it should never be afforded special status to receive and publish official secrets.

    Anyone that gives their ABC the benefit of any doubt needs electrodes put on their testicles, or thereabouts. There is never any doubt that the ABC has a political Karen-tits out agenda. They’ve abrogated any right to the presumption of innocence on any level.

  12. jupes

    Attorney-General Christian Porter said he was merely “frustrated” the prosecution so mysteriously terminated yesterday had taken this long “to resolve.”

    LOL

    What investigation this century has not taken > 100 times the length of time it should have taken?

  13. Pyrmonter

    CL

    Justice is done in public, unless there are extraordinary reasons for it not to be. Are there such reasons here? Or mere national embarrassment?

  14. C.L.

    Justice is done in public

    You mean trials are ‘done’ in public.

  15. Pyrmonter

    @ CL

    Trials, committals, …

  16. Old Lefty

    The ABC has received special status for 45 years, since its refusal to cooperate in 1975 with police attempts to identify Richard Neville’s proudly self-proclaimed p3d3rast mates, and the destruction by ‘person or persons unknown’ of the tapes that might have helped identify them.

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