This is not the usual article for me. This is not a mere look at facts and at information, one could say that I have skin in the game (me using the loosest of all interpretations). You see, I know Paul Farrell. We might not be on the same side at times, for the same reason I am on opposite sides of Brendan Molloy, but we all went to the same University and I know them both to be good people, both with integrity and with a decent moral compass. These issues matter. For the same reason that I stand next to David Cameron, yet I remain holding a healthy respect for Ed Miliband. Ed sees things wrong (read: does not see them my way), but he truly believes that he was fighting the good fight for his party, which is all that mattered.
So how does this relate?
You see, whenever the name Edward Snowden comes up, it seems to raise a red flag for me, like a bull my horns go into battle mode. There is something really wrong about the Snowden case and it forever will be from my point of view, so when I read ‘Edward Snowden on police pursuing journalist data: the scandal is what the law allows‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/17/edward-snowden-on-police-pursuing-journalist-data-the-scandal-is-what-the-law-allows) got my attention to the smallest degree, yet when the quote “singled out for critique the Australian government’s contention that it broke no laws in its leak investigation of Paul Farrell, a Guardian reporter who in 2014 exposed the inner workings of Australia’s maritime interception of asylum seekers“, I became wide awake. You see, I know Paul, which makes it another matter entirely. This links back to an article where Paul Farrell was part of a team (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/07/asylum-seekers-will-be-handed-to-police-on-return-sri-lanka-confirms), that reported on certain issues. The quote “a group of 53 legal experts have called on the federal government to reveal how asylum seekers are being assessed on board customs vessels” points towards an issue that is very valid to be raised upon. When we see “a group of 53 legal scholars from 17 Australian universities warned that the government’s conduct under its hardline military-led border regime “Operation Sovereign Borders” was in violation of international law“, that point of view does not change one bit. The press has every right and even a mandate to report on it (read: why this is not done more often in commercial cases remains a mystery). These elements are not part of the actual spying issue, but they are related to the issue.
The rest of the article reads nice, but there is a side that I saw missing. Where were these people stopped? You see that makes all the difference. How far have people looked into the matter? When we consider UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), we need to consider article 17 where we see “Subject to this Convention, ships of all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea“, which is at the heart of the matter. Refugee boats are for the most smugglers, meaning that they cannot rely on ‘innocent passage’, in addition, article 18 gives us the passage bit with “traversing that sea without entering internal waters or calling at a roadstead or port facility outside internal waters“, which is exactly what smugglers are intent on doing, and whilst doing so we get article 19 where we see “Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State“, which again is exactly what smugglers ignore, because the status of these people cannot be confirmed, as such they can be regarded as prejudicial to both the peace and the good order as well as the security of the coastal state. Perhaps these 53 legal experts looked at that part, perhaps not (read: if I get any documents proving that part, I will reopen this blog article at a later stage).
So at this point, I saw an article that has issues, but I see nothing short of a mere article, nothing that should have woken up Edward Snowden, more important, why did it wake up the AFP? The article gives more than just 53 legal experts, it mentions “Hanson-Young also called on the minister to reveal the fate of a second vessel of 153 asylum seekers believed to have departed from India“, it mentions “The Tamil Refugee Council of Australia” as well as “UNICEF Australia and Save the Children said they were also “seriously concerned” over the secrecy on the second boat“, which are clear quotes, clear issues to be raised by a member of the press, so why do we get: ‘Federal police admit seeking access to reporter’s metadata without warrant‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/14/federal-police-admit-seeking-access-to-reporters-metadata-without-warrant)? You see, in the 2014 case we have the quote “The Australian government’s “on-water” activities to turn back asylum seekers have been shrouded in secrecy under the military-led Operation Sovereign Borders. They led to several incursions into Indonesia’s territorial waters in December and January”, you see, this makes it not an AFP case, but an ASD case as this was a military led operation. The quote: “incorrect calculation of the boundaries of Indonesian waters” is even more hilarious especially when you realise that RADAR, SATNAV and other means tend to show shorelines, can we assume that those on board of the Ocean Protector should have known these little facts? If not, than let us meet with the captain and discuss the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, where we see in section 2(a):
Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.
