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32 responses to “Australia’s intelligence agencies reviewed”

  1. PinkyOz

    Ah, that’s our Lee, so much energy and passion.

    Of course she is right, we should be able to do some basic cost and benifit analysis on that, but her (and by extension everyone’s) chances of getting that breakdown is slim to none.

    Good luck to her.

  2. fredn

    Well, if tripping up the prime minsters as you run way from a few people banging on a window is a sign of intelligence, then our spy agencies have it.

    Not so sure we need to keep it secret. Probable cheaper to get a cast member form the keystone cops.

  3. Sam

    I met someone once who ASIO had tried to recruit to spy on radical students on university campuses. Given the timing, for sure, one of the people they wanted spied on was the present Prime Minister.

  4. Terry

    Sam, Andrew Wilkie may well have been the officer assigned to tail her.

  5. David Irving (no relation)

    Robert, if you’ll recall, I think Razor reckoned Wilkie was one of his instructors at ADFA. (Feel free to correct any misrepresentation, Razor.) He was in the Intelligence Corps, I think.

  6. Darin

    I’m entirely happy to support this review on the grounds that it has input from “an academic theologian”. I would never have gone into IT if I’d known there was a lucrative arts degree career path in investigating intelligence agencies.

  7. David Irving (no relation)

    Darin, why would you take anything a theologian says seriously?

    Theology is like a formal system, but without any rigour.

  8. Darin

    Really, DINR? I always looked on theology as being just like sociology without the rigorous scientific basis. I fell into religion via politics, then ethics. As a young ‘un I figured people were rational. You live and learn…

  9. David Irving (no relation)

    No, Darin, theologians argue from a set of axioms (theholyrevealedwordofgod). Unfortunately, those axioms are not consistent, which is why they can prove anything.

  10. Terry

    Rather a shame if Andrew Wilkie had a desk job in the early 80s. The image of him in kaftan and fake wig, sharing a joint with Julia Gillard and Kim Sattler on the lawns of Monash University, talking Gramsci before the Socialist Forum conference convened, is quite an appealing one.

  11. Helen

    It seems Australia’s Intelligence, if it can be called that, like everything else, is being outsourced to private companies.

  12. Sam

    Terry, the assignment for the person I met wasn’t to “tail” anyone. He’d just finished uni and the offer from ASIO was to set him up as a post grad student on a campus in a different state where he would immerse himself in student politics, the left wing causes of the day, and so on. As far as the students he would have been mixing with were concerned, he would have been just another student. And he would have been a real student, albeit with a certain job on the side.

    He didn’t take the job.

  13. Terry

    Sam, would Wilkie have met Albert Langer if he was on campus in those days?

  14. Paul Norton

    Terry, he might have met Albert Langer if Langer was visiting the campus as a speaker on some issue or other. In the period in question Langer was very active in a group called Jews Against Zionism and Anti-Semitism and was something of an in-demand speaker on campuses. He also used to attend social gatherings of the Monash student Left in the early 1980s.

  15. Tim Macknay

    Robert, if you’ll recall, I think Razor reckoned Wilkie was one of his instructors at ADFA. (Feel free to correct any misrepresentation, Razor.) He was in the Intelligence Corps, I think.

    I think it was Duntroon, DI(NR).

  16. Sam

    Terry, I don’t know what you mean. Langer must be a good 15 years older than Wilkie, at least. Langer was active at Monash in the 60s, and Wilkie was born in 1961.

    And as others have said, Wilkie was never with ASIO, according to his public CV.

  17. akn

    The really spooky spooks are concentrated in the Defence Signals Directorate. They’re the ones with ears everywhere.

  18. Duncan

    Ah yes,

    Lee may have some conflict of interest there…

  19. David Irving (no relation)

    Thanks, Tim @ 17, you’re right. I’d forgotten Razor was at Duntroon rather than ADFA.

  20. Sam

    The more the OO can defame Rhiannon as some kind of high level Moscow operative, the more it can smear the Greens in general, but, paradoxically, the better it is for her career. The reality is no doubt much more bland.

