Monday, June 24, 2013


So the United States charged Edward Snowden with a few things, including espionage. He's probably guilty of communicating classified material to an unauthorised person - that's materially shown by the information be leaked to the Guardian. Espionage, however, is a crime of intent. It's hard to argue that he reasonably expected the information would be used against the United States when he was giving it to a reporter.

But whatever. I'm an Australian.

I sat down and thought for a bit about surveillance in Australia. And I really have no reason to think the federal police, or ASIO or whomever, is doing the same thing here. I also have no reason not to think that they are doing the same thing.

The Australian government has, since September 11 2001, stuck with the USA. It makes sense to maintain a military alliance which has been central to our security since the beginning of World War Two. What bothers me is that the Australian government has also been remarkably craven when it comes to being part of the broader "war on terror" - extraordinary rendition (a term which is the definition of Orwellian - it means kidnapping and torture), broader and broader powers for police and national intelligence agencies, and the chorus of fear-mongering used to justify all these things.

So when I imagine Australia being (secretly) asked to spy on certain Australian citizens without warrants or any real evidentiary basis and then give the results to the FBI or NSA or DHS or any of the alphabet of terror, the request is met with "Sure, here you go!"

An election has been called for later this year. Why aren't our federal politicians being asked about this? Is this done in Australia? Would you allow it? What limits would you place on it? Instead we get another round of speculation about internal Labour Party politics and ugly barracking about our ass-backwards racist fearful pointless policies intended to stop refugees from coming to our shores.

I don't like the idea of government employees being allowed to spy on me without a judge allowing it. I don't. I'm more scared of it than being blown up by a pressure cooker bomb. The spying thing is a betrayal. The bomb is a crime, and it doesn't deserve my fear.

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