Mar 252015

With thanks to

By  Chris Hedges

March 17, 2015


Photo: ucobserver
. . .   Hedges has spent much of his career working as a foreign correspondent in war zones across the globe, and has written extensively on the surveillance state and world conflict. interviewed Hedges by phone that day. You can read that interview here.



Here is what Chris Hedges planned to tell the Toronto crowd protesting C-51:    (Weather delayed his flight causing him to miss the rally.)


There are no internal constraints left to halt totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics is a sham. The media is subservient to corporate power. The working class is being disempowered and impoverished. The legal system is a subsidiary of the corporate state. Any form of dissent, no matter how tepid, will soon to be blocked by an internal security apparatus empowered by anti-terrorist laws that will outstrip anything dreamed of by the East German Stasi state. And no one in Ottawa or Washington intends to help us. Opposition parties, such as the Democratic Party, may cry foul when out of power, but once in power they bow to the demands of the omnipotent military and security organs that serve our corporate masters.


Any state that has the ability to inflict full-spectrum dominance on its citizens is not a free state. It does not matter if it does not use this capacity today. It will use it, history has shown, should it feel threatened or seek greater control. The goal of wholesale surveillance, as Hannah Arendt wrote, is not, in the end, to discover crimes, “but to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population.” No one who lives under constant surveillance, who is subject to detention anywhere at any time, whose conversations, messages, meetings, proclivities and habits are recorded, stored and analyzed, as ours are, can be described as free. The relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked, and those who watch and track them, is the relationship between masters and slaves.


There will, if this law is not blocked, be no checks left on state power. State Security will operate outside the law. Citizens will be convicted on secret evidence in secret courts. Citizens will be subject to arbitrary searches and arrests. Due process will be eradicated. Internal security organs will serve as judge, jury and executioner. The outward forms of democratic participation — voting, competing political parties, judicial oversight and legislation — will remain, but become meaningless forms of political theater.

Once the security services become omnipotent those who challenge the abuses of power, those who expose the crimes carried out by government are treated as criminals. Totalitarian states always invert the moral order. The evil rule. The righteous are condemned.

Societies that once had democratic traditions, or periods when openness was possible, are often seduced into totalitarian systems because their rulers continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old systems. This was true when the Emperor Augustus dismantled the Roman Republic. It was true when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control of the autonomous soviets and ruthlessly centralized power. It was true following the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi fascism. And it is true today in Canada and the United States. Thomas Paine described despotic government as a fungus growing out of a corrupt and decayed civil society.

Try to defend the treaty rights of First Nations people and you will go to prison. Try to halt the tar sands, fracking, or the bitumen-carrying pipelines and you will go to prison. Try to oppose Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and you will go to prison. And once you are seized by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service you can be subjected to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, the disorienting poles of extreme light and darkness or extreme heat and extreme cold, along with stress-position torture, waterboarding, beatings and pressure-point torture. And it will all be legal.

Those singled out as internal enemies will include people of color, immigrants, gays, intellectuals, activists, feminists, Jews, Muslims, journalists, union leaders and those defined as “liberals.” They will be condemned by reactionary forces, fed and sustained by corporate propaganda and money, and blamed for our decline. The looming economic and environmental collapse will be pinned by these demagogues and hate-mongers — some of whom have found a perch within the CBC — on vulnerable scapegoats. And the random acts of violence, such as the attack by a lone gunman on Parliament Hill, will be used to justify even harsher measures of internal control. Fear will be relentlessly orchestrated to manufacture paralysis and consent.

How do we resist? How, if this descent is inevitable, as I believe it is, do we fight back? Why should we resist at all? Why not give in to cynicism and despair? Why not carve out as comfortable a niche as possible within the embrace of the corporate state and spend our lives attempting to satiate our private needs? The power elite, including most of those who graduate from our top universities, academics, politicians, the press and our liberal and intellectual classes, have sold out for personal comfort. Why not us?

Albert Camus argued that we are separated from each other. Our lives are meaningless. We cannot influence fate. We will all die. Our individual beings will be obliterated. And yet Camus wrote “one of the only coherent philosophical positions is revolt. It is a constant confrontation between human beings and their obscurity. It is not aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to accompany it.”

“A living person can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object,” Camus warned. “But if he or she dies in refusing to be enslaved, he or she reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object.”

The rebel, for Camus, stands with the oppressed — the unemployed and underemployed workers, the people of the First Nations whose land and lives are being exploited, Palestinians in Gaza, the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the disappeared who are held in our global black sites, the poor in our inner cities and depressed rural communities, immigrants and those locked away in our prison system. And to stand with them means a refusal to collaborate with political systems that mouth the words of justice while carrying out acts of oppression. It means open and direct defiance.

The elites and their liberal apologists dismiss the rebel as impractical. They brand the rebel’s outsider stance as counterproductive. They condemn the rebel for being inflexible, unwilling to compromise. These elites call for calm and patience. They use the hypocritical language of spirituality, compromise, tolerance, generosity and compassion to argue that the only alternative is to accept and work with systems of despotic power. The rebel, however, is beholden to a moral commitment that makes this impossible. The rebel refuses to be bought off with government and foundation grants, invitations to parliament, television appearances, book contracts, academic appointments or empty rhetoric. The rebel is not concerned with self-promotion or public opinion. The rebel knows that, as Augustine wrote, hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage — anger at the way things are and the courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. The rebel is aware that virtue is not rewarded. The act of rebellion defines is its own virtue.

“You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career,” Vaclav Havel said when he battled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. “You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. … The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. The dissident is not seeking power. The dissident has no desire for office and does not gather votes. The dissident does not attempt to charm the public. The dissident offers nothing and promises nothing. The dissident can offer, if anything, only his or her own skin — and the dissident offers it solely because the dissident has no other way of affirming the truth he or she stands for. The dissident’s actions simply articulate his or her dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.”

We have the capacity to say no, to refuse to cooperate. Any boycott or demonstration, any occupation or sit-in, any strike, any act of obstruction or sabotage, any refusal to pay taxes, any fast, any popular movement and any act of civil disobedience ignites the soul of the rebel and exposes the dead hand of authority. It is only this refusal to cooperate that will save us.

