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Wikileaks outs Mark Arbib as stooge for US Intelligence

Posted by lahar9jhadav on December 12, 2010

arbib

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

Buy the book Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.  here

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