& INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION (ASIO)
What would someday become
the ASIO, started out in 1942 as the Allied Intelligence Bureau. the AIB
was a conglomeration of the American and Australian military
intelligence agencies who banded together to garner intelligence against
Imperial Japan. The AIB operated under the auspices of Col. Charles
Willoboughy, Mac Arthur’s chief Intelligence Officer, and Col. C.G.
Roberts, of Australian Military Intelligence. Its mission:
obtain and report information on the Southwest Pacific Area... Weaken
the enemy by sabotage and destruction of morale... Render aid and
assistance to local (guerrilla) efforts in enemy occupied
AIB operated a group called the Coast
Watchers, whose mission it was to
fight off Japanese influence in New Guinea, Solomon Islands and the
Philippines. The Coast watchers would watch and report Japanese
movements in their area. They would also drop behind enemy lines to
collect intelligence and sabotage Japanese activities. The AIB continued
its work until the end of World War II, when it was disbanded.
the war, Sir Charles Spry, the head of Australian Military Intelligence,
and several other individuals in the Australian Government felt there
was a need for an Australian post-war intelligence service. Taking men
and resources from the now defunct AIB, they began to create their
Intelligence service. In 1949, the ASIO (Australian Security and
Intelligence Organization) was born. The organization was divided into
two sections, the first was the ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence
Service), responsible for the garnering of intelligence, and for foreign
operations abroad. The other section was responsible for
April of 1954, Vladimir Petrov, a Soviet legal, and KGB intelligence
office was recalled to the Soviet Union for “Consultations".
Petrov, who knew that in light of Stalin's death he would be purged, had
to make a split second decision, return to Moscow and almost certainly
face execution, or defect. He chose the latter. Packing whatever
intelligence he could fit into his briefcase, he left the embassy and
defected, leaving his wife to follow later.
the KGB realized that Petrov had defected, the KGB had Mrs. Petrov
seized in the hopes that holding her hostage would reduce Vladimir's
revelations to the west. The KGB operatives in the embassy then received
instructions from Moscow that they were to return to Moscow with Mrs.
Petrov at all costs, and to use force if necessary.
intelligence officers knew that the plane taking Mrs. Petrov back to the
USSR would have to land in Darwin, on the north coast of Australia,
before continuing on across the China Sea. When the plane landed in
Darwin, the ASIS ordered the KGB operatives and Mrs. Petrov off the
plane. The ASIS then ordered them inside where, in front of the media,
Mrs. Petrov was handed a phone with her husband on the other end who
told her to ask for political asylum. "I do not want to return to
Moscow" she announced. The guards, who had been ordered to return
with her, and realizing what was happening seized Mrs. Petrov. The ASIO
field agents intervened, and ordered the KGB intelligence officers out
of the country without Mrs. Petrov, while, during the entire time, the
cameras were rolling. Suffice it to say, for the KGB, it was a public
relations nightmare. To add insult to injury, the Petrov’s had been
keeping copies of Vladimir’s reports to Moscow.
subsequently named two officials in the Australian Department of
External Affairs as Soviet moles. He further divulged an extensive spy
network that was interested in Australia’s Uranium Production. The
Petrov’s were then given new identities, and wrote a book about their
experiences. The Soviets ended relations with the Australians, leaving
the care of their embassy to the Swiss.
1959, the ASIS was partaking in Operation Mole with MI-5. The Soviets
were talking about returning to Canberra. With the help of MI-5, the
Australians bugged the soon-to-be Soviet embassy. The ASIS then waited a
year to activate the listening devices in case the Soviets were
monitoring the embassy for microwaves in the first few months of their
reoccupation. The operation was an abysmal failure. While every sound
was recorded, there was only one hitch: the person being monitored never
said a word.
1983, the ASIS exposed soviet legal Valery Ivanov and expelled him. It
was learned that he had been trying to recruit agents of influence, one
of whom was Labor Party leader David Combe, friend to Prime Minister
Robert Hawke. Fearful of a scandal, Hawke ordered the Labor party to
disassociate themselves from Combe.
same year, the ASIS decided to run a mock hostage rescue operation. They
failed to inform either the hotel or the police department that they
were running the operation. When ASIS intelligence officers stormed the
hotel, they roughed up the hotel manager, and scared the guests. When
the police arrived, they arrested five ASIS officers, all of whom were
light of these fiascos, the government set up a Royal Commission to
look into the ASIO and its activities. As a result, all future major
intelligence operations required the consent of the Prime Minister, and
a cabinet level committee was formed to oversee all ASIO activities, the
equivalent of the American Senate committee on intelligence oversight.
1990, it was learned, that the ASIS, along with the help of 30 NSA
technicians, had bugged the Chinese embassy. The story had originally
been picked up by an Australian paper, but the ASIS asked them to sit on
the story. Shortly thereafter, the Associated Press also picked up the
story, but the ASIS also got them to sit on the story. However, the
story somehow made its way to Time magazine, where it was published,
compromising the operation.