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Wishy washy, anybody?

By Terence Mills

Usually the interviews on SkyNews are scripted and predictable and if you like that sort of thing then Paul Murray and Andrew Bolt are your men. But Peter Van Onselen on his program refused to allow his conservative guest, Tim Wilson MP – Liberal Member of the Australian Parliament for Goldstein – to dictate the format of the interview.

Van Onselen had invited Tim Wilson on to discuss the same sex marriage shenanigans going on in the coalition and, as a gay man, Wilson’s views would have been quite instructive. But the first question concerning a vote scheduled to take place on Monday, in the Liberal Party room – to be followed by a joint meeting with the Nationals on Tuesday – on the subject of the coalition’s insistence on some sort of Plebiscite, brought the interview to a screaming halt. This is how it went down:

VAN ONSELEN: Thanks very much for your company, do you like the idea of a secret ballot in the party room?

TIM WILSON: Thanks Peter. I said everything I had to say on this issue and I make no plans to make any other comment at this time. I’d rather talk about something else that actually matters to the Australian population – the economy, energy prices, what’s going on with Labor’s tax slug, you pick it, I’m happy to talk about it. I’ve said what I’ve said on this issue.

VAN ONSELEN: Tim Wilson thanks for your company.

TIM WILSON: [Pause] That’s alright, pleasure.

You have to give it to Peter Van Onselen determined to show that it was his program and that he would set the agenda; if only other presenters on Sky would adopt a similar approach rather than pandering to evasive politicians, they would soon get the message that sidestepping questions with scripted responses is not acceptable to the Australian public: looking at you, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison.

Most politicians go through some sort of media training which it seems teaches them to ignore the question asked and to just trot out their own agenda of party political mumbo-jumbo most of which consists of bland statements.

On the subject of marriage equality it goes something like this: “we took this plebiscite to the last election and the Australian people returned us to government and expect us to follow through with the mandate they have given us” or “we believe that the Australian people expect to be asked for their opinion through a plebiscite, that’s how democracy works.” They fail to mention that when they went to the last election they had a majority of nine in the House of Representatives and after the election were returned with a majority of just one: that’s not a mandate! They also conveniently overlook the fact that since 1961 the Marriage Act has had some twenty amendments all of which were dealt with by the parliament and none of which went to a national vote.

Next week it seems we will be told, following the joint party room meeting between the Liberals and Nationals, that a plebiscite on same sex marriage is absolutely essential to our well being as a nation and in all probability Trumble will remain true to form and announce a wishy-washy non-compulsory, non-binding postal vote to appease the Nationals and the right-wing rump of Dutton/Abbott supporters. Why a postal vote? Well, as it means nothing and carries no constitutional or legislative weight, it doesn’t need Senate approval but it does fit nicely into Trumble’s style of ineffectual leadership

The Bank of Crooks

By Dr George Venturini

Heinz Alfred ‘Henry’ Kissinger obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1954. His interest was on Castelreagh and Metternich – two empire builders. He devoted his life to sublimate them.

In an incendiary, studiedly defamatory book the late Christopher Hitchens described him as “a mediocre and opportunist academic [intent on] becoming an international potentate. The signature qualities were there from the inaugural moment: the sycophancy and the duplicity; the power worship and the absence of scruple; the empty trading of old non-friends for new non-friends. And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked. Kissinger’s global career started as it meant to go on. It debauched the American republic and American democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies.”

The story is all here: from the martyrdom of Indochina to becoming the real backchannel to Moscow on behalf of his new client: Donald Trump.

Editor’s note: This outstanding series by Dr Venturini is published bi-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Today we publish Part Eight. Here is the link to Part Seven; Operation Condor.

 

Three years after destroying democracy by instigating the military coup against Allende in Chile in 1973, Kissinger was in Santiago for a meeting of the Organisation of American States. There he met the Argentine Junta’s foreign minister. Kissinger’s main concern, as reported by the U.S. Ambassador in Buenos Aires, was “how long it would take … to clean up the [terrorist] problem.” Kissinger wanted Argentina to finish its terrorist plan before year end. He gave the Argentines the ‘green light’.

The largest cache of information on Operation Condor thus far was found, as already noted, by sheer accident on 22 December 1992 in Paraguay: the ‘terror archives’.

Material declassified in 2004 showed that Secretary Kissinger was briefed on Condor and its ‘murder operations’ on 5 August 1976, in a 14-page report from Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Harry Shlaudeman. “Internationally, the Latin generals look like our guys.” Shlaudeman noted. And he warned: “We are especially identified with Chile. It cannot do us any good.” The connection was clear, and one of Shlaudeman’s deputy later acknowledged that the State Department was ‘remiss’ in its handling of the case. “We knew fairly early on that the governments of the Southern Cone countries were planning, or at least talking about, some assassinations abroad in the summer of 1976. … Whether if we had gone in, we might have prevented this, I do not know.” he stated in reference to the Letelier/Moffitt bombing. “But we did not.”

A C.I.A. document called Condor “a counter-terrorism organization”, and noted that the Condor countries had a specialised telecommunications system named ‘CondorTel.’ A 1978 cable from the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay, Robert White, to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, was published on 6 March 2001 by The New York Times. Ambassador White feared that the U.S. connection to Condor might be publicly revealed at a time when the assassination in the U.S.A. of Chilean former minister Orlando Letelier and his American assistant Ronni Moffitt was being investigated. White cabled that “it would seem advisable to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in US interest.”

Some of the exchange of information included up-date on torture techniques – waterboarding, for example, which was to be made infamous by the Bush Junior Administration, and playing recordings of victims who were being tortured to their families. The existence of such an exchange is another element of evidence suggesting that U.S. military and ‘intelligence’ officials supported and collaborated with Condor as a secret partner or sponsor.

The document which had so much worried Ambassador White was found among 16,000 on the Pinochet regime and its collaboration with the American Administration released on 13 November 2000 by the White House, the Department of State, the C.I.A., the Defense and Justice Departments. The release, which remained selective and still incomplete, was the fourth and final ‘tranche’ of records released under the Clinton Administration’s special Chile Declassification Project.

An article in the Washington Post of 23 March 2000, titled ‘U.S. probe of Pinochet reopened’, returned to the matter of the Letelier assassination.

In May of 1978 the C.I.A.’s National Foreign Assessment Center had issued what purported to be a comprehensive analysis of the Pinochet regime’s responses to being identified as responsible for the most significant act of international terrorism ever committed in the United States – the 21 September 1976 car-bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C. This eight-page assessment, classified secret/sensitive, addressed the impact inside the regime if “proof of Pinochet’s complicity in the Letelier slaying” came to light. At the time, the F.B.I. had identified Pinochet’s secret police, D.I.N.A, as responsible for the crime.

The C.I.A. assessment noted that Pinochet would have a difficult time disassociating himself from D.I.N.A., and its chieftain, Colonel Manuel Contreras. “The former secret police chief is known to have reported directly to the President [Pinochet], who had exclusive responsibility for the organization’s activities.” The report stated that Contreras’ guilt “would be almost certain to implicate Pinochet. … None of the government’s critics and few of its supporters would be willing to swallow claims that Contreras acted without presidential concurrence.”

Under United States pressure, in 1995 Contreras was tried and convicted in Chile. In an affidavit sent to the Chilean Supreme Court in December 1997, he stated that no major D.I.N.A. missions were undertaken without Pinochet’s authorisation.

On 1 February 1999 President Clinton ordered the United States national security agencies to “retrieve and review for declassification documents that shed light on human rights abuses, terrorism, and other acts of political violence in Chile” from 1968-1990. Until then, some 7,500 documents, mostly from the State Department, had been released as part of the Administration’s special ‘Chile Declassification Project.’

In June 1999 the U.S. State Department released thousands of declassified documents showing for the first time that the C.I.A. and the State and Defense Departments were intimately aware of Condor. One Defence Department ‘intelligence’ report, dated 1 October 1976, noted that Latin American military officers boasted about it to their U.S. counterparts. The same report approvingly described Condor’s “joint counterinsurgency operations” which aimed “to eliminate Marxist terrorist activities.”

On 30 June 1999 the National Security Archive, the Center for National Security Studies and Human Rights Watch hailed the release of more than 20,000 pages of U.S. documents on Chile. The records, estimated to total more than 5,300 in number, were declassified pursuant to the 1 February 1999 White House directive.

The Administration’s decision to undertake such a declassification review came in the aftermath of Pinochet’s arrest on 16 October 1998 in London and was prompted by international pressure, requests from Congress, and calls by the families of some of Pinochet’s most famous victims – including those of Charles Horman, Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt.

The 30 June’s release of documents was the first ‘tranche’ covering 1973 through 1978, the Pinochet regime’s bloodiest years of repression. Thousands of other records were expected to be released before the end of 1999.

Representatives of the ‘Center’ and of the ‘Watch’, however, expressed serious concern that the C.I.A. had declassified only a fraction of its secret holdings on operations in Chile. The C.I.A., of course, had the most to offer but also the most to hide, commented the director of the Archive. He pointed to the dearth of documentation on the C.I.A.’s known ‘intelligence’ support for  D.I.N.A. and on Operation Condor.

On 8 October 1999 the U.S. Government released additional 1,100 documents on Chile.  Among them was a declassified State Department report on the case of Charles Horman, the American citizen who was killed by the Chilean military in the days following the coup.  This document was released once before in 1980, pursuant to a lawsuit filed by the Horman family.  At that time, significant portions were blacked-out. The version released on that day revealed what was censored: the State Department’s conclusions that the C.I.A. may have had “an unfortunate part” in Horman’s death.

On 30 June 2000 the U.S. Government released hundreds of formerly secret C.I.A., Defense, State, and Justice Departments, and National Security Council records relating to the deaths of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi. The murders of Horman and Teruggi were later dramatised in the 1982 Costa-Gravas film Missing. Documents on another American, Boris Weisfiler, who disappeared in Chile in 1985, were also released.

The United States provided material support to the military regime after the coup, although criticising it in public. A document released by the C.I.A. on 19 September 2000, titled ‘CIA activities in Chile’, revealed that the C.I.A. actively supported the military Junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet’s officers into paid contacts of the C.I.A. or U.S. military, even though some were known to be involved in human rights abuses. D.I.N.A. Chief Manuel Contreras was a paid asset from 1975 to 1977. The C.I.A.’s official documents state that, at one time, some members of the ‘intelligence’ community recommended making Contreras into a paid contact because of his closeness to Pinochet; the plan was rejected on Contreras’ poor human rights record, but the single payment was made due to ‘miscommunication’. C.I.A. contacts continued with him long after he dispatched his agents to Washington D.C. to assassinate former Letelier and his 25-year old American assistant, Ronni Moffitt.

The National Security Archive called on the U.S. ‘intelligence’ organisations – National Security Agency, C.I.A., Defense Intelligence Agency and other Defense Department bureaux at the U.S. Southern Command – to divulge in full  their files on communications assistance to the military regimes in the Southern Cone. The Archive is still waiting, but C.I.A. censors continue to dictate what Chileans and Americans alike should know about this shameful history.

Kissinger remains a very much sought after person: as will be seen further on, French Judge Roger Le Loire attempted to question him in May 2001 as a witness for alleged U.S. involvement in Operation Condor and for possible U.S. knowledge in connection to the ‘disappearance’ of five French citizens in Chile during the Pinochet regime. In July 2001 Chilean Judge Juan Guzmán obtained the right to question him in connection with the assassination of American journalist Charles Horman. The judge’s questions were relayed to Kissinger through diplomatic routes but were not answered. The request prompted a heated reaction from the Bush Junior’s Administration. An official condemned the Chilean Supreme Court decision to send questions to Kissinger, saying the move increased unease about the then proposed International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Administration source said: “It is unjust and ridiculous that a distinguished servant of this country should be harassed by foreign courts in this way. The danger of the ICC is that, one day, US citizens might face arrest abroad and prosecution as a result of such politically motivated antics.” In August 2001 Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba sent a rogatory letter to the U.S. State Department, requesting a deposition by Kissinger to aid the judge’s investigation of Operation Condor; in September 2001 the family of murdered General Schneider filed a civil suit in Washington, D.C. On 11 September 2001, on the anniversary of the Pinochet coup Chilean human rights filed a criminal case against Kissinger, Pinochet, the Argentine dictator Videla and the former Paraguayan dictator Stroessner; late in 2001 the Brazilian Government cancelled an invitation for Kissinger to speak in São Paulo because it could not guarantee his immunity from judicial action. In 2002 Judge Baltasar Garzón of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional sought to interview Kissinger over what the United States Government knew about Operation Condor. In February 2007 a request for the extradition of Kissinger was filed in the Supreme Court of Uruguay on behalf of Bernardo Arnone, a political activist who was kidnapped, tortured and ‘disappeared’ by the dictatorship as supported by Condor and Kissinger.

Hardly any request has been successful because of the protection afforded by all United States presidents and their administrations to Kissinger.

In addition to the work with his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates Inc., Kissinger acts as some kind of ‘private National Security Adviser and Secretary of State’ to some thirty transnational corporations around the world, such as American Express, ASEA Brown Boveri, Atlantic Richfield, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro – the Rome bank which made illegal loans to Saddam Hussein through the now defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

The ‘Bank of Crooks and Criminals International’ – as it was nicknamed – because it was not squeamish in dealing with disreputable clients and funding to criminals and dictators, frequently handled money for U.S.-supported dictators such as Manuel Noriega and Samuel Doe. Other account holders included the Medellin drug Cartel and Abu Nidal. If ‘legal’ funds were hard to come by, the fraudulent B.C.C.I. was ready; illegal sources served, including so-called ‘Arab’ money siphoned through the courtesy of links between Bush Senior, the Saudi royal family and the Bin Laden family.

The C.I.A. held numerous accounts at B.C.C.I. These bank accounts were used for a variety of illegal covert operations, including transfers of money and weapons related to the Iran Contra scandal. During the Reagan Administration the C.I.A. also worked with B.C.C.I. in arming and financing the Afghan mujahideen for the Afghan war against the Soviet Union in the days when Osama Bin Laden was a U.S. hero, using B.C.C.I. to launder proceeds from trafficking heroin grown in the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands, boosting the flow of narcotics to European and U.S. markets. At least two former C.I.A. directors, Richard Helms and William Casey were involved in B.C.C.I. before it folded following revelations that it laundered money for the Medellin drugs Cartel.

For the past thirty years other private benefactors of Kissinger have been Chase Manhattan Bank, Coca-Cola, Fiat, Fluor, Freeport-McMoRan Minerals, Heinz, Hunt Oil, Merck & Co., Shearson Lehman Hutton, Union Carbide, Volvo and Warburg.

In a 1 February 2011 interview Henry Kissinger Nobel Peace Prize 1973 was anxious to praise 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Barack Obama for his foreign policy. He had already said, long before the inauguration of President Obama in January 2009, that Obama’s coming into office could give new impetus to United States foreign policy, partly because “the reception of him is so extraordinary around the world.” Kissinger spoke like an oracle when he said that “[President Obama’s] task will be to develop an overall strategy for America in this period when really a New World Order can be created. It’s a great opportunity … ” and  “[the President]  can help usher in the New World Order.”   But what kind of New World Order ? Friendly Fascism ? Or of the kind which organised Operation Menu – a Nixon-Kissinger innocuous name for the ‘secret’ bombing of Cambodia in early 1970, and the ‘not so secret’ invasion of Laos in 1969-1973?

Among the thousands upon thousands who fell victims of Condor and of the Pinochet regime were not only Chileans – prominent among them Victor Olea Alegria, a Socialist ‘disappeared’ by Manuel Contreras; William Beausire, a Chilean/British businessman abducted at the Buenos Aires Airport and brought to ‘Villa Grimaldi’ a notorious torture centre in Santiago and then ‘disappeared’; the already mentioned Orlando Letelier murdered in Washington with his assistant Ronnie Moffitt; and General Carlos Prats – but also citizens of other South American countries.

Martín Almadá, a Paraguayan educator, was imprisoned in 1974, nearly tortured to death, and kept in prison for about three and a half years. His wife was killed; Sheila Cassidy a British born but Australian educated physician was tortured but survived to tell the story: Sheila Cassidy, Audacity to believe (Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, London 2011); two Cuban diplomats in Argentina, Crecencio Galañega Hernández and Jesús Cejas Arias transited through ‘Orletti’ detention and torture centre in Buenos Aires, were questioned by D.I.N.A. and S.I.D.E., with the knowledge of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. and subsequently ‘disappeared’; Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, former Uruguayan deputies, were assassinated in Buenos Aires; Juan José Torres, former Bolivian president was assassinated in Buenos Aires; Jorge Zaffaroni and Maria Emilia Islas de Zaffaroni ‘disappeared’ in Buenos Aires.

Attempts were made on the life of Andrés Pascal Allende, nephew of Salvador Allende, in Costa Rica; of Carlos Altamirano a Chilean Socialist leader, and of Volodia Teitelboim, a Chilean Communist, in Mexico; and on the life of Emilio Aragonés, the Cuban Ambassador in Buenos Aires.

Former U.S. Congressman Edward Koch became aware in 2001 of relations between 1970s threats on his life and Operation Condor. Christian-Democrat and former President of Chile from 1964 to 1970 Eduardo Frei might have been poisoned in the early 1980s.

Ingrid Dagmar Hagelin, an Argentine/Swedish, was only 17 when she was abducted by a military command former naval officer and then ‘disappeared’. The event generated international outrage which almost led to the breaking of diplomatic relations between Sweden and Argentina.

Four French citizens fell victim of Pinochet. They were:

–  Alfonso Chanfreau, a member of the Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionaria – Revolutionary Left-wing Movement, M.I.R. On 30 July 1974 he was arrested by the D.I.N.A. His wife Erika was also arrested the next morning “so that her husband would talk.” Imprisoned for 15 days at a torture centre in the middle of Santiago, the couple were brutally tortured. Erika was transferred to other detention centres and then expelled to France with their daughter Natalia. Alfonso Chanfreau was transferred on 13 August 1974 to the ‘Villa Grimaldi’ where his legs were crushed with a vehicle, before being taken back to the previous torture centre. He ‘disappeared’ afterwards.

–  Jean-Yves Claudet was a member of M.I.R. in charge of international relations.  Arrested on two occasions in 1973, he remained in detention for one year. On his release he was taken to the French Embassy and put on a flight to France. From France, Claudet helped to set up a M.I.R. cell in Argentina. He went to Buenos Aires on 30 October 1975. He was arrested on 1 November 1975 by agents of the Argentine secret police S.I.D.E., in the framework of Operation Condor. A D.I.N.A. representative in Buenos Aires, in a memorandum addressed to his superiors, subsequently informed them that Jean-Yves Claudet “Ya no existe” – no longer exists.

–  George Klein was an advisor to President Allende. He was by the side of Allende when La Moneda was bombed. On 13 September he was taken away with twenty other persons in a dumper lorry and ‘disappeared’. Evidence collected during the investigation of the case relates that he might have been taken to the Peldehue grounds, where he was killed by machine gun fire.

–  Étienne Pesle was in charge of land reform at the Institute for the Development of Agriculture and Fishing in Temuco. He was arrested there on 12 September, released and rearrested on 19 September 1973. He ‘disappeared’ from that day; it was reported that he had been killed and then dumped into the sea.

Argentine poet Juan Gelman was tortured but his son and daughter were ‘disappeared’. Gelman survived to seek redress from Spanish justice.

Bernardo Leighton, a Chilean Christian Democrat was targeted by Operation Condor. According to C.I.A. documents released by the National Security Archive, in 1975 in Madrid, Italian terrorist connected with ‘Gladio’ Stefano Delle Chiaie met with D.I.N.A. agent Michael Townley and Cuban Virgilio Paz Romero to prepare, with the help of  Franco’s secret police, the murder of Leighton. He and his wife were later severely injured by gunshots while in exile in Rome.

Carmelo Soria, a Spanish born Chilean diplomat and a member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1970s, was assassinated by D.I.N.A. agents as a part of Operation Condor. Pinochet will be personally indicted in this case.

The international prosecutions of human rights crimes of the military governments of the Southern Cone began in 1976, with cases brought in Spain, Argentina, Italy, and Chile against the leaders of Operation Condor. The foremost example is the Spanish case against Pinochet starting in 1996. Spain charged that the leaders of Chile and Argentina had committed human rights crimes as part of a criminal syndicate which financed their terrorist activities with the national budget, and whose victims included many Spaniards and also tens of thousands of citizens of other countries, who were kidnapped, detained, assassinated or ‘disappeared’ in actions committed in many states of America and Europe. In Argentina the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons, formed in 1983, began investigating Condor-related human rights abuses.

Next installment Wednesday: Pinochet: the dictator of death.

Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini, formerly an avvocato at the Court of Appeal of Bologna, devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reach at  George.Venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

Suitable Company: Trump, Turnbull and Refugees

By Binoy Kampmark

“I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would never have made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it.” (Donald J. Trump to Malcolm Turnbull, Jan 28, 2017).

It acts as a Rorschach test on policy making in the United States, upon which we can project a range of quizzed perceptions and feather headed notions. And it took a conversation between Donald Trump of the United States and Malcolm Turnbull of Australia to realise how cruelty can become sovereign in the age of the reality television mogul.

The first part of the January chat was the sort of terrain Trump felt most comfortable on. There were the congratulations, and then the personal touches. “And I guess our friend Greg Norman, he is doing very well?”

Then the temperature begins to rise, approaching boiling point, notably on the proposed Obama-Turnbull refugee swap between the US and Australia. “Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground.”

The crucified here, as they have been for a good decade in these matters, were refugees. Trump was in a banning mood and throwing food to the anti-immigration lobby. Ban Muslims from travelling; strike countries off the list of suitable providers for arrivals to the US. “We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here.”

Trump’s interest, as ever, was why the US should abide by arrangement to begin with. He insisted on calling it “rotten”, “stupid” and “ridiculous”. By going through with such an arrangement, “I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.”

There were also points of bafflement for the new arrival to the White House. What was, inquired Trump, this mania about boat arrivals? “Why do you discriminate against boats?” Presumably it was the regions producing such refugees. “No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.”

Turnbull ventured his reasons, ones that have become the blood-dry rationale for a ruthless policy that, in its application, is erroneous and dangerous. “The problem with boats is that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea.”

“Suppose,” inquired Trump on a phone call that has now been minted in infamy, “I vet them closely and I do not take any?” Turnbull then clarifies the posturing element in the show:  “That is the point I have been trying to make.” It would not matter if they were not accepted into the United States, as long as it was understood that Australia could never have them. “The obligation,” explained Turnbull, “is only to go through the process.”

What of the quality of the people in question?  “It is not because [the refugees] are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers we had to deprive them of the product.” This supreme commodification, this reduction of the historical legacy of shuffling and moving desperate human “cargo” across borders to flee desperate conditions, is one of the more striking points in the conversation. Damn the ethics and the rights, and observe the transaction. Forget the credentials.

Indeed, even if there was a “Nobel Prize-winning genius” who arrived by boat, he would not find home in Australia. This point by Turnbull is near staggering, suggesting more than a minor case of philistinism. (A future advertisement: Nobel Prize-winner fleeing persecution heading to Australia by boat never to settle in the country).

In what can only be described as a perverse turn, Trump then praises Turnbull and Australia’s refugee policy. To deny even the most gifted because of the means they travel to a country was sound stuff. “That’s a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.”

Turnbull’s own picture of the refugee situation remains as formed as any reactionary.  Rather than being tormented and tortured in what Trump himself called prisons (Nauru and Manus Island), these “are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

The impression here is that they would have been let in if appropriately matched to the refugee criteria. But the point is clear enough: the form of arrival determines everything.  “If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa they would be here.” Almost obscenely, Turnbull suggests that economic migrants are permitted to stay in Australia, provided they take the plane.

The prime minister attempted, at points, to be suitably obsequious, insisting that a generous exchange was being offered. Surely the United States had its own share of the unwanted which Australia might assist in processing? “We will take more. We will take anyone that you want us to take.” Just, of course, keep in mind that iron-clad caveat: “The only people that we do not take are people who come by boat.”

Some in the Australian press corps have claimed that Turnbull came out better in this scuffle. That’s hardly saying much. One leader was transactional, procedural and indifferent to international law; the other was indifferent to the very fact that his administration was bound by anything that had been done by the Obama administration. Ultimately, both leaders were obsessed by the same thing: appearances are everything.

Dr Binoy Kampmark is a senior lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University. He was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. He is a contributing editor to CounterPunch and can be followed on Twitter at @bkampmark.

 

How to keep the bastards honest

By Bob Rafto

The political parties are incorporated businesses which makes them subject to the laws of the ACCC.

A political party is an organisation that offers a service of governing the country and a selection of candidates of that party are put forward to win the contract of governing, being a 3 year term.

There is a mystique around political parties that is mired in BS and spin that elected candidates of the parties can mislead and deceive the people who awarded them the contract at will.

Statutory definition of misleading and deceptive conduct.

a person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive”.

As a case study, if one looks at the statements made by Abbott prior to the 2013 election, he publicly stated that there would be no cuts to Health and Education.

The 2014 budget included cuts to Health and Education.

This is a clear case of Misleading and Deceptive Conduct which was evidenced by the major public backlash to the cuts. Mr Abbott knew the only way to get the people’s contract was by deception. This is a serious breach of the ACCC law and the LNP would have incurred a substantial penalty, however, I’m of the view it was deliberate fraud and should have been dealt in the criminal court.

Representations as to future matters

A representation that something will occur in the future may be misleading and deceptive conduct if the person making the representation does not have reasonable grounds for making the representation.[15] Representations to the effect that:

  • a loan will be repaid with interest,[16] or
  • that changes in government spending will positively affect the business,[17]

have been held to constitute misleading and deceptive conduct as to future matters.

Another case study that should be examined.

It has been claimed continuously by the LNP that the Adani mine will create 10,000 jobs, even though a representative of Adani stated only 1,400 jobs would be created. Again, this is a misleading statement designed to deceive to procure a $1 billion loan to Adani being against the people’s wishes.

I’m sure there are enough case studies generated by the LNP to keep the ACCC busy for years, however, any organization that is incorporated that operates in the political arena are also subject to the ACCC laws, such as unions and lobby groups.

The people have had a gut full of being misled and it shows in the polls.

A single complaint to the ACCC won’t cut it. It will be ignored. It will take an estimated 50,000 names and signatures.

This hasn’t been tried before but it would be interesting to see how the ACCC would react to receiving 50,000 complaints, or would political pressure be applied to the ACCC to fend off the complaints with spin. Insufficient evidence is the most common spin offered by the cops.

Before you dismiss me as looney – although I do admit of having bouts of it infrequently normally around the full moon – I researched planning legislation, TPA and the criminal law on and off for 2 years.

I was sick and tired of expensive property lawyers and I came across a statute that enabled me to sue the BCC for $2.2 million for damages … a statute that had never been used before, no precedent anywhere, and it was watertight.

I took it all the way up to the High Court representing myself for a cost of around $5K and they weren’t going to allow me to win because of the scandal that would have erupted in ‘why the Council had to pay out a $2M sum’ and in no doubt would have seen the jailing of Campbell Newman, the BCC CEO and 2 planners plus others. It was a conspiracy by the Bligh Govt, Newman’s Council, the police, the CMC and the Queensland Ombudsman to pervert the course of justice on a grand scale, and covering up extortion and fraudulent certificates. And if one reads the court transcripts they will reveal the corrupt decisions of the judges.

Just to give a taste of the court of appeal transcript: Supreme Court Judge admits that a court registrar attempted to stand over me to withdraw my claim but it was of no consequence as he was dismissing my claim. And dismissing a crime as well. I also caught out a Council solicitor for perjury and the judge turned a blind eye to that and it’s all in the transcripts.

From my experience I believe that my ACCC argument has legs and the capacity of keeping the bastards honest.

Operation Condor

By Dr George Venturini

Heinz Alfred ‘Henry’ Kissinger obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1954. His interest was on Castelreagh and Metternich – two empire builders. He devoted his life to sublimate them.

In an incendiary, studiedly defamatory book the late Christopher Hitchens described him as “a mediocre and opportunist academic [intent on] becoming an international potentate. The signature qualities were there from the inaugural moment: the sycophancy and the duplicity; the power worship and the absence of scruple; the empty trading of old non-friends for new non-friends. And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked. Kissinger’s global career started as it meant to go on. It debauched the American republic and American democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies.”

The story is all here: from the martyrdom of Indochina to becoming the real backchannel to Moscow on behalf of his new client: Donald Trump.

Editor’s note: This outstanding series by Dr Venturini is published bi-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Today we publish Part Seven. Here is the link to Part Six; War criminal?

During the 1950s and 1960s, the United States put forward a variety of programmes and strategies ranging from funding political campaigns to funding propaganda aimed at laying down the necessary conditions to prevent Allende’s accession to the presidency. Throughout this time the United States successfully impeded the Left-wing parties from gaining power. In 1958 Jorge Alessandri, a nominally independent with support from the Rightist Liberal and Conservative Parties, defeated Allende by nearly 33,500 votes to claim the presidency. His laissez-faire policies, highly endorsed by the United States, were regarded as the solution to the country’s inflation problems. Under recommendations from the United States, Alessandri steadily reduced tariffs from 1959, a policy which caused the Chilean market to be overwhelmed by American products. The government’s policies angered the working class who asked for higher wages, and the repercussions of this massive discontent were felt in the 1961 congressional elections. President Alessandri suffered terrible blows which sent the message that laissez-faire policies were not the desired way. As the grand total of US$ 130 million from the U.S. banking industry, the U.S. Treasury Department, the International Monetary Fund and other international organisations accepted by Alessandri illustrates, laissez-faire policies only made Chile more dependent on the United States.

When Allende appeared as a top contender in the 1964 election, the C.I.A. spent three million dollars campaigning against him, in an effort to influence the outcome of the election, mostly through radio and print advertising. The American Administration viewed electing the contender, Eduardo Frei, as a must since they feared that because of Alessandri’s failures the electorate would turn to Allende as the solution. Allende had long been feared by the American Administration because of his warm relation with Cuba and his open criticism of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. Furthermore, more clandestine aid to Frei was put forward through President Kennedy’s ‘Alliance for Progress’ programme which promised “20 billion in public and private assistance in the country for the next decade.” In direct terms the United States contributed to the campaign with 20 million dollars but they also sent in about 100 people with assigned tasks to prevent Allende’s victory. In order to influence public opinion the C.I.A. also made use of massive propaganda in the radio, television, posters, wall paintings, pamphlets with the goal of connecting ‘Communist atrocities’ with Allende. In the end the mobilisation of the American business sector in Chile, the aid of the C.I.A. and that of the American Government helped Frei’s campaign win with a clear majority over Allende.

Condor was one of the fruits of this continuing effort. The targets were officially armed groups – such as the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria – Revolutionary Left Movement, M.I.R. a Chilean political party and former Left-wing guerrilla organisation founded on 12 October 1965, the Movimiento Peronista Montonero – Montoneros, an Argentine Peronist urban guerrilla group, active during the 1960s and 1970s, the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo – People’s Revolutionary Army, E.R.P. which operated across the borders in several of South American states, the Movimiento de Liberación Nacional – National Liberation Movement, also known as the Tupamaros, an urban guerrilla organisation in Uruguay in the 1960s and 1970s – but in fact included all kinds of political opponents, their families and others. The Argentine ‘dirty war’, for example, which resulted in approximately 30,000 victims according to most estimates, targeted many trade-unionists, relatives of activists, and others.

Within the Operation Condor the Chilean-destabilisation strategy, presided over in detail by Kissinger, developed into a series of programmes called ‘Track 1’ and ‘Track 2’. They represented two approaches of the U.S. Administration to fighting Allende. ‘Track 1’ was a State Department initiative designed to thwart Allende by subverting Chilean elected officials within the bounds of the Chilean Constitution and excluded the C.I.A. ‘Track 1’ expanded to encompass a number of policies, the ultimate goal of which was to create the conditions which would encourage a coup. ‘Track 2’ was the C.I.A. operation overseen by Kissinger and C.I.A.’s Deputy Director of Plans, Thomas Karamessines. ‘Track 2’ excluded the State Department and Department of Defence. The goal of ‘Track 2’ was to find and support Chilean military officers who would support a coup.

Along the lines of ‘Track 2’, Kissinger prepared ‘Memorandum 93’, dated 9 November 1970, which summarises the presidential decisions regarding changes in U.S. policy towards Chile following Allende’s election. Kissinger sent it to the Secretaries of State and Defense, and to the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and the Director of Central Intelligence. The memorandum directs U.S. agencies to adopt a “cool” posture towards Allende’s government, in order to prevent his consolidation of power and “limit [his] ability to implement policies contrary to U.S. and hemisphere interests.” The memorandum states that existing U.S. assistance and investments in Chile should be reduced, and no new commitments undertaken. Furthermore – according to Kissinger’s memorandum – “close relations” should be established and maintained with military leaders throughout Latin America to facilitate coordination of pressure and other opposition efforts.

By 18 November 1970 the C.I.A. was able to present a summary of its efforts between 15 September and 3 November 1970 to prevent Allende’s ratification as president and to foment a coup in Chile – according to both ‘Track 1’ and ‘Track 2’. The summary details the composition of the Task Force, headed by David Atlee Phillips, the team of covert operatives “inserted individually into Chile,” and their contacts with Colonel Paul Winert, the U.S. Army Attaché detailed to the C.I.A. for the operation. It reviews the propaganda operations designed to press President Frei to support “a military coup which would prevent Allende from taking office on 3 November.”

After all manoeuvres failed, and Allende was confirmed, as a declassified memorandum dated 4 December 1970 revealed, in response to a 27 November directive from Kissinger, an inter-agency Ad Hoc Working Group on Chile prepared a set of strategy papers covering a range of possible sanctions and pressures against the new Allende Government. These included a possible diplomatic effort to force Chile to withdraw – and if necessary to be expelled – from the Organisation of American States as well as consultations with other Latin American countries “to promote their sharing of our concern over Chile.” The documents show that the Nixon Administration did engage in an invisible economic blockade against Allende, intervening at the World Bank, at the Inter-American Development Bank, and at the Export-Import Bank to curtail or terminate credits and loans to Chile before Allende had been in office for a month.

The evidence of such ‘policy’ and much criminal activity only came to light with the work and subsequent publication in 1975-1976 of the many-volume Report of the The Church Committee – the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, presided by Senator Frank Church. According to the Report, covert United States involvement in Chile in the decade between 1963 and 1973 was extensive and continuous. The C.I.A. spent eight million dollars in the three years between 1970 and the military coup in September 1973, with over three million in 1972 alone. Covert C.I.A.’s activity was present in almost every major election in Chile in the decade between 1963 and 1973, but its actual effect on electoral outcomes is not altogether clear. Chile, more than any of its South American neighbours, had an extensive democratic tradition dating back to the early 1930s, and even before. Because of this, it is difficult to gauge how successful C.I.A. tactics were in swaying voters.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests, and other avenues of declassification, the National Security Archive has been able to compile a collection of declassified records which shed light on events in Chile between 1970 and 1976. These documents include:

1) Cables written by U.S. Ambassador Korry after Allende’s election, detailing conversations with President Frei on how to block the president-elect from being inaugurated. The cables contain detailed descriptions and opinions on the various political forces in Chile, including the Chilean military, the Christian Democrat Party, and the U.S. business community.

2) C.I.A. memoranda and reports on ‘Project Fubelt’ – the codename for covert operations to promote a military coup and undermine Allende’s Government. The documents, including minutes of meetings between Kissinger and C.I.A. officials, C.I.A. cables to its Santiago station, and summaries of covert action in 1970, provide a clear paper trail to the decisions and operations against Allende’s Government.

3) National Security Council strategy papers which record efforts ‘to destabilise’ Chile economically, and isolate Allende’s Government diplomatically, between 1970 and 1973.

4) State Department and N.S.C. memoranda and cables after the coup, providing evidence of human rights atrocities under the military regime led by General Pinochet.

5) F.B.I. documents on Operation Condor – the state-sponsored terrorism of the Chilean secret police, D.I.N.A. The documents, including summaries of prison letters written by D.I.N.A. agent Michael Townley, provide evidence on the car-bombing assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C., and on the murder of Chilean General Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires, amongst other operations.

These documents, and many thousands of other C.I.A., National Security Council and Defense Department records which are still classified secret, remain relevant to ongoing human rights investigations in Chile, Spain and other countries, and unresolved acts of international terrorism conducted by the Chilean secret police. Eventually, international pressure, and concerted use of the U.S. laws on declassification may force more of the still-buried record into the public domain – providing evidence for future judicial, and historical accountability.

All the documents are, expectedly, heavily redacted, including one which was prepared in August-September 1973 by the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency with biographical data on Pinochet. The heavy deletions are likely to conceal Chilean sources providing information on Pinochet, his own contacts with U.S. officials, and commentary on his character, reputation, political orientation and actions during his career.

Within nine months of his confirmation Allende nationalised the copper industry, the banks and other large industries, at the same time beginning land distribution. ‘Social spending’ – for health, education, housing and family assistance – almost doubled immediately. The Allende Government introduced ‘administrative prices’ and increased industrial wages. External boycotts and other adverse measures brought an increase in trade deficit. Exports fell and import grew to almost double. Wage increase and increased spending brought about a serious inflation, and called for protests of the usual malcontent among the people.

Against an attempt to set up a national transportation industry, a group of truckers went on strike, and this in itself caused other strikes. The year after his election Allende was battling a large inflation and a growing black market. By this time the Nixon ‘policy’ was beginning to work. Soon, small-scale businessmen, some professional unions, and student groups joined the strike. Then strikes started to spread. Industrialists sabotaged production. No one could explain how Chilean credit was suddenly cut off in international markets. Loans were suspended. The C.I.A. financed strategic strikes – doctors, bank clerks, a very long truck drivers’ strike. Conservative newspapers conducted a non-stop vicious disinformation campaign.

To appease the rich and the powerful, behind whom the C.I.A. was continuously working, Allende called into the cabinet a Right-wing military: General Carlos Prats, who had succeeded Schneider. Prats was a Right-winger but refused to join a military conspiracy against the President.

At the March 1973 parliamentary elections, Allende’s Popular Unity coalition increased its vote to 43.2 per cent, but by then the informal alliance with the Christian Democrats – the centrists – had ended, and they joined the opposition with the Right-wing National Party. Parliamentary conflict between the legislative and the executive branches paralysed the functions of  government. At this point the C.I.A. intervened more determinately with large financial support for the opposition parties, thus succeeding in generating pressures, exploiting weaknesses, and magnifying obstacles. There were coup rehearsals. A coup failed at the end of June 1973, and was followed by a general strike in July and an even more ominous one at the copper mines.

Much more seriously, on 26 May 1973 the Supreme Court had unanimously denounced the Allende Government disruption of the legality of the nation in its failure to uphold judicial decisions, and in August 1973 the Court publicly complained that the Government was unable to enforce the law of the land, and on 22 August the opposition in the Chamber of Deputies accused the Government of unconstitutional acts and called upon the military to enforce constitutional order.

On 24 August 1973 General Prats was involved in a puny but public incident whereupon he felt it necessary to hand in his resignation. Allende at first refused to accept it. Prats was forced by huge adverse publicity to insist, and Allende to accept. His resignation as Army Commander-in-Chief removed the last obstacle for the Chilean coup of 1973. General Augusto Pinochet replaced him as Army Commander-in-Chief the same day. In late August 1973, 100,000 Chilean women congregated at Plaza de la Constitución to vent their rage against the rising cost and increasing shortages of food, but they were dispersed with tear gas.

Early in the morning of 11 September 1973 the Chilean Navy occupied Valparaiso, seized the port and closed down the radio and television stations. The President went immediately to La Moneda, the presidential palace, but by 8.00 a.m. the Army had revolted and closed most radio and television stations in Santiago. The Air Force bombed the other stations.

The President had received incomplete information, and was convinced that only a sector of the Navy conspired against him and his government. President Allende and Defence Minister Orlando Letelier became unable to communicate with military leaders. The heads of the three Forces refused to return the calls from the President. When Letelier arrived at the Ministry of Defence he was arrested – the first prisoner of the coup d’état.

Despite evidence that all branches of the Chilean Armed Forces were involved in the coup, President Allende was so convinced of General Pinochet’s loyalty that, only at 8:30 a.m., when the Armed Forces proclaimed their control of Chile, and that President Allende was deposed, did he appreciate the extent of the coup. Allende refused to resign. He also refused to surrender, even under the threat by the military that they would bomb La Moneda if he resisted.

By 9.00 a.m. the Armed Forces controlled Chile, except for the centre of the capital, Santiago. Colleagues in the Socialist Party offered to Allende refuge in the San Joaquín industrial zone in southern Santiago, from which he could have led a counter-coup. But Allende refused. He refused to entertain advances from some of the military, and in one last potent farewell speech from a remaining free station explained to the nation why he would not resign but keep his oath of loyalty to the Constitution and Chile.

Pinochet ordered an assault on La Moneda, and the Air Force Commander called in a strike by planes. The President’s personal guard met the assault with armed resistance, and four aircraft bombed La Moneda all but destroying it. Resistance lasted until mid-afternoon and Allende suicided. Incidentally, at exactly the same time Kissinger was going through his own Senate confirmation process as Secretary of State. He falsely assured the Foreign Relations Committee that the United States government had played no part in the coup.

About sixty persons lost their life in the initial battle. Thousands would die during the seventeen years of the Pinochet regime.

The worst of the military’s violent purging from society of thousands of Chilean Leftists, both real and suspected – by killing or forced ‘disappearance’ – occurred in the first months after the coup. The military imprisoned 40,000 of their political enemies in the National Stadium of Chile; among the tortured and killed ‘desaparecidos’ were two U.S. citizens: Charles Horman, and Frank Teruggi.

Some 130,000 people were arrested in a three-year period; the dead and ‘disappeared’ numbered thousands in the first months of the military Junta. They included persons from several countries – and many from Spain. Political prisoners were held in stadiums, navy ships, military bases, police stations and remote buildings. They all served as detention and many as torture centres – altogether more than 1,130. Now, some of these former secret detention and torture centres are being transformed into memorials and museums, so Chileans can remember the horrors of military dictatorship – of Nixon, and Kissinger, from 11 September 1973 to 11 March 1990. In that time up to 2,700 persons were ‘disappeared’.

After Pinochet lost the ‘election’ in the 1988 plebiscite, the Rettig Commission – officially ‘The National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation’, named after a former Ambassador of President Allende – in February 1991 submitted its Report on human rights abuses. The Report ascertained that 2,279 persons were killed for political reasons. In 641 cases the Commission could not conclusively determine that the person was killed for political reasons. It found that 508 cases were beyond its mandate, and that in 449 cases no information beyond the name of a ‘disappeared’ person could be determined.

Later the Valech Commission – officially ‘The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture Commission’ – submitted two Reports: one in November 2004 and another in June 2005. They confirmed the number as less than 3,000 killed and reduced the number of cases of forced disappearance; some 28,000 people were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. Testimony gathered by the Commission from almost 36,000 people – some 27,000 relied upon – were to be kept secret for the next fifty years. Therefore, it cannot be used in trials concerning human rights violations, in contrast to the ‘Archives of terror’ found in Paraguay and those concerning Operation Condor.

A document written on 1 October 1973, shortly after the coup, by the U.S. Naval Attaché based in Valparaiso reports positively on events in Chile during the coup. He characterises “September 11” as “our D-Day” and states that “Chile’s coup de etat [sic] was close to perfect.” The report provides details on Chilean military operations during and after the coup, as well as glowing commentary on the character of the new regime.

