In 1956, science fiction author Philip K. Dick wrote the short story “Minority Report”. In it, a shadowy government agency known as “pre-crime” arrests people in anticipation of crimes they suspect individuals will commit in the future. What appears as a dystopian fictional nightmare in 1956 has become a reality in Australia 60 years later.
One of the major legal transformations associated with the introduction of the various anti-terror acts in the 15 years since 9/11 has been the normalisation of the idea that you can be charged with a crime that you have yet to commit.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has the right to seek warrants that allow the detention of someone suspected or someone related to someone suspectedof considering a terror offence. This person can be detained in custody with no right to confidential legal counsel and no right to see the evidence brought against them.
Furthermore, the Terrorism Act 2002 makes it a crime to “provide or receive training, to possess a ‘thing’, or to collect or make a document, if (in each case) that conduct was connected with preparation for, the engagement of a person in, or assistance in a terrorist act”.
In 2010, these laws resulted in the conviction of three men for “preparing to prepare” an attack on the Holsworthy Army Base. One of the men visited the barracks and another had a phone conversation with a sheikh, seeking religious counsel about the moral virtues of possibly committing an act.
The sheikh eventually answered in the negative and advised the men against any action. Even the Victorian Supreme Court judge responsible for sentencing the men, justice King, admitted that “the conspiracy was not that much further along than just sitting and thinking about it”. She nevertheless sentenced them to 18 years’ jail. For thought crime.
What’s more shocking is that, legally, these “preparatory” offences are committed if the person either “knows or is reckless as to the fact that they relate to a terrorist act”. Being “reckless” can mean a whole range of things. It can mean that you say or write something that may inadvertently encourage someone else to engage in terrorist activity.
For instance, Division 102 of the Criminal Code imposes a maximum penalty of life imprisonment “where a person provides or collects funds and is reckless as to whether those funds will be used to facilitate or engage in a terrorist act”. This means that someone who donates money to a charity that turns out to have some putative involvement in terrorism could be imprisoned for life.
The definition of terrorism is suitably broad for a ruling class looking to criminalise a wide range of anti-government activity. Section 101.1 of the Criminal Code defines terrorism as “conduct engaged in or threats made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”. The conduct or threat must be designed to coerce a government or population by intimidation. It must involve “harm” – broadly defined.
Added to this is “urging violence”. For example, it is an offence punishable by seven years’ imprisonment to “urge the overthrow of the constitution or government by force or violence, or to urge interference in parliamentary elections”.
Such definitions are disturbing. Again, “interfering in parliamentary elections” could involve encouraging voters to cast donkey votes or rip up ballot papers. Left wing newspapers regularly run pieces on the necessity of overthrowing many and various governments. The fact that such laws have been penned indicates how far we have come.
Under such legislation the United States Declaration of Independence, with its claim that “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish [the Government], and to institute new one”, could be deemed a terrorist document.
Crime by association
A law introduced in 2014 that prohibits the advocacy of terrorism extends this issue of incitement into even more alarming territory. An organisation can be listed as terrorist if it “directly praises the doing of a terrorist act in circumstances where there is a substantial risk that such praise might have the effect of leading a person … to engage in a terrorist act”.
If these laws had been enacted in the past they would have meant that the author of an article supporting the actions of Nelson Mandela in his struggle against apartheid in South Africa would become liable if someone might have read that article and acted upon it in a manner deemed terrorist by the state.
Today, the organisation of any author who is accused of “praising terror” can be listed. Being a member or even associated with a member of a listed terrorist organisation can incur up to 10 years in prison.
The mutability of what constitutes a “terrorist organisation” was revealed in the trial of 13 Muslim men in Melbourne in 2005-09. These young men were arrested after more than a year of intense surveillance of conversations between them and a radical Islamic preacher, Abdul Nacer Benbrika.
An extraordinary 27,000 hours of police surveillance revealed nothing more criminal than discussions about the morality or immorality of revenge actions against Australians for the government’s crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. No specific or concrete terror actions were planned, and they were never charged with planning a terrorist attack.
Nevertheless, the state charged them with membership of an unspecified, unlisted, unnamed terrorist organisation. The attorney-general declared it so – and a few more men who had had some association with Benbrika were charged with “supporting or providing funds” to a terrorist organisation.
