Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Complaint over surveillance to the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, 23 November, 2016.



I believe I have been the subject of unwarranted and invasive surveillance and harassment since writing a book last year called Terror in Australia: Workers' Paradise Lost.

This book was an embarrassment to senior figures in the intelligence community for reasons which I will explain below.

The intimidation and bullying I have endured has continued throughout this year, as I wrote a new book, which is just now becoming available in digital format, called Hideout in the Apocalypse. It will be available in paperback early next year.

The book is about the increased use of surveillance as an instrument of social control in contemporary Australia and the negative impacts this is having on Australian culture. It also encompasses the legislative attacks on freedom of speech, particularly the growth of metadata laws and the restrictions on reporting of security and intelligence operations.

Complimentary PDFs of both books can be downloaded from here:

Australia has traditionally been a democracy which valued the role of journalists. The books put forward the thesis that the stifling of debate has been a significant element in the lurch to the right in Australian politics.

The books argue that touchstone issues including migration and multiculturalism should be openly discussed.

Professional journalists who raise these issues should not become the target of intimidation.

To introduce myself, I am a journalist of more than 30 years standing, working under the name John Stapleton.

A collection of my work is being constructed, and so far has more than 1100 stories dating back to the late 1970s:
I have worked as a staff reporter on two of Australia’s leading newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. I continue to write on a range of subjects, including national security, as a contributor forThe New Daily. A search on my name will show up recent stories:
My books include: Chaos at the Crossroads: Family Law Reform in Australia, The Birth of Dads on the Air, The Final Days of Alastair Nicholson: Chief Justice Family Court of Australia, The Twilight Soi,  Thailand: Deadly Destination, Hunting the Famous, Terror in Australia: Workers' Paradise Lost and.Hideout in the Apocalypse.

My purpose in making this complaint is both the hope that those who have been targetting me will cease and desist and to ensure that no other journalist working in Australia will have to suffer the treatment that I have endured. I also my hope that those who have authorised and perpetrated this conduct will be brought to account.

I have formed the conclusion that the surveillance I have suffered has been a blatant attempt to influence what I write. I have also come to the conclusion that a journalist of 30 years standing such as myself could not have been targetted without the specific knowledge of senior figures within the national security apparatus; and, I believe, political contrivance.
After all, surveillance is not cheap and this has clearly involved significant expenditure and therefore, as far as I am concerned, significant wastage of public funds.

I have been informed that one of the explanations as to why I have been so specifically targetted was that I alienated senior figures within the security apparatus.

While laws surrounding the coverage of national security issues have become stricter, nothing in the legislation permits the sustained harassment and targetting of a journalist. Reporting material which some members of the government might prefer not to be in the public domain in no way excuses the invasion of my various places of dwelling, including houses, apartments and hotel rooms, the attempts to discredit me with the people with whom I deal, the conducting of psychological operations against me or using all the usual tactics utilised against a Targeted Individual.

Instead of being severely harassed, literally for years on end, considering my decades of experience in and with the media, my professional advice could have been easily sought to help solve what were obvious problems..
Instead the authorities chose to target me, and I regard this treatment as an extreme form of bullying.

Here, for example, are recent stories which may have alienated figures in the security hierarchy:






Terror in Australia: Workers’ Paradise Lost was critical of the loss of personal freedom in Australia and the collapse of civil society, and switched from street scenes to the unfolding narrative of terror in Australia.

While much of the book was impressionistic or mirrored and reported a story which was largely on the public record, the most contentious part of it, which was revisited in Hideout in the Apocalypse, is summarised in this segment here:

One of the most fantastical, seemingly utterly baffling things about the Land of Tony Abbott Circa 2015 was that ever since he had come to power in September of 2013, from blatant to obscure, every single Counter Terrorism Operation, Police Taskforce and Police Strike Force had been named with what could be readily described as pro-jihad or pro-Islamic tags.
The names highlighted everything from the rising of Islamic State to the Centenary of the massacre of 1.5 million Christians in Armenia to the massacre of Muslims in Bosnia.
How could this possibly be true?
Perhaps the issue could seem trivial; they were only names.
But in the heightened alert that was Australia 2015, it was all about messaging.
And the names appeared, on the face of it, to be a deliberate attempt to send a message; and the ones getting this message were not the dozing, hypnotised, disaffected, deluded, sports mad, television addicted majority of the Australian citizenry, but the ones most alert, awake and inflamed: the Muslim minority.
The message could not have been more clear: The Holy War had begun.

They went as follows:
1. Counter Terrorism Operation Amberd: Reference to the centenary of the Armenian massacre in which 1.5 million Christians died.
2. Counter Terrorism Operation Rising: Reference to the Rising of Islam.
3. Strike Force Dawed: Digital audio workshop, you have been electronically snooped.
4. Counter Terrorism Operation Castrum: Reference to a style of fort used by the Crusaders.
5. Operation Duntulm: A castle on the Isle of Skye, where the Stone of Destiny is believed to have been held.
6. Eligo National Taskforce: The Knight of Reason or the Atheist Knight in crusades.
7. Operation Appleby. A well known radical Islamist preacher.
8. Trident Taskforce. The UK nuclear program opposed by Muslims.
9. Operation Coulter. American columnist and one of the world’s most famous critics of Islam.
10. Project Tricord and Operation Polo. A musical notation from southern Iraq and a reference to Marco Polo, one of history’s greatest critics of Islam.
11. Taskforce Jericho. A former Islamic Caliphate.
12. Operation Zanella. Most likely a reference to the Bosnian massacre.
13. Blue Line. After an American police information depository heavily criticised by Muslims.
14. Strike Force Raptor. A type of plane used in bombing Iraq.
15. Strike Force Duperry. A surname meaning perfect within and perfect without.
16. Taskforce Maxima. Another reference to a staunch critic of Islam.
17. Operation Hammerhead, a security service specialising in radical Islam.
18. National Task Force Attero, reference to a song about suicide bombers.

This topic is revisited in Hideout in the Apocalypse:

One of the most peculiar, astonishing things Alex came across while writing Terror in Australia was that all the operations, strike forces and task forces of recent times, more than 20 of them, had all been named with pro-jihad tags.
One of the most blatant was Operation Coulter, after American columnist Anne Coulter, one of the world’s most famous critics of Islam. It was she who coined the famous phrase, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” and “If we could only convince them to stop flying, we could dispense with airport security.” On and on it went. When he drew the names to the attention of one of Australia’s leading terror messaging experts, Professor Anne Aly, she observed: “That’s no coincidence.” There they were, the most senior figures in the national security and law enforcement wings of government, fronting banks of television cameras at press conferences, boasting of how they were making Australia safe while naming their operations with pro-jihad tags.

I am not the one that made this obvious faux pas; I was simply the messenger.
When I first realised that I was being pressurised I put all the material up online in order to protect myself.
That was when the surveillance and harassment went into overdrive.
I regard this surveillance I have endured as an abuse of my rights as an Australian citizen, and an extreme and inappropriate response to a situation.
I very much appreciate you taking a look at this case. If you could outline to me any further formal processes I should undertake to seek redress I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you for your assistance.


Indicating a purely superficial level of inquiry, within a matter of days, the IGIS found no evidence of illegality or impropriety. The details of their inquiries could not be revealed on security grounds.

I do not agree with their findings, and continue to regard surveillance of journalists as an extreme and offensive form of harassment and a major assault on freedom of speech in Australia today..

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