No Illusions 19 – Antony Loewenstein

My guest today is Australian author, journalist, blogger and Middle East specialist, Antony Loewenstein.

Links for today’s show:

“What has Wikileaks ever taught us?”

American Being Held for Shootings in Pakistan Worked as Blackwater CIA Contractor

Britain suddenly discovers that democracy is a jolly good idea?

Robert Fisk on Libya

Hamas calls US veto on anti-settlement vote ‘immoral’

This podcast is sponsored by Suave Outdoor Living, contact them for Brisbane Pergolas

No Illusions 18 – 18 Feb 2011


First show of the year, new format. Straight news reads of stories I found interesting from the last couple of days, with a little bit of commentary thrown in. Future shows will include interviews as well.

Borders Oz IS going bust…

Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution…

Jeopardy! Elementary for supercomputer Watson…

Ecuadorian Court Orders Chevron to Pay $17 Billion for Oil Pollution in Amazon…

Pope told Irish church is ‘on the edge of collapse’…

State Department Approved Export of U.S.-Made Tear Gas to Egyptian Gov’t…

Key Bush Admin “Source” Admits to Lying about Iraqi WMD…

This podcast is sponsored by Suave Outdoor Living, contact them for Brisbane Decking.

The AG’s Letter

Yesterday I received this letter from the Attorney-General’s office. It was sent to my work address. It says “Thank you for your recent correspondence…” but I never sent them any correspondence. The only thing I can think of that might have spawned this mealy-mouthed reply was a tweet I sent to Julia Gillard a week or two ago, admonishing her for her pathetic lack of support for Julian Assange – an Australian citizen who is being harassed by several governments of the world although he has not been charged with any crime. And the Federal Government sends me a LETTER to my WORK as a response??

This raises a couple of interesting thoughts.

1. They are listening.
2. They know where I work.
3. Instead of tweeting a reply, the went to the trouble to send a long, nonsense letter.

I assume this is a form letter and that many of you have received one just like it?

PDF Doc: AG Dept 1

As for the content of the letter, I take issue with quite a few of Annette’s statements.

“… the large scale distribution of …. classified United States Government documents is reckless, irresponsible and potentially dangerous.”

But not illegal.

“Being informed of government related matters does not entail an automatic right to every document within the government’s possession.”

Who is talking about automatic rights? This seems like an attempt to spin the argument away from Assange and Wikileaks. Nobody has argued that anyone has automatic rights to government documents. An American whistleblower handed the documents to Wikileaks who, in turn, has published some of them. What’s that got to do with automatic rights? Either Wikileaks’ actions were illegal or not. If they were, why hasn’t Assange been charged by the USA? If not, then the Australian government should say so and speak out in his support.

“Certain information must remain confidential in order for governments to carry out their role of protecting the national interest.”

How do we know the government *is* protecting the ‘national interest’ (whatever that is?!?) if they keep what they are doing a secret? Are we supposed to trust them implicitly? That doesn’t sound like democracy to me.

“… a commitment to strengthen laws to protect whistleblowers.”

What commitments are those? In March 2010, the government intended to ‘introduce legislation implementing the Government’s response (to the report “Whistleblower protection: a comprehensive scheme for the Commonwealth public sector”) this year’ (i.e. 2010).

But did it happen? I don’t think so. I’ve been searching for any more news on it but haven’t found any.

But anyway, this isn’t about Australian laws to protect whistleblowers. This isn’t about automatic rights. This is about the Gillard government supporting an Australian citizen who, whether they agree with his work or not, has become a very high profile character on the international geopolitical stage and who has been threatened by a range of high profile American politicians and influential media personalities. As yet he hasn’t been charged with a crime and the Australian Federal Police have advised that Assange has broken no Australian laws.

So why isn’t he getting at least verbal support from the Gillard government? Is it because she is, as the diplomatic cables suggest, in bed with the US government?