U.S. Ambassador Davidow was a political adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Chile from 1971 to 1974. In Santiago he was an Embassy insider when the C.I.A. and the D.I.N.A. were organising the assassination gang which later murdered leading Chilean opposition figures, Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires and Orlando Letelier in Washington.

A memorandum dated 16 November 1973, sent by the Assistant Secretary of State for InterAmerican Affairs to Secretary of State Kissinger, reports that summary executions in the nineteen days following the coup totalled 320 – more than three times the publicly acknowledged figure. The report also contained information on new economic assistance just authorised by the Nixon Administration. The memorandum also provided a ‘fact sheet on human rights in Chile’, with extensive details on the number of persons arrested between 11.09.1973 and 15.11.1973: 13,500, with the breakdown of persons originally arrested, detained in the National Stadium in Santiago, released, detained, killed while attempting to escape, provided with safe-conducts, departed from Chile and dead.

Two American citizens had been listed as “dead since the coup” by the previous report. They were Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, and they had been executed by the military after the coup. The murders were the subject matter of a telegramme 11 February 1974, written by Ambassador to Chile David Popper in Santiago and directed to Secretary of State Kissinger. The telegramme reported on a meeting between the Assistant Secretary and the Junta Foreign Minister, General Huerta. The Assistant Secretary had raised the matter “in the context of the need to be careful to keep relatively small issues in our relationship from making our cooperation more difficult.”

A heavily excised 15 April 1975 Intelligence Report from the Defense Attaché in Santiago describes the growth of D.I.N.A., “the sole responsible agency for internal subversive matters.” It is possible to surmise that many of the excised portions provide details about the strained relations between D.I.N.A. and the Chilean Armed Forces because of D.I.N.A.’s exclusive power. The report states that the head of D.I.N.A., Colonel Manuel Contreras, “has reported exclusively to, and received orders only from, President Pinochet.”

The U.S. Government sponsored and collaborated with D.I.N.A. and with the other ‘intelligence’ organisations forming the nucleus of Condor, despite the fact that the military dictatorships were killing and torturing tens of thousands of people. C.I.A. documents show that the C.I.A. had close contact with members of D.I.N.A., and its chief Manuel Contreras. Contreras was retained as a paid C.I.A. contact until 1977, even as his involvement in the Letelier-Moffit assassination was being revealed.

A declassified letter dated 6 June 1975, over the signature of the Legal Affairs Attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, and directed to General Baeza, Director General of Investigations in Santiago provides intelligence obtained through the interrogation of a captured Chilean leftist, Jorge Isaac Fuentes. The document records U.S. collaboration with Chile’s security forces, including the promise of surveillance of subjects inside the United States. Fuentes was detained through Operation Condor. It has been established that the F.B.I. aided Pinochet in capturing Fuentes, who was detained and tortured in Paraguay, then turned over to the Chilean secret police and ‘disappeared.’ Astonishingly, the surveillance of Latin American dissident refugees in the United States was promised to Condor figures by American ‘intelligence’.

A 1 July 1975 memorandum is among the declassified documents. It was written by a senior member of the National Security Council to President Ford’s National Security Advisor, General Brent Scowcroft, and conveys concern about wavering U.S. policy towards Chile in light of reports of human rights violations. The memorandum reveals a division within the U.S. Embassy over dealing with Chile, with a number of officials believing that all U.S. military and economic assistance should be terminated until the regime’s human rights record improved. According to the sender, by reducing aid and sending “mixed signals” to the Chileans, the United States could risk precipitating a crisis situation in Chile. The sender concludes his memorandum by recommending that Scowcroft schedule a special meeting in which U.S. agencies can “clarify guidelines for future policy.”

A subsequent memorandum 8 August 1975, by the same senior officer of the National Security Council, calls Scowcroft’s attention to Pinochet’s plans to visit the United States, and his requested meeting with President Ford. The memorandum states that the N.S.C. asked the U.S. Ambassador to Chile, David Popper, to discourage the meeting by telling the Chileans that President Ford’s schedule is full. Fearing that such a visit would “stimulate criticism” and foster embarrassment, the writer suggests an “informal talk” with Chile’s Ambassador Trucco.

Operation Condor was at its peak in 1976. Chilean exiles in Argentina were threatened again, and again had to go underground or into exile. Chilean General Carlos Prats had already been assassinated by the Chilean D.I.N.A. in Buenos Aires in 1974, with the help of former C.I.A. agent Michael Townley. President Gerald Ford publicly admitted in 1974 that the C.I.A. had covertly operated in Chile.

A declassified cable, dated 28 September 1976, and originating from the Legal Affairs Attaché in Buenos Aires, summarises intelligence information provided by a “confidential source abroad” about Operation Condor. The cable reports that Chile is the centre of Operation Condor, and provides information about “special teams” which travel “anywhere in the world … to carry out sanctions up to assassination against terrorists or supporters of terrorist organizations.” Several sections relating to these special teams have been excised. The cable suggests that the assassination of the Chilean Ambassador to the United States, Orlando Letelier, may have been carried out as an action of Operation Condor.

A long document dated 21 January 1982 provides a summary of information concerning D.I.N.A., which in late 1977 had been renamed Centro Nacional de Informaciones – National Information Centre, C.N.I. This report includes information not directly provided to the F.B.I. by Michael Townley, the D.I.N.A. agent responsible for the assassination of Letelier, but drawn from analysis of his correspondence with his D.I.N.A. ‘handler’; details about meetings between Pinochet and neo-Fascist Italian terrorists and spies, codenames and activities of D.I.N.A. personnel, collaboration between D.I.N.A. and anti-Castro Cubans; the creation of a fake terrorist organisation to take the blame for a D.I.N.A. kidnapping in Argentina; D.I.N.A. involvement in relations between Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and Townley’s fear that information about kidnappings and assassinations of prominent critics of Pinochet would somehow be traced back to him.

From 1976 onwards, D.I.N.A. and its Argentine counterpart, Secretaría de Inteligencia de Estado (S.I.D.E.), were Condor’s frontline troops. The infamous ‘death flights’, theorised in Argentina by Luis María Mendía – which had already been used during the Algerian war of 1954–1962 by French forces – were widely employed, in order to make the corpses, and therefore evidence, disappear.

Next installment Saturday: The Bank of Crooks.

Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini, formerly an avvocato at the Court of Appeal of Bologna, devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reach at  George.Venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

Fanciful Terrors: Bomb Plots and Australian Airport Security

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

In the classroom of international security, Australia remains an infant wanting attention before the older hands. During the Paris Peace talks, Prime Minister William Morris (“Billy”) Hughes screamed and hollered Australia’s wishes to gain greater concessions after its losses during the Great War, urging, among other things, a more punitive settlement for Germany.

In the post-September 2001 age, recognition comes in different forms, notably in the field of terrorism. Australian authorities want recognition from their international partners; Australian security services demand attention from their peers. The premise of this call is simple if masochistic: Australia is worth torching, bombing and assailing, its values, however obscure, vulnerable before a massive, inchoate threat shrouded in obscurantism.

Over the weekend, the security services again displayed why adding fuel to the fire of recognition remains a burning lust for the Australian security complex. The inner-city suburb of Surry Hills in Sydney, and the south-western suburbs of Lakemba, Wiley and Punchbowl, witnessed raids and seizures of material that could be used to make an improvised explosive device.

What was notable here was the domesticity behind the alleged plot. Focus was specific to Surry Hills in what was supposedly an attempt to create an IED involving a domestic grinder and box containing a multi-mincer. At stages, those with a culinary inclination might have been confused: were Australia’s best and brightest in the frontline of security getting excited about the ill-use kitchen appliances might be put to?

The arrest provided yet another occasion Australian audiences are becoming familiar with: individuals arrested and detained, usually with no prior convictions let alone brush with the law, while the celebratory stuffing is sought to file charges under anti-terrorism laws.

But this was not a time for ironic reflection. Australians needed to be frightened and reassured, a necessary dialectic that governments in trouble tend to encourage. First, comes the fear of death, launched by a sinister fundamentalist force; then comes the paternal reassurance of the patria: those in blue, green and grey will protect you.

Without even questioning the likelihood of success in any of these ventures (would this supposed device have ever gotten onto a plane?), such networks as Channel Nine news would insist that this could be the “13th significant conspiracy to be foiled by Australian authorities since the country’s terror threat level was raised to ‘probable’ in 2014.”

The Herald Sun was already dubbing this a Jihadi “meat mincer bomb plot”, happy to ignore the obvious point that details were horrendously sketchy. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, deemed the conspiracy “elaborate”. (The foe must always be elevated to make the effort both worthwhile and free of folly). The AFP Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, was convinced that this was “Islamic-inspired terrorism. Exactly what is behind this is something we will need to investigate fully.”

Depending on what you scoured, reports suggested that this was a “non-traditional” device which was set to be used for an “Islamist inspired” cause. The usual cadre of experts were consulted to simply affirm trends they could neither prove nor verify, with the “lone wolf” theme galloping out in front.

John Coyne of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Border Security Program, for instance, plotted a kindergarten evolution for his audience: planes were used in September 2001; then came regionally focused incidents such as the Bali bombings, and now, in classic fatuity, “a new chapter arising or a return chapter almost”. “This is much more panned and deliberate, if the allegations are correct.”

Rita Panahi, whose writings prefer opinion to the inconvenience incurred by looking at evidence, cheered the weekend efforts and issued a reminder: “Remember the weekend’s terror raids next time you have to surrender a tube of sunscreen as you pass through airport security a second time, this time barefooted and beltless, and fearful you might miss your flight.”

For Panahi, this was a case that was done and dusted. These were “wannabe jihadis” (dead cert); they had plotted to inflict “mayhem and destruction on Australian soil” (naturally) and Australians needed to understand that an ungainly super structure of intrusive security measures were indispensable to security. Thank the counter-terrorism forces, luck and distance.

Such occasions also provide chicken feed for pecking journalists, many of whom have ceased the task of even procuring their beaks for the next expose. Indeed, some were crowing, including one on ABC 24, that the “disruption” of an “imminent” attack had taken place at speed; that this “cell” had little chance of ever bringing their device to an aircraft. Evidence and scrutiny are ill-considered, and the political classes are permitted to behave accordingly.

The Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton, never happy to part with anything valuable on the subject of security, refused to confirm whether there had been an international dimension, a tip-off from intelligence agencies, or assistance.

“There will be lots of speculation around what the intent was,” claimed Dutton, “but obviously all of us have been working hard over recent days and we rely upon the expertise of the Federal Police and ASIO and other agencies.” He observed that there was “a lot of speculation around” which he did not which to add to.

He need not have bothered, given that the opinion makers have formed a coalition of denial and embellishment so vast and enthusiastic so as to make Australia matter in the supposed global jihadi effort. It would come as a crushing disappointment to the infant in that room of international relations to realise otherwise.

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

 

Dog whistling in the park

It could be said that Senator Pauline Hanson and the other One Nation senators have ridden the coat tails of racism and bigotry to reach the lofty heights of the Red Chamber on Capital Hill in Canberra. Hanson will tell you that she sincerely holds those views and while it demonstrates her ignorance of how discrimination adversely affects the society we all live in, she and her fellow One Nation members are entitled to their opinion.

There are, however, problems when others such as the political parties that can actually achieve government in Australia adopt the dog whistling policies of fringe parties such as Hanson’s for the political expedience of winning an election over the ‘other guys’.

Like a lot of communities around Australia, the one I live in has a Facebook group that has the usual subject matter that you would expect, dining recommendations, local events, complaints about government services, who has spare moving boxes and other equally life changing issues. The group in my area has around 10,000 members and while it claims to represent a post code, there is considerable overlap to surrounding areas. The local politicians are active members and frequently comment on local issues that are discussed – suggesting that the group is seen as representing a reasonable cross section of the region it claims to support.

Recently on the local Facebook group, a mother posted a comment (in sorrow) reporting that her three year old son was playing in a local park and walked over to some other kids about the same age who were playing together. He asked if he could join the game. Apparently the response from the other kids was ‘we don’t play with Asians’.

As you would hopefully expect, most of the comments on the thread are comprised of various community members decrying the absolute racism and discrimination displayed by the group of young kids. They also rightly question where the parents were, why didn’t they step in or apologise to the mother or her child. All valid questions, and the parents of the other kids have been silent (assuming they are members of the Facebook group). However, there is a bigger issue here. Clearly the ‘jump to the right’ by the major political parties to attempt to win at all costs has made some people feel that teaching their pre-school kids to be racist is perfectly OK.

It’s not OK: and here’s why.

Every person in Australia is either an immigrant to this country or is descended from one. It doesn’t matter that your ancestors walked across a land bridge up to 65,000 years ago, floated in on a boat sometime since 1788 or arrived in more recent times in a plane – you are an immigrant.

According to Stanford University’s Tech Museum of Innovation, there are very few differences in people that are due to DNA

So what is the average amount of difference between people of different ethnic groups? Scientists have found that 85% of all human genetic variation exists within human populations while only 15% exists between all the different ethnic groups.

And most of these differences aren’t what you’d think they’d be. A few are the obvious traits we’ve talked about — hair and eye colour, eye shape, hair texture, etc. And a few we haven’t talked about like lactose intolerance.

Therefore, while there is a good chance that there are genetic variations between you and your next door neighbour, it’s pretty certain that the variations are not due to different ethnic origin or religion.

Racism in Australia seems to be a common topic on Quora – a US domiciled blog site that seeks opinion and factual comment on questions posed by others. There is a ‘Racism in Australia’ subject on the site and frankly there is no consensus to form an opinion as there is a lot of personal opinion. However, this article by Jenna Price in The Sydney Morning Herald from June 2016 would suggest that Shannon Murdoch (apparently no relation to the proprietors of News Corp) has certainly experienced racism on a regular basis

Someone will clutch their shoulder bag more tightly. Or lock their door. Pull their kids away. Ignore her. Walk up to her as she browses in a shop and tell her as she examines something that ‘you know, you have to pay for that’. Ignore her and make sure she knows she is being ignored.

“I don’t understand how you can treat someone as if they are so different to you when it’s just skin. At a systematic level, I understand it; at a historic level, I understand it. There are many levels at which I get it. It’s not as if I am naïve to the stuff that is behind it. But as person-to-person, I don’t know how you walk up to someone and say something so cruel, so demeaning, so dehumanising, that discounts their personhood.”

Shannon Murdoch is an Australian citizen, an African American by birth and the holder of a PhD in Education.

But it shouldn’t be like this. While there was not universal approval, Australia generally has welcomed waves of immigration from various parts of the world for most of the 20th century. It probably isn’t a co-incidence that the majority of immigrants through various decades came from countries that Australia has fought wars against in the decade or two preceding the immigration events. As examples, in the 1950’s and 1960’s a large number of southern Europeans came to call Australia home, followed by refugees from the Vietnam War in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Interestingly, there was support for these programs from both major political parties.

It all changed with the federal election campaign in 2001. In the wake of the airliners being flown into the World Trade Centre in New York during September of that year, then Prime Minister John Howard, faced with an imminent loss, exploited the rescue of a number of refugees en route to Australia from a sinking fishing boat by a Norwegian freighter, the Tampa. Not stopping to contemplate the damage he would cause,

John Howard declared: “We simply cannot allow a situation to develop where Australia is seen around the world as a country of easy destination.” Norway’s Foreign Minister, Thorbjoern Jagland told the United Nations: “Australia’s attitude to the refugee incident is unacceptable and inhumane and contravening international law.”

The ultimate in the hypocrisy was Howard’s Liberal Party, in this ABCTV Lateline story claiming the Tampa had no influence

LYNTON CROSBY [Liberal Campaign Director]: The most important specific reason cited by voters for voting Liberal was our strength of economic and financial management.

SARAH CLARKE [ABC Reporter]: Lies, says the Opposition and the Democrats.

NATASHA STOT DESPOJA, AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS LEADER (MELBOURNE): For them to argue that it was simply about economic management or indeed any other broader domestic issues is false.

TIM GARTRELL, LABOR ASSISTANT NATIONAL SECRETARY (CANBERRA): This is quite simply not in line with what happened on election day.

This is post-election rewriting to say it was actually about economic management — it wasn’t.

SARAH CLARKE: In the final days before the election, Labor says polling had Kim Beazley narrowing the gap, gaining ground selling domestic issues. That is, until the asylum seeker debate again came to the fore.

TIM GARTRELL: We turned the corner on domestic issues.We were pretty much getting to a situation of neck-and-neck and I think the Liberal Party decided to hit the button — hit that refugee button — which is what they did.

And the facts speak for themselves.

Former Prime Ministers Rudd, Gillard and Abbott also campaigned against humane treatment of refugees by increasing the severity of Howard’s punitive measures. ‘Stopping the boats’ (AKA demonising refugees) is one of the claimed successes of the Abbott and Turnbull governments, despite the questionable tactic of not allowing refugees being able to claim asylum in a country of their choice. Ironically, NXT Senator Stirling Griff discovered during Senate Estimates Hearings this year there were approximately 65,000 visa overstayers resident in Australia. Overstaying a visa is actually illegal (unlike seeking asylum)

“Given that almost 20,000 illegal overstayers have been in Australia for more than 15 years, it makes a mockery of the border protection focus on so called boat people and their lack of Australian placement,” he said.

“Most of these almost 65,000 would have travelled to Australia by air and the overwhelming majority have settled into Australian life, with little – if any – regard for our laws and responsibilities.

“The department stated that it was a fair estimate that 20,000 were also working illegally. That’s at least 20,000 illegal overstayers taking Australian jobs.”

It seems to be a direct result of ‘winner at all cost’ politics that victimises a small group of people who have attempted to seek asylum in Australia. Boat people are not illegally seeking entry into this (or any other) country, unlike those who overstay visas. However, the ongoing jihad against those that ‘look different’ or pray to a different God as demonstrated by asylum seekers sailing to Australia in unseaworthy fishing boats by elected and wannabe politicians has repercussions to Australian society now and in the future.

For those that couldn’t give a toss about morals and ethics, such as those politicians using refugees for political gain, there is also an economic cost to racism

Dr Amanuel Elias from the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) has calculated racial discrimination cost the Australian economy an estimated $44.9 billion, or 3.6 per cent of GDP, each year in the decade from 2001-11.

Dr Elias explained that being able to quantify the cost of racism to Australian society is a crucial step towards addressing racial discrimination.

“Racial discrimination costs society in both a microeconomic sense, such as indirect costs related to the labour market; and a macroeconomic sense, such as intangibles related to negative physical and mental health,” Dr Elias said.

So much for the ‘better economic management’ of the Coalition Governments! The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the contribution of various industries to the GDP in the 2012 Australian Year Book. The cost of racism in this country exceeded a number of services and took half of the benefit of the mining industry to Australia’s economy. Dr Elias went on to comment:

“In countries like Australia, where subtle interpersonal racism exists along with some forms of institutional discrimination, anti-discrimination interventions require relatively moderate spending.”

According to Dr Elias, the good news is that racial discrimination is a preventable social phenomenon.

The boy in the local playground was born in Australia, as probably were his tormentors. His genetics are similar to yours and mine (as well as those of his tormentors). It is a really strange society that obsesses over refugees who come by fishing boat, claiming they are potentially a risk to the security and well-being of the country and ignoring the elephant in the room presented by the 65,000 visa overstayers who probably received far less scrutiny than asylum seekers when they made their application to visit Australia.

The only good news here is that the local kid’s mum posted her message on Facebook late Saturday morning. By 3pm, an open playdate had been arranged by others to include the tormented boy at a local park, a local business was supplying some ‘party food’, another one provided a decorated cake and a third business provided a gift for the boy and another for his family. Thankfully the majority of my community can see through the blatant racism promoted by the two major political parties. Unfortunately, the actions of the three year old tormentors will continue to be a drain on the morals, ethics and economy of Australia for a considerable period into the future, unless our political leaders start to lead the anti-discrimination conversation.

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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The Pine Gap Anniversary Party

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

It all happened without much fuss, since fuss was bound to be the enemy. Dignitaries, guests and various partners lined up for a gathering at Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory on Saturday, commemorating the secret base’s half-century.

The Alice Spring News Online described it, not inaccurately, as a “stealth party”. The Convention Centre hosting the dinner was tight lipped throughout the week about the guest list. “Unfortunately the details of this weekend’s event are not available for public release.” Not for residents in Alice Springs; not for the electors, or even the politicians. This would be an imperial, vetted affair.

A sense about how the base functions in a defiant limbo, one resistant to Australian sovereignty, can be gathered in various ways. The local federal member, Chansey Paech, whose constituency hosts the base, was not invited. Senator Nigel Scullion’s query about the exclusion of media from the event was rebuffed by the Defence department, with the Defence Minister keen to hold the line against her own colleague.

The Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD), charged with supplying the indigenous “welcome to country” gathering at such bashes, seemed less than pleased to supply details.  When the intrepid Alice Springs News Online dared ask, the CEO Kerry Le Rossignol responded with a dismissive “No comment”.

On July 25, a Defence spokesperson insisted that, “The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is proud to commemorate its 50th anniversary. However, celebrations are restricted to site personnel and invited guests only.” Power without perusal; might, without scrutiny.

The Australian press corps haven been subjected to a drip feed process over the years about what, exactly takes place at the US base, hungrily consuming morsels like indigent urchins. This is a “joint” facility in name only, but it does have Australian personnel running the low-grade coffee errands. Vassals have their uses, and should be reminded of them.

The Nautilus Institute for Security and Instability has been keeping a keener eye than most on this, notably through the eagle-eyed Richard Tanter. In an introductory overview on Pine Gap, its ongoing, updated report on the base notes the following:

“Pine Gap is perhaps the most important United States intelligence facility outside that country, playing a vital role in the collection of a very wide range of signals intelligence, providing early warning ballistic missile launches, targeting of nuclear weapons, providing battlefield intelligence data for United States armed forces operating in Afghanistan and elsewhere (including previously in Iraq), critically supporting United States and Japanese missile defence, supporting arms control verification, and contributing targeting data to United States drone attacks.”

The report pegs Pine Gap’s role to three operational functions, with the original one still being primary: a station for geosynchronous signals intelligence (SIGINT) satellites developed under the auspices of the Central Intelligence Agency. Originally, these were intended to focus on the testing of Soviet missiles. One estimate puts the number of radomes and satellite dishes at Pine Gap at 38.

The second features a function acquired in late 1999, when the base became a Relay Ground Station for detecting missile launches, including Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) which now includes a Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS).

The third is its interception function (foreign satellite/communications satellite), acquired in the first decade of 2000. The Nautilus report notes that two 23-metre dishes appropriate for COMSAT SIGINT Development (Sigdev) were installed within the 30-metre radomes at the end of 1999 and early 2000.

All this cut, dried and smoked material conveys the relevance of Australia’s continued geographical role as a dry goods merchant for Washington. It supplies the isolation and the means for the US imperium as officials in Canberra keep mum about the sheer extent Pine Gap operates. It also supplies the bloodied hand that assists US-directed drone strikes in theatres where neither Washington nor Canberra are officially at war. Australia remains America’s glorified manservant.

These are just a few points that have galvanised a small but vocal movement insisting on the closure of the base. Protests have also centred on disrupting, to use the words of James Brennan from Disarm, “the activities of the US war machine in Australia and on Aboriginal land.”

At various stages, prosecutions on charges of trespass under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 have also been mounted, though the effort in 2007 was laughed out of court by the presiding judge, Daynor Trigg, who deemed the statute “a bit of nonsense”. The defendants were duly acquitted by the Northern Territory Criminal Appeals Court, who quashed attempts by prosecutors to seek a retrial.

As late as last year, six self-proclaimed “peace pilgrims” received the attention of authorities for sporting musical instruments and pictures depicting war casualties onto the base. Their fate may be similar to those in 2007: to make the charges stick, evidence on the function of Pine Gap would have to be adduced. The veil would be lifted; secrecy would abate.

What is more pressing for the Canberra apparatchiks is what a base like Pine Gap does in the context of spats with other powers which Australia shares ties with. The China rise is particularly problematic, given the teeth-gnashing belligerence being shown over maritime disputes.

Even as Chinese nationals purchase Australian real estate, tremors between Washington and Beijing can be felt as the base celebrates its half-century. A happy birthday it would have been, but only for some.

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

 

Only the Liberals will keep you safe!

By Terence Mills

Call me a cynic but on a pleasant Sunday morning I’ve just been confronted by Turnbull, Keenan, AFP, ASIO and NSW Police giving an orchestrated media conference where the Prime Minister said that there was a plot was to blow-up an aircraft using an improvised explosive device. Then he said if you are travelling by air in the next few day, make sure to get to the airport at least two hours before scheduled take-off as there will be enhanced security.

I don’t know about you but I have no inclination whatsoever to travel by air in the next few days, not so much because of the terror threat but more so the interminable time it actually takes to get anywhere and the frustration of having to remove my shoes and belt – and women their jewellery – just to get on an aircraft.

Four men have been arrested but the assembled security specialists actually gave no useful information about what was going on other than saying we should all remain calm – that’s probably why they didn’t invite Peter Dutton as he is known to scare children and animals and apart from that, it is suggested that his new Darth Vader uniform isn’t quite ready.

The assembled media asked a lot of probing and sensible questions but everything was either an on water or on land or in the air event on which they couldn’t comment. Nonetheless, the overriding message was that only the Liberals will keep you safe.

Now I’m just waiting to see the four men being quietly released with no fanfair. Yes, I am a cynic!

Hydropolitics Down Under: The Failure of the Murray Darling Basin Plan

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

Water is gold to survival, the indispensable, the vast feeder for human civilization. Its absence entails certain death; its decline brings out the prospect that a civilisation might well collapse. When a water crisis is announced, panic sets in. Officials ready for war; armies ready for the march. “When water goes bad, so do political relations.”

Historically, poisoned or affected water supplies have caused the outbreak of disease and panic. In 1892, a year which saw the staging of the Chicago World Fair and the outbreak of typhoid, the threat of water scarcity to the 27 million guests attending the city’s events propelled the construction of plumbing stretching four miles into Lake Michigan. Additional supplies were also obtained from Waukesha and Wisconsin.

The same, it can be said, for water that flows off, water that is pinched, or water that is denied. The entire basis of Jean de Florette, Marcel Pagnol’s novel set in La Bastide in a provincial France teeming with avarice, is that of a water tragedy.

A hunchbacked tax collector goes to the country to make good his inheritance, but faces the cruelties of a drought. He needs water, and the only way to obtain it from a neighbouring well is with a mule owned by his rivals who entertain his demise.

A contemporary tale of water tragedy is that of the Murray-Darling Basin, which has suffered from illegal pumping in the Barwon and Darling Rivers that could, if proven, “represent,” according to Ross M. Thompson, “one of the largest thefts in Australian history.” Such instances of theft were uncovered by the Australian investigatory news program, Four Corners, in its Monday airing.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who also doubles up as the federal minister for water issues, pushed a different narrative to his pub audience in Shepparton, Victoria, suggesting that the Four Corners program had done the farmers wrong.

“A calamity for you which the solution is trying to take more water off you, shut more of your towns down.” Water was taken, he explained, and “put back into agriculture, so we can look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show.” Few voices were on hand to speak for the environment that day.

South Australia’s Water Minister, Ian Hunter, was that incensed to call for an independent review of the handling by the New South Wales government. As with so many matters of national significance, the solution will entail more squabbling skirmishes.

The NSW government was never too thrilled with the agreement. Known as the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, it had begun as a Commonwealth and State arrangement to balance water consumption and the environmental health of a dying basin. A water market was also created under the plan to enable water to be purchased with an environmental perspective in mind, and allow irrigators to trade water permits focused on need. Rather optimistically, all of this was meant to take place transparently and with a degree of prudence.

But irrigators were bound to buck moves to control water usage, and colluders abounded within the emerging water bureaucracy. In 2016, discussions between a particular NSW water bureaucrat, a certain Gavin Hanlon, were held with irrigators on the possibility of abandoning the Basin Plan with minimal legal consequence.

When evidence came to light to the Deputy Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries on misuse by irrigators in the northern part of the state, heads turned the other way. The appetite for compliance, according to Jamie Morgan of the strategic investigations unit, had run its course.

Ambushed by the Four Corners expose, officials in the NSW Government have promised an investigation, with the state’s primary industries minister, Niall Blair, clear that some form of punishment will issue. “Referral of any potentially illegal or corrupt activities will be made to relevant authorities.”

South Australian premier, Jay Weatherill is not so sure, insisting that this is a matter concerning all states including the Commonwealth. “We’ve long held suspicions about the level of commitment by New South Wales to comply with the plan.” He is pitching for a judicial inquiry that is beyond the tampering of political interests.

The irrigation pinch has resulted in the appropriation of billions of litres. The Murray Darling Basin plan has been shown up, a costly sham further exacerbated by increasingly voracious irrigation capture by farmers spurred by government subsidies.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority board has also been compromised, a state of affairs that risks being hastened by the appointment of another irrigation lobbyist, Perin Davey. Much to the consternation of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the MDBA board is now packed with the Daveys and the Hanlons, Trojan horses tearing down the entity from within.

One Australian politician, South Australian senator Nick Xenophon, suggests splitting the environment portfolio from agriculture. Whatever cosmetic stitching takes place, going balmy over water and its use will persist, leaving the environment to wither before the needs of humankind.

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com.

War criminal?

By Dr George Venturini

Heinz Alfred ‘Henry’ Kissinger obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1954. His interest was on Castelreagh and Metternich – two empire builders. He devoted his life to sublimate them.

In an incendiary, studiedly defamatory book the late Christopher Hitchens described him as “a mediocre and opportunist academic [intent on] becoming an international potentate. The signature qualities were there from the inaugural moment: the sycophancy and the duplicity; the power worship and the absence of scruple; the empty trading of old non-friends for new non-friends. And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked. Kissinger’s global career started as it meant to go on. It debauched the American republic and American democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies.”

The story is all here: from the martyrdom of Indochina to becoming the real backchannel to Moscow on behalf of his new client: Donald Trump.

Editor’s note: This outstanding series by Dr Venturini is published bi-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Today we publish Part Six. Here is the link to Part Five; Madman Diplomacy.

War criminal?

Henry Kissinger, adviser to the Rockefellers since 1954, supporter of Democrat candidate Hubert H. Humphrey early in 1968, promptly switched to Republican candidate Richard Milhous Nixon, whose  National Security Advisor he became on 20 January 1969, remaining in that position – after Nixon’s resignation – to President Ford until 3 November 1975. Kissinger was Secretary of State between 22 September 1973 and 20 January 1977.

This period – January 1969 to January 1977 – covers three ‘adventures’: Chile, East Timor (now Timor-Leste), and Argentina. Somewhere in between those dates is the Royal Ambush of the Whitlam Government in November 1975. This should be dealt with in a separate work for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that a case which will decide whether the correspondence between the Governor-General of Australia and Queen Elizabeth II is of a private nature, or should be regarded as subtracted from public eyes. The dispute is still, by initiative of professor Jenny Hocking and friends before the Federal Court of Australia.

Incidentally, the correspondence may reveal what might have been the connection between the Governor-General – a well-known ‘Intelligence services’ asset and a special ‘Task Force 157’, a secret U.S. Navy ops team, directed by Theodore George ‘Ted’ Shackley, Jr., which is suspected of being involved in the Ambush through persons of the Liberal and National parties.

Shackley, an American C.I.A. officer was involved in many important and controversial CIA operations during the 1960s and 1970s. In the early 1960s Shackley was ‘station chief’ in Miami, during the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as of the Cuban Project – also known as Operation Mongoose, that he directed. He became the director of the ‘Phoenix Program’ during the Vietnam war – responsible for the assassination of some 40,000 ‘suspected Communists’. He was also the ‘station chief’ in Laos between 1966–1968, and ‘station chief’ in Saigon from 1968 through February 1972. In 1976 he was appointed Associate Deputy Director for Operations, in charge of the C.I.A.’s worldwide covert operations, the so-called ‘black ops’.

There are plentiful indicia that Task Force 157 was almost a personal tool of Kissinger’s power.

Chile

The first 9/11 occurred in 1973 in Santiago, Chile and places nearby. President Richard Milhous Nixon and Dr. Henry Alfred Kissinger were the instigators, General Augusto Pinochet simply the executioner.

The United States has been interfering with Chile since the arrival of Joel Roberts Poinsett as ‘special agent’ in 1811. The story of the first 9/11 began, most likely, on 15 September 1970 when Nixon and his consiglieri: Richard Helms, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Kissinger, National Security Adviser were discussing a possible C.I.A. covert operation in Chile.

Media sources confirmed that Nixon had been nearly beside himself with rage at the thought that ‘Marxist’ Salvador Allende might win the 1970 presidential election in Chile. The very name of Allende was anathema to Nixon. He had been personally beholden to the president of Pepsi Cola from the moment he had received that corporation’s account while a young lawyer with John Mitchell’s firm in New York. In time Mitchell would share with Nixon the fate of Watergate and other crimes. But, after the ‘Watergate’ affairs, only Mitchell ended up in gaol for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury.

Pepsi Cola, along with Chase Manhattan Bank, International Telephone & Telegraph and many other corporations, but above all Anaconda Copper Mining Co. and Kennecott Copper Co., had huge investments in Chile. It is estimated that in the early seventies those two major mining corporations alone controlled between seven and twenty per cent of Chile’s Gross Domestic Product.

In 1970 Allende, who had failed in the presidential elections of 1964, ran again. On 4 September 1970 he obtained 36.2 per cent of votes, followed by former President Alessandri with 34.9 per cent, with 27.8 per cent going to Tomic, the third candidate.

According to the Chilean Constitution then in force, if no presidential candidate obtained a majority of the popular vote, Congress would choose one of the two candidates with the highest number of votes as the winner. Negotiations were actively being conducted during the following month and only on 24 October was Allende confirmed by Congress. He assumed the presidency on 3 November 1970.

A series of eight cables, dated between 5 and 22 September 1970 declassified in the late 1990s and now available at the National Security Archive, located within the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., written by the U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry, records the reaction and activities of the Embassy after the election of Allende’s Popular Unity coalition. Known as ‘Korrygrams,’ the reports contain some of the most candid, and at times undiplomatic, opinions and observations ever offered by a U.S. Ambassador, until WikiLeaks arrived on the world’s scene. With titles such as ‘No Hope for Chile’ and ‘Some Hope for Chile’, Korry provides extensive details about political efforts to block Allende’s ratification by the Chilean Congress. The cables report on the activities of Chile’s political institutions in response to Allende’s election and provide Ambassador Korry’s explicit assessments of the character of key Chilean leaders, particularly the outgoing President, Eduardo Frei.

On 5 November 1970, as it appears in another declassified cable, Richard Helms, the C.I.A. Director provided a briefing for the 6 November 1970 National Security Council on the situation in Chile, telling Nixon exactly what he wanted to hear: “Mr. President, Salvador Allende, the Chilean Marxist, has now taken office as President in that country with virtually no significant opposition to hold him in check, and with a cabinet dominated by the Communists and his own even more extreme Socialist Party.” Apart from the obvious – the name, not a word of that was true.

The briefing contains details on a failed coup attempt on 22 October – but does not acknowledge a C.I.A. role in the assassination of General René Schneider. Helms also assessed Allende’s “tenacious” character and Soviet policy towards Chile. Despite the presence of Communists in cabinet, ‘Intelligence’ suggested that Chile’s Socialists – as he informed Council members – “will exercise restraint in promoting closer ties with Russia.”

Nixon had ordered the C.I.A. to prevent Allende’s election at all cost. He had explicitly told Richard Helms “to get rid of him”, referring to Allende.

At the time, the United States was still embroiled in Vietnam. The ‘parallel government’ of the C.I.A. was running a plan denominated Phoenix – a covert action programme which had been established in 1967 and would continued until 1971, at least. The C.I.A., the U.S. Army and the Saigon police, as well as various other ‘intelligence’ organisations were seeking to identify and destroy Viet Cong leadership cadres in the south of Vietnam. Phoenix’ activities included ‘intelligence’ collection, paramilitary operations, and psychological warfare. Phoenix became infamous for the capture or killing of nearly 40,000 suspected Communists. The programme was run by William Colby, who would ultimately succeed Helms, but at the time had the cover role as Director of Civil Operations and Rural Development Support for the Agency for International Development.

Nixon’s policy for the whole of Latin America was one early ‘war on terror’. At the time ‘war on terror’ was just another pretext for the pillage of Latin America by the U.S. Government and its favoured multinational corporations with the assistance of the American Administration. The obsession then was “to prevent another Cuba.” Nixon simply could not tolerate – as he said – “that bastard Allende.” Such animosity was probably displayed for the benefit of clients-at-large. Chile had the largest copper reserves in the world and it was suspected that Allende was about to nationalise the industry.

When preventing Allende’s election failed, the C.I.A. was instructed to destabilise the government.

A meeting of 15 September 1970, ten days after the narrow election of Allende, was to become crucial. Probably determinant to Nixon’s order to Helms to mount a full-scale operation against Allende’s prospective new government – including, as Helms’s notes of the meeting reflect, “to make the economy scream [in Chile to] prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him” – was the advice given by Kissinger in his famous expression of contempt for the democratic play: “I do not see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

That was no isolated expression of Kissinger’s Realpolitik. The minutes of a secret 1975 meeting of the National Security Council attended by President Ford reveal Kissinger grumbling: “It is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.”

A total lack of any moral judgment remains the mark of such cynical Realpolitik. The New York Times reported on 16 December 2010 that, according to recently released tapes of Nixon at the White House, Kissinger was heard telling Nixon in 1973 that helping Soviet Jews emigrate and thus escape oppression by a totalitarian regime – a huge issue at the time – was “not an  objective of American foreign policy.”  “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union,” he added, “it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” Genocide was “not an American concern,” he said, but “maybe a humanitarian concern.”

As National Security Adviser and/or Secretary of State, or Assistant to the President, or simply as consigliere, Kissinger’s opinion would be sought by successive presidents: Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush Junior, Obama – perhaps even Trump.

Of course, at that meeting of 15 September 1970, Kissinger knew full well that Chile had not ‘gone Communist’. Probably so did Nixon; it certainly was within Helms’ knowledge.

Allende was a cultivated man, by all definitions a ‘bourgeois’ even though he was known as the charismatic founder of the Socialist Party. Allende in fact was a moderate, who wanted to develop “a peaceful Chilean way towards socialism.” He had been elected by workers, peasants and the marginalised, urban lower classes. Educated urban youth celebrated the “socialism of red wine and empanadas” – stuffed pastry.

But, in the debased language which had taken place with Nixon in the White House and in the ordinary jargon which would most assuredly reach a gangster such as Nixon, Kissinger did not hesitate to use such language. It was the advice of the consigliere to the capo-mafia. The advice was reflected in the handwritten notes taken by Helms and preserved in those declassified cables. Taken in the presence of Attorney General John Mitchell and Kissinger, the notes read: “l in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile!; worth spending; not concerned; no involvement of embassy; $10,000,000 available, more if necessary; full-time job – best men we have; game plan; make the economy scream; 48 hours for plan of action.” [Emphasis added]

Minutes of 16 September 1970 record the first meeting between Director Helms and several high agency officials on covert operations – code-named ‘Fubelt’ – against Allende. A special task force under the supervision of C.I.A. Deputy Director of Plans, Thomas Karamessines, was established, headed by veteran agent David Atlee Phillips. The memorandum noted that the C.I.A. must prepare an action plan for National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger within 48 hours.

A ‘memorandum of conversation’ of a 15 October 1970 meeting, held at the White House between Kissinger, Karamessines and Alexander Haig, Deputy National Security Adviser and later President Reagan’s Secretary of State, records a discussion on promoting a coup in Chile known as ‘Track 2’ of covert operations to block Allende. The three conspirators discussed the possibility that the plot of one Chilean retired General, Roberto Viaux, might fail “with unfortunate repercussions for U.S. objectives.” Kissinger ordered the C.I.A. “to continue keeping the pressure on every Allende weak spot in sight.”

The day after such meeting, 16 October 1970, Karamessines passed Kissinger’s order on to the C.I.A. station chief in Santiago, Henry Hecksher. The secret cable said, at the very opening: “It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup.” [Emphasis added]  The “operating guidance” makes it clear that these operations were to be conducted so as to hide the ‘American hand’,  and that the C.I.A. was to ignore any orders to the contrary from Ambassador Korry who had not been informed of ‘Track 2’ operations.

Dated 3 November 1970 is the notice of a meeting for which Kissinger had a comprehensive secret/sensitive options paper (NSSM 97) prepared. The paper was to be submitted to the offices of the Vice President, of the Secretaries of State and Defense, and of the Director of Emergency Preparedness. It was also sent in copy to the Attorney General, the Under Secretary of State, the Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, and the Director of Central Intelligence. Precisely on the day of Allende’s inauguration, it laid out U.S. objectives, interests and potential policy towards Chile. U.S. interests were defined as preventing Chile from falling under Communist control and preventing the rest of Latin America from following Chile “as a model.” Option C – maintaining an “outwardly cool posture” while working behind the scenes to undermine the Allende Government through economic pressures and diplomatic isolation – had been chosen by Nixon. C.I.A. operations and options were not included in the document.

Three cables dated 18 October 1970 passed between the C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, VA., and the C.I.A. Station in Santiago. They dealt with the secret shipment of weapons and ammunition for use in a plot to kidnap the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army, General René Schneider. “Neutralizing” Schneider was a key prerequisite for a military coup; he opposed any intervention by the armed forces to block Allende’s constitutional election. The C.I.A. supplied a group of Chilean officers led by General Camilo Valenzuela with ‘sterile’ – that is untraceable – weapons for the operation which was to be blamed on Allende supporters and thus prompt a military takeover.

Between the presidential elections and Congress confirmation of Allende two events took place in Chile. One was the kidnapping and assassination on 22-25 October of General Schneider. Schneider was a defender of the ‘constitutionalist’ doctrine that the Army’s role is exclusively professional, its mission being to protect the country’s sovereignty and not to interfere in politics. He was shot resisting the violence by another group led by General Roberto Viaux, at the head of a crypto-Nazi gang of generals and admirals, who had been paid US$ 50,000 each. Once hospitalised, Schneider died of his wounds on 25 October. Viaux’s kidnapping plan had been supported by the C.I.A., although Kissinger later claimed to have ordered the plans postponed at the last moment.

Correctly Christopher Hitchens, in the book by the provocative title The trial of Henry Kissinger, written in incendiary – studiedly defamatory – words, summed up the substance of the combined reading of those cables, and particularly of the ‘memorandum of conversation’ 15 October 1970: “Here one must pause for a recapitulation. An unelected official in the United States is meeting with others, without the knowledge or authorization of Congress, to plan the kidnapping of a constitution-minded senior officer in a democratic country with which the United States is not at war, and with which it maintains cordial diplomatic relations. The minutes of the meetings may have an official look to them (though they were hidden from the light of day for long enough) but what we are reviewing is a “hit” – a bit of state-supported terrorism.” (C. Hitchens, The trial of Henry Kissinger (Text, Melbourne 2001, at 57).

The other event was the appointment by the outgoing President Frei of General Carlos Prats as Commander-in-Chief of the Army to replace General Schneider.

Instead of a coup, the military and the country rallied behind Allende’s ratification by Chile’s Congress on 24 October.

The United States determination to destroy opposition to its domination in Latin America became part of a much broader plan which took the name of Operación Cóndor – Operation Condor, also known as Plan Cóndor.

The murder of General Schneider was just one of the crimes of Operation Condor; by then the Plan was well on its way.

In 1975 Bush Senior – formerly Nixon’s Ambassador to the United Nations, and Ford’s Chief Liaison Officer to China – was about to become C.I.A. Director. In that capacity he further developed Operation Condor. By 1975 Bush Senior was head of the C.I.A. and working together with Kissinger and Vernon Walters, later a key adviser to Reagan, to develop Plan Condor.

Operación Cóndor was a campaign of political repression involving ‘intelligence’ operations and assassination which started in 1968 and was officially implemented in 1975 by the Right-wing dictatorships of the ‘Southern Cone’ of South America. The programme aimed to eradicate alleged Socialist and Communist influence and ideas and to control active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments’ neoliberal economic policies, which sought to reverse the economic policies of the previous era.

There being no dead bodies, the conspirators could deny everything. Due to its clandestine nature, the precise number of murders directly attributable to Operation Condor is highly disputed. It is estimated that a minimum of 60,000 murders can be attributed to Condor, possibly more. Victims included dissidents and leftists, union and peasant leaders, students and teachers, intellectuals and suspected guerillas – even some priests and nuns. Condor’s key members were the governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. The United States government provided technical support and supplied military aid to the participants during the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations. Such support was frequently routed through the Central Intelligence Agency. Ecuador and Peru later joined the operation in more peripheral roles. (Luiz Cláudio Cunha. Operação Condor. O seqüestro dos uruguaios. Uma reportagem dos tempos da ditadura – Operation Condor. The kidnapping of the Uruguayans. A story of the days of the dictatorship, L&PM, Editores, Porto Alegre 2008;  John Dinges, The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents (The New Press, New York 2004) and  Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability (The New Press, New York 2013). In plain language, Condor was a high-level international criminal organisation in a campaign of political repression involving ‘intelligence’ operations and consequent assassination. In a 1999 book, titled Los años del lobo: Operación Cóndor – The years of the wolf:  Operation Condor – Stella Calloni, an Argentine investigative journalist spoke of anticipated revelations which pointed to the implication of Condor’s agents in the deaths of presidents Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jaime Roldós of Ecuador in 1981, who were “considered bothersome to the empire and dictatorships in secret documents that were investigated,” and possibly in the death of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986. (Stella Calloni, Los años del lobo: Operación Cóndor – The years of the wolf:  Operation Condor, Editorial Ciencias Sociales, La Habana 1999, 2006).

The Grand Master, leader and adviser of such a syndicate was none other than Dr. Henry Kissinger.

On 25 November 1975 leaders of the ‘military intelligence’ services of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay met with Manuel Contreras, chief of the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional – National Intelligence Directorate, D.I.N.A., which was Pinochet’s secret police.  They officially set up the Plan Condor. However, cooperation between various security services, in the aim of “eliminating Marxist subversion”, previously existed informally before that meeting and certainly before the Pinochet’s coup d’état. For example, during the Tenth Conference of American Armies held in Caracas on 3 September 1973, Brazilian General Breno Borges Fortes, head of the Brazilian Army, proposed to “extend the exchange of information” between various services in order to “struggle against subversion.” Not long after the Pinochet coup, in March 1974, representatives of the police forces of Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay met with Alberto Villar, deputy chief of the Argentine Federal Police and co-founder of the Alianza Anticomunista Argentina – Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, commonly known as Triple A, which was in fact a death squad, to implement cooperation guidelines in order to destroy the ‘subversive’ threat represented by the presence of thousands of political exiles in Argentina. In August 1974 the corpses of the first victims of Condor, Bolivian refugees, were found in rubbish dumps in Buenos Aires. The D.I.N.A. entered into contact even with Croatian terrorists, Italian neo-Fascists and the Shah’s Savak to locate and assassinate dissidents.

As far as the United States is concerned, and despite the fact that Operation Condor was promoted and formalised in 1975, there is no doubt as to the commitment of several American Administrations ‘to stop Chile from going like Cuba’. The United States provided key organisational, financial and technical assistance to the Operation. The commitment was total and the purpose quite clear from the beginning: according to a 1976 F.B.I. cable sent from Buenos Aires, Condor’s ‘operatives’ were “to travel anywhere in the world … to assassinate so-called [Leftists, Communists, subversives and Marxists].”

By sheer accident, in December 1992, a human-rights activist and a judge who were looking for files on a former prisoner at a police station in Asunción, Paraguay, would come upon archives describing the fates of thousands of Latin Americans who had been secretly kidnapped, tortured and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay – Operation Condor. The soon to be known as ‘Archivos del terror – terror archives’ listed 50,000 people murdered, 30,000 people ‘disappeared’ and 400,000 people imprisoned.  In the archives there were official requests to track suspects to and from the U.S. Embassy, the C.I.A., and the F.B.I. The C.I.A. provided lists of suspects and other intelligence information to the military states. The F.B.I. also searched for individuals wanted by D.I.N.A. in the United States in 1975.

Next installment Wednesday: Operation Condor

Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini, formerly an avvocato at the Court of Appeal of Bologna, devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reach at  George.Venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

Is Donald Trump mad?

By Ad astra

No, I don’t mean ‘hopping mad’. We know that he is hopping mad with the media and its ‘fake news’, with CNN particularly, and with some of its commentators whom he has chosen to label as intellectually deficient, and unpleasant to the eyes (bleeding from a face lift!).

We know he is hopping mad about the criticism he attracts. We know he prefers admiration, adulation, even reverence. We know he craves the hero worship he received as host and star in his TV reality show The Apprentice. We know he needs his image to be polished endlessly. Fame is almost more important to him than fortune.

No, I mean ‘mad’ in the clinical sense, in the sense of the many synonyms of the word: mentally disturbed, insane, lunatic, maniacal, even crazy or crazed. Some peri-clinical synonyms of ‘mad’ too might be applicable: unstable, erratic, unsafe, dangerous, perilous, foolish, senseless.

‘Mad’ derives in part from the Old English ‘gemædde’: ‘out of one’s mind’, ‘extremely stupid’, ‘insane’ or ‘foolish’.

Do you see a nexus between these words and Trump’s behaviour?

Let me present you with some evidence so that you can make up your own mind about whether Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America is indeed ‘mad’.

First, look at a report in The Guardian of what ABC political commentator Chris Uhlmann had to say at the conclusion of the recent G20 meeting in Hamburg. Do watch the video; it will become a collectors’ item.

Speaking on Sunday from the G20 conference in Hamburg, Uhlmann said Trump had shown ‘no desire and no capacity to lead the world’ and was himself ‘the biggest threat to the values of the west’.

He was an uneasy, lonely, awkward figure at this gathering and you got the strong sense that some of the leaders are trying to find the best way to work around him, Uhlmann said.

Where was the G20 statement condemning North Korea which would have put pressure on China and Russia? Other leaders expected it, they were prepared to back it, but it never came.

Uhlmann said Trump was obsessed with ‘burnishing his celebrity’ and had ‘diminished’ his own nation to the benefit of Russia and China.

We learned that Donald Trump has pressed fast-forward on the decline of the United States as a global leader. He managed to isolate his nation, to confuse and alienate his allies and to diminish America.

[He is] a man who barks out bile in 140 characters, who wastes his precious days as president at war with the west’s institutions like the judiciary, independent government agencies and the free press.

So astute was Uhlmann’s analysis that the video of it soon became viral, drawing complimentary remarks from observers of international politics.

Look at the essence of his analysis. Keep in mind that he is referring to the man who occupies the most powerful position in the world, a position that demands leadership in today’s complex global environment where everything is interconnected.

First, Uhlmann concludes that Trump has ‘no desire and no capacity to lead the world’. The world’s media reaction to Uhlmann’s analysis was strongly affirmatory; clearly many agreed. How can a man in Trump’s position eschew leadership and show no capacity for it? Does this fit synonyms of ‘mad’ such as: ‘foolish’, ‘senseless’, ‘ill-advised’, or even ‘unsafe’, ‘dangerous’ or ‘perilous’?

Uhlmann concluded that Trump had ‘managed to isolate his nation, to confuse and alienate his allies, and to diminish America.’ He went onto say that this defect rendered Trump ‘the biggest threat to the values of the west’. What words apply to this assertion? Mentally disturbed, even insane?

Writing in news.com.au, in an article titled: Radical new plan to remove ‘incapacitated’ President Trump, Liz Burke makes this assessment:

US politicians are so seriously concerned about President Donald Trump’s sanity they are making a plan that could see him removed from the White House over it.

A group of Democrats has put forward a bill to propose a committee that could declare Mr Trump ‘incapacitated’ and remove him from office.

The increasing level of concern over the deteriorating situation in the White House comes as questions have been raised over the President’s state of mind following a series of bizarre and even aggressive tweets.

Mr Trump at the weekend shared a violent video in which he was shown wrestling to the ground and repeatedly striking a man whose face was covered by a CNN logo. This followed a series of personal attacks on a female journalist, and railing against the MSNBC breakfast program she hosts.

In another tweet, the President conceded his use of social media was ‘not presidential’, but declared a new term for his style: ‘MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL’.

Others have declared it crazy, unusual, and concerning, and are making moves to use his unusual behaviour to end the celebrity businessman-turned-politician’s presidential term.

The evidence suggesting ‘madness’ accumulates.

David Renmick, editor of The New Yorker in an article titled American Dignity on the Fourth of July writes inter alia:

Donald Trump…has no interest in the wholeness of reality. He descends from the lineage of the Know-Nothings, the doomsayers and the fabulists, the nativists and the hucksters.

The thematic shift from Obama to Trump has been from ‘lifting as we climb’ to ‘raising the drawbridge and bolting the door’. Trump may operate a twenty-first-century Twitter machine, but he is still a frontier-era drummer peddling snake oil, juniper tar, and Dr. Tabler’s Buckeye Pile Cure for profit from the back of a dusty wagon.

Further on Renmick writes:

Trump is hardly the first bad President in American history – he has not had adequate time to eclipse, in deed, the very worst – but when has any politician done so much, so quickly, to demean his office, his country, and even the language in which he attempts to speak?

Every day, Trump wakes up and erodes the dignity of the Presidency a little more. He tells a lie. He tells another. He trolls Arnold Schwarzenegger. He trolls the press, bellowing ‘enemy of the people’ and ‘fake news!’

He shoves aside a Balkan head of state. He summons his Cabinet members to have them swear fealty to his awesomeness. He leers at an Irish journalist.

Last Thursday, he tweeted at Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, of MSNBC: ‘I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came . . . to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!’

The President’s misogyny and his indecency are well established. When is it time to question his mental stability?

Returning to the G20, what was Trump thinking when he delegated his 35 year old favourite daughter Ivanka to sit in for him among world leaders: Xi Jinping, Angela Merkel and Recep Tayyip Erdogan? Usually high-ranking public officials are delegated this task. Historian Anne Applebaum took to Twitter to denounce what she described ‘an unelected, unqualified, unprepared New York socialite’ being seen as ‘the best person to represent American national interests’.

Image from The Asian Age

Trump defended his action with these words: ‘I’m very proud of my daughter, Ivanka – always have been, from day one I have to tell you, from day one…She’s always been great. She’s a champion. If she weren’t my daughter, it would be so much easier for her. Might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth.’

Ivanka was given the official title of ‘First Daughter and Advisor to the President’ early in the administration, amid outcry that an unofficial role exempted her from ethics rules.

Is this behaviour an example of an unbalanced person?

Read what another writer at The New Yorker, Evan Osnos, had to say in an article written back in May: Is political hubris an illness? He begins:

In February, 2009, the British medical journal Brain published an article on the intersection of health and politics titled Hubris Syndrome: An Acquired Personality Disorder? The authors were David Owen, the former British Foreign Secretary, who is also a physician and neuroscientist, and Jonathan Davidson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, who has studied the mental health of politicians. They proposed the creation of a psychiatric disorder for leaders who exhibited, among other qualities, ‘impetuosity, a refusal to listen to or take advice, and a particular form of incompetence when impulsivity, recklessness and frequent inattention to detail predominate.’

Sound familiar? Do these words apply to Trump?

Further on Osnos uses these words:

President Donald Trump, in the months since he entered the White House, has become a kind of international case study of mental health’s role in politics. To his friends and allies, he elicits an array of anodyne, even appealing, adjectives: unpredictable, fearless, irascible, sly. Many of his counterparts in diplomacy, and in American politics, are rapidly shedding the euphemisms that they once used to express their appraisals, however.

When Trump, after a confused viewing of a Fox News segment, urged people at a rally ‘to look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?’, suggesting that an incident – which no one could identify; nothing notable had happened the night before – had something to do with Sweden being overrun by refugees, Swedes reached a judgment. ‘They thought the man had gone bananas’, Carl Bildt, Sweden’s former Prime Minister and foreign minister, told Susan Glasser, of Politico, in an interview published this week. ‘It was a somewhat unsettling thing to see the president of the United States without any factual basis whatsoever lunge out against a small country in the way that he did.’

Though politicians often accuse each other of being crazy, Trump has inspired a more clinical and sober discussion. (In the magazine this week, I write about proposals in Congress to assess the President’s mental health.) In recent days, the discussion of Trump’s stability has entered a blunter phase.

Over the weekend, Trump made a series of bizarre comments, including questioning the history of the Civil War, saying he was ‘looking at’ breaking up banks (prompting a stock-market slide), and demonstrating unfamiliarity with basics of the health-care bill known as Trumpcare. The Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told an interviewer that it was ‘among the most bizarre recent twenty-four hours in American Presidential history’, adding, ‘It was all just surreal disarray and a confused mental state from the President.’ Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman, told his television audience, ‘My mother’s had dementia for ten years…That sounds like the sort of thing my mother would say today.’

Finally let’s hear from our own Julia Gillard, recently appointed head of Beyond Blue, who cautions against throwing around the charge of being mentally ill as an insult. But she did weigh into Donald Trump’s odd Twitter behaviour, acknowledging there will be questions about his mental health, acknowledging that some had a genuine concern for the president: ‘I know that some people in the US, some commentators are not proffering that analysis by way of insult, they’re actually saying it because they are genuinely concerned. But I do think if President Trump continues with some of the tweeting etcetera that we’ve seen, that this will be in the dialogue.’

Let’s end on that sober note before this piece becomes too long.

With the evidence and the opinions quoted above, what do you make of it all? Recall the words that are used to describe ‘madness’: mentally disturbed, insane, lunatic, maniacal, crazy, unstable, erratic, unsafe, dangerous, perilous, foolish, senseless, and impractical.

Ask yourself, does Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, show signs of madness as described above?

Image from newscult.com

I’ve made up my mind.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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The Cardinal, The Church and Legal Theatre

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

“The world is watching.” Cathy Kezelman, Blue Knot Foundation president, The Washington Post, Jul 25, 2017.

The show on Wednesday was grim, busy, crowded. Cardinal George Pell, the highest Vatican official thus far to be brought within the legal fold of accusation and accountability for historical crimes of sex abuse, fronted for the briefest of shows at a lowly Magistrates Court in Melbourne.

