Wikileaks Protecting the Henhouse

Julian Assange is disallowed bail and Joh Bjelke Petersen’s ‘chooks’ exit the courthouse. It is their henhouse Assange and Wikileaks aim to protect.

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

His ‘Jerilderie letterOp-ed in the Australia reminisces about the bad old days in Queensland, when Julian would have been a very bright young Townsville lad, aware of the corrupt police investigating police culture which the Fitzgerald Inquiry addressed in 1987, and the police investigation of the disappearance of backpacker, Tony Jones.

The first attempts of the Jones family to phone in a missing persons report on 11 November 1982 were complicated by red tape. The police investigation only commenced three days later when family members travelled some five thousand kilometres to file the report in person. As stated at the inquest, basic police inquiries were neglected: for example, police failed to get a report from the hospital on treatment Jones had received prior to his disappearance and at least one key witness mentioned by the coroner was never interviewed. The family was also left without police assistance when they conducted a door-knock inquiry in the vicinity of the phone booth in Bowen Road, Rosslea, which was the last confirmed whereabouts. Police did not release an identikit sketch of a suspect until 10 years after they received information about the suspect.

Media reports on the inquest highlighted other problems with the investigation, reporting that some of the witness statements were missing and that the former investigating officer had been uncooperative with coronial inquiries. The media also reported that it was 2001 before statements were obtained from several people who first approached police in 1982.

Other criticisms were voiced by the coroner and the coroner’s assistant. Coroner Fisher said “more attention should have been given to early investigation”, while his assistant, Sergeant Kym Farquharson-Jones, said the inquest evidence showed police investigations into the disappearance were “not sufficient by today’s standard”.

The view of Sergeant Farquharson-Jones is indicative of the systemic problems highlighted in the Fitzgerald Inquiry report. Tony Fitzgerald QC, who presided over the Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct, said the Queensland police culture of the 1980s was “debilitated by misconduct, inefficiency, incompetence, and deficient leadership”. As a result of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, the Commissioner of Police Terry Lewis, the man who presided over the Queensland police in the early years of the Jones investigation, and whose name appeared on the original police reward for information on the suspected murder of Jones, was subsequently convicted and jailed for corruption.

Drugs, sex and gambling were also an integral part of the North Queensland police scene:

In 1983 four men from the Drug Squad in Brisbane arrived in Mareeba unannounced to take Dickson’s file on drug trafficking in Far North Queensland ‘to put on the computer in Canberra’. The files never arrived there. Early in 1984 Dickson was taken off all drug investigations and told not to leave Mareeba without giving full details to the inspector. He was transferred to Townsville in June 1984 and was forbidden to visit Mareeba unless accompanied by a Commissioned Officer.6

Fast Buck$ claimed that a prominent Queensland police officer, who was ‘well-known in the Police Force as the man who controlled (and still controls) escort agencies and gambling in North Queensland — and who was often to be seen in casinos with a call-girl on his knee’ also controlled this Drug Joke. Fast Buck$ also claimed that a prominent National Party minister was ‘an ambitious front man’ for the Mafia in North Queensland, feeding drug money into the coffers of the National Party.7

Although these Fast Buck$ allegations were ignored by the mainstream media, tens of thousands of pink Fast Buck$ Report leaflets were delivered to rush hour commuters during the 1984 election in Brisbane. And Fast Buck$ was given considerable publicity on radio station 4ZZZ.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry was held from 1987-89, presided over by Tony Fitzgerald QC. Fittingly, it was triggered by the work of investigative journalists who risked their lives to winnow out the weevils infesting the Queensland Police Force.

The inquiry was established in response to a series of articles on high-level police corruption in The Courier-Mail by reporter Phil Dickie, followed by a Four Corners television report, aired on 11 May 1987, entitled “The Moonlight State” with reporter Chris Masters. With Queensland’s Premier of 18 years, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, out of the state, his deputy Bill Gunn ordered a commission of inquiry.

Did the young Assange learn from Fast Buck$ and 4ZZZ’s role models? Regardless of the sex-crime distraction and the outcome of Assange’s hearing, he honours principles which are vital for us all.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Undaunted, Wikileaks will continue to release the US embassy cables. Julia Gillard and Robert McClelland may be worried at this point.

The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Unlike the tawdry flock of politicians and aristocrats incensed and tarnished thus far by its revelations, Wikileaks has been unrelenting in its pursuit of the truth.

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Australia-wide protests support of Wikileaks founder after his arrest today in London

People all over Australia and the world are calling for the release of Julian Assange and his protection in the name of free speech and public interest. He has been vilified by politicians and right wing commentators worldwide, with the Canadian PM calling for his assassination!

Let the Aust gov know you support free speech and Wikileaks.
Call on Gillard to protect Assange.

The rally date coincides with International Human Rights Day. Rally organisers say the Australian government has failed to uphold the human rights of Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange.

Protest actions:

BRISBANE – 12 noon, this Friday December 10
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 295 Ann Street, City.

SYDNEY- Sydney Town Hall @ 1pm, Friday December 10.

MELBOURNE – Facebook event for the protest in Melbourne to defend Julian Assange: http://on.fb.me/gHWHyq

Melbourne Protest to defend Julian Assange at State Library, Melbourne 4.30pm, this Friday, Dec 10

Australia and Melbourne Indymedia stand in solidarity with Wikileaks

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