News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinesecurity — Viewing Item

New australian terror laws { June 26 2003 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

New law on terrorism raises spectre of agency abuse
June 26 2003

ASIO will now have greater powers than police officers but with less oversight, writes Simeon Beckett.

Consider this. A hard-working journalist breaks a story about terrorist organisations operating in Australia. ASIO doesn't have the information but would sorely like it.

An ASIO operative asks the journalist whom he spoke to, and what information he gathered. In the finest tradition of journalism, the reporter refuses to reveal his sources.

Utilising powers recently granted under the ASIO laws, ASIO seeks a warrant to detain the journalist for questioning.

The attorney-general approves the request for a warrant, because the information will assist the collection of intelligence about terrorism and, because of the reporter's ethical concerns, he may not appear if asked.

The warrant is granted and the Australian Federal Police turn up at the newspaper's offices and detain the journalist.

The journalist is later brought before a retired judge and is required to answer ASIO's questions. He has two options: either break his ethical code, or refuse to answer questions and face five years in jail.

Under the legislation, he may be interviewed for three periods of eight hours each, and detained for seven days. There is no requirement for ASIO or the police to tell his family where he is.

Those are some of the extraordinary powers contained in the ill-thought-out ASIO reforms.

The journalists from Four Corners who reported two weeks ago on al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah operations in Australia might legitimately ask whether ASIO will want to question them.

Similar arguments can be made for religious leaders hearing confessions, or psychologists treating patients where information about terrorism is revealed.

The key point is that this reform is not aimed solely at those who have committed a terrorism offence. The ASIO plan allows for people to be detained solely because they have information about a terrorism offence - a power even police officers do not have when questioning a suspected murderer.

The police are not given powers to detain people solely to gain information. As a society which respects human rights, this is seen as a power that is just too intrusive.

The issue is dealt with through criminal offences for concealing a major offence. There is no reason to think those laws will not apply to terrorism offences.

The Government says there are sufficient accountability mechanisms to avoid abuse. Notwithstanding that the abuse is the power to detain and compulsorily question, the accountability mechanisms are woeful.

For police forces, accountability comes in the form of exposing evidence to public courts, ministerial responsibility and permanent commissions of inquiry, such as ICAC.

Accountability and intelligence gathering, on the other hand, are anathema. This is reflected in the ASIO plans, which only allow for complaints to be made to the inspector-general of intelligence and security.

The attorney-general has an oversight role, but is unlikely to reveal intelligence-gathering processes to the public. Reports are made to the joint standing committee on intelligence services, but those processes are not public.

It is simply not true, as Paul MacKinnon, the former head of Olympic security, recently said that there are a cascade of watchdogs, watching watchdogs, watching watchdogs, watching the workers work.

The inescapable conclusion is that ASIO is being given greater powers than the police, but will be subject to less accountability.

Which brings me back to accountability through freedom of the press. The work of ASIO using its powers under this plan will not be subject to the gaze of the media.

The ASIO changes threaten to curtail that freedom by making journalists think twice before reporting on terrorism.

Simeon Beckett is a barrister and spokesman for Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.

16k murders usa 2002 { June 16 2003 }
America gestapo
Americans want lobby records disclosed to public { January 27 2006 }
Anti terrorism powers
Area51 watchdog raided
Big brother society aclu
Bioweapons labs built all over us
Bmw trapped computer crashed { May 13 2003 }
Britain 4m cctv surveillance cameras
Bush 911 02 speech { September 12 2002 }
Cia asks colleges more black recruits { September 16 2003 }
Cia expands airplane front companies { May 31 2005 }
Cold war sirens for terror alerts
Colombia citizen spies { August 29 2002 }
Congressman ron paul warns of police state { December 20 2004 }
Dc air defense { September 11 2002 }
Dc police traveled to israel for tactics { August 4 2004 }
Detained at airport for harry potter { October 18 2001 }
Drugs terrorism { August 8 2002 }
England draconian laws { November 14 2001 }
Extends secrecy area 51
Fbis made mafia man
Federal agents raid hells angels sites { December 3 2003 }
Fema no longer focused on domestic disaster { September 6 2005 }
Fire fighters question president cuts first responders
Fireworks and sharpshooters welcome 2004 new york { January 1 2004 }
Fireworks homeland security rules { May 30 2003 }
Fox arrest { March 20 2002 }
Hong kong subversion law
Israel help targeted killings
Israeli scientists crack cell phone security { September 3 2003 }
Israelis fingerprinted us visa { November 26 2003 }
J edgar hoover [jpg]
Judge asks arab woman if terrorist { May 21 2003 }
Liberal imperialism { April 7 2002 }
Loosened intelligence
Man lost citizenship for nazi activities
Michigan city june riots { June 18 2003 }
Microsoft multi million homeland contract
Missiles at dc { February 2003 } [jpg]
Monitor bioterror health data { January 27 2003 }
Muslim raids { March 28 2002 }
New australian terror laws { June 26 2003 }
Newyork disease warning system { April 4 2003 }
Ottawa canada big brother { February 1 2003 }
Pakistani photo innocent
Passes terror insurance { November 15 2002 }
Patrol dc vehicles stinger missiles
Pens confiscated at travolta movie
Police dress homeless { May 27 2003 }
Police radio dead spots cell phones { August 18 2003 }
Police wonder why taser ignites petrol soaked man
Portland police excessive force blind 71 year woman { April 23 2004 }
Pre 911 pulls sites { September 10 2001 }
Security clearance jobs more financial beneficial { February 9 2006 }
Security efforts turning capital into armed camp { February 22 2004 }
Security over new years parties
Security tightens worldwide
Tanks readied { July 18 2002 }
Taser to blame in heart failures
Trains teen gestapo
Tri state security { March 20 2003 }
Uk abuse
UncleSamYourFreedoms [jpg]
Us raids warez servers across ten countries { April 23 2004 }
US reclassifies many documents in secret review { February 21 2006 }

Files Listed: 66


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple