May 26, 2010 | Graham

Further to Julie Bishop’s “gaffe”

If Australia’s spies aren’t forging passports, they’re not doing their job properly. Julie Bishop was just stating the obvious. Barrie Cassidy has a good take on the issue. Bishop’s only gaffe was her semi-backdown.

In fact, if there was any doubt that Australia’s spies engage in these activities, the PM laid them to rest by claiming that Bishop had endangered Australia’s security. To do that you’d have to think that she revealed a state secret, and the only “secret” she revealed was a fact that was basically lying out in plain view anyway.

Stephen Smith claims that she has broken a convention “we don’t comment or speculate about intelligence practices…” Says who? And why not? As Cassidy points out the US has had a very robust debate about the treatment of terrorist suspects, and if my memory serves me correctly, we have had some of the same debate here.

My memory certainly tells me that the ALP has a long history in and out of government of criticising the secret services. And with some justification. The information and activities from time to time of ASIO and various state Special Branches was scandalous. Who can forget Lionel Murphy, the Attorney-General at the time, raiding ASIO?

This is the second time Labor has been wrong-footed on an issue of plain simple commonsense. The first time was when they criticised Tony Abbott for admitting that sometimes he goes over the top in debate and that the best promises are those made in writing. We all know that, and that’s the way we all live our lives. For that simple reason contracts are normally in writing.

Labor has a credibility problem, and it is a credibility problem that stems from thinking that politics is simply about being on message and that it doesn’t much matter what the message is. They’ve substituted slogans for reality, and reality is rebelling.

Tony Abbott and his team are not playing this game to the same rules. They are much more likely to say what they think, and the public, if not the commentariat, think this is a good thing. Afterall, they are telling us pretty much what we already knew.

If Labor can’t change their mindset, they really are in trouble at this next election. Like NSW tonight (State of Origin football if you are reading this from anywhere but Queensland or NSW), they are still favourites, but that doesn’t help if the underdogs manage to shape and control the game to suit themselves.

If I were Julie Bishop I’d be feeling just as chuffed as, I dunno, maybe Jonathan Thurston at the moment.

Posted by Graham at 12:32 pm | Comments (21) |


  1. I would not advise any party to snuggle up to close to Israel at the moment.They are really on the nose.I see them as a real and ongoing threat to world peace and all countries on this planet need to stand up to them.

    You beat us yet again Graham and the Toads will be even harder to beat on their own turf.I think Qld has more passion and focus.Can Abbott extrapolate this into the political arena?

    Comment by Arjay — May 26, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

  2. While I agree that all national security services probably engage in document forging, I certainly hope that ASIO doesn’t do it for the murderous purposes that Mossad apparently does.

    Mossad was caught out forging the paspports of Australian citizens in order to perpetrate an illegal assassination on foreign soil. Of course there are diplomatic repercussions, undoubtedly negotiated between Australia and Israel – a Mossad agent is sent home, undoubtedly to be replaced when the heat dies down.

    Bishop’s gaffe was in attempting to get some cheap political mileage out of it.

    Comment by CJ Morgan — May 27, 2010 @ 12:57 am

  3. Graham, sorry but your article is just not ridge didge, no world power allows their inteeligence services to be exposed to normal daylight, particularly the CIA. Israel has a very unfortunate record in transgressing the norms of world diplomacy, forging passports is the very least of their nefarious activities. How any fair minded person can offer excuses for the Israely government quite obnoxious behavior, is beyond mine or any normal law abiding comprehension.

    Comment by Jack Randles — May 27, 2010 @ 4:57 am

  4. CJ, you’re not serious. They took out an enemy combatant. We live in a country where the PM’s hero is a minister of religion who was part of a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. Knocking off al-Mabhouh has to be within the ambit of what is permissible and is little different from what the US does with drones over Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    I can’t see what the significance of using our passports is.

    Comment by Graham — May 27, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  5. Obama in April this year used his presidential powers to order that assassinations by the US Govt be legal.Presidential Orders were and initiative of George Bush Jr.This means that those decreed by the state to be terrorists can be eliminated without an legal recourse.see

    I have seen no comdemnation of this decree by our media or our pollies.How long will it take for the definition of a terrorist to be broadened to include political dissidents?

    Comment by Arjay — May 27, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

  6. Oh. I see.

    This is a blog that supports ‘extra-Judicial’ killings.

    No thanks.

    Comment by Syd Walker — May 28, 2010 @ 5:32 am

  7. Syd Walker,you fail to address the truth.Ron Paul on his site has been outraged by these realities too.It matters not who prints the truth,so don’t try and to dilute the reality with your own bias.

