More Police Raids as War on Journalism Escalates Worldwide

A centrally-planned conspiracy is not necessarily behind this trend, writes Caitlin Johnstone. It may simply be the reflex of an ailing empire. 

By Caitlin Johnstone

The Australian Federal Police have conducted two raids on journalists and seized documents in purportedly unrelated incidents in the span of just two days.

Yesterday, the AFP raided the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst, seeking information related to her investigative report last year that exposed Australia’s discussions of giving itself unprecedented powers to spy on its own citizens. Today, they raided the Sydney headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corp, seizing information related to a 2017 investigative report on possible war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan.

In a third, also ostensibly unrelated incident, another Australian reporter disclosed that the Department of Home Affairs has initiated an investigation of his reporting on a story about asylum seeker boats which could lead to an AFP criminal case, saying he’s being pressured to disclose his source.

“Why has AFP suddenly decided to carry out these two raids after the election?” tweeted Australian Sky News political editor David Speers during the Sydney raid. “Did new evidence really just emerge in both the Annika Smethurst and ABC stories?!”

Why indeed?

“If these raids unconnected, as AFP reportedly said, it’s an extraordinary coincidence,” tweeted The Conversation’s Chief Political Correspondent Michelle Grattan. “AFP needs to explain ASAP the timing so long after the stories. It can’t be that inefficient! Must be some explanation – which makes the ‘unconnected’ claim even more odd.”

Odd indeed.

It is true that the AFP has formally denied that there was any connection between the two raids, and it is in fact difficult to imagine how the two could be connected apart from their sharing a common theme of exposing malfeasance that the government wanted kept secret. If it is true that they are unconnected, then what changed? What in the world could have changed to spark this sudden escalation of the Australian government’s assault on the free press?

Well, if as I suggested recently you don’t think in terms of separate, individual nations, it’s not hard to think of at least one thing that’s changed.

“The criminalization and crack down on national security journalism is spreading like a virus,” WikiLeaks tweeted today in response to the ABC raid. “The Assange precedent is already having effect. Journalists must unite and remember that courage is also contagious.”

“The arrest and espionage charges against Assange was just the beginning, as many in the media, even those who hate Assange, feared,”  tweeted Consortium News Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria in response to the News Corp raid. “The home of a mainstream Australian journalist was raided Wed. morning by police because of a story she worked on.”

“Shameful news from Australia as the police raid journalists’ offices and homes,” tweeted legendary Australian journalist John Pilger. “One warrant allows them to ‘add, copy, delete or alter’ computer files at the ABC. The assault on Julian Assange was a clear warning to all of us: it was only the beginning.”

If you think about it, it would have been far less disturbing than the alternative if there were a connection between the two raids, because the alternative is vastly more sinister: that Australia’s attitude toward the free press has changed. And that it has perhaps done so, as Australia has been doing for decades, in alignment with the behavior of the rest of the U.S.-centralized empire.

In an article for Consortium News, titled “After Assange’s Espionage Act Indictment, Police Move Against More Journalists for Publishing Classified Material,” Joe Lauria reminds us that Australia is not the first nation within the Western power alliance to see such an escalation since the paradigm-shifting imprisonment of Julian Assange in the U.K.

“Police in Paris arrested two journalists who were covering Yellow Vest protests on April 20,” Lauria writes.  “One of the journalists, Alexis Kraland, said he was taken into custody after refusing to be searched and to turn his camera over to police at Gare du Nord train station. The largest journalism union in France demanded an explanation from police.”

“And on May 10 in San Francisco, police using sledgehammers to break down the door, raided the home of Bryan Carmody, a freelance journalist, to get him, while handcuffed, to reveal the source who leaked him a police report into the sudden death of the city’s elected public defender,” Lauria added. “Police took away computers, cameras, mobile phones and notes.”

So we’re seeing a pattern already. You can choose to ignore it or dismiss it with a pleasant story, or you can acknowledge that we appear to be in the midst of a rapidly escalating shutdown of the free press in the western world.

There does not necessarily have to be any centrally-planned conspiracy behind this trend; it can simply be the natural result of an ailing empire seeing that it’s going to need a lot more war, lies and deception in order to keep from collapsing, and responding accordingly. Once the Assange line was crossed, it could simply have served as a precedent for the other governments within the empire to begin doing things they’d already wanted to do anyway.

Julian Assange is the dot of a question mark at the end of a historically important question which we are all being asked right now. That question reads as follows: Does humanity wish to create a society that is based on truth and holds power to account, or does it want the exact opposite?

So far, the general consensus answer to that question has been going somewhere along the lines of “We’re actually fine with a headlong plunge into Orwellian dystopia, thanks.” But as the implications of that answer become clearer and clearer, we may yet see some stirrings in the other direction before it is too late.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on FacebookTwitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” 

This article was re-published with permission.

27 comments for “More Police Raids as War on Journalism Escalates Worldwide

  1. Pete Rogers
    June 7, 2019 at 06:10

    After the last War those of power fell temporarily in love with their erstwhile hostages and victims who were now heroes for shedding their blood and saving the mighty from the Nazi so that appreciation meant that we finally got social provision as a right. Time progresses and those of power have no love for the grandchildren who are not in the business of providing cannon fodder. Accordingly the market value of human beings tumbles and those of power want rid of the costs of the rights we had been given, relegating them to privileges which can more easily be denied. Those of power know their moral basis is unforgiveable, but they just don’t care. Accordingly it is important that the hideous nature of the top dogs mentality be hidden from us: something which can be done in the open at present, due to public incredulity, whilst dreadful crimes proceed. We need it to be a law that the revelation of wrong doing can never result in punishment, but seen as a public duty. We cannot move towards Democracy and away from our current Tyranny until that happens. Where is the radical voice to be heard? It should be coming from our opposition MP’s shouldn’t it? Where are their voices and where is their commitment to justice and protection of moral individuals from the evils of unbridled power?

    • Sam F
      June 8, 2019 at 06:40

      No doubt you are aware that the radical voice does not speak for or get the money to be elected.
      Economic concentrations have seized all of the tools of democracy: elections, mass media, and the judiciary.
      There is no way to restore democracy, and the historical factors of revolution are controlled by oligarchy.
      Only a long series of lost foreign wars, universal foreign embargo, and economic collapse can result,
      and only these can contain Five Eyes oligarchy aggression, but they will not end internal Tyranny.

  2. Southernfink
    June 7, 2019 at 00:34

    All good and well, It’s long been established that the journalist and media outlets raided have long been considered the willing mouthpieces of the establishment.

    Newscorpse is owned by Murdoch and the ABC is owned by the Australian government, both are Washington’s willing servants.

    • CitizenOne
      June 9, 2019 at 00:05

      I agree. Caitlen Johnstone is defending the corporate media in her analysis. Worse than that, she is defending the worst offenders of the abuses of the free press exemplified by the conservatively biased News Corp and all of its manifold corporations circling the Globe.

      A list of News Corp holdings can be found here:

      There are news corporations that speak truth to power and there are news corporations that speak the truths of the powerful as much as the powerful understand truth which is always aimed at serving the interests of the billionaires like Rupert Murdoch’s vast media empire.

      What does Rupert Murdoch’s vast media empire do? It uses its power and its ability to communicate to the masses with a single purpose. That purpose is to beguile the population into believing that what is wrong, is in fact right.

      Sorry Caitlen but you have chosen to defend the sources of misinformation that spin us with conservative bias and a one sided argument. Perhaps there is a bit of nationalism you hooked into to decry the raids on a propagandist media corporation that is intent on upending our former free press but in this case you are just defending those who really are the drivers for upending all of our values and what we used to trust as our government.

  3. Tom Kath
    June 6, 2019 at 23:54

    Australia being predominantly populated by convicts, outcasts, failures, runaway refugees, and their descendants, is the most cultureless, slavish, and subservient population on earth. Paradoxically, it also produces a tiny minority of truly great independent minds which are subsequently then generally despised here in Oz, Assange, John Polger, Caitlin, to name just 3 mentioned here.

    • anon4d2
      June 7, 2019 at 17:21

      Quite a presumption there about the character and heritable traits of the “transported.” Perhaps you jest. Don’t forget that the US was England’s dumping ground before its revolution, after which it remained the repository of “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” All Aussies I have known are very decent folks. Many are brilliant and humanitarian. At least the proportion we find here.

  4. OlyaPola
    June 6, 2019 at 15:47

    “It may simply be the reflex of an ailing empire. ”

    Amongst the ideological constructs of the opponents is the notion of sole/prime agency which to some degree obfuscates co-ordination and the agency of others – Mr. Putin’s observation of “They are blaming it on the Jews” as perceived plausible belief refers.

    Co-ordination does not necessarily require active participation but can be achieved through shared perceptions of ideological norms including but not limited to resort coercion in varying assays as default “tactics and strategies”.

    One of the opponents’ ideoloical pillars has been shown to be wobbling – the concept of rule of law which increasingly is being shown to be rule by law – as it always was but this state of affairs was not widely perceived.

    Some of the opponents realise this process poses a potential existential threat which they attempt to deflect/displace by another existential threat through increasing the implementation, scope and velocities of various forms of coercion, facilitated in part by the opponents belief that ends justify means rather than being informed by tested hypotheses establishing that means condition ends, and deriving tactics and strategies therefrom.

    This is consistent with “the reflex of an ailing empire (and its beneficiaries)” as are the various simultaneous resorts to spectacles in attempts to “re-affirm we-ness”.

    It can be difficult interacting with people who can’t differentiate between Austria and Australia, or between hopes and wishes and tactics and strategies, whilst being “rewarding”.

    • OlyaPola
      June 7, 2019 at 14:33

      “It can be difficult interacting with people who can’t differentiate between Austria and Australia, or between hopes and wishes and tactics and strategies, whilst being “rewarding”.

      facilitated by some immersed in ” resorts to spectacles in attempts to “re-affirm we-ness”, illusions of “hegemony” and RAND hopes and wishes represented as tactics and strategies.

  5. Joe Tedesky
    June 6, 2019 at 15:29

    We in the Anglo world are way beyond our wake up call regarding fascism. Now we citizens are confronted with its noon time and the censorship artist are in full force to own the day. Each disastrous event whether it be a ‘false flag’ or an evolved blowback catastrophe has made the fascist take advantage of each crisis by crushing our once proudly valued civil rights. Similar to you guarding the front door checking every guest in as the real creeps slide in through the back door is what has been done. It’s time we in the Western society put a stop to this madness.

    Thanks Caitlin your reporting is excellent. Joe

    • Josep
      June 10, 2019 at 23:30

      It’s worse than that. The global use of the English language, and subsequently the dissemination of Anglo-American pop culture, has given denizens of the Anglosphere the notion that Anglo-Saxon norms and values are adequate and should apply to other countries, especially those that were never part of the British Empire in the first place. In the American case, there’s also the over-the-top indoctrination of American exceptionalism and the tendency for some American tourists/expats to take these attitudes with them.
      This leads to a number of Anglo tourists/expats, especially American ones, forgoing adapting to cultural norms and/or learning the languages of their host countries in continental Europe, instead insisting in living their old Anglo ways of life and speaking English within their own expat bubble. Some even insist that prices be quoted in “real money” (read: dollars/pounds instead of euros/francs/crowns/etc.), and others insist that weights and measures be quoted in customary/Imperial instead of metric.

      Case in point: I’ve been to forums like ToyTown Germany and Expatica, and invariably one can find complaints of how certain ways of life in the continent are wholly different from how they are in the Anglo world. Examples including perceived rudeness from the locals, “poor” customer service, and lack of English proficiency. If life in continental Europe is so dreary and gloomy, then why do the locals get along without whining like spoiled crybabies? Could it be that the Anglo expats were doing it wrong the whole time? It could be my imagination, but what is it about Anglo societies that they tend to be more politically correct than continental European societies?

      OT: The Italian word for “German” is “Tedesco”. Are you (part-)German, or is the name a mere coincidence? Just asking.

  6. Rong Cao
    June 6, 2019 at 13:57

    the U.S.-centralized empire has initiated a new round of mass surveillance on its citizens in countries that had participated in the previous Prism program Snowden had revealed. That is why Australian, Canada and hard-Brexit UK will refuse to use Huawei’s equipment for their wireless 5G network. Because Huawei would not be willing to cooperate in this new Prism program whereas Nokia and Erickson would

  7. June 6, 2019 at 12:57

    So how far away are we from looking at the police, yes and military as the enemies of the people.They are acting the same as enforcers for the Mafia act. Yes and they can also kill you with impunity. How long is it going to be before the citizens of the West are going to begin identifying members of these goon squads and exacting revenge on them by targeting their families etc. The Governments of the Five Eyes are indeed pursuing a very dangerous path indeed. There will come a time when their enforcers will bear the brunt of the anger of the citizens they are supressing.

  8. Robert Mayer
    June 6, 2019 at 11:44

    Tnx CN/ Caitlin… I agree conspiracy2 undo wikileaks damage2 fasc info suppress seems in progress… as you point out target: mil profit but more basic: secret surveil of cits (“free societies”!!) Talk ’bout ur “info wars”
    Past: 9/11… Homeland sec & ice… Bailout…
    Shows intent… Timing: Fractional banking pyramid scheme suspect 2 much “fake $$$” in circulation2 sustain (w/ econ implications)

  9. Delilah
    June 6, 2019 at 11:39

    Have we had enough yet? Are we going to just sit here and do nothing? I’m one 80 yr old person there is very little I alone can do. Will someone step up to the plate?

    • Sam F
      June 7, 2019 at 17:45

      Yes, the problem is organization. Those who act alone can be effective but can be martyred like Assange as examples. Promiscuous surveillance and secret reprisals limit organizational effectiveness of activists.

      The problem is that the tools of democracy (courts, elections, mass media) are controlled by the rich. We do not have the tools for peaceful restoration of democracy. History shows where that leads: generations of increasing repression and anger followed by revolutions. History never repeats exactly, but the forces and patterns do repeat.

      As public anger broadens and deepens, loose federations of secret cells eventually form. We see the beginnings of that in France, but the US is far too complacent and wishes to be placated by mass media. The US will have to collapse economically, so that the people generally are angry that government has failed and abandoned them. Still they prefer to hide or betray their betters, in hope of crumbs from oligarchy. Their social contract is based upon gangster values, not morality in any form. It takes generations of misery, economic embargo, secession movements, angry factions pushing extreme solutions, external military defeats and threats. And even then only the external tyranny collapses: the tyrants continue to dominate government unless defeated by invasion.

      If we look at UK, it was able to decline relatively smoothly, having its emboldened offspring (the US) to rely upon. Its poor paid the price of its colonialism as soldiers on distant fronts. The US could become more cooperative in decline, loosely federating with the EU et al for protection, unable to bully the world. That could soften its landing and prevent restoration of democracy forever. We may look back upon the US, Indian, and even the Russian revolutions as lucky breaks, when we find that modern weapons and surveillance have taken all hope of restoration of democracy from the people. Perhaps it was Franklin who said upon emerging from the Constitutional Convention that the government we then had was “A democracy, if you can keep it.” We couldn’t.

  10. Jay Gordon
    June 6, 2019 at 10:41

    What this really suggests is that there is some very serious shit waiting to happen that the shadow states know about that is so bad that it will not tolerate any dissent or exposure, because the public would not tolerate it if they found out. It could be anything from world war to climate apocalypse to totalitarian takeover. Stay tuned. It doesn’t require a conspiracy but it probably is one because it is so coordinated and there probably is a strong motivation behind it.

  11. Jeff Harrison
    June 6, 2019 at 10:19

    But..but The US and its vassal states are a liberal rules of law based society. Surely it’s obvious that such a society can’t be arbitrary and capricious in the application of the rules of law. Surely it’s obvious that this can’t be a dictatorship with only the illusion of democracy!

  12. Julian Cole
    June 6, 2019 at 09:58

    You might want to add journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey to this.

    • Kevin Bradley
      June 6, 2019 at 16:25

      Yes, another glaring example of the war on journalism.

  13. Baz
    June 6, 2019 at 09:43

    I am amazed at the Australians! They used to be so Independent and proud of not being pushed around!

    In recent years, they do as they are told! They have become just another political state of the U.S……Like Israel!

