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ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

by Tony Kevin

In the recent thread Defending Canberra: Who you gonna call?, I noted some serious points (made by Michael Lines, Stuart McCarthy and Stuart Lord) that merit further, broader, discussion on the general theme of the ADF's over-responsiveness to political direction.

The day of intrusive, aggressive ADF Blackhawk helicopter surveillance over Canberra, while all our state premiers were meeting here with the PM to discuss the need for harsher counter-terrorism laws , and the way in which some correspondents are now representing those flights as having been a quite normal and unremarkable part of the ADF training and exercising schedule, is symptomatic of the 'constructed' reality in which we now all live in Australia - and this includes the men and women of the ADF, which as Michael Lines rightly says, is a legitimate and integral part of the Australian community. No argument there.

My argument is - and I have developed aspects of it more fully in a range of speeches and essays on my own website, I only shorthand the main lines of it here - that John Howard has learned how to manipulate and control to his own political ends the most important of our traditionally independent and self-policing public institutions - the ADF, the AFP, the intelligence agencies, the senior national security Commonwealth departments and agencies. They will all, through obedience to their own chains of command, combine in helping Howard to generate and sustain the version of reality that he wishes to put before Australians. They will all help him to exclude from public knowledge or consideration inconvenient facts that do not fit this preferred reality.

Thus, to give a simple but telling current example , we are now mourning a new round of deaths of innocent Australians and Balinese Indonesians at the hands of what were most probably JI terrorists, and the consequent likely destruction of the livelihoods and hopes of the beautiful and vulnerable people of Bali, without anyone daring to ask the obvious question in public - whether this renewed terrorism might not have something to do with Australia's continuing enthusiastic participation over the past four years in the efficient US killing machine's operations against Muslim populations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Keelty will not ask it. O'Sullivan will not ask it. Varghese will not ask it. Shergold will not ask it. Most of our mainstream media will not ask it. We have all been persuaded or coerced to believe Howard's nonsense, that these terrorists "hate us because of our values", or that they are trying to harm Australian-Indonesian relations or to bring down the Indonesian government, when the truth is that they hate us because of what our military forces are doing to people in Muslim countries.

Our coalition's forces routinely kill hundreds of people every week in Iraq , barely registering that they are doing so. They have never bothered to estimate Iraqi casualties - they just don't matter to this coalition. Robert Fisk the other day estimated 200,000 - more conservative and very reliable estimates say 100,000 - deaths in Iraq from war-related causes since the US invasion of Iraq began. Robert Hill was boasting a few days ago that our SAS forces had killed "dozens" of Afghanis in its first major engagements in the latest phase of our ADF involvement in Afghanistan. We are told they were all Taliban, so that's supposed to be OK.

The list of examples of questionable ADF conduct over the past four years is very telling. Let me just flesh out the list a little to remind readers of what the substance is. All of these instances are serious cases where the ADF command structure or senior ADF figures in positions of authority and presumed accountability, set aside their own service rules and codes of conduct, and their service loyalties, in their anxiety to give the PM what he wanted of them, or what they may have guessed he wanted of them. And of course, this is how authoritarian unaccountable power structures operate - the subordinates interpret what the leader wants done and they do it, without asking him to specify exactly what he wants done - because they know he does not want to know the detail of what was done or how it was done.

Thus:

In the case of the suspected illegal entry vessel Palapa in August 2001, Coastwatch, a federal border protection agency headed by a senior Navy Admiral and heavily influenced by ADF operational culture,  left over 400 people unrescued on this obviously crippled drifting boat, whose engine had failed just 60 miles from Christmas Island, for 24 hours before issuing a rescue message to nearby shipping  - the MV Tampa. During this time, all those people nearly drowned in a severe overnight storm. A Coastwatch plane had twice inspected them the previous day and reported to base their obvious frantic distress signals. Coastwatch did not institute any rescue action from Christmas Island the nearest landfall, though it had the resources to do so. It understood from Canberra that it was not to do so - despite this being an obvious and serious violation of Australia's laws of rescue of persons in distress at sea. No subsequent inquiry.

In the case of SIEV 4, Olong, the "children overboard" boat, intercepted by HMAS Adelaide on 6-8 October 2001, there is a whole 3 -day history of ADF violations of the legal and ethical duty of rescue at sea, all set out in Dark Victory and from a different perspective in Chapter 6 of my book A Certain Maritime Incident: the sinking of SIEV X. The then CDF Chris Barrie barely protested at what the ADF was being ordered by Max Moore-Wilton and by Jane Halton's committee in the Prime Minister's Department to do. Yes, he finally demurred at the criminal proposal to tow the crippled Olong hundreds of miles to Cocos Island while still keeping its 230-odd people on board their unseaworthy boat . But he allowed the unseaworthy boat to ordered north and abandoned, with a defective jury-repaired steering gear and a donated bushwalker's compass.. He allowed Adelaide, once it had rescued a failed and becalmed Olong from that situation, to be ordered to tow it in a circular "racetrack" pattern just outside Christmas Island for 22 hours while Halton's committee pondered on what to do with the passengers. He allowed Commander Banks to be ordered not to rescue the people on Olong till their boat sank and they were in the water. All of this clearly violated maritime rescue law. Yet the ADF held no inquiry.

In the case of SIEV 5 and SIEV 7, two boats towed back in October 2001 by ADF vessels using deceitful subterfuges from Ashmore Reef to Indonesia, and then abandoned at the edge of Indonesian territorial waters, there were dreadful incidents of violence and intimidation, all seen on ABC Four Corners program To Deter and Deny. Three men disappeared, presumed dead, on SIEV 7. The fullest accounts are in Dark Victory, pages 215-220 and 243-249. No inquiry.

In the case of SIEV 10. with at least 60 people (maybe up to 100 initially ) on board, at least two women drowned in the sea - bodies recovered by ADF - after a fire broke out on the boat shortly after it came under the guard of HMAS Wollongong at Ashmore Reef. The AFP later entered an open finding on how the fire had broken out .It is clear from Dark Victory pages 266-271 that there are questions about the urgency and efficiency of Wollongong's rescue action, once it was clear that the fire on SIEV 10 was out of control and that its passengers were ordered by the boarding party from Wollongong to jump in the water. We don't know how many others may have died whose bodies were not recovered. No inquiry.

The story of the sinking of SIEV X, drowning 353 people, and of the subsequent Australian government cover-up of what Australian agencies might have known and did or failed to do , is told in my book. It is an obvious lie that the Senate exonerated the ADF conduct in the case of SIEV X . The full Hansard shows that it did not do so. Repeated Senate calls for a full powers judicial inquiry into the sinking remain ignored.

Thus, the whole history of ADF interception or failure to go to the help of civilians in SIEV boats in the Operation Relex phase in 2001 is replete with violations of the maritime law concerning safety of life at sea. There has never been any ADF investigation of these matters. The book has been closed by the ADF, in the knowledge or expectation that the government wants it closed.

In Iraq in March 2003, the ADF concealed for as long as it could the government-ordered SAS secret initiation of large-scale invasive military action inside Iraq, that began 30 hours before the expiry of a 48-hour declared ultimatum to Saddam to surrender power. This was an obvious violation of the international laws of war, and of the ADF's duty to inform the Australian people when we are at war. . Later, under pressure, Defence admitted that this had been done, under orders of the National Security Committee of Cabinet. But how did the ADF Command ever allow itself to obey such manifestly illegal and dishonourable orders? No inquiry.

In the US forces' destruction of the city of Fallujah in October - November 2004, an obvious major war crime against 250,000 Iraqi civilians in gross violation of the Geneva Conventions, Hill has admitted that a senior ADF officer took part in the US headquarters planning of the operation, and that ADF personnel on secondment to US forces took part in the military fighting. No inquiry.

In the case of the attempted concealment from Red Cross investigators of US forces' torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, Defence and senior ADF witnesses tried to conceal from the Australian Senate that an Australian ADF officer took part in the attempted cover-up of evidence. Later, the ADF and Defence tried to conceal from the Senate the fact that Australian weapons inspectors had interrogated Iraqis whom they knew had been mistreated in Abu Ghraib. When Rod Barton courageously blew the whistle on this, no one in the ADF corroborated his testimony. The Senate could not take the matter further.

Merv Jenkins, a Duntroon-trained officer, suicided under unbearable political pressure after he fell foul of the desired government spin on what was happening in East Timor in June 2000, when he when he was just doing his proper job of intelligence liaison with the Americans in Washington. The ADF command chain had not defended him.

Colonel Lance Collins was driven out of the ADF after he blew the whistle on JIO's wrongful denial of military intelligence that his ADF troops needed to know in the early days of the INTERFET operation in East Timor. The ADF chain of command abandoned him when he resolutely pursued truth and justice in this matter. And his legal counsel, Colonel Martin Toohey, was similarly hounded. (To learn more about this case, read Collins' new book, co-authored with Warren Reed).

RAAF maintenance personnel ordered to clean the insides of aircraft fuel tanks without proper protective equipment, and who had their health destroyed as a result, were never fairly compensated afterwards. No doubt the government wanted to save money - money it is prepared to waste in huge amounts on things it wants to spend money on, like terrorism propaganda. The ADF command did not stand up for the men.

The recommendations of a Senate inquiry into failures in the military justice system were ignored. The Howard Government clearly prefers the status quo, it is easier to control this system than opening up these matters to the uncertainties of civilian judicial process. The ADF command acquiesced.

***

All of these examples - and this is not a complete list - show an ADF military chain of command that is now routinely subservient to its political master John Howard and unwilling to take any stand in defence of its own laws, codes of conduct, or personnel.

The situation is very worrying and it is foolishly sticking one's head in the sand to claim that the ADF as an institution is not in serious trouble now.

The Wehrmacht was an honourable military force too, yet it let Hitler's regime take it to places where it very much did not want to go.

Like all of our national security instruments of government, the ADF is now habitually succumbing to the ruthless exercise of power by the Howard Government. It is hard now to see where the ADF command would draw the line, if asked to do things they knew were unlawful and wrong. Step by step, they have been schooled in unquestioning obedience to political power.

And so when , just by coincidence it is now claimed, those aggressive and intrusive helicopter surveillance flights went on all day over Canberra , on the very day when that crucial national security premiers' meeting was taking place, excuse me if I doubt that this was just a coincidence of timing. I doubt there was not some governmental discussion with ADF at political or political minder level, perhaps informal, of the desirability of doing something like this on this day. But we're unlikely ever to know about that.

When the ADF is willing - as it proved to be - to try to mislead the public on when it commenced Australian military operations on Iraqi soil, reconstructing a public history on something as small as the process of securing approvals for mounting a day of helicopter surveillance flights over Canberra would be just a doddle.

Maybe that event wasn't particularly significant - but it was symptomatic of these bigger ADF failings, and it was right there in my city and over my home. So it affected me, and I wrote about it because I wanted to share those concerns.

Sometimes it's the little things close to home that have the biggest impact - like the cruel insult to war widow Kylie Russell during the Bush visit, as told in Margo's book: Not Happy, John! The ADF command should not have let that happen either, but they did.

And if anyone doubts the reality or extent of the power John Howard now exercises over our country - including over our ADF chain of command - I recommend a careful reading of all of last Friday's AFR Magazine's annual survey, "Inside Power" . A discussion of the implications of that survey is worth a future Webdiary essay in itself.

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Post-Script

A post-script extracted from Greg Sheridan's Secrets of the Alliance:

In terms of the alliance, Iraq drew the Australian and US militaries very much closer together.

However, it was not just the SAS: Australia played a crucial role in the coalition's targeting policy. This was done through then Brigadier (later General) Maurie McNarn, who was the overall Australian force commander in the Iraq operation.

Critics sometimes ask whether the Australian Public Service ever produced a full-scale evaluation of what the Iraq operation would mean for Australia's national interests. The answer is the Australian Defence Force did just that, in part so it could propose operations and deployments, including a timeline and exit strategy, which would serve the national interest. It hardly need be said that this did not usurp the role of government, it merely provided the fullest and most coherent range of options to government.

For the duration of the conventional fighting McNarn was based in coalition military headquarters in Qatar. Among other things, McNarn served on the final targeting board, which approved what targets the coalition could hit, what individuals it could go after and what weapons it could use.

This is an aspect of coalition war-fighting that is too little understood. In a coalition you are responsible not only for what your forces do, you are to some extent involved in a corporate responsibility for your allies. Of course, Australia had so much smaller a force involved in Iraq than either the Americans or the British that this should not be exaggerated. But each of the coalition partners, the US of course, the Brits and the Australians, had what became known as the red card. This was an ability to veto any target.

Things often moved at incredible speed. On one occasion there was a request for Australian F-18s to hit a particular "high-value" target straight away. Everything was checked out and approval given by McNarn and the F-18 was on the job and firing within 23 minutes.

But in some ways it was the acts of restraint where Australia made the biggest contribution to the Americans. There was a list of individuals the coalition partners designated as legitimate targets in their own right before the war began. The US had initially proposed a bigger list, but Britain and Australia had whittled it down. It speaks well to the credit of the US military that they stuck by coalition agreements, including the red card.

Every night at headquarters in Qatar the most senior commanders would gather. They would hold a secure video teleconference with all the other commanders in the different headquarters and of the different services (air force, navy etc). Each commander participating would have some staff back-up with him. At this conference they would go through the list of targets nominated for the next day.

McNarn had, among others, Australian intelligence officers and military lawyers with him. An independent intelligence assessment capacity was essential, and without the military lawyers he could hardly have done his job at all.

On a number of occasions McNarn played his red card. The first time he did it, it was a great shock to the Americans he was dealing with. But it also liberated some participating Americans who may have been uneasy about a particular target but did not themselves possess the red card power and may even have been cautious about speaking up against a plan devised by a fellow commander, or perhaps even someone more senior to them.

Once or twice McNarn put his objections in writing, saying that the proposed action was against the coalition's strategic objectives, militarily unnecessary and against the laws of armed conflict.

"Shit!" one American exclaimed when he saw this document. "What if this leaks?"

To which the Australian replied, well, it won't matter if you don't take the illegal action, or words to that effect.

Once McNarn had put his objections in writing, there was absolutely no question of the action being carried out. This became known as "the Australian option". Having put his objections in writing once or twice, McNarn didn't need to do so again. People wouldn't push him that far, in part because they didn't want the piece of paper.

A lot of proposed targets were cleared by lower targeting boards before they came to the top targeting board, on which McNarn sat. This allowed a good deal of caucusing between Britain and Australia, who often had similar views.

"Do you want to take the lead on this?" was often a question one asked the other.

On a couple of occasions McNarn's objections went all the way up to General John Abizaid (a deputy commander of the US Central Command during the 2003 invasion) or Franks (then the Central Command commander), but Australia's red card was always respected.

Sometimes McNarn acted without Britain. Or with Britain merely remaining silent. Towards the end of the war the coalition was expecting a nasty fight to enter Baghdad, which did not eventuate. The coalition was prepared for a serious battle. In one set of proposed operations McNarn vetoed three of five proposed US Air Force weapons systems. These were mainly huge bombs of different types. This led to an explosive reaction from one of the US air force officers present, who called McNarn a "pencil dick".

McNarn in response read from the US Air Force's own Concept of Operations document, which said the particular bomb under question was not accurate for a radius of less than 16m and was unsuitable for use in a built-up area. The most senior American commanders ultimately ratified McNarn's judgment.

The story of the red card, or the Australian option, is not one of conflict between Australia and the US. It is a positive story about the effectiveness of coalition warfare. The Australians and the British involved in the targeting boards, especially the final targeting board, helped the Americans produce a more effective and ethical targeting policy. This is not because the Australians and the Brits were more effective or ethical soldiers than the Americans, but because they came in at the level of review with fresh and independent eyes and with decisive authority.

Because they were operating as national commands in a formal military coalition, they had levels of authority that only their most senior American colleagues possessed. All military systems are hierarchical and it can be difficult for a military officer to challenge one of his seniors in a line of command. A friendly foreigner, an ally, enjoying the absolute confidence of his own government, can do so more readily and effectively.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Tony, the Prime Minister of this country arranges for menacing transport helicopter flights over Canberra to hoodwink the State Premiers into believing that a heightened state of alertness needs to exist. Transport Helicopters Tony, transport helicopters.

These are the same ones your claims of big “missiles” were rubbished in a previous thread. Yes Tony, they were fuel tanks.

Do tell Tony if this is the case, why not have LAV’s at the entrance to Parliament house scanning incoming vehicles? Or something more threatening than a bloody transport helicopter.

Tony, you ignore history in your article. 9/11, was before the US and ADF went into Afghanistan. 9/11 was why we went in to Afghanistan. To say that 9/11 was because of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq is confusing.

There is nothing wrong with the insertion of our SAS before the deadline. Again Tony you show a complete lack of knowledge of what you write about. The SAS are not equipped to spearhead an advance. That would cause massive casualties. They go in ahead of an advance and act independently. They have performed this role since World War 2. You say this is dishonourable? I would say it is doing their job. You seem to want them to be put in harms way?

Yeah Tony, when our SAS kill Taliban Members (Terrorists) that is OK. Them over there doing what they do, enables you to have the freedom to type the words you do. You obviously have a large problem with our defence forces, their existence, and their use. If you are going to criticise them at least get your facts right.

You can write, carry on, about the SIEVs all you like, but we didn’t put them in the water, we didn’t ask them to come here. Quite the opposite. How typical of the society we have become that those who perform search and rescue operations are the ones you want investigated, but I see no mention of any call for an inquiry into People Smugglers (the cause of the problem, Tony).

Oh and Tony. Blackhawks with big missiles are not equipped for surveillance work.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Thanks Tony. I know that what you're pointing to is real. There are more potential inquiry triggers than you could poke a stick at and it takes great courage to poke sticks at the spear-carriers.

I second your recommendation to read last the AFR Magazine's annual survey, "Inside Power". I read it on that Friday and, though I did not doubt the reality or extent of the power John Howard now exercises over our country, I found it astonishing how openly arrogant some of the powerful few come across in their quotes about their power.

A quote from Arthur Sinodinos stood out. I haven't got a copy here so I'll not provide the exact wording, but you'll know what I'm talking about Tony. Essentially Sinodinos declared he was most proud of Tampa and their dark victory (to borrow from Marr and Wilkinson’s book title). He sees it as the Howard Government's "greatest" achievement or "finest moment" or something to that effect. When I read that quote I though: "Is he boasting that it was his suggestion on how to 'handle' the crisis that won that dark victory for "the Boss"? Is the hubris that great now they've been in that job so long? What next?"

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

I’ll fill in the quote for Craig Rowley – I have the AFR “Power” supplement to hand:

“Arthur Sinodinos’s answers are usually quick and concise. He’s just been asked, however, for the most enduring memories of his nine-year tenure as John Howard’s right-hand man, the sort of stories he might one day tell his grandchildren about his personal role in Australian history. He pauses … then he casts back to August 27, 2001, the morning after the fateful decision by the captain of the Tampa to change course and take his ragged band of would-be refugees to Christmas Island.

“We were in the Monday morning leadership group”, he recalls, “I was convinced then the Tampa thing could become a significant issue because it would help to underline what we were up against and dramatise the situation. It was pretty clear at that time that we needed to move on this and, if we didn’t, it would send the signal internationally that you can hijack a ship and keep it steaming towards Australia, [which] would just have to accept you with open arms … Almost from the first day we were convinced that this was a potential turning point in explaining people smuggling to the public.” “

I agree with Craig as to the significance of this quote. It confirms again how central the massive ADF maritime border protection Operation Relex, which was announced with great fanfare a few days after Tampa on 2 September, was to Howard’s election victory.

Sinodinos does not say that, long before Tampa, Operation Relex had been planned and tested for months, in Jane Halton’s interdepartmental committee in the Prime Minister’s Department (See CMI witness testimony in Hansard). The Howard people were just waiting for a situation like Palapa, to come along and spring the trap.

Which makes the following provable facts all the more ironical:

If Coastwatch and the rest of the Australian maritime surveillance and interception system at Christmas Island had been doing their proper legal job of rescuing people in distress at sea, Palapa would have been towed to Christmas Island (just 55 nautical miles away – see Dark Victory page 9) on 25 August, immediately after its distress and appeals for help were seen by the Coastwatch aircraft at 10 am. Tampa would not have had to be called upon to rescue the Palapa passengers the next day. The Tampa incident would not have happened. And Labor might have won the 2001 election.

No wonder it’s a good memory for Sinodinos.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Mr Kevin, your knowledge of military matters is non-existent. You demonstrated that with your helicopter gunship rubbish, and now you have filled another essay with inaccuracies, half truths and even more rubbish.

A highlight is your silly suggestions that the Australian Government should have informed the public of the small scale COVERT insertion of special ops troops ahead of the larger invasion is beyond comprehension.

You obviously don't understand the crucial role played by covert special operations and it role in SAVING lives through its expert and secret assessment of the battlefield BEFORE the guns start firing.

Please restrict yourself to matters about which you know. You have now proven, for the second time, that you are not even remotely qualified to speak of military matters.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

A response to J Wilshaw and Damian Miller: Yes, let us stick to facts.

I did not claim that 11 September 2001 (9.11) happened because of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obviously, it preceded those wars. But the last I heard, Iraqis had nothing to do with 9.11. So why have 100,000 to 200,000 of them died from war-related causes since the March 2003 coalition invasion? And why are we still killing Afghanis in their country, when Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden are nowhere to be seen there – and probably on the territory of our great ally in the war on terror, Pakistan?

Our SAS did not “go in ahead of an advance” in Iraq. They were the coalition’s advance in Western Iraq – no one followed them there. And they initiated hostilities there - they were the first coalition forces to fight in the invasion of Iraq. It is the first time they stepped out of their traditional SAS covert surveillance role. Read Colonel Mansell’s briefing on May 9 2003 which makes clear that this was a major military invasive action initiated by Australia. Hill and Defence Dept later admitted in early 2004 that the SAS began this action on 18 March 2003, well before the 20 March expiry of the 48 hour ultimatum to Saddam, under our National Security Committee of Cabinet’s orders, and without telling anyone. If you still have doubts, read my referenced article in the Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol 58 No 3 September 2003, “Australia’s secret pre-emptive war against Iraq, 18-20 March 2003". It’s all documented there.

I corrected early in the previous Webdiary thread my error on what the Blackhawk helicopters were carrying in their fuel pods. You are flogging a dead horse on this now. The issue here is – who authorized these conspicuous flights over Canberra on this particular day, and why? We are waiting for answers.

And I look forward to being told by you or others why my facts are wrong on all my other examples of ADF command failures which you have not responded to : failure to properly rescue people in distress at sea (a legal as well as moral obligation – even if they are asylumseekers on people smuggler boats), on Fallujah, on complicity in cover-up of torture at Abu Ghraib, on Collins, on Jenkins, on failure to compensate servicemen whose health was ruined by gravely injurious tank cleaning operations, and on the ignored parliamentary recommendations for reform of military justice system.

Actually I am very pro- the men and women of the ADF. I’m just wondering where their senior command system has gone, when it comes to looking after them – and us?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Tony Kevin, you mention that 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqis have died due to war-related causes. What is the source of this figure? The latest studies I've seen on this have been from the UN (24,000) and the Iraqi government (16,000 I think).

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Tony, Coalition troops continue to be attacked by Al Queda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. If they are no longer their who keeps shooting at coalition troops? Do you have a phone link with Osama? If not, how do you know he is no longer there?

The 100,000 coalition troops that went into Iraq after the SAS would disagree with you Tony that they did not follow the SAS in. The teams of Delta force, Green Berets, SBS, British SAS and Marine Recon who went into Iraq at the same insertion point would also disagree with you.

You say the SAS was the advance. Each SAS team has one, that’s one Tony, Javelin Anti- tank missile per team. And you would have us believe that we were the spearhead against the Iraq Army?

I also want answers: Last week I saw an Army UNIMOG (that’s a big truck Tony) driving down the Hume Highway. I thought “Who bloody ordered that, I want to know?”

I mean fair dinkum mate, you want to know who ordered two transport helicopters to fly through the air… newsflash for Tony. That’s what helicopters do…fly.

As for the rest, you’re obviously on a beat up, and I just can’t be bothered with you.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Tony Kevin thinks without Tampa Labor would have won the 2001 election. What world do you and some of your friends live in Tony?

Here is a simple election timeline.

1996- After constant horror economic news and broken promises such as LAW tax cuts Paul Keating was all but finished by 1994. Mickey Mouse would have beaten him in the 1996 election.

1998- GST election. This was Labor's time to shine. Memories of economic incompetence and political correctness were Labor’s dead weight in this one. Labor still believes earning $50 000 yearly makes a person living in Sydney rich.

Everyone agreed on the need for serious tax reform. Nobody loved the GST, however Labor could only come up with tired scare campaigns and no realistic alternative.

2001- Record Government surpluses and very good economic news. Tax cuts and family benefits abound. Add to that a changing world climate. Political correctness has all but been killed in Government circles.

Labor’s biggest policy announcement after great fanfare is to abolish the GST on funerals, caravan parks and tampons.

2004- Two words. MARK LATHAM.

The best advice I could give to lefties is to look ahead at what 2007 will be about. If what you blame your past defeats on is anything to go by I am sure you wont even be anywhere near being close.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J. Wilshaw comes out with the same boring right-wing rhetoric when it’s stuck for something sensible to say. “Yeah Tony, when our SAS kill Taliban Members (Terrorists) that is OK. Them over there doing what they do, enables you to have the freedom to type the words you do.”

And then this from Damian Miller: “You obviously don't understand the crucial role played by covert special operations and it role in SAVING lives through its expert and secret assessment of the battlefield BEFORE the guns start firing.” Just pathetic wannabe Rambo know-nothing rhetoric from both.

Oh and J. Wilshaw. BAe fitted out all the Black Hawk helicopters with facilities for bolt-on when required surveillance equipment. If they are hovering around anywhere as part of any security exercise you can be sure they have surveillance gear on board.

Howard’s abuse of our armed forces in pursuit of his immoral invasion and racist agenda is shameful.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

An excellent piece from Tony Kevin. I don't think Tony is confused about the role of the SAS Damian Miller. He is pointing out the blatant disregard for international law - the law which the Coalition of the Willing was using to justify it's illegal invasion of Iraq.

Surely you are jesting :"Them over there doing what they do, enables you to have the freedom to type the words you do". I don't recall the Taliban ever threatening to invade Australia and the idea that could possibly do so would be laughable.

Why do we have to point out the obvious? We invade Afghanistan and Iraq for the reason now given-to remove brutal dictators. Yet those who chose to flee these monsters in rickety boats are treated in a brutal fashion by us. You chaps should just come out and admit that you admire John Howard for his devious tactics and it's all about winning elections no matter who has to suffer.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Jay White, I note that you are still trying to justify the lies of the war criminal Howard whose lies have cost the lives of ten of thousands, by asserting that Australians, despite those lies, continued to vote him back into power. This is no moral justification. It only demonstrates the gullibility of the people that were taken in by Howard’s lies.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J. Wilshaw and Damian Miller are labouring under the illusion that the role of the SAS is to save lives. I don’t know who they think are dumb enough around here to actually fall for this garbage – maybe a few Howard voters are gullible enough to go for it – but most people are fully aware of the fact that the SAS are trained to actually kill people. They are the guys that do the government’s dirty work on the battlefield. These are the guys whose skills our government has abused to do their bidding in launching their invasion, plundering and killing against nations that were never a threat to Australia.

J. Wilshaw’s and Damian Miller’s attempts to belittle Tony Kevin’s piece are totally transparent while at the same time demonstrate clearly that neither have any real knowledge themselves about military matters as they peddle their pretend knowledge in a futile attempt to justify Howard’s actions.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Damian Lataan, love your post. You attack what two posts say, without actually pointing out anything and accuse two people of being Rambo’s, even when one of those posts (Damian's) talks about the SAS’s role in saving life.

I would say also say the BAe has been contracted to fit Australian Army Blackhawk’s out with SIIDAS systems. (see this link here).

These are a threat warning system.

I heard they also have a mount in the cabin for an ice cream machine if needed.

Damian, if anything your post is void of substance. Let’s examine:
“right wing rhetoric”, “pathetic wanna be Rambo”, “Racist agenda”, “immoral invasion”. Take my quote out, Damian's Quote out, these spiteful words out, and your 154 word post is reduced to 50 words of which is the dribble about BAe.

Thanks for your time Damian. Have a nice weekend.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Michael de Angelos: “You chaps should just come out and admit that you admire John Howard for his devious tactics and it's all about winning elections no matter who has to suffer.”

You point to an interesting contradiction among some Howard devotees, Michael. If I remember my political theory correctly, conservatives take the Realist view of human nature, which assumes people are fundamentally flawed and usually act to further their self-interest (as opposed to the Idealist view of human progress usually identified with liberalism).

So Realist principles will tell you that politicians are just as flawed and self-serving as all of us, and will inevitably be corrupted by power. And this goes doubly for guys like, say, Howard (and, until recently, Carr) who have experienced the corrupting effect of power for so long.

But here’s where some conservatives suddenly abandon their realism, and assure us that our suspicions of Howard’s motives are totally unwarranted, as he always acts without self-interest and only for the good of the nation. As you suggest, they may be kidding us.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J Wilshaw, thanks for your further comments. No, I am not on a beat-up -just presenting facts to Webdiary readers.

As far as I know it is Taliban troops – not Al Qaeda - who are “attacking” our SAS in Afghanistan. The Taliban are Afghani. Guess what? When foreign troops invade a country (or an insurgent area where the people are in revolt against the central administration) they do get attacked by locals. The first question maybe is whether the invading foreign troops should be there? Maybe we should be leaving the Afghanis to sort out what sort of a government they want, in their own way? Hey, that’s a dangerous thought.

Yes, I don’t have Bin Laden’s address in Pakistan and no one has seen much of any Al Qaeda for years. I know the US haven’t been able to find Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 4 years of looking, and I know that US army officers in Afghanistan have complained to Western journalists that they think he is being given refuge in Pakistan by Pakistani intelligence agencies. Check Google “Bin Laden Pakistan” – in 2004-2005 there are many reputable media reports of Bin Laden being in Pakistan.

So why are we killing “dozens” of Afghani Taliban and risking our own troops’ lives in Afghanistan? I wonder if asking this question is seditious ? But the new laws are not passed yet, so I guess I am still safe.

As for your statements here about Iraq: “ The 100,000 coalition troops that went into Iraq after the SAS would disagree with you Tony that they did not follow the SAS in. The teams of Delta force, Green Berets, SBS, British SAS and Marine Recon who went into Iraq at the same insertion point would also disagree with you”, you are simply all wrong here. Where were you when I was reading the coalition war briefings every day of the invasion and the postwar reports?

Starting on 18 March 2003, the Perth-based SAS Regiment had a distinct area of ground operations to themselves – the whole province of Western Iraq. The main coalition military offensive starting two days later was from the South, northwards towards Baghdad – nowhere near where the Australians were. According to Bob Woodward’s book, that main invasion force was preceded by US and British special forces insertions into those areas in the south.

But nobody followed or went with our SAS into Western Iraq, They took control of Western Iraq all by themselves – just one SAS regiment (with a few of them off nearer Baghdad doing traditional surveillance of the Western highway). As a super-jingo patriot you should know that Australian military history and be proud of it. Read Colonel Mansell’s Defence briefing on 9 May 2003 on the Defence website Media section - if the URL below doesn’t work, you’ll easily find it this way, I just checked it is still there - and see what our SAS did. It was brave and highly efficient as a military operation. But was it legal or ethical to send our soldiers into war 36 hours before declaring it was on, and during a proclaimed prewar ultimatum period? It is that sort of command irresponsibility that I blame Hill and the ADF high command for, acquiescing in Howard’s trickiness and desperate eagerness to win brownie points from Bush. Howard, Hill and Cosgrove had no right to put our soldiers in that situation – or do you disagree?

http://www.defence.gov.au/media/DepartmentalTpl.cfm?CurrentId=2712

(And read my AJIA article for the whole reconstructed chronology of Defence’s initial attempted deception, and final reluctant admission of the truth nearly a year later).

Tim Lancett, the 200, 000 estimate of Iraqi dead in and since the invasion is by Robert Fisk on ABC Radio (with Philip Adams on LNL) during his recent visit to Australia. The 100, 000 estimate has been widely cited in media for about a year now. A team of Iraqi and US public health experts led by Les Roberts of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore estimated in October 2004 that about 100,000 Iraqi civilians - half of them women and children - have died in Iraq since the invasion, mostly as a result of airstrikes by coalition forces. And that was before Fallujah.

Their report was published (after peer review) on the prestigious British “Lancet” magazine website on Oct 28 2004. Here are two media URLs’:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/29/iraq.deaths/ ( CNN)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1338749,00.html (Guardian)

The methodology of that survey was based on national extrapolation from data in particular survey areas. A much more conservative method, only counting civilians killed by military intervention in Iraq on the basis of actual media and eyewitness reports of deaths, is on

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

C’mon Tony. That’s a bit of a long bow. To say oh look there we no troops directly behind them attacking from the west is just silly. The simple fact is they were inserted BY VEHICLE, from the same insertion point, coalition forces invaded Iraq.

Legal? Who cares? If it saves coalition forces lives I don’t. Every Army in the world has agents in foreign nations before wars. The KGB had hundreds if not thousands in western nations in anticipation of the third world war. The Japanese had agents in Singapore years ahead of their invasion in the '40s. We have had Military attaches in foreign countries for years. It’s called Intelligence Tony, that is one of the unique roles the SAS provides.

(Damian Lataan you may wish to pay attention here.) One of their unique roles is to report on troop movements, concentrations etc etc.

Tony, if we tried to insert the SAS when war was declared, their insertion would have been far more difficult and dangerous. I have one concern when it comes to all of our forces serving overseas: They all come back alive. If that means we insert them 36 hours before a deadline expires. So be it.

Damian, you have this notion that the SAS are just some sort of Rambo thugs. They are some of the most intelligent and resourceful people you would meet, they have to be just to survive selection. You have no idea what you are talking about.

Also Tony how do you know they are Taliban in Afghanistan? Do they carry Taliban and Al-Queda ID cards?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J Wilshaw: "Legal? Who cares?"

Actually it is a very important point. As the war itself - despite the unfounded denials of some- was an illegal war of aggression, any troops of the aggressor nations are not only put illegally in harm's way but also open to possible war crimes charges.

If you want substantiation of the claim of illegality - WD has heaps of evidence, and there is much elsewhere.

Also makes "saving lives" an interesting spin on the situation.

If you are so concerned about our ADF personnel then you should take it up with the government that placed them in way of the dangers mentioned.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Tony Kevin - you say "the 200,000 estimate of Iraqi dead in and since the invasion is by Robert Fisk"

This is the same Robert Fisk who said that the Americans couldn't have possibly taken Bagdhad Airport when they were certainly there?

By the way, the Lancet study is an absolute joke. I'm a statistician and their methodology is completely suspect.

How do you explain the discrepancy between your/Fisk's estimate of 200,000 and the UN's of 24,000?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J Wilshaw, armchair general extraordinaire whose one concern is ‘that his men all come back alive’, seems to have no concerns at all about the people these men set out to kill – men who have not threatened them in any way.

J Wilshaw thinks “...they [the SAS] are some of the most intelligent and resourceful people you would meet, they have to be just to survive selection.” I have to ask why they would want to do this kind of work if they are so intelligent and resourceful. Surely the best way to survive is to be intelligent and resourceful enough not join up with the SAS in the first place. It’s not as though they are actually defending our country where, indeed, their skills would be useful. No, these men are in another country – a country that never was a threat to Australia in any way – where they are killing people.

You seem to be so obsessed, J Wilshaw, with the idea of what these men do and how they do their job – a job which I am very much familiar with despite your assertions to the contrary – that you’ve missed the point entirely about why these men are in countries that they morally have no right to be in doing what they are doing – killing people.

Rambo thugs? Perhaps the relatives and friends of the people they kill would go along with that.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Regardless of what one's views are on Iraq, Afghanistan, helicopters over Canberra - how was SAS intervention on the Tampa legitimate - apart from as a PR tool? Most of the folks I know in the ADF are fully aware (and not too happy) of how they have been politicised.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Tony Kevin, your 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqi dead body count figure comes from the Lancet report, doesn't it, or the Small Arms report that built on the Lancet report, right? The report with the enormous variables (between 3,000 and 198,000 killed when the report was released), tiny sample number (not even every district in Iraq was covered, from memory, skewing the results), and political overtones.

The UN report gave much more reliable figures for a quarter of that number.

Hell, even Alan Ramsey isn't quoting 100,000 any more (notice how the media has been moving away from that 100,000 figure, apart from the diehard hacks, Tony?)

But wait, once the body count hits six figures, we are the bad guys, right? That means we can AmeriKKKa bash and HoWARd bash at will. So who cares about what the numbers are probably like in reality, when we can pull fanciful numbers from the air.

Here is a good article on Lancet and the unreliability of its figures -

You have the patently Iraq war unfriendly Iraq Body Count website - where they put a maximum killed at under 30 000.

The UN report put it around 25,000.

The newly installed Iraqi Government? Around 16,000 was the number they came up with.

As for Afghanistan - that is a great idea. Everyone should go home the second we finish rebuilding all the rubble, graveyards, execution fields and terrorist training grounds in Afghanistan, and give it back to the Taliban. Because we shouldn't be there, because someone shot at us.

Last time I checked, the Taliban were among the worst regressive thugs and bandits ever to take power. People complaining about civil liberties being violated in Australia? They wern't complaining in Afghanistan, not really, because everyone who disagreed had to either flee, or end up in prison or as mulch at the soccer fields. And after supporting an even worse bunch of Islamofascist thugs wanting to restore the Caliphate (oh we can negotiate with them, they only want Spain, right?) who committed the attacks on S11, do you really think that this bunch of unstable dickheads really deserved to stay in power? Or that the Afghani people really deserved to suffer under them for longer?

But wait, isn't Australia supposed to be making a climate of fear under HoWARd? Then how come so many people (like from Iraq under Saddam and Afghanistan under the Taliban) want to come and live here, if it isn't for our social security and wealth as a nation? They must see Australia as like one giant ghost train ride, full of evil tyrants and their attack fuel tank transport helicopters, evil anti civil liberties laws where people can be 'disappeared' at any time, and secret teams of police sinking asylum seeker boats in the middle of the ocean. Right? It wouldn't be because their rulers happened to slaughter those who disagreed with them, or were thought to be a threat, or were just in the wrong place, right?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Jay White, a couple of questions for you:

1. why do you think a person has to be a in a cult to discuss issues in terms of morality?

2. why do you consider a person is a sook because they complain about Howard's government?

Do you think that because Howard wins 51% of the two party preferred vote, and the Liberal party win a minority of the popular vote, the rest of us should just shut up and accept our medicine? Get real mate.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Jay White: “John Howard IS back in power”.

One individual in power is not a democracy it is a dictatorship. But at least you recognise the outcome of the last federal election for what it is.

A future dictatorship might be avoided by introducing proportional representation into the House of Representatives and other changes that more effectively translate votes into equivalent power.

Jay White, would you like to see changes that more effectively translate votes into equivalent power or are you happy with the fact that 53% of Australian citizens have been silenced?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Damian Lataan: "I note that you are still trying to justify the lies of the war criminal Howard whose lies have cost the lives of ten of thousands, by asserting that Australians, despite those lies, continued to vote him back into power".

I dont have to justify anything. John Howard IS back in power. I am simply telling a short version of why that is the case.

I certainly am glad that it is the case and I hope it continues. This is the best Government I have seen in my lifetime.

"This is no moral justification. It only demonstrates the gullibility of the people that were taken in by Howard’s lies".

Are you involved in a religion or perhaps a cult? The way you speak of others "morals" and "gullibility" it certainly appears to be the case.

As I have said before the Howard Government has been a good one at least from my perspective. Perhaps if I were waiting for the Government to control my life with handouts and the nanny state this would not be the case. Than again I am not the one going like a sook about it, am I?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Stuart Lord, you wheel out George Roper's "Deconstructing Lancet" as if it was holy writ, however Mr Roper can be "deconstructed" as well.

For example, Roper states: "Taking infant mortality rates the [Lancet] authors cite 28 deaths per 1000 prior to the war... So, where did they get the 28 deaths as their baseline? From other sources, I understand." Actually the Lancet authors state 29 deaths per 1000 that "we recorded" in their sample, and they readily discuss the factors that would contribute to skewing of the result. Indeed the authors enumerate various limitations and caveats that qualifies the overall application of their findings. However, Mr Roper's ignorance as to the origin of the 29-per-1000 "baseline" rather indicates a sloppy reading of the article, indeed one that was less than thorough, which detracts somewhat from his analysis. (I deconstructed Roper some time ago on another thread - do you read the stuff that we "Iraq war unfriendlies" patiently offer for your condescension?)

You cite (approvingly?) "the patently Iraq war unfriendly Iraq Body Count website - where they put a maximum killed at under 30,000" - but, of course, you neglect to mention that the IBC researchers caution that their figures are conservatively based on deaths as documented in media reports, ie, the actual numbers are probably far higher.

All this territory has been covered before, and it's clear that exchanges such as on this thread are a permanent fixture of the Iraq "debate". Why is that, Stuart? Could it be that those who are "Iraq war friendly" are simply not interested in the deadly results of this disgraceful debacle, and rather have an interest in that dimension remaining indeterminate? Like little boys playing at soldiers, fixated and oohing and ahhing over the "awesome technological killing machine" described by that embedded journalist, so long ago now. Reality as computer game.

Certainly the Coalition of the Willing Governments aren't interested; it might detract from the purity of purpose. Here's what the Lancet authors had to say about this issue. Read it, it may give you pause to think, although I strongly doubt it:

"US General Tommy Franks is widely quoted as saying 'we don't do body counts'. The Geneva Conventions have clear guidance about the responsibilities of occupying armies to the civilian population they control... In particular, Convention IV, Article 27 states that protected persons '...shall be at all times humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against acts of violence...'. It seems difficult to understand how a military force could monitor the extent to which civilians are protected against violence without systematically doing body counts or at least looking at the kinds of casualties they induce. This survey shows that with modest funds, 4 weeks, and seven Iraqi team members willing to risk their lives, a useful measure of civilian deaths could be obtained. There seems to be little excuse for occupying forces to not be able to provide more precise tallies. In view of the political importance of this conflict, these results should be confirmed by an independent body such as the ICRC, Epicentre, or WHO. In the interim, civility and enlightened self-interest demand a re-evaluation of the consequences of weaponry now used by coalition forces in populated areas."

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Jay White seems to think that “…this is the best Government I have seen in my lifetime”, which speaks volumes about Jay White’s credibility when one considers that this government has been the most dishonest and immoral there has ever been.

Howard’s government has lied in order to start a war against a nation that was never a threat to Australia. Jay White and his right-wing cohorts support that. As a result of those lies tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of innocent people have died. Jay White and his right-wing cohorts support that. Howard’s government has deliberately allowed refugees to perish at sea by either abandoning them at sea or denying them refuge on land. Jay White and his right-cohorts support this. Howard’s government has imprisoned indefinitely thousands of innocent men, women and children for no reason other than they wish to live here rather than be persecuted in their country of origin. Jay White and his right-wing cohorts support that. Howard’s government has told lie after lie at each election in order to persuade the gullible to allow Howard to remain in power. Jay White and his right-wing cohorts support that.

Howard has brought nothing but shame on Australia and its people in the eyes of the rest of the world. The sooner Australians wake up to Howard’s corruptions the sooner Australia can regain the respect it once had from the rest of world. One wonders how we have managed to sink to such depths of immorality and dishonesty in our government, but then we only need to read the racist and warmongering comments of the likes of Jay White and his right-wing cohorts to fully understand how low one can really go.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Stuart Lord and others ... You might like to read the following links ... just so that you can say you really do hold a 'balanced' picture /position !

Part 1 Burying the Lancet link here

Part 2 Burying the Lancet link here

Update re Burying the Lancet link here

or try this ... link here

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

James Govett the rules before elections are agreed upon and known to all. I did not complain when Bob Brown had control of the Senate because of a small number of votes from the smallest State. Funny but I don’t think you would have either.

As for your theory of a dictatorship; whatever. I have been down this road before and I am not going down it again. And yes I am happy John Howard is Prime Minister, it works for me.

Kevin De Bonis: "1. why do you think a person has to be a in a cult to discuss issues in terms of morality?

One who attempts to put his moral superiority over others generally has a personality disorder in my view. Fertile ground for cult recruitment I think.
Society collectively decides morals and calls them laws.

KDB: "2. Why do you consider a person is a sook because they complain about Howard's government?

This person does not just complain about John Howard. He complains about all the people who support or vote for him and the party he is a member of. A case of not liking the society that he is a member of because it does not see everything the way he would like it.

A young child may register his or her disappointment in finding out this is a fact of life by having a temper tantrum or taking the bat and ball and going home. Children usually learn to accept things don’t always go their way fairly quickly in life.

The ones that don’t grow up to be adults and become known as "sooks".

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Damian Lataan "The sooner Australians wake up to Howard’s corruptions the sooner Australia can regain the respect it once had from the rest of world".

And who would make up those that we need to gain the respect of?
Some of the people I suspect you would speak of such as Cuba and the like would be happier with our spare change. I wonder if whatever "club" you are in has such a fund for this purpose?
Talk of credibility coming from you has given me something to laugh about for the remainder of day.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

The buck now stops with God.

See this link here - Nabil Shaath says:

President Bush said to all of us: "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …' And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God I'm gonna do it."

The chain of command now goes all the way to the top! God help us! Religious fanatics rule the world.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

I’ve said it before and ill say it again. If it was so illegal were are the court challenges?

Their are none, because it was legal. You can bitch and moan all you like, but that’s the facts.

Damian, I am no arm chair general. An armchair general is one who thinks they are qualified to tell the pros how to do their job. I don’t. I just give them my full support. I note with amusement that you don’t actually prove anything I say is incorrect, you just try to belittle what I say with silly little digs. Well you go right ahead. It just shows you up.

Regarding the intelligence of our SAS. See their is two ways to look at it. One, you can go into the fight surrounded by normal front line soldiers. or two, you can go into the fight surrounded by the best, with the best equipment available. The intelligent soldier would choose the later Damian.

Terrence Ed.: JW please refer to the subject of your comment, else it's a bit difficult for readers who've just come in.

Craig R Ed. Update at 1.10pm: I've added a link to Damian's previous comment to J Wilshaw which may make it less difficult for readers who've just come in.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J Wilshaw: "I’ve said it before and ill say it again. If it was so illegal were are the court challenges? There are none, because it was legal. You can bitch and moan all you like, but that’s the facts."

Coming from a person who proffered a fundamentally flawed and thus useless legal opinion as to the legality of the war. Perhaps you were so relieved to finally find an opinion that was pro-legality, after wading through all the ones that were anti you did not notice. Or were unable to recognise the flaws. To thus declare that those are the facts is presumptuous, and contrary to the evidence.

As to the court challenges issue - that has become a standard response and carries no weight whatever, given that we are dealing with states in the international system, and that the two main members of the COW are permanent members of the UNSC. The excuse is intellectually bankrupt.

As to Bush talks to God, Justin Raimondo has an interesting take on that.

Unlike your typical secular liberal, I am not one to snark at any mention of a divine entity, be it Jehovah or Phoebus Apollo. Instead, I wonder: how does Bush know the voice he's hearing is God's? What if it's the Devil's?

God, it seems to me, is the strong, silent type; it's the Other Guy who's a bit of a chatterbox, always whispering in people's ears, trying to get them to do cool-but-forbidden stuff, tempting and flattering them at the same time. If Bush is hearing voices in his head, then I fear we ought to be very worried, because it's either the delusions of a dry alcoholic, or something far more sinister.'

As to other matters raised by Tony, have we any serving or former RAN personnel who would like to pass on their views of the actions the RAN were ordered to take in regard to stopping etc the boats?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Jay White: “James Govett the rules before elections are agreed upon and known to all”.

Actually, they’re not known to all. I think far too many Australians did not realise the consequences of voting for the liberal party in both the lower house, and the senate. The mass media are largely responsible.

Besides, whether or not they are known is not the point. The point is whether they are fair, whether they are “democratic”. Would you like to see changes that more effectively translate votes into equivalent power or are you happy with the fact that the wishes of 53% of the voting citizens are ignored?

JW, “I did not complain when Bob Brown had control of the Senate….”

A minor party can only have control of the senate when representatives of each of the major parties vote sheep-like along party lines; when their loyalty is to the party and NOT to the citizens who voted for them.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Jay White writes "One who attempts to put his moral superiority over others generally has a personality disorder in my view."

Jay, what are you talking about when you say 'put his moral superiority over others?'. Are you so unable to argue from a moral position that you feel threatened by those who do? People throughout history, including Nelson Mandela, make moral arguments in support of their positions. You're free to disagree if you wish to, but its childish to feel threatened by a morally based argument, why don't you simply attack the argument? You display an incredibly thin skin.

You're insecurity with morally based argument, is in line with you're name calling against people who complain about the Howard Government. All you're attempts seem aimed at silencing criticism.

You write: "This person does not just complain about John Howard. He complains about all the people who support or vote for him, and the party he is a member of. A case of not liking the society that he is a member of because it does not see everything the way he would like it."

You confuse a person not liking aspects of the present Government's policies, or people who've voted for the government, with not liking the society. I'll clue you in on something Jay, nearly 48% of the population didn’t vote for the Coalition.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Hi fellow Australians, I think the general consensus is that there is a very big problem. Both sides of this argument are very polarised as to their views.

There is also a bleating sound and it would appear to be from the sanitised Klu Kluxers of an unattractive right. Shoring up their arguments with very shaky evidence. Language that has been misused to an extent, that the bleaters use it as confirmation that "we have the best government ever"?

The blood that comes from the veins of ADF and other Coalition of the Willing, is the same as the blood coming from innocent men, women and children of Iraq. I hear the bleaters trying to minimise the gallons of blood from mere collateral damage. They could be our children. In a contracting world, they are in a sense, our brothers and sisters! Even to admit the shedding of this blood is to admit complicity. Justification of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is a lost argument. And yet the manipulation of fact with fiction by this master Puppeteer has an electorate divided by lies (MP=PM).

Australians do need to wake up before it's too late!

"Step by step, they have been schooled in unquestioning obedience to political power." The writer was speaking about our ADF and other key organisations, leaving us vulnerable from within. This certainly isn't the Australia I am proud of! Is it a country where people can be dragged from their beds in the small hours of the morning, simply because of the national interest? Detained for at least fourteen days without charge and potentially an indiscriminate period of time. And taken a destination that is not Australian, Maybe to the new detention centre being built at Christmas Is. at huge expense to you and me. Fellow Australians, you may leer, but get your brain muscles working. There is fire behind the smoke and no amount of spin doctoring will hide it.

Germany has seen fit to safeguard national values with their proportional voting system. NZ has picked it up and after years has proven it to be effective. Maybe it's overdue here.

One Webdiariast recommended this ...

"proportional representation into the House of Representatives and other changes that more effectively translate votes into equivalent power."

Another writes...

Regardless of what one's views are on Iraq, Afghanistan, helicopters over Canberra - how was SAS intervention on the Tampa legitimate - apart from as a PR tool? Most of the folks I know in the ADF are fully aware (and not too happy) of how they have been politicised.

Posted by: Sean Hefferon | 08/10/2005 1:46:00 AM

Recently I was told:

“That Tampa occurred over four years ago”, and the implication seemed to be that because of the elapsed time, the government was justified and the lie forgotten. : E Burrows | 23/09/2005 4:35:50 PM

This is the very reason to continue raising this and the many other serious breeches of International Law and of UN Treaties.

Time for us to wake up!

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

James Govett: "Actually, they’re not known to all. I think far too many Australians did not realise the consequences of voting for the liberal party in both the lower house, and the senate. The mass media are largely responsible".

Actually it is expected that a person of voting age understands that which they put their mark on (ballet). Similar to a legal contract.

It is up to each single person to understand this and not the "mass media" to work it out for them. So from that perspective your complaints should rightly fall on deaf ears. This is not a "nanny state" society if you did not already know.

JG: "Besides, whether or not they are known is not the point. The point is whether they are fair, whether they are “democratic”.

Would you like to see changes that more effectively translate votes into equivalent power or are you happy with the fact that the wishes of 53% of the voting citizens are ignored?

No I am quiet happy with the system as it presently is. I have been happy with it throughout my years of voting even if I personally did not enjoy some of the results. I did however at least respect the results under the agreed upon and understood system.

However any changes would have to be made through a referenda and this being the law I would except whatever changes the majority of Australian voters decide to make.

JG: "A minor party can only have control of the senate when representatives of each of the major parties vote sheep-like along party lines; when their loyalty is to the party and NOT to the citizens who voted for them".

Yeah that same "sheep-like voting along party lines" gave good ole Bob Brown a fairly good run did it not? Never heard him complain about it back than.

His mistake was to expect the Australian people to cop it forever. Perhaps a case of reading his own press?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Kevin De Bonis you have taken me the wrong way. I do not have a problem with people speaking up for that which they do not like. I have a problem with this though:

" I have to ask why they would want to do this kind of work if they are so intelligent and resourceful. Surely the best way to survive is to be intelligent and resourceful enough not join up with the SAS in the first place".

Belittling of a person's legitimite career choice because it does not suit his own. Clear statement that he believes he is a "superior person".

"seems to think that “…this is the best Government I have seen in my lifetime”, which speaks volumes about Jay White’s credibility when one considers that this government has been the most dishonest and immoral there has ever been".

In other words does not share the same opinion. Believes this means he has more "credibility" must believe he is a "superior person".

"This is no moral justification. It only demonstrates the gullibility of the people that were taken in by Howard’s lies".

In his view. Must believe he has superior morals. Has he interviewed each of these people taken in by his version of the "lies"?

On and on it goes. Grandstanding himself above others. That is the sort of personality that is a prime candidate for a cult. If he is not already in one.

You must know the type? They always know the secrets that others just cannot see. But of course their special group does wink wink nudge nudge.

Craig R Ed.: Message to all here, not just Jay ok. Could we please not devolve into more ad hom argument here.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Of course, it’s not just the ADF that Howard has hijacked and abused for his own political agenda in the years that he has been in office. The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Alexander Downer’s Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Office of National Assessment (ONA) have all played their part in ensuring Howard’s immoral policies on immigration and war-making have been implemented.

David Marr and Marian Wilkinson, for example, in Dark Victory write of sources that state that Downer’s ASIS may have been responsible for the deliberate sabotaging of boats that were to be used for ‘people smuggling’. Certainly, ASIS were ordered by the Howard government to ‘disrupt’ ‘people smuggling’ operations in Indonesia. But since the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were already working in conjunction with Indonesian authorities in disrupting the ‘people smuggling’ operations, one wonders why Downer would want to use ASIS to do similar work without telling Mick Keelty’s AFP.(1) A question that remains unanswered but one day will be once this sick and immoral government has been booted from office and the extent of their crimes are slowly revealed.

In another example, during the ‘Tampa’ affair the DSD were also used extensively, and illegally, to spy on the conversations between the ‘Tampa’ and the ship owner’s lawyers. And what the DSD wasn’t allowed to do ASIO was empowered to do for them despite the fact that ASIO is a domestic intelligence organisation.(2)

During the lead up to the invasion of Iraq Howard’s now well known ‘preposterous lies’ were manufactured by the ONA.(3) As a result of these lies tens of thousands of innocent people have died.

These few examples barely scratch the surface of the monumental abuse Howard has made of our nation’s intelligence resources in order to pursue his agenda of racism and warmongering in his effort to create a special place for himself in Australian history. However, the only accomplishments Howard has achieved is to succeed in alienating Australia’s good name in the eyes of the peoples of the rest of the world and to show his own callous disregard for the wishes of most Australians by the use of lies, innuendo and implication.

Howard’s place in history is assured – but it is not at all in the light that he has envisaged for himself.

(1) David Marr and Marian Wilkinson, Dark Victory, (Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin, 2003.) pp. 67-68.

(2) Marr and Wilkinson, Dark Victory. pp. 85-87.

(3) Andrew Wilkie, Axis of Deceit: The Story of the Intelligence Officer who Risked All to Tell the Truth About WMD and Iraq, (Melbourne: Black Inc, 2004.) p. 8.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Bob, just because YOU think that legal opinion is flawed, and some hacks on here think it is flawed doesn’t mean it is.

The UNSC has nothing to do with International court, and being a permanent member on the UNSC carries no weight their.

Bob, you can’t just say oh well that’s a tired old argument so it carries not weight. It’s a TRUE STATEMENT. No proceedings have ever been brought, or attempted.

If the war was so illegal why do not one, not two, but THREE democratic nations, who were involved in the war return every government involved in the war, with better majorities on every occasion?

Surely, the citizens of these nations would be so appalled that their government acted illegally, immorally and with total disregard for International law that they would not return them with an increased majority?

Well we know Bob that history tells us the answer to my questions. And before you say it Bob, the masses have not been duped by the media, they understand what they vote for, and they just don’t live in a leftie fantasy world were everyone dances around the fire singing happy songs, holding hands.

Oh and on this Bush quote thing. It has been reported that Abbas has denied the quote. It has also been denied by Abu Mazen.

Fair dinkum Bob, and you accuse me of only going to one source for my info.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

My argument, J. Wilshaw, is not founded just on the minutiae of detail of the tactics and strategies or even the philosophy of professional soldiering but of the immoral use of these soldiers in a war that has nothing to do with Australia. My argument revolves around the morality of war itself, the morality of one nation fighting another nation and killing its peoples for no reason at all other than to ingratiate ourselves with a third nation. And, in the case of Iraq, that third nation also has no moral justification to be fighting a nation that was never a threat to them.

You say: “…I am no armchair general. An armchair general is one who thinks they are qualified to tell the pros how to do their job. I don’t.”

This is not the impression you gave. You used jargon in some of your posts discussing military matters that implied, or at least gave the impression, that you were so qualified.

I have no problem with the existence of Australia’s SAS – as long as they stay in Australia protecting Australia. That is the sole purpose for their existence. They are not a tool for our warmongering and racist Prime Minister to abuse at his bidding.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J Wilshaw: "Bob, just because YOU think that legal opinion is flawed, and some hacks on here think it is flawed doesn’t mean it is."

The overwhelming weight of legal opinion and the view of the UN was that the invasion was illegal. You might recall that even Lord Goldsmith had serious doubts - as has been discussed on WD.

If you wish to repost the legal opinion you proffered in the past I wil gladly show you the fundamental flaws.

"The UNSC has nothing to do with International court, and being a permanent member on the UNSC carries no weight their.

Bob, you can’t just say oh well that’s a tired old argument so it carries not weight. It’s a TRUE STATEMENT. No proceedings have ever been brought, or attempted."

Recall what I wrote:

'given that we are dealing with states in the international system, and that the two main members of the COW are permanent members of the UNSC.'

I was giving you a hint of the intricacies of dealing with a state to state basis. Perhaps you should spend some time researching that issue before responding in a simplistic and somewhat misleading way. It is true that no case has reached trial status but that has been due to the afore-mentioned complexities and international diplomatic considerations. There are moves to take this issue before the courts. And are you going to stand by your claim that:

"No proceedings have ever been brought, or attempted."?

Are you limiting that claim to particular courts or any courts?

The tired old argument is that because the matter has not been before a court then the invasion is legal. See above.

"If the war was so illegal why do not one, not two, but THREE democratic nations, who were involved in the war return every government involved in the war, with better majorities on every occasion?"

What has this got to do with the illegality of the war? A majority of the voting public might not know or might not care if a governement had acted illegally. After all Howard got reelected after the Waterfront Conspiracy.

Perhaps in Australia they were more concerned about interest rates and not the mass murder of foreigners.

The issue re the UK and US has been debated on WD.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Jay White: “Actually it is expected that a person of voting age understands that which they put their mark on (ballet). Similar to a legal contract. It is up to each single person to understand this and not the "mass media" to work it out for them”.

Jay White, you sound absolutely paranoid at the thought of citizens becoming better informed of the consequences of their voting actions.

I think one of the roles of mass media is to help people understand about voting and how any particular way they vote will influence the power structure of their parliament.

The major role of mass media in any society should be to explore and explain all aspects of issues that are in the public interest.

What do you think is the role of mass media?

JW: “No I am quiet happy with the system as it presently is”.

Yes, I understand you are happy with it. But the question is, do you think it is fair?

Do you think a system that allows a party with 47% of the primary vote to have 100% power is fair?

JW: “ Yeah that same "sheep-like voting along party lines" gave good ole Bob Brown a fairly good run did it not?”.

I guess so, but it doesn’t make it right.

What’s the point of responding to a question of ethics with “well, they do it to”?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Well Damian, the use of Military jargon means I am acquainted with Military equipment. If I was offering opinions on tactics and the wars strategic conduct that would make me an armchair general.

The SAS are in Australia protecting Australia. The SAS is formed up in Squadrons. There is right now a squadron in Australia on Counter Terrorism alert. At least One Squadron is always tasked with this, and kept in Australia should the need arise.

“My argument revolves around the morality of war itself”

Nobody wants the damn things, but im not going to get into a discussion on the morality of war. You say you have an issue with the morality of war, then talk about that you want the SAS here to protect us. I would have thought a person who thinks war is immoral, would want no armies?

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

It is good to see that Jay White has returned to WD, after leaving for a while on the grounds that we were all a bunch of pathologically unrepresentative lefties, or something like that. Losing Jay and Noelene in one month could indeed have tipped us over in that direction… ;-)

In Jay's (08/10/2005 11:35:27 AM) post he replied to questions from Kevin De Bonis (08/10/2005 10:51:27 AM):

KDB: "1. why do you think a person has to be a in a cult to discuss issues in terms of morality"?

JW: "One who attempts to put his moral superiority over others generally has a personality disorder in my view. Fertile ground for cult recruitment I think."

Whoa! So nobody has the right to judge any other individual's behaviour as right or wrong? How relativist can you get? I think you may find yourself in a minority on this one, Jay.

JW: "Society collectively decides morals and calls them laws."

BIG confusion here, Jay. "Laws" and "morals" are different for most people. Laws are social, and laid down by authority, morals are personal, and held internally. Much immoral behaviour is not covered by the law. Laws should not specifically allow or prohibit every single action, since then we end up as a stifling totalitarian society with no individuality, variety or freedom of choice. Therefore, there should always be some actions which are within the law, but which are nevertheless antisocial, inconsiderate or hurtful. People should be encouraged, but not forced, not to do such things.

You seem to believe that all "morals" are enforced by external coercive agencies, which are either representatives of government (ie police and the legal system) or non-governmental rivals such as religious/cult groups. Note this in your 08/10/2005 8:56:46 AM post:

JW: " Are you involved in a religion or perhaps a cult? The way you speak of others "morals" and "gullibility" it certainly appears to be the case."

Morals are no more the exclusive province of religion than they are of government, Jay, and while gullibility may be a necessity to stay happy in a cult, it is not confined to members of recognised cults.

Many of us simply don't need the degree of external direction that you regard as a given, Jay.

And "society" does not "collectively decide" even laws, let alone morals. Laws are made by a parliament of delegated and elected individuals who hopefully represent us. At the moment, those individuals at Federal level are dominated by the leader of a part which got less than 50% of the vote, who has an authoritarian style and control of both Houses, and can hence steamroller through anything that he wants. He is using this as an attempt to inflict major changes on Australian society which are harmful to most of us. That is a situation very far from what you describe. But at least, the same laws apply to all of us, except those who are rich and powerful enough to buy their way out of the system, and those powerless enough to be dumped on with impunity.

Even the scope of "morals" vary from individual to individual. I do not accept that other people's sexuality concerns me in any way, for instance, whereas others differ. I do believe that deception, hypocrisy and manipulation are immoral, whereas these obviously do not bother Howard supporters. I'd like to think that most people agree that hurting another is immoral if it is not in self-defence, but then I remember who started the aggression in the Iraq war…

Jay: there is a word for people who believe that anything is OK if it is not expressly illegal. It is "sociopath".

KDB: "2. Why do you consider a person is a sook because they complain about Howard's government?

JW: "This person does not just complain about John Howard. He complains about all the people who support or vote for him and the party he is a member of. A case of not liking the society that he is a member of because it does not see everything the way he would like it."

Howard supporters are a (large) minority in society, not the whole of it. I even know some who I like, personally, so long as we don’t talk politics. But Howard's supporters unleashed him on the rest of us, so they can share his responsibility for everything that he is doing. The Liberal party is a supine rubber stamp for their loony leader, so they can share the blame too, until they get rid of him. The majority will eventually prevail. And the current test of checks and balances in our democracy is giving us lots of ideas for strengthening it in future.

JW: "A young child may register his or her disappointment in finding out this is a fact of life by having a temper tantrum or taking the bat and ball and going home. Children usually learn to accept things don’t always go their way fairly quickly in life.The ones that don’t grow up to be adults and become known as 'sooks'".

I see. So now, it is childish to disagree with Father of the Nation John Howard? I grew out of needing Big Daddy figures a long time ago, so I am not moved by that one. All progress is achieved by dissent.

Your tone is very similar to that of Alan Curran over on 'Introducing the Daily Briefing'. I'll quote what I said to him there Andy Christy(08/10/2005 3:39:08 PM):

Alan: "Look I know you are not happy with the way things are run at the moment, but you are going to have to get used to it."

Andy: "You are not doing yourself any favours, making yourself look so condescending and smug. In a democracy, people have the right to disagree and to work for change, Alan. Even in non-democracies, people have done so against all the odds, right through history, which is how democracy has come to be. Every time one of you anti-democrats tells people to put up or shut up, you are showing contempt for all the people through the ages who have protested, struggled, fought and died for the freedoms that you despise. We'll still be here, a long time after you eat humble pie."

But to return to Jay's 08/10/2005 8:56:46 AM post:

JW: "As I have said before the Howard Government has been a good one at least from my perspective."

You have never enumerated the specific ways in which you have benefited from Howard's rule, Jay. I think that I have asked you before, and I'm asking again. Please list ways in which Howard has made your life better. That's my question for you.

JW: "Perhaps if I were waiting for the Government to control my life with handouts and the nanny state this would not be the case."

Actually, I don't need a nanny any more than I do a father figure. I'd like the government to start butting out of my life, and let me get on with my job and my leisure time without inflicting slights, costs, controls and bureacratic inconveniences, and without taking my civil liberties away. But that is a topic for other threads…

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J. Wilshaw says: “I would have thought a person who thinks war is immoral, would want no armies?”

Quite true, I would prefer a world where there were no requirements for armies – but then you’ve always got people around like Bush, Blair and Howard. One needs an army on home soil to protect oneself from these kinds of people.

You tell us “…the SAS are in Australia protecting Australia”. They are not though are they? They are in Afghanistan and Iraq killing people in their homelands; people who are not any threat to us.

You go on to say: “Nobody wants the damn things [wars]”. But that’s not true. Bush does, Blair does and so does Howard. And, according to all three of them, they are quite happy to continue waging war until they achieve victory. The problem is there will never be victory in this war for either side. It’s the proverbial irresistible force meets immovable object scenario. As I’ve said in an earlier post, the American people have lost the heart to continue the war. They know that Bush lied to them. Support for Bush’s war is down to around 36%. Something catastrophic would have to happen in the US for that to turn around so that the war can be continued. And even then a renewed push to continue would only last until they saw again how futile it all is. You can rest fairly well assured that in the end the American people will tire of the war long before the ‘other side’ does. Meanwhile, more and more people – on both sides – will end up dying for nothing.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

It’s a pity Bush’s God doesn’t tell him to give to the poor!

Starvation threatens 3 million people in Niger and millions more in other impoverished African countries, but a lackluster international response has failed to provide the needed emergency relief. Two experts discuss the problem and possible solutions.

See here

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

J. Wilshaw, you continue with this notion, as do other right-wingers, that because a government that is involved in an immoral and illegal war is returned to office at elections, that the war is justified. It is not. The vast majority of the peoples of the world were and are against the war.

The question with regard to the legality of the Iraq war is being debated. The question of its morality, however, is undisputed; the war was founded on lies and waged deliberately and for ulterior motives which have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of innocent lives. It is this that will, one day in the future, provide the basis for the prosecution of the war criminals George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard who were responsible for the lies that resulted in the invasion, occupation and deaths of so many people.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Andy Christy: "You have never enumerated the specific ways in which you have benefited from Howard's rule, Jay. I think that I have asked you before, and I'm asking again. Please list ways in which Howard has made your life better. That's my question for you".

1. Overhaul of a worn out unfair tax system.

2. Gun control.

3. Freedom to East Timor. No longer the lapdog of Indonesia.

4. Closer relationship with USA. Resulting in a free trade ageement.

5. Death to political correctness.

6. Tax cuts including the cutting in half of capital gains tax.

7. Lowering of unemployment, inflation and interest rates.

8. Cutting to almost zero Government debt freeing up more taxpayer funds for either capital projects or tax cuts.

9. Taking a direct stand on world affairs. One that benefits the Australian population.

10. Cutting the rate of business taxation.

They are some things off the top of my head and not in any particular order of importance. I am sure if I thought about it longer than five minutes I could list a whole lot more.

By the way the Government won the elections fair and under the rules agreed upon before the election.

There is nothing you can say or do that will change that fact.

re: ADF chain of command - accountability v subservience

Jay White, your list enumerating what you consider to be Howard’s achievements demonstrate yet again your own inability to justify the immorality of your hero’s government.

Most of the points you list, for example; 1,2,3,6,7,8 and 10 are all things that any government could have achieved.

Your point 4 however is of concern. You say ‘closer relationship with the USA resulting in the FTA agreement’ but neglect to mention that it has also resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. That is immoral. How is having a closer relationship with the Lying Tyrant Bush and his government a benefit to the peoples of Australia if we have to become involved immorally and illegally with the deaths of so many people in Iraq?

Your point 9: “Taking a direct stand on world affairs. One that benefits the Australian population.” What nonsense! Us taking a stand on ‘world affairs’, far from being of benefit to the ‘Australian population’, has only resulted in more fear mongering and threats and, as Howard would have us believe, put us in great danger (hence the ‘fridge magnets).

As for this: “By the way the Government won the elections fair and under the rules agreed upon before the election.” So what? Does that make Howard’s lies OK somehow? And how was it fair when Howard took advantage of a gullible electorate by telling lies?

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