    You only have to google Obama’s abomination on the net to realise,that it is real.

    Israel has form and the history to back it up.In 1967 it is documented that the US Liberty,an unarmed intelligence ship, was attacked by Israel in an effort to blame it on Egypt whom it was fighting in the 6 day war.The intention was to sink it killing all on board so there would be no witnesses.The intention was create a false flag event to get the USA to attack Egypt. However many of the Israeli pilots in their mirage jets had pangs of conscience and shot to miss the Liberty.24 US sailors were killed and many injured,but the Liberty limped home to tell the story.

    President Lyndon Baines Johnson covered up the crime, threatening the survivors with loss of pensions and more,if they revealed the truth.

    Comment by Arjay — May 28, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  8. Arjay, FWIW I was reacting to the comment by Graham @ 11:13 am.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about, quite honestly.

    I agree that Israel tried to sink the USS Liberty in 1967 and that it was an outrageous crime. Why do you think I don’t?

    Comment by Syd Walker — May 28, 2010 @ 10:28 am

  9. Sorry Syd ,I thought you were making reference to my link and not your intended target.

    Comment by Arjay — May 28, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  10. No probs Arjay 🙂

    You may be interested, btw, in a recent Open Letter to Stephen Smith at

    Comment by Syd Walker — May 29, 2010 @ 12:30 am

  11. Syd Walker, unless you are a pacifist you accept extra-judicial killings. For most of us the issue isn’t whether they are justifiable, but in what cases they are justifiable.

    As the government accepts the assissination of Al Qaeda members in Pakistan, then it accepts that extra-judicial killings, similar to the Israeli one, are legitimate. As extra-judicial killings go, the al-Mabhoud one was a superior exercise. Unlike the Yanks it didn’t involve unmanned drones and the high risk of killing innocent bystanders. It was precise, targeted and low on collateral risk.

    Comment by Graham — May 30, 2010 @ 4:13 am

  12. Graham.

    You apparently are comfortable with Israeli and US ‘extra-judicial’ killings.

    Could you enlighten us as to whether you believe that’s a special privilege only those countries should have? Or a valid univeral principle?

    Take former Israeli PM Eduard Barak, for instance.

    He admitted, in a TV documentary shown in Australia some time ago, that he shot at least one innocent bystander during a murder raid in Beirut back in the 70s. It was an ‘undercover’ operation to assassinate an ‘enemy’, whop was at home in his house with his family at the time; Barak was not in uniform when he killed a halpess Lebanese bystander who happened to get in his way as he carried out the murderous attack on foreign soil (I know, you call them extra-judicicial killings).

    Here’s where the question of universal application cuts in.

    Do the Lebanese Security Services have the same right to send execution squads into Israel to kill Barak? (After all, they have impeccable prooof of guilt – an open admission (brag) on TV.

    If your answer is ‘no’, then please explain why Israelis should have the right to kill people they regard as enemies whenever and wherever they feel like it, but not vice versa.

    Or are you one of the whacko supremacists who believe some people can be treated in a subhuman manner because they are, in some way, inferior?

    Comment by Syd Walker — May 30, 2010 @ 5:23 am

  13. Your last sentence betrays you Syd. You’re not interested in a discussion, you’re interested in an argument. My point was that the Australian government believes in extra-judicial killings. So ask them to explain why some are OK and others aren’t.

    In the case of al-Mabhoud the Israelis had justification. I don’t know the details of the Barak case, and it is not the one we are discussing. I don’t think only one country, or a group of countries, has the right to be involved in war against other countries. I do think there are just and unjust wars. So obviously some violence is justified and other violence not.

    Comment by Graham — May 30, 2010 @ 7:18 am

  14. Graham.
    Syd Walker is absolutely correct. Israel is guilty of the international crime of extra judicial execution of foreign nationals carried out by nefarious means in countries other than their own.
    No matter how you try to explain it away it was an unlawfull act,( can one say cowardly?).
    You shouldn’t be too ctitical of Syd mentioning the Barak episode in Lebanon, you also are guilty of the same by your mention of the US(Yanks)and their use of unmanned drones in carrying out assasinations.
    You also accuse Syd of turning a discussion into an arguement when, you did exactly the same by implying that he had pacific beliefs.
    Graham play the ball not the man!

    Comment by Jack Randles — May 30, 2010 @ 8:01 am

  15. Graham

    I’m glad you reacted strongly against the suggestion that you are a supremacist – or support supremacists. It is something I find worth clearing up early in debates such as this.

