Democracy as Farce: The Fall of The Democratic…

When Rome transitioned from being a Republic to an Empire, she maintained…

Costing the earth - the price of not…

By Elizabeth Dangerfield  Apparently, the public do not respond well to doom and…

Buyers remorse for the voters of Wentworth?

As our intelligence services warn us about the increasing risk posed by…

Terminal adolescents (part 1)

By Dr George Venturini  6. Terminal adolescentsThere is something infantile about most Australians…

For the world to see

By Tracie Aylmer  It has come to my notice that a man…

The Left Are All Snowflakes Who Say Nasty…

Hypothetical interview with our Treasurer:"So are you going to deliver a budget…

Honour among thieves

Perhaps the extent to which members of the Coalition generally back each…

Julian Assange, the Glass Cage and Heaven in…

Thursday, February 27, Woolwich Crown Court. The first round of extradition hearings…

«
»
Facebook

The Barnaby Joyce Constitutional Crisis

The Barnaby Joyce Constitutional Crisis

Or

Is any-one up for a class action against Barnaby?

By Michael Griffin

Contrary to what the MSM is leading many to believe, there is no need for a by election if Barnaby Joyce is found to be a disqualified person pursuant to s 44 the Constitution.

Sections 360 (v) & (vi) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) provides that if Joyce is found to be disqualified then Tony Windsor, as the candidate to obtain the second most votes on the ballot, can petition the High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns to have it declare him the duly elected candidate without need for a by election at all. Windsor would only need to make a submission to the Court on the method of filling the vacancy left by Joyce’s departure at the time of the hearing of the issue of Joyce’s disqualification. Tony Windsor could also seek his costs from the Cth. This would certainly be cheaper for him, and for the nation as a whole, than paying for another expensive election campaign.

Section 360 the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 states the following:

Powers of Court

(1) The Court of Disputed Returns shall sit as an open Court and its powers shall include the following:

(i) To adjourn;

(ii) To compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents;

(iii) To grant to any party to a petition leave to inspect in the presence of a prescribed officer the rolls and other documents (except ballot papers) used at or in connexion with any election and to take, in the presence of the prescribed officer, extracts from those rolls and documents;

(iv) To examine witnesses on oath;

(v) To declare that any person who was returned as elected was not duly elected;

(vi) To declare any candidate duly elected who was not returned as elected;

(vii) To declare any election absolutely void;

(viii) To dismiss or uphold the petition in whole or in part;

(ix) To award costs;

(x) To punish any contempt of its authority by fine or imprisonment.

(2) The Court may exercise all or any of its powers under this section on such grounds as the Court in its discretion thinks just and sufficient.

(3) Without limiting the powers conferred by this section, it is hereby declared that the power of the Court to declare that any person who was returned as elected was not duly elected, or to declare an election absolutely void, may be exercised on the ground that illegal practices were committed in connexion with the election.

(4) The power of the Court of Disputed Returns under paragraph

(1)(ix) to award costs includes the power to order costs to be paid by the Commonwealth where the Court considers it appropriate to do so.

 

The relevant part as far as Windsor is concerned is subsection (1) (v) & (vi). This means the Court can declare that Joyce was not duly elected pursuant to subsection (v) and then declare Windsor elected pursuant to subsection (vi) without the need for a costly and inconvenient by election at all.

The necessary element of ‘illegal practice’ required by subsection (3) was described in Sue v Hill  (1999) 199 CLR 462 as meaning the definition of that phrase as provided at  s 352 (1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 where ‘illegal practices’ simply means a failure to comply with the arrangements set up by that Act. In the case of In Re: Wood (1988) 167 CLR 145 the Court indicated that a break down or failure of the scrutineer system as provided by Part XVIII of the Act would a failure to comply with the arrangements set up by the Act because such a failure would lead to ineligible candidates being elected and invalid votes being cast by electors. Given that the scrutineers failed to detect that Joyce was a disqualified person and that the votes cast for him were invalid, the purposes of the scrutineer provisions in the Act had not been complied with. Hence, the required element of ‘illegal practice’, as that term is defined by the Act, will be met by the failure of the scrutineers to detect the votes cast invalidly for Joyce as a disqualified person. On that basis, it would seem that Joyce is, prima facie, doomed – as is the Turnbull government. In this light, Joyce’s resistance to resigning from parliament and his refusal to heed the calls for him to abstain from voting seems an irrational and delusionary position that could only eventuate from cherry picking the advice of lawyers who have been briefed to give the uncritical opinion requested from them.

Section 379 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 grants the Court a similar power to that at s 360. It states:

Powers of Court

On the hearing of any reference under this Part the Court of Disputed Returns shall sit as an open Court and shall have the powers conferred by section 360 so far as they are applicable, and in addition thereto shall have power:

(a) to declare that any person was not qualified to be a Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives;

(b) to declare that any person was not capable of being chosen or of sitting as a Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives; and

(c) to declare that there is a vacancy in the Senate or in the House of Representatives.

Hence, after declaring a candidate who has been elected to be unelected the Court can then fill the vacancy by declaring another candidate the winner in the disqualified candidates place without any need for a by election at all.

Once again in the case of In Re: Wood, the Court held that:

…the vacancy resulting from a person being disqualified may be dealt with in the same way as applies where a deceased candidate’s name appears on the ballot paper…and…a vote indicated on the ballot paper opposite the name of a deceased candidate shall be counted to the candidate next in the order of the voter’s preference and the numbers indicating subsequent preferences shall be taken to be altered accordingly.

 

In other words, the preference votes of the disqualified candidate should be counted and allocated to other candidates and the candidate with the highest count of votes after that distribution of preferences may be declared the winner of the election. This is a ‘count back’ so to speak. The Australian Electoral Commission has already done this and Windsor gained the second most votes after the distribution of preferences at the last election by a substantial margin against candidates after Joyce. Thus, Tony Windsor can be safely declared the winner of the election if he seeks an order to that effect from the Court by way a petition. On that basis, Tony Windsor would be declared the member for New England upon Barnaby Joyce’s demise without the need for a by election. This would leave the LNP Coalition without a majority and unable to form a government.

Further, under section 46 the Constitution ANY person can sue Joyce personally for each day he sits in Parliament while a disqualified person. Under that section the Court can declare from which date the person was disqualified and in the recent Bob Day case the Court back-dated Day’s disqualification from the date he first received money in his bank account as a payment for the lease agreement he had with the Commonwealth.

Sections 46 the Constitution says:

Penalty for sitting when disqualified:

Until the Parliament otherwise provides, any person declared by this Constitution to be incapable of sitting as a senator or as a member of the House of Representatives shall, for every day on which he so sits, be liable to pay the sum of one hundred pounds to any person who sues for it in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Joyce’s disqualification could be more onerous for him than Day’s as Joyce has technically been disqualified since he first sat in parliament many years ago and his disqualification could be back-dated many years. If many citizens took action against Joyce under section 46 he would quite clearly be bankrupted and, therefore, further disqualified from being elected at the next election as an undischarged bankrupt.

Further again, if Joyce is found to have obtained a benefit from the Cth, such as his payments as a parliamentarian, without being entitled to that benefit then he also risks being charged and convicted under s 135 (2) Criminal Code Act and deported back to his ancestral home of NZ.

It is a sign of the LNP Government’s desperation that they insist on Barnaby remaining in Parliament. If things go badly for Joyce in the Court he could be standing alone up to his neck in the Darling River water he so readily allowed his National Party donors to pilfer from the Australian people and given his conduct no one would be there to throw him a rescue rope. The fact that Joyce remains in Parliament and is continuing to vote is a disgrace to a system that prides itself on being a robust democracy – indeed that boasts of itself around the world as being such. Allowing invalidly elected politicians to sit in Parliament and vote is a characteristic of a dictatorship not a democracy. What’s more, it brings the Constitution itself into disrepute and defeats any claim that purports the rule of law operates in the Australian politico/legal system. Above all, it clearly shows that the LNP has complete disdain for the Australian people and the principle of the rule of law and are prepared to do anything to impose their agenda on the people to the benefit of themselves and the minority of interest groups they represent and serve at all costs and even though that approach approximates illegality.

Given the LNP’s contempt of the Australian people, it is clearly time to kick back at this inept and inadequate system of government set up by a deficient constitution that allows an invalidly elected person to sit in Parliament and vote on laws that Australian citizens must be subject to and that allows a political party to put the vested interests of its donors before the people and the law of the land. On that basis, one can hope that Tony Windsor takes up his opportunity to rid the Australian people of the contemptuous redneck still sitting in parliament.

In the meantime, and to kick things off, is any one up for a class action against Barnaby?

© Michael Griffin 2017

Manufacturing Social Dislocation: The Road To Fascism

By Christian Marx

This week we have seen the murderous ways of the far-right. One woman is dead and many others injured as a result of a white supremacist who ploughed his car into a counter left-wing demonstration. This act of evil is the direct result of the proliferation of hate from corporate, mainstream media. This is a calculated attack on the very fabric of society. Why do the media propagate hatred and demonize minorities? The answer is simple. Their system of corporate exploitation is coming to an end and they need to distract and divide.

The wealthy 1% know that capitalism is in trouble. The majority are getting poorer, jobs have been offshored to India, China and other foreign countries for cheap labour. Intelligent people are questioning this rampant dislocation of economic and social systems in the West. However, many are fed a diet of anti-immigrant rhetoric, racial hatred, and attacks on the powerless and the weak.

Privatization has skyrocketed the price of utilities bills, been responsible for the deaths at the Grenville Tower tragedy (which was caused by corporate corner cutting on health and safety measures). Eighty people burned to death so a few thousand pounds could be saved by installing cheap fire insulation.

People are now blaming left-wing protesters for daring to counter protest the ugliness of Fascism. Apparently, according to many posts on the internet, this driver was justified to kill … because the left dared exercise their right to call out ugly racial hatred and Nazism. Apparently, this ‘good white boy’ just snapped due to left-wing harrassment. The world has f*cking gone mad! Several far-right posters on the very page that I run (Don`t look At this Page) have posted outrageous conspiracy theories and blame Obama, activists, the deep state … and a dozen other silly excuses. If this terrorist was a Muslim, they would have screamed for blood and confected fake outrage over the people who died. Let’s face it, the right are incredible hypocrites when it comes to terrorism. If the perpetrator is a white male, who has obvious Nazi views, it is the fault of everybody else. As one thug posted on DLATP, and I quote, “I have no sympathy for the protesters who were injured (and killed) – they deserve it and should not have been demonstrating.” How the hell does one deal with this level of psychosis?

These people are clearly lunatics, but this type of thinking does not emanate from a vacuum. Rather, it requires decades of careful programming via media and other vested right-wing interests. By far the biggest propaganda outlet is the Murdoch media. Pure evil just oozes from their disgusting rags and “news” services. Clear racial division and narratives are pushed, depending on the colour of the person’s skin, religious affiliation, political leaning, and/or socioeconomic background.

Anything remotely orientated towards social justice is labelled “communist” or leftist. Unions are constantly attacked and the poor and in particular minorities such as Aboriginals are continually attacked. This is all done for one reason: to protect corporate wealth and to distract and divide the majority who are being mercilessly exploited and attacked economically.

