The national security risk will only come if Pyne’s claim is not investigated.

It seems no one really believes Christopher Pyne’s claims that his Twitter account was hacked. Hence, no one really wants the investigation that Cory Bernardi has called for either.

Why?

Because it seems no one really wants to hear what investigation might uncover.

From Andrew Bolt:

But I cannot see how it is anyone’s business to pursue this issue any further if the national security concerns seem non-existent.

To go any further down this track would be to appeal to the wink-wink nudge-nudge crowd, and especially a homophobic one.

From The Australian’s Caroline Overington:

You may have missed in it the hurly-burly of the same-sex marriage debate last week, but Pyne’s Twitter account “liked” a gay porn site at 2am last Wednesday. Most decent people would have looked the other way but not some journalists, who should have known better, and not Bernardi.

And from The New Daily:

Bernardi is stoking rumours that Christopher Pyne is gay. Not only is Pyne’s sexual orientation none of Bernardi’s business, it’s also demeaning to use anyone’s sexuality as the punch-line for a joke…

…The real ‘national security’ issue here isn’t about Twitter hacking. It’s about unrepresentative, undemocratic and un-Australian conservative politicians serving the narrow agendas of their own privileged elite in a nation that we now know, beyond all doubt, is fair-dinkum progressive.

Reading between the lines, it is reasonable to conclude from this that many in the media believe that:

  • the Minister for Defence Industry was being far less than truthful when he explained away the Twitter ‘like’ of a gay porn as ‘hacking’;
  • that an investigation would only uncover the embarrassing personal sexual preferences of someone who had access to Pyne’s twitter account; and
  • there are no national security implications anyway.

Let’s deal with the last point first.

There are national security implications if Christopher Pyne’s claim is true. And there are even greater national security implications if the Defence Industry Minister has been less than truthful.

There are two ways you know you’ve been hacked: your internal security systems identify it and stop bad things happening, or bad things start happening.

Given Pyne’s account had bad things happen to it, it is obvious that internal security systems did not identify the hack. So the question remains: how far did this hacking go?

If Pyne’s Twitter account had been prised open it is also possible that other systems were as well. A prudent approach would be to identify all the devices that his Twitter account had been operating from, all the systems that also operated on those devices and all the devices and systems that they interacted with.

In a worst case scenario, far more than a Twitter account may have been compromised. And given Pyne is the Defence Industry Minister, it is a national security concern.

Did any of his personal devices also operate or link to Defence systems? Did he ever operate his personal Twitter account from Defence devices?

That would be an important question any investigation would ask. But there has been no investigation so it is impossible to know the answer.

It may well be that the ‘hacking’, if it did occur, did not compromise national security. But we won’t know unless there is an investigation to determine that.

Consequently, claims that the ‘hacking’ does not impact national security are nothing more than premature assertions without substance. And they seem to be based on an assumption: this was a private stuff up and we should all pretend it away.

Unfortunately, that does not end the national security implications.

The website clearancejobs.com specialises in providing advice to job seekers looking for employment in areas that involve classified data. It is focused on the United States but its advice is broadly comparable to Australia and it has this to say:

An applicant for any sensitive national security position is required to demonstrate they can protect classified information under the 13 adjudicative guidelines, both during the initial investigation and periodic reinvestigations.

Sexual behavior is the fourth guideline. If anything manifests under Guideline D, the applicant may have issues that demonstrate risk to national security and require mitigation. Sexual behavior issues can include illegal acts, legal activities between consenting adults, or acts, though not involving sex, which have a sexual nature. The issue is always the concern to national security and whether the applicant can be trusted.

That last sentence is key: can a person with access to national security information be trusted.

And all of a sudden, the refusal of Pyne and others to properly investigate the alleged hacking have turned this into an issue of trust.

Security clearances will not be given to people who put themselves in sexually compromising positions, or if their sexual behaviour reduces trust (even if that behaviour is not illegal).

Apart from those hiding criminal sexual offences, think those who have secret affairs, engage in prostitution or who are in the closet: they all present an extortion risk. This is the lever that has been used many times before, including for the greatest Soviet spy ring to operate in Britain during the cold war.

Interestingly, closeted gay politicians in Australia have also been extortion targets in recent times.

If the assumption that Pyne’s Twitter ‘hacking’ was simply an embarrassing excuse for an embarrassing failure for whoever had access to Pyne’s account (and I think it would be safe to assume that most government ministers have a number of staff who can post on social media on their behalf), then the national security implications of this incident are not diminished.

Instead they are amplified.

Because if that is the truth, then someone in Pyne’s office represents an extortion risk. And Pyne’s office also looks after Australia’s Defence industry.

Spinning a porky over this scandal does not make the national security risk go away.

And those who want it brushed under the carpet should have a good hard look at themselves.

Finally, the biggest scandal of all is the complete trashing of Australia’s security policy and Pyne himself must take responsibility for that.

He’s the one claiming he has been hacked.

Yet he’s also claiming that there is no need for an investigation.

However, the publicly available Defence Security Manual policies make it clear that investigations must be conducted into all security incidents that may impact Defence.

Yet Pyne, as Defence Security Minister, is setting an example where he claims that his own security can be compromised without investigation for nothing more than what appears to be the political expediency of his own office.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of eight children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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