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop,” Mario Savio said in 1964. “And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

Rebellion in the face of tyranny is its own justification. Rebellion allows us to be free and independent human beings. Rebellion chips away, however imperceptibly, at the edifice of the oppressor and sustains the flames of empathy, solidarity, hope and finally love. And in moments of profound human despair these flames, no matter how dim, are monumental. They keep alive the capacity to be human. We must become, as Camus said, so absolutely free that “existence is an act of rebellion.” Once we attain that freedom we discover that rebellion is not defined by what it achieves, but by who we become.

Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism, those who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration with corporate tyranny are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide. They extinguish hope. They become the living dead.

No one Ottawa or Washington will halt the rise of the most sophisticated security and surveillance state in human history. The corporate coup is over. And they have won. It is up to us. We are the people we have been waiting for.

I do not know if we can build a better society. I do not even know if we will survive as a species. But I know these corporate forces have us by the throat. And they have my children by the throat. I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists. And this is a fight that in the face of the overwhelming forces against us requires us to find in all acts of sustained rebellion the embers of life, an intrinsic meaning that lies outside of certain success. It requires us to at once grasp reality and then refuse to allow this reality to paralyze us. It is, and I say this to people of all creeds or no creeds, to make an absurd leap of faith, to believe, despite all empirical evidence around us, that good always draws to it the good, that the fight for life always goes somewhere. We do not know where. The Buddhists call it karma. And in these sustained acts of resistance we make it possible to reclaim a future for the generations that come after us, a future that the corporate state, if not overthrown, will obliterate.

 Posted by at 11:25 am
Mar 242015
A move by Canada to postpone any F-35 buys until 2018 means decisions will wait until after the next federal election. (US Air Force)

by David Pugliese

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Canada has told the US government it won’t be in a position to purchase the F-35 fighter jet until 2018, a move that critics of the aircraft say intentionally delays the controversial procurement until after the next federal election.

The decision has a number of ramifications. It will allow the ruling Conservative Party government to claim during the 2015 election campaign that no decision has yet been made on the purchase of a new fighter jet.

But if the Conservatives are defeated in that election, set for October 2015, it could mean further delays or even a cancellation of the proposed buy, since the country’s other political parties have raised concerns about the acquisition. Both the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party favor an open competition for a new fighter jet.

The F-35 Joint Program Office in the US has amended the Canadian “buy profile,” which indicates numbers of aircraft and timelines of the purchase.

“This moves the notional date of first delivery of aircraft from 2017 to 2018,” the Canadian government noted in a statement. No official reason was provided by Canada for the change in dates.

But industry, military and government officials say the change means a final decision won’t need to be made until after 2015.

“This whole thing is designed to delay and to get the Conservatives past the next election so they don’t have to come clean with Canadians about their F-35 plans,” Liberal Party defense critic Joyce Murray said.

Her analysis was echoed by Jack Harris, defense critic with the official opposition New Democratic Party, as well as Alan Williams, the Department of National Defence’s former head of procurement who approved Canada’s participation in the F-35 program.

Canada’s Conservative Party government committed in 2010 to purchasing 65 F-35s, but the acquisition soon became a major political albatross around the neck of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Opposition MPs alleged his government misled Canadians on the F-35’s price and performance.

In March 2011, the majority of the members of Parliament supported a motion that declared the Conservative government in contempt of Parliament over its withholding of information about the F-35, as well as other key financial documents on other issues. That motion of non-confidence in the government led to the federal election in May 2011, but despite the controversy, the Conservative Party was re-elected.

But in April 2012, Canadian Auditor General Michael Ferguson found Department of National Defence officials had withheld key information from Parliament about the fighter jet, underestimated costs and didn’t follow proper procurement rules.

In December 2012, the government, under continuing fire over the increasing cost of the F-35s, announced it would put the procurement on a temporary hold and examine other aircraft.

That process continues, but senior officers from the Royal Canadian Air Force have publicly stated they are preparing for the eventual delivery of the F-35.

Until the evaluation of other aircraft is complete, the government will not decide on how to proceed, said Pierre-Alain Bujold, a spokesman for Public Works and Government Services Canada. That department handles federal procurements.

Bujold said the “work is being completed as expeditiously as possible,” but the department could not provide any timelines on when it might be finished or a final decision on an acquisition made.

That’s because the process is a public relations exercise, former defense procurement chief Alan Williams alleges.

“It’s all designed to buy the government time so they can pick the opportune moment to announce the purchase of the F-35,” Williams said.

Jack Harris, defense critic with the official opposition New Democratic Party, said the F-35 acquisition has the potential to hurt the Conservative government’s image with voters in the upcoming election.

“They portray themselves as strong fiscal managers, but they have bungled numerous defense procurement files, particularly the F-35,” he said. “They don’t want this mess hanging over their heads during an election campaign.”

In his 2012 examination, Ferguson found that although Department of National Defence officials were publicly claiming the F-35 purchase would cost CAN $14.7 billion (US $13 billion), they had already quietly estimated the actual price tag to be $25 billion.

Mike Barton, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Canada, said the delay will not affect the F-35 program. When Canada is ready to place its order for the planes, the company will respond, he said.

Canada is still a partner in the program and has not informed the US government or Lockheed Martin of any plans to change that.

Canada operates 78 modernized CF-18 fighters and was planning to replace those with the F-35A, the conventional-takeoff-and-landing version of the F-35. ■

 Posted by at 5:45 pm
Mar 242015

The following is a consolidation of evidence of Lockheed Martin’s major role in U.S. Torture.

Torture, translated into Orwellian Newspeak is  “enhanced interrogation techniques”.


The total incompetence, to mention nothing of illegality,  of the U.S. Torture programme at Guantanamo and other offshore prisons is

in the 20 “Findings” of the U.S. Senate Committee Report on Torture,  see  2015-03-06   Bill C-51: Laws that do not apply to the Government and Police elites

The Torture in U.S. Prisons was well-documented in books and articles that spanned the decade leading up to the Senate Report in 2014.


The U.S. Senate Committee Report on Torture, Finding #13  says:

Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

 (apologies:  some glitch. Item #13 might show as Item  m.)

The NY Times tells us how much the “contract interrogators” were paid (or, at least a portion of the bill), but doesn’t name names.   2014-12-09   Five revelations about the CIA’s interrogation techniques

Two former military psychologists who had not conducted a single real interrogation were hired – at a daily rate of $1,800 (U.S.) each – to waterboard detainees. They later started a company that took over and ran the CIA program from 2005 until it was closed in 2009. The CIA paid the company $81-million.