Despite this tactic repeated again and again throughout history, people never learn. Those who are poorly educated are particularly susceptible to this corporate brainwashing. They blame immigrants, blacks, the left, unions, George Soros etc, while their real enemy is in plain sight. The very people who they champion (rich capitalists) are the people destroying them via corporate terrorism.

The spotlight must be shone on war criminals and corrupt corporate mouthpieces who knowingly push this hatred and these conspiracy theories of the “white race being genocided.” What bullshit! We are all one race: the human race. Unfortunately, some are evil to the core and will inflict massive amounts of societal dislocation and war to satisfy their quest for wealth and power.

When you have Murdoch journalists such as Miranda Divine blaming the Greens for the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the press is horribly corrupted. She should be admonished for this level of disinformation. Worse still, the pundits on the US Fox News channel twist stories into complete fantasy, igniting the damaged psychs of people like the terrorist who drove his car into innocent protesters, who dared have a voice against the toxic ideology of Nazism.

Let us as human beings come together and directly expose this criminal cabal of psychopaths in the media. Recognize that these jackals seek to divide and tear society apart all in their quest for ratings and to protect the rampant theft by their 1% owners. Dick Smith has today voiced his disgust for the current system and quite accurately named the elephant in the room of economic greed. Unless the average person gets active and directly challenges these extremist right wing narratives and silly conspiracy theories, more innocent people will die at the hands of deranged Fox News viewers.


Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.

Dutton for PM – no thanks

If the conservative ideologues get their way, Peter Dutton could be Prime Minister within a few months. If Dutton became Prime Minister, he would be the eighth person to be Prime Minister with double letters in his last name. For the record, if you get asked the question at a trivia night, the others are (in order) Cook, Scullin, Fadden, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull. The history of the last four is well known and in all cases their terms as Prime Minister are remembered more for the politics of gaining or losing power, associated with poor opinion polls, party infighting and a general sense of unease within the community, than their achievments.

So, were the first three any better? Apparently not.

According to the National Museum Australia website, Cook

. . . became Prime Minister following the general election on 31 May 1913. He led the Liberal Party to victory with a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives but he failed to win control of the Senate. He took up office as Prime Minister on 24 June 1913, and also served as Minister for Home Affairs from this date.

On 8 June 1914 Cook sought and obtained a double dissolution of parliament from Governor-General RC Munro-Ferguson, after the Senate had twice refused to pass the Government Preference Prohibition Bill. Before the election was held (on 5 August 1914), the UK declared war and over the next five years the First World War and its aftermath were the all-consuming political issues in Australian politics. The general election held on 5 September 1914 resulted in a strong win for Labor, which gained control of both Houses of federal parliament. Cook’s term as Prime Minister ended formally on 17 September when Andrew Fisher took office.

Post the 1914 election, Cook supported the government of the day’s war policies and his Liberal Party was merged with Prime Minister Hughes’ National Labor group to become the Nationalist Party after the Conscription Referendum in 1916. He was the Australian High Commissioner to the UK from 1921 until 1927, then he retired. Cook died in 1947.

Scullin to some extent was a victim of circumstances as well as poor political judgement. He became ALP leader in 1928, and won an additional eight seats at the election held in November of that year, despite disunity and a long running and violent waterside workers strike. In October 1929, Scullin led the ALP to victory in a general election caused by the fall of the Bruce-Page Government. Unfortunately, the US stock market crash happened a few weeks later; causing the ‘great depression’. Scullin, who didn’t have a majority in the Senate, was also the External Affairs and Industry Minister.

When his Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, EG Theodore, stood down in July 1930 after being implicated for defrauding the government in the Mungana mines affair, Scullin also took on the role of Treasurer. During a seven-month period in this role, Scullin presented his government’s first budget to parliament on 9 July 1930. Scullin’s budget planned for increased expenditure to be met through increased income tax and postal charges and the introduction of a sales tax.

As a result of the government’s difficulty in meeting interest payments on overseas debts, Scullin agreed to invite to Australia a Bank of England delegation led by Sir Otto Niemeyer. Niemeyer formed a poor impression of Scullin’s grasp of economic issues. Scullin, however, was well read in conventional economics and had been horrified by the state of the economy he had taken over – with its high level of debt, falling export commodity prices and rising unemployment.

The Bank of England delegation met with Scullin and state premiers at a special premiers’ conference in Melbourne during August 1930. On Niemeyer’s advice, the conference agreed to a heavily deflationary package of measures (known as the Melbourne Agreement) for tackling the Depression. This involved balancing budgets, ceasing overseas borrowing until all external debts were paid, confining internal borrowing to income producing schemes, reducing government expenditure (including spending on social services) and cutting wages.

Scullin left Australia soon afterwards for four and a half months to attend an ‘Imperial Conference’ with the heads of government of other dominions of the British Empire. While he was away

. . . the ALP caucus was deeply divided over the implementation of the Melbourne Agreement. The Acting Prime Minister, JE Fenton, and Acting Treasurer, JA Lyons, supported by the absent Scullin, adhered to the Agreement. Opposing them were ‘inflationists’ (the group supporting Theodore’s views) and ‘Langites’ (the group supporting the New South Wales Premier’s position).

A ‘soap opera’ of events happened when Scullin returned to Australia, including the reappointment of Theodore to the Treasury, causing some to leave the ALP and align themselves with the Opposition members of Parliament. In addition, the head of the Commonwealth Bank refused the Government’s request for funding until Scullin cut pensions, leading to a second Premiers Conference in 1931 where an agreement was hammered out and subsequently passed in Parliament (albeit with 50% of Scullin’s ALP voting against it). This led to the eventual demise of Scullin’s Government late in 1931 with Scullin rejecting calls for an inquiry into allegations of corrupt distribution of unemployment relief by Theodore, causing the ‘Langite’ Labor members siding with the Opposition to pass a no confidence motion in the Government.

Scullin resigned the ALP leadership in 1935, to be replaced by John Curtin. He acted as a mentor for both Curtin and Chifley during their Prime Ministerships and retired from Parliament in the 1949 election. He died in January 1953 and the funeral service was conducted by Archbishop Daniel Mannix.

Fadden is the only member of the Country (now National) Party who was appointed Prime Minister in a permanent rather than acting capacity. Having said that, it didn’t last too long. His term was 29 August until 7 October 1941. A year earlier, Fadden was a compromise choice as Country Party leader, being appointed as ‘Acting Leader’ in October 1940. He was confirmed in the Leadership role in March 1941 and retained the role for 17 years.

Fadden served as Minister Assisting the Treasurer and Minister for Supply and Development in the Robert Gordon Menzies United Australia Party-Country Party coalition from March-August 1940, then as Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation from August-October 1940, and finally as Treasurer from October 1940-August 1941. He was a member of the war cabinet and economic cabinet from 1940 to 1941.

In January 1941 Fadden became Deputy Prime Minister for four months while RG Menzies was overseas. After increasing dissension within the UAP-CP coalition, Menzies resigned as Prime Minister on 28 August 1941 in favour of Fadden.

Fadden served as Prime Minister from 29 August until 7 October 1941. By October, he had lost support of two Independents who voted with Labor to defeat his government in the House, thus making way for John Curtin’s Labor government.

Except for the periods in office of three caretaker Prime Ministers (Earle Page, Francis (Frank) Forde and John McEwen), Fadden’s 40 days as Prime Minister was the shortest of any Prime Minister in the twentieth century.

Fadden went on to serve as Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer in the 1949 and subsequent Menzies’ Governments, retiring in 1958. He died in Brisbane in 1973.

They aren’t particularly awe-inspiring, are they? While it could be argued that politics is full of well – politics – it seems that all the Prime Ministers with double letters have come to prominence under atypical circumstances. Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull all came to power by manufacturing a party room coup and ensuring they had ‘the numbers’ to succeed. Some of the problems they had in government were due to their concentration on foiling the attempts of others doing to them as they did to their predecessor. Dutton is being touted openly by some conservatives as a potential Prime Minister when Turnbull falls or is pushed onto his sword (whichever happens first), probably to see how much public support there is for the concept. As a result, Turnbull is apparently finding it difficult to distract his colleagues from navel gazing to actually deliver policy and legislation that is wanted by the majority of Australians, such as marriage equality, while being assured of retaining his current position.

Dutton has certainly shown he has the heart of stone necessary to forcibly inflict obscene and unusual punishment on people who have attempted to apply for refugee status in Australia. US President Trump liked how the Australian Government has managed the ‘refugee problem’ so much that he commented during that now infamous phone call

TRUMP: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.

Turnbull went on to boast the only reason people were under Australian custody on Manus Island and Nauru

TURNBULL: Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

TRUMP: Malcolm, but they are arrived on a boat?

TURNBULL: Correct, we have stopped the boats.

Turnbull is too busy checking his back for knives from the conservatives in his party and media to run an effective and equitable government. If Dutton comes to be the LNP Leader by the same path as Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull – will he be too busy checking his back for knives from the progressives in his party?

Regardless of the political party the Prime Minister comes from, they are supposed to govern for all Australians. In the 21st Century, we expect our politicians to act honestly and demonstrate equality for all. Neither Abbott or Turnbull have appeared to understand the concept of equality in recent history. Various surveys, including the one referred to in this Sydney Morning Herald report show

The divide between rich and poor is growing in Australia, according to a new national survey which found more than a quarter of households have experienced a drop in income.

We have also touched on marriage equality. Let’s just add that Howard (the Prime Minister who inserted the ‘man and woman’ clause in the Marriage Act) didn’t need a plebiscite, secret vote or any other delaying tactic to do so – so why can’t Turnbull remove it the same way? Probably because the conservatives, including Dutton, will mutiny if he does.

We keep people in inhumane conditions across the Pacific because they tried to get here by boat and claim refugee status (which is legal according to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 – signed by PM Menzies) rather than arrive by plane and overstay their tourist or study visa (which is illegal). Dutton is the enforcer of this process.

Dutton got his wish for a postal ballot on the proposed changes to the Marriage Act (a device that will require the Australian Bureau of Statistics to oversee a ’statistical survey’ that comprises a ‘yes/no’ answer, is not binding on Parliamentarians and costs Australia $122million) and he administers an overseas refugee policy which Turnbull admits to be selective, vindictive and driven solely by politics in his call with President Trump. If either Dutton or Turnbull have ethics and morals, clearly, they are subservient to what they believe to be winning politics.

Clearly, there is no evidence to suggest that Dutton, if he was to become Prime Minister, would be any better than the motley collection of those with double letters that preceded him. To retain the ’top job’, he would have to concentrate on the politics, hatred and spite rather than equity, equality, morals, ethics, compassion or betterment for all Australians. We are better off without him.

What do you think?

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

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)

Contrarian views on temperature have melted away

By Keith Antonysen

It should not have been necessary to write about increasing global temperature; but, with Trump as leader of the US there appears to have been a resurgence of contrarian opinion. Trump and his cabinet are climate change deniers; evidence does not support their views.

When considering the time span climate science has been developed over, the sophistication of equipment used to ascertain that anthropogenic climate change is occurring, the observations made, and objective factors displaying change; it is difficult to understand that contrarians exist.

A recently released mega report makes it difficult for a contrarian to  put up valid opinions in relation to temperature. The report had been put together by 450 scientists using the references of thousands of scientists from properly reviewed science research.

Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” the report outlined: “Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor.

Quotes from a newly republished report in New York Times had mistakenly believed they had received a leaked document:

The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation and extreme heat events are increasing in most regions of the world and will continue to rise in the future ….  (Very high confidence).

Also,

Alaska and Arctic surface and air temperatures are rising more than twice as fast as the global average. (Very high confidence).

A very high level of confidence, means “… strong evidence (established theory, multiple sources, consistent results, well documented etc.) high consensus.” (https://assets.documentcloud.org)

Lack of temperature increase has been a fall back opinion constantly promoted by contrarians; yet, there are numerous research papers published in peer reviewed Journals which show that temperatures have constantly been increasing. There is objective evidence that temperature is increasing in the Arctic Ocean displayed by:

After 24 days at sea and a journey spanning more than 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles), the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. (https://www.cnbc.com, 2017).

Other sources have also commented on the newly re-published report:

“A range of key climate and weather indicators show the planet is growing increasingly warm, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down, said the annual State of the Climate Report.”

And:

The report confirmed prior announcements that 2016 was the hottest year since contemporary records began, marking the third year in a row that global records were broken planet-wide. Both land and sea surface temperatures set new highs. (Planet marks new highs for heat, pollutants, sea level in 2016: report).

Also:

Each year from January to June, hundreds of scientists from around the world crunch the numbers on the previous year’s climate, reviewing and cataloging everything from the humidity of the atmosphere, to the number and strength of hurricanes in every part of the ocean, to the size of the Arctic sea ice pack. (climate.gov).

Greenland is often portrayed as an area which suggests that temperatures were higher during the Medieval Warm Period than currently; but, fairly new research from Baffin Island, Canada, shows that such an opinion is not viable. The Barnes Ice Cap on Baffin Island has only been hit hard three times by high temperature over 2.5 million years.

Contrarians often state that sea level rise is not happening; but, till so far explanations for “sunny day floods” in South East USA have not been forth coming.

Contrarians can nit pick; however, they have no solid evidence to support their views, they do not have any research which can be identified as having a very high level of confidence.

Keith Antonysen is retired. He is a keen gardener, photographer, kayaker, and recreational fisher. The Vietnam War and later the flooding of Lake Pedder created an interest in politics which led to a passion for social justice issues. Currently very concerned about lack of action on climate change. Keith is not a paid up member of any political party.

Henry Kissinger: the man behind the rise of a dictatorship

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 Ten. Here is the link to Part Nine; Pinochet: the dictator of death.

 

In the days which followed Pinochet arrest on 16 October 1998 in London, the families of nine French citizens who had been ‘disappeared’ or were executed in Chile or in Argentina – but for acts which could be attributed to the Chilean military Junta – between 11 September 1973 and 9 February 1977, filed complaints in France to obtain the truth and justice that they had not obtained in Chile. Isabelle Ropert filed the first complaint on behalf of her brother, Enrique Ropert, who was arrested on 11 September 1973 in front of La Moneda and then found dead on 20 October 1973 at the Santiago morgue.

The complaints filed by the families of Alfonso Chanfreau, Jean-Yves Claudet, Georges Klein and Étienne Pesle were the only ones to be recognised as admissible by the French courts. The courts have in fact affirmed the continuing nature of the crime of enforced disappearance, since the victims’ bodies have never been found. In French law this crime of ‘disappearance’ is categorised as arrest and illegal detention, aggravated by torture and barbarous acts.

The question emerged immediately as to the extra-territorial jurisdiction of French courts.

Based on the work of the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation – the Rettig Commission, the National Reparation and Reconciliation Corporation – set up in 1990 and 1992 respectively and relating only to violations of the right to life, and the National Commission on Political Prison and Torture – set up in 2003 and known as the Valech Commission, the Chilean State officially recognised 3,197 victims of ‘disappearances’ or executions and 28,461 victims of torture.  The limited mandate of those organisations and the impossibility for many victims to appeal to them due to their feeling of insecurity, especially at the beginning of the 1990s, and their restrictive mandates, have consequently left hundreds of victims unidentified.

In February 2010 the so-called Rettig and Valech Commissions were reinstated for a very brief period to enable new victims to make themselves known during a six month period and thus benefit from certain reparation measures. The intention of these Truth Commissions was not to establish individual responsibility, nor to render justice.

The trial in France also permitted proceedings to be brought again in Chile. By the end of the dictatorship in 1990 it had been possible to file only a few complaints and these had been discontinued through almost automatic application of the amnesty law. And by the time of Pinochet’s return to Santiago in 2000 the dictatorship’s victims had filed 60 complaints against Pinochet. Two months later there were nearly 100 and, when he died on 10 December 2006, never having been tried, there were more than 400, especially for enforced disappearance, torture, sequestration of children and aggravated homicide. In 2001 special first instance judges were appointed to investigate these complaints, which have continuously increased since 1998. Some of these judges have done considerable work which has permitted the truth about the crimes committed to be revealed that some of them have qualified as crimes against humanity on the basis of international treaty and customary law.

To date in Chile not even 200 persons have been sentenced for crimes against humanity committed during the dictatorship, and no more than 53 have been gaoled or are under house arrest.  Slightly over 330 proceedings were still under way and of the less than 800 persons who are the subject of proceedings, no more than 56 are civilians.  The Chilean Supreme Court no longer applies the amnesty law, even though it is still on the statute book. The low sentences, in recent years applying the rule of ‘partial statute of limitations’, are absolutely disproportionate to the seriousness of the crimes.

Taking into consideration the length of time since the events and the current behaviour of the perpetrators of the crimes being tried, in very many cases this rule results in those found guilty walking away free as soon as the verdict is rendered. In addition justice is very slow: 65 per cent of the ongoing proceedings – often after the proceedings have lasted more than ten years – are still at the preliminary stage. Very few of the civilian leaders under the dictatorship are concerned about justice. The Chilean legal system is confronted with echoes of the structure of impunity created by Pinochet and his followers in preparation for the transition.

None of the proceedings in Chile concerned those accused of acts committed against the four Franco-Chilean victims. The trial about to take place in Paris was without precedent.

The F.I.D.H. and its affiliates in Chile and in France, Corporación de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo, C.O.D.E.P.U., the Ligue des droits de l’Homme, League of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, L.D.H., as well as the Association of former Chilean political prisoners in France and the Association France Latin America had joined the lawsuit as civil parties as early as July 1999, and in that capacity were appearing alongside the families of the four Frenchmen.  By intervening as a civil party in a criminal trial, a party who was not directly the victim of the crime lodges a claim for damages. Such party may take part in the trial, adducing witnesses, submitting evidence, statements and expert opinions.

As previously noted, the investigation of the case had been opened by Judge Roger Le Loire on 30 October 1998. He was the judge who had attempted to question Kissinger 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.

The investigation was closed by Judge Sophie Clément, who issued an order for indictment before the Cour d’Assises – the highest French criminal court on 21 February 2007.

France issued international arrest warrants against 19 persons, including Pinochet. He was being prosecuted for his direct personal criminal responsibility in the torture and ‘disappearance’ of the four victims, as Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Land Army and head of the military Junta, and fourteen formers senior leaders of the dictatorship were charged of the kidnapping, torture and ‘disappearance’ of four French and/or French/Chilean citizens: Alfonso Chanfreau, Jean-Yves Claudet, Georges Klein and Étienne Pesle.

Initially, according to a 12 February 2008 announcement by the F.I.D.H., C.O.D.E.P.U., and the L.D.H., the trial was to have taken place between 19 and 23 May 2008. It was postponed.

The proceedings were finally scheduled to take place before the Paris Cour d’Assises from 8 to 17 December 2010.

Pinochet had died just a few weeks before Judge Sophie Clément issued an order for his indictment. The other accused were: 1) Javier Secundo Emilio Palacios Ruhmann, formerly a General of the Chilean Land Army, responsible for leading the attack on La Moneda Presidential Palace, 2) Osvaldo Romo Mena, formerly a  Land Army Commander assigned to D.I.N.A., 3) Andres Rigoberto Pacheco Cardenas, formerly an Air Force Colonel and Commander of the base at Maquehue, 4) Paul Schaeffer Schneider, formerly the head of ‘Colonia Dignidad’ and a former Nazi war criminal, 5) Juan Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda, formerly the head of D.I.N.A. and a former General of the Chilean Land Army, 6) Hermán Julio Brady Roche, formerly Commander-in-Chief of the Santiago garrison, 7) Pedro Octavio Espinoza Bravo, formerly a Colonel of the Land Army, Director of Operations and Chief of the D.I.N.A. Metropolitan Intervention Brigade, 8) José Osvaldo Riveiro, formerly a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Land Army, 9) Marcelo Luís Moren Brito, formerly a Commander of the Land Army, assigned to D.I.N.A., 10) Miguel Krasnoff Martchenko, formerly a Captain of the Land Army, assigned to D.I.N.A., 11) Rafael Francisco Ahumada Valderrama, formerly an Officer of the Tacna Regiment, 12) Gerardo Ernesto Godoy García, formerly a Sub-Lieutenant of the Land Army, assigned to D.I.N.A., 13) Basclay Humberto Zapata Reyes, formerly a non-commissioned officer of the Land Army, assigned to D.I.N.A., 14) Enrique Lautaro Arranciabia Clavel, formerly D.I.N.A. representative in Argentina, 15) Raúl Eduardo Iturriaga Neumann, formerly D.I.N.A. foreign affairs official, 16) Luís Joachim Ramírez Pineda, formerly Commander of the Tacna camp, 17) José Octavio Zara Holger, formerly a Land Army officer posted to D.I.N.A., and 18) Emilio Sandoval Poo, formerly an Air Force military reservist, at the time of trial a company director in Temuco.

Four of the listed defendants had died before the trial could begin. All the others were aged between 59 and 89. In the absence of an extradition treaty between Paris and Santiago, France was not in a position to force the presence of the defendants. None was present at the trial, although they were summoned by the Court. They were entitled to be represented by a lawyer in application of the in absentia procedure, but all refused.

All 14 of the living defendants were tried in absentia, making the case highly symbolic.

The French and Franco-Chilean victims at the heart of the trial were:

1) Alfonso Chanfreau, a French citizen, born in Santiago in 1950. He had married Erika Hennings with whom he had a daughter, Natalia. A member of the Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionaria – Revolutionary Left-wing Movement, M.I.R., he became a Santiago city official following the coup on 11 September 1973. On 30 July 1974 Chanfreau was arrested at his home by D.I.N.A. operatives. Gerardo Godoy García and Osvaldo Romo Mena took part in this operation. His wife Erika was arrested the next morning “so that her husband would talk.” Imprisoned for 15 days at the ‘London 38’ torture centre in Santiago, the couple were brutally tortured, by Osvaldo Romo, Miguel Krasnoff Martchencko and Marcelo Moren Brito in particular. Erika was transferred to other detention centres and then expelled to France with their daughter Natalia. Alfonso was transferred on 13 August 1974 to the ‘Villa Grimaldi’ where his legs were crushed under a vehicle, before being taken back to the ‘London 38’ centre. He ‘disappeared’ afterwards and some witnesses indicated that he was taken to the ‘Colonia Dignidad’, a place set up by Paul Schaeffer, a former Nazi war criminal, where prisoners were tortured and the agents of D.I.N.A. were trained.