Greg Barns, one of the defence lawyers in the Barwon 13 trial, pointed out the absurdity of the situation: “An organisation can be a terrorist organisation even if it has no terrorist act in mind”. Such realities call to mind Alice in Wonderland. “‘When I use a word’, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less’.”
PUNISHED FOR BEING MUSLIM
The Barwon 13 trial also brought to light a number of other disturbing aspects of the anti-terror legislation. One of the most shocking revealed the prejudice against giving terror suspects bail.
This meant that from 2005 until 2008, when the judge handed down a decision, the defendants were held in the maximum security Barwon prison. Here, some as young as 19 were kept shackled in isolation for up to 18 hours a day. During their trial, they were strip searched every day and transported back and forth on the hour-long journey with their arms shackled to their waist and their ankles tied together.
Four of the 13 were found not guilty of any charges but were held in Guantanamo Bay-like conditions for, one can only suspect, being Muslim and associating with other Muslims. Four of the 13 were convicted on such spurious grounds that Michael Pearce from Liberty Victoria told reporters that they were victims of one of the “most sustained assaults on civil liberties in 50 years”. “Their treatment is an affront to the most basic principle of the rule of law”, he said.
The current targets of the anti-terror laws are Muslim. Nineteen of the 20 proscribed organisations are Muslim, and of the 46 people charged under the laws, all, with the exception of a couple, identify as Muslim. Not one of these people has been charged with actually committing a terrorist offence. All are offences of association, of planning or planning to plan.
State representatives claim that nipping terrorist actions before they happen is more important than civil liberties. But such claims are bogus when most of the terrorist atrocities they claim to be thwarting were never even in the planning stages.
One young man, Faheem Lodhi, was sentenced to 20 years in prison despite the fact that, according to a lawyer in his trial, he “had not yet reached the stage where the identity of the bomber, the precise area to be bombed or the manner in which the bombing would take place had been worked out”.
As civil liberties lawyer Rob Stary told Katherine Wilson in an interview for Overland: “They talk the talk, and it’s dangerous talk. But I can say whatever I like about who the real Iraq or Palestinian war criminals are, and how they should be brought to justice, and I won’t be imprisoned for it. Not unless I convert to Islam”.
When Muslim kids mouth off, they can be locked up for decades. If anything is likely to prompt feelings of hatred, anger and frustration that lead to the desire to commit terrorist acts, it is this kind of systematic legal persecution.
Islamophobia is the ideological mechanism through which the state has managed to get through such draconian legislation. Concerted public media campaigns vilifying Muslims – representing them as medieval barbarians intent on bringing down Western civilisation – has had its effect. Opposition to the anti-terror laws is minimal – the conflation of Islam with terror has been achieved.
FIFTEEN YEARS IN THE MAKING
Prior to 9/11, politically motivated violence was dealt with under criminal law. This all changed after 2001. In March 2002, federal attorney-general Darryl Williams introduced the first package of anti-terrorism legislation to parliament. He said the laws were “exceptional” but that “so too is the evil at which they are directed”.
Hyperbole abounded. Australians were told to be alert to shadowy internal threats and to report any “suspicious” activities they might witness.
From 11 September 2001 to the fall of the Howard government, the federal parliament enacted 48 anti-terror laws. In other words, on average a new anti-terror statue was passed every seven or so weeks under the Liberal government. The Labor Party supported the overwhelming bulk of these laws.
When Labor came to power, the pace of lawmaking slowed but the fundamental approach remained the same: use the terror threat to usher through increasingly draconian laws. Indeed, the Rudd government actively opposed independent reviews into the passing of its own anti-terror legislation.
Abbott came to office with an open and aggressive agenda. He was unabashed in 2014: “Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we are used to and more inconvenience than we would like … the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift”. The scales now well and truly have tipped.
Under Abbott and Turnbull, the existing anti-terror legislation has been strengthened and expanded, most dramatically with the introduction of astonishingly extensive data retention laws.
All of this frantic legislative activity has been accompanied by regularly staged anti-terror raids.