WHICH COMPANIES GOT THE CONTRACTS?   (by 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced (the torture) operations . . . )

The web is tangled.   But not indecipherable.


IMPORTANT  NOTE:   It was NOT ONLY through Sytex that Lockheed Martin played a major role (#1) in the Torture.  Read on.



The Sytex Group, Inc.   (acronym  TSGI)


1.  Lockheed Martin’s Press Release, purchase of Sytex: 2005-02-18 (U.S. Torture) Lockheed Martin Agrees to Acquire The SYTEX Group. News release.

 Lockheed Martin has agreed to pay net consideration of $462 million  . . . 

2.   Who is Sytex?

In approximately 10 years  (1994 to 2004), annual Revenues went from $5mm  to over $450mm

From the website of the company that brokered the purchase deal by Lockheed of Sytex,          

The Client

The Sytex Group, Inc. (TSGI), formerly headquartered in Doylestown, PA, provided information technology solutions and technical support services to the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal agencies. TSGI, through its three operating divisions, was focused on technology engineering and systems integration; command & control, communications, computers and intelligence; information operations/information warfare; network security solutions; security assistance and training; and integrated logistics and business management systems.

The Opportunity

Syd and Sharon Martin co-founded the Sytex Group in 1988. Based on their extensive expertise, they founded TSGI with the goal of providing a broad range of technology services to the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal agencies. Their strategy was to grow the business through a combination of strategic acquisitions and organic growth.

In 1994, Syd and Sharon began a search for an accounting and advisory firm to provide services to TSGI. Based on the nature of TSGI’s growth strategy, its rapid pace of change, its ownership, and its exit plans, Syd and Sharon were looking for a firm with significant expertise in advising fast growing companies, a focus on closely-held businesses, experience assisting companies with due diligence, extensive corporate and individual income tax expertise, and strong relationships in the banking community. After considering a wide range of firms, Syd and Sharon selected Kreischer Miller.

The Solution

Kreischer Miller assembled a multidisciplinary team of accounting, tax, technology, and executive search professionals to serve TSGI. The team included members with extensive government contracting and transaction support experience, ensuring that TSGI had access to the expertise needed to address the complex issues impacting TSGI during a period of rapid growth. Over the course of TSGI’s relationship with Kreischer Miller, TSGI’s business grew from $5mm in annual revenue to over $450mm, with more than 3,000 total employees. During that time, Kreischer Miller provided audit services; assisted TSGI in connection with multiple acquisitions; addressed federal, multi-state, and local tax issues for TSGI and its owners; advised TSGI regarding incentive programs for its employees; assisted in the hiring of key executives; and was very instrumental in planning for and obtaining financing needed for planned acquisitions.

The Outcome

After leading the company for almost 20 years, Syd and Sharon received an offer from Lockheed Martin to purchase TSGI. Again, Kreischer Miller’s transaction support and tax services professionals were there to support TSGI and its owners until the successful closing of the transaction.

3.   2011-01-11 (U.S. Torture) Lockheed Martin’s role, supplying Contract Interrogators through subsidiary Sytex

The article explains many of the connections.  And ends with this emphasis on the broader scope:

The bulk of this $50 billion market is serviced by 100 companies. . . . At one end of the scale is Lockheed Martin, whose $40 billion in revenue and 52,000 cleared IT personnel [employees with high-level security clearances] make it the largest defense contractor and private intelligence force in the world.

Lockheed Martin executives have acknowledged their central role. At a 2005 meeting, Ron Romero—the company’s Director of Intelligence and Homeland Security Programs—noted that although “everyone talks about the Intelligence Community as ‘these guys in government,’” in fact “you [the contractors] are all part of the Intelligence Community. In fact, you probably make up the largest part of it [emphasis added].”


4.   2005-11-04 (U.S. Torture)  Meet the New Interrogators: Lockheed Martin


The issue of private contractors in interrogation did not come to light until mid-2004 . . .

It also emerged that no one knew what laws applied to private contractors who engaged in torture in Iraq or whether they were in fact accountable to any legal authority or disciplinary procedures.  When the media began to question the role of the private contractors and the legality of their presence under unrelated information technology contracts from non-military agencies, the Pentagon swiftly issued sole-source (“no bid”) military contracts to CACI and Lockheed.

That CACI contract expired at the end of September this year. But before the company opted not to renew its contract, the company was already working with Sytex as a sub-contractor to supply new personnel to interrogate prisoners.   . . .  

Sytex, and thus Lockheed after the takeover, appears to have subsequently emerged as one of the biggest recruiters of private interrogators.  . . . 

The scope of contracts for companies like Anteon and Sytex are difficult to determine because they have never been made public.  . . . 

Sytex itself also likes to keep a low profile.  . . . 

 (Quote is from NY Times article)  “Over the last decade, Lockheed, the nation’s largest military contractor, has built a formidable information-technology empire that now stretches from the Pentagon to the Post Office. It sorts your mail and totals your taxes. It cuts Social Security checks and counts the United States census. It runs space flights and monitors air traffic. To make all that happen, Lockheed writes more computer code than Microsoft” writes Tim Weiner.

The national security reporter for the New York Times explains how Lockheed gets its business: “Men who have worked, lobbied and lawyered for Lockheed hold the posts of secretary of the Navy, secretary of transportation, director of the national nuclear weapons complex, and director of the national spy satellite agency.”

“Giving one company this much power in matters of war and peace is as dangerous as it is undemocratic,” says Bill Hartung, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York. “Lockheed Martin is now positioned to profit from every level of the war on terror from targeting to intervention, and from occupation to interrogation.  . . . 

Failed Experiment?

Apart from the monoply on war-related contracts to one single corporation, the increased outsourcing of interrogation to private contractors raises questions of accountability and of enforcement of regulations designed for the military.

Human rights groups are openly critical of this new trend. “The Army’s use of contract interrogators has to date been a failed experiment,”  . . . 

This article was written in 2005.   How unfortunate that effective action was not taken then.  The U.S. Senate Committee Report on Torture, 9 years later, is helpful.   It is hardly compensation – the Torture program (the contract interrogators) continued for another four years.

 Posted by at 5:04 pm
Mar 232015

(You may want to go the URL:)

Top-secret documents obtained by the CBC show Canada’s electronic spy agency has developed a vast arsenal of cyberwarfare tools alongside its U.S. and British counterparts to hack into computers and phones in many parts of the world, including in friendly trade countries like Mexico and hotspots like the Middle East.

The little known Communications Security Establishment wanted to become more aggressive by 2015, the documents also said.

Revelations about the agency’s prowess should serve as a “major wakeup call for all Canadians,” particularly in the context of the current parliamentary debate over whether to give intelligence officials the power to disrupt national security threats, says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, the respected internet research group at University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.


“These are awesome powers that should only be granted to the government with enormous trepidation and only with a correspondingly massive investment in equally powerful systems of oversight, review and public accountability,” says Deibert.


Details of the CSE’s capabilities are revealed in several top-secret documents analyzed by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, a U.S. news website co-founded by Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who obtained the documents from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The CSE toolbox includes the ability to redirect someone to a fake website, create unrest by pretending to be another government or hacker, and siphon classified information out of computer networks, according to experts who viewed the documents.

The agency refused to answer questions about whether it’s using all the tools listed, citing the Security of Information Act as preventing it from commenting on such classified matters.


In a written statement, though, it did say that some of the documents obtained by CBC News were dated and do “not necessarily reflect current CSE practices or programs.”

Hacking spans globe


Canada’s electronic spy agency and the U.S. National Security Agency “cooperate closely” in “computer network access and exploitation” of certain targets, according to an April 2013 briefing note for the NSA.


Cut computer wires

CSE is working with NSA on computer network access and exploitation in a number of countries. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Their targets are located in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Mexico, plus other unnamed countries connected to the two agencies’ counterterrorism goals, the documents say. Specific techniques used against the targets are not revealed.

Deibert notes that previous Snowden leaks have disclosed that the CSE uses the highly sophisticated WARRIORPRIDE malware to target cellphones, and maintains a network of infected private computers — what’s called a botnet ​— that it uses to disguise itself when hacking targets.

Other leaked documents revealed back in 2013 that the CSE spied on computers or smartphones connected to Brazil’s mining and energy ministry to get economic intelligence.

But the latest top-secret documents released to CBC News and The Intercept illustrate the development of a large stockpile of Canadian cyber-spy capabilities that go beyond hacking for intelligence, including:


  • destroying infrastructure, which could include electricity, transportation or banking systems;
  • creating unrest by using false-flags — ie. making a target think another country conducted the operation;
  • disrupting online traffic by such techniques as deleting emails, freezing internet connections, blocking websites and redirecting wire money transfers.

It’s unclear which of the 32 cyber tactics listed in the 2011 document are actively used or in development.

‘In Canada’s interests’

Some of the capabilities mirror what CSE’s U.S. counterpart, the NSA, can do under a powerful hacking program called QUANTUM, which was created by the NSA’s elite cyberwarfare unit, Tailored Access Operations, says Christopher Parsons, a post-doctoral fellow at the Citizen Lab, one of the groups CBC News asked to help decipher the CSE documents. QUANTUM is mentioned in the list of CSE cyber capabilities.


CSE cyber activity spectrum presentation

A 2011 presentation by a CSE analyst outlines 32 tactics that the spy agency has developed. Click on the photo to see an explainer on some of them.


Publicizing details of QUANTUM’s attack techniques fuelled debate south of the border about the project’s constitutionality, says Parsons, who feels a debate is needed here in Canada as well.


“Our network has been turned into a battlefield without any Canadian being asked: Should it be done? How should it be done?” says Parsons.

National security expert Christian Leuprecht says the wide spectrum of cyber capabilities should come as no surprise, considering Canada’s stature as an industrialized country and partner in the influential Five Eyes spying network, which also includes the U.S., U.K., New Zealand and Australia.


“I think it’s in Canada’s interest to have full-spectrum capability, because if or when the issue does arise, then we want to make sure we can be a major player in taking our collective security interest into our hands,” says Leuprecht, a fellow at Queen’s University’s Centre for International and Defence Policy and professor at the Royal Military College.


Leuprecht adds, however, that “simply having that capability doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to deploy” it.

He also claims Canada has “very explicitly” decided — for now — not to become embroiled in a dangerous cyberwar by using its most destructive tools to attack other countries, citing the example of the mysterious shutdown of North Korea’s internet following that country’s alleged hacking of Sony Pictures.


Canada also faces practical limitations in deploying some of these tools, such as money and strict laws, he says.

Seeking approval for more disruption

According to the documents, the CSE wanted more aggressive powers for use both at home and abroad.


In 2011, the Canadian agency presented its vision for 2015 to the Five Eyes allies at a conference.

 Posted by at 9:27 am
Mar 222015

In summary,

Bill C-51 Anti-terrorism / Secret Police is about American hegemony

driven by resource depletion, in particular water shortages, in the U.S.A.

(RELATED: 2015-03-17 Bill C-51, Elephant in the Room, the U.S.A.).


If implemented, Bill C-51 merely adds

after (already in place)




Some may be interested in this:  U.S. Troops NorthCom – insignia. Eagle spread across North America.


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

We are naïve, lazy and foolish if we think that the tactics used by the American Administration to get what they want in third world countries will not, and are not, being applied in Canada. To get water to make money from.  To get oil to make money from.

The number of countries in which they have had their way is long. Iraq, the Congo. South American countries.   Buy the political leaders. Murder the natural leaders. Use the military. Use nuclear weapons. Contravene international law. No means of deception and treachery are too low. There are no moral standards.

The warnings about the American interest in Canadian water that come to us from Robert F Kennedy Jr and from Peter Lougheed are only two of many. Maude Barlow has written and been mobilizing people on this issue for more than a decade  . . . 

  Excerpt from 2008-05-30 Connection between state of police and America wants our water


So,  I get it!   Bill C-51 (Secret Police),  the Elephant in the Room is the U.S.A.

Yes, it’s about greed for resources.

HOWEVER,  there is that more desperate side,  well documented.



In 2005, former Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed told Canadians:

It’s not the crude: What the U.S. most needs is our water.

I predict that the United States will be coming after our fresh water aggressively within three to five years.

. . .   I hope that when the time comes, Canada will be ready. The reality is that fresh water is more valuable than crude oil.



 When I first read Lougheed’s letter, I was bewildered.  By what means could / would the U.S.A. come “aggressively” after Canadian water?   (And believe me you do not want to start shipping finite and needed water to an insatiable, stupidly wasteful market that does not understand the concept of limits!   (Same as many Canadians don’t.)

By 2008 I knew the means:

We are naïve, lazy and foolish if we think that the tactics used by the American Administration to get what they want in third world countries will not, and are not, being applied in Canada. To get water to make money from.   . . .

