Australian Government Raids ABC Headquarters After War Crimes Story

We have been discussing how the free press is under attack in both the United States and Europe. Like free speech, Western nations appear to have lost patience with free press protections. The latest example is an outrageous raid on a leading media organization in Australia. On the heels of the Assange case and other attacks on media protections, the raid on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation raises a chilling prospect that the free press could soon go the way of free speech in the West.

ABC ran an important story two years ago that alleged that Australian soldiers killed unarmed civilians and children in Afghanistan. It relied on hundreds of pages of secret military files that suggested Australian soldiers had killed unarmed civilians and children in Afghanistan.

This week, the federal police raided the ABC’s Sydney headquarters with a warrant naming a news director and the two reporters on the story. They gained access to almost 10,000 documents in a direct assault on press freedom. The police simply cited a 1914 law forbidding the release of secret government information and said that it considered such use of classified information to be an “extremely serious matter with the potential to undermine Australia’s national security.”

So is the eradication of a free press. Indeed, the free press is far more essential to preserving liberty than the classification of such documents.

Notably, July 2017 airing of “The Afghan Files,” also revealed alleged war crimes that caused the public to call for the investigation of the government.

The government intends now to be committed to guarantee that it does not happen again. Not the killings mind you . . . the disclosure of such killings.

58 thoughts on “Australian Government Raids ABC Headquarters After War Crimes Story”

  1. The police simply cited a 1914 law forbidding the release of secret government information and said that it considered such use of classified information to be an “extremely serious matter with the potential to undermine Australia’s national security.”

    The most pathetic aspect of this entire sordid tale (post war crime) is how tone-deaf the government of Australia (all governments) is to it’s own authoritarian acts in seeking to prevent future disclosure of war crimes committed by Australian armed forces.

    It is the tyrannical actions of the government that undermine Australia’s national security not reporting on war crimes.

    If the persons operating the levers of power within the Australian government had even an ounce of humanity/integrity they would be indicting and prosecuting the persons responsible for the war crimes not seeking to use the pitch dark underbelly of national security, threats and coercion to keep them hidden from public disclosure.

  2. One reference to Australian Law which is the only law that counts in this case only produced one still valid law from 1914. Ever hear of the 1933 USA law on the use of public airways that permits tapping conversations IF a warrant is obtained? But does not apply to those originating or terminating in a foreign country.

    That rule does not apply to non-wire be it metal or plastic especially those that depart and re-enter the USA for example to and from a satellite.

    Point is a lot of comment but it has nothing to do with USA law.

    The National Security Laws of our own country permitted a Secretary of State to violate them at will often, and repeatedly despite a specific paragraph that describes that as ‘intent’ or another paragraph that excludes the need for ‘intent.’

    So why is Comrade Clinton still walking around without an orange prison suit?

    Just because someone who had zero right to say zip blabbed?

    That was the job of the then Attorney General. She had only to say…Sorry that ‘former’ agent stepped over the line.

    But she didn’t and thus became a co-conspirator.

  3. Free Speech And Broadcast Media

    IS FOX NEWS REALLY NEWS?

    OR DOES IT ONLY PROMOTE CONSERVATIVE POLICIES?

    While half of Republicans are Fox News viewers and live in this FoxHole, the Republicans who do not watch Fox News (19% of Americans) and Fox News viewers who are not Republicans (15%) – call them the “Media Middle” – are an entirely different audience,
    not to mention the remaining 47% of Americans who are neither regular Fox News viewers nor Republicans.

    To take climate change, a subject of the latest edition of Navigator, as an example, non-Fox News watching Republicans are twice as likely as other Republicans to believe in human-caused climate change. Similarly, they are also significantly less likely to be concerned about socialism in the Democratic Party.

    However, the differences go far beyond this, pervading a host of major issues and topics from the news. In many cases, Fox News-viewing Republicans are vastly different from other Americans, even from other Republicans. So when it comes to Republicans inside the FoxHole, the prospects for making progressive arguments credibly are slim. Consider the following:

    ➜ 12% of those in the FoxHole believe climate change is mostly caused by humans, compared to 62% of all other Americans (53% total);

    ➜ 77% are very concerned about the Democratic Party moving in too socialist a direction, compared to 20% of all others (31% total);

    ➜ 89% express support for the Republican tax law,compared to 22% of all others (35% total);

    ➜ 84% support President Trump declaring a national emergency to start building a border wall, compared to 21% of all others (33% total);

    ➜ 20% support the Specia lCounsel investigation into Russian interference int he 2016 presidential election, compared to 67% of all others (58% total);

    ➜ 78% believe the Trump administration has accomplished more than any administration in history, compared to 17% of all others (29% total).

