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Pine Gap - the Empire Strikes Back

Bryan Law is a Cairns-based peace activist. His previous piece for Webdiary was If you've ever wanted to end a war...

by Bryan Law

Along with my good friends Jim Dowling, Donna Mulhearn and Adele Goldie, I'll be standing trial in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory at Alice Springs, beginning Tuesday 29 May 2007. The trial is expected to run two weeks. If convicted, we face up to 7 years' imprisonment.


We are Christians Against ALL Terrorism. Our indictments arise out of a Citizens Inspection we conducted on 9 December 2005 at the Top Secret US-controlled Pine Gap Spy Base outside Alice Springs in the heart of Australia.

Pine Gap is the most important single component of the US military machine in Australia. Pine Gap is a ground receiving station for several satellite systems which collect information about people and places of interest in the middle east, east Asia, and the Indonesian archipelago.

Pine Gap provides intelligence and targeting information to assist the "war on terror" in Iraq.

Pine Gap is an an essential component of the "missile defence shield" (read "nuclear black-mail machine") being developed by the US   since it withdrew from the ABM treaty in December 2001. Donna Mulhearn had gone so far as to become a human shield in a water treatment plant in Baghdad in March 2003, throughout the "shock and awe" bombardments.

The Australian government responded to all peace overtures, including ours, with lies and the criminal abuse of executive authority - doing its best to avoid scrutiny, accountability and the fair exercise of electoral power.

Thus we are driven to interventionary non-violent action in the tradition of Gandhi, King Jr., and Dorothy Day. Christians Against ALL Terrorism planned a citizens' inspection of the Pine Gap terror base.


Before we conducted our inspection, we informed the Australian Federal Police about our suspicions and asked them to investigate Pine Gap for terrorist activity. Jim Dowling had done this many times in recent years since the "Terror Hot-Line" was established. The AFP response ranged from invisible to dismissive.

We also asked permission from then Defence Minister, Robert Hill, to inspect Pine Gap for terrorist activity, and informed him of our intention to conduct an inspection anyway should he fail to provide one.

In the months after sending that letter to Minister Hill we were investigated by ASIO, the AFP, and the intelligence branches of the Northern Territory Police in Darwin and Alice Springs. The Defence Security Authority opened a file on us, and a covert AFP agent was assigned to our public meeting on 6 December 2005 at the Arid Lands Environment Centre in Alice Springs. We were subsequently interviewed covertly by an ASIO agent. (Covertly: an ASIO agent pretending to be some other kind of official)

One has to assume that all these agencies found our group to be non-violent. Otherwise they each enjoy ample powers of preventive arrest, detention, control orders, etc to prevent any suspected attempt at an act of political violence.

Minister Hill wrote back to me, warning us of heavy penalties under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 (DSU). This Act has been used to threaten thousands of peace activists in the past 54 years, but has never actually been used. Until now. On 9 December 2005 our group entered the high-security compound at Pine Gap. On 11 March 2006, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock assented to our prosecution under the DSU.

The prize for our successful action is a first-hand experience of the security state in action, a trial in the Supreme Court at Alice Springs, and a probable sentence of months or years in a prison population that's 80% Aborigine. A quintessentially Australian experience in the first decade of the third millennium after Jesus.

Legal State of Play

As Christians, we celebrate life, hope and redemption. As non-violence activists the most important principles are to disclose truth and accept consequences.

The law is an arbiter of fairness, a check on executive power, and essential to a functioning democracy. We'll use the Court in the best way possible to state our case and bring it before our fellow citizens both on the jury and in our communities.

For the committal hearing last March, and for the trial if we found no eminent legal assistance, we were prepared to do our best in Court by ourselves, while making political organizing (outside the Court) our first priority.

We'd been scheduled for trial in October 2006. In September 2006, we obtained offers of eminent legal assistance from Professor Ben Saul of UNSW, and Ron Merkel QC from Melbourne.

Ron Merkel QC was, until June 2006, a Justice of the Federal Court.

He resigned to go back into private practice and pursue strategic litigation to constrain what he perceives as the abuse of executive authority by government. He is experienced in immigration, native title and security issues. Just before Christmas he was in the High Court advocating for the rights of "Jihad" Jack Thomas in relation to the control orders Mr Thomas has been placed under. Good on him.

Because ours is the first test in Court of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act (DSU), because it invokes many issues of national security, and because it contains such harsh penalties for non-violent political behaviour, Ron Merkel is keen to see a proper examination of the issues at law. He has therefore agreed to act for us pro bono in these matters. Double good on him.

Pre-Trial - the Defence

In October 2005 we argued and lost our first pre-trial application - that under Section 8 of the DSU the Crown must prove Pine Gap is objectively necessary for the defence of Australia.

Our counsel on that occasion was Ms Rowena Orr from Melbourne, who we all thought did a real good job.

Justice Thomas ruled that the fact was determined by the Minister for Defence as an exercise of executive authority and was not open for review by a criminal Court. Justice Thomas read words into the DSU Act which made that meaning plain. We may appeal this decision after the trial. We've raised the possibility of a referral to the Full Bench for determination before trial.

Meanwhile Ron Merkel is considering an advice from Professor Saul about the Constitutional powers that the DSU rely upon. A key argument turns on the distinction between a legitimate "defence" power, and waging a pre-emptive war of aggression.

We seek to challenge the validity of the Ministerial declarations by two separate Defence Ministers, Alan Fairhall in 1967 and Robert Ray in 1992. We'd be arguing that the present conditions and operation of Pine Gap go well beyond the defence power invoked by the Ministerial declarations. The declarations are therefore void and of no effect. Our Counsel is invoking The Communist Party Case for precedent.

We're in the Supreme Court in Darwin before Justice Thomas to argue these matters on 21st March. I'm fascinated to watch it evolve.

Pre-Trial - being constrained

All four defendants are presently constrained by Orders of Justice Mildren of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. I can tell you that the orders exist, and that they relate to evidence in the Pine Gap trial. I'm not allowed to tell you what that evidence is or what the orders say. We're not allowed to see the supporting affidavit applying for our constraint. The matter is only referred to in a closed court. We hope to obtain relief from the orders later this month. For procedural reasons we can't have a proper hearing until after 27 March 2007. Maybe I can tell you more then. (It's a funny story)

What can I say? I find it an intolerable situation to be so constrained.

I've noticed over the last year or so that every proposal and request we make of the prosecution, or of relevant Commonwealth agencies - every single one - is opposed and some requests bring new forms of repression. I know we have an adversarial legal system, but these people appear to have absolutely NO sense of humour. Poor them.

I've noticed that organizing non-violent political action is now regularly the subject of security surveillance and punitive action. Poor us.


Our trial is set down to commence on 29 May 2007. I'll be acknowledging all relevant facts, and availing myself of the defence of necessity under Section 10.3 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. We have a number of related defences (self defence, lawful authority etc) to explore and/or present, and some elements depend on whether or not we gain discovery of crown documents. More later.


Surrounding the trial and our hopes for acquittal, and more important than both, lies the ongoing politics of peace.

Christians Against ALL Terrorism identify as part of the global non-violent resistance to war. Not just the war in Iraq, but war all over the world - and those institutions which support war, like the arms trade.

At this particular time in history, Australians are complicit in the systematic use of military terror by the USA in numerous locations around the world, and the threat of military terror everywhere.

At this particular time in history the Emperor's new clothes are failing to spin. The US people have turned against this war, and are trying to bring their government to heel. We can support these efforts.

As Australian peace activists, our immediate job is to frustrate, oppose, interfere with and stop all joint operations between Australian and US forces. Our actions at Pine Gap are one example of that work.

We recognize that our social capacity is low.

As well as demonstrating the techniques of non-violent resistance, we need to bring young people forward with both skills and commitment to expand our capacity for interventionary non-violence.

Every time CAAT has visited Alice Springs since December 2005, we've conducted meetings, actions, workshops and networking activities with an expanding number and variety of local activists and Australian citizens. We publicise our activities around Australia.

On 7 October 2006 there was a further, gentler act of non-violent civil disobedience by five activists who blocked the access road to Pine Gap.

Edward Cranswick appears in the Alice Springs Magistrate's Court on Monday 5 February 2007 to argue his own defence on a charge of obstructing traffic. Edward is a US citizen with expertise in geology, nuclear tests, and satellite imagery analysis. He believes Pine Gap can be put to useful purposes.

We intend to continue this development work around Pine Gap, and we call on all peace activists in Australia to form in small autonomous affinity groups and take some appropriate action against Pine Gap.

Converging for Peace

We're calling another Peace Convergence at Alice Springs from 28 May to 8 June 2007, with a day of Action against Pine Gap on Saturday 2 June 2007. I'd like to see some interventionary NVDA during this convergence.

There's an equally important Peace Convergence at Rockhampton in June 2007, immediately after our trial.

This other convergence is to transform the ongoing series of military exercises called Talisman Sabre. Held outside Rockhampton every second year, Talisman Sabre involves 26,000 or so US and Australian troops practicing the sea-borne invasion of another country.

Talisman Sabre involves air, sea and land forces up to and including a nuclear powered and nuclear capable US Aircraft Carrier Battle Group. The urban warfare scenario played out is an attack on a city which is built around a walled square. Like Mecca.

This exercise is a focal point of Australian national resistance to war.

If we Christians Against ALL Terrorism are acquitted in Alice Springs this year, we'll all be in Rockhampton in June to act against Talisman Sabre. Small non-violent affinity groups practicing direct intervention.

Vive le Resistance!


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Front Page for Peace

Here's a link to today's front page of the Cairns Post. I want a public debate about the actions of the AFP, ASIO, and AGS in relation to Pine Gap and civil rights in Australia.

Insights of the truly competent

Bryan Law: "The Australian Federal Police (our front line agency in the "war on terror") have shown themselves to be laughably incompetent.

Remember this?

"The US will start major withdrawals from Iraq within a year." - Bryan Law, 9 September 2005

Letter to Senators & MPs.

Bryan Law
15 February 2007

To ALL members of the Australian Senate, and
House of Representatives


Please find enclosed an A4 document containing a series of prohibited and classified images of the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility (Pine Gap Terror Base) outside Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.   WARNING:  possession of these images may be a criminal offence carrying a penalty of 7 years imprisonment under the Defence (Special undertakings Act) 1952.