 By 2008, three years after former Premier Lougheed’s warning, for example:

  • Montebello.   Through and for the “SPP”.  Canadian Police were trained, disguised and deployed to turn peaceful, legitimate protest violent.   Our own Police officers were used as Provocateurs.  The protest was against decisions being made by the “SPP”, corporate interests in collaboration with North American heads-of-state.
  • The Troop Exchange Agreement between Canada and the U.S. was signed, allowing for American Troops  to be summoned into Canada in the event of “civil emergency”.

This in a time when the Council of Canadians is leading a decades-long battle to prevent corporate takeover of water supplies.  A thousand people turn out at a meeting in B.C. over the sale of river water rights.   In Saskatchewan we successfully fought down one, and then two dams that are strategic to diverting the flow of water to the U.S.

The list of battles by citizens to protect water in Canada is long.  The credits to citizens, the organizers of resistance, would be extraordinary were it ever compiled.

  •  The Minerva Initiative, the American Dept of Defence strategy to co-opt The Nation’s Top Universities in its quest, was implemented in 2008.  More below.   I see Minerva as a component of the plan to assert control in Canada.  Propaganda plays a very large role in conditioning the population.

The U.S.A. came “aggressively” after Canadian water.   Corporations worked with quislings in our Governments,  bureaucracies, universities and commercial enterprises.   Witness the above 3 examples of what was already in place by 2008, three years after  (former) Premier Lougheed’s plea to Canadians.



In 2008,  Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says Canadians should be seriously concerned about Americans who want to steal Canada’s water.

…   He says the United States is just beginning to experience a severe water crisis, and a common solution being cited is to gain access to Canadian water.



2008-05-30 Connection between state of police and America wants our water

2008-02-17 Water: Highgate Dam in context of water shortages in the U.S., response to Maggie. Includes water under Free Trade Agreement, etc.



2008-01-25   Canadian water exports: will NAWAPA return?   Includes map of water diversions, Canada to U.S.

Fight a public-interest battle

Mumble  WHY is this even happening?

Who in right mind could support it

The economic arguments don’t even make sense

Can you imagine what the cost to us is going to be?


Good grief.  Spread the word.

We stand on guard for Thee.  . . .

at least in song we do.

The 1972 map of the water diversions to the U.S.A. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) does not make clear and does not name what you see on this more recent map:  the Great Plains Canal.    Also, the water diversions to service the eastern U.S. are via the Great Lakes – -  the “Grand Canal” to carry water from James Bay south to the Great Lakes, and thereby to the eastern States,  is no longer on the drawing board??  (I don’t know)

Regarding the Great Plains Canal:

The 1972 map of water diversions from Canada to the U.S. shows them bringing the water down from Lake Athabasca along the Sask-Manitoba border to the U.S. through a series of dams that include the HighGate (North Sask River near North Battleford) (which we fought down) and Meridian (South Sask River near the Sask-Alberta border)(which we fought down back around 2000).

People are becoming more agreeable to the building of dams on the Churchill River for power generation; it is better than nuclear. But we should be careful. ANY dam that might become part of water diversion should not be built!

I am with those who think it possible (PROBABLE) that the Rafferty-Alameda Dam adjacent to the U.S. border in Saskatchewan is conveniently placed for water diversion into the States.  The Rafferty-Alameda has its own story that does not make sense.  Except in that context.

At one time the idea of the water diversions seemed silly. But when you know what’s happening in the western U.S. today, they don’t seem so silly. And when Premier Brad Wall  (Saskatchewan) talks of the “cross-border Western Energy Corridor” that will be the largest on the planet I get nervous. A grandiose scheme for water diversion seems not far behind.



I leave it to you to ponder whether there is a connection or not:

ON ONE HAND:    The Minerva Initiative

The Minerva Initiative is a Department of Defense (DoD)-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative launched by the Secretary of Defense in 2008 focusing on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.

The goal of the Minerva Initiative is to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S.  The research program will:

    • Leverage and focus the resources of the Nation’s top universities.  . . .    etc.

 Note that Lockheed Martin, the American Military, is now set up at the University of Saskatchewan.  This is not the only corporate takeover at the U of S related to “strategic importance to the U.S.”.


  •  The Great Plains Canal
  •  The “largest on the planet  “Canada-U.S. Western Energy Corridor” (2009), a co-spearhead being the Premier of Saskatchewan.   At a time when the obvious choice would have been the Premier of Alberta (Tar Sands and at the time, nuclear power.)

Water is significant:  the projections are a 50/50 chance that the falling water levels behind the Hoover Dam (Colorado River)  will mean an end to hydro-electric production there.

2009-06-15   Premiers, governors promote Canada-U.S. energy corridor. Brad Wall co-chair, “largest on the planet” Canada-U.S. Western Energy Corridor



We are naïve, lazy and foolish if we think that the tactics used by the American Administration to get what they want in third world countries will not, and are not, being applied in Canada. To get water to make money from. To get oil to make money from.   “Homeland Security” – - you bet!

Bill C-51,  Anti-terrorism / Secret Police  has to go.

 Posted by at 9:23 pm
Mar 182015…-and-ours

By Matthew Behrens

September 24, 2014

Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t/flickr

The incessant drumbeat of war, accompanied by the harsh propaganda of “barbarism” and “brutality” directed at individuals in Syria and Iraq, is as wearily familiar as that used to demonize the German “Hun” a century ago and dozens of other “enemies” in the interim. The PR industry, which is the landing pad for many politicos from the Conservatives to the NDP, is having a field day, from allegations that “Islamic militants” are murdering seniors in hospital rooms (perhaps an update of the Hill & Knowlton-created falsehood that Iraqis ripped babies from incubators after the 1991 invasion of Kuwait) to claims that a group with no air force, weapons of mass destruction, overseas military bases, aircraft carriers, and hundreds of billions in other war infrastructure presents the greatest threat known to our generation.

Needless to say, many of the actions of the group known as ISIS, ISIL, and IS (not to be confused with the folks hawking newspapers at lefty events) are reprehensible, from the targeting of specific groups based on their identity (i.e., Shia Muslims) to gross violations against women. And while members of this group should be condemned for their actions — which, combined with the major gains they have made over the summer, do raise significant questions about the future of the region — it is important to note that they are no different from the actions of NATO and its members whenever they go to war, with perhaps the difference that much of the “West’s” brutality is conducted from afar, whether 30,000 feet in the air or 10,000 miles away.

