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Australian Greens warn of 'politicised' terror trials

Abandonment | 01.12.2004 03:43 | European Social Forum | Social Struggles | Terror War | London | World

"At least give the numbers of lawyers who have been put onto that list and the criteria for black-banning lawyers from Australian courts which is used by the Government to politically determine who is or who isn't suitable to come before Australian courts," he said.


AUSTRALIA/CUBA?: The Australian Greens say they are concerned that new anti-terrorism laws being debated in the Senate allow for the "political black-banning" of defence lawyers at terrorism trials.

Greens leader Bb Brown says the bill gives bureaucrats in the Attorney-General's department the right to decide which lawyers are suitable to appear in some courts, by conducting background checks to ensure they do not pose a risk to national security?

The legislation is expected to be passed with Labor's support?

Senator Brown says aspects of the bill allow for the "extraordinary politicisation" of Australian courts, and should be stopped.

"Release the list of prohibited lawyers - the black-banned lawyers," he said.

"At least give the numbers of lawyers who have been put onto that list and the criteria for black-banning lawyers from Australian courts which is used by the Government to politically determine who is or who isn't suitable to come before Australian courts," he said.



Argue For Reverse Surveillance - It IS Democratic!

Code breaking, and subsequent surveillance of military communications transmitted by the German and Japanese forces, played a major part in the victory of the British and US forces in World War II. As a consequence, the old allies continue to maintain major systems of surveillance, under the UKUSA agreement. To this day, the US National Security Agency (NSA) is the largest employer of mathematicians and cryptographers on the planet. But their surveillance now intrudes on the private lives, commercial confidences, and intellectual property rights of all citizens. Not only those people living within the territories of countries that are signatories to UKUSA are affected. The secret SIGINT community spies on all or humanity, on a 24/7 basis. It is possible to argue that this constant, all pervading surveillance is in the "national interest" of the British or US governments and their "owners", (but not the interests of ordinary citizens). However, nobody can soundly argue that such spying is in the wider interests of humanity. When the surveillance systems of UKUSA are used to steal knowledge, dominate trade, create artificial scarcity, and maintain poverty and economic control, they serve to refute the notion that the governments that deploy them are either free or democratic.

Reverse surveillance, on the other hand, is inherently democratic. The whole basis of democracy is that elected representatives act for their constituents, and that they run accountable and transparent administrations. There is nothing in the democratic contract that permits covert surveillance of citizens by government agencies, nor is there any understanding that it is acceptable for "our" governments to bug "their" technological developments and steal or suppress what they choose, to keep scarcity and poverty going in the world. All such surveillance activities are out of step with democracy, and it is entirely legitimate for citizens of any nominally democratic state to insist of their right of inspection and elimination of surveillance systems. All agencies of government, both overt and covert, come under this remit of citizens in a free society.

Not Revolution, But Abandonment

The process of gaining full freedom from nation states will not involve revolution or civil disobedience. It will thus be beyond the power of federal governments to attack or control.

Daniel Quinn, writing in Beyond Civilization, Humanity's Next Great Adventure, puts the situation into sharp focus. Quinn uses the analogy of an aircraft in trouble, he argues that in such a situation nobody wants to shoot or overthrow the pilot, they only want a parachute and an open door. As Quinn sees it, governments always have countermeasures in place to put down any attack on their authority and power from within (aircraft pilots might have a double locked door between their cockpit and the main cabin, as well as weapons to use if they are attacked by passengers), but governments never have any defences against abandonment (a line of passengers with chutes exiting the external door of the main cabin).

Quinn contends that while governments can imagine a revolution they can't imagine abandonment. As he puts it, "..even if it could imagine abandonment , it couldn't defend against it, because abandonment isn't an attack, it's just a discontinuance of support."

The new free cities will not emerge in some far off place, but inside the borders that nation states long ago set up to delineate their territories and facilitate the taxation of "drop it on your foot" products and commodities.

Getting A Divorce From Federalism

It takes two to tango. In the event that either party to an agreement, such as the basis of a system of representative democracy, breaks both its spirit and its principles, the relationship can be legitimately severed. This need not involve a revolution or an overthrow of the current power elites. It is simply a matter of separation. Of going off in different directions, and to different futures. Neither party has the legal right to prevent the other from separating from the agreement. Constitutional lawyers or not, once the fundamental basis of the agreement has been destroyed by criminal acts, the whole deal can be called off. The days when the church could enforce matrimonial relationships for life, have long gone. Similarly, the power of constitutions to enforce the permanency of government / citizen relationships, is passing into history. In the event that a Federal government develops into the ultimate organised crime, the citizens of that decayed democracy have an inalienable right to secede from that federation.

Negotiating The Separation

The following mock dialogue illustrates the arguments involved in a region, state, or city within a federation opting to secede from the relationship, on the grounds of undemocratic processes and deep criminality in the administration having invalidated the basis of an existing constitutional agreement.

* Feds: "There are no abuses or power or examples of unlawful surveillance. So no grounds for secession exist. The constitution stands."

* Secessionists: "Well we'll just form some citizens audit teams to have a look through the files then. If there's nothing to hide, there's nothing to worry about."

* Feds: "There has already been a through judicial review of all surveillance activities. They all passed the independent investigation. You will just have to trust the findings."

* Secessionists: "Well, we are not about to do any such thing. The surveillance covers the judiciary as well as the rest of us. The J Edgar Hoover principle applies here. Once the alphabet agencies spy on the judiciary illegally, their independence cannot be relied on anymore. That's a major downside of total surveillance systems."

* Feds: "But, we cannot agree to reverse surveillance by citizens audit teams. Such a process could enable terrorists to know what information we have on them. Surely, after the cowardly attacks of 911, you must realise what a terrible and ever-present threat terrorism is to the safety of all citizens, and our democratic way of life."

* Secessionists: "If citizens are chosen at random the possibility of terrorists being part of the reverse surveillance teams should be minimal. Nor do we feel that our way of life is so democratic anymore. If we can't examine all the files and computer backups of all government agencies, we must withdraw from what is a failed social contract between you and your agencies, as elected representatives or paid public employees, and we the citizens of this nation and the ultimate customers of the federal government."

* Feds: "But the terrorists are coming, they are coming soon. We have uncorroborated knowledge of planned attacks on our cities, our water supplies, our environment and the economy. Of course we can't be more specific about the risks, but they are considered to be extreme. Believe us, we know."

* Secessionists: "Well, we need to know the specifics too, and if we can't know then we will simply go, and leave you to it. As for damage to the environment and the economy, we think the AMIC is already doing as much damage as the terrorists might."

* Feds: "But you don't understand the awful danger. Al-Qaeda is coming, Jemaah Islamiah is coming, Godzilla is coming, Noddy and Big Ears are coming,...."

* Secessionists: "Yes, you've told us all that. Now we are telling you, we are going. We will no longer form part of the Federation."

* Feds: "But we won't permit you to go. You will not be allowed out through any ports. You simply cannot go, there is a huge national debt to be paid off. You and your children have to stay and work hard to restore the national prosperity lost as a result of 911."

* Secessionists: "Let's get one thing clear. Do we work for you or do you work for us?"

* Feds: "You work to make your own living within the nation. We represent you under the terms of the constitution, and we have the legal right to take action to safeguard the national economy and the safety of the population at large. Our primary role is to administer the Federation in the national interest."

* Secessionists: "So we can't sack you, and we can't leave?"

* Feds: "Oh you can sack us alright. You get the chance to do so every election. We live in a democracy you know."

* Secessionists: "What alternatives do we have in terms of parties, then? How many political parties are there with the resources to win government in this country?"

* Feds: "Two."

* Secessionists: "That doesn't seem like enough choice, particularly when the policies of the parties are almost identical."

* Feds: "Oh, let me assure you, two parties are quite sufficient. The policies of either party in government are very similar because the problems and solutions are similar."

