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Webdiarist Bryan Law faces jail on Pine Gap protest

These words, placed by Webdiarist Bryan Law on Webdiary in 2005, paint the best picture:

Merry Christmas from Pine GapLate at night on Thursday the 8th, four of us, Donna Mulhearn and Brian Law in one group and Jessica Goldie and myself in the other started the walk to the base from two different directions. We walked for five hours and three hours respectively. At 4 am Adele and I came close to the first 3meter high security fence. As we lay on the ground perhaps 500 metres from the fence security vehicles drove nearby with their floodlight panning the area. We thought they must have known of our presence and were searching for us. At least twice we thought they must have seen us and our attempt to enter the base was over. Later we realised their surveillance was routine, and they had miraculously not seen us.

After two vehicles had gone Adele and I made the last 100 meter dash through the open floodlit area to the outer security fence. As Adele hung our banner – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? YOUR BROTHER’S BLOOD CRIES OUT TO ME FROM THE EARTH (Genesis 4:10) - on the fence, I placed Jessica’s beautiful barbed wire crucifix against the fence. Then I cut through the fence. We climbed through and I cut the second fence about ten meters away. Again we climbed through and realised all the power of the greatest empire in history could not stop two untrained, unfunded, unarmed Christian pacifists from entering one of their most important and secure bases - even after we had told them we were coming.

(Bryan's Webdiary archive, with all his pieces on the Pine Gap protest from its inception, are here.)

It is my sad duty to inform you that Bryan and his friends have been found guilty of all charges and now await sentencing on charges including trespassing in a prohibited area, damaging Commonwealth property and taking unlawful photographs of a defence site. The jury took five hours to reach the verdict. (Bryan set out the background to the case in Pine Gap - the Empire strikes back.)

As Bryan has said before, he is a practitioner of Scott Parkin's style of passive non-violent resistance.  (See Julian Burnside QC on the Scott Parkin case and the Webdiary Parkin archive.) This is not a terrorist planning to disable an important instrument of the US' Middle Eastern profit spree, but somebody  who was passionately attempting to highlight something that he thought was fundamentally wrong with US relations.

This is what Bryan is reported to have said in court yesterday

[news.com.au extract]

"I ask that Your Honour does not grant a suspended sentence", he said.

"That would be cruel.

"I would not be able to abide by its conditions and we would just end up in court again.

And this line, reminiscent of Breaker Morant:  "Lay it on me Your Honour, and I'll serve it out."

The presiding judge, Justice Sally Thomas obviously doesn't think that the misdemeanours of the Pine Gap Four deserve the severity of treatment that Attorney General Ruddock has prescribed, saying today:

  It's a big step up from a relatively minor thing dealt with in the Magistrates Court to this... They are facing serious charges carrying lengthy jail terms, while hundreds of people have been dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Does she, also, think that the situation is politically generated?  It looks that way to me. Ruddock's never used this law before, and this is his chance tto make sure that protesters who take their complaint to the Yanks will not be tolerated.

You wouldn't want to create a folk hero, would you?  Look how disrespectful the Irish have been.  There the fellow charged with busting into Shannon Airport to disable US fighter on its way to Iraq, as a demonstration against such Irish assistance to the Iraq invasion, Ciaron O'Reilly, ended leading ten thousand anti-war marchers through the streets of Dublin.  He did this on the night before a visit by US President Bush.

Ruddock and ASIO would have none of such rebelliousness there.  O'Reilly, whose bail conditions were so strenuous that he was allowed to fly to Australia, was detained by ASIO at Brisbane airport for many hours.  The spooks couldn't keep him out... unfortunately he's an Australian citizen.

Who's going to lead the march through Sydney when Dubya comes to town?  Whoever it is could, when they hit to cordons, do well to remember (and maybe borrow)  this routine:

[Extract from CNN  Link no longer active]

Irish protesters used Shakespeare to blitz George W. Bush on Saturday, invoking Macbeth, a ghost and a witch to cast a spell on the U.S. president and drive him, symbolically at least, from Irish soil.

Some 500 demonstrators marched on Dromoland Castle, the 16th century turreted mansion in western Ireland where Bush met European Union leaders for a summit.

When they were stopped at a police road block, they staged their own version of Shakespeare's bloody Scottish tragedy.

First, a ghost with a whited-out face read the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Then a woman dressed as Lady Macbeth read a list of Iraqi victims.

Finally, a woman dressed as a witch with a black pointy hat and a flowing cape cast a spell on a man wearing a Bush face mask. The man crumpled to the floor as the witch ordered him to leave Ireland and end the occupation of Iraq.

The protesters held up a banner adorned with a quote from Macbeth, Shakespeare's powerful drama of death, destruction and ambition in feudal Scotland.

"There's the smell of blood still," read the banner, on which was painted a gory hand. "All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."

Some 50 police officers watched the drama unfold from behind their roadblock, just half a mile from the castle where Bush was staying for the EU-U.S. summit. The protest passed peacefully and the crowd dispersed after around 90 minutes.

When I think of the ghost of Banquo I think of Bryan.  Having somebody who is so well-known to resistance networks (and probably ASIO) would not doubt heighten the intensity of such a media-op.  However he's about to be well and truly kept away from the Bush visit.

The connection between the Irish protests and the Australian one?

There are two brothers O'Reilly-  Ciaron, who ASIO interviewed at Brisbane airport, and his brother Sean, who was arrested for hindering police at the Pine Gap break-in. 

Ruddock and ASIO had already in 2005 shown their concern for international activists known to US authorities.  They demonstrated this by surrounding, arresting and deporting US Halliburton activist Scott Parkin.  I have outlined here before my hypothesis that the information ASIO were acting on in this case might be ridiculously trivial.  Not only that, but it appears to have been obtained from an illegally-kept Pentagon file.   The legal issues of ASIO vs Parkin are yet to be resolved, with the spooks currently appealing the Federal Court's permission for Parkin to review his files.

Around the time of the Parkin Incident  Bryan was writing on Webdiary supporting the man's techniques.  Many of the Webdiary pieces have been linked and reprinted on Houston Indymedia.  This was the website mentioned in the Pentagon file as being monitored to track Parkin's activities.  It was also the site I used as a launch pad to put a Parkin piece on Halliburton Watch.   I wonder which names have been cross-referenced and sequenced.  Could a US intelligence computer spit out a chain running from Hal Watch to Houston Indy to Parkin to Webdiary to Bryan to Pine Gap to Shannon Airport? 

Personally I try not to laugh looking at it, but I don't think ASIO have a great sense of humour.  Do we appear as highly trained crack mob of media activists?  I don't know, but it wouldn't surpise me if some drongo wasn't walking around the CIA's Langley campus with such thoughts in mind.  We've all watched The Falcon And The Snowman, haven't we?  Now there's a fine Pine Gap movie.

The CIA have no sense of humour at all.  Their President is coming to Sydney.  There are people who have been thorns in the side of US (Military and Halliburton)  interests within the US and Ireland.  The Pine Gap Four and their supporters have displayable connections with these people.  It is hypothetically possible for the champions of the Dublin ant-Bush rally to be applying Parkin's teachings to a Bush Revolt in the streets of Sydney. Come to think of it, I can see how the situation might be being taken quite seriously

Today Bryan Law's sentence will be handed down by a Judge who demonstrably believes that he does not deserve the severity of the sentence that she will be forced to implement..

To borrow from Shakespeare's Hamlet, there's something very rotten in the state of Australia.

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Sharing a song

No Bravery.

Richard: Thanks Mary J.Shepherd. I was particularly struck by this verse:

Houses burnt beyond repair.
The smell of death is in the air.
A woman weeping in despair says,
He has been here.
Tracer lighting up the sky.
It's another families' turn to die.
A child afraid to even cry out says,
He has been here.

Ruddock's "Secret Political Unit"

According to ABC Radio News, the Opposition has just asked Ruddock about such a Unit operating out of his Sydney office (number 70 Phillips ST).   ABC says that the Government used its numbers to block Ruddock from raising the issue.

Secret Political Unit?  Gee, I wonder what sorts of hi-jinx they get up to? 

 G'day, Phillip.


Richard Tonkin "Secret Political Unit?  Gee, I wonder what sorts of hi-jinx they get up to"? I would imagine the same sort of things that go on in Rudd's office.

Philfy Phil's Dirt

Rudd isn't the Attorney-General and doesn't run ASIO, Alan, and therefore his "hi-jinx" possibilities don't have the same political and cultural ramifications.  Great power, great responsibility, etc. 

Anyway here's that lunchtime ABC report:


The Federal Opposition has demanded that Attorney-General Philip Ruddock explains claims that a secret taxpayer-funded political unit is operating out of his Sydney ministerial office.

Three Labor frontbenchers tried to move a motion to force Mr Ruddock to explain the unit in Parliament this morning.

Labor's Anthony Albanese said he wanted to know details of the alleged unit's funding and staffing arrangements.

The Government used its numbers to vote the motion down

The Australian has a bit more


The Bulletin magazine today reported the clandestine Government Members Secretariat will soon reactivate a secure website to distribute government propaganda to coalition MPs and senators, all at the expense of taxpayers.

The Government was also running a secretive unit within the office of Attorney-General Philip Ruddock which worked on minute-by-minute media management, The Bulletin reported.

Mr Ruddock said today that the Bulletin article was "ill-informed" and he denied the existence of a secret media unit.

A spokeswoman for Mr Ruddock added: "The story is wrong. The attorney-general's office in Phillip Street, Sydney, comprises Sydney-based staff who support the minister, provide policy advice and perform normal staff roles.

"There is no dirt unit."

[From The Age]

But Labor's public accountability spokeswoman Penny Wong and House of Representatives business manager Anthony Albanese were not able to offer any more evidence beyond The Bulletin report.

Mr Albanese said it was necessary for the government to come clean on the extent of its alleged dirt units.

"To what extent is market research being done by government department to the tunes of tens of millions of dollars being used to support the Liberal Party in its partisan political campaign for re-election in 2007," Mr Albanese asked reporters.

Senator Wong was vociferous in her attack.

"The prime minister knows this is wrong, that's why he is doing it in secret," Senator Wong said.

"It's time for John Howard to come clean with the Australian people and tell them just how much taxpayers' money is being used on these secret dirt units."

poem for peace

Melody Kemp received this poem from a friend:

From an 'Iraqi widow' to an 'American widow'
------------ --------- --------- --------- -------

Yesterday , my dear sister !,in my dream,
I saw a cascade of tears from your eyes;
When asked about the cause of your grief,
You showed me the image of your husband.
You hurled abuses at me,as he was killed,
By a brutal terrorist in my land.

I recognized him, because he was the one,
Who with his friend barged into my house;
Raped my teenage daughter before our eyes.
When we resisted, they, out of dignity,
Shot her dead, and also riddled,
The chest of my husband with bullets.

As a sign of greatness of a great nation,
They showed mercy to me and my only son;
Spared us, and left with a triumphant pace.
Alas! My son was ungrateful,
In return to their benevolent gesture;
One day, he,with himself, blew them apart.

I was under the siege of emotions,
The raging inferno in my mind and heart;
Could defy the power of all the oceans,
Its flames could burn the entire world.
But your tears, shimmering like pearls,
Extinguished it , and made me ashamed.

I was unable to share your pain,
With a few drops of tears in your lap;
In a downpour, they all had been shed,
Over the bodies of my husband and daughter,
And also in the memory of my only son.
Now my eyes are stony, pallid and dry.

Your tears have generated in my soul,
A turmoil which will never be set at rest;
Unless you forgive me, as I am the mother,
Of the person who killed your husband.
To atone for my sins, and show repentance,
I declare my son ‘ a condemned terrorist ’

On a different yet paralell vein

I wonder what people in the Middle East think when they read this sort of thing:

 [From Guardian Unlimited, Monday]

A book chronicling the chaos and cronyism that characterised the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority's government of Iraq has swept to victory in the £30,000 Samuel Johnson non-fiction prize. Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, says that more than $1.6bn (£800m) of Iraq's oil revenue was paid to the US vice-president Dick Cheney's old firm Halliburton; that the Baghdad stock exchange was put in the hands of a 24-year-old who had never worked in finance; and that the Iraqi capital's new traffic regulations were based on the laws of the state of Maryland, downloaded from the internet.


And always the soft idiot softly me

Richard, my only concern is that CAAT's self-righteousness and the light sentence will lead them in to more trouble, as I have a cynical suspicion they will attempt to pull more stunts to draw attention to themselves. They may be on the right side of public opinion in regards to the Iraq war but this does not mean that society sanctions their actions in breaking the law, especially given the fact that there are plenty of perfectly legal actions available to them if they wish to protest. If public opinion were that extreme I would have expected a different result in the 2004 election, with Mark Latham clearly articulating an opposition to the war. I voted for him. He lost. Australia had its say - what makes you think that this kind of lawlessness will not simply alienate Australians who would otherwise be sympathetic towards their political opinions?

To me the CAAT issue has felt like an almost personal, ethical failure, having tried to talk them (and others like them) out of putting themselves at risk like this. I don't want to know that I remained silent when this issue crops up again in a year or so. I am not their lawyer but I feel responsible, having watched this saga unfold with quiet horror over a period of time. I don't think Webdiary and all those that have supported them have done them any favours. In fact it is despicable to give them such moral support, given that these people faced a potential of seven years in prison (and God help them they are not all young anymore), when their best (and only) strategy would have been a measure of contrition and a guilty plea. But forget strategy, I think what they did was wrong. (Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose/Speaking clearly and most severely/Law is as I've told you before/Law is as you know I suppose/Law is but let me explain it once more/Law is The Law. - W.H. Auden)

Howard's crimes are the crimes of the state, born out of a mix of a great Ego heaped with great responsibility. He should be held to account, and, God I hope he will be. The war-coalition ought to be brought to trial in the International Criminal Court, but they never will be. The rule of law does not apply to people with such power. The best we can hope for is to hold them to account through the democratic process - and I don't think that CAAT has the right to usurp the democratic process by breaking the countries laws and sabotaging our military infrastructure.

Law And Activism

Hells Bells, Solomon, my mind's spinning around The Eureka Rebellion, Mahatma Gandhi, Easter 1916, Garry Kasparov, and Parkin (brutally thrown out of our country for no crime)  floats around the edges.