Afghan lives have no value

Indeed, as Amnesty International reported in August’s Left in the Dark: Failures of Accountability for Civilian Casualties Caused by International Military Operations in Afghanistan, thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed since 2001 by NATO forces in everything from bombing strikes to night raids, almost always without follow-up investigation and accountability. Richard Bennett, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific Director, said, “Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.” That endless reign of terror was added to last week with yet another U.S. air strike that killed 14 civilians in the eastern part of the country, with Bennett concluding, “The lack of accountability for killings of civilians by U.S./NATO forces in Afghanistan sends a message that foreign troops have free rein to commit abuses in Afghanistan and that the lives of Afghan civilians have little or no value.”

Ordering atrocities from afar has long been standard operating procedure for western governments, including the torture by proxy that Canada’s intelligence agencies have engaged in with Egypt and Syria, and Barack Obama’s curt, callous comment, “We tortured some folks,” an attempt to soften the impact of a U.S. Senate report on complicity in torture due out soon. One source who has seen the report told the London Daily Telegraph in early September that the CIA took some detainees “to the point of death,” noting that the “waterboarding” euphemism was not simply dropping bits of H20 on a facecloth, but instead, “They were holding [detainees] under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.”

Such criminality is given the executive stamp of approval when Obama says he will not prosecute Bush or Clinton-era officials for such policies; similarly, no one in Canada has ever been charged, much less prosecuted, for high-level Canadian complicity in torture over the same time period. As reported here last month, Canada’s official policy is to trade information with torturers, in flagrant violation of all international legal norms.

Acknowledging such home-grown violence is important in contextualizing (though certainly not condoning) the actions of ISIS and related groups.

Meanwhile, in taking a page from the Hill & Knowlton playbook, among others, the boys from ISIS know the value of a gruesome video, which tends to dramatize and inspire fear far beyond their actual capacity to do damage to people halfway around the globe. And so the beheading videos have become a focus for incessant condemnation from countries like the U.S. (which regularly executes people via lethal injection) and Canada (which until 1962 murdered over 700 people by the equally brutal means of hanging, a slower version of beheading). Recent reports of young men playing soccer with severed heads are unfortunate reminders of the sickness of militarism and desensitization that comes with warrior societies, and are reminiscent of the soccer games U.S.-trained and Canadian-supported soldiers played with dead babies in El Salvador during the 1980s.

Obama’s long-distance beheadings

The beheading mania sheds a light both on what is patently and obviously barbaric (YouTube videos featuring heads coming off at the hand of a masked individual) and what is barbarism conducted from the comfort and safety of North American bunkers. The latter are located in places like New York and California, from which soldiers operating unmanned aerial drones are able to launch Hellfire missiles against schools, weddings, and other gatherings, especially those which include what Barack Obama views as “military-age males” who are likely up to no good, all of which are justified “unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” When the Hellfires explode, they create what they were named for: severed bodies, including heads, lie scattered about the towns and villages where thousands have been murdered from afar on Obama’s direct orders, emerging from his “Terror Tuesday” morning meetings, during which he approves his kill lists. Indeed, the Assassinator-in-Chief was quoted during one of these meetings as stating: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

The late Gloria Emerson is a former war correspondent whose elegy on the American invasion and war against Vietnam, Winners and Losers, is a deeply felt cri de coeur against a society that makes war and carries on as if no slaughters are committed with our tax dollars and in our name. Emerson noted in the 1970s a growing trend in which “our military technology is so advanced that we kill at a distance and insulate our consciences by the remoteness of the killing.”

So our barbarism is a few steps removed, but it remains no less stomach-churning. We don’t see the bloodied and dismembered victims on the ground after Canadian and U.S. bombers drop cluster bombs, “daisy cutters,” napalm, white phosphorous, and 1,000-pound bombs on villages with thatched huts, but our fellow citizens show up by the hundreds of thousands for annual war shows in which these same killing machines are flown above our heads to great applause and appreciation. We rightfully condemn anyone cheering on scimitar-based beheadings, yet think nothing of our neighbours clapping for a B-52 bomber back from the mass beheading of whole villages.

Targeting water, promoting disease

The barbarism that is ISIS has its roots in the barbarism that was Canadian and “coalition” war policy in the obliteration of Iraq in the 1991 “Gulf” war and subsequent sanctions, which claimed millions of lives in what some UN experts called a genocidal campaign against the Iraqi people. When Canadian CF-18s went on their bombing runs over Iraq in 1991, it was a particularly barbarous mission that consciously, deliberately, targeted Iraq’s civilian infrastructure and electricity supply, knowing this would eliminate the desert country’s ability to provide clean drinking water to its citizens. One January, 1991 U.S. military document, “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” noted that wiping out Iraq’s water purification systems “could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease [cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid].”

Another related document, “Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad,” bluntly concluded: “Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems.” The document notes that “particularly children” will be adversely affected.

Of course, by 1996, some half million Iraqi children had been murdered by the slow and steady constriction imposed by the U.S., Canada and other nations, which then U.S. Ambassador to the UN (and seriously under-rated war criminal) Madeleine Albright told CBS’ 60 Minutes “was worth it.” (The slow destruction of whole peoples by poisoning their waters and then preventing the provision of proper purification systems is well known to Canada, where First Nations boil water alerts have gone on for decades. A report last week reminded us that almost 50 per cent of Ontario’s 133 First Nations communities continue to exist under boil water alerts lasting as long as 20 years.

Harper supports the Saudis who behead people

But the Harper government is not interested in solving decades-long water pollution problems, preferring to focus on ISIS beheadings. But it is a very selective view, for Canada blithely ignores Saudi Arabia for carrying out the same atrocities.

During August 2014, the Saudi government publicly executed almost one person a day, including at least eight beheadings for alleged apostasy, adultery, drug-offences, and “witchcraft.” The response of Harper and company to such a regime, which also refuses women the right to drive or do much of anything without the permission of male guardians, is to reward the beheading leader of the Middle East with two of the largest weapons contracts in Canadian history, totalling $14.8-billion. The contracts were brokered by the Canadian Commercial Corporation for General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario, making Saudi Arabia the largest recipient of Canadian military products for perhaps a decade to come. Such Canadian-made armoured vehicles have been used to repress freedom demonstrations in neighbouring Bahrain and will no doubt be used to clamp down on any visible signs of dissent in the Saudi kingdom.

The deal for Saudi war materiel also conveniently ignores that country’s role in supporting ISIS and similar groups. As Patrick Cockburn writes in The London Review of Books, the Saudis, other Gulf monarchies and Turkey are literally the “foster parents” of ISIS, and without their financial support, the group could not have made the gains it did this past summer, taking over both a wide swath of northern Iraq and becoming the dominant opposition to the Assad regime in Syria. Will the possibility of an ISIS takeover of Syria turn Assad’s regime back into the “friend” of Canada, a role it so clearly played when, on behalf of CSIS and the RCMP, it tortured Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Maher Arar, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin?

Questioning the roots of violence

As ISIS proves itself the latest wet dream of weapons manufacturers the world over (another crisis to spur arms sales!) and offers macho photo-ops for politicians of all stripes who “visit the front lines” of this “new war,” it does provide Canadians with many opportunities to question and act upon the roots of violence in our own society, from the despair and destruction wrought by our centuries of colonial domination of First Nations to the thousands of workers in London, Ontario who churn out military equipment for one of the globe’s worst human rights pariahs. Our distance from most of this becomes that insulating blanket Emerson wrote about; our willingness to do anything about it is a true reflection of our values.

Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. ‘national security’ profiling for many years.


 Posted by at 6:47 pm
Mar 172015

By Richard Norton-Taylor

Sir Richard Dearlove, former chief of MI6, says the threat of terror requires social, cultural, and educational responses.Sir Richard Dearlove, former chief of MI6, says the threat of terror requires social, cultural, and educational responses. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

A former head of MI6 has said that an independent body, made up of “citizens’ groups” and other outsiders, should be set up to scrutinise Britain’s security and intelligence agencies.

Such a body, including non-government organisations (NGOs) and people who “really understood technology”, as he put it, could have authority and help to reassure the public, Sir Richard Dearlove told a security thinktank on Tuesday.

He made the case for a new scrutiny body – of a kind proposed by the Guardian – in the course of a speech in which he raised serious questions about the families of London schoolgirls who are believed to have joined the extreme Islamist group, Isis, in Syria.

He wondered if the families had discussions about the current disputes and divisions within Islam and the Sunni-Shia struggle. “If the answer is they had not, the family is certainly at fault,” Dearlove said.

But the potential threat to Britain from extreme jihadi groups such as Isis should be kept in proportion, he told a meeting of the Global Strategy Forum thinktank. In what he called a “plea for proportionality”, he urged the government to “proceed with great caution” before changing the law in an attempt to prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims.

The problem could be managed, Dearlove said. He described the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris as a “serious security failure by the French authorities”. The target was known and the threat was known, he said.

“The attack should have been stopped.” There should be “social, cultural, and educational responses” as well as a “national security response” to the terror threat, Dearlove said.

There was a risk that Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, and the “Bethnal Green tearaways” – a reference to the three schoolgirls Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15 – would attain iconic status. Isis, he warned, had become “the new gold standard for PR”.

The actions of Isis and other groups might be shocking, Dearlove said, but they did not pose a serious security threat to Britain. That might change, he added, if such groups were getting hold of nuclear material, an ambition al-Qaida once announced.

Dearlove’s proposal for a body to scrutinise GCHQ, MI6 and MI5 was an explicit and direct attack on the much criticised parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). A new scrutiny committee, should be “representative of different threads of opinion”, Dearlove, now Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, said.

Such a body, including members of NGOs, could have “significant authority”. It was needed, partly because of what Dearlove called “the lack of trust in politicians”.

In a report prompted by the revelations of Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency contractor, the ISC said last week Britain’s laws governing the intelligence agencies and mass surveillance required a total overhaul to make them more transparent, comprehensible and up to date.

Potentially a much greater threat to Britain’s security than Islamist terror groups, Dearlove suggested, was a resurgent Russia. He said the west had “mishandled” Ukraine and there had been a tendency to treat Russia, after the fall of the Soviet Union, in a way Russians deeply resented.

Dearlove said that Russia had become “a dangereous neighbour” who had to be deterred. One way of doing that was to beef up European armed forces, he said.


 Posted by at 9:07 pm
Mar 172015

Bill C-51.   Secret Police / Anti-Terrorism

It’s about U.S. Surveillance,  U.S. “Homeland Security”, American hegemony.

(Hegemony is the political, economic, or military predominance or control of one state over others.)

That’s the Elephant in the Room.    Ya better put it on the table, folks!  Bad outcomes if we don’t.


We have followed the developments – -  American military intrusion into Canada – -  over the years.  I won’t repeat the list.   Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald have confirmed the legitimate basis for citizen action.


1.    Australia passed legislation six months ago that is similar to Bill C-51.   2014-09-26  Journalists and whistleblowers will go to jail under new national security laws, Australia, The Guardian

2.    Canada, Australia, the U.K., and N.Z. are in an “intelligence alliance” with the U.S.  (5 countries).  The acronymn is FVEY, hence the common name “Five Eyes”.  It is a successor to ECHELON, the espionage of the Cold War.   Info at   Journalists and whistleblowers will go to jail

To my thinking,  the distinction between Espionage and Surveillance has been erased.   I googled and found this article on that theme:

3.    The Minerva Initiative

. . .   The goal of the Minerva Initiative is to improve DoD’s (Dept of Defence’s) basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S. The research program will:

 Posted by at 1:51 pm
Mar 172015

Legislation passed in Australia 6 months ago (Sept 2014) is (errily?!) like Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism or Secret Police legislation in Canada.

It is deliberate.

There is an intelligence alliance (excerpts below)

  • 5 members   (the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, N.Z.)
  • acronymn FVEY
  • hence the handle “Five Eyes”
  • …  which to this day remains the most extensive known espionage alliance in history.
  • older people may remember Echelon which basically became Five Eyes


Please find the article about the legislation in Australia (Sept 2014) following the info on Five Eyes.


I wonder whether Australia told Harper,  hey!  the legislation is easy to pass!  

What Harper did not count on is Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party.   Elizabeth immediately understood the dangers in the legislation and went to work.   Seventeen days later the NDP saw the light and joined the opposition.  The Liberals plan to vote for the legislation and then change it later.   Ha!