2) Jean-Yves Claudet, a French citizen, born in 1939 in Maipú, a suburb of Greater Santiago, who was married to Arhel Danus, with whom he had two sons, Étienne and Roger. Jean-Yves Claudet worked as an engineer and was a member of the Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionaria – Revolutionary Left-wing Movement, M.I.R. Arrested on two occasions in 1973, he remained in detention for one year. On his release he was immediately 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, with microfilms in his possession. He was arrested on 1 November 1975 by agents of S.I.D.E., the Argentine secret police, 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 Claudet “Ya no existe” – no longer exists.

3) Georges Klein, a French citizen, born in 1945, a psychiatrist and personal physician and adviser to President Allende. He was married to Alice Vera Fausto; they had one daughter, Vanessa.  He had been active in the Socialist Party, and then in the Communist Party. Georges Klein was by the side of President Allende when La Moneda Palace was bombed. Like other defenders of the Palace, he was taken prisoner on the same day and driven by bus, with around forty other persons, to the Tacna Regiment – a land army artillery regiment. The regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Luís Ramírez Pineda who, together with General Javier Palacios, reported to General Hermán Brady Roche, Commander-in-Chief of the Santiago garrison. When they arrived, the 40 prisoners were taken to the stables and ordered to lie on their stomachs with their legs spread and their hands behind their neck until the following day. According to several witnesses, the prisoners were subjected to ill treatment during their transfer and at the Tacna regiment: beaten violently, forced to remain immobile in the cold, deprived of food and water, threatened with death.  On 13 September Georges Klein was taken away from the Tacna Regiment with 20 other persons in a dumper lorry and ‘disappeared’. Evidence collected during the investigation relates that he might have been taken to the Peldehue grounds, where he was killed by machine gun fire on the orders of Major Rafael Ahumada Valderrama.

4) Étienne Pesle was born in France in 1927, went to Chile in 1953 to work with the destitute, married Aydée Mendez Caceres, with whom he had two children, Roberto and Anne-Marie. Pesle was in charge of land reform at the Institute for the Development of Agriculture and Fishing in Temuco. The Institute, the goals of which were in line with the policy defined by President Allende, was to redistribute lands to the poor peasants and especially to the Mapuche peasants in the Temuco region. He was first arrested on 12 September 1973, then release, and then re-arrested on 19 September at his workplace by soldiers wearing the Chilean Air Force uniform, including Emilio Sandoval Poo, a reserve officer. The group was commanded by Miguel Manriquez, a civilian pilot and landowner against whom Pesle had led expropriation operations which benefited the Mapuche Indians. Pesle ‘disappeared’ from that day and his fate remains unknown. There is consistent evidence that he was taken to Maquehue, the air force base south of Temuco, where torture was systematically used and also applied by civilians. Some persons reported that he was killed and that his body was thrown into the sea from the private airplane of Miguel Manriquez.

“Amongst other things, these hearings will provide an opportunity to listen to historical testimony. Pinochet is dead, but this trial of the dictator, albeit posthumous, is the only trial of the whole system of repression that he established.” wrote Maîtres William Bourdon, Claude Katz and Benjamin Sarfati and Sophie Thonon, lawyers for the victims and the civil parties.

“The detention of Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998 helped revive the procedures initiated by the victims of the Chilean dictatorship both in Chile and abroad. The current trial, because of the nature of the crimes, not eligible for statute of limitation, transcends borders and contributes to the fight against impunity worldwide. It is now expected that the truth which will come out of this trial will be heard in Chile and will facilitate recognition of the realities of these crimes which are still far too little known.” said Hiram Villagra and Federico Aguirre, C.O.D.E.P.U. lawyers in Chile.

The trial opened as planned on 8 December 2010. It was based on complaints filed in 1998 by the victims’ families, who maintain that the Chilean justice system failed fully to investigate the four disappearances.  The trial was of historic value in several respects. Beyond recognition of the individual responsibility of the accused, the trial would be the opportunity to establish and punish the system of repression set up and operated by the Pinochet dictatorship which reigned in Chile from 1973 to 1990. Furthermore, proceedings were connected to significant events at the start of the dictatorship which would throw light on the way it functioned and make its modus operandi perfectly clear: – the bombing of La Moneda and the arrest of the advisers of Salvador Allende; – the systematic repression of opponents – amongst whom were activists of the Revolutionary Left-wing movement, M.I.R. and persons linked to the former government – such as those involved with the great land reform embarked on by Allende; – the extremely hierarchical operation of D.I.N.A., the Junta’s political police force under the direct orders of Augusto Pinochet and Manuel Contreras;  – Operación Cóndor, which aimed at eliminating opponents of the region’s dictatorial regimes; – the crimes systematically committed under Pinochet in torture centres such as ‘London 38’, ‘Villa Grimaldi’, or ‘Colonia Dignidad’.

This trial saw a number of witnesses who travelled from Chile to appear beside the plaintiff families. There would be not only witnesses to the events, such as the arrest, abduction, detention and torture of the four victims, but also experts who would give evidence of the context of those events and the internal condition in Chile, such as the Chilean lawyer and former United Nations Rapporteur, Roberto Garretón; Martín Almada, who discovered the Operation Condor archives; the American journalist John Dinges, a specialist on Operation Condor, the French magistrate Louis Joinet, and personalities from the world of human rights.

Through the trial France did render to the victims’ families that justice which had not been rendered in Chile.

Hoping for justice, the wives, children and brothers and sisters of the four men who vanished between 1973 and 1975 attended the trial from its beginning on 8 December.  Thus, for instance, Erika and Natalia Chanfreau were there, and so were Roberto and Anne-Marie Pesle.

In an unusual move, the top State Prosecutor had intervened to tell the Court that the trial had been “indispensable and necessary” even though the accused were not present.  The trial, he said, is not meant to “move the cursor of history towards justice” but to judge men who “let their basest instincts guide them.” using torture for “power by fear.”

On 17 December 2010 the President of the Paris Cour d’ Assises announced a landmark decision on relation the ‘disappearance’ of Alfonso Chanfeau, Jean-Yves Claudet, Georges Klein and Étienne Pesle.

The Court sentenced to life in gaol Juan Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda, who at the time headed Pinochet’s political police, and Pedro Octavio Espinoza Bravo, No. 2 in the political police unit. Three others, Hermán Julio Brady Roche, Marcelo Luís Moren Brito, Miguel Kraznoff Martchenko were given 30-year prison sentences. Six were sentenced to 25 years: Gerardo Godoy Ernesto García, Basclay Humberto Zapata Reyes, Enrique Lautaro Arranciaba Clavel, Raúl Iturriaga Neumann, Luís Joachim Ramírez Pineda, José Osvaldo Riveiro. One received a 20-year sentence: Rafael Francisco Ahumada Valderama, and one 15 years: Emilio Sandoval Poo. One defendant, 77-year-old Gen. José Octavio Zara Holger, was acquitted.

The Court’s decision went beyond the request of State Prosecutor who had sought 20-year prison terms for three of the defendants and 15 years for the remaining 11.

For the first time in the history of Chile, the legal system of another country would come to identify and punish acts committed by these perpetrators.

Families of the victims nevertheless took heart in the convictions more than 30 years after the four disappeared.

Applause broke out in the court room among families of the victims after the reading of the verdicts. “Five members of the military came to get my father. They were in air force uniform.” Roberto Pesle told France-Infos radio. “They took him in front of all of his work colleagues. That is how he disappeared.”  What happened next was speculation, Pesle said. “What they often did at that time was to get rid of the bodies by tossing them into a volcano or into the ocean.” His father’s body was never found.

Natalia Chanfreau, the daughter of one of the ‘disappeared’, said that the fact that the accused were unlikely to be arrested unless they tried to leave Chile did not detract from the trial’s significance. “What is important is the symbolic value of getting international condemnation of what happened.” she said. “It is important, too, that the guilty know that impunity is not eternal and it is not universal.  … I was one year old when my father disappeared. I am now 37, so it is an entire life without the right to justice.” said Natalia Chanfreau. …  “There are still many things to do. I would like to know where [my father] is, and of course I would also like [the guilty] to be in prison … but for the moment, I am really happy.”

William Bourdon, the lawyer representing the families of three of the victims, underlined the significance of the trial as the only major trial in contemporary times which gave an overall picture of the Pinochet regime and which was “marked by something Pinochet invented, which was to erase opponents by making them disappear.”  …  “The French judges understood very well that they were not only judges for the French victims but also judges for all of mankind.” he said. Noting the defendants’ absences, he said countries should be obliged to extradite even their own citizens when charged with international crimes.

“We hope this decision will lead the Chilean courts to act quickly, with total transparency and independence in relation to serious human rights violations committed during the dictatorship.” said Claude Katz, attorney for the F.I.D.H. and L.D.H.

On 23 December 2010, as the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances entered into force, the F.I.D.H. hailed it as a decisive step in the protection of the rights of victims of this atrocious crime. “The phenomenon of enforced disappearances is universal, affecting all continents. These horrific crimes not only target the ’disappeared’ persons themselves, but also their families and whole societies.” said Souhayr Belhassen, F.I.D.H. president.

More than 30 years after the adoption by the U.N. General Assembly of Resolution 33/173, December 1978, which for the first time referred to the issue of ‘Disappeared persons’, the International  Convention finally came to constitute a binding instrument containing important provisions for the protection of the rights of victims.

The legal significance of the Convention is remarkable, since it not only provides a legal definition of the crime of ‘enforced disappearance’, but also establishes a set of obligations of States to prevent and prosecute this crime through concrete measures at the national level. The Convention recognises in particular the right to information, the right to know the truth, the right to justice and the right to reparation.

“The right to know is a fundamental right, as the phenomenon of enforced disappearance breaks the daily life of families.” underlined the former U.N. Special Rapporteur, Louis Joinet, during his testimony at the Pinochet trial before the Paris Cour d’Assises.

As of December 2016, 96 states have signed the Convention and 54 have ratified it.

The Convention places an obligation on State parties to take measures to prosecute the perpetrators of this crime when they are present on their territories, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, irrespective of the nationality of the victims and the alleged perpetrators, as well the country where the crime was committed. Finally, the Convention sets up a Committee which will monitor implementation by State parties.

“We now urge states that have not yet ratified the Convention to do so and encourage those that are already party to the Convention to implement its provisions, including by incorporating the crime of enforced disappearance into their national legislation.” concluded Souhayr Belhassen.

On 11 September 2013, the 40th anniversary of the coup, the National Security Archive released thousands of documents which belong to the Chile Documentation Project directed by Peter Kornbluh, author of several books on the presence of the United States in Latin America.(P. Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A declassified dossier on atrocity and accountability, The New Press, New York, N.Y. 1989, with updated edition, 11 September 2013).