  21. Paul Norton

    Sam @22, I think there’s something idiosyncratic at work with Chris Mitchell, a kind of weird prurience about communism and the USSR and Australians’ relationship with either or both, which completely occludes his journalistic and editorial judgment, as we saw with the farcical “Manning Clark Order of Lenin” affair. It’s quite likely that in her time as an activist in the Socialist Party of Australia and the Association for Communist Unity, Lee Rhiannon had contact with functionaries of the CPSU and/or the Soviet state, but I also think it is overwhelmingly likely that these contacts would have had no security significance whatsoever, being things like being presented with a wooden bust of Lenin at an end of year knees-up. I myself will confess to having attended an address by a CPSU functionary in 1988, organised by the ACU, at which the significance of Gorbachev’s reforms was discussed, and asking the chap a question about whether the reforms would extend to multi-party elections. He was quite out of his depth.

  22. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    The more the OO can defame Rhiannon as some kind of high level Moscow operative, the more it can smear the Greens in general,

    Does that really follow, Sam? The more the OO defames Rhiannon, the less the OO is purchased. People are bored rather than repulsed, because it’s so bloody old. It’s like yet another documentary of the sixties, except that it uses Sadie the Cleaning Lady instead of White Rabbit as the theme.

    If the OO is frightened about “Reds under the bed”, then they’re at least 20 years out of date, if not 40. There are spies in Australia, but most of them have been recruited by the Chinese. The Greens are the least likely party to be co-opted in this regard, because they’ve been forward on Tibet since year dot.

  23. Sam

    I don’t think even the OO is wacky enough to label the Greens as spies. But it would be happy to stick the labels “traitors”, “unAustralian” and “conspirators” on them. What better way to achieve this than to say than a Greens Senator has form as agent of Soviet Union, blah blah?

  24. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    But who’s really interested these days, Sam? There are adults (some with their own drivers’ licenses) who weren’t even born (or couldn’t remember) when the USSR went tits up. As the events recede in history, the Soviet Union looks less like the Evil Empire and more like the greatest rustbelt in world history. Oh, a lot of people were at Tinker, Tailor when I saw it last week, so there is a bit of market for spy nostalgia, but it was the sort of film where reading the book really helped.

    People aren’t going to care if Lee Rhiannon met or didn’t meet some Soviet operative, because they’re not going to bother buying the OO and reading about her meeting or not meeting the spy.

  25. Sam

    But who’s really interested these days, Sam?

    Chris Mitchell, the geriatric Quadrant crowd, the RSL (maybe), and retired spooks who, as the nurse wipes the custard from their faces, exclaim “I knew that Lee Rhiannon was up to no good!”.

  26. Tyro Rex

    The really spooky spooks are concentrated in the Defence Signals Directorate. They’re the ones with ears everywhere.

    Actually the properly spooky spooks work for ASIS. For christ’s sake, if you want to apply for a job there you can’t even discuss your application with your spouse, or your mum, even in a general sense.

    On the other hand DSD advertise for techies on Facebook.

  27. Link

    A national penchant for the piss-take undoubtedly makes it difficult for these bodies to be taken seriously in this country. Which is of course a good thing.

    A list of truly worthwhile achievements by the Australian (ahem)Intelligence Community, above and beyond what the AFP should be doing might help their cause.

  28. Adrien

    the Kafkaesque black hole that asylum-seekers waiting on security assessments

    Not really a new thing:

    The full implication of this identification of the rights of man with the rights of peoples in the European nation-state system came to light only when a growing number of people and peoples suddenly appeared whose elementary rights were as little safeguarded by the ordinary functioning of nation-states in the middle of Europe as they would have been in the heart of Africa. The Rights of Man, after all, had been defined as “inalienable” because they were supposed to be independent of all governments; but it turned out that the moment that lacked their own government and had to fall back on their minimum rights, no authority was left to protect them and no institution was willing to guarantee them.

    Hannah Arendt
    On The Perplexities of the Rights of Man

    Ironically the state formed as a consequence of the above mentioned statelessness is at the heart of the new stateless running across the globe in search of a new state.