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

The “Five Eyes”, often abbreviated as “FVEY“, refer to an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.[1][2][3]

The origins of the FVEY can be traced back to World War II, when the Atlantic Charter was issued by the Allies to lay out their goals for a post-war world. During the course of the Cold War, the ECHELON surveillance system was initially developed by the FVEY to monitor the communications of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, although it allegedly was later used to monitor billions of private communications worldwide.[4][5]

In the late 1990s, the existence of ECHELON was disclosed to the public, triggering a major debate in the European Parliament and, to a lesser extent, the United States Congress. As part of efforts in the ongoing War on Terror since 2001, the FVEY further expanded their surveillance capabilities, with much emphasis placed on monitoring the World Wide Web. The former NSA contractor Edward Snowden described the Five Eyes as a “supra-national intelligence organisation that doesn’t answer to the known laws of its own countries”.[6] Documents leaked by Snowden in 2013 revealed that the FVEY have been spying on one another’s citizens and sharing the collected information with each other in order to circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on domestic spying.[7][8][9][10]

Despite the impact of Snowden’s disclosures, some experts in the intelligence community believe that no amount of global concern or outrage will affect the Five Eyes relationship, which to this day remains the most extensive known espionage alliance in history.[11][12]      …  MORE  >> 

= = = = = = = = =  = =  = = = = = = = = =

. . .   Due to its status as a secret treaty, its existence was not known to the Prime Minister of Australia until 1973,[14] and it was not disclosed to the public until 2005.[13] On 25 June 2010, for the first time in history, the full text of the agreement was publicly released by Britain and the United States, and can now be viewed online.[9][15] Shortly after its release, the seven-page UKUSA Agreement was recognized by Time magazine as one of the Cold War‘s most important documents, with immense historical significance.[13]

Currently, the global surveillance disclosure by Edward Snowden has shown that the intelligence-sharing activities between the First World allies of the Cold War are rapidly shifting into the digital realm of the Internet.[16][17][18]

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Journalists and whistleblowers will go to jail under new national security laws,  Australia  


(There is a video clip at the URL)

There was no concerted campaign, no unified push by the media to stop this bill, which dramatically expands the powers of intelligence agencies while creating new offences for disclosing information about their operations

By Paul Farrell

Journalists will be jailed. It might take a year, or two, or even longer. But journalists and whistleblowers will face prison as a result of the first tranche of national security legislation that was passed in the Senate late on Thursday.

And they laughed as they did it. As the Coalition, Labor and the Palmer United party voted in favour of this bill, which dramatically expands the powers of intelligence agencies while creating new offences for disclosing information about the operations they will undertake with these new powers, there was a jovial air in the chamber.

It’s a bill that makes many broad changes to our intelligence gathering apparatus. It introduces a class of “special intelligence operation” for Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) missions where intelligence officers can gain immunity from using force or committing other offences.

Reporting of these operations, which could foreseeably lead to situations where a public disclosure would be in the public interest, could land journalists and whistleblowers in jail. And not just journalists, but any person who shares or republishes this material. In addition, harsher penalties are put in place for intelligence whistleblowers who take documents or records and disclose them, partly as a response to the disclosures made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

So how would these laws work? We have many examples of intelligence reporting that could be caught within the scope of such an offence. Say, for instance, the bugging of East Timorese leaders during their negotiations with Australians were to happen today. If it were declared a ‘special intelligence operation’ – a process which only involves approval from the attorney general – reporting of the fact this bugging occurred, the details around it, the nature of the surveillance, could be caught within the scope of this offence. The same could equally apply for reporting the Indonesian president’s phone was targeted by Australian intelligence agencies, if it were declared a special operation.

Among Asio’s other new powers is the ability to obtain massive warrants for effectively the whole of the internet. They also create new powers for Asio to conduct “optical surveillance” without a warrant. There are many other small expansions that lead to a general widening of the powers of our intelligence agencies.

These are serious changes and they warrant serious scrutiny. But the passage of the bill has been all too easy. After it was initially introduced into the Senate it was quickly referred to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security. This committee is dominated by Coalition and Labor senators – the Greens senator Scott Ludlam and independent MP Andrew Wilkie lost their places after the last election.

The catch-all disclosure offence for special intelligence operations remained, with some minor suggestions for change. There was a recommendation to clarify that “recklessness” is the mental element required to commit the offence. A note was also suggested in the explanatory memorandum that the public prosecutor needed to consider the public interest before commencing a prosecution. This should be little comfort to any of us, when the options existed to have a real public interest defence, or simply not have the offence at all.

Earlier this week the Senate began debating the bill. The government’s amendments sailed through. Labor capitulated almost entirely on these enhanced powers – and, disappointingly, on the disclosure offence as well. Despite the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, initially saying the government would “need to make changes to remove that consequence” if journalists could face prosecution, the fact is the consequence still potentially exists.

Scott Ludlam fought hard to keep the debate going, and moved a series of amendments that would have protected journalists and whistleblowers, wind back some of the broad new computer warrant powers and increase oversight of Asio.

“I simply do not believe and cannot in good conscience vote, particularly in the climate that we’re in, for continued and relentless expansion of powers for these agencies at a time when the only person who the Australian government had established … to investigate whether the laws that we already have are necessary and proportionate has said in many cases they are not,” he said.

Ludlam spent considerable time questioning how the laws would work and whether they were appropriately crafted – what the limits of the computer warrant powers were, how the disclosure offences would apply – and he was accused of filibustering by the attorney general. Independent senator Nick Xenophon and Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm also raised many serious questions about the scope of the powers being granted.

But in the end the bill passed. Only the Greens, Leyonhjelm, John Madigan and Xenophon refused to support the amended laws.

Brandis, in a late night third-reading speech, said: “What we have achieved tonight is to ensure that those who protect us, particularly in a newly danger age, have the strong powers and capabilities that they need.”

Really, we can only blame ourselves. Could all journalists, collectively, have done more than throw together a handful of submissions? Most major news organisations in Australia raised concerns about the bill and the new offences. But there was no concerted campaign, no unified push to stop these disclosure offences succeeding. We’re now stuck with these laws, probably until someone is made an example of to spur journalists into action.

There is a small comfort in all of this and that is that the laws simply won’t work as a deterrent. They won’t discourage whistleblowers. And they won’t discourage fearless journalists from reporting on our intelligence agencies when it is in the public interest to do so. The disclosures by whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning – and the reporters who told these stories – have shown us that people are willing to take extraordinary actions, at great personal risk, when they believe it is necessary to do so.

It will just mean that some of them will go to jail.

 Posted by at 11:34 am