Saturday, September 18, 2004

Censorship and now harrassment for Howard's rival

Big Brother sends in the hit squads to clean up national security threat
By Deborah Snow
September 18, 2004
Sydney Morning Herald

Patricia Wilkie is a nurse in Tamworth. Her brother David is a teacher in the same town. Her other brother recently published a book.

Two weeks ago a team from the federal Attorney-General's Department turned up to "cleanse" Patricia and David's home computers of material said to be so sensitive that it could jeopardise the very security of the nation. A Sydney documentary maker, Carmel Travers, also got a visit, as did a small Melbourne publishing company, Black Inc, and the Melbourne academic and Herald columnist Robert Manne.

What do these people have in common? Each was emailed early drafts of a book by Andrew Wilkie, the former analyst with the Office of National Assessments who resigned spectacularly last year in opposition to Australia's involvement in Iraq and who is now standing as a Greens candidate against the Prime Minister, John Howard, in his seat of Bennelong.

Mr Wilkie's book, Axis of Deceit, argues that the Government took Australia to war on a lie by distorting intelligence. Just before the book's publication in June a manuscript was given - without Mr Wilkie's or the publisher's consent - to the Attorney-General's Department, which ordered the purging of some sections.

Recipients of earlier drafts were told it was insufficient to delete the offending passages from their computers. "Fragments" might linger inside their hard drives, enabling some unspecified party to pry the information from their machines.

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