Thursday 24th of October 2019

a new boss to spy on your privates...


Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) boss Mike Burgess will replace spy chief Duncan Lewis following his retirement from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Key points:
  • Australia's foreign surveillance boss Mike Burgess will become the nation's spy chief
  • He replaces outgoing director-general Duncan Lewis after five years leading ASIO
  • Mr Burgess said he comes to the job as Australia continues to face "serious threats"


Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced the appointment and dubbed Mr Burgess the ideal replacement for Mr Lewis.

He said Mr Burgess was one of the most respected people in the intelligence community.

"His private sector experience puts him in good stead to take up this position," Mr Dutton said.

Mr Burgess returned to the ASD, the organisation tasked with surveilling international threats to Australia, in 2017 after a stint in charge of IT security for Telstra.

It is the second major security appointment within weeks for the Federal Government, following the retirement of Australian Federal Police boss Andrew Colvin.

Like Commissioner Colvin, Mr Lewis opted against seeking another five-year term to continue to lead ASIO.


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after the debacle and bullshit of the war on saddam...


From Margaret Swieringa

Former prime minister John Howard's justification this week [April 12, 2013] on why we went to war against Iraq in 2003 obfuscates some issues.

I was the secretary to the Intelligence Committee from 2002 until 2007. It was then called the ASIO, ASIS and Defence Signals Directorate Committee, which drafted the report on the Intelligence on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Howard refers to this committee in his speech justifying our involvement in the war.

The reason there was so much argument about the existence of weapons of mass destruction prior to the war in Iraq 10 years ago was that to go to war on any other pretext would have been a breach of international law. As Howard said at the time: ''I couldn't justify on its own a military invasion of Iraq to change the regime. I've never advocated that. Central to the threat is Iraq's possession of chemical and biological weapons and its pursuit of nuclear capability.''

So the question is what the government knew or was told about that capability and whether it ''lied'' about the danger that Iraq posed.

At the time, Howard and his ministers asserted the threat to the world from Iraq's WMD was both great and immediate.

On February 4, 2003, Howard said Saddam Hussein had an ''arsenal'' and a ''stockpile'', and the ''illegal importation of proscribed goods has increased dramatically in the past few years … Iraq had a massive program for developing offensive biological weapons - one of the largest and most advanced in the world''.

On March 18, 2003, Alexander Downer told the House of Representatives that ''the strategy of containment [UN sanctions] simply has not worked and now poses an unacceptable risk''.

In his speeches at the time, Howard said: ''Iraq has a usable chemical and biological weapons capability which has included recent production of chemical and biological agents; Iraq continues to work on developing nuclear weapons. All key aspects - research and development, production and weaponisation - of Iraq's offensive biological weapons program are active and most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf War in 1991.''

None of the government's arguments were supported by the intelligence presented to it by its own agencies. None of these arguments were true.

Howard this week quoted the findings of the parliamentary inquiry, but, as with the original claims about WMD, his quotation is selective to the point of being misleading.

What was the nature of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction provided to the government at the time? The parliamentary inquiry, Intelligence on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, reported on the intelligence in detail. It gathered information from Australia's two analytical intelligence organisations - the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Office of National Assessment - from March 2001 until March 2003.

The inquiry found:

1. The scale of threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was less than it had been a decade earlier.

2. Under sanctions that prevailed at the time, Iraq's military capability remained limited and the country's infrastructure was still in decline.

3. The nuclear program was unlikely to be far advanced. Iraq was unlikely to have obtained fissile material.

4. Iraq had no ballistic missiles that could reach the US. Most if not all of the few SCUDS that were hidden away were likely to be in poor condition.

5. There was no known chemical weapons production.

6. There was no specific evidence of resumed biological weapons production.

7. There was no known biological weapons testing or evaluation since 1991.

8. There was no known Iraq offensive research since 1991.

9. Iraq did not have nuclear weapons.

10. There was no evidence that chemical weapon warheads for Al Samoud or other ballistic missiles had been developed.

11. No intelligence had accurately pointed to the location of weapans of mass destruction.

There were minor qualifications to this somewhat emphatic picture. It found there was a limited stockpile of chemical weapon agents, possibly stored in dual-use or industrial facilities.

Although there was no evidence that it had done so, Iraq had the capacity to restart its chemical weapons program in weeks and to manufacture in months.

The committee concluded the ''case made by the government was that Iraq possessed WMD in large quantities and posed a grave and unacceptable threat to the region and the world, particularly as there was a danger that Iraq's WMD might be passed to terrorist organisations.

''This is not the picture that emerges from an examination of all the assessments provided to the committee by Australia's two analytical agencies.''

