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Naughty journo?

jennybel75 23 September 2008 21

News.com.au is reporting reports that the house of a Canberra Press Gallery journalist was raided this morning in connection with an ongoing investigation about a story on Australia’s spying operations published by the Canberra Times earlier in the year. The journo apparently cited his source as “classified briefing papers” which had been prepared for the Defence Minister.

So, lets see what happens with the protecting sources debate again.

ED – And Mr. Evil had this to say:

    The Australian is reporting that a Canberra Times journalist’s home has been raided by the AFP, apparently in relation to a story published by the Canberra Times in June.

    No doubt the Canberra Times will be lapping up the publicity, and someone working at Parliament House will be feeling a little nervous!

Meanwhile the ABC names the journo as Philip Dorling and the CT have managed to post an AAP story on the subject.

UPDATED: The CT has now managed to get their own story up:

    The owners of The Canberra Times say they are “gravely concerned” over an “unacceptable” police raid on the Canberra home of one of its journalists this morning…

    “Fairfax Media is gravely concerned by this legal assault on one of our journalists for doing his job.

    “A Federal police raid on the home of a journalist cuts to the heart of the operation of a free press, and is unacceptable.


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21 Responses to Naughty journo?
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Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 2:43 pm 24 Sep 08

I have very little sympathy for Fairfax media, especially the way they’re acting all indignant over (perceived) injury to their freedom of the press.
Its a luxury only afforded to those with deep enough pockets to actually own the press.

If Johnboy (or any other poster) on here was handed a sheaf of TSPV or AEO documents, the only thing we would be able to do when the story came out would be to never write a thing down, comply entirely with an investigation or face legal preceedings, and basically suck up the fact that as members of the public whose interest they claim to act in, we don’t get a say in the matter.

And if we wrote anythign down and published it, we’d need to have a bloody good reason for it, not “to sell more papers\get a byline\stir the pot”.

Lliving in Canberra, its not like we aren’t already about two degrees of social seperation from an ASIO officer, X-in-confidence document bearer, or TSPV public servant anyway.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 1:59 pm 24 Sep 08

This all comes down the the irresponsible publishing by the paper I’m afraid. They’d publish top secret information that could risk our nation if it would sell extra copies. Make an example out of the media and fine them, while going after the c**k who provided the sensitive information.

fhakk fhakk 1:34 pm 24 Sep 08

I would rather have a government that has some level of enforced transparency than a government encased in total secrecy.

Reporters are not above the law (although a few tend to think they are), but neither are politicians, or Australia’s security personnel. This incident does not set a precedent for the government’s attitude towards difficult journalists who get their hands on sensitive material. What this represents, however, is a clear signal that this current government will be just as paranoid about saving face as its predecessor.

And iCanberran’s comparison of a journalist’s investigative skills to that of a prostitute is quite frankly a crude and foolish comparison. ‘The Greater Good’? Reminds me of the movie Hot Fuzz.

The public have a right to be given a glimpse of what the priorities are for our intelligence agencies. If this was a massive security breach, why didn’t we see Japan jumping up and down, threatening to withdraw its ambassador in Canberra? And reporters aren’t that stupid that they’ll name intelligence agents, or expose them to any risk of being injured or killed.

All the defence and government staffers posting here should stop being so paranoid that the articles reporters write will destroy lives and bring down the government. You shouldn’t be so worried, unless there are bigger things that are being hidden which the public needs to know.

thecman thecman 12:12 pm 24 Sep 08

Seems to me the AFP had little choice but to act on this one – no doubt they received a formal complaint from Government and from there they are duty bound to conduct an investigation.

One of the standard investigative tools is the search warrant, the purpose of which is to allow Police to lawfully obtain evidence for later use in prosecutions. I suppose calling the execution of a search warrant a ‘raid’ makes for emotive headlines but it also disguises the purpose. Search warrants are an essential investigative tool as evidence seized lawfully under the authority of a warrant is generally regarded as admissible by Courts. The time lapse between the original news article and the execution of this warrant probably has more to do with delays in the matter being formally referred by Government then any AFP tactic or ‘Keystone Cop’ incompetence.

To obtain a search warrant Police have to satisfy a judicial officer (Judge or Magistrate) that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the offence named in the warrant has been committed, that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that evidence named in the warrant is at the location and that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting the evidence will be relevant to the offence named. In this instance I suspect the warrant would have nominated offences under sections 70 and 79 of the Crimes Act 1914 – namely Disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers and Official Secrets respectively.