    Edited from: “Navigator Special Release: Stepping Inside The FoxHole – The Media Echo Chamber Of Fox News”

    Global Strategy Group, a New York based Public Relations and Research firm

  4. Well according to Anon, there is no freedom of the press beyond that which the government grants them. So if a majority of their citizens agree, or at the very least lack the will/ability to do anything about it, then *poof,* no right exists.

  5. How Lincolnesque!

    Suspend Habeas Corpus, seize power and rule as a tyrant by executive order and proclamation; all to “Save the Union.”

    Whatever shall President Trump do to “Save the Republic” in the face of the current “fake news,” hysteria, incoherence, chaos, anarchy, subversion and insurgency?

    1. Lincoln shut down scores of newspapers and jailed several Dem Copperheads to preserve the union. It was wartime and as we’ve known since the time of the Romans: Inter arma enim silent leges!

      1. The Constitution required Lincoln to acknowledge and approve the irrefutably constitutional secession of the CSA, as has been the case with America, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brexit, Catalonia, Scotland, West Virginia, Venice, Quebec, Transnistria and every nation in the former Soviet Union, and remove his military forces from the territory of that sovereign foreign nation, which must have been the definitive conclusion to the matter. Unfortunately, Lincoln went rogue (i.e. insane, consumed with power). Slavery was unpopular, the CSA would have ultimately failed and been reinstated in the United States – a glorious reunion sans casualties.

  6. “The ex-Defence whistleblower at the centre of ABC raids”

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-ex-defence-whistleblower-at-the-centre-of-abc-raids-20190605-p51us8.html

    Excerpt:

    “They’ve threatened me all along with going to jail. If I was afraid of going to jail, why would I have been a soldier?” he told reporters earlier this year.

    “Unfortunately there are too many people in Canberra who are afraid. Plenty of people knew what I knew, but no one else stood up.”

    He said outside court in March he would defend the case on legal grounds, namely that he had a duty to report the information at the heart of the leaks.

    “I’m seeking to have the case look purely at whether the government broke the law and whether it was my duty as a lawyer to report that fact,” he said. “I’m taking away, off the table, any dispute about whether the documents were given.”

    In 2002 Mr McBride won a tough preselection battle to run as the Liberal Party’s candidate in the NSW seat of Coogee, then a Labor stronghold held by veteran MP Ernie Page. It followed a brief flirtation with the ALP in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    Joining Mr McBride on the campaign trail was his father William McBride, the Sydney doctor who was celebrated for alerting the world to the dangers of thalidomide.

    Dr McBride, who died last year, was struck off the medical register in the early 1990s after concerns were raised about his research into another drug he suspected caused birth defects. He won the right to practice again in 1998. [end of excerpt]

  7. “We have to somehow communicate what we know while we still can.” – Julian Assange, Cypherpunks, 2012.

      1. “Yes they certainly are! Several of them!!”

        I’m sure of it, but I know of one program… And it’s time for it all to be aired.

        They’ve been playing with fire, with some very ugly unintended consequences.

  8. Australia is not part of “the West” as the article says. It is due south of The Far East countries such as China. Part of Australia is called The Outback.
    For the government to prosecute someone for stealing or holding stolen government secret national security documents is permitted all around the world. Here there are some issues about what was revealed. “Free press” is a term which used to be applied to news papers or magazines printed on paper. The right of a free press extends to other media such as toilet paper with photos of Trump on it. We can wipe with what we please. If the New York Times obtained secret documents explaining who killed Osama Bin Laden and revealed them then the assassins would be in danger. What would our government do?

  9. indy,

    While true that the press is in many cases, lacking neutrality and objectivity and also Trump, among others, has pointed this out, it is irrelevant to this case. Here we have a govt. going after a new organization for publishing documents showing war crimes by that govt. It’s important to keep the eye on what these documents show.

    1. “Trump… has pointed this out…”

      Yeah, nothing self serving in that pathological liar and braggart’s comments.

      1. ‘“I Don’t See Any Protests”: Trump Cries “Fake News” as 75,000 March in London’

  10. The public had (and has) a right to know and the government was lying. WhistleBlowers and journalists need protection not prosecution!

  11. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation made use of purloined documents to push a dubious thesis. Sorry, this doesn’t merit much sympathy unless the Corporation can mount a successful defense of justification. Your conception of ‘freedom of the press’ conveys a right on the press to spy, harass, steal, and misapply property as part of their internal mechanics. Anthony Lewis fancied the press should have a franchise to slander and libel anyone they pleased without repercussions. You’re both wrong.

    1. The documents show what is happening. They are from the government itself, a govt which did not want these documents to be in the public domain. The agenda that is being revealed is the agenda of the Australian govt.. The actual documents show dispositive proof of war crimes and they also show an argument within the government itself over out of control actions by special forces.