At a special ‘Tribute to Justice’ on  9 September 2013, in New York, Kornbluh had received the Charles Horman Truth Foundation Award for the Archive’s work in obtaining the declassification of thousands of formerly secret documents on Chile after Pinochet’s arrest in London in October 1998. Other awardees included Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzón, who had Pinochet detained in London; and Chilean judge Juan Guzmán Tapia, who prosecuted him after he returned to Chile in 2000.

Ten of those documents were posted on the same day. (National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 437).

They unequivocally clarify Kissinger’s responsibility for the coup.

Here is Kissinger, urging Nixon to overthrow the democratically elected Allende government in Chile because his “ ‘model’ effect can be insidious.”  The posted records spotlight Kissinger’s role as the principal policy architect of the United States’ efforts to oust the Chilean leader, and assist in the consolidation of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.

The documents include transcripts of Kissinger’s ‘telcons’ – telephone conversations  –   which were never shown to the special Senate Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in the mid 1970s which produced the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, 1975. The new documents  provide key details about the arguments, decisions, and operations Kissinger made and supervised during his tenure as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State.

“These documents provide the verdict of history on Kissinger’s singular contribution to the denouement of democracy and rise of dictatorship in Chile.” said Peter Kornbluh at the launch of his book’s new edition. “They are the evidence of his accountability for the events of forty years ago.”

The posting included a Kissinger ‘telcon’ with Nixon which records their first conversation after the coup. During the conversation Kissinger tells Nixon that the U.S. had ‘helped’ the coup. He says: “[Word omitted] created the conditions as best as possible.” When Nixon complained about the “liberal crap” in the media about Allende’s overthrow, Kissinger advised him: “In the Eisenhower period, we would be heroes.”

That ‘telcon’ appeared for the first time in the newly revised edition of Kornbluh’s book. Several of the other documents posted on 11 September 2013 had  appeared for the first time in the original edition.

Among the key revelations in the documents:

On 12 September, eight days after Allende’s election, Kissinger initiated discussion on the telephone with C.I.A. director Richard Helm’s about a preemptive coup in Chile. “We will not let Chile go down the drain.” Kissinger declared. “I am with you.” Helms reassured him. Their conversation took place three days before President Nixon, in a 15-minute meeting which included Kissinger, ordered the C.I.A. to “make the economy scream” and named Kissinger as the supervisor of the covert efforts to keep Allende from being inaugurated. Since the Kissinger/Helms ‘telcon’ was not known to the Church Committee, the Senate report on American intervention in Chile and subsequent histories date the initiation of U.S. efforts to sponsor regime change in Chile to the 15 September meeting. (Document 1, Telcon, Helms – Kissinger, 12 September 1970, 12:00 noon).

Kissinger ignored a recommendation from his top deputy on the National Security Council, Viron Vaky, who strongly advised against covert action to undermine Allende. On 14 September Vaky wrote a memorandum to Kissinger arguing that coup plotting would lead to “widespread violence and even insurrection.” He also argued that such a policy was immoral: “What we propose is patently a violation of our own principles and policy tenets.  … If these principles have any meaning, we normally depart from them only to meet the gravest threat to us, e.g. to our survival. Is Allende a mortal threat to the U.S.? It is hard to argue this.” (Document 2: Viron Vaky to Kissinger, “Chile – 40 Committee Meeting, Monday – 14 September 1970)

After U.S. covert operations, which led to the assassination of Chilean Commander in Chief of the Armed forces General René Schneider, failed to stop Allende’s inauguration on  4 November 1970, Kissinger lobbied President Nixon to reject the State Department’s recommendation that the U.S. seek a modus vivendi with Allende. In an eight-page secret briefing paper which provided Kissinger’s clearest rationale for regime change in Chile, he emphasised to Nixon that “the election of Allende as president of Chile poses for us one of the most serious challenges ever faced in this hemisphere” and “your decision as to what to do about it may be the most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will make this year.” Not only were a billion dollars of U.S. investments at stake, Kissinger reported, but what he called “the insidious model effect” of his democratic election. There was no way for the United States to deny Allende’s legitimacy, Kissinger noted, and if he succeeded in peacefully reallocating resources in Chile in a socialist direction, other countries might follow suit. “The example of a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on – and even precedent value for – other parts of the world, especially in Italy; the imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it.” (Document 5: Memorandum for the President, “Covert Action Program-Chile”, 25 November 1970).

The next day Nixon made it clear to the entire National Security Council that the policy would be to bring Allende down. “Our main concern,” he stated “is the prospect that he can consolidate himself and the picture projected to the world will be his success.”

In the days following the coup, Kissinger ignored the concerns of his top State Department aides about the massive repression by the new military regime. He sent secret instructions to his ambassador to convey to Pinochet “our strongest desires to cooperate closely and establish firm basis for cordial and most constructive relationship.” When his Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs asked him what to tell Congress about the reports of hundreds of people being killed in the days following the coup, he issued these instructions: “I think we should understand our policy – that however unpleasant they act, this government is better for us than Allende was.” The United States assisted the Pinochet regime in consolidating, through economic and military aide, diplomatic support and C.I.A. assistance in creating Chile’s infamous secret police agency, D.I.N.A.

At the height of Pinochet’s repression in 1975, Secretary Kissinger met with the Chilean foreign minister, Admiral Patricio Carvajal. Instead of taking the opportunity to press the Junta to improve its human rights record, Kissinger opened the meeting by disparaging his own staff for putting the issue of human rights on the agenda. “I read the briefing paper for this meeting and it was nothing but Human Rights.” he told Carvajal. “The State Department is made up of people who have a vocation for the ministry. Because there are not enough churches for them, they went into the Department of State.” [Emphasis added] (Document 9, Department of State, Memorandum of Conversation, “Secretary’s Meeting with Foreign Minister Carvajal, 29 September 1975).

As Secretary Kissinger prepared to meet General Augusto Pinochet in Santiago in June 1976, his top deputy for Latin America, William D. Rogers, advised him to make human rights central to American-Chilean relations and to press the dictator to “improve human rights practices.” Instead, a declassified transcript of their conversation reveals, Kissinger told Pinochet that his regime was a victim of leftist propaganda on human rights. “In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here.” Kissinger told Pinochet. “We want to help, not undermine you. You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.”  [Emphasis added] (Document 10: Department of State, Memorandum of Conversation, “U.S.-Chilean Relations”, (Kissinger-Pinochet), 8 June 1976).

For the past two hundred years the United States has ‘maintained its presence’ in Chile and other parts of Latin America for the same ‘reasons’ as the Spanish, Portuguese, British, Dutch and French colonial ‘powers’ before them. The ‘reasons’ have remained unchanged: natural resources and cheap labour, compounded these days by neo-colonial extraction of forcibly contrived ‘debt’.

The modern methods of gaining and retaining that ‘presence’ are the myth of the free market, globalisation, privatisation, dismantling of domestic agricultural economies, and opening of markets imposed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other ‘international’ institutions through local clients – essentially to favour transnational corporations.

Leaders of those corporations, their advisers, ‘captains’, banksters, compradores are forever busy telling ‘the natives’ what to do. But, for once, they should listen to the voice of peoples from Latin America, and that voice should, for once, come loud and clear to the people who live where those corporations reside – by and large in the United States. They could hear the voice of Latin America through the words of the French philosopher Simone Weil, who once wrote that people in Europe were shocked by the Nazis because the Nazis applied to Europe the same methods European powers practiced in their colonies.

Next installment Wednesday: Kissinger gave ‘green light’ for the invasion of East Timor.

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.

 

Open Letter to the Australian People and Others

To:

The People of Australia.

The Hon the Governor General.

Government House
Dunrossil Drive
Yarralumla ACT 2600

Tel: (02) 6283 3533
Fax: (02) 6281 3760

The Hon Members and Senators of the Parliament of Australia.

The Hon Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives.

Hon. William Shorten MP.

Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600

Senator Louise Pratt.

Of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee.

Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600

The Hon Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Hon. Penny Wong

Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600

The Leader of the Australian Greens Party.

Senator Richard Di Natale

Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600

The Hon Independent Members of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia:

Hons: Andrew Wilke; Nick Xenophon; Jacqui Lambie; Derryn Hinch; Pauline Hansen; David Leyonhjelm; Bob Katter; Lucy Gichuhi; Lee Rhiannon;

Parliament House
Canberra
ACT 2600

The Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

Justice Kiefel AC

PO Box 6309
Kingston ACT 2604

The Director Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions.

Ms Sarah McNaughton SC

4 Marcus Clarke Street
Canberra City ACT2601

Phone: (02) 6206 5666
Fax: (02) 6257 5709
Email: inquiries@cdpp.gov.au

The Commissioner for the Federal Police.

Andrew Colvin

GPO Box 401
Canberra ACT 2601

The Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Colin Neave

Level 5, Childers Square,

14 Childers Street
Canberra City ACT 2601

 

The facts referred to in this correspondence constitute a formal Complaint.

COMPLAINT

AGAINST THE HON MALCOLM TURNBULL PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA.

For the purposes of this Complaint I refer to the newspaper article in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 6 November 2016 and for which I here provide a link.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/department-fixes-error-following-questions-about-malcolm-turnbull-election-eligibility-20161107-gsjsre.html

On or about 2010, Malcolm Turnbull, with his wife Lucy Turnbull, received a benefit from the Commonwealth (‘Cth’) in the form of an agreement and payment to undertake consultancy and research work for the Cth. The funds for the work undertaken were paid to Turnbull and Partners in which Malcolm Turnbull is a major shareholder and co-director. The Cth funds were paid to Turnbull and Partners from the then ALP government of Julia Gillard shortly before the federal election in August 2010. At this time, Malcolm Turnbull was sitting in the Commonwealth House of Representatives as a member of the opposition. Shortly after Turnbull and Partners entered the agreement with the Cth and received the funds, Malcolm Turnbull then re-nominated as a candidate for the federal election of August 2010. Being re-elected at that August 2010 election, Malcolm Turnbull continued to sit in parliament while the corporation he jointly owns and controls with his wife, Turnbull and Partners, was continuing to undertake the work under the agreement with the Cth.

Section 44 of the Commonwealth Constitution Act provides grounds for disqualification of a candidate in being elected to the House of Representatives. It states:

Disqualification

Any person who:

(i)  is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or

(ii)  is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or

(iii)  is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or

(iv)  holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or

(v)  has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

Of particular relevance to Malcolm Turnbull’s circumstances is sub-section ‘(v)’. As a member of a small company, with only two members and two co-directors, himself and his wife Lucy Turnbull, Malcolm Turnbull did not fall within the exception provided by that subsection as Turnbull and Partners was not a company consisting of more than 25 members.

The consequence of these facts is that, at the time of the election in 2010 and of his nomination, Malcolm Turnbull was disqualified from being chosen or from sitting in the House of Representatives before, during and after the election of 2010 while he still received a benefit or a financial advantage from the Cth in the form of his salary from the Cth. While obtaining that financial advantage Malcom Turnbull, throughout that time, did also cause a loss to the Cth.

Part 7.3, section 135 of the Criminal Code (Cth) states, inter alia, the following:

                        Part 7.3 — Fraudulent conduct

……

Division 135 — Other offences involving fraudulent conduct.

