Abbott Government cripples the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

It was roaring at the Sydney Town Hall yesterday as Labor and Greens politicians united with media personalities to say no to the Abbott government’s crippling financial attack on the ABC. This comes after a litany of protests from our climate change denying, refugee punishing right-wing government, claiming that the channel was, as one hashtag described it, a…


Tanya Plibersek, Member for Sydney and Deputy Leader of the Opposition reminded us that Tony Abbott said: “No cuts to the ABC”, the night before he was elected. Word had it however, that as punishment for being too left-leaning – showing asylum seekers’ burnt hands, for example – the damage was going to be around $50 million. Plibersek now assures us that we can add a zero…

“A broken promise is a broken promise and a lie is a lie. Before the election: “No cuts to the ABC”. How much have they cut? $43 million in the May budget… $223 million from Australia Network… Now, $254 million from the ABC… and almost $54 million from SBS. We’re talking about, probably 500 jobs… You cannot maintain quality.”

“These are real people doing valuable work, telling Australian stories. They deserve their jobs to be protected, and I know that all of you will SUPPORT THE MEAA, THE CPSU, THE STAFF ASSOCIATION AND ALL THOSE OTHER ASSOCIATIONS FIGHTING TO PROTECT THESE JOBS AND YOUR ABC.”

The Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull has denied that the cuts – half a billion dollars and ramping up, according to Senator Ludlam, over the next 5 years – will impact upon programming. The reality is that ABC South Australia will be closing its doors soon, and we have already had ‘Stateline’ axed, along with its Walkley award-winning journalist Quentin Dempster.

Dempster opened his speech with an acknowledgement of wide-spectrum support for the ABC:

“Those of us who are about to be industrially executed are buoyed by your solidarity. I thank the Media & Arts Alliance; the Community Public Sector Union; the Friends of the ABC; GetUp; Jonathan Holmes; and our professional colleagues, friends and allies throughout the Australian Media Industry – including commercial television and radio; the now many online news, conversation and analysis websites; the print media, including Fairfax; and our closet supporters in News Limited.”

Michael Tull of the CPSU distinguishes our national broadcaster from its US counterpart by way of its principled dissociation from commerce and clientele. Therein lies the force of its of checks and balances. Tull thinks that an attack on our news is an attack on our democracy. Rightly so, if only compliant media is to be heard in the future, and little of what our government wants silenced. The penalty of 10 years jail for journalism has already been set.

Actor Geoff Morrell makes it clear that this is about the Australian stories that will not be told; the programs that will not be made; and the talent that will never get a chance. It is also a looming nullification of the arts and local culture, as well as regional news. But as most of the speakers pointed out, the ABC belongs to the Australian people… and they pay for it. Constitutionally, they’re on a winner if they stand by the recommendations of their broadcaster, regarding how much-loved and much needed services can be maintained.

The rally was as joyous and determined as it was mournful and nostalgic, but there was one exquisite moment. After the president of the Media and Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) – Australian entertainer Patricia Amphlett (Little Pattie) – reminded us of a song she had once sung, she asked:

“What Gough would say…”

Old man, the timing was perfect. We will maintain the rage and the enthusiasm!

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Senator Ludlam Raps Knuckles with Tony Abbott pre G20 Summit

Senator Scott Ludlam is back! with another viral video addressing Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony “Dum Dum” Abbott. Aussies were wowed by Ludlam’s fiery “Welcome to Western Australia” speech, in anticipation of Abbott’s visit to WA earlier this year. The speech got close to a million views within days, and Ludlam is indeed widely followed and cited by Australians across social media. So why all the politicians leave the Senate when Ludlam speaks is a mystery. Could it be as simple as Metadataphobia?

Meanwhile, news from Rap News…

“The G20 Summit is happening and the leaders of the wealthiest nations on the planet are converging on Australia to come and learn directly at the feet of the master of fascist dystopian fuckwittery: Tony Abbott. Join the noble Australian Prime Minister as he lists his recent achievements and launches the opening of the G20 Summit in Australia, backed by a faithful and compliant mainstream media, represented by our favourite local correspondent Ken Oathcarn.

This episode features a magical cameo from Wizard Senator Scott Ludlam, who has been campaigning tirelessly in speeches to empty Senate rooms to stop the Government’s proposed mandatory data retention laws – coming up soon for a vote in the Senate. After this G20 episode, no one will be in any doubt why Australia is leading the civilised world in the global race to towards 1984.”

Written and created by Giordano Nanni and Hugo Farrant in a suburban backyard home studio in Melbourne, Australia, on Wurundjeri Land. Juice Rap News

Special thanks to Scott Ludlam for working on this video, and for all his tireless work to fend off the forces of Mordor.


BREAKING: Ludlam Senate address (28/10/14)

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In the wake of a High Court break-through concerning Operation Sovereign Borders, AUSTRALIANS ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS to refugee specialists, Dr Joyce Chia and Dr Lucy Fiske, live at Politics in the Pub. Joyce Chia works at the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW, and Lucy Fiske is a Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Fellow at UTS.

In this highly candid Q and A session, we hear heart-breaking accounts and questions raised about children in detention; how Australia’s actions may influence those of other countries, and importantly, what federal Labor should be doing to oppose the Abbott Government’s appalling treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees.

Australians are becoming increasingly skeptical about the Government’s claim to be “Saving Lives at Sea”, given that two asylum seekers have died on Manus Island, and that self-harm has become commonplace, even among children. In February this year, asylum seeker Reza Barati was allegedly murdered by detention centre staff, two Papua New Guinean Nationals who worked with the Salvation Army, and G4S Security respectively.

This month, vigils were held Australia-wide for another Manus Island detainee, Hamid Kehazaei, who died of blood poisoning from a cut foot…

With countless reports of neglect and unsanitary conditions, and the torture of seemingly endless detainment, one might well ask what quality of life the Australian Government is offering as an alternative to drowning at sea? Refugees are after all, the people Australia pledged to keep safe – not drive to the depths of despair, criminally neglect or murder.

Read Dr Joyce Chia’s article in the Guardian – ‘High court verdict spells the end for Australian immigration detention as we know it’ – to see what kind of changes the High Court is likely to impose, so as to insure that ‘protection’ is what Australia is really giving.

Starring the questions of the audience - Politics in the Pub - Q&A on Refugees

After learning that the very legality of ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ is on the line, we wait with fond anticipation the outcome of a refugee case currently before the High Court, and the upcoming challenge to the Australian Government, concerning the refoulement of Tamils to Sri Lanka.

If Julian Burnside QC is correct, Australians can look forward in the longer term, to seeing Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott in the dock, in the Hague. We’ll soon see if the High Court deems Operation Sovereign Borders to be illegal. Then comes the case of the Tamils…

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Dr Joyce Chia on Australian High Court’s Refugee Stance

Dr Joyce Chia, from the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW, spoke and answered questions from a live audience on Thursday evening at Sydney’s ‘Politics in the Pub’, regarding surprising developments earlier that day in Australia’s High Court. In her article for the Guardian, entitled ‘High court verdict spells the end for Australian immigration detention as we know it’, she made clear the implications of the Court’s ruling:

“Thursday’s decision has profound implications for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. The detention of thousands of people who arrived irregularly before July 2013 is now potentially unlawful and the government will have to either release these people or at least resume processing. Prolonged cases of detention can be challenged before the courts. The policy of locking people up indefinitely, without carefully considering whether it is justified in the individual case, is unlawful under Australian law.” Read more…

Dr Joyce Chia spells out the High Court's position on prolonged detention

Also speaking on the subject of the Australian government’s “barbaric” policy on refugees was Dr Lucy Fiske, a Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Fellow from UTS, Sydney. Ms Fiske focused on the impact Australian Refugee Policy is having on the practice of our near neighbours, and the increasing criminalisation of asylum seekers’ crossing of borders.

Dr Lucy Fiske, speaking on Refugees at Sydney's 'Politics in the Pub'.

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Antony Loewenstein on Gaza

Tensions grow again in Gaza with Israeli official reports of “attack tunnels” being repaired by Hamas, and calls for EU troop deployment in the region. Countless tunnels have been dug under Gaza, often with bare hands, to smuggle food, medicine, gas, building materials and other items, all of which remain scarce since the enclave was “put on a diet”.

Water too, of the drinking variety, has been in direly short supply, with access limited to a few hours a week. That there has been a long-term need for “smuggling tunnels” is supported by the medical reports of Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who noted back in 2009 that one child in three had stunted growth, due to prolonged malnutrition and starvation. He stated:

“As a result of the Israeli siege, there has been widespread development of anaemia among children and women due to malnutrition as a result of siege and poverty. Stunting, where a child is more than two standard deviations shorter than what it should be, is sharply on the rise. In 2006, around 13.5 percent of children were stunted. In 2009, 31.4 percent under age two were stunted.

In other words, every third child is less developed than he or she should be. And stunting does not only affect growth. It also affects brain development and the ability to learn. This is a direct consequence of malnutrition.

Remember, this is not caused by drought or natural disasters, but a deliberate, man-made lack of food and water, imposed, planned, and executed in the most detailed way by the Israeli government. They even calculate how many calories to let in to Gaza to avoid outright starvation, but to “just” cause malnutrition since that goes under the radar of human rights abuses.”

Antony Loewenstein on Gaza at Politics in the Pub

According to Antony Loewenstein, in a recent talk at ‘Politics in the Pub’ in Sydney, and Noam Chomsky on numerous occasions, liberal Zionists and the younger generation have become increasingly uncomfortable with the actions of the Israeli State and its US backers.

There has been little dispute that Gaza’s tunnels leading into Egypt are for the purpose of smuggling live-saving supplies. Whether those that lead to Israel are for the purpose of attacking Israelis “in their beds” is questionable.

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Since hactivists get jailed for longer than rapists…

Free All Arrested Anons from @AnonymousVideo on Vimeo.

Everyone can hack if they know how, but it is only government intelligence agencies that are afforded true anonymity to do so. If as an individual or group, you have done the right thing by shining the light on crime, corruption, or any backdoor business that is potentially harmful to people or the environment, you deserve help if you get into trouble for doing that.

If you have acted in the public interest, communities will most likely support you – and you may have a case that will change history! All you need is a voice…

    Anonymous FreeAnons Press Release

The Anonymous Solidarity Network exists to provide legal, financial and moral support for activists facing prosecution for involvement, alleged or otherwise, in Anonymous actions. The use of information networks to perform community acts of protest is neither a crime nor an act of conspiracy, and should not be prosecuted as such.

When internet activists are getting longer prison sentences than rapists you have to wonder what kind of world we’re leaving for our kids. A world where we see every day how governments, banks and corporations strip away our privacy and freedoms in the name of greed, power and control.

Read about the case of Jonathan Moylan and the #standwithjono campaign

The storm has yet to pass and what ships remain out at sea are desperately seeking refuge from the relentless waves of prosecution but there is one ship sailing alongside these troubled waters…

We are the Anonymous Solidarity Network. We are a collective of Anons and the friends and family of Anons facing prosecution for alleged involvement in Anonymous activities.

Read more ►

AnonOps IRC Network (Anonymous Operations) ►>

Radio AnonOps » The Official Radio Station ►

Join us at

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Operation Transparent Borders – Citizen Journalism at its Best

Australian citizens are calling for urgent public support from around the world to send a boat full of journalists and observers out to report on what the Australian Government are doing with asylum seekers at sea. The Abbott government, which may be in breach of international law, has become increasingly secretive over the last year regarding its extreme measures to “Stop the Boats” – a hard-line Border Protection policy that won it the last election, but which has seen it fail to protect the lives of asylum seekers.

The eruption of violence in a detainment facility on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, earlier this year, saw scores of detainees injured by hostile locals, and one man, Reza Berati, beaten to death by staff. Instances of self-harm and attempted suicide among stir-crazy detainees have become alarmingly wide-spread, and mothers of young children on Christmas Island recently announced a suicide pact, in order for their young to be allowed to stay in Australia.

The reaction however from the Abbott government has remained pitiless and grossly insensitive. Besides implementing ongoing Protection of Injury surveillance, it has denounced the intended mass suicide as “emotional blackmail”.

Over the last few months, on-shore detention facilities have been emptied, despite robust protest from concerned Australian citizens, and the detainees whisked off to remote locations where it is difficult for them to have access to legal representation, whose funding in any case has been cut. The ‘policy’ is ostensibly to do nothing with refugees, besides letting them rot in perpetuity in places where Australians are likely to forget about them.

A recently leaked video address to asylum seekers by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison reveals him saying that they will spend “a very long time” in detention, even if deemed to be genuine refugees, and never settled in Australia. These measures have been seen as coercive, to get asylum seekers to opt for returning to their country of origin, rather than facing what may be a life-time of incarceration.

Off-shore detention was implemented by the previous Labor government, and already harsh and seemingly endless, but in a bid to halt the arrival of asylum seeker boats completely, the Liberals mounted a quasi military Operation (Sovereign Borders) to block their passage, and stipulated that these “illegals” would never be admitted to Australia, even if found to be genuine refugees. Their fate would be ‘indefinite’ detention in off-shore camps, in tortuous limbo, while the government ‘processed’ them.

TOO YOUNG TO HOLD: Victorian Legal Aid argues that the original decision to detain four children on Christmas Island was made unlawfully. Picture: AP

An Australian Customs vessel intercepted two boats last week in its “contiguous zone” – not territorial waters – a zone that is not yet Australia, and where right of “innocent passage” should normally apply. One boat contained 41 asylum seekers and the other 153, reportedly all Tamils who were fleeing persecution in Sri Lanka. Citizens, organisations and governments around the world looked on in shock, as the Australian government handed over all 41 asylum seekers on the first boat to the Sri Lanka authorities.

An injunction has now been placed by the Australian High Court – see live updates provided by The Guardian – to prevent further refoulement of the 153 refugees on the second boat. There appears to be doubt that the government’s radical new practice of “enhanced screening” – four questions only, that resulted in 100% negative outcomes for the 41 people – constitutes fair consideration of an asylum-seeker’s’ case.

Sri Lankan asylum seekers sit on the deck of their boat stranded on the water in Pagai Selatan, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia. Picture: AP

Although the interception of these fleeing boatloads happened outside Australian territorial waters, the “prison ship” has now absconded, pirate-fashion, to the high seas. And it would seem that there are legal implications associated with both locations. The government’s legal representative, Gleeson QC, is claiming that since the the asylum seekers were picked up outside of Australia, they can not be afforded protection under the Migration Act. On the other hand, It is also illegal for a government to detain people without disclosing their whereabouts – *somewhere* on the high seas. Refoulement (delivery of refugees to their persecutors) is a violation of international law, and it breaches Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention, and of course asylum seekers have the right to fair screening and protection from harm in the interim.

Former liberal candidate, Mark Hoysted, outlines some of the key issues before the court.

The High Court has specified that although none of the 153 asylum seekers can be delivered to Sri Lankan authorities, pending an investigation, they may be transported elsewhere to be processed. Manus Island and Nauru are not looking like the easiest of destinations at the moment, given certain conditions of Maritime Powers Act, but it is unlikely that our government will cede to motions being led by Senator Sarah Hanson Young and human rights groups such as Plan International Australia who are particularly concerned about the children on board, to bring these people to Australia. For the moment, all we know is that they are being detained on the high seas, with conditions aboard unknown.

Articles 31 to 33 of the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees prohibit REFOULEMENT - the return of any refugee 'to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened'

This government needs to be placed under maximum surveillance! Its employees are unlikely to speak out, since they have been threatened with dismissal if they disclose or criticise the government’s “Operational Matters” – a term that has been employed by Prime Minister Abbott to characterise the battle against refugees as a war. It therefore falls upon ordinary citizens and independent journalists to expose the human rights atrocity this government’s actions appear to have become. Please support Operation Transparent Borders by donating generously.

Three-year-old Febrina is among the 153 missing asylum seekers © Tamil Refugee Council

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Visit the Aboriginal Embassy in Sydney

I caught up with Jenny Munro, Wirajuri Elder, and her friend Judex at the new Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Redfern, near Sydney. She extended an invitation to one and all, to visit and camp around the Embassy, on the condition that Aboriginal protocols and camp rules are respected while on the grounds. And grounds they are for visiting, given their “million dollar view” of the city.

That of course is part of the reason Aboriginal people have been struggling to remain on the ‘The Block’, whose name may be familiar from the TV Series made about it. It is probably little known however that no Aboriginals have lived there for a long time. There were plans to build low-cost accommodation for Aboriginal people on this site, but they seem to have been thwarted. Many families were moved elsewhere while this was being done, but it’s now looking that they will have to struggle to get back in.

This community needs people power and good will. In return, it offers warm hospitality and a unique cultural experience. After a week at the Canberra Tent Embassy, I personally, didn’t want to leave…

Jenny Munro, Wirajura Elder and voice of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Redfern

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy is located just across the road from Redfern railway station. The best time to arrive is for JULY 6th, where there will be talks and activities around the subject of returning Aboriginal people to their neighbourhood.

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“Australian Government Crisis!” say We the People…

May 18, 2014.
50,000 people have just rallied across Australia to protest the Abbott Government’s extreme Budget cuts and levies. It appears that all three of the other major Parties have been shocked into contemplating an Alliance to block the Budget and remove the government, whose choices have almost exclusively threatened the country’s most vulnerable: the young, the old, the sick, the poor, students, Aboriginals, refugees and the environment. While claiming a “debt emergency” that is negligible in relation to nearly every country in the world, the Abbott Government may also have threatened our Pacific neighbours, with the extravagant purchase of 58 F35 jet fighters to the tune of $12.4 Billion dollars.

50000 Australians came out to say NO MORE to an Abbott Government

The other Parties are also highly concerned by the Government’s break-neck efforts over the last 10 months, to dismantle 76 Government Departments, including the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Science. The Abbott Government has also intimidated and now slashed funds to the National Broadcasters, and Public Servants face dismissal, if they criticise their Government’s harsh treatment of refugees.

Tony Abbott (locally referred to as “The Mad Monk”) has also nominated himself as the Minister for Women and restored peerage (Knights and Dames), allegedly without ER’s signature on the Letters Patent. The Australian people may have been fooled by the Murdoch press into voting for this man, but they know now that they did not vote for their entire society to be over-turned, and the PM’s popularity has dropped dramatically since his election.

If enough pressure comes from voters to unite the other major Parties into alliance, they will indeed have the power to remove the Mad Monk in time for a “No Bah Humbug!” Christmas.

The speaker here is the celebrated Australian writer and journalist, Antony Loewenstein. He warns that the cruelty to refugees has been a result of bipartisan manoeuvres, and calls for a complete change of attitude from Federal Labor towards asylum-seekers. They opened the off-shore camps, and they must propose to close them again, and free the refugees, before they can expect public trust again.

Antony Loewenstein, author of 'Vulture Capitalism' speaks out for Australia's refugees

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Palantir Technologies – The Philosopher’s Stoned

The Palantíri were the Seeing-stones of Middle-earth, the fictional world of J.R. Tolkein in Lord of the Rings. According to legend, the Palantíri [singular Palantir] could only show visions or intended thoughts of the users. Their vision was not based on obstacles, but on darkness; they could see through things, but would only see shadow.

That sounds a bit unreliable… but it sells! Welcome to Big Brother meets Big Data!

Palantir Technologies, is a premium Silicon Valley start-up, whose business it’s been to write clever software to track your digital footprints, and then JOIN THE DOTS to predict who you are, and where you might go next. Its directors are Peter Thiel, Mr Paypal-Facebook, and Alex Karp an “eccentric philosopher” who has turned their Palo Alto head-quarter into a replica of The Shire. If it sounds like a fairy story, it’s not. Palantir’s software has been labelled the KILLER APP. It was used to hunt down and murder Osama Bin Laden.

Palantir is ‘well in’. Its advisors are Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet (ex CIA). It was funded by the CIA, who became a client of Palantir back in 2004. Other government clients are the NSA, the FBI, the NYPD, and a number of Counter-Terrorism & Military Agencies.

This baby has been valued at 5-8 billion dollars and is predicting another billion in private sector deals in 2014. Forbes Magazine reports:

“Palantir is emerging from the shadow world of spies and special ops to take corporate America by storm. Private-sector deals now account for close to 60% of the company’s revenue.”

The identities of corporate clients are usually kept secret, but they include J.P. Morgan, various hedge funds, News Corp and Bank of America – as we recall from Palantir’s dealings with H.B Gary Federal, in a sordid plan to destroy Wikileaks, and their media partner Glenn Greenwald. What karma, for Glenn to bump into a certain Edward Snowden further down the track!

When Anonymous gained access to thousands of emails on H.B Gary’s servers, the emails revealed that Palantir had worked with HB Gary Federal to develop proposals for attacking WikiLeaks’ infrastructure, blackmailing its supporters and identifying donors. When sprung, Palantir put an engineer on leave, apologised for his role in the plan, and cut their ties with HB Gary, as you do, when you don’t want the dirt to spread. After that, they installed a “Batphone” to Karp’s office, to report “unethical clients” – and reinstated their engineer.

Now you might be asking yourself at this stage if these guys are elves or Black Riders.

Palantir Technologies is a perhaps a pioneer in an upcoming consumer industry of selling private information for profit, and they are cheap as, compared to Booz Allen, IBM, and Lockheed Martin. But Forbes Magazine suggest that Palantir restrict their services to the top end, because some people won’t be happy if they go totally public. Quote: “It helps its customers see too much”.

My arse! Alex Karp claims his “turn-key” service (as he calls it) helps the Government go after bad guys. Who those bad guys are, he doesn’t know, quite often, and never finds out.

“It’s tough”, he says, because his targets don’t leave behind any tangible evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA.