      It’s so interesting that you speak about the press spying, harassing, stealing and misappling property. In reality the entity doing these things is the govt. of many “democracies”, such as the US and Australia. The US spies on everyone and we have given Israel permission (not that they need it) to take NSA intecepts on ordinary citizens and look at that information. You wouldn’t know that expect that a whistleblower revealed it to all of us.

      The US, UK and Ecuadorian govt. have a massive spying, harassing (as in trying to kill) campaign against Assange. They are also stealing and misapplying his property from the Ecuadorian emabssy. Right now the Austrialian govt. is buy doing each of these things on a warrent which specifies their govt. may alter, delete and copy any documents they find on ABC’s computers.

      Only a frightful, cowed citizen would cheerlead for this illegality from their or any other govt.

  12. I think that in this current time of social media, we have to take a serious look on what does or does not constitute journalism, and what privileges being in the media entails;

    Is someone sitting in their room with a microphone and a YouTube channel a journalist? If yes: Then is there really any reason to single out journalists as having special privileges, or it the situation more properly seen as a blanket application of free speech rights. If the answer to the above question is no: Then at what level does one become a journalist, and at what point does the magic of the press pass wear thin? The media writ large has repeatedly and voluminously shat the bed over the last ten years and is now actively fingerpainting on their walls. That a free press is important is obvious, that everyone who says they’re a jounalist be treated like they actually are is less so.

    1. The only real problem with “the media” is it is transitioning from many local outlets – and many of those print – into a few conglomerates. That is not by their design, but the realities of technological changes beyond their control, and of course it is the same trend as most of our industries face, though for different reasons. Not that long ago, people of power were protected from scandal by an unwritten code of access=don’t tell. If JFK was around today, his philandering would probably not remain secret long.

    2. Interestingly, in US history, when the first amendment was conceived, the press was often just a person printing pamphlets off small presses. It was the equivalent of having a youtube Chanel. Freedom of the press included people with small presses in their {parents’} basement and this has not changed, except by method from that day. The govt. does not decide who the press is and they may not abridge freedom of the press or freedom of speech.

      There is no argument to make that either Assange or ABC in Australian are not press, even under the terms some people would like to restrict the meaning of “press” to.

      1. This is actually closer to where I think I fall out as well; that freedom of the press is more of an offshoot of the general protections of freedom of speech than a set of privileges afforded to a class of people who happen to hold press passes.

  13. Stories like this and the Tiananmen Square massacre remind me of Paul Schulte’s often used phrase: There country, there laws. I could never tell if he was being sarcastic.

    Anyone here know how Schulte is doing?

    1. He’d be right in this case, because the Australian Broadcasting Corporation co-operated with criminal activity, which makes this an edge case subject to local judgment.

    1. Sure. Govts. do this all the time! So really that is what governments do.

      In this particular case the press was not printing lies. They were accurately documenting war crimes. Investigative journalism is not breaking laws, it is reporting on crimes the govt. would like to have remain hidden.

      As the the lies of the MSM, yes, they should be allowed to print them under the US Constitution. That doesn’t mean people should believe these lies or not try to get actual, truthful information out to their fellow citizens.

      1. Thank you Jill, for saying it succinctly. I’d just add that we will need to learn broadly that when government officials intone “national security”, it almost certainly means the opposite thereof. No democrat or person who would be free wants the government’s protection “for our own good”, and any government that seeks to provide that kind of protection discredits itself.

  14. Assange was/is proof on concept. Each of these rouge, evil governments understands they can do whatever they want to actual investigative journalists. The MSM has engendered a hatred for these types of journalists in the people, the one type of journalist which tell us what our governments are actually doing. We have supine and/or confused citizens who go right along with it. This isn’t about keeping us “secure”, the usual argument trotted out to excuse murder of civilians, including children. This is about the exercise of raw, unchecked power.

    Further, these documents reveal something many have feared for a long time–out of control special forces who are a law unto themselves. We see all the “democracies” have turned fascist. They see ordinary people everywhere as their sworn enemy. We had better understand that we are their enemy and instead of giving them our undying love, we need to demand they be brought to justice in courts of law. We further need to bring each of these dangerous governments to heel by using the rule of law and mass peaceful protest. If we do not say No to this injustice, all of us will be harmed, even lackeys who fall out of favor.

    ***The Australian warrant allows them to delete, edit, add or alter what is found in the ABC computers. That should scare everyone, especially since each govt. has the ability to make your voice say anything it wants and to use your signature for any purpose it so desires.

    1. perhaps if the press, for the most part, didn’t resemble the propaganda arm for and agenda driven ideology it would garner the respect it seems to claim it deserves. Until it does that it imperils its own existence by reason of its lack of candor.

      1. Lack of journalistic neutrality and objectivity as well. They have been partisan for some time. President Trump gas forced them out of the closet.

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