……..

                       135.2   Obtaining financial advantage

(1)  A person commits an offence if:

(a)  the person engages in conduct; and

(aa)  as a result of that conduct, the person obtains a financial advantage for  himself or herself from another person; and

(ab)  the person knows or believes that he or she is not eligible to receive that financial advantage; and

(b)  the other person is a Commonwealth entity.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 12 months.

(1A)  Absolute liability applies to the paragraph (1)(b) element of the offence.

(2)  A person commits an offence if:

(a)  the person engages in conduct; and

(aa)  as a result of that conduct, the person obtains a financial advantage for another person from a third person; and

(ab)  the person knows or believes that the other person is not eligible to receive that financial advantage; and

(b)  the third person is a Commonwealth entity.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 12 months.

(2A)  Absolute liability applies to the paragraph (2)(b) element of the offence.

……………

Hence, on the basis that he was disqualified person by being ineligible to sit in the House of Representatives due to his company Turnbull and Partners having an agreement with the Cth, and on the basis of that company and him receiving an advantage by way of payment from the Cth, on the balance of probabilities, and most likely also on the standard of beyond reasonable doubt, it is highly probable that Malcolm Turnbull breached  s 135.2 Criminal Code (Cth) and committed the criminal offence of obtaining a financial advantage from another party that he was not eligible or entitled to receive. That other party was the Cth and, as a consequence, Malcolm Turnbull has committed an offence of a fraudulent nature against the Cth pursuant to Partb7.3.

Further, it is evident on the facts stated above, that Malcolm Turnbull did first commit this offence at the time between when Turnbull and Partners entered the agreement with the Cth, that he continued to commit the offence through the period during which he sat in Parliament and received a financial advantage from the Cth and leading up to the August 2010 election, and that he continued to commit that offence at the time he nominated as a candidate for election to the House of Representatives in 2010 and  also through the period when he sat in Parliament after the 2010 election and each time he received a  salary payment from the Cth. It is also evident that he continues to commit that or another offence to the present day by retaining the financial advantage he has obtained.

In the circumstances, given the gravity of the offending and the paramountcy of the Constitution, it is imperative that Malcolm Turnbull be immediately arrested, charged with the offence at s 135.2 Criminal Code Act, and that he be tried for that offence. Given Malcolm Turnbull’s position and the need for a deterrent in regard to the commission of similar types of offences, it would not be unreasonable for the maximum sentence to be imposed upon Malcolm Turnbull should he be found guilty of the charge.

The people of Australia should not be subject to such a flagrant breach of the Constitution, or the criminal law by a person who is an experienced and practiced lawyer and who now purports to be a leader of their nation and an officer of the Crown.

The rule of law requires that Malcolm Turnbull be charged and tried for this offence.

If people in the position of Malcolm Turnbull are not seen to be subject to the law, then the whole legal and political system will be brought into disrepute in the mind of the public as institutions that are inherently biased and corruptible as there will be one law for some and another for others. Furthermore, should Malcolm Turnbull not be brought to justice for this offending, such a public perception would not be unwarranted as the principle of the rule of law would be seen as merely an ideology invoked selectively to oppress the lives of some but to enhance the lives of others.

I refer this Complaint to your immediate consideration and attention.

Yours Faithfully,

An Australian Citizen

On Behalf of the People of Australia.

Readers are invited to print off this open letter and post or email it to their local MP or to one or more of the addressees listed on the letter.

Scenario 3 in Indo Pacific Futures 2051: Reaching for Aquarius

Denis Bright continues discussion of three scenarios for the future of Australia’s international relations in 2051.  

Scenario 3 offers the prospect of more substantial paradigm changes. Let’s explore the New Fifth Dimension (NFD) in global democratic politics.

A lot of progressive activism will be required to change the status quo and to deter the ships of state from potential conflicts unless fair consideration is given to the current Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which is anathema to all nuclear powers and their allies.

The US mid-term elections of 2018 brought a revolt against the excesses of Donald Trump. With its income divide comparable to Mexico and indeed China, the US electorate was ready to embrace New Social Justice Commitment to make Capitalism Work Again.

The depth of political change was comparable to Mikhail Gorbachev’s commitment to glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in the old Soviet Union.

In the US, Bernie Sanders remained the patron of the New Social Justice Commitment. It had attracted youthful and charismatic new generation of grassroots leaders who were popularized in the media as the New Fifth Dimension (NFD).

NFD was active in the Democratic Party. It demanded accountability and democratic processes over traditional machinery politics.

The NFD was linked to thousands of US nationwide beats in music bars, coffee shops and mainstream religious networks. Similar trends caught on in the megacities of the Indo Pacific Region. The NFD was welcomed in China to ease social tensions.

NFD avoided the narcissistic focus of the counter-cultural movement in the 1960s. Too much opting out of macro-political participation had enabled far-right leaders like President Nixon to make the world safer for market capitalism and military industrial complexes world-wide. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher would achieve similar results a decade later.

The NFD combined having fun with the institutional renewal of progressive politics through mass mobilization, commitment to sustainable economic, cultural awareness involvement, spiritual awakening and of course peaceful international relations.

In Australia, NFD has a big influence in institutional renewal in the Labor Party which achieved control of both houses in the new Australian Republic through a return to a viable two-party system.

From its former position as a nuclear umbrella state within the US Global Alliance, Australia had decided to act with New Zealand (NZ) to:

  • Control visits by vessels and aircrafts carrying nuclear weapons through Australian ports and air-fields
  • Negotiate with ASEAN Countries to our Near North to prevent the movement of nuclear weapons between the Pacific and Indian Oceans
  • To encourage similar initiatives to de-nuclearize sea lanes in East Asia in return for the abandonment of nuclear testing in North Korea
  • To support initiatives in the General Assembly to further the progress of the Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • To facilitate strong Security Council sanctions on countries persisting with the spread of nuclear weapons and existing and experimental weapons of mass destruction

The momentum for progressive change had become unstoppable as national politics across the region were no longer dominated by preparations for war.

NZ’s Labour/Green Alliance under the new leadership of Jacinda Ardern made substantial gains at the 2017 elections.

Australia moved in a similar direction in 2018 due to the excesses of Donald Trump’s administration and the inability of the federal LNP to stand up for Australian sovereignty within the New Coalition.

In reaching towards the New Aquarius, substantial consensus had been achieved between indigenous, traditional, modernist and progressive political values in Australia.

In the traditions of Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, a complete reaction to the old politics of elitism assisted in fueling the paradigm changes in both domestic politics and international relations.

Global spending through global military industrial complexes had exceeded $US 2 trillion for Twenty Year War on Terrorism (2001-21). This co-existed with appalling poverty and malnutrition levels from Yemen to PNG.

The political priorities of the NFD were not particularly radical. Its US mentors merely advocated social market concepts within a mixed economy run on established continental European models along with vast reductions in military spending.

Chance opportunities for dialogue were seized upon to develop NFD solutions to global diplomatic problems as once advocated by President Alexander Dubcek during the Prague Spring of 1968 at the height of the earlier counter-cultural movements.

North Korean defector and artist Sun Mu noted the North Korean Disney Musical in 2012 soon after the accession of Kim Jong-Un might have been a missed opportunity for dialogue with President Obama.

Another opportunity was the representation of both Korean States, the US and Australia with most other countries in the Indo-Pacific Region including Israel at the Silk Road Forum in Beijing in May 2017.

Then came the opportunity for representatives of North Korea and the US to meet at the ministerial meeting of the Association of South Asia Nations (ASEAN) in Manila in August 2017. Both countries are associate members of ASEAN.

As a responsible middle power, Australia demonstrated true flexibility.

After vigorous internal debate within the Australian Labor Government in 2019, Prime Minister Bill Shorten accepted the broad terms of the Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Britain, France, Canada and Japan also reversed their initial opposition. The US eventually followed. Bans on nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction were made illegal under international law.

Ratification Day for the new Treaty is a global national holiday and there is no looking back to the Twenty-Year War on Terrorism as a real solution to anything but ongoing conflict and suffering from human rights abuses in places like Yemen and Saudi Arabia which had once been excused in the interests of political stability.

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.

Scenario 2 in Indo Pacific Futures 2051: Living with Strong Steady States

Denis Bright continues discussion of three scenarios for the future of Australia’s international relations in 2051.  

Scenario 2 is the steady state view of international relations. Incremental changes have occurred as the US shares its strategic influence with other responsible middle powers like Australia, China, India, Japan and Indonesia. The old Australia-US Alliance has been re-branded as the New Coalition of the Willing (New Coalition).  

Once positive change is the formation of a unified and Unified Korea thanks to a pragmatic Five Power Agreement as the momentum towards armed conflict had to be avoided.

This is probably the most likely scenario on current trends in both Australian and US Politics if humanity survives the Trump Presidency. This possibility was reinforced in 2020 by the return of the US to its former role as bastion of mainstream modernism within contemporary globalization with opportunities for new power sharing.

Hopes for the militarization of the Indo Pacific on terms favourable to US strategic realists were certainly on the rise in 2017 as the Aircraft Carrier the USS Ronald Reagan headed off to Japan from its participation in the Talisman Sabre Exercises in Central Queensland and a goodwill trip to Brisbane.

The Twenty-Year War on Terrorism (2001-21) had ended favourably. Strong steady states across the Indo Pacific were eager to do more to stabilize the Indo-Pacific Hemisphere. Even China wanted to throw in its lot with the new shared hegemony. Its leadership was still basking in its role as co-facilitator of the neutralization of the Korean Peninsula.

With the strategic profile of the US reduced across the Indo-Pacific Hemisphere, the Australian electorate clung to Centre-right governments with their high market-led growth strategies and proactive foreign policies of working with new great and powerful friends.

Political instability was a recurrent challenge in Papua-New Guinea (PNG) and Melanesia. Freedom of migration remains an unresolved issue and a source of tension in these underdeveloped regions adjacent to Australia.

The Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons did not receive endorsement from the nuclear weapons states.

Australia was now spending 5 per cent of its GDP on defence and working co-operatively with key regional strategic players from Israel to India, Japan and Indonesia.

Understandably, Australia was pleased to stay under the nuclear umbrella which was shared equitably to the most trustworthy members of the US Alliance.

High defence spending to control regional tensions and internal regional unrest was still an imperative right up to 2051. Australia’s centre-right republican leaders eulogize our manifest destiny across the Indo-Pacific Hemisphere.

Close to Australia, naval patrols are still active to control illegal migration in the fine traditions of John Howard.

Australia was also particularly active in assisting regional governments to control social unrest and the enforcement of a Pax Australiana with training programmes for military and police operations particularly in PNG.

Deployment of Australian troops to the region was an ongoing possibility and defence units always on stand-by for deployment in the Near North and across Melanesia.

Changes of government do occur very occasionally in the Australian Republic but bipartisan commitments are articles of faith for the media and the wider society.

Welcome to the Brave New World of predictable Steady States across the Indo-Pacific Hemisphere. May our republican force be with you in these peaceful waters of our strategic seas whose various entry points are carefully patrolled by the New Coalition.

Tomorrow … Scenario 3 in Indo Pacific Futures 2051: Reaching for Aquarius

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.