Which gets us nicely to the duties of being a ship’s captain, where we could now conclude that the Ocean Protector could be regarded as in violation of that pesky UN law named UNCLOS, to be more precise in violation of section 19 of that one, because it could be seen as acting against the ‘security of the coastal State’. This is why I looked at the IRPCS, as that is foremost on the mind of any ship captain, which gives us section 2a and this now gets that person in hot water with section 19 of UNCLOS. Going from other sides there are now the 1st and second mate to consider of the Ocean Protector, as the transgression, unless clearly defined in a military agreement, could be cause for a tribunal and as such the captain could stand a chance to be ‘captain-no-more’, which means that the mates move up a position, this is sometimes regarded as promotion through termination (read: this doesn’t always require extreme prejudice).
My issue is less with the statements of Edward Snowden and much more about (as I see it) the stupidity of the AFP to look into a matter that has so many clear sources named, especially names of people who would know more than the article revealed that the investigation into Paul Farrell seems to be a waste of time to say the least. To be honest, I am much more worried about the escalations we get from the SMH with the title ‘Scott Morrison to share Australian Christian Lobby stage with anti-gay extremists‘ than anything Paul has written here (sorry Paul, I am not trying to diminish your work).
You see, the article Paul partially wrote asks questions, they ask the right question. What is a clear issue is: “the secrecy on the second boat and were worried that unaccompanied minors could be on board whom required additional assistance from Australia under international law“, now also consider “The council had previously stated that at least 11 of those on board had previously been tortured by the Sri Lankan authorities before fleeing“, we see a pattern. A pattern that some elements (I reckon mostly UNICEF) had data and information that was vital, in all this we see the statement that also matters “Morrison told Sydney radio that the second boat was no longer in Australian waters“, so basically Morrison has clearly stated that the second boat had entered Australian waters. Yet when and where? This does not change my view on UNCLOS and its interpretation of it, but it does have an issue with what happened afterwards and the Guardian does not really report on it, it asks questions. Now if Paul got Morrison to make the statement, than that does not make Paul a better investigative journalist, but it does make him an awesome and dangerous interviewer and no matter how he got the quote, he did get the quote and Morrison will have to place his virtually burned bum on a cushion for a little while. So why did the AFP need the metadata of Paul Farrell?
You see, I look at the article with different eyes, as a data miner I see other patterns and the article skates on one that seems to be ignored. We get that from “The AFP have undertaken a number of investigations targeting journalists’ sources, many related to stories about asylum seeker operations“, a statement where I see ‘many’ in a different light. I am wondering, especially in light of what was written why Paul’s data was sought for. My assumption is that there is another side to this. I personally reckon that Paul has had interactions with another person, on perhaps another story. I reckon that someone else is under investigation and Paul Farrell is only connected to some extent.
Can I prove this?
That is of course part of all this. You see, I cannot without seeing more than one source smitten with all this. But consider all the sources the Guardian has had. Any maritime issue can be much easier ascertained by the ASD (and it was a military led operation), they have a lot more resources and any maritime leak can more easily be traced at the maritime source (you know the instigating server side of things). In all this, the quote “Earlier this year Guardian Australia reported that the AFP had accrued a file of at least 200 pages on Farrell in an attempt to uncover and prosecute his confidential sources” from the ‘surveillance’ article now matters. It links to a Feb 12th article where we see the quote “In April 2014 I reported for Guardian Australia that one of the vessels involved in Australia’s unlawful incursions into Indonesian waters, the Ocean Protector, had gone far deeper into Indonesian waters than the government had disclosed“, which is the statement that caused all this. You see, the Ocean Protector is a government vessel, yet a civilian one that falls under the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The ASD has options here, but it seems overkill to use them when it is not a military operation. The ASD can rely on “The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) provides foreign signals intelligence, known as SIGINT, to the Australian Defence Force and Australian Government to support military and strategic decision-making“. So why use the AFP instead of a much better equipped ASD? That is the question that comes to mind. What is without doubt is that this is not merely a Paul Farrell investigation. This is just a personal opinion, but when we see the amount of sources Paul Farrell had, in addition if the ship had an Automatic Identification System (AIS) on board, was it logged off and shut down? Even crew members with a smartphone turned on could have been enough of a source. A dozen sources all lower than open intelligence sources, were they looked at? In addition if the Ocean Protector had any switched on Esterline Technologies equipment on board, there might be additional ways to get certain information. I wonder how deep this was investigated before someone had the less than bright idea to, no matter how lawful I was, to the metadata of a journo?
