Friday 19th of July 2019

ASIO To Appeal Scott Parkin Verdict.

It is now possible that the outcome of Scott Parkin's Federal Court case will become a Federal election issue. Spook-squad ASIO have been granted leave to appeal the verdict. Should their appeal fail the Howard Government's only option will be to censor the issue on grounds of national security. Given the timespans involved this decision may be taken just before the next Great Australian Opinion Poll.

It's an amazing amount of fuss over a few peanut butter sandwiches. We know ASIO were aware of a file about them, as its existence was reported in a world-renowned US magazine. We know that ASIO would have, given that Parkin's prior activities were in the US, made its security clearance based on US intelligence. We can make a fair guess from this (as I've said before) that ASIO was at least aware of the Pentagon's Parkin file.

What we can be sure of ASIO having, however, was the looming date of September 11 2005 and a notion in their heads that a "security threat" story released on that date would have considerably added dramatic impact in highlighting the need for increasingly alert security agents.

I'm also pretty certain that many in the Australian Cabinet, particularly the Ministers for Immigration and Foreign Affairs, would have been happy to please Dick Cheney. An antagonist of the former Halliburton CEO's business interests would have been too good a target to miss. A story publishable on September 11 of security, immigration and federal agents working together to catch a dangerous activist would, you'd have to think, be too tempting a propaganda exercise not to attempt to enact. Was the apple in Parkin's eye too devilishly delightful for PM Howard's Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve to resist? Here's a good adage that works for me- it's that "if something is too good to be true, then it probably is." It might also work for senior Liberal politicians.

The lawyer representing the Director General of Security told the Federal Court that it's decision to allow Parkin to read documents leading to his adverse classification could cause irreparable.harm unless it was was set aside. Charles Gunst, QC, for ASIO boss Paul O'Sullivan, said it was expected that ASIO ransack its files and open them for scrutiny. He said the resulting identification of documents might cause harm to national security. He also told the court that its earlier decision provided a precedent in which applicants could have access to documents merely by asserting without proof that a wrong decision had been made in their security assessments. It would seem that ASIO are fairly grumpy to be on the receiving end of their own style of tactics, and the possibility of being probed without choice.

In a War On Terror with such a major propaganda front, that the co-operative efforts of US and Australian intelligence communities has lead to such inept mishandling of a single Halliburton protester would make Coalition Of The Willing information gathering once again appear incredibly incompetent. This, have no doubt, would be regarded as a scenario not in the Australian national interest. Increasingly intense legalities serve to demonstrate the perceived severity of the situation.

The fact ASIO have gone to such extraordinary lengths to protect their knowledge of Parkin implies that whatever they're concealing will not be revealed. Should they fail in their appeal they still have a final option. Attorney General Ruddock can exercise his self-ordained powers to silence the matter. It's highly likely that, if a verdict that ASIO deems inappropriate is returned, and given such publicly stressed importance of overturning the court's verdict, Ruddock might be forced to act. The Federal Court will be aware of such a possibility.

Justice Peter Heerey said the matter raised important issues about the court process and national security. In other words, this has now become the litmus-test of the relationship between the Australian legal and intelligence systems.

Given that the Parkin case has taken all of this year to get this far, there's a strong possibility that the verdict on the ASIO appeal will not be handed down till the latter part of next year, when Prime Minister Howard is expected to call an election. This could mean that the Australian Government, already facing a public that is suspicious of co-operation with the Bush Administration over the invasion of Iraq, may face a public voting after having recently seen an action of unprecedented ASIO authoritianism. On the other hand it may finally have just been informed of Government supervised deceit and negligence by the agency that is supposed to be one of our front-line champions in this war.

The ultimate choice will be our Prime Minister's. Whichever way he goes, the Australian judiciary will eagerly await his verdict to determine how much more power he will have over it in the future. If our legal system tells the public to fear its legislators on the eve of an election, Mr Howard himself may finally have something to fear... an electorate voting to protect its civil liberties.

Court quotes sourced from The Age.

John, could you repost to front page ?

I"ve rewritten a bit.Thanks.