Pinochet: the dictator of death

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 Nine. Here is the link to Part Eight; The Bank of Crooks.

 

A pioneer and advocate of universal jurisdiction, Judge Baltasar Garzón of the Audiencia Nacional would gain worldwide recognition by securing the arrest of Pinochet in London in 1998 for crimes committed in Chile in the 1970s. This ushered in the heyday of international justice.

The Pinochet case inspired victims of abuse throughout Latin America to challenge transitions from dictatorship which allowed the perpetrators of atrocities to go unpunished. These temporary accommodations with the anciens régimes did not extinguish the thirst of victims and relatives to find out the truth and to bring their tormentors to justice. International and national courts ruled that amnesties could not stand in the way of a state’s duty to investigate the worst international crimes.

On 10 October 1998 Judge Garzón issued an international arrest warrant when he learned that Pinochet was in London for a medical check-up. Pinochet was arrested on 16 October. At the heart of the indictment were the deaths and ‘disappearances’ of Argentines, Chileans, Spaniards and others during Pinochet’s dictatorship.

The charges included 94 counts of torture of Spanish citizens, the 1975 assassination of Spanish diplomat Carmelo Soria, and one count of conspiracy to commit torture – allegations of abuses had been made numerous times before Pinochet’s arrest, including since the beginning of his rule, but never acted upon. Still struggling with the conditions set by the difficult transition to democracy, the Chilean government of the Concertación – the Consultative Government, then headed by President Eduardo Frei, opposed his arrest, extradition to Spain, and trial.

Initially, Judge Garzón sought the indictments because of the murder of Spanish citizens, but later he broadened his jurisdiction on the basis of crimes against humanity regardless of the nationality of the victims. This was no rash decision; it was the logical result of at least two years of painstaking investigation in Spain into both the Argentine and Chilean dictatorships. Had he not investigated the crimes committed in Argentina, Judge Garzón – quite likely – might not have reached Pinochet. Another judge before him had been exposed and had yielded to pressure from political, military and business circles, and placed the case aside. The Chilean case fell on Judge Garzón’s lap because of that surrender of judicial independence.

Investigation of the Argentine case led Judge Garzón to Operation Condor. Since 1996 Judge Garzón had gathered mountains of incriminating evidence on Condor, including documents from the C.I.A., D.I.N.A. and the F.B.I. Based in Santiago, Operation Condor had worked closely with the D.I.N.A., and reported directly to Pinochet.

Judge Garzón’s original extradition warrant called for Pinochet to stand trial for genocide, terrorism and torture: Art. 23.4 of the 1985 Ley Orgánica del Poder Judicial – Organic Law of the Judicial Power, specifically confers on Spanish courts jurisdiction for these crimes. Garzón further charged Pinochet with ‘crimes against humanity,’ as defined by the 1946 Nuremberg Principles. These ‘universal crimes against basic humane standards’ – which include systematic torture, killings, ‘disappearance’, et cetera  – are not subject to the statute of limitations and can be tried at any time in any nation under the principle of universal jursdiction. Judge Garzón also cited the major international human-rights treaties and conventions to which Chile, Spain and the United Kingdom are signatories.

Judge Garzón was quite familiar with the work of The [Chilean] National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, the Rettig Commission and with the Retting Report, issued in February 1991. The Rettig Commission had strengthened the basis for the warrant, marking an unprecedented use of universal jurisdiction to attempt to try a former dictator for an international crime.

Pinochet would be held under house arrest for seventeen months in London, pending a decision on his extradition to Spain, until March 2000, when the Home Secretary of the Blair Government decided to release him on the ground that the dictator was deemed unfit to stand trial.

The British Establishment, still under the spell of Margaret Thatcher who had long been a visceral admirer of Pinochet’s ‘radical free market economic policies’ and who wrote immediately a letter to The Times demanding the release of her friend, found itself in a political storm at home and in a diplomatic difficulty with Chile.

For seventeen months a battle would be hard-fought through the English legal system. Immediately upon his arrest Pinochet protested that Chile’s sovereignty was being violated and claimed immunity from prosecution as a former head of state under the State Immunity Act 1978. On 28 October 1998 the Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division decided in his favour. Meanwhile the Chilean Government protested at the arrest.

On appeal, on 25 November 1998 the House of Lords reversed the lower court’s decision and held, by a three to two decision, that a former head of state is not entitled to immunity for such acts as illegal detention, torture and crimes against humanity committed while he was in his post.

On 10 December 1998 the Home Secretary issued an ‘Authority to proceed’ in order to allow the continuation of extradition proceedings. In so ordering he said to have had regard to such relevant considerations as the health of Pinochet, the passage of time since the commission of the acts and the political stability of Chile. While denying ‘Authority to proceed’ on the charge of genocide, the Home Secretary stated that all the other charges in the Spanish request of extradition amounted to extradition crimes and were not of a political character.

But things did no proceed that smoothly. There was a glitch. Lord Hoffman who had voted with the majority was known as a strong supporter of Amnesty International, and this was considered as a possible stain on the judgment.

Dramatically, on 17 December 1998 the Appeals Committee of the House of Lords reconsidered the decision and decided that, in the interest of transparency in justice, it was proper to set aside its prior judgment and to grant a re-hearing of the case. A new hearing before a panel of seven Law Lords was scheduled for 24 March 1999.

Immediately, the Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme – International Federation for Human Rights, F.I.D.H., which gathers 164 human rights organisations throughout the world, expressed its disappointment about the 17 December 1998 decision by the Appeals Committee, which invalidated the previous decision taken by the members of the same Court on 25 November 1998, a decision which legitimately refused Pinochet the status of immunity. At the same time, however, the F.I.D.H. noted that the decision was exclusively motivated by a legal irregularity consisting in a suspicion of partiality weighing on Lord Hoffmann – which was a debatable point seeing that Amnesty International was not a litigant in the Pinochet case, but rather auditioned as a third party during the trial. The F.I.D.H. therefore called upon the judges of the House of Lords, who were to be asked to examine the substance of the case, to uphold the previous decision and thus to confirm that it was not possible to invoke immunity status for an ex-head of state suspected of massive human rights violations – that he had even attempted to justify – and which could not, in any case, be considered as part of his functions.

In F.I.D.H.’s view British justice should play its duty to join in the struggle against a finally unsteadied impunity, which had recently – with the adoption of the International Criminal Court and the Pinochet case – witnessed an exceptional international movement mobilised to enable the prosecution of those responsible for the worst human rights violations.

The F.I.D.H. finally recalled that legal procedures against Pinochet had not only been undertaken by Spain, but also by other European countries, which had consequently prepared formal extradition requests. Furthermore, certain complaints, including those lodged in France, did not even raise the issue of immunity of jurisdiction since they concerned facts which occurred either before Pinochet was proclaimed as head of state, or crimes of ‘forced disappearance’ which were to be regarded as crimes of a continuous nature.

In the meantime the Chilean Government requested the release of the former dictator on the basis of various legal arguments, and stated the wish to have him returned to Chile for trial before the Chilean courts following complaints lodged against him there.

The F.I.D.H., along with its affiliated organisation in Chile, the Corporación de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos del Pueblo – Commission for the Promotion of Peoples’ Rights, C.O.D.E.P.U. sent an International Mission of Enquiry to study the present state of complaints against Pinochet and against Chilean Army officers in general. This Mission worked in Santiago from 3 to 10 March 1999. It was composed of Messrs. Claude Katz, a barrister in Paris and Secretary General  of the F.I.D.H., Antonio Donate, a Spanish judge and member of the ‘Judges for Democracy Association’, and Juan Carlos, barrister in Buenos Aires and member of the ‘Legal Action Committee’. The Mission found various obstacles to bringing a legal case against Pinochet : 1) Decree Law of 19 April 1978 granting amnesty for acts occurring from 11 September 1973 to 10 March 1978, the period in which the most serious crimes were committed by the Chilean dictatorship, 2) a full interpretation of constitutional and legal texts giving jurisdiction to military courts over civil courts, 3) the immunity enjoyed by Pinochet as Senator for life, appointed under Art.45 of the 1980 Constitution.

There was no evidence which would allow the Mission to anticipate the removal of these obstacles to allow prosecution of Pinochet. More generally, the Mission noted that out of 3,197 cases brought before Truth and Reconciliation Commission only 19 had resulted in convictions since 1990, the year of Chile’s transition to democracy. These were mainly convictions of low-level officers.

Certainly these obstacles could be formally removed, but the Constitution then in force, drawn up in 1980 by Pinochet himself, conferred a primary role on the Senate, in view of its power to nominate Supreme Court judges and to lift the immunity of Pinochet. The Mission acknowledged the important investigations accomplished by Judge Juan  Guzmán Tapia, who would gain international recognition for being the first judge to prosecute Pinochet on human rights charges after Pinochet’s return to Chile from London. As at 16 March 1999 Judge Guzmán was in charge of 18 cases covering several thousand victims, following substantial evidence of crimes committed by Pinochet and other military officers. Judge Guzmán held that the crime of illegal detention followed by ‘disappearance’ is a crime not affected by any amnesty law.

On 24 March 1999 the House of Lords rendered its final decision on the case. By a vote of six to one it was held that Pinochet was not entitled to absolute immunity, but only as from 8 December 1988 and only with respect to some charge as brought by Spain. The judgment held that before that date Pinochet had immunity from legal proceedings in English courts. A narrow view of an international treaty signed and ratified by several countries, including Britain, Chile and Spain, was the ground for the decision. This invalidated most, but not all, of the charges against Pinochet; but the outcome was that extradition could proceed.

These judgments are historic and constituted a new step forward in the evolution of international criminal law and the exercise of universal jurisdiction.

The F.I.D.H. welcomed the new ruling by the House of Lords, partially confirming the preceding decision of the same jurisdiction, dated 25 November 1998, which had been invalidated the following 17 December.

The decision confirmed the advance of International Law in the fight against impunity and responded to the requirement of justice for victims.

Nevertheless, the F.I.D.H. had some reservations about  the ruling of the House of Lords in which it had restricted the extradition of Pinochet to Spain to the sole acts of torture that he committed after 1988. The F.I.D.H. considered that these acts of torture were part of a larger category of crimes against humanity, and could not be subject to any statute of limitations or amnesty. The F.I.D.H. recalled that, in any case, this restriction had no impact on the other grounds invoked by Judge Garzón, and employed to justify the extradition request with international warrants against Pinochet, in particular the crime of terrorism and the crime of ‘disappearance’, the latter being considered a continuous crime. The F.I.D.H. asked the British authorities to proceed rapidly in extraditing Pinochet to Spain, so that he could be judged following the complaints lodged against him.

The F.I.D.H. underlined, on the other hand, that several procedures had been started in other European countries in regard to Pinochet with extradition requests made, and reiterated its request to the British authorities to follow up on these demands.

In April 1999 former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former President George H. W. Bush called upon the British Government to release Pinochet. They urged that Pinochet be allowed to return to his homeland rather than be forced to go to Spain. On the other hand, United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, Mary Robinson, hailed the Lords’ ruling, declaring that it was a clear endorsement that torture is an international crime subject to universal jurisdiction. Furthermore, Amnesty International and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture demanded Pinochet extradition to Spain. Finally, in protest against Spain’s action, Chile withdrew for a time its ambassador from Madrid.