The article raises questions, and what it does not tell us makes me wonder about several other questions, none of them considered.
In all this the by-line of a picture in the February article gives us “Michael Pezzullo, secretary of the immigration department, told a Senate committee this week he had referred a cabinet leak to the police. He also referred a Guardian Australia journalist to the AFP after a report that revealed a customs ship had entered Indonesian waters far deeper than previously disclosed“, which makes sense, yet that line gives me the issue of the Cabinet leak and a lot less about the Guardian leak. It seems to me that the massive file on Paul Farrell reads like a bright light, one that dissuades away from the cabinet investigation that is one that many parties would want to keep out of the press. I just wonder what Paul will find when he takes a look at that Cabinet member and the information that is being looked at. I am not certain that it will be about Asylum seekers or refugees, or another matter entirely, but that again is merely speculation from my side.
Can I be wrong?
Off course I can. You see, my speculations are merely the consequences of data I saw and other data I read. Now ask yourself, knowing the backlash spying on the press gets you; do you think that the AFP is actually this stupid? As I raised issues of location tracking in many forms, the essential part isn’t whether he got a hold of that data, the question becomes how many non-illegal methods could he have used to get it. So, the actions by the AFP seems to be a massive overreaction. That is even before we see whether the Ocean Protector is on http://www.marinetraffic.com. Even after that, there are Indonesian systems to consider. If anyone had revealed that data it would have been a political issue between Indonesia and Australia (the second party without any claim to secrecy within the territorial waters of Indonesia). All these mere issues, all clearly within the view of the public, the audience, the press and the governments at large.
So now ask yourself: ‘Is there any sense to exposing one’s self to internal investigation as the press demands visible answers?‘
That is why I got to the path I am on. Consider one additional path. If we consider a phone number, for example (purely a random example): 8816 273 14432, now consider that this is an Iridium sat phone. You see these puppies also tend to be on boats. They have been used in many non-metro environments since the mid 90’s. These puppy’s come with data and GPS enabled and Iridium is actually one of the better more secure solution, there are few cheap ones that offer very little security. So was this about Paul Ferrell, or did Mike Pezzullo (or one of his top minions) drop the ball in another way and was this his panic solution?
These are mere thoughts in all this. It took mere minutes to get to this place and I had initially read the article in February. We must acknowledge the issue that “Law enforcement did not need a warrant for accessing the information at the time“, which is not as much a cause for concern as people make it out to be. Let’s face it, we are all held to a need for results. So was the AFP wasting time? In my summary they were for other reasons. The need to give the image that they are looking in one area is adamant, for politicians the need for the AFP to look somewhere else is equally their personal need, yet where lies the real need? On the foundations given, it was clearly not looking aty Paul’s data I raised many issues on that matter.
This gets me to the final article. There is nothing about the article that is wrong, it is the reflection of Paul Farrell (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/15/australias-attacks-on-journalists-sources-are-about-politics-not-national-security). The title ‘Australia’s attacks on journalists’ sources are about politics, not national security‘ hits the mark on several issues. The quotes that I needed in my case were “It’s become a sadly normal reality that journalists’ sources can be targeted in Australia in an effort to hunt down whistle-blowers“, the operative word here is ‘can‘, which is not a given, just a mere option. It does not make the action correct. What is more an issue is “this is the first time the AFP has ever made such an admission in Australia“, you see, why is this the first time? Was there too much overwhelming evidence, or is was the clear visibility of the search a reason to hide something else?
You see, that could be seen as a clear case of ‘conspiracy theory’, but regarding the evidence. The document (at https://www.scribd.com/doc/298816051/Paul-Farrell-AFP-Decision-Letter-and-Documents) that reveals nothing really, there is too much marked out. So was this a clear case of wrongful investigation, or was that the case because it dims the lights of what the AFP is actually looking into. So when we see the quote “From the AFP’s point of view, it has done nothing wrong. As it has indicated in its statement, it has sought to undertake investigations within the scope of the law. It has “sought to identify the source of the disclosure, and then determine whether they had the appropriate authority to release that information”“, to me it shouts not ‘what was wrongfully looked at‘, in my personal belief it screams ‘We are actually sneakily looking at something else‘, again, it is a speculation and I could be massively wrong, yet there is enough in the air to wonder about that issue, not just by me.