I am a member of Christians Against ALL Terrorism, a nonviolent direct action group which conducted a Citizens' Inspection of the Pine Gap facility on December 2005.  As a result of this inspection we have discovered some alarming facts about ASIO, the AFP, and their association with Pine Gap.  We go to trial on 29 May 2007.


The Australian Federal Police (our front line agency in the "war on terror") have shown themselves to be laughably incompetent.

They knew we were coming, but couldn't keep us out.  They couldn't find the photos we took or prevent their publication in the Canberra Times.  They couldn't find a key surveillance tape for 6 months.  When they did find the tape, they dislosed to us the identity of an ASIO agent who interviewed Donna Mulhearn and myself at the scene of our entry into Pine Gap - information which is classified and illegal to disclose. 

In a second incident they provided us with prohibited images of the base security system (the black and white photos on the enclosed A4 document come from the Pine Gap CCTV cameras and contain details of the "man-proof" security fences around the high security compound of Pine Gap).


ASIO investigated members of our group in October and November of 2005.  I don't have a problem with this, because I'm certain that ASIO must have ascertained the nonviolent nature of our group. 

ASIO's tasks include the collection of intelligence in order to prevent political violence in Australia, and attacks against Australian defence facilities.  They do not go to operating against nonviolent political dissent.

(Section 17A of the ASIO Act provides that the Act shall not limit the right of persons to engage in lawful advocacy, protest or dissent and the exercise of that right shall not, by itself, be regarded as prejudicial to security, and the functions of ASIO shall be construed accordingly).

I would like to know just what an ASIO agent was doing at Pine Gap, interviewing us about an alleged crime.  They could not have been collecting intelligence because our group had made complete and open disclosures in advance to the Defence Minister and the Australian Federal Police.

Along with the deportation of Scott Parkin in 2005, and the interrogation of Ciaron O'Reilly in 2006, I believe this constitutes an improper abuse of ASIO powers.


The AGS was responsible for advising the AFP on how to prevent disclosure to us of classified information.  They did a triffic job.

When the AGS became aware of one unlawful disclosure, they began precipitate proceedings in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory before Judge Mildren.

The matter was heard in a closed Court, without our presence, based on an affidavit by Paul Thomas O'Sullivan, Director-General of ASIO.  We are not allowed to see O'Sullivan's affidavit, nor disclose the contents of the orders against us,

The effect of the Orders (the way they were drafted by AGS) is to cover-up the activities of ASIO and the incompetence of the AFP.

On 12 February 2007, the AGS broke an agreement made with our defence Counsel (Ron Merkel QC), and failed to obey the resultant Orders made by Justice Thomas of the Northern Territory Supreme Court on 23 January 2007.


I and my colleagues are happy to stand trial for our actions, and accept all due consequences.

However I find that various Commonwealth agencies are acting with the grossest contempt for due legal process in order to cover up and conceal the incompetent and malevolent(?) actions they have directed at us.  I doubt very much that we will be able to receive a fair trial.

In my opinion our civil and political right are being unduly interfered with to no good purpose.

I'm writing to you as an Australian Senator or Parliamentarian to seek your assistance in correcting this situation.

Yours sincerely

Bryan Law

The Cat's Out of the Bag

On January 23 this year, Justice Sally Thomas of the NT Supreme Court made an order in relation what is called in our criminal trial the Mildren matter - where I and my co-defendents are restrained from the right of political discussion on penalty of indefinite imprisonment for contempt of Court.

The January 23 Orders required the service by 12 February of a writ, supported by a Statement of Claim, which we would be able to read and respond to.  This was a far better process than the original, which had been heard in closed Court without us, based on an affidavit that we're still not allowed to read.

On 12 February this year, Mr Tim Begbie - a "Senior Executive Lawyer" with the Australian Government Solicitor - failed to meet the order's terms, and instead declared that they wished to have the order vacated, and the agreed action transformed into a different process  (an application to the Court for relief to give effect to a claim for public interest immunity arising from a disclosure of information made in the course of criminal proceedings).  A very different kettle of fish indeed.

I'm certainly not agreeing to the Commonwealth proposition, and regard what the AGS has done as a serious breach of promise and act of bad faith.

In return, all bets are off, and I have launched a campaign to inform responsible citizens of two serious blunders by the AFP, one of which reveals what I suspect to be an abuse of power by ASIO.  They are both serious breaches of the national security by the Agency that pretends to "keep us safe" from "terror".

Following is a copy of a letter recently sent to every Senator and MP in the federal Parliament.

I'm not forwarding the prohibited images though.  I'm distributing them publicly tomorrow @ high noon outside the AFP building in McLeod St Cairns.  All the media are being invited (discreetly).  I dare the AFP to arrest me. and I dare them not to.  It's a double dare.

This government is full to the brim with promise-breakers and liars.  Have at them!

The Geraldton Miltiary Phone Centre- Who Ya Gonna Call?

Why were Downer and Nelson so coy about the Geraldton base in Question Time yesterday? Defence minister Nelson said that he wouldn't go into details " for reasons you'd understand."  I don't understand why he says that.

It's not exactly classified information.. the contractors have long been crowing about the Multiple User Objective System (MUOS)  that Downer says the base will be a part of.