    Many pro-Israel people DO operate on the basis that Jewish life is more sacred and significant than the lives of non-Jews. People like that cannot really participate in meaningful political discussions. They’d be better off taking Anthropology 101 first, IMO. I’m glad you’re not in that category.

    The Beirut incident is discussed in Wikipedia here:

    “During the operation, four others were also killed: an Italian woman who lived in the building, Abu Youssef’s wife, and two Lebanese police officers.”

    Did Israel ever apologize to the families of bystanders or pay compensation? (Perhaps you could make that inquiry without further assistance, Graham, and report back to the rest of us.) Or is ‘collateral damage’ acceptable whenever Israel decides to murder its perceived enemies, without following due process of any kind?

    Incidentally, I guess you imagine the Israelis werre fighting a ‘just war’ back in 1967 – so what is your opinion about the USS Liberty incident?

    Was Israel justified in killing more US naval staff than have been slain in any other attack on the US Navy – before 1967 or since – in the entire post Second World War era? Were the western mass media justified in covering up the incident?

    Awaiting your response on that.

    If your response is to say you’ve never heard about the USS Liberty, please get a basic education before promulgating one-sided, pro-murder views.

    Is that too much to ask?

    Comment by Syd Walker — May 30, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

  16. Talking of education, this story is fresh for us all.


    Israeli soldiers have always abused children

    On 18 May 2010, Defence for Children International (DCI-Palestine) submitted 14 cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for investigation. The submission relates to the sexual assault, or threat of sexual assault, of Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli soldiers, interogators and police between January 2009 and April 2010. The ages of the children range from 13 to 16 years.

    DCI-Palestine is becoming increasingly alarmed at reports contained in sworn affidavits received from children that they are being subjected to sexual assault, or threat of sexual assault, in order to obtain confessions.

    DCI-Palestine has reviewed 100 sworn affidavits collected from children in 2009, and in four percent of cases, children report being sexually assaulted, whilst in 12 percent of cases, the children report being threatened with sexual assault. The sexual assault and threats of sexual assault documented by DCI-Palestine include grabbing boys by the testicles until they confess and threatening boys as young as 13 years with rape unless they confess to throwing stones at Israeli settler vehicles in the occupied West Bank. DCI-Palestine suspects that these figures may understate the extent of the problem.

    Now Graham, perhaps you support child abuse too – when it’s carried out by Israeli Government ‘interogators’? After all, ‘extrajudicial sexual abuse’ is less final than ‘extrajudicial killing’… and the Israelis are (always) fighting a ‘Just War’, aren’t they?

    So if these Israeli ‘interogation techniques’ could help ‘save lives’, under your line of reasoning perhaps the Israelis have a responsibility to abuse children in their custody?

    Comment by Syd Walker — May 30, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

  17. Your heroes ‘took out’ another 15 nuisances today, Graham (and injured a lot more).

    Perhaps the champagne corks are popping in your household?

    This time the ‘targets’ were unarmed peace activists in international waters.

    Just war?

    Comment by Syd Walker — May 31, 2010 @ 5:42 am

  18. Well it is all academic now.Israel has just murdered 16 and wounded 60 people on a Turkish ship in international waters bringing humanitarian supplies to the Palistinians.

    Israel in my view is pushing for a global conflict to try and escape their treachery.They will take us all to the brink because they are both obsessive and compulsive,of a grand disorder.

    Comment by Arjay — May 31, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  19. Syd, you’re just trying to avoid the issue by throwing in example after example until we lose the wood for the trees. I’m not going to play that game.

    The point of the comment was that the al-Mabhoud action was entirely justifiable, and that other such actions can be justified. I’m not interested in being verballed as some one-eyed supporter of Israel and adjudicating on every single action that they take.

    Comment by Graham — May 31, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  20. Graham,

    Unfortunately it is you who is avoiding the issue.

    The illegal Al-Mabhoud action by Israeli government terrorists is the wood. Your inane support of this blatant breach of international law is quite obvioudly the trees.

    Don’t be thin skinned, nobody is verballing you, you led with your chin with your one eyed unqualified support for the quite illegal actions. Suffer the consequences!

    Comment by Jack Randles — June 1, 2010 @ 4:51 am

  21. Well said Jack.

    As for Graham, he seems to think his opinion is a full substitute for the judical process.

    I wonder how many other people Graham has sentenced to death in his imagigation, waiting only for an armed Israqeli thug to carry out the execution?

    Perhaps we should leave Graham to indulge in murderous fantasises on his own, lest we feel personally the long arm of his extra-judicial peevishness?

    Comment by Syd Walker — June 1, 2010 @ 5:37 am

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