In the eyes of those who believe themselves as defending against an imposed injustice,  observance of the laws of a perceived oppressor may not be foremost amongst priorities.

I wouldn't want to be Peter Lalor's lawyer; however don't forget that the man was eventually elected to Parliament by a constituency.

There are many who share Bryan's concern of the use of U.S. military technology on our soil.  I for one am dismayed at the successful U.S. sponsored scramjet launch at Woomera last Friday.  Of course everyone's talking up the two-hour flight to London, but peaceful uses for such technologies never precede the need to find newer and more efficient ways to kill each other.

I mentioned here last year the observations of Dr Keith Suiter on local radio, as he explained how Pine Gap would definitely be being used to monitor mobile phone calls, and work out the best time to send a load of missiles at a building... sometimes, according to him, so many missiles that the things were hitting each other in the air before they hit there targets.

Sure, they got Al Zaqawi that way, but today they also got seven innocent Afghani kids.  

Think about this. If a missile (in  can launch itself 500kms upwards, it will be able to, using the now proven scramjet, steer itself into an Afghani schoolhouse at ten times the speed of sound.  Pine Gap can take the call, Woomera can deliver the message... or one of the Aegis Sm-3s they're going to put on the warships.  What a team.

What Bryan and his friends have done has sent out a concentrically expanding ripple of thought.  That's the sort of thing that the CIA, ASIO and Ruddock are really trying to suppress.

Yep, they broke a couple of laws.  It was worth it.


I'd been avoiding the word, Solomon, as it denotes a deliberate disruption of society and its beliefs. At the moment we live in a country where PM Howard has told Rupert Murdoch (in front of an audience) that staying in Iraq has been the most "poll defying" thing he has ever done.  Some people may praise him for doing this.  I don't.  I see Howard as far more of a recidivist that Bryan or any of CAAT.  They, at least, are attempting to restore what Aussie society has demonstrably denoted as a preferred status quo.


Marilyn Shepherd is my hero, Richard. I am going to do everything in my power to become an immigration lawyer (and a good one) and work with asylum seekers, case by case, to try and give them a life in this country, if we can see it in our grace to grant them such. She is my inspiration, if only in the minor, inessential arena of professional life (my last gift to Webdiary, for when it still cared about such issues).

In the piece above you talk of Shakespeare but CAAT to me seems made up of rather rootless, desperate people more resembling Kerouac or Burroughs. I do not admire them but rather I pity them. Ever since I first wrote for Webdiary I have been arguing against lives like this: yes, I see a portion of myself in them, I recognise it and do not seek to deny it, but to me such a life represents a species of failure, filled with rather unattractive consolations. That is the best I have in me to offer to try and stop what I expect will be an inevitable recidivism.

Where to put 'em

The SA Law Society have just been talking about the overcrowding problem.  They were referring, on the radio news, to a case where the person convicted (who'd accidentally killed his lover in a sexual role-playing game) was sentenced to three years.  He'd spent the last two in the Adelaide Remand Centre because of overcrowding problems and therefore, according to the society, been denied any opportunities to rehabilitate himself.

I had tea with a local magistrate a few weeks ago, who referred to the South Australian prison overcrowding as a notable Australian human rights violation.   I hope the likes of the SA Law Society continue to highlight the problem.

There's another problem that I can see, far bigger.  How do you administer your own justice system when you have nowhere to put those for who the law decrees a custodial sentence?  I asked this magistrate how the system would cope with a mass arrest and was then told "they'd be stuffed."  This person then said "David Hicks is one of the lucky ones.... he has a bed."

The circumstances surround Bryan's case are extremely different.  However, consider, in such a situation, what might happen if fifty Bryan Laws  were jailed at the same time.  Baxter, here we come?  Oh well, better than an overcrowding induced reintroduction of capital punishment, I guess.

I wonder if Pine Gap were involved in what was on the radio not two minutes ago.  Coalition forces in Afghanistan bombed a suspected Al Qaeda religous school.   In the process we've killed seven kids.  I hope the mobile phone monitors up near Alice feel proud.

Genuine With Guinness

Michael Park, I hope that you didn't think I was being disingenuous using the emotional descriptive. The sentence made it as good a day for me as it was for Ernest. When writing on Thursday night I thought I was doing a preamble to a different outcome. 

Between the Federal Court's support of Parkin and the judge's decision here, you get the feeling that the judiciary aren't that keen on Ruddock's methodology in supporting his Cabinet's ideology.

I was sharing a glass of your favourite black fluid with a bloke on Saturday night (at the local Rose Of Tralee finals) and was surprised when at one stage he made the statement that "we live in an age of suppression". Coming from a State's Attorney-General was one thing, but that he sounded so genuinely world-weary was another

Bryan, CONGRATULATIONS !!! I assume that you're not going to let the grass grow under your feet. Mind you, I didn't think your feet would be touching anything but concrete for some time.

I have a sense that Ruddock and SA-AG Mick Atkinson might have slightly different approaches to life. Your life (and those like you who act against US interests) in particular.

I think your case was meant to be "open-and-shut," and so was Parkin's. How the judiciary react to Liberal pressure in the next three months may be a factor in the election.

I have heard opinions of late that unless enough people are put away as dissenters that the legal status quo won't change. You've proved them wrong. Bloody good thing too. I don't know about the NT, but I've also heard recently that the only spare cell space in South Australia is in Baxter. Marilyn Shepherd sounded a warning on such a possible situation a while back. In hindsight I think she made a good judgement call in what to watch out for ... ie if the war goes bad, what happens to Australia's rebels?


The guilty verdict was clearly a fait accompli and the only issue of relevance was sentencing. I am rather shocked at how lightly they have gotten off – some relatively minor fines and a rather half-hearted wrap on the knuckles from Justice Thomas – for their "genuine" reasons for breaking the law. It was a victory from all angles, remarkable for self-representing defendants.

I have the melancholy instinct that they will learn nothing from this and continue their actions, courting disaster and protesting with vain-glorious excess. I hope they all understand how blessed they are to live in a country that treats them like this and not under a regime the likes of which we twice took up arms against.

I have never supported either war (except in a very narrow sense, surrounding political pragmatism) but I think there are ways and means, and the actions of CAAT were utterly unjustified in a stable democracy like Australia with free elections and a free press. My prayers (given that my words have proved useless) will be that they behave more circumspectly in the future. They are not martyrs – rather, the recipients of the mercy of a very lucky country.

Let Justice Roll On Like a River

Truth like a never failing, ever flowing stream.

Hi Webdiarists.  I'm back home now, and will make some thoughtful comments after a good night's sleep.

The whole exercise has been very effective in bringing attention to what's going on at Pine Gap - which is a very different kind of war-fighting base now than twenty years ago.  See this Nautilus Institute report

Make sure you look at the info on SIPRNET.

Remember the "decapitation strikes" on March 20 2003.  Evidence is that Pine Gap provided the target coordinates for the bunker-busting bombs (made by Raytheon) that tried to kill Saddam and his deputies.  They got away, but scores of civilians didn't.

More tomorrow.

The God of Peace

Over Easter, Radio National broadcast the following program:

Special: The God of Peace

Father John Dear SJ – priest, peace activist, and leading theologian of non-violence – visited Australia in February-March. Here he addresses a public meeting at the Australian Catholic University, North Sydney, about Jesus and non-violence, with a response from Sydney peace activist and retired Uniting Church minister Dorothy McRae-McMahon.

There's no transcript, but the audio is still up — it's about the third item down.

From what I've read of Bryan, his philosophy sounds quite close to that of John Dear. I don't know, but perhaps they're associates...?

Anyway, Father Dear gave a fascinating exposition on what motivates him to attack military aircraft with heavy implements!

Margo and Management.

G'day all. Indeed the news on Bryan Law and friends has made it a good day.

The Judge delivered justice in an appropriate form.

This is still our country and the American sovereignty of some of our land for spying and probably as a "Son of Star Wars" target did not cause Bryan and friends to be transferred to Guantanomo Bay by the CIA (as is their want to do).

My Wife and I would like to contribute to the fines of these courageous Australians.
Would the Management team like to open such a fund?

Cheers Rosie and Ern G.

Margo: I suggest you visit the four's website to offer a donation.  

Very genuine

All four were very genuine in the cause they sought to espouse," said Justice Thomas, "however their actions - no matter for what cause - cannot justify the breaking of the law."

Well indeed. And just what did they think would be the result of deliberately breaking into - by cutting fencing wire - a secure installation?

Richard Tonkin has "the sad duty" to inform us that the group had been convicted. Pray tell, what "happy duty"  was there ever going to be for Richard in this?

There is protest and there is protest. In this case the protesters, well aware and with precognition of their legal transgressions, invite the ridicule of their convictions.

Can we help a "free" Australian.

In a country that is governed by a "Business Cartel" and which defies the very meaning of freedom , how can protesters expect to be treated in the "innocent until proven guilty" dictum in a nation controlled by the Howard "New Order"? 

God - how far will we let the American un-elected Military/Corporate control of our country continue?

My Wife and I  would be proud to help in any way we can.

COMMENT:  Why is it that we, as Australians, are not offended by this Howard/American dictatorship that we would give up one of our most honest and constructive advocates of transparency?

How do we fight this cancer? 

COMMENT: Margo and the Management team - can we help in this fight for a person who has the courage to stand up to this regime.


Just deserts

Ernest William, these activists broke the law and deserve everything they get. Now every nitwit in the country is going to follow their example.

I can see it now: when Labor lose the next election the unions will march on Parliament House and break down the doors, like they did once before.

Because – according to you – they are entitled to do so.

As for helping them, I will gladly send them to the Gaza Strip where they can stand in the street and try and stop the senseless slaughter of women and children.

Bravery that will never be acknowledged by a Howard medal

L. Ferguson: "As for helping them, I will gladly send them to the Gaza Strip where they can stand in the street and try and stop the senseless slaughter of women and children."

That was beautiful. It shows that all political spectrums in Australia decry the slaughter of people, especially "women and children".

Do you mean in this case by the Israeli and US trained and supplied Dahlan "Fattah" group and the two thousand mercenaries sent in from Jordan, or do you mean the two thousand plus "women and children" killed by Israel bombings over the last few years, or those who died from lack of clean water and food due to the seven missiles fired into the just completed Gaza Power station by the Israeli air force, which pumps the water, lights the homes, refrigerates and allows some commerce to develop? Or the slow genocide from ghettoisation and starvation?

Just for the record, Donna Mulhearn is one of the bravest people I know. She has been to Palestine and it was her gentle blog from there that changed my views of what was really happening. Further research reveals quite alarming actions by our allies as well as opposition and refusal by brave air servicemen to do the civilian bombings planned. That is also the height of bravery, to stand up and say NO, even though it means an end to your liberty and future.

Donna Mulhearn was also a human shield during the invasion of Iraq and may have saved one of the important water towers. Her later documentation of action in Falujah reveals the war crimes that occurred there. There has been no accountability for these crimes against humanity as yet.

I do not condone what was done by Bryan and this honest group. although I can see the noble spirit in which it occurred. I think it was foolish to deliberately get on the wrong side of the current legal situation. It is always refreshing to see how so many of the Bench are still honest Aussies even when under pressure. I wonder how her career will fare.

There is also the danger of anonymous crowd provocateurs in large protests, which has been seen in a number of places, and used as a tool since Pilate's day to justify vilifying those protesting and using violence against them. They are usually fit-looking and masked and disappear quickly. I do wonder why the US spends so much energy infiltrating antiwar peace groups when the threat of real terrorism is so great. Maybe it's really TWAD.

This only further arms the regime against one and can be used to justify draconian measures such as those experienced by Scott Parkin, who was known to the law for protest misdemeanours and making crowds fearful of not protesting (until they are fearful NOT to such as when conscription /service was an issue for overseas wars or the home environment is really understood to target YOU and yours). Fascist regimes wisely leave these steps until the final power consolidation moment – with full media shield, of course. No one at home will even notice. .

I think it is better to carefully assess what actions have the largest result. Taking the governments involved to the International Court for waging wars of aggression (the Nuremburg accusation) is long overdue now so much has been revealed that removes the "defence action" justification. The new antagonism against Russia since Putin removed the puppet oligarchs and re-asserted sovereignty suggests there is only a small window here.

I would far rather see Howard, Bush/Cheney, Blair, and Alvarez convicted and sentenced to years of hard labour .I would far rather see the conniving groups who deceived the people sentenced for the traitors they are, especially in the USA without pardon as some of the same have had before. If the laws of the land are acted upon, so much can be achieved. Are there really so many good men willing to do nothing?

I agree with Mr Ferguson that this was not the appropriate thing to do, especially with an early warning nuclear missile surveillance base that may, at any moment, be sprung into action, killing or protecting billions of lives. But it does bring such facilities to our attention. In that it has succeeded. Protests at the site may not be the answer.

Instead, our government needs proper regulation over such and supervision with full inspection, and we as a people need to understand what is happening and what are the costs and benefits of running a nuclear war from our land. Do we even have nuclear weapons on the bases? Do we have any anywhere here? How would we ever know? After a nuclear holocaust what will we say with our last breath? “It was worth it 'cos it got them too”? Ah, On the Beach

But what is more important now is what the military exercises involve. Is depleted uranium being blasted around our land? This is an immediate and long term threat to our health and water/food supply. And who pays the carbon credits for these exercises and wars? :)

Have we learned the real lesson from Gallipoli? Never again, never again let our forces be under another nation's command, one that cares not for our blood and we cannot vet for reason and skill. Defence of our nation is critical but it must start within; there must be values to defend and a sense of justice; there must unity in the face of real threat, especially when that threat comes from within. And finally, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. It is the pen that wrote "united we stand and divided we fall".

People like Bryan and Donna stand for our true values and our abhorrence of war crimes and slaughter. we must all do what we can in our best suited manner as they bravely do.


"Women and children killed"

Angela Ryan, "or do you mean the two thousand plus "women and children" killed by Israel bombings over the last few years".

No. I was referring to Palestinians who this week have been murdering each other in cold blood. They seem to have no respect for human life, they kidnap their own people and execute them in the street. Is this what normal people do? Perhaps it is time for Donna to go back to Palestine and talk to them, before they completely destroy what is left of Gaza City.

Be careful, L. Ferguson.

Just a word of warning.

You speak of "these people" breaking the law by trespassing on US property on Australian land. In addition, the last time I checked the Americans had – or had access to – 35 bases in Australia.

You may be old enough to remember that the Prime Minister of our country was denied access to Pine Gap.

If you look up Howard's Anti-terrorist laws you could find that your comment may also breach the "New Order" law on sedition. I think it carries five years’ gaol.

You, however, being (I suspect) a Liberal might expect to be complimented.


Ernest William, these people broke the law. This happens when you break into premises that are not yours. What do you think would happen to me if this weekend I broke into the Sussex St. offices of the Labor Party and went through their filing cabinets? I could use Bryan Law's defence, that I consider them a danger to peace. 

As for the Americans having access to 35 bases in Australia, I think most people would accept that. After all, they are our allies.

The Pine Gap activists's press statement

Hi. Donna Mulhearn sent this email to supporters today.

Dear friends

We are all celebrating after receiving a slap on the wrist for breaking into Pine Gap spy base and causing it to go into lock-down.

The judge refused to lay the excessive penalties that were open to her.

In her address she complimented us and noted our  sincerity and good character.

We feel vindicated!

Thanks to the Sydney people who held vigil this morning
check the  blog for pics

media release below

Four Christian pacifists are celebrating after being spared prison sentences in the Northern Territory Supreme Court today.
The Pine Gap Four, found guilty of breaching the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952, have been handed minor fines.
The public gallery erupted into song, applause, cheers and hugs and the feeling of victory and vindication was in the air.
Justice Sally Thomas noted their good behaviour and co-operation in the sentencing decision.
"All four were very genuine in the cause they sought to espouse," said Justice Thomas, "however their actions - no matter for what cause - cannot justify the breaking of the law."
Jim Dowling has been fined $1250, Bryan Law fined $1000, Donna Mulhearn fined $450 and Adele Goldie fined $550. They have also been asked to contribute $2500 each towards cost of fence repair.
Justice Thomas noted that Pine Gap has a significant history of protest and trespass, with past trespassers being fined. "It's a big step up to talk about a jail sentence," she said in court on Thursday. "A prison sentence is one of last resort."
Justice Sally Thomas had allowed the defendants to present evidence throughout the 11 day trial including their beliefs about Pine Gap's role in the war in Iraq which resulted in civilian deaths and suffering. She later instructed the jury to disregard that evidence and any sympathies they might have for the defendant's beliefs.
When Bryan Law of Cairns, Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie of Brisbane and Donna Mulhearn of Sydney entered Pine Gap's 'Prohibited Area' to conduct a Citizens' Inspection on December 9th 2005, they were well aware of the potential consequences. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock took their actions seriously enough to charge the group under the 55 year old untested Defence (Special Undertakings) Act.
The consequences however are far greater than fines and criminal convictions. The Pine Gap Four conducted their inspection to disrupt the machinery of war and to draw Australia's attention to the missile guidance system in its heart.
Following sentencing today Mr Law said "We have still won. For me it's not about trespass, it's a moral issue.
"Our action was and is calculated to effectively intervene into the war-fighting operation of Pine Gap, under the public gaze, as part of an effective campaign to limit the damage from war in Iraq in the short term, and bring about global disarmament in the medium term.
"What's moral is not always legal, and what is immoral is not always illegal. If there is a minor law that has to be broken in the pursuit of moral faith then I will break it."
Through tears Ms Mulhearn explained "I thought it was the least I could do given the magnitude of the crime I was trying to prevent. I was trying to fulfil the promise I had made to the people of Iraq to do something to stop the war.
"What I did was an attempt to transform a military base into something open and honest."
In the final moments of the trial, Ms Mulhearn pointed to the stained hiking boots she was wearing. She had worn them in an Iraqi marketplace, in the aftermath of a US bomb.
"Now, in this court room, there is blood on my boots. Blood of a human being because of the targeting decisions made in Pine Gap," she said.
Mr Dowling told the jury "We went to that base to resist what is essentially a war crime ˆ the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians."
Ms Goldie also noted Pine Gap's role in crimes against humanity.
"My action to try to prevent crimes of such tremendous gravity is lawful," she said, referring to the Nuremberg Principles.
During cross-examination Ms Mulhearn questioned the Deputy Chief of Pine Gap, Mr Michael Burgess, about the severity of the charges. She asked Mr Burgess about the demonstrations of 1987 during which hundreds of people entered the declared 'Prohibited Area'.
"Are you aware how many of them were charged under this act?" she asked Mr Burgess.
"I believe none of them," Mr Burgess replied.
The shroud of secrecy surrounding Pine Gap was maintained during the trial. Justice Thomas ruled in favour of the Commonwealth's submission for public interest immunity at the start of the case. The ruling stated: "Information as to operations of the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap except as may be disclosed by the prosecution brief is not relevant to any issue in this case."
Defendant Jim Dowling asked in response: "So they're allowed to give the information they want without us getting a chance to query that?" Justice Thomas concurred.
The Pine Gap Four had already successfully challenged a suppression order made in a secret court in Darwin in 2006 in relation to ASIO's involvement in their arrest.
The question of parliamentary privilege was raised when the defendants flagged their intention to tender a Joint Standing Committee Report from 1999** as part of their case. Ms Mulhearn had spoken against the Commonwealth's submission, claiming it was against the "vibe" of the act.
"As an unrepresented defendant I think I'm allowed to quote from 'The Castle', Your Honour," she said. "I think it's the 'vibe' ˆ that wasn't the vibe of this legislation at all."
Although the report is on the public record, Justice Thomas ruled it inadmissible due to section 16 (3) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act of 1688. Ms Mulhearn expressed grave concerns that this could result in an unfair trial.
In a surreal move described by one defendant as "more Alice in Wonderland tactics", prosecuting counsel asked that a model of Pine Gap base be forfeit to the Commonwealth on the basis that it contravened the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 section 2 ("A person is guilty of an offence if the person obtains, collects, uses.. a photograph, sketch, plan, model.. [of] a prohibited area. Maximum penalty: seven years."). The model had been brought to the courthouse on June 5 th to clarify a point of evidence. It was constructed prior to the Citizens' Inspection of the base, using Google Earth photographs for reference.
The defendants had planned to use sections 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5 of the Criminal Code (necessity, defence of others etc.) to legally justify their actions, but these were ruled inadmissible by Justice Thomas on Tuesday. Nine barristers and lawyers were present for the prosecution case, while the Pine Gap Four represented themselves.
The trial has been closely followed by the international legal community, concerned that the Attorney General's intervention and the use of an archaic act reflect poorly on freedom of speech and political expression in Australia.
Statement on behalf of the Pine Gap 4