Strangely, the House of Lords’ reasoning had become quite different. Previously, they had argued that Pinochet did not have state immunity because crimes against humanity could not be regarded as the actions of a head of state; only actions of the state brought immunity with them. Since this was an argument based on the scope of immunity as such, this judgment said in effect that any former head of state lost their immunity once they engaged in crimes against humanity. Now, however, the restriction of immunity was argued for in a more clearly legally grounded way, by explicit reference to an international treaty signed, ratified and – in theory – made effective by, among others, Britain, Chile and Spain.

It followed that immunity was not recognised from crimes covered by the United Nations Convention Against Torture when the convention came into effect in Britain on 8 December 1988. Pinochet had immunity before that date but no immunity after. Therefore, most of the charges brought by Spain could not be of consequence in British courts for the extradition of Pinochet. Only two of the charges could be considered: one of torture and another of conspiracy to torture.

The case was returned to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, so that he might reconsider his position vis-à-vis the ‘Authority to proceed’ to extradition. The ruling on the basis of which Straw had issued his first Authority had now been overruled, and therefore he would have to consider the case afresh.

Judge Garzón wasted no time in submitting further allegations to the Crown Prosecution Service which would meet the requirements laid down by the Law Lords. He proffered 43 additional charges of torture and conspiracy to torture which had taken place after 8 December 1988. He further argued that all cases of ‘disappearance’ should be considered under the 1992 United Nations Declaration on the Protection of Disappeared Persons as cases of torture.

Pinochet’s lawyers applied for a judicial review of the Home Secretary’ earlier ‘Authority to proceed’; and, further, they requested a writ of habeas corpus for the release of Pinochet from house arrest. The Law Lords adjourned the hearings to 15 April on both requests to give time to the Home Secretary to reconsider his position. On that date the Home Secretary anew issued an ‘Authority to proceed’, on the ground that what charges remained were sufficient for the extradition of Pinochet. There were no apparent reasons to stop extradition proceedings, either on humanitarian grounds of Pinochet alleged ill-health or on political grounds: consideration for a budding democracy in Chile and the pass-partout ‘national interest’. Pinochet’s lawyers application for a judicial review was turned down on 27 May 1999. They could have made another, similar application, but on 7 June the defence team decided against this. Extradition proceedings would finally commence.

On 8 October 1999 Ronald Bartle, Deputy Chief Metropolitan Magistrate ruled that under the 1989 Extradition Act it was clear that Pinochet could indeed be extradited to Spain, subject to the Home Secretary’s final decision. The Deputy Magistrate allowed the additional charges proffered by Judge Garzón and, importantly, decided that charges of conspiracy and of ‘disappearance’ before 8 December 1988 could be included, on the ground that conspiracy is a continuous offence and “the effect on the families of those who disappeared can amount to mental torture.”

It was clear that Pinochet’s legal defences were quickly running out. So his lawyers, citing frail and deteriorating health, asked that Pinochet be released. As evidence, they provided a report from a medical examination – done without the presence of physicians called by the prosecution and without the appropriate neurological, gerontological, and psychiatric specialists.

On 5 November 1999 the Home Secretary requested that Pinochet submit himself to independent medical tests to ascertain whether in fact he was as ill as he claimed to be. No specific details had been provided at this point, nor was the prosecution provided with a copy of any report.

After some medical tests, the Home Secretary ruled in January 2000 that Pinochet should not be extradited. This triggered protests from human rights non-government organisations, and led the Belgian Government, along with six human rights groups – including Amnesty International – immediately to file a complaint against Straw’s decision before the International Court of Justice. Belgium, as well as France and Switzerland, had filed extradition requests in the wake of Spain’s request. For the first time several European judges had applied the principle of universal jurisdiction, declaring themselves competent to judge crimes committed by former heads of state, despite local amnesty laws.

On 12 January 2000 the F.I.D.H. sent an open letter to the Home Secretary. In it, it indicated that it was “extremely preoccupied by your latest decision to free the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, for ‘medical reasons’. The F.I.D.H. finds this decision shocking as it supposes that Pinochet’s failing health condition would absolve him of any responsibility with regards to crimes committed during his dictatorship.” Furthermore, although this decision is said to be based on medical expert reports which conclude that “Pinochet would be unfit to stand trial, and that no change to that position can be expected,” the F.I.D.H. was concerned by the fact that the medical reports had been evaluated in secret by the Home Secretary, rather than by a court, and without any possibility for the prosecution to challenge the medical examinations.

“Your office – wrote the F.I.D.H. – has repeatedly maintained that the Pinochet case was a judicial matter for the courts, yet, it appears that the medical examinations and reports relating to Augusto Pinochet’s health have not been subject to judicial supervision. The F.I.D.H. thus requests that a counter medical examination be undertaken and that the prosecution be entitled to see and challenge the medical reports. Furthermore, it should be up to the courts and not a political official to decide whether Augusto Pinochet is fit to undergo trial on torture and crimes against humanity.”

Despite all that, the Home Secretary decided to release Pinochet on the ground that, according to the examination, the defendant had suffered two small strokes and would be unable adequately to manage his defence. The prosecution made a predictably vigorous appeal, asking that it also be allowed to examine the defendant. In an extraordinary action, the president of the Ethics Committee of the British Medical Association also lodged a protest, arguing that ‘medical confidentiality’ was being mis-used. As a defendant, Pinochet’s medical condition was of ‘forensic importance,’ with the public issues far outweighing concerns for personal privacy. Adding to the controversy was public disagreement among the examining physicians as to Pinochet’s condition and prognosis.

The secrecy surrounding the examination itself, and the ambiguity of the findings, tainted the proceedings, which appeared simply to collapse under political pressure.

On 3 March 2000 Pinochet flew back to Chile. While in London, he was always photographed sitting weakly in his wheelchair; on the tarmac in Santiago, he spontaneously rose to his feet, and walked to his supporters, without even using his cane. He was first greeted by his successor as head of the Chilean Armed Forces, General Ricardo Izurieta!

That very month the Chilean Congress approved a constitutional amendment introducing the status of ‘ex-president,’ which granted Pinochet immunity from prosecution and guaranteed him a financial allowance. In exchange, it required him to resign from his seat of senator-for-life. Of the legislators, 111 voted for, and 29 – mostly, if not all, from the Left – against.

On 7 August 2000 the Chilean Supreme Court lifted Pinochet’s parliamentary immunity with regards to the events of the Caravana de la muerte – the Caravan of death case. The Caravan of death was a Chilean Army death squad which, following the coup, flew by helicopter from south to north of Chile between 30 September and 22 October 1973.

On l December 2000 Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia’s was able to charge Pinochet for the kidnapping of 75 opponents in the Caravan of death case. Judge Guzmán advanced the charge of kidnapping as the 75 were officially ‘disappeared’: even though they were all most likely dead, the absence of their corpses made any charge of homicide quite difficult. But ten days later the procedure was suspended by the Court of Appeal of Santiago for medical reasons. Beside the Caravan of death, 177 other complaints had been filed against Pinochet.

In January 2001 court-appointed examining physicians stated that Pinochet was suffering from a ‘light dementia’, which did not impede him from facing Chilean justice. Therefore, on 29 January 2001 Judge Guzmán indicted Pinochet for his responsibility as indirect perpetrator of crimes of kidnapping and murdering of 57 people and as a direct perpetrator of 18 more murders, and ordered his arrest. However, the judicial procedure was again suspended on 9 July 2001 because of alleged ill-health reasons.

In July 2002 the Supreme Court dismissed Pinochet’s indictment in the various human rights abuse cases, on the ground that he suffered with ‘vascular dementia’. The debate on Pinochet’s mental faculties continued, his legal team claiming that he was senile and could not remember, while others specialists claimed that he was only physically affected but retained all control of his faculties.

Pinochet would spend the last four years of his life in the indignity of pleading, maybe simulating, dementia and the sadness of suffering from it.

Shrewdly, he resigned from his senatorial seat shortly after the Supreme Court’s July 2002 ruling, thus benefiting from the 2000 constitutional amendment granting him some immunity from prosecution. Thereafter, he tried to live quietly – or so he hoped, rarely made public appearances and was notably absent from the events marking the 30th commemorations of the coup on 11 September 2003. But on 28 May 2004 the Court of Appeals overturned its precedent decision, and ruled that he was capable of standing trial. In arguing their case, the prosecution submitted a recent televised interview that Pinochet had given for a Miami-based television network, which raised doubts about his alleged mental incapacity. The judges agreed and, on 27 August 2004 – in a 9 to 8 vote, the Supreme Court confirmed the decision that Pinochet should lose his senatorial immunity from prosecution, this time with regards to the forced disappearances during the Operación Cóndor.

Pinochet was charged with several crimes on 2 December of that year – including the 1974 assassination of General Prats, and the Operation Colombo case which cost 119 lives – and was again placed under house arrest. Questioned by his judges in order to know if, as President, he was the direct head of D.I.N.A., he answered: “I do not remember, but it is not true. And if it were true, I do not remember.”

On 13 December 2004 Judge Guzmán indicted Pinochet over the ‘disappearance’ of nine opposition activists and the killing of one of them during the regime. In January 2005 the Chilean Army accepted institutional responsibility for past human rights abuses. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals ruling in the Prats case on 24 March 2005, and thereby affirmed Pinochet’s immunity.

In the Operation Colombo case, involving the killing of 119 dissidents, the Supreme Court decided on 14 September 2005 to strip Pinochet of his immunity. The following day he was acquitted of the human rights case due to his ill-health. Late in November he was again deemed fit to stand trial by the Supreme Court and was indicted on human rights offences, for the ‘disappearance’ of six dissidents arrested by Chile’s security services in late 1974, and again placed under house arrest, on the eve of his 90th birthday.

On 9 September 2006 Pinochet was stripped of his immunity by the Supreme Court and indicted by Judge Alejandro Madrid – Judge Guzmán’s successor in the case – for kidnappings and torture at the ‘Villa Grimaldi’ detention centre  and on other grounds.

On 26 September 2006 the Inter-American Court, in the case of Almonacid Arellano confirmed the incompatibility between the amnesty decree and the American Convention of Human Rights and therefore decided that the amnesty had no legal effect.

On 18 October 2006 Judge Alejandro Solis interrogated Pinochet, who was then under house arrest for his role in the torture of 23 survivors and the ‘disappearance’ of 36 others in the ‘Villa Grimaldi’ torture centre. Furthermore, Pinochet was indicted in October 2006 for the assassination of D.I.N.A. biochemist Eugenio Berrios in 1995. On 30 October Pinochet was charged with 36 counts of kidnapping, 23 counts of torture, and one of murder for the torture and ‘disappearance’ of opponents of his regime at ‘Villa Grimaldi’.

On 27 November 2006 Pinochet was again ordered to house arrest for the kidnapping and murder of two bodyguards of Salvador Allende who were arrested on 9/11 and executed by a firing squad of the Caravan of death. The day after  Judge Víctor Montiglio charged Pinