Wikileaks outs Mark Arbib as stooge for US Intelligence
Posted by lahar9jhadav on December 12, 2010
WikiLeaks’ CABLEGATE outs Mark Arbib as US informant
Paul Maley, Mark Dodd and Peter Wilson From: The Australian December 09, 2010 12:00AM
FEDERAL Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib has been outed as a key source of intelligence on government and internal party machinations to the US embassy.
New embassy cables, released by WikiLeaks to Fairfax newspapers today, reveal the influential right-wing Labor MP has been one of the embassy’s best ALP informants, along with former frontbencher Bob McMullan and current MP Michael Danby.
The documents say the Minister for Sport had been secretly offering details of Labor’s inner workings even before his election to the Senate in 2007, dating back to his time as general secretary of the party’s NSW branch from 2004.
Senator Arbib was one of the “faceless men” who was instrumental in the decision to oust Kevin Rudd and install Julia Gillard as Prime Minister in June.
The documents also identify Senator Arbib as a strong backer of the Australia-US alliance.
“He understands the importance of supporting a vibrant relationship with the US while not being too deferential. We have found him personable, confident and articulate,” an embassy profile on Senator Arbib written in July last year says. “He has met with us repeatedly throughout his political rise.”
The embarrassing revelations come as lawyers for whistleblower Julian Assange say the 39-year-old Australian will not be safe if he is sent to Sweden for trial because the “endgame” of US authorities is to move him there to be charged with espionage.
The US Justice Department is considering charging Mr Assange with espionage over the website’s release of a mass of classified documents and Britain’s The Independent newspaper said US and Swedish officials had already held informal discussions about the possibility of him being delivered into US custody.
Mr Assange was yesterday refused bail and sent to London’s Wandsworth prison after appearing in a British court to answer a Swedish extradition application.
In the latest of a series of secret cables obtained by Mr Assange’s WikiLeaks outfit, US officials reportedly described Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd as abrasive, impulsive and a “control freak” who insisted on micro-managing issues.
The cables, published in Fairfax newspapers, revealed how an initially favourable US response to Mr Rudd becoming prime minister quickly changed to strident criticism of his leadership style. Mr Rudd was dismissed in one US cable as a “mistake-prone control freak”.
In a series of interviews yesterday, Mr Rudd dismissed the US criticism as “water off a duck’s back” but was quick to blame lax US security rather than Mr Assange for the humiliating leaks.
“Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network,” Mr Rudd told Reuters news agency. “The Americans are responsible for that. I don’t, frankly, give a damn about this sort of thing. Just get on with it.”
Julia Gillard was quick to reaffirm her strong support for the beleaguered minister, saying he was doing a first-class job.
As Mr Assange awoke from his first night in British custody, his lawyer, Mark Stephens, told The Australian the Townsville-born computer hacker had formally approached Australian consular officials in London and Sweden for help in fighting a Swedish extradition request over sexual assault allegations.
Describing Sweden as the US’s “lickspittle state of choice”, Mr Stephens said he feared the Swedish extradition order was merely a prelude to Mr Assange’s ultimate removal to the US, where possession of 251,000 state department cables has caused a political uproar and calls for retribution.
“His Swedish lawyer has said explicitly to me that it would be quite unsafe for Julian in Sweden at this time,” Mr Stephens said. “Not in terms of he would be harmed in Sweden, but that Sweden is not the end game.”
The lawyer said he had asked the Australian high commission in London and Australia’s embassy in Sweden for help in contesting the allegations against Mr Assange, which centre on the use or otherwise of a condom during consensual sex.
Mr Stephens said he had asked Australia to petition Swedish authorities for information about the allegations against Mr Assange and the evidence against him. He has also asked Australia to help him gain access to Mr Assange, who is due to reappear in a London court next Tuesday.
Mr Stephens said British prison authorities refused him access to Mr Assange until Monday, which did not leave him enough time to organise a defence.
Australian consular officials responded to Mr Assange’s request for assistance on Tuesday. Consular staff attended his court hearing and were preparing to make regular visits to check on his welfare while being held in custody.