We want to thank all our supporters in Alice Springs, across Australia and throughout the world.
We renew our commitment to non-violent resistance, which is a powerful way that ordinary people can make a difference in the world.
We encourage others to take their next step in rising up against war. Join your local peace group, or if you can, support actions challenging the US-Australian war games - Operation Talisman Sabre - that will start next week in Queensland.
"The choice now is not between violence and non-violence" said Dr Martin Luther King, "the choice is between non-violence and non-existence".
Report 26: An Agreement to extend the period of operation of the Joint
Defence Facility at Pine Gap

Pine Gap Four Fined But Not Jailed

No details yet, just heard it on the radio.   They have to pay the Commonwealth Government (Raytheon) for the fence.  There is a fine- the amount isn't mentioned.

That's it.

It's already up on the trial blog:


. We have just come out of court and are VERY excited. What can only be described as a small slap on the wrists, the 4 have emerged from court with only small fines, ranging from $1,250-$450 each.

The public gallery erupted into song, applause, cheers and hugs and the feeling of victory and vindication was in the air.

Justice Sally Thomas noted their good behaviour and co-operation in the sentencing decision.

"All four were very genuine in the cause they sought to espouse," said Justice Thomas, "however their actions - no matter for what cause - cannot justify the breaking of the law."

We are all about to celebrate - YAY!

Margo: Richard, thanks for keeping us informed on this. I hope Bryan will report for Webdiary on the saga in due course. It's been a long and winding road.

"Be the change you want to see in the world"

Raytheon are after ten thousand dollars for the fence.  It's an extra-thick gauge, you see, and has to be brought in from Melbourne.  For that price you'd expect  wire spun from depleted uranium.  Then again, none of these companies scrimp on creating profit margins.

The Four are unsurprisingly not keen to pay this, arguing that it was Raytheon's missiles that caused so much damage.

Here, from the trial blog, is more of what Bryan had to say yesterday:

“If I can start in the traditional way in your Honour by putting forward facts in mitigation of the action I took. I would like to point out, in agreement with Mr Dembo that our damage of property is at the lower end, and I have no idea in relation to the trespass charge. I would suggest that our advance notice and our liaison and our discussion with authorities should be taken into account, as it allayed fears of what we may do…..No one had caused to be fearful…or that anyone suffered any lasting trauma…our crime is not like one in the traditional sense in that it did not seek personal advantage…our actions are conscientious actions…

We were non violent and non-malevolent…there was no resistance to any arrest, we never offered violence or disrespect or resistance of any kind.

It’s my belief my Honour, that we were, as Ghandi suggested “be the change you want to see in the world”

 Why, as Justice Thomas point out, has a ffify-five year old law been used  (for the first time) in this case when prior incidents have been dealt with as trespasses?

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