Whether they actually are bad guys, he takes on faith in his Government, or whatever client he’s working for, and of course, if the Batphone doesn’t ring… According to former employees, Palantir has explored work in Saudi Arabia despite the staff’s misgivings about human rights abuses in the kingdom, but Karp doesn’t seemed to have picked up…

In an interview on the Palantir website, Karp assures us that Palantir are the good guys, and showcases a project where they chased the infiltrators of the Dalai Lama’s computer. Wow. He stumbles however, when asked who it was, and has to admit that it wasn’t really clear in the end, if it was a government or teenagers. Hmmm, that’s a pretty wide margin of error.

Palantir’s so-called predictions hinge on assumptions and probabilities – all along the line – no light, just shadow – and as it turns out, the “bad guys” are not always bad guys… sometimes they’re activists; sometimes journalists. The Karp loves to drop in the word “turn-key” when he’s selling his crystal ball kit. The irony he doesn’t see is that it is the perfect tool for turn-key totalitarianism. You put all of this surveillance into place and then someone flips the switch – a new President or a new Prime Minister (coughs).

CLICK. Suddenly the technology is not being used as intended. CLICK, and anti-war activists are raided by the FBI; CLICK, and refugee activists are threatened by the Department of Immigration & Border ‘Protection’.

Alex Karp claims to be an advocate for civil liberties. He assured a talk-show host that innocent people would not be “swept into the dragnet”; that the “patterns” his software detects only relate to the activities of terrorists. He says that the data Palantir supplies is “tagged” for one use only, giving the impression that his company has control over who sees who, and how the information will be used.

The US Justice Department’s Inspector General, in a series of reports on FBI practices found systematic disregard for the required procedures for demanding records; false statements in affidavits – to both telecommunications companies and the FISA Court; improper acquisition of journalists’ phone records; use of national security authorities in cases unrelated to national security; and attempts by superiors to retroactively conceal these improprieties. Speaking of patterns… a pattern of failure to report potential violations to the proper oversight board was also “noted”.

William Binney, a former Senior Technical Director for the NSA – and the man who led a team of 1000′s to create the agency’s post-911 mass surveillance tool – resigned, because he saw the whole thing spin out of control, and his country turn into a Police State. Binney initially baulked when he saw that NSA data was being used to prosecute petty crimes – and not too many terrorists. Palantir’s director admits that real terrorists are apt to change their patterns and cut their ties as soon as anyone in their circle is arrested. Going after ordinary citizens, on the other hand, is a much more fruitful and lucrative process.

FBI Director Robert Mueller argued that the entire body of phone records is “relevant to an investigation” because it plausibly contains records that will be relevant to some investigation at some point in the future. Since these investigations were not only being used to pursue petty criminals, but dissidents too, Binney realised that his Government’s actual use of data gathered through spying had become “a Totalitarian Process”. The American Civil Liberties Union describes Palantir as “a true totalitarian nightmare”.

Julian Sanchez from the CATO Institute articulates a problem that possibly none of the Hobbits from The Shire had foreseen:

“Such an architecture of surveillance, once established, would be difficult to dismantle, and prove too potent a tool of control if it ever fell into the hands of people who — whether through panic, malice, or a misguided confidence in their own ability to secretly judge the public good — would seek to use it against us.”

EDWARD SNOWDEN revealed that this architecture is in place. Mass surveillance of all citizens. An unprecedented level of eavesdropping – all ready if your name comes up, to prosecute you for any kind of crime or misdemeanour. And if you happen to be living in ‘the lucky country’ at the moment, you might even get into a bit of strife for criticism of your Government, especially if you happen to work for it.

The more innocent citizens are spied upon by Government agencies – and directly intercepted if they get lippy – the more secretive Governments have to become, to get away with this. There’s the obvious problem of invasion of civil liberties, but there’s another more subtle issue that makes the whole process very iffy:

Evidence stops being forensic when it gets to the digital stage.

Alex Karp admits that – and one can only conclude that his company sells hunches. Around that, his clients have cultivated a devout belief in the philosopher’s stone; they’ve established a cloud of secrecy to prevent sceptics, lawyers and moralists getting in, and they’ve assured us that a well paid job is being well done. Meanwhile, copies of NSA documents are not allowed to be passed on for analysis, even by their neighbours, the NYPD. And thus, the circle of trust is hermetically sealed, around an irrational, self-serving seat of power, that is frightened of our own shadows.

Peter Jackson should make a film about that! Come on Jacko. Stick your neck out!

Sydney PRISM-BREAK protest - Photo Jarek Gasiorek

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