Here's the General Dynamics Vice President:

[extracts from Military Technology Online, 10/2/05]

“There are numerous sites that will talk to the satellite, collect the signals coming down and then tie  them into the various DoD networks. This infrastructure includes such functions as the radio access facility, which can be thought of as the antenna site, as well as the switching and network management facilities. There is also the satellite control facility that will send up the commands to the satellite and basically provide the overall management function,”

“We still have the base stations just like they do on the ground, That is built into part of the satellite info-structure on the ground. Think of the cellular towers essentially as being a tower in the sky on the satellites. The network management control, switching, provisioning of users and who has access to what phone numbers is exactly the same process that is used with the cellular infrastructure on the ground today, except that ours will be housed in a satellite ground facility.”

So far I've got Lockheed building the satellites, Northrop Grunman supplying navigation gear, and General Dynamics doing, literally, the groundwork.  BAE's satellite division is also tied in. sending the "phone towers" up, I suppose.

A hunch... let's see if Lockheed, in 2010 and 2011, launch their MUOS satellites from Woomera.  There's a strong presence from all these companies in South Oz, and such a luvverly launch pad.

Perhaps, as the story was leaked just in time to make Parliament before it takes a break for Cheney's visit, nobody wanted to talk too much and spoil Dick's fun..  That would be why Mr Nelson was so busy diverting attention to Peter Garrett's book.  Probably the Geraldton base was to be a joint Howard-Cheney announcement, now buggered up.  Ah well, they'll find something else to tell us, be sure of that.

When Cheney does his speech on the the US/Australian Alliance on the War On Terror, I think we're going to see who's been wearing the pants around here.

Hey, Bryan Law, heads up!  No wonder Ruddock wants to throw the book at you.  They knew that they were about to build such a juicy terrorist target when you "invaded" Pine Gap.  I'm sorry to raise the fear, but you and your fellow Christians might be about to get crucified in order to protect this new communications base.

I'm using a common stereotype

I'm using a common stereotype, apparently endorsed by the US State Department, Hank Reardon. It's not easy to believe, from your comments, that you are concerned about offending people.



Bryan Law, you tell us the following “Talisman Sabre involves air, sea and land forces up to and including a nuclear powered and nuclear capable US Aircraft Carrier Battle Group. The urban warfare scenario played out is an attack on a city which is built around a walled square. Like Mecca”.

Sounds like a good idea to me, one day somebody is going to have to attack the real Mecca, practise makes perfect.

Hi Hank:  "American" is

Hi Hank, "American" is a nationality, not a race.


A mere technicality

No worries F Kendall you are still guilty of exactly the same thing only aimed at nationalities. I find your generalisations quite offensive and I'm sure others would too. By grouping all "Americans" together you implicitly admit that all individuals must be judged based on a collective view of where they hail from.


F Kendall. What is it you admire about Bryan's activities? What is he achieving? What do you honour? The ignorance of testing an implacable foe?

I just don't see what the point is and Bryan has not yet answered that question. What is your point Bryan?

Assuming there is one of course.

Enough 2 Party barracking.

Thankyou Felicity

Felicity Kendall said "They are brave and noble.  I am not".

I suspect Felicity that you are brave in familiar circumstances, well able to express your beliefs and put them into action where it counts for you.  I know that you are noble, because all human beings are graced with the spark of Zeus/God/Darwinian Evolution.

I am privileged to have spent a large part of my life pursuing a spiritual and practical program of nonviolence, and even more privileged to have the support of my family in doing so.  I am grateful for your comment.

Hank Reardon said "Bryan is about to do some hard time".

Have you ever read Alexander Solzhenitsyn Hank?  He spent a long time in the penal camps of the former Soviet Union, and he used to refer to the whole of the Soviet Union as a Gulag.  The "Outer zone" was included the cities and countryside where people thought they were free, but were actually in a prison of conformity, regulation, supervision and the daily abuse of their human spirit.  The actual prisons were the "inner zone" where people might be badly mistreated - but were under no illusions about the function of the Soviet system.

Perhaps you're more familiar with US Socialist Party leader Eugene V Debs.  On June 16, 1918, Debs made an anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio, protesting World War I, and was arrested under the Espionage Act of 1917. He was convicted, sentenced to serve ten years in Federal Prison and disenfranchised for life.  Debs made his best-remembered statement at his sentencing hearing:

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

I wish I was as noble as he.

Don't fret for me Hank.  I don't feel like a naughty boy.  I'm doing OK.

What stops me, Hank?

What stops me, Hank?  Courage.  I don't have it.  So, shoot me.

But they do.  I applaud them, I honour them, I thank them.  I am happy to support them in many ways, particularly financially. They are brave and noble.  I am not.

You sound very American, Hank - "What's in it for me":  and you can't comprehend that people might be motivated by the concept of a greater good, rather than dollars.

Categorising by race acceptable?

F Kendall, indeed my name does sound very American but I'm as Australian as they come.

Interesting how you pidgeon-holed me on what you thought my ethnicity was solely based on the sound of my name. 

Racism is the most offensive and ugly form of collectivism that ascribes that a person is not judged by their own character and actions but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors. Asserting that all morals and social and political philosophies are pre-determined at birth by genetic lineage.

Just so I understand could you please explain to me the moral, social and political differences between a person that went by the name of David Hicks as opposed to a person called Mohammed Dawood.

Let us all beware

F Kendall, I note from Bryan's post the following:

I've noticed that organizing non-violent political action is now regularly the subject of security surveillance and punitive action. 

Not only non violent political action. Not so long ago I read in The Land that the Federal Minister for Agriculture was advising rural groups that he was looking at using the new legislation to curb the activities of those groups trying to get better welfare outcomes for farm animals. He and big business do not like activists getting into intensive piggeries and other animal factories and revealing just how bad the situation is for animals in those factories. Solution. Prosecute those who dare find a way into those animal hell holes  under the new security legislation and if necessary extend that legislation to ensure they are caught in the loop. Nasty stuff.

Having started an animal activist group 30 years ago (still run by younger people today) I know the tactics used to intimidate. Threats of posecution, defamation writs, verbal abuse and bullying and even being shot at - and many of my friends have done quite a bit of time in gaol for doing nothing more than rescuing distressed animals. I myself have been the target of most of this but managed to stay out of gaol. But the stress takes its toll as one gets older. So like you I now use the power of the cheque book. I hand it to Bryan for hanging in there as he does. Without people like him standing up to be counted we will all be the poorer.

In passing I note the first prosecution of a live animal exporter is to go to trial in a couple of months. This results from animal activists getting the evidence by covert and overt means in the importing countries to show the true face of this trade in terms of dead animals and the appalling treatment of others in the importing countries. I wrote in my piece on Live Animal Exports in heavy seas again for WD last year how Animals Australia, the umbrella organization for about 50 animal welfare and rights groups in Australia, had to seek a Writ of Mandamus in order to force the WA government to prosecute the company concerned under its own animal welfare laws. It did not like that. Till then it had just ignored the evidence before it.

Some laws seem to me to have no other purpose than to keep the public in the dark, while others are written to silence the public by seeming to assuage discontent, only to be ignored when it suits governements wanting to protect big business. Not good enough. I note this week how concerned the rural groups and big business are concerned about this case. No doubt the legislation will be changed to ensure this abomination of a trade can continue and the animals left to suffer. 300 000 dead sheep on those ships in 6 years. The governement's own statistics. Dead during a ten day voyage, equating to losses of 25% in a flock in a year.  And the government wants to silence the critics of this trade! Howard of course cannot even be bothered to answer a letter on the issue.

The sooner he is gone the better. He's looking rather rattled lately and clearly starting to panic. It will be interesting to see him try to appease the Yanks who want the wheat single desk to go. He's losing ground in the bush on that one daily now.  And I note how the rate of house mortgage foreclosures in Sydney has skyrocketed. Fertile ground for Labor to make inroads in marginal seats.

Never thought I would see the day when I would vote Labor.  But it's time.


I am grateful for people who take this kind of action.  Thank you.

Explanation wouldn't go astray.

F Kendall, Bryan Law is about to do some hard time and you assure him that you are grateful for his foolish actions.

Perhaps Bryan Law and his little group might now be feeling like the kids at school that got into trouble all the time because somebody like you told them to perform bad behaviour for your own amusement.

Given Bryan Law has virtually admitted he will return to performing similar behaviour regardless of what punishment he receives he is a lost cause but if I were him I'd be asking myself why the people that offer him support and provide the constant "dares" are not there with him storming the ships, military installations, etc.

F Kendall, what is stopping you standing shoulder to shoulder with Bryan Law given you are so approving??

No it's real, paranoia.

Richard, yes, you are being watched mate. By an ex A.G's employee too! Is there a podcast?

Enough 2 Party barracking.


Richard, no offence intended but you have stated that exact story several times on several sites.

Agree on being a rep of an organisation and "playing the role". But there is still room for a decent discussion without being rude or aggressive. Might actually be better if it was Aussie speak rather than JWH avoidance though.

If there are plans to meet again, I'll ensure the eggs are provided and they won't be cooked. Old perhaps...

Paul, nothing to prove by way of Bryan's trial. The rest, of course there's masses of never to be known BS. I used to work for Attorney General's in a previous life. Couldn't get anyone to believe me.

Bryan, good luck mate. Hope it's brief, or even nil. I fear a Hicks situation mate. Election coming up. Religious terrorists in Alice?? Boy Scout time, be prepared for it. As you have said, they haven't used this legislation before. Why now do you think? Anything about to appear you've never seen before? People you've never met suddenly in photos with you. Get the hell out of that situation however you can, and quick. Plea bargain, whatever, just get out.

Jail is bad. Jail in the desert outside Alice is another story.

Enough 2 Party barracking.


.... in my madness, Ross.  I'm surprised and pleased that you've been following my tracks.. Did like the Doctor Who version?

If you've been keeping watch you'll know that I have a go where I can, and will continue to do so.. What are you doing?

Were you still up while I was talking to Michael Mori on ABC Local this morning? Maybe you're only seeing a part of what I wish to do.

Not peace but the sword

Paul, Bryan acknowledges that the sentence may be "months or years" with seven years the absolute maximum. Well, that is how long it takes to complete a university degree nowadays and you don't learn half as much. The level of their sentence will in all likelihood depend on their behaviour and attitude after the fact. It would be unwise to encourage a sense of bereavement at this time. Bryan and his merry men, from memory, are repeat offenders in this kind of thing and given these comments will in all likelihood continue their actions after they are released.

Trespass, yes - on military property. Even the best of us have at some point trespassed on military property, I know, but it is not the most savoir faire thing to do. For their own safety I think they are better off in custody, to avoid a Charles De Menenzes situation - yes, security forces may well chuckle to themselves about the behaviour of these larrikins but they will also have to remind themselves that, perhaps, if something goes wrong, if they have made a miscalculation about the nature of the group, they may have to kill them. I think it requires a very sophisticated person to be capable of both - I have no idea what the security forces are like in this country, but that is my ideal.

I believe that the Lord has guided these poor souls to where they are and that, if he thinks it best, will keep them where they will be safe from harm. The bible teaches us to rejoice in our sufferings and in our persecution - it is not a reason to be glum but an opportunity to move closer to Christ. If they are miserable now then clearly God has made a way for them to take a stronger look at their scripture. I think this ought to be a time for reflection and study. They seem to attached to this life and not the one to come - the Bible teaches us that all that has been taken from us will be restored and that we will all be held to account for our sins.

The Secret State

Ross, I’m constrained in what I can say, but willing to push the envelope in the interests of public discourse.  I think there are issues of importance.

One goal of nonviolence is to disclose and discover truth. It was always part of my intention to uncover the real intent of the security agencies, and how they will use/abuse their new powers.

The first thing I discovered was that they had plenty of power available to them under the old legislation, which they are now willing to use. The second thing I discovered was that they are willing to use old law (injunctions) in new ways while trying to silence critics and cover up incompetence.

In an application to Judge Thomas on 23 January 2007, Ron Merkel QC wrote that:

The orders sought in relation to the orders made by Mildren J arise from the extraordinary nature of the ex parte application and the unprecedented orders which prevent the defendants from knowing, let alone meeting, the case presented against them: see Nicholas v R (1998) 193 CLR 173 at 208. The defendants are unaware of any facts that would justify the orders made. In particular, the kind of circumstances that have been accepted as justifying injunctive relied upon to restrain criminal conduct are absent as far as the defendants are aware: see for example Attorney General for the State of Queensland v T (1983) 57 ALJR 285. Further, the orders stultify and prevent legitimate discussion of a political matter concerning the organization protected by the Orders. It also prevents the legitimate pursuit of that organisation’s involvement at Pine Gap, which is a matter that may arise in the course of the trial. Both matters may be pursued without any offence being committed.”  (my emphasis)

Solomon, the ASIO agent who interviewed me wasn’t wearing dark glasses, and claimed to be an official from the Defence Department. He certainly looked the part.

The third thing I discovered was the extraordinary incompetence of the AFP, which seems to be the thing that the government is trying so desperately hard to cover up.

If I were to say, bluntly, that Australia was sliding into a fascist security state which disrespects the rule of law, I’d have some trouble defending the extremity of the claim. If I was able to tell you what I know about agency activities around Pine Gap, I’d have less trouble.

Richard, I know just what you mean. Part of me wants to just tell you all what I am forbidden to say. Another part says to test the legal processes first and try to win freedom of discussion without going to prison for it. So far the second is prevailing, but I’m deeply uneasy about it.

Ross and Solomon.

Ross and Solomon.

"Nothing to prove", eh?

 What about the  gitmo/west bank-isation of  Australia?

How much of the country is eventually to be walled off from we people who actually live here- the new aborigines? Fart and a sensor detects it. Pick your nose and surveillance cameras picks it up. Find five cents on the footpath and the bloody social security sends you a letter.

I mean, what is this? Up to seven  years jail for what basically amounts to a it of trespass? Try a fifty dollar fine!

Why should not  Australians know what goes on this country, when as  Bryan's post indicates, a base here, which we and even the government are told next to nothing about, may be embarked on the murder of people elsewhere who never did us any harm in our name. If people had adopted the attitude of yourselves and  Justin.Wilshaw, the  truth about things like the fallacy of weapons of mass destruction in  Iraq, AWB,  Seive X and Alvarez and  Rau would never have been uncovered ( for all the good this did, apparently! ).

We are blacked out through rubbish like commercial in confidence, FOI, seditions laws,  media dumbing-down and beefing-up of ASIO, yet people are so innured to the decline that people just accept the state of the slippery slope which ought to create alarm in an alert peson as the norm. Talk about "death of memory!

The biggest worry is when relatively intelligent and educated people who ought to be a bit more curious just snooze on, also.


When I ain't sleepin', Ma, you'll find me cryin'

I am inclined to agree with our Randroid friend, Hank Reardon. You deserve what you get. The longer you are kept in custody the better. That may sound cruel but you are clearly enjoying yourselves, making the most of it and learning a lot along the way. You are a nuisance.

I expect that bureaucrats and security operatives do have a sense of humour but that they recognise that they have a serious job to take care of. Even the man of steel made me laugh the other day when he made Tim Flannery Australian of the year. I think it is right that ASIO, if it thinks fit, should spy on peaceful protestors, especially those like yourselves who are quite willing to break the law. The reason is not because I think you intend any harm but because your actions are nevertheless dangerous.

It is like obstructing a fire exit. If there is no fire there is no problem but if there is, you are in the way. Also, your actions, were they to go far enough, would necessitate that security forces divert time and resources on to you instead of doing the job they are meant to be doing, which is protecting the welfare of ordinary Australians. You should be watched, and you probably are, but not necessarily interfered with. Part of the art, I imagine, is choosing the right time to intervene.