Realistically disclosing this sort of information is seriously harmful to Australia’s national security on a number of levels. It potentially exposes sources and methods of intelligence gathering – possibly placing lives (Australian and foreign) at risk. It also erodes international confidence in our ability to protect classified information, with the potential that our key partners may not share important information with us in the future. There are aspects of Government activity that should remain secret, operations undertaken by the intelligence community are certainly high on the list. Journalists are not above the law and it is not always in the public interest for them to reveal material that has been leaked. When they do so they make a judgement call, with full knowledge of the risks they are exposing themselves to. It is a bit rich for the CT to be crying foul when they published the material and are thus complicit in Mr Dooring’s activities.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 9:58 am 24 Sep 08

(I am condoning working -with- Intelligence on this because when it comes to being in between a rock and a hard place, there is no reason to be crushed into a fine powder by ASIO & DIO for the sake of some idiot in Parliament house who can’t understand the PSM and simple concepts like “national security” and “China executes spies”)

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 9:43 am 24 Sep 08

It was a fairly clumsy original article, the story was less that we were spying on our friends, and more that someone is leaking classified intelligence. And using that phrasing in-article is like a rag to a bull for DIO, ASIO, and ASIS.

A more calculatingly simple way of dealing with it would be to horse trade that piece of information into a solid intelligence community contact, work with them on the classified intelligence leak investigation, and use that relationship to build or receive later stories.
Be a journalist on the take as it were.

It would sell more papers, and be less likely to make your future dealings with a first-year Government exceedingly difficult.

Even so, this seems like a fairly ham-fisted Government response to stopping intelligence leaks.

I, for one, welcome our clumsy and bullish totalitarian overlords.[1]
May they gore this journalist particularly savagely, and give the leaker exactly what they deserve.
It will encourage the other journalists in future to step aside when the bull charges and force leakers play smoke and shadow games (or just rent their services out to other parties) when the jackboots comes for them.

[1] An angry charging bull is still just a bull, ineffective at detecting and crushing individual mice.

iCanberran iCanberran 12:28 am 24 Sep 08

recondite said :

iCanberran, your comment is one of the least sensible I have ever seen on this site.

Are you seriously suggesting that “news” about a politician having an affair is more important, or somehow worthy of being reported – more in the public interest even, than news about a secretive organisation’s clandeestine activities that could have a major impact on australian trade partners.

and don’t even start on the muzzling of the press – something that should have ended with the Hward years. Rudd and Co. have been noticeably silent.

If a politician, an official we have elected, is acting in a manor unbecoming of their position, then I think it would be in the public interest for it to be reported, as it would if the politician is corrupt, making a planning decision secretly without community consultation that could have serious effects on residents and so on.

And regarding your comments recondite: “Are you seriously suggesting that “news” about a politician having an affair is more important, or somehow worthy of being reported – more in the public interest even, than news about a secretive organisation’s clandeestine activities that could have a major impact on australian trade partners.”

An elected official doing something not befitting the office is far more important yes. If a politician is snapped coming out a brothel, taking money from a developer or making secretive decisions that could harm the community, they are of public interest.

International intelligence? Why is that important?
Are you so naive that you think spying on trade partners is new. Oh gosh you must work for arts.
We keep tabs on our friends and foes and they keep tabs on us. Every Aussie embassy has intelligence people, as do foreign embassies on our soil.
It’s not James Bond stuff either. We’re not sneaking into foreign government officers wearing a Walter PPK and perfect hair cut, shooting up the place. A lot of it is signal interception, eavesdropping, receiving leaked information, using local contacts and providing backdoor communications. Stuff that allows us to predict strategic and political changes and respond to such changes.

And ask yourself, why did the reporter release this information? Seriously, why? Because he was concerned that such activities could endanger world peace? If so, why publicise it and what was his goal? For us to protest until ASIS and DSD are shut down. Oh please, he wrote it to sell papers.
He’s no different to that Defence official a couple of years ago who slept with the hooker while giving her defence secrets as payment. They both did it for personnel gain with no greater good.

bigfeet bigfeet 10:56 pm 23 Sep 08

fhakk…. it’s not the journo that is the issue. This was a second rate article from a fourth rate newspaper.

But the fact that a security cleared government employee has seen fit to give the report out, either deliberately or through incompetence, is what needs to be investigated.

That person needs to no longer be in a position where they can get there hands on, and potentially disclose, other classified documents. Some of which could put lives at risk.

bigfeet bigfeet 10:51 pm 23 Sep 08

Surely the warrant was issued by a member of the ACT judiciary?

Noone could accuse them of being too liberal with their decisions.

fhakk fhakk 10:48 pm 23 Sep 08

The way people are talking about the leaking of information makes journos look like socialist spies from North Korea.

I know full well that its illegal to view or possess documents like this, but the fact is that this is the Canberra Times and not an undercover operative from China.

I like to think there’s a difference.

captainwhorebags captainwhorebags 10:42 pm 23 Sep 08

Oh, and would the Canberra Times please post guidelines on what they consider an “acceptable” police raid? Or perhaps the AFP should give the managing editor a call and ask for their blessing first…

captainwhorebags captainwhorebags 10:39 pm 23 Sep 08

Well I don’t think the police generally say “we are starting the investigation now. Here’s Act 1”. It may have started very shortly after the fact and we’re only seeing certain public elements of it. Police execute search warrants all the time, I’d hazard a guess that journos are more likely to get on the phone to their mates for some publicity.

bigfeet bigfeet 9:49 pm 23 Sep 08

Swaggie said :

CWB If the problem needs to be fixed and the story was printed back in June would it be worth wondering why it’s taken them so long to follow up on the Journo?

This is just a guess….but coppers don’t investigate things until someone actually makes a report. They don’t just do things out of the blue (I suppose except for murder?)

From what I hear about Kevin07 being a micromanager, maybe it has taken that long for him to make a decision that he would allow someone to report it?

Like I said, just a guess.

Swaggie Swaggie 9:43 pm 23 Sep 08

CWB If the problem needs to be fixed and the story was printed back in June would it be worth wondering why it’s taken them so long to follow up on the Journo?

captainwhorebags captainwhorebags 9:12 pm 23 Sep 08

What bigfeet said.

They’re not after the journo, they’re after the moron who thought it wise to take ministerial briefing papers and give them to the press. Or perhaps equally as grave, the ministerial staffer who accidentally misplaced sensitive documents. Either way, the problem needs to be fixed before a more serious breach of security occurs. Dorling is a starting point in finding the source.

circusmind circusmind 9:11 pm 23 Sep 08

bigfeet said :

Reporting on a politicians sex life is not in the public interest, but it makes news. Reporting on corruption or illegality by a government agency is in the public interest.

This is simply irresponsible sensationalism. This is this this organisations charter, what the government created it to do, and it only works if it is kept in the shadows. Every country does it. Every country knows every other country does it.

By making it public you are just asking for “major impact on australian trade partners” because then it has to be addressed.

But the issue is the leaking of the documents. And that needs to be investigated.

Exactly. This was not a “gotcha” piece of journalism. As far as I can remember, nothing particularly meaningful came out of the story. What exactly does this achieve? Just hindering our intelligence agencies…

bigfeet bigfeet 8:48 pm 23 Sep 08

recondite said :

Are you seriously suggesting that “news” about a politician having an affair is more important, or somehow worthy of being reported -more in the public interest even, than news about a secretive organisation’s clandeestine activities that could have a major impact on australian trade partners..

Reporting on a politicians sex life is not in the public interest, but it makes news. Reporting on corruption or illegality by a government agency is in the public interest.

This is simply irresponsible sensationalism. This is this this organisations charter, what the government created it to do, and it only works if it is kept in the shadows. Every country does it. Every country knows every other country does it.

By making it public you are just asking for “major impact on australian trade partners” because then it has to be addressed.

But the issue is the leaking of the documents. And that needs to be investigated.

recondite recondite 8:39 pm 23 Sep 08

iCanberran, your comment is one of the least sensible I have ever seen on this site.

Are you seriously suggesting that “news” about a politician having an affair is more important, or somehow worthy of being reported – more in the public interest even, than news about a secretive organisation’s clandeestine activities that could have a major impact on australian trade partners.

and don’t even start on the muzzling of the press – something that should have ended with the Hward years. Rudd and Co. have been noticeably silent.

bigfeet bigfeet 7:57 pm 23 Sep 08

The issue is not the journo, or the article. The article itself is quite innocuous. I am sure that those countries mentioned know that we are looking at them, just as they are looking at us.

What the issue, and what I hope the focus of the AFP investigation is, that a person with a high security classification saw fit to give these documents to someone (either the journo or a third person who provided them to the journo)

This is not whistle-blowing, where the person has leaked information about criminal wrongdoing. A person with security clearance has decided for some reason, to disclose classified documents.

That person needs to be found and removed from their job before they leak something which does some real harm.

And a stint in prison wouldn’t hurt either

fhakk fhakk 7:34 pm 23 Sep 08

Oh rubbish, iCanberran. Have you even read the article in question?

I for one love the chance to see a rare insight into the dealings of a very murky organisation.

Phillip’s churned out some interesting stories over the past few months as well – China trying to seduce Kevin Rudd’s staffers, for one.

It’s also a wake-up call for a lot of journos out there, that the government has no qualms about using the AFP to stop itself become embarrassed like this.

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