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From Eureka to Benbrika to V for Vendetta

I stood on my front verandah last night, digesting the news of sentences of seven men in an Australian Court for crimes they had not committed, when the Southern Cross hit me square in the face.   It brought back the memory of Peter Lalor, leader of an uprising against the governors of Victoria, who lived to become a Speaker of that State's Parliament.

Perhaps if I hadn't watched V for Vendetta for around the thirtieth time, seen the way this country treated Halliburton activist Scott Parkin, the farcical attempt to villify the Pine Gap Four ((let alone the South Australian Government's villification of defence industry protesters) and  witnessed the botched capture of Mahommad Haneef, I could have had faith in our country''s notion of "justice" regarding the possibility of terrorsm.  Our assistance incarceratng tortured "terrorism supporter" David Hicks for deeds that were not crimes in this country has not been helpful to my sentiments, nor were the illegal activities of polce that I witnessed as a Human Rights Monitor at the APEC march in Sydney.

If any one of these people deserve to be incarcerated, it might be Benbrika.   He appears to have perceived himself to be a Macchiavelli of Jihad, In a quest to cause an Australian troop withdrawal from Iraq.  he collected what appear to be disgruntled members of a community, motivated them towards and showed them ways of  committng acts of mass terror. 

The only trouble is that these people, to the casual observer, probably couldn't organise a fart in a baked bean factory!  Surely the fact that an ASIO officer found himself with more knowledge than they about exploding a tree stump suggests to anyone that there was bugger-all likelihood of the MCG ever going up in smoke, no matter how much the evidence of a witness found by the court to be a liar and a cheat had been previously publicised.  Media Watch's expose of the "West Gate Brdge Plot", circulated through the press when the trials were over, most lkely belies the level of understanding and ability these folks possessed.  At the end of the day, though, Benbrika hoped to create a "fighting force" from these people.  He showed them footage of Jihadist beheadng, he showed them how to learn of making homemade ammunition, he told them that stripping the engines of stolen cars was religiously cool as a Jihad fundraising technique.

I wonder now how my leaders ever allowed to me to watch the movie V in the first place. From that film I have received the concept that no people should fear their government, but a government should fear their people. I have learned that attacks on public monunents should be carred out with explosives whose ingredients are commonly available in shops.  I've seen a visual portrayal of a successful revoluton created by the psychological effects of such an attack.  In short, I've probably received a similar educaton to that which Benbrika gave his disciples.

By the way, I'm aware that I have been investigated within the Department of Defence by Federal security operatives to determine my likelihood of participating in what was later described in print as an averted violent activity.   I more than strongly suspect that this is not the first time my activities have been examined.

With my "knowledge" and "history" what would be the result of my attempting to recruit others to my cause by making a movie such as V?   It could be called "E for Eureka", and portray a people so suppressed by the financal regime its government had imposed that, on the rallying point of the explosion of Australia's Parliament House, a revolution occurred that would, out of anarchy, create a new system of government.  Spoiler warning... ok I won't, but if you haven't I suggest you have a look at the end of the template flick.   Anyway, if I make such a film, and distribute it with the intent of evoking anarchic sentiments that might possibly lead to the destruction of Australian cultural icons, am I not as guilty as Benbrika?

Justice Bernard Biongorno, according to the Australian, said yesterday that:

..he accepted that the group did not have a firm target and had not obtained explosives or weapons, but they were in the early stages of planning some sort of attack that could have led to the deaths of innocent people.

He said the group was committed to carrying out "acts of terrible violence" within Australia in an attempt to force the Government to withdraw troops from Iraq.

At the end of the timeframe in which the media has acceeded to AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty's "requests" to be silent while the true nature of terrorism in Australa was revealed, it's not a monumental result.  No weaponry, no targets, but they talked about nasty deeds a lot., and therefore should be in jail.  Benbrika gets twelve years, his followers around seven.  Their sentences are lessened by the three and a half years taken to reach such a decision.

I reckon that I'm not the only one who should be keeping an eye and ear alert to who's listening to my words.   You should be too.  

I wonder how many years Peter Lalor would have been given had the Battle of the Eureka occurred today.  I also wonder if Benbrika's followers,in the sanctuary of ther own Stockade, truly thought they could go to jail just for talking about Jihad. 

Maybe, in some future history, Benbrika will be read of on the same page as Lalor.  Now that he's being jailed for his ideas, when the objective of his words (Iraq troop withdrawal) is underway,  you could guess that the man might be quite pleased with himself    In his shoes, wouldn't you?  It's like Eureka all over again.

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Truly disturbing story by Paola Totaro in Fairfax about a British equivalent that incidentally demonstrates all that is wrong with the current system, to issues discussed here.

SMH, 6/2/09, carries a story "Britain denies US suppressed evidence in Guantanamo detainee torture case".

It seems that the British government and a weak-kneed judiciary there have conspired to suppress evidence, under duress from the USA, fearful of being denied future intelligence sharing should a satisfactory outcome concerning this suppression of evidence be not be forthcoming.

I repeat, everything that is wrong with the current system re systematic prostitution of the truth in the interests of expediency!

UK Foreign Minister defends US intel secrecy. Spook-y

The SMH stuff is out-of-date already, Paul, and the situation is much worse.  Basically the US can do whatever it likes, tell you about it, and then it can never be spoken of again without American permission!

Here's un update from the New York Times, posted a couple of hours ago:

In Parliament on Thursday, Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, denied that the United States had threatened to break off intelligence cooperation with Britain. But, he acknowledged, release of the documents against American wishes would cause “real and significant damage to the national security and international relations of this country.”

“The issue at stake is not the content of the intelligence material but the principle at the heart of all intelligence relationships — that a country retains control of its intelligence information and it cannot be disclosed by foreign authorities without its consent,” he said. “That is a principle we neglect at our peril.”

“For the record, the U.S. authorities did not threaten to ‘break off’ intelligence cooperation with the U.K.,” he said.

“What the U.S. said, and it appears in the open public documents of this case, is that the disclosure of these documents by order of our courts would be ’likely to result in serious damage to U.S. national security and could harm existing intelligence information-sharing between our two governments,’” Mr. Miliband said. “That’s a simple affirmation ofpo the facts of intelligence cooperation.”

Whatever the US has done to David Hicks and told to the Australian Government can't be relayed to the Australian population without American consent.   If revelations of torture techniques might incense "insurgents" enough to create an increase of hostility to the US military, such revelations will of course be considered against US national interests.

Am I the only one who thinks that, now the Bush-Cheney era has ended, new intelligence protocols need to be put in place?  Australia has a few things the US wants that might be bargainable for a more even-handed arrangement.

It's over- last Guantanamo trial halted

Despite President Obama's request to suspend the military tribunal hearings, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was due to be arraigned on Monday. Judge James Pohl had been ignoring the new President's plans, declaring he would continue hearing the prosecution of a man accused of assisting the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates had remained on the sidelines.

Today, according to the Pentagon, Judge Pohl has been ordered to suspend proceedings immediately.

The American Civil Liberties Union, who only hours ago were calling for action, have also requested that Obama allow for a reinstatement of lawsuits against the Boeing subsidiary accused of aiding the CIA in transporting War On Terror enemies to the locations at which they were tortured. The Bush Administration had stopped the Boeing hearings, arguing that they compromised State secrecy.

Today is the end of a saga that Australia should be ashamed of being a participant in. The aftermath will with us for a long time, but with luck such horrible schemes will never be carried out again

Well just hang on a cotton-picking moment

The Executive wants to tell a Judge what to do?

Now, Parliament, properly constituted, might alter his jurisdiction, add or detract from his prospecive powers, but the rule of law (if you believe in it) requires the separation of the exercise of judicial and executive power.

Oh, there are confusions from time to time (like Sir Owen Dixon being appointed a Special Ambassador to the Rebel Colonies while still holding a commission as one of His Majesty's Judges during WWII or a Chief Justice of a State holding a commission as a deputy Governor or the Lord Chancellor being a Cabinet Minister) but no executive has ever directed a Judge as to a decision since about the time of James VII (and II of England).

Bring on the Glorious Revolution and send the blokes who should be picking cotton back to the cotton fields.

Stay tuned, Webdiarists, the worst is yet to come.- you have nothing to lose but your chinoise.

hang on, Malcolm (strange fruits)

Malcolm: "The executive wants to tell the judiciary what to do."

I hope you aren't referring to the Gitmo judges ignoring of President Obama's request  to halt theGitmo kangaroo court (am guessing not).

Since it lacks all every essential characteristic  that goes to the composition of a proper court, that is. You may as well say Obama would be be wrong for trying to end a KKK lynching in the Deep South.


Hmm, thought I'd sent a comment off earlier - mustn't have pushed button right. Stuff about parallels to Kirby J 's searing commentary on High Court decision concerning aborigines and accompanying gormless legal narrowism there, too.

Faris' comment is truly significant. He is no lefty, he is a leading light in the security hierarchy.

A "Daniel come to judgement"?

Which is not to say I find Benbrika a particularly lovable character. But am not in favour of draconian overreactions by the authorities and scapegoating for political purposes. 'Fifties McCarthyist hysteria by another name.

Mad as hatters

Richard Tonkin, it is so true.  Dream up an external threat or bogy-entity and pose as caped crusaders protecting "us" from the nasty boogie-people.

Child's night-terrors!

In the meantime, they wait for a new opportunity to suppress relevant information in the interests of "security", to keep their own grip on power and control.

There will always be an Abetz or Conroy, it seems,  to exploit fears, well-grounded or not, for reasons of their own. The internet "porn" bogy is the latest example. This is a lovely stalking horse for an attempt on political blogging, which undermines the closed loop of Murdoch Tabloidia. The porn is obnoxious, but why not exploit this as an excuse to get at the political and philosophical internet also?

Benbrika shows they can learn from stuff ups like Haneef . Next time they make sure they have an unsympathetic rather than likeable target, eg Benbrika and his grumpy friends as against young Dr.Haneef -  just in time to reassert the inflence damaged by the over the top stuff of the last five years under the previous discredited government, with its, in the end laughable, nut jobs like Andrews.

Don't get me wrong, am not plumping for a conspiracy theory. They wouldn't have the wit for a plausible overarching explain-all theory because then they would have to look at their own motives and beliefs also.  But they instictively react to situations and exploit them, within the framework of their paranoia inducing unconscious beleif structures and react to situations that allow them to self justify and shift blame onto others. That's their condition and the system's conditon, enabling its and their self-replication at the expense of humanity and and its long overdue and stalled progress.

Police State of Fear

2005 was a good year for McCarthyesques, wasn't it, Paul?  That's why I included the name of Parkin in the piece.  Remember that  the Sept 11 weekend on which he was picked up as a threat to national security was also the weekend of that dodgy "al Qaeda" vid saying Australia was one of the next on the list? 

If Federal agencies were chasing terrorism shadows such as Parkin, how can their accuracy in the Benbrika case be assumed?

By the way, how come that video has never again been talked about?   After the Filipino Monkey bullshit, it hard not to be dubious about that one too.

What were the Feds trying to do - flush terrorists out of the woodwork by heightening panic?  I believe so.

Catalyst for repeal of Howard anti-terror laws?

I'd been thinking the same thing, Marilyn, and Peter Faris (writing on Crikey)agrees.

But that is not the end of it: they will all appeal and I think they will probably succeed. The principal informer witness (who had already pleaded guilty) gave extremely damaging evidence. During the trial, the Judge severely criticised the reliability of the witness to the jury. Now, in his sentencing, the Judge has rejected that evidence.

All of this raises the question: given the Judge's view that the evidence was so unreliable that it could not be accepted, how was it that the trial could continue and the evidence, which was extremely prejudicial to the accused, be permitted to be considered by the jury? For all we know, some of the jury may have convicted on the evidence of the informer. This is obviously a miscarriage of justice and I would expect the Court of Appeal to throw the convictions out.

Mr Faris continues with music to my ears:

Further, in my view, eventually the pressure to repeal Howard's anti-terror laws will become so great as to be irresistible. In that event, they will probably not be replaced: the argument is that the existing conventional criminal law is sufficient to deal with this sort of criminality (such as conspiracy) and that no special anti-terror laws are needed.

Some good can come of this yet.

I will wait for the appeal

It is absurd that this case went ahead after the only so-called witness was deemed to be nuts and a liar and a fraud.

Bongiorno has lost the plot.

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