The Australian state has far exceeded the UK, the USA and Canada in the number of laws enacted. UNSW professor George Williams argues: “It would be unthinkable, if not constitutionally impossible, in nations such as the US and Canada to restrict freedom of speech in the manner achieved by Australia’s 2005 sedition laws”. US author Ken Roach describes Australia as engaging in “hyper-legislation”.
While initially introduced as “emergency legislation” to deal with imminent terror threats, anti-terror legislation has not only stuck, but has crept into other legislative areas. Laws recognised as exceptional, even by their proponents, are now used against groups and individuals who have nothing to do with the “war on terror”.
Bikie gangs and their members are subject to laws virtually identical to anti-terror legislation. The Rann Labor government in South Australia began the trend, drawing dramatic comparisons between bikies and terrorists. In 2008, Rann said, “Organised crime groups are terrorists within our communities” and described bikies as “an evil within our nation”. The laws passed almost without a whimper of opposition.
In Queensland, bikie gangs have been “declared” in the same way that so-called terrorist organisations have – which means anyone associated with a gang can be arrested and charged. If you are a member of a gang you cannot be seen with one or more “criminal associates”.
Bikies are also subject to something very similar to control orders – one of the most controversial aspects of the anti-terror legislation. They can be placed under house arrest, and have their movement and their oral and electronic communications limited. These restrictions can be decided in a secret court hearing, and the person will discover if they are subject to an order only after their arrest. All states have introduced similar laws.
The depth and breadth of the anti-terror legislation provided the perfect precursor to the use of equally (if not more draconian) laws against construction workers in the Howard government’s Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).
Turnbull is now preparing to fight an election over the reintroduction of the body. The ABCC’s coercive powers mirror ASIO’s. It has the right to hold secret interviews and jail those who don’t cooperate. Habeus corpus is out the window. Construction workers will again have no right to silence and no right to be represented by the lawyer of their choice. The terror bogey was simply the thin end of the wedge.
It is clear over the 15 years of the “war on terror” that many legal rights have disappeared. Basic legal assumptions like innocent until proven guilty, the right to silence, the right to a fair trial and the right to legal counsel no longer exist in expanding areas of the legal system. What’s more, the state’s powers to watch, listen, detain and punish have grown dramatically, and there is no indication that the government wants to pull back.
The US whistleblower Edward Snowden said of similar actions in the USA: “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power”.
Australia’s behemoth security state is now more powerful than even Philip K. Dick’s paranoid imagination could have dreamed.
In a world of misconceptions, half-truths, lies, omissions, cover-ups and verifiable conspiracies, few government agencies raise more eyebrows and skepticism than the good folks at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA. To many intelligent, thoughtful, and impartial observers, even the Apollo moon landings appear to be an elaborate hoax, and many free-thinkers and independent researchers are fast at work destroying the official version of these historic events.
One question that has many of them scratching their heads is: Do rockets even work in outer space?
The debate centers around the simple question of physics as described by Isaac Newton’s third law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, which is easy to observe here on the surface of the earth. This is cleverly summed up in the context of rocket science here:
“In space, rockets zoom around with no air to push against. What’s going on?
Rockets and engines in space behave according to Isaac Newton’s third law of motion: Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction.
When a rocket shoots fuel out one end, this propels the rocket forward — no air is required.
NASA says this principle is easy to observe on Earth. If you stand on a skateboard and throw a bowling ball forward, that force will push you and the skateboard back. However, because your weight on the skateboard is heavier than that of the bowling ball, you won’t move as far.” [Live Science]
Seems simple enough and this certainly is the prevailing understanding of how rockets work, but this explanation does nothing to account for the fact that outer space, as we are told, is an infinitely expanding vacuum of emptiness, completely devoid of matter, not even filled with gasses, as is the atmosphere here on planet earth. Furthermore, the defacto mainstream explanation of this phenomenon is completely dependent other factors found only within the earth’s atmosphere.
“Newton’s 3rd Law: action/reaction only works if you have two separate objects. More specifically these two objects have to be external to each other.
The reason you can’t pull yourself off of the floor by your belt is that you are one object even though you are made of many parts: internal organs, muscles, arms, legs, clothes, etc…
You can pull a weight off the floor that weighs as much as you because it is external to you.” [Source]
For Newton’s law to apply to physical objects, there must be gravity and an opposing external mass to react with, neither of which are present in outer space.
For a rocket to propel a space craft if must create thrust, which is only possible if an object has weight, hence thrust is measured in pounds. And since there is no gravity in space, any rocket would not have the weight required to push-off of whatever it is that is supposed to be available for the rocket to push-off of, thereby failing to produce thrust, which is what is supposedly required to move a rocket.
And since space is a vacuum, how is an ejection of hot gasses from a rocket’s engine, which is reacting upon no external objects, not even external gasses, supposed to trigger the action implied in Newton’s 3rd law? Does this add up?
“Every machine that moves is mechanical: relies on friction, pressure, exchanging energy with objects external to it. Everything except space rockets, that is. NASA might as well scrap rockets and go straight to saying we can teleport to the moon and other planets and asteroids.” [Source]
For a rather juvenile example of this questionable aspect of rocket science, here is a simple homemade experiment demonstrating what happens when the energy created by expelling compressed gasses from the rear end of a vehicle is sucked into a vacuum:
The debate on this subject is a hot one, and an infinite number of web-forums and science sites go back and forth between the possibilities presented in these arguments. What is clear, however, is that this issue is anything but a closed case, and with so much intelligent opposition to the presupposition that rockets work in space just as they do within the earth’s atmosphere, it certainly begs the question of how NASA can be 100% certain of this.
Of course, any debate on something as interesting as this is incomplete without a counter-argument. For that, here is a clip from the widely popular show Myth Busters, where the two know-it-all hosts attempt to put to rest the question of whether or not thrust can be achieved in a vacuum.
According to the establishment, it appears, some things are so simple and should be so readily taken for granted they require entertainers and big TV budgets to explain to the masses.
This is the time of revelation and everything we take for granted is subject to intense scrutiny nowadays. So many things about our history that we’ve come to accept as absolute truth are proving to be false, by either outright fabrication, or elaborate distortion of the truth.
Most will never consider this until its presented to them, but does a rocket even work in space? If it doesn’t then space travel, as is described, is not possible, and therefore the moon landings were a hoax.
What do you think? Can gas-fueled rockets work in space? What about the moon landings, do you think they really happened? Do you believe NASA?
About the Author
Buck Rogers is the earth bound incarnation of that familiar part of our timeless cosmic selves, the rebel within. He is a surfer of ideals and meditates often on the promise of happiness in a world battered by the angry seas of human thoughtlessness. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com.
“The National Security Agency (NSA) widely monitors international payments, banking and credit card transactions, according to documents seen by SPIEGEL.”
“The NSA’s Tracfin data bank also contained data from the Brussels-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a network used by thousands of banks to send transaction information securely…the NSA spied on the organization on several levels, involving, among others, the [NSA] agency’s ‘tailored access operations’ division…”
The NSA’s “tailored access operations” division uses roughly 1000 hackers and analysts in its spying efforts.
The next step in all this spying would naturally involve penetrating trading markets and, using the deep data obtained, manipulate the markets to the advantage of the NSA and preferred clients.
The amount of money siphoned off in such an ongoing operation would be enormous.
“Looking over the shoulder” of Wall St. insiders would be child’s play for NSA.
Ditto for predicting political events that would temporarily drive markets down and provide golden opportunities for highly profitable short selling.
Like drug traffickers and other mobsters, the NSA could invest their ill-gotten gains in legitimate enterprises and reap additional rewards.
And if the Pentagon, under which the NSA is organized, requires heavy amounts of money for off-the-books black budget ops, what better place to go than their own NSA?
All in all, when you operate the biggest spying and data-gathering operation in the world, the opportunities abound. Yes, knowledge is power, when the distinctions between legal and illegal are brushed off like a few gnats on a summer day.
The Surveillance State has created an apparatus whose implications are staggering. It’s a different world now. And sometimes it takes a writer of fiction to flesh out the larger landscape.
Brad Thor’s novel, Black List, posits the existence of a monster corporation, ATS, which stands alongside the NSA in collecting information on every move we make. ATS’ intelligence-gathering capability is unmatched anywhere in the world.
On pages 117-118 of Black List, Thor makes a stunning inference that, on reflection, is as obvious as the fingers on your hand:
“For years ATS had been using its technological superiority to conduct massive insider trading. Since the early 1980s, the company had spied on anyone and everyone in the financial world. They listened in on phone calls, intercepted faxes, and evolved right along with the technology, hacking internal computer networks and e-mail accounts. They created mountains of ‘black dollars’ for themselves, which they washed through various programs they were running under secret contract, far from the prying eyes of financial regulators.
“Those black dollars were invested into hard assets around the world, as well as in the stock market, through sham, offshore corporations. They also funneled the money into reams of promising R&D projects, which eventually would be turned around and sold to the Pentagon or the CIA.
“In short, ATS had created its own license to print money and had assured itself a place beyond examination or reproach.”
In real life, with the NSA heading up the show, the outcome would be the same.
It would be as Thor describes it.
We think about total surveillance as being directed at private citizens, but the capability has unlimited payoffs when it targets financial markets and the people who have intimate knowledge of them.
“Total security awareness” programs of surveillance are ideal spying ops in the financial arena, designed to suck up millions of bits of inside information, then utilizing them to make investments and suck up billions (trillions?) of dollars.
It gives new meaning to “the rich get richer.”
Taking the overall scheme to another level, consider this: those same heavy hitters who have unfettered access to financial information can also choose, at opportune moments, to expose certain scandals and crimes (not their own, of course).
In this way, they can, at their whim, cripple governments, banks, and corporations. They can cripple investment houses, insurance companies, and hedge funds. Or, alternatively, they can merely blackmail these organizations.
We think we know how scandals are exposed by the press, but actually we don’t. Tips are given to people who give them to other people. Usually, the first clue that starts the ball rolling comes from a source who remains in the shadows.
We are talking about the creation and managing of realities on all sides, including the choice of when and where and how to provide a glimpse of a crime or scandal.
The information matrix can be tapped into and plumbed, and it can also be used to dispense choice clusters of data that end up constituting the media reality of painted pictures which, every day, show billions of people “what’s news.”
It’s likely that the probe Ron Paul was once pushing—audit the Federal Reserve—has already been done by those who control unlimited global surveillance. They already know far more than any Congressional investigation will uncover. If they know the deepest truths, they can use them to blackmail, manipulate, and control the Fed itself.
In this global-surveillance world, we need to ask new questions and think along different lines now.
For example, how long before the mortgage-derivative crisis hit did the Masters of Surveillance know, from spying on bank records, that insupportable debt was accumulating at a lethal pace? What did they do with that information?
When did they know that at least a trillion dollars was missing from Pentagon accounting books, as Donald Rumsfeld eventually admitted on September 10, 2001, and what did they do with that information?
When did they know the details of the Libor rate-fixing scandal? Press reports indicate that Barclays was trying to rig interest rates as early as January 2005.
Have they tracked, in detail, the men responsible for recruiting hired mercenaries and terrorists, who eventually wound up in Syria pretending to be an authentic rebel force?
Have they collected detailed accounts of the most private plans of Bilderberg, CFR, and Trilateral Commission leaders?
For global surveillance kings, what we think of as the future is, in many respects the present and the past.
It’s a new world. These overseers of universal information-detection can enter and probe the most secret caches of data, collect, collate, cross reference, and assemble them into vital bottom-lines. By comparison, an operation like Wikileaks is an old Model-T Ford.
Previously, we thought we needed to look over the shoulders of the men who were committing major crimes out of public view. But now, if we want to be up to date, we also have to factor in the men who are spying on those criminals, who are gathering up those secrets and using them to commit their own brand of meta-crime.
And in the financial arena, that means we think of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan as perpetrators, yes, but we also think about the men who already know everything about GS and Morgan, and are using this knowledge to steal sums that might make GS and Morgan blush with envy.
No, we’re not in Kansas anymore. But wherever we’ve gone to, the NSA is already there, and they’ve been tapping in, taking out, and using untold bits of data to stage and profit from events of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Time, in that sense, has ballooned, expanded, turned inside out, exploded, and laid itself flat on a table, for close inspection by the eyes of Surveillance Central.
Understanding this, we need to analyze what is happening in the world with a new dimension of criminal reality-maker in mind.