There was much chatter prior to his arrival on Wednesday morning as to what would happen. For one, a taster was provided that the number of police was simply not enough to contain matters. Ringed by the boys and girls in blue, he seemed in a floating daze, though officially committed to the task at hand.

The other point was that the media outlets seemed indifferent to the linguistic differences of “historic” and “historical” in terms of designating the alleged crimes. Would historical sex abuse charges become historic in due course?

A bigger court room, one that would have enabled more spectators to sit, was not in the offing. An ordinary magistrates setting seating up to 80 was going to supply distinct shock treatment, a cold shower of immensity far from the plushness of the Vatican setting. Some journalists grumbled that a more expansive setting should have been provided.

The press were also keen to run snippets and biographies prior to the Wednesday stomp, with the defence team revealed for being proficient in having defended the less savoury elements of society. Robert Richter QC, Pell’s main barrister, was written up in The Age as, “One of Australia’s top criminal barristers who has represented his share of controversial figures.”

Ruth Shann, assisting, was also noted as having previously “represented killer Sean Price, and former St. Kilda footballer Stephen Milne, who was charged with sex offences.” Paul Galbally, completing the charming triumvirate, was quoted as happy to represent those accused of the most serious crimes. “You either have a disposition or a personality that can deal with this work or you don’t.” All too true.

The wily and seasoned Richter, chocked with grand wizard experience, realises that the game is afoot. Keep matters as staggered as possible, possibly over the course of three separate trials. Frustrate the burrowing journalists, those squirreling for information about specific matters.

This, after all, is the steal of the decade, a high figure of the Vatican, effectively the Pope’s accountant. The question is whether his client has the stamina to last such legal wrangling, given the fact that a fate worse than the privations of prison is one permanently engulfed by the sallies of lawyers.

“For the avoidance of doubt,” submitted Richter in court, “and because of the interest, might I indicate that Cardinal Pell will plead not guilty to all the charges and will maintain his presumed innocence that he has.”

Strict control would be maintained over reporting on Pell’s situation. Prosecutor and senior counsel Andrew Tinney was rebuking and stern. There was to be no slack behaviour in observing protocol in terms of protecting the accused and his innocence.

“Any publication of material speculating about the strength or otherwise of the case, the prospect of a fair trial or trials being had, whether the accused should or should not have been charged, the likelihood of conviction or acquittal, or any such matters would be in contempt of court.

But there was little giving: Leaving aside the fizzling pyrotechnics is the sheer secrecy at play. “My apologies,” wrote a disappointed David Marr, short changed on what was being provided. “I can’t tell you what’s going on.”

It had been several months, and the charges were still not clear. “Even if they fell into my lap,” scribbled Marr, “I would not say a word. Why not? Sorry, that’s a secret too.” Outlets such as The Washington Post noted that Pell had made “his first court appearance in Australia on Wednesday on charges of sexual abuse” but were none the wiser as to what they were.

When the Cardinal appeared, he did so in impassive fashion. It was undeniably the Pell show. He had only one ultimate incentive to attend the hearing, something he did not need to: defeat the case against him, and tidy up a sullied name.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton claimed that Pell might be taken through an underground entrance in October, given the sheer magnitude of the crush. “There’s a couple of different options that we’ll look at, certainly won’t rule that out.” There was just one snag: “One of the issues going underneath through the roller doors is you’ve got a lot of prisoners down there. We’ve got to get those prisoners up to court.”

The international and local contingents of the press were essentially paying homage to a display with one significant meaning: the imposition of the law over the Church, the temporal order casting its net over a representative of the supposedly divine. But they were also being kept in a darkness that may only partially abate, and if so, over a lengthy period of time.

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

Support for the UN Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or more comprehensive US nuclear weapons umbrellas?

By Denis Bright

Where are the cheers across Australia for the new Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as finalized by the recent UN Conference on 7th July 2017?

In the past, Australia developed a bipartisan balance between continued membership of the Australia-US Alliance, support for the Charter of the United Nations and commitment to its own national sovereignty.

Article 1 of the ANZUS Treaty of 1951 indeed rejected the need for sabre-rattling in the settlement of international disputes.

New Zealand officially left the Alliance in 1986 after continued participation compromised its national sovereignty (Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, US Department of State Online).

In 1984, the ANZUS Treaty began to unravel when New Zealand declared its country a nuclear-free zone and refused to allow U.S. nuclear-powered submarines to visit its ports. Two years later, U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Australian Foreign Minister Bill Hayden concluded a series of bilateral talks by confirming that their countries would continue to honor their obligations to one another under the ANZUS Treaty, in spite of the  fact that the trilateral aspects of the Treaty had been halted. On September 17, 1986, the United States suspended its treaty obligations toward New Zealand.

In Australia, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction towards greater solidarity with the US Alliance and away from a diversity of foreign policies which required the US to adjust to policy diversity over issues like the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the War in Vietnam and even the presence of nuclear powered ships carrying nuclear weapons into New Zealand during the 1980s.

Perusal of the National Archives of Australia (NAA) provides scope for historical research on just how federal governments on both sides of politics responded to issues like the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the arrival of nuclear powered US naval vessels carrying nuclear weapons or military aircrafts in transit to bases like Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean or US bases in the Middle East.

There are 876 documents alone covering aspects of Australia’s responses to the challenges posed by nuclear weapons. A few of these documents are available online. Others can be requested. Still others are partially or completely restricted under the Archives Act 1983.

A spokesperson for NAA advised that some sensitive strategic historical files prior generated before late 1993 (the current limit for public access) are still not listed or partially closed to the Australian public. Many sensitive historical files have not been assessed for clearance. Specialized staff are called in to peruse these files when applications are made for photocopying or digitalization. The reproduction costs are passed onto the applicants.

In time, research students will have accessed all available documents to examine the extent to which participation in the US Alliance has eroded our capacity for independent public analysis of international security issues affecting Australia prior to late 1993.

Many of these documents were also released by the US to other countries where archives have differing time limits and retrieval policies from Britain to Jamaica, Zimbabwe, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada or the US itself through the Department of State and private archival networks.

The current generation of students can be kept busy for years to test embedded assumptions about national sovereignty within states that are linked to US Global Alliance Systems.

At a time when recent US administrations have become more proactive about the need for solidarity within US Global Alliance Systems, there is a pressing need for elected leaders of both government and opposition parties to be more concerned about protection of our national sovereignty.

The case for Australian support for the Draft Treaty was eloquently presented by Professor Ramesh Thakur of the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU in a public lecture at Griffith University’s Southbank Campus in Brisbane on 13 July 2017.

Professor Thakur emphasized that the threat of nuclear proliferation is not confined to current media emphasis on nuclear proliferation in North Korea (DPRK). The nuclear stand-off between India and Pakistan has been simmering for decades. It is now complicated by the acquisition of new nuclear weapons technology by India in a dangerous balance of power strategic game with China.

All nine nuclear weapons states are clinging to their nuclear weapons despite commitments make in Articles VI and VII of NPT’68.

After fifty years, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT’68) failed to eliminate the vast nuclear arsenals. Pax Christi Victoria has communicated the grim statistics from the US Arms Control Association.

Australian Catholics should be encouraged by the Vatican’s support on the UN Committee for the new Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

It is the pace of nuclear proliferation which motivated 122 states in the General Assembly to support the UN Committee to negotiate a new Draft Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This was concluded on 7 July 2017. The Netherlands opposed the Draft and Singapore abstained.

Sixty-nine UN member states including Australia were absent from the UN Committee deliberations.

The Treaty will be open for signature to all States at UN Headquarters in New York on 20 September 2017, and enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries. The momentum for ratification is not encouraging. Excessive loyalty to the US Nuclear Weapons Umbrella is a greater challenge to national sovereignty than the current controversy over dual citizenship for members of parliament.

The problem of loyalty to the US Nuclear Umbrella did not arise with the election of Donald Trump.

In the last days of the Obama Administration on 17 October 2016, the US Mission to NATO urged NATO member states to cling to their nuclear umbrella by boycotting the UN Committee to negotiate a new Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. All NATO countries responded positively to this appeal from the US Government and disassociated themselves from the 122 countries supporting the Draft Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.

Should humanity survive the current volatility in US strategic policies, future generations will be aghast at the capacity of the US Government to influence both government and opposition parties within the NATO network of countries. Even centre- left governments in NATO countries towed the directive from Washington.

With nuclear proliferation on the rise within NPT’68, the need for renewal of controls on nuclear weapons is more important than ever. Barry McGuire’s classic protest song (Eve of Destruction) has assumed a new relevance as the quest for a new Age of Aquarius through the Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons becomes ever more important international agenda.

The Conference of The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) in Melbourne between 8-10 September 2017 will provide peace activists with a chance to interact with an array of local and overseas speakers:

Stella Speakers at the IPAN Conference

Australia is offered fresh wisdom from across the Tasman through the web sites of the NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Department (Minister for Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee).

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations for a new international treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the United Nations in New York.

New Zealand joined more than 120 other states in voting in favour of the final text of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Some countries like New Zealand have already enacted a national ban on nuclear weapons. This treaty now provides the first legal prohibition on nuclear weapons at a global level.

“Since none of the states which currently possess nuclear weapons took part in the negotiations, we need to be realistic about the prospects of this treaty leading to a reduction in nuclear weapons in the short term.

“However, the treaty is an important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons, which has been a long-held goal for New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.

The treaty will be open for signature by states from 20 September 2017 and will enter into force after 50 states have ratified it.

There is a problem for our national sovereignty if Australia’s official voice on the terrifying issue of nuclear proliferation is not being expressed to support the representatives of Ireland, Austria, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico as co-sponsors of the Draft Treaty on new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Perhaps the National Government of Prime Minister Bill English in New Zealand can assist Australian leaders with their sovereignty blind-spots as the tabloid press focuses on more trivial problem of members of parliament who happen to hold dual citizenship through their family connections.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in promoting discussion to evaluate pragmatic public policies that are compatible with contemporary globalization.

Mum Did It: The Canavan Argument, Citizenship and the Australian Constitution

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

“A real Italian never blames his mum.” Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, SBS, Jul 27, 2017.

It has raged, and continues to do so, like a pestilence emptying the benches of the Australian parliament. Who will be the next to be carried off into political oblivion for violating section 44 of the Australian constitution, a dull but supremely destructive provision that disqualifies dual-citizenship holders from holding office?

The Greens were the first to be ravaged by the constitutionally driven illness, with Senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters making their own discoveries that they had citizenships they were ignorant off. Both duly fell on their positioned swords, the latter with more feeling than the former.

Then came questions about One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, who still insists that he has neither British nor Indian connections. He reiterated to The Australian that he renounced his British citizenship on June 6 last year, though remains indifferent to producing the proof.

The same paper uncovered, last Friday, British High Commission records showing that the senator was born a British citizen, and that he had travelled on a British passport as a baby.[1]  But Roberts, keeping matters tantalizing, has tweeted that he has the “necessary” documentation and “will soon release details of dual citizenship review I have called for.” (The desperation that calls for deflection).

Novel excuses are being proffered in the latest round of outings. “As far as I am aware” is a common formulation, and it is not a vessel that holds much water: ignorance is far from convincing at the best of times. But it is exactly that ignorance that will form Nationals Senator Matt Canavan’s application to the High Court.

In the case of Senator Canavan, it is ignorance of one’s mother’s actions at the Italian consulate in Brisbane in 2006 to seek Italian citizenship. No papers, Canavan claimed, were signed. He took no active steps to become an Italian national. But there was devious mother Maria, beavering away behind his back to launch him into the soup. (Canavan was not entirely unaware – a family discussion had taken place a year prior).

This blissful ignorance of a parent’s actions in supposedly signing you up for the citizenship of another country is fodder for satirists, not to mention those questioning a politician’s sense of awareness. The imagination on this point is piqued, though, as with other matters of the imagination, not necessarily plausible.

Sara Bucalossi, a visa procurement associate at one of Italy’s largest immigration law firms, Mazzeschi, certainly thought as much. “It doesn’t matter if someone else wants to apply for you, not  your parents, not even your wife, because you’re an adult at that point, you make the decision for yourself.”[2]

Italian consulates in Australia, Bucalossi also noted, tended to follow this to the letter. Sarcastically, she did observe that, given the numerous consulates spread across the globe, she could not confirm the possibility that Canavan’s shoddy reasoning might be credible. Perhaps “in Mongolia or something like this?”

Each day brings forth another horde of gold. It is now clear that Canavan has been listed on the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad in addition to receiving Italian voting forms addressed to him, though sent to his mother’s address for the last 10 years.

Other colleagues have been sceptical of the senator’s defence. The Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, is understandably short on kindness, given the savaging loss of two senators from his team. “Now Senator Canavan should do the right thing by the Australian people and resign immediately.” To date, Canavan has merely left the Cabinet.

Senator Cory Bernardi of the Australian Conservatives suggested that Canavan was promoting a variant of the “dog ate my homework” excuse.  “My father was Italian. We inquired into these citizenship matters many, many years ago and we found it was simply impossible to do as an adult, unless you were part of it yourself.”[3]

The always colourful Bob Katter, federal MP from Queensland, found Canavan’s reasoning near ludicrous. “If you’re telling me someone was made a citizen of another country without your knowledge, you’d be seriously testing my intelligence, I mean, give me a break!”

The forum Canavan will have to convince is the High Court of Australia, which will need in the order of six months, at the bare minimum, to consider the case. Given their rigid, formal interpretations of section 44, the chances for exemption are questionable.

Nothing in the provision suggests that a mental state, or volition, are necessary ingredients to be taken into account on discovering you are the national of another country. As one legal opinion voiced to AAP went, “I can’t see there’s suddenly any flexibility or discretion to create a consent because no one consents to citizenship.”[4]  Gabrielle Appleby of UNSW prefers to see it in more problematic terms, focusing on the taking of “all reasonable steps to renounce citizenship”.

The active element here is that of being entitled to a foreign nationality, and the active renunciation of it, a point made by the majority in Sykes v Cleary [No 2] (1992).[5]  Having to “acquiesce” to it would perhaps be a reasonable extension (the dissenting view of Justice William Deane suggests this), but would require judicial adventurism Australian judges are not renowned for. That is a mountain Canavan and this government will have to climb.

 

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

[1] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/no-papers-but-malcolm-roberts-in-clear-over-citizenship/news-story/d43b740016c9d0b54c2381acc0b9b731

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/26/matthew-canavans-dual-citizen-account-questioned-by-italian-immigration-experts

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-26/senator-canavan-urged-to-resign-amid-citizenship-row/8746588

[4] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/07/26/liberal-senator-matt-canavans-future-rests-high-court-flexibility

[5] http://eresources.hcourt.gov.au/showbyHandle/1/231112#XN.37

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