Howard would claim, no doubt, that he took his views from overseas dossiers. However, all that intelligence was considered by Australian agencies when forming their views. They knew, too, of the disputes and arguments within British and American agencies. Moreover, Australian agencies, as well as the British and American intelligence agencies, also knew at that time that the so-called ''surge of new intelligence'' after September 2002 relied almost exclusively on one or two entirely unreliable and self-serving individuals. They knew, too, that Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid, who had defected in 1995, had told Western agencies that the nuclear program in Iraq had failed, that chemical and biological programs had been dismantled and weapons destroyed, largely as a result of the UNSCOM weapons inspections.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Margaret Swieringa is a retired public servant living in Canberra


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It was WELL-KNOWN THAT SADDAM DID NOT HAVE ANY WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. Bush, Blair and Howard bullshitted about it, with giant ladles... ASIO, ASIS and the Defence Signals Directorate Committee was a bit too wishy-washy about the bullshit... Labor should have been briefed about this bullshit from Howard... but Labor might have been in cahoot with Howard then...



hastie goes pasty on the chinese...

Chinese officials have forcefully condemned a Liberal MP for comments he made linking the West's handling of China's rise to a failure to contain the advance of Nazi Germany. 

Key points:
  • Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie used a newspaper opinion piece to raise his concerns about China
  • He linked the rise of China with the West's failure to contain the advance of Nazi Germany
  • Chinese officials said the comments demonstrated a "Cold War mentality and ideological bias"


Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier in the day shrugged off a warning by West Australian backbencher Andrew Hastie that Beijing posed a threat to Australia's freedoms.

Mr Hastie used an opinion piece in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald to warn against underestimating China's influence, saying Australia would face its biggest democratic, economic and security test over the next decade.

"Right now our greatest vulnerability lies not in our infrastructure, but in our thinking," he wrote.

"That intellectual failure makes us institutionally weak. If we don't understand the challenge ahead for our civil society, in our parliaments, in our universities, in our private enterprises, in our charities — our little platoons — then choices will be made for us. Our sovereignty, our freedoms, will be diminished."

He compared the situation faced by Australia to that faced by French strategists tasked with defending their country against Nazi Germany.

"The West once believed that economic liberalisation would naturally lead to democratisation in China," he wrote.

"This was our Maginot Line. It would keep us safe, just as the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940. But their thinking failed catastrophically. The French had failed to appreciate the evolution of mobile warfare.


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So, what does this nazi hasty idiot want us to do? Stop selling coal and iron ore to the Chinese? Drop an atom bomb on Hong Kong as a warning? Bomb Darwin — the port that is "owned" by the Chinese? House US nukes in Newcastle? Show them Chinese how we have treated the Aborigines with compassion since 1788? Tell them that Christian capitalism is best and that's why the Chinese are our "best trading partner"? Take a cold shower?

In army parlance, Hastie is still a Neanderthal. Tanks and mobility has been replaced with nukes delivered by hyper-missiles... We still are working towards having elastic-band-propelled submarine by 2030...

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meanwhile in texas...

Texas cracks down on dick pics

Big news out of Texas this week: sending unsolicited penis pictures is now against the law, punishable by a $500 fine.

You might be wondering why Texas, of all places, is leading the charge when it comes to legislation like this. The Lone Star state, after all, is normally more focused on loosening restrictions on guns than tightening protections for women. Well, it’s largely because the female-focused dating app Bumble is based in Austin and lobbied local politicians to make it happen.

“If indecent exposure is a crime on the streets, then why is it not on your phone or computer?” Bumble’s founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, asked Texas lawmakers at a hearing earlier this year. “We have to call on you because as tech companies, we can only do so much.” Legislators agreed and the bill got bipartisan support.

The cyber-flashing act, which went into effect last Saturday, doesn’t just apply to men sending dick pics; it bans the electronic transmission of unwanted visual material depicting any person’s “intimate parts” as well as the “covered genitals of a male person that are in a discernibly turgid state”.

Despite its inclusive wording, however, the law clearly wasn’t passed to prevent women sending unsolicited pictures of their vaginas to men – because that just isn’t a thing. Although, back in 2015, a woman called Kerry Quin decided to send 40 unexpected pictures of a vagina (sourced from Google) to men on Bumble. She hoped that turning the tables like this would make men see how invasive unwanted dick pics are. As it turned out, however, most of the men were desperate to meet her after the graphic introduction.

Unsolicited dick pics have become a ubiquitous part of modern life. A 2017 Pew Research poll, for example, found that 53% of young women say they’ve been sent unwanted explicit images and 70% of women consider online harassment to be a “major problem”. Despite this, however, dick pics are often treated as an amusing cultural phenomenon rather than a serious issue. “Lately, it feels like men and women are being told that this increasingly common problem is really no big deal,” Wolfe Herd noted to Texas lawmakers during hearings about the bill. “Women in particular are expected to laugh this sort of thing off. But there’s nothing funny about it.”

Wolfe Herde is right: the extent to which women are sexually harassed online is no joke. While experts agree that the new Texas law will be hard to enforce, the simple act of passing a law like this sends an important message; it’s a reminder that unsolicited dick pics should not be considered normal or acceptable. Encouragingly, the UK is also taking steps to criminalize “online flashing. The law has a long way to go when it comes to tackling digital harassment, but at least some small steps are being taken.


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See toon at top.