Mr Assange’s defence team will be headed by high-profile Australian barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC, who flew back from Sydney on Tuesday.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates described Mr Assange’s arrest as “good news”.
Mr Assange faces two counts of sexual molestation, one count of unlawful coercion and one count of rape involving two women in Sweden in August. He has denied the allegations. He sat impassively through the hour-long hearing and merely blinked a few times when the judge announced that he was refusing bail.
But Mr Assange saw a glimmer of hope in his battle against the allegations yesterday, with senior district judge Howard Riddle saying he might be released from jail next week unless Swedish prosecutors produced evidence in London to back up their claims.
Current US ambassador Jeffrey Bleich yesterday moved quickly to defuse the controversy surrounding predecessor Robert McCallum’s unflattering assessment of Mr Rudd, saying the Foreign Minister was a good friend of the US and enjoyed the full confidence of the Obama administration.
“On a personal level we’re good mates,” Mr Bleich said. “You’ve seen us walking around the lake together – we have a little bromance – he’s a very good person.”
That message was reinforced in a personal phone call to Mr Rudd by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mrs Clinton also issued a statement reaffirming her administration’s commitment to the US-Australia relationship. It emphasised her gratitude to Mr Rudd for “leadership and vision” in helping guide the alliance.
Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the revelations backed up what the opposition had been saying about the government’s handling of foreign policy, and Mr Rudd’s suitability for the foreign portfolio. “These cables reveal a pattern of behaviour on the part of the government that is quite disturbing, arrogant and incompetent . . . making half-baked announcements without prior consultation with other nations,” she said.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT IN AUSTRALIA?
HISTORY repeats itself…
from Killing Hope U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II – Part I William Blum
40. Australia 1973-1975 Another free election bites the dust
When the leader of a Communist country was removed from office by the Politburo, this was confirmation to the Western mind of the totalitarian, or, at best, the arbitrary, nature of the Communist system.
What then are we to make of the fact that in 1975 Edward Gough Whitlam, the legally elected prime minister of Australia, was summarily dismissed by a single non-elected individual, one functioning under the title of “Governor-General”?
Whitlam took office in December 1972 as the head of the first Labor Party government in Australia in 23 years. In short order he set about proving to the opposition parties the correctness of their historical prediction that Labor in power would be “irresponsible and dangerous”1—to whom, of course, had always been the question.
The war in Vietnam was an immediate example. Australian military personnel serving there under the command of the United States were called home, conscription was halted, and young men jailed for refusing military service were released.2 Moreover, the Whitlam government recognized North Vietnam, several of his ministers publicly denounced American bombing of Hanoi and called for rallies to oppose it, and protesting dock workers felt inspired to impose a temporary boycott on American shipping, although the last was opposed by Whitlam.3
Condemnation of President Nixon and his administration volunteered by Labor ministers was most undiplomatic: “corrupt” … “maniacs” … “mass murderers” … were some of the epithets hurled at Washington. American officials were reported to be “shocked and angered”.4
The overseas side of Australian intelligence (ASIS by acronym), it turned out, was working with the CIA in Chile against the Allende government. Whitlam ordered an immediate halt to the operation early 1973, although at the time of Allende’s downfall in September, ASIS was reportedly still working with the Agency.5
The Labor government showed itself less than committed to the games security people play at home as well. Whitlam let it be known immediately that he did not wish to have his staff members undergo the usual security checks because he knew and trusted them. The Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO) was taken aback by such unorthodoxy and informed its CIA colleagues in Australia; cables went to Washington; before long, a political officer at the American Embassy was informing Richard Hall, one of Whitlam’s advisers, “Your Prime Minister has just cut off one of his options.” Hall took the remark to be a threat to cut off intelligence information.6 Whether bowing to American/ASIO pressure or not, Whitlam soon afterward agreed to the security checks.
The new administration also put an end to the discrimination against immigrants who were being denied naturalization for having opposed the military juntas in places like Greece and Chile.7 Most exceptional and alarming to the security professionals was the behavior of the Attorney General who showed up unannounced at ASIO headquarters one day in March 1973 with the police and carted away certain files because he suspected that the intelligence agency was withholding information from him. In all likelihood, ASIO was deliberately keeping certain information from its own government, as does every other intelligence agency in the world. The difference here, once again, was that the Labor government simply refused to accept such a state of affairs as normal.
