Australian attorney-general 'embarrassing and borderline hysterical' on Snowden: Ludlam

Australian attorney-general 'embarrassing and borderline hysterical' on Snowden: Ludlam

Summary: Australian Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has refused to back down from remarks where he labelled former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a traitor who has put Australian lives at risk.


Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam has labelled Australian Attorney-General Senator George Brandis as an embarrassment, following remarks from Senator Brandis where he accused Edward Snowden of endangering lives.

Following Tuesday's exchange in Senate Question Time between Senators Ludlam and Brandis, the Greens senator asked that the Senate take note of the attorney-general's remarks.

"I rise to speak on the matter of the embarrassing and borderline hysterical display just put on in this chamber by our attorney-general, the highest law officer in the land," Ludlam said.

"He was behaving like an infant; it was like having a debate with a four-year-old."

Ludlam called the discussion surrounding the extent of the NSA's surveillance, as revealed by documents leaked to the press by Snowden, as one that is "quite profound", and today saw the Obama White House release a Cybersecurity Framework. The White House is describing its framework as "a voluntary how-to guide for organizations in the critical infrastructure community to enhance their cybersecurity".

By contrast, Ludlam said Brandis had put on a completely unacceptable "infantile display".

"Senator Brandis accused Mr Edward Snowden ... of being a traitor. You could almost see the spittle flying from his lips. No evidence or justification was provided for the accusation that the revelations put into the public domain by Mr Snowden ... had created risk for Australians," he said.

"No evidence at all was provided. They said exactly the same thing about the WikiLeaks revelations."

Senator Brandis has refused to back down from the comments he made on Tuesday, with a spokesman for the attorney-general telling ZDNet that Brandis "absolutely stands by his comments".

"The attorney does not consider Snowden a hero or whistle-blower, but a traitor who has committed criminal acts and put lives at risk," the spokesman said.

"The risk has arisen in two ways: The potential for methods, sources, and intelligence officers being identified; and through terrorists and other adversaries using the material to modify techniques and communications to avoid detection and continue to plan and possibly execute a terrorist attack."

Following a parliamentary investigation into Australia's telecommunications interception and access laws last year, the attorney-general has yet to announce the government's response to the recommendations of the report. Australia's law enforcement agencies have been advocating for call records and other metadata to be retained by telecommunications companies for up to two years.

Topics: Security, Government AU, Australia


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • Brandis is out of control

    George "Mr Sheen" Brandis carried on like a lunatic when he replied to Ludlam's question. His reply didn't go close to answering the original or supplementary questions and was just an uncontrolled rant of false accusations.
    Brandis as well as Julie Bishop have branded Snowden as a traitor, which even the US haven't charge him with. Brandis also said Snowden had put Australian lives at risk.
    Brandis who was a part of the Howard government who put Australian lives at risk, injuring many and ending the lives of a number of our ADF soldiers when we went to war with Iraq based on a huge government lie. Who was the traitor in this case?
    Brandis has it in for Snowden because he leaked information that embarrassed the Australian government. Australia listened into the Indonesian President, his wife an inner circle 's mobile phones. Snowden also released sensitive information in respect to Australia's spying and bugging of East Timor to gain an advantage on a partnership negotiation for an oil and gas venture in the East Timor Sea. Brandis gave ASIO permission to break in and steal, possibly incriminating Australia, documents from the layer representing East Timor at the Haig International Court where East Timor have taken their spying claims. No wonder Brandis isn't pleased with what Snowden did but that's no excuse to blatantly exaggerate and lie about him.
    Brandis is a vindictive, nasty little man who even rorted his entitlement expenses by claiming on them to attend a personal friends wedding. I know who the bigger criminal is and it's not Snowden.
    Brandis looks just like Mr sheen , the little, bald man with glasses in a furniture polish TV commercial. It's a shame he can't polish up his own act and shine amongst the dimwit bunch of his LNP colleagues.
  • Not Australia's problem

    Mr. Snowden is neither an Australian citizen or otherwise subject to the British Crown. He is a US citizen and the offences of which he is accused are offences against the United States, not Australia. Treason is not among them, as there is no credible evidence that he's done anything that matches the constitutional definition.

    Sen. Brandis should therefore turn to topics that are more closely related to his duties and let the Foreign Minister comment in a much more diplomatic fashion should it seem appropriate.
    John L. Ries
  • Clean up his backyard first

    Senator Brandis says Snowden is a criminal and endangered lives - just like the LIb Govt itself. They endorsed the Navy's actions in entering Indonesian waters (inadvertant, they claim, but it was a deliberate decision to tow boat people to an Indonesian island well inside their territorial boundary), and in the process, endangered the lives of those boat people. Perhaps Senator Brandis should look at taking some legal action against the members of his own party who encouraged that activity?