– Statistics released by Australia Post have revealed Australia’s domestic security agency is concentrating its efforts on a very small number of terrorist and espionage targets.
The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation has been given a 10% budget increase to nearly $370 million for this financial year and has just moved into new $700 million headquarters in Canberra that will house its more than 1700 staff.
But long-ignored statistics suggest that ASIO’s primary counter-terrorism and counter-espionage caseload may be focused on as few as 50 suspects who are, or are likely to be, engaged in activity harmful to Australia’s security.
Public reporting by Australia Post reveals that in 2011-12 the postal corporation made only 54 disclosures of addresses and other external postal details to the security agency.
Australia Post was not required to disclose to ASIO any “specially protected” information that includes the contents of letters and packages. ASIO may only access postal information including the contents of mail under warrants issued by the federal attorney-general.
ASIO does not disclose any statistics on mail interception, or the use of it’s other special powers that include phone tapping and the use of listening and tracking devices.
But Australia Post’s reporting of disclosures of information to security, law enforcement and public revenue agencies provides an indicator of ASIO’s operational activity.
Australia Post statistics over the past 10 years show that ASIO’s access to mail has been very limited, with only 57 disclosures in 2002-03, rising to 117 disclosures in 2005-06 and 266 disclosures in 2006-07, before falling to only 27 disclosures in 2010-11 and 56 in 2011-12.
Former ASIO officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said mail interception is of limited an declining cost effectiveness because electronic communication has reduced Australia Post’s letter business, but is “still important as part of comprehensive [surveillance] coverage of high priority targets”.
“Telecommunications interception and data analysis are very cost effective and efficient means of tracking where a person is and what they are doing, down to what they read and buy on eBay, but it can still be important to see what’s going on in their letterbox,” one former ASIO officer said.
The low level of ASIO mail interception is consistent with other indicators of ASIO’s operational activity including a leaked US Embassy cable published by WikiLeaks that revealed in early 2010 ASIO recommended only 23 Australians suspected of terrorism links for inclusion on US no-fly and border-control watch lists. (Nine of the 23 people listed were overseas).
University of New South Wales academic and author of a history of ASIO, Associate Professor David McKnight said the Australia Post statistics suggested the security agency was focusing its investigatory powers on “the tiny number of people who might wish harm to Australia’s security”.
“The threat of terrorism has often been exaggerated, especially by politicians anxious to demonstrate their virility, though one must acknowledge that the potential damage from even one individual could be quite high,” he said.
The Australia Post statistics show many other federal and state government agencies are still keen to read people’s mail, with nearly 3479 disclosures of the contents of mail in 2011-12 and 4644 disclosures of addresses and other postal information.
Government agencies regularly accessing people’s mail or else obtaining postal information include the Australian Federal Police and state police forces, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Australian Crime Commission and state anti-corruption commissions, the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink and Medicare, Australian Defence Force investigators, numerous state government agencies, residential tenancy authorities, racing and gaming authorities and the RSPCA – Philip Dorling


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
This entry was posted in Intelligence & National Security, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s