A few years later, after Whitlam’s ouster, James Angleton, who had been a high CIA officer in 1973 and directly concerned with intelligence relations with Australia, complained to an Australian television interviewer about the “Attorney General moving in, barging in, we were deeply concerned as to the sanctity of this information which could compromise sources and methods and compromise human life.” The CIA, he said, seriously considered breaking intelligence relations with Australia.8
As a consequence of Whitlam’s unconventional way of running a government, the CIA became rather concerned about the security and continued functioning of its many military and intelligence facilities in Australia. By the Agency’s standards, it was a highly important setup, employing thousands of persons — a vital part of the early warning system; a key tracking station in the United States’ global spy satellite system of extremely sophisticated photography and monitoring of activities within the Soviet Union; a US naval communications station which dealt with nuclear submarines; a huge electronics control center set up by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept messages, of voice, telex, etc., coming in and out of Australia and its Pacific region — that is, eavesdropping on everybody and everything.3
Most of this had been built in the latter part of the 1960s and was run in such secrecy that not even senior members of the Australian Foreign Ministry had been briefed on exactly what went on in those buildings in Australia’s wide open spaces, and the CIA connection was never officially acknowledged.
After the Labor Party took power, some of its members voiced strong criticism of the secret facilities. They increasingly demanded an official explanation for their presence and at times even voted for their removal. This was not carried out because the leaders of the Whitlam administration, for all their radical posturing, were not about to leap into political no-man’s-land by cutting off ties to the West. They spoke of neutralism and non-alignment on occasion, but they were willing to settle for independence; which is all the Papandreous Government wanted before they were ousted in Greece, another site of an American electronics state-within-a-state in which the host intelligence and defense establishments typically demonstrate more loyalty to their American counterparts than to their own “government of the day”.
In 1976, an investigation by the Australian Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security concluded that for many years members of ASIO had been providing the CIA with potentially damaging information about prominent Australian politicians and governmental officials. The information reportedly ranged from accusations of subversive tendencies to details about personal peccadillos.10
Moreover, it was later learned that in addition to Chile, Australian intelligence had aided US operations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.11
The Whitlam government displayed its independence where it could. In 1973, Whitlam disclosed the existence of an Australian Defence Signals Directorate unit in Singapore — another cold-war toy of the CIA and ASIO which monitored military and civilian radio traffic in Asia. (The DSD is comparable to the American NSA and the British GCHQ.) Later, the Australian prime minister closed the unit down, although he re-established part of it in Australia. His administration also expressed its disapproval of US plans to build up the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia as another military-intelligence-nuclear outpost.12
And in February 1975, the Labor Party conference voted to allow the Provisional Revolutionary Government of Vietnam (the Vietcong) to set up an office in Australia. This was before the fall of Saigon.
“By the end of 1974,” writes Joan Coxsedge, a Labor Party member of Parliament in the state of Victoria,
almost every move by the Whitlam Government or by individual Labor parliamentarians, whether it was a departmental decision, a staff appointment, an international cable, a telex, a phone call, or a confidential letter, quickly became the property of the news media. There was an unparalleled campaign of personal vituperation, hinting at incompetence, dissension, corruption and private scandal within the ranks of the government.13
Matters reached the spark point in autumn 1975. Whitlam dismissed the heads of both ASIO and ASIS in separate incidents, the latter because the agency had been secretly assisting the CIA in covert activities in nearby East Timor.14 Then, at the beginning of November, it was revealed in the press that a former CIA officer, Richard Lee Stallings, had been channeling funds to J. Douglas Anthony, leader of the National Country Party, one of the two main opposition parties. It was reported that Stallings was a close friend and former tenant of Anthony’s, that the secret facilities in the hinterland were indeed CIA creations, and that Stallings had been the first head of much of the operation.15
A year earlier, an Australian political journalist, Ray Aitchison, had published a book called Looking at the Liberals (the Liberal Party, the other important opposition party, was actually rather conservative), in which he claimed that the CIA had offered the opposition unlimited funds in their unsuccessful attempt to defeat the Labor Party in the May 1974 parliamentary elections.16 Subsequently, a Sydney newspaper reported that the Liberals had been on the receiving end since the late 1960s, and quoted the remarks of former CIA officer Victor Marchetti, who confirmed that the CIA had funded both of the major opposition parties.17
Whitlam publicly repeated the charges about Stallings and insisted upon an investigation of the facilities, to identify once and for all their true nature and purpose. (Whether any of it was part of a weapons system was one question which seriously concerned the administration.) At the same time he demanded a list of all CIA operatives in Australia.
The Australian military-intelligence complex appears to have been spurred into a flurry of activity. On 6th November, the head of the Defence Department reportedly met with the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, and afterward declared publicly: “This is the greatest risk to the nation’s security there has ever been.”18
On the eighth, another senior defence official held a meeting with Kerr in which he briefed the Governor-General about allegations from the CIA that Whitlam was jeopardizing the security of the American bases in Australia.19 The same day, the CIA in Washington informed the ASIO station there that all intelligence links with Australia would be cut off unless a satisfactory explanation was given of Mr. Whitlam’s behavior.20 The Agency had already expressed reservations about releasing intelligence information to certain government ministers.21
If this had been a Third World country, the CIA would likely have already sent the government packing.
On 9 November, Kerr was received at the Defence Signals Directorate for yet another briefing.22 The following day, the ASIO station in Washington, at the request of the CIA, sent a telex to its headquarters in Australia in which it stated that “CIA can not see how this dialogue with continued reference to CIA can do other than blow the lid off these installations”.23 In addition to Stallings, the names of his successors (senior CIA officers) and the CIA station chief in Canberra had appeared in the press.
Kerr, who was taken with the world of spookery and regularly saw classified material, in all likelihood was aware of the ASIO telex and the CIA ultimatum.24 On the 11th, he dismissed Whitlam as Prime Minister, dissolved both houses of Parliament, and appointed Malcolm Fraser, the leader of the Liberal Party, to head an interim government until new elections could be held on 13th December. In the hours between the appointment of Fraser and the dissolution of Parliament, the Labor majority in the House of Representatives pushed through a no-confidence motion against Fraser, an act which obliged the Governor-General to dismiss the Liberal leader in turn. Kerr chose to ignore this maneuver, which was a legalistic one, although his dismissal of Whitlam was no less a legalistic act.
On 15 October, the opposition-controlled Senate had refused to vote on a new budget appropriation bill (called “Supply” in Australia) in order to force the government to dissolve Parliament and hold new elections, hoping thus to regain power. Though the constitution gave the Senate the technical right to withhold approval of the budget, it was seldom interpreted literally, as it is in the United States. Precedent was of greater importance, and the fact was that in Australia’s 75-year history as a Federation the Senate had never exercised this right against the federal government. Only days earlier, eight leading law professors had publicly declared such action to be constitutionally improper. The opposition tactic was thus at least debatable.
When Whitlam refused to dissolve Parliament and tried to govern without the budget, a constitutional and financial crisis steadily built up over the course of several weeks. Then Kerr invoked a power as archaic and as questionable as that employed by the Senate. It was the first time a Governor-General had ever dismissed a federal prime minister; it had occurred but once before on a state level.25
The Melbourne newspaper, The Age (which, said the New York Times, was “generally held to be one of the nation’s most responsible papers”),2 wrote that Kerr’s action was “a triumph of narrow legalism over common sense and popular feeling”. It added:
By bringing down the Government because the Senate refused it Supply, Sir John Kerr acted at least against the spirit of the Australian Constitution. Since 1901, it has been a firmly held convention that the Senate should not reject budgets … Sir John has created an awesome precedent—that a hostile Senate can bring down a government whenever it denies it Supply. [Kerr] breathed life into a constitutional relic — the right of kings and queens to unilaterally appoint governments.2
The office of Governor-General had traditionally been only that of a figurehead representative of the Queen of England. Kerr’s decision, however, appears as a calculated political act. He gave Whitlam no warning or ultimatum before dismissing him, no opportunity to request the dissolution of parliament, which would have permitted him to remain in office. One must read Kerr’s own account of his confrontation with Whitlam to appreciate how he maneuvered the Prime Minister into stalking out of the Governor-General’s office without requesting the dissolution. Kerr claims he refrained from issuing Whitlam an ultimatum because he feared that the prime minister would leave and then ask the Queen for his removal as Governor-General.28 But he fails to explain why he didn’t give Whitlam an ultimatum that had to be responded to on the spot.
Kerr had been appointed, at least in theory, by the Queen. Ironically, she had done so at Whitlam’s recommendation, which he had made against the wishes of his party’s left-wing. Kerr’s action added to Whitlam’s reputation as a bad judge of character, a man easily taken in.
Certainly the warning signs were there, for John Kerr had been intimately involved with CIA fronts for a number of years. In the 1950s he joined the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, an organization spawned by the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom (see Western Europe chapter), Kerr became a member of the organization’s executive board in 1957 and also wrote for its magazine Quadrant. One article, in 1960, was entitled “The struggle against communism in the trade unions”, a program and tactic, as we have seen, the CIA has consistently accorded a high priority to throughout the world.
In 1966 Kerr helped to found Lawasia (or Law Asia), an organization of lawyers in the Far East funded by the Asia Foundation. The Foundation was one of the most prominent CIA fronts for over a decade, with offices and representatives in all the major capitals of Asia; one of its prime missions, Victor Marchetti has written, was “to disseminate throughout Asia a negative vision of mainland China, North Vietnam, and North Korea”.29 Kerr became Lawasia’s first president, a position he held until 1970. He describes the organization as “a non-communist group of Asian lawyers” which the Asia Foundation supported because “the rule of law is a good thing, a strong legal profession is a good thing, and talk between lawyers is a good thing.”30
“There was a bit of a celebration” in the CIA when Whitlam was dismissed by Kerr, reported Christopher Boyce. Boyce is an American who was working at the time for TRW Systems, Inc., Los Angeles, in a cryptographic communications center which linked CIA headquarters in Virginia with the Agency’s satellite surveillance system in Australia. In his position, Boyce was privy to telex communications between the two stations. The CIA, he said, referred to Kerr as “our man”.51
Boyce also revealed that the CIA had infiltrated Australian labor unions, had been “manipulating the leadership”, and had “suppressed their strikes”, particularly those involving railroads and airports. The last was reportedly because the strikes were holding up deliveries of equipment to the Agency’s installations. Some unions as well had been in the forefront of opposition to the installations.32
As matters turned out, Whitlam lost the new election.
One other CIA operation in Australia deserves mention. This is the Nugan Hand Merchant Bank of Sydney, truly a CIA bank. Founded in 1973 by Frank Nugan, an Australian, and Michael Hand, an American formerly with the Green Berets in Vietnam and with the CIA airline Air America, the bank exhibited phenomenal growth over the next few years. It opened branch offices in Saudi Arabia, Hamburg, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Argentina, Chile, Hawaii, Washington and Annapolis, Maryland, run by men with backgrounds in the CIA, OSS, Green Berets, and similar specialty areas of banking. Former CIA Director William Colby was one of the bank’s attorneys.
The Nugan Hand Bank succeeded in expanding the scope of normal banking services. Among the activities it was reportedly involved in were: drug trafficking, international arms dealing, links to organized crime, laundering money for President Suharto of Indonesia, unspecified services for President and Mrs. Marcos of the Philippines, assisting the Shah of Iran’s family to shift money out of Iran, channeling CIA money into pro-American political parties and operations in Europe, transferring $2.4 million to the Australian Liberal Party through one of the bank’s many associated companies, attempting to blackmail an Australian state minister who was investigating organized crime (the CIA opened a Swiss bank account in his name and threatened to leak the information), and a host of other socially useful projects.
In addition, several mysterious deaths have been connected to the bank, including that of a ranking CIA officer in Maryland. And on 27 January 1980, Frank Nugan was himself found shot dead in his car. In June, Michael Hand disappeared without a trace. The Nugan Hand Merchant Bank collapsed, $50 million or so in debt.33
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