That is not to say I think it is your fault. I think that, within the particular stages of your world-view and Christian walk, you feel you have no alternative. I am glad you are laughing. I am laughing all the time now. I too have a remarkably funny story but I am not particularly in the mood to disclose it.

And of course, I will let you in on a secret: the way to spot an ASIO agent is remarkably easy. They all wear big, dark sunglasses.

It is so you don't know where they are looking.

God bless, gentleman (and women). I admire your faith and commitment to peace.

What for?

Bryan, not sure what you can say or what you can reply to.

What's your point mate? Terrorism at Pine Gap, or from same? Some Christian aim? What? Seems naive in the extreme to me. To achieve what?

To test the Howard government's response to an offince under an old, yet current, law? Di you doubt the response, at all? Even after the letter and the raids? Words fail me here.

The Alice Springs prison is not a place for contemplation or peace mate. I guess you'll try to get something out of the experience. Totally unnecessary of course but....

And yes, you are wrong. Nothing to prove, nothing to gain. No awards as martyrs. There has to be a cause for that recognition.

Richard, you seem obsessed with Howard. How many times have you mentioned your brief contact with him? Why didn't you say what you felt? Instead of dreaming about eggs?

Enough 2 Party barracking.

In all good conscience

I didn't realise I was being repetitive about it Ross.  In this context I was referring to (a) being in a position to do something but not following through and (b) Jenny's sound advice about cloaking your activities in a  mantle of respectibility.

In all good conscience I couldn't say what I felt.  With my family and a couple of key people from a disability friendly music program, we were representing ten years of effort  as national finalistsat t he Prime Ministers Community Business Partnership Award in the Small Business section.  Apart from being involved through the pub I had recently joined the board of the organisation which runs the project.

To put my opinion on top of the situation, I believed, was unfair to the many people that we attended on behalf of.  I should have done as my parents did and refused to be in the photo, but my sister and I felt we should "do the do".  Part of me feels gutless for not having spoken my mind, and if I'm "obsessing" then that's probably why.  I shall desist.

The Prime MInister, to  me, is the icon of Australia's participation of the Bush Administration's programmatic warmongering for resources.  He's not uppermost in my mind on a continual basis, but because of what he represents he's not exactly a hero of mine.  Finally coming face-to-face with him didn't change my mind.

I doubt that if we meet again that it will be in an official capacity.


Bryan Law

Hi Justin,  sometimes I wonder myself.  Here’s what comes up for me.

We’ve already organized huge rallies and majority public opinion against this war, and the so-called democratic leadership successfully counter-spun us.

That situation has changed in the USA, where many more civil disobededience actions have been taken, and where electoral power is now being organized and mobilized.

Effective action has never been supported by the mass media, or the mainstream peace groups, and probably won’t be.  If you want to see any publicity about us you have to go on-line.

My hope is that intervention of the type we practiced here will engage people on a visceral level, and encourage more into effective action.

I could be wrong.

I’m willing to take the risk and pay the price – and this action feels better to me than anything else I’ve done (except become a husband and father).

I’ve been in prison before, and I’m not frightened of it.  There is plenty of useful work to do in prison for one with my skills.

I cant do nothing.

Ps, the legislation doesn’t allow for a fine, but only speaks of imprisonment.  The Commonwealth is spending about $250,000 on our trial – and for that they’ll want blood.

Hank, it won't be five years.  I'm preparing for one.

So be it.

Justin (hello again) reckons Bryan is mad, and Hank thinks he should be slammed in jail.  Personally I have nothing less for Mr Law than the highest admiration.

Nothing short of deliberate antagonistically-enacted portrayal of a situation seems to attract the eyes of the public any more.  Legal or otherwise though the catalyst might be, the public is once again being made aware of how uncooperative the US Australian alliance can be.  This group of people have acted with the utmost applicable non-aggression and have been treated as sinister threats to international security.  Surely the level of attempted discipline suggests that something is wrong with this situation?

Pine Gap is important to the US Military, too important for Australian interference to be tolerated.  At the same time, it was too easily penetrable- in spite of the advance warning given by the trespassers.

I organised a protest against PM Howard once, telegraphed it  on the day on commercial morning radio.   I doubt that it would have attracted interstate press had someone not thrown eggs onto the Prime Ministerial limo.  I had nothing to do with the egg throwing... thought a part of me wishes I had.  It would've been brilliant strategy to highlight opposition to the war.

It's just such a damn shame that such situations need to nadir before they become noticed by the media.   If drastic action needs to be taken to highlight an important issue, then so be it.

Keeping up appearances

Richard "If drastic action needs to be taken to highlight an important issue, then so be it."

As one who formed an activist group in the '70s to try and get action over what I termed institutionalised cruelty to animals in industry I could not agree with you more. But I found it does pay to keep up the appearance of respectability as the following anecdote will prove.

Our group extended our concern to the treatment of animals in sport and into related activities such as duck shooting. We soon ran up against all sorts of interest groups who thought that the laws were made to protect them and them alone and indeed many were, but they needed challenging.

Challenging laws or regulations in writing, even at the local council level, does not get one very far in the short term so while mounting a backroom campaign for change we also tried to highlight through public action why we thought such change was necessary.

A case in question related to the open season on ducks on the rivers and lakes. While certain species of duck were protected our observations showed that everything from swans to rare species of duck were fair game. In particular we found the almost tame birds on the Albury sewerage lagoons were sitting ducks so to speak.

After seeing the piles of dead birds just left to rot on the banks of those lagoons we tried unsuccessfully for two years to get the local council to ban shooting there, at least. By the third year we were fed up so we took action ourselves. The night before Open Season day we mounted large signs at the entrances of the lagoons banning shooting, by order of the Town Clerk whose name we had noted from the year before.

The next morning we manned the gates and pointed the signs out to the would be shooters who were rather upset but they went away. Later that day I was sitting in our car with a certain other Webdiarist and an irate council ranger rode up on his horse and asked him had he seen those greenies who put the signs up, as he was going to arrest them. Sorry mate came the reply, which could have meant anything, and did.

The ranger apologised saying: I am not blaming you folk. You would not do anything like that I know.

Had the ranger looked in the boot of our car he might have got quite a surprise because there lay all the evidence he needed.

The following year the council had erected its own signs and shooting on the lagoons ceased.

So at times one just has to seize the day, and try to look like one who would not even dream about breaking a law of the lagoon.

Good luck Bryan.  I deplore the way the public in this country has just been factored out of all the information loops, even on the most trivial of matters.


Jenny, there\s a picture on the pub wall of myself and my sister in a group photo with Mr Howard taken in Canberra late last year.  My sister is just behind the PM, and the angle at which her arm disappears makes you want to scream "Go on, one good squeeze!"

I have protested to the man and have shook his hand and made chit-chat, though I must admit I was doing my damnedest to hex him at the time (lived with a pagan for a while) and was happy to accept any "three times back."  He is looking weary lately.. so am I.
As a representative of a disability support community business partnership it seemed inappropriate at the time to attempt anything more visible.   Who knows, it still might be the most effective thing I've ever done.

I tried to do an anti-defence campaign through the Advertiser letters pages for three years, to the point where the paper published an editorial decreeing that defence company activities would not be discussed as part of the war debate.  Game over then, and lots of blurbs about the boom now.  I wasted my time.

 Dick Cheney's visit to Australia in a couple of weeks would be a perfect photo-op to show the US media how we feel about what his regimes are doing.   Sadly the only thing they'll really take notice of is somebody being arrested.  Worse, if  Cheney  and Howard don't incur any wrath  it will  be likely to be misinterpreted as public support.  I'm hoping to get to Canberra soon.  I hope others are planning similar trips.

Do you reckon if I show the Secret Servicemen the photo of me'n'John they'll let me shake hands with Dick?  Do eggs register in security scans?  I'll be awake all night..

We've tried being nice, and all Mr Howard does is congratulate himself on his "poll-defying" feats.  Our level of protest up to now has been pointless.

PS I can't wait to hear what Cheney will announce from Canberra.

Except for..

... the five thousand in Adelaide who marched to protect live music venues. In that situation, though, the issue had an incredible level of support from all aspects of local media.  Laws were changed.

Funny thing happened on the way to the forum...

Funny thing this. Was just re reading this more closely.  Maybe would have ducked it- am a bit jaded with  blogging and my computer reacts strangely whenever I particularly go to Webdiary, even if only for a read.

But the Law post has been sitting here for several days, with surprisingly little or no response. I find this strange because I've always found  Bryan's posts sensible, although  I didn't entirely agree just that once, about  aboriginal welfare dependency - seemed a little "blame the victim-ish". 

So came for closer read, and on finishing found J.Wilshaw had added a comment. No, have not read the comment yet because I find it difficult to beleive that Justin would have much sympathy with or comprehension of, what it is that Bryan and the other musketeers are actually attempting, so will reserve that task for later, maybe.

The thing that leapt out and bit was - again - the evidence of the mental corruption and compliance of readings in accordance compatible  to government policy rather than Justice, emanating of legal officials starting with the AG through to the judges. This confirms a sense  this writer has had concerning things like IR and  DIMIA, over recent times. And, of course,  Hicks.

As to Bryan and his companions,  I'm sure if more people were reading a bit closely, many other good wishes for the near future would start turning up.

Unfotunately, there appears no remedy no accounting for apathy. Or cowardice...but know surely not true in this land of "true values".

 Still, interesting evidence as to the probable dominance of late of  "Roland Freisler-ist" legal-narrowism  judiciary in this deteriorating colony,  once democratic  Australia, vessel of real values.

Bryan, it seems like only

Bryan, it seems like only yesterday you undertook this action. I remember commenting back then I thought you were mad, and must admit I still think so.

I haven't heard or read anything about your case anywhere else. Having said that do you really think you further your cause by getting locked up for 7 years? Or can you do more good being outside of prision spreading your message?

I just don't get it, honestly. You will lose this case. You will probably get a fine and a "don't do it again" lecture, but really I don't see it's worth the risk.

Walk down the main street of Melbourne at 4:30pm on a friday arvo, you will get a lot more exposure for your message and won't risk 7 years in jail!!!

Appropriate Punishment

Bryan, based on the facts I know about this case I'm hopeful that you and your ilk are incarcerated for at least 5 years for your attempts to compromise the security of our nation.


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