    • Tiu
      June 6, 2019 at 20:06

      They have sold their souls and willingly accepted brainwashing.

  14. AnneR
    June 6, 2019 at 09:25

    As ever from the radio versions of the MSM – BBC World Service and NPR (here in the US) – not bloody peep about any of this, not about how Assange is *not* faring well, is indeed being psychologically tortured, nothing about the seizure of his property from the Embassy, never mind anything about its illegality; nothing about the arrest of the two French journalists covering the Gilets Jaunes protests; nothing about the Australian journalists being raided and their property being stolen (essentially what has happened, warrant or no – legalized theft).

    Ah – but there has been pronounced and frequent mention over the past few days about how the Chinese “state controlled” media behave and are silent about the Tian Anmen Square demonstrations and deaths (called a “massacre” by one the “redoubtable” NPR facilitators this morning). Well, what can you expect from a government like China’s? We in the west – our media is “free, objective and openly criticizes government(s)” – of course.

    And whenever a journalist is detained, taken into custody or the like by any of those nation states *we* in the sanctified, pure as driven snow, west consider heinous “human rights abusing” we make sure all of our listeners/watchers/readers know about it, in full and damning detail. Unlike those places like Russia, China, Iran…..

    The hypocrisy is utterly, utterly nauseating – and even more so when coming from state funded media like the BBC and NPR. Yes, NPR gets some of its money from individual subscribers, but much more from “Foundations” (whose interests we learn nothing of), corporations (increasingly so going by the ads – not called ads, of course), and yes taxpayers via DC. The Beeb is totally funded by taxes. Not that it answers to the taxpayers – at least not the real ones, those of the hoi polloi – rather it promulgates the UK government, corporate-capitalist-imperialist line while also kneeling before the US and Israel.

    Without such as John Pilger, Julian Assange, and these other duffed up journalists in Australia and France we’d know nowt about owt.

    • RomeoCharlie29
      June 6, 2019 at 20:02

      The Australian ABC is funded by taxes, the Beeb I believe by their television licence fees. Otherwise, yes to all.

  15. geeyp
    June 6, 2019 at 03:01

    Yes, now will someone in the Australian MSM speak up loudly and furiously start writing in favor of Julian Assange?? Do they get it? Of course we know if the MSM in the USA were faced with police smashing down their door, as certified cowards, they would never admit that Julian is a modal they should have followed.

    • geeyp
      June 6, 2019 at 03:18

      One last request: I looked at the cartoon depicted in the tweet on and on this site since it was used to illustrate this Consortium News piece. Giving credit where credit is due, who is the artist/political commentator of this perfect cartoon? The signature was cut off.

    • Bruce Dickson
      June 6, 2019 at 10:44

      That this is happening in tandem with YouTube’s broad brush takedown of independent, contrarian channels (sugar coated as a purging of “extremists” and “hate speech”) and simultaneous promotion of MSM sourced/supported channels in their stead and immediately that the latest, and most tightly lipped, Bilderberg Meeting (featuring Google/YouTube’s ex head honcho, Eric Schmidt) drew to a close CANNOT be products of accident or coincidence.

      Clearly, the elites’ agenda is being stepped up, full steam ahead. Clearly, they are committed to pre-empting any substantive resistance, thus caring not one whit about our objections. Indeed, being in full control of all electronic broadcast platforms, the only voices and sentiments they will allow to be heard are those that conform to said agenda.

      This is the totalitarian installation process in full swing, the very apocalypse so many have been warning about, the one that our friends, family members and neighbours are meekly realizing in the guise of “just doing their jobs.”

      We are seeing the enemy; and he is us. Once we stop doing their dirty work, that enemy will collapse in defeat. So, let’s stop doing it, shall we?

      Truly, we are the heroes we’ve been waiting for; and our hour has come.

    • Ol' Hippy
      June 6, 2019 at 12:15

      Just as here in the US the corporate(MSM) goons do as they’re told and as long as they do they are richly rewarded. $30K a day buys a lot of obedience. Speak up about, say, a an anti-war opinion and security will be there shorty to see they clear their desk promptly and ushered out the door never to return. Only the indi’s get to say ‘real’ things and that’s in serious trouble these days.

Comments are closed.