Tonight on ‘The SUWA Show’ (5.30pm, 855AM, streaming at 3CR.org.au), Dr Cam & I have a chat with Haydn Keenan, the director of ‘Persons of Interest’, a new documentary about ASIO currently screening on SBS on Tuesdays at 8.30pm. (Episode 1 broadcast on January 7; episodes 2, 3 and 4 will be broadcast on January 14, 21 and 28.) It’s a really interesting attempt to document the development of the agency as told through the experiences of four ‘persons of interest’: Roger Milliss,
Albert Langer Michael Hyde, Gary Foley and Frank Hardy.
As Haydn notes, ASIO has undergone a massive expansion in its size and ambitions since the period under examination (ASIO’s founding in 1949 through to the late 1960s and early 1970s). Also remarkable is an expansion in the size and number of private companies engaged in the monitoring of individuals and/or infiltration of groups with ‘subversive’ political agendas. In January 2012, Philip Dorling reported that the federal government had outsourced some of the former tasks to the National Open Source Intelligence Centre (Australia). In October 2008, Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie wrote that “The owners of Australia’s biggest uranium mines paid a former undercover Victoria Police officer to infiltrate environment and Aboriginal groups in Melbourne” (see also : Revealed: spying on Anarchists, October 3, 2006). In Aotearoa/New Zealand, Rob Gilchrist performed a similar role. Such activities are undoubtedly continuing and as the climate heats so too will political conflict and repression (see also : Anarchy ~versus~ State Terror, November 30, 2012). The legal landscape in Australia has also changed in significant ways, both in the aftermath of 9/11 and in the willingness of state governments to implement laws attacking basic civil rights.
I blame everything on refugees.
Of related interest : Democracy in the Age of Google, Facebook and WikiLeaks (John Keane).