* Secessionists: "Where do the funds to run the election campaigns of the two parties come from?

* Feds: "Of course you know that, businesses donate to the cause. It takes a lot of money to run for office."

* Secessionists: "But the corporations who make donations expect something in return don't they? Is that in our interests?"

* Feds: "Most business donors give funds to both parties. There are very transparent processes to ensure that no deals are done contingent on donations. Funding the parties just helps the firms to put their particular cases to government."

* Secessionists: "It's just as well there aren't six or eight political parties isn't it? Funding them all could be very expensive for corporations that wish to be heard."

* Feds: "As we said, two viable parties is enough for any democracy. Running for office is very expensive."

* Secessionists: "What about the non-elected officials in government, how can we sack them if we don't think they are acting in our interests?"

* Feds: "Only the elected government can sack public officers. They have their rights you know."

* Secessionists: "Quite. But we claim the right to audit what these people are doing, for ourselves, because we also have rights. We insist on auditing the secret police files that are being built up by undemocratic surveillance activities."

* Feds: "There are no secret police, absolutely none. This is a democracy you know."

* Secessionists: "But there are known to be government agents and police operating undercover, without badges or identification of any kind, and without their addresses appearing on any electoral rolls. They are secret police by our reckoning."

* Feds: "I'm sorry but we can't discuss matters of national security. You will have to take it up with your political representative."

* Secessionists: "We could try, but he's under the same surveillance as the rest of us."

* Feds: "We can neither confirm or deny that government agents operate undercover. But there are adequate safeguards in place to ensure that human rights are always preserved, according to international conventions that the government is party to. This remains the case, even while homeland security is now widely threatened by terrorists who want to destroy our way of life and our prosperous economy."

* Secessionists: "About the economy then, where do the corporations that fund both the political parties come from?

* Feds: "Oh, all over really."

* Secessionists: "Like where?"

* Feds: "Places like Japan, Switzerland, the USA, Britain, Germany, France, .. As we said, all over the world."

* Secessionists: "It seems to us that there is no point in having a national government in a globalised world. The fact that global corporations are now influencing federal government policy, making and dictating wage levels and terms of trade, makes a nonsense of the notion of a national legislature existing to manage and protect the national economy. We consider that our interests can be better served by going it alone, as a knowledge and talent centre, formed within a city state. That way we can be more flexible and responsive to opportunities and threats in the global market."

* Feds: "You can't do that. You can't leave the Federation. There is a binding constitution in place. This is a democracy, governed by the rule of law, and we have expert legal opinion that no citizens can secede from this nation. If you try to leave the country you will be prevented. By the exercise of due force if necessary."

* Secessionists: "We aren't planning on leaving the geography, we were born here and this land is ours. We simply intend to server our connection with the existing state, because it continues to operate on principles established when the founding fathers of democracy rode horses. Nobody could possibly have foreseen the technological changes that are now transforming the world. We are leaving the Federation and its criminal, anti-democratic surveillance systems, and setting up our own society, for life in the 21st century.

* Feds: "We WARN YOU, you can't do that, We have the RULE of LAW on our side, and the legislation can be further strengthened if necessary."

* Secessionists: "We will not respect or be bound by unjust laws. Henry Thoreau correctly argued that, "It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right." There are laws that deserve to be respected by the people and there are laws that do not. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935, that legalised discrimination against Jews and led to Hitler's Final Solution, are an example of laws that did not deserve to be respected by citizens of the state that passed them."

* Feds: "But they were Nazis."

* Secessionists: "So what are you?"

* Feds: "We're Fascists."

* Secessionists: "Good day to you."


In times of such unprecedented change, it is not wise to leave analysis and action up to elected representatives and vested interests that seek to manipulate political decisions for their own advantage. Now is the time to collectively think through what is happening, and determine strategies to safeguard our interests, instead of the now mythical "national interest".

Capitalism is a plague.
Nationalism is a curse.
The dark future is global federalism.
The bright future is leaver-giver tribalism.
The choice is still ours.


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