Speaking Out @ ASIO HQ
Russell ACT, 13 November 2014
Many were there in spirit. Present in the flesh were just three: Bec Horridge, dressed as a business-like radio journalist bearing a sound recorder, Ben Keaney, in a khaki,Vietnamese army cap with red star, and old man me in black Tshirt with Ploughshare logo and Indiana Jones hat.
Peacebus was set up in the car park outside the old ASIO HQ. The car park was less than half full. Likewise the car park at the new $680 mill ASIO HQ. It seems ASIO is on the move and between HQs at this time.
We were greeted by two Micks from Australian Federal Police Agents from Protection Liaison. They were looking spliff in their new and matching Greg Norman wide brimmed, black straw hats with White Shark logos. At Remembrance Day two days before, they told us their bare and balding heads had been sunburned.
The action had been negotiated through AFP Protection Liaison. ASIO had been notified. No worries. Lots of smiles and lots of laughs. But no photos please.
Bec and i had arrived an hour early so that the set up would be leisurely. First we set up Peacebus' folding chairs and table in the shade, put the kettle on and sat back and watched the comings and goings at the front door - a man in a Consular car, a scurrying elderly Army major clutching a small brief case, a catering van and so on.
The mundane stuff of security clearances and who knows what.
Benjo arrived at the same time as as two uniformed police is a red and checkered AFP patrol car. No problems, they said. Just came to say hullo. More smiles. One them knew Ben from competition wrestling. Ben had recently returned from representing Australia as a featherweight in the Singapore Games. He had been trounced, he said, by a Vietnamese. Hence the hat.
Peacebus SpeakOuts as police-citizen social events.
Ben and i took turns at speaking to the ASIO building on the PA. We could see some shadows of people watching from the shaded windows. Spooks, three long floors of them. The PA was loud and would have been heard through the glass.
We spoke about what at bloated, tax sucking leech ASIO had become now that there was lockstep bipartisan support for things security and all debate and questioning in the Parliament stifled. Totally unaccountable, ASIO had become a hot air empire of Terror War paranoid fantasies.
I was into nailing the new Director General, Brigadier Duncan Lewis, a former National Security Advisor and "weapons of mass destruction" liar who now has extraordinary powers to pursue and detain without charge citizens discussing, privately or publicly, security intelligence operations.
Ben appealed to the humanity of ASIO workers - 1730 plus of them with a $603 mill pa budget. "Brothers and sisters in ASIO" he called them. And he called on them to consider what grievous consequences might come from a negative security clearance. For a refugee in a detention centre it might mean indefinite detention with no rights or avenues for appeal. And/or deportation back into terror.
We spoke and the business of ASIO went on regardless. People going and coming at the front door walked passed us as if we were invisible.
Was it worth the effort?
For me the exercise of freedom of speech and assembly is important in and of itself. These rights are meaningless unless exercised.
It makes me happy that the cops were happy and feeling good about facilitating our protest. In a sense they were exercising freedom too, normalising dissent.
Some say we were brave to be speaking out at ASIO. Maybe. But it not need courage so much as effort to get up and out and occupy ASIO space with dissenting voices.
Fearlessness and hopelessness is the path. But there must have been some confronting our fears because for sure, when it was over, we felt a post adrenalin elation.
But was it of any consequence? One cannot know the full consequences of one's words and deeds. Words and stories can influence and inspire in many ways and across time.
Mystery is the ambiance of direct action as a mystery of faith. Patience and faith its skillful means.
Truth is I am driven to do this. A voice inside saying: "If you really are concerned about the monster ASIO has become, say something, do some thing."
From past experience i know it's a voice that can nag and make me feel ashamed and complicit if i don't act on it.
Prophetic voice is what i seek. To go to the frontier of truth and lies with a head full of facts and information and a blood pulsing passion. To stand with a mike in hand, an empty head and an open heart.
And then to let Spirit do the talking. Voice of the ancestors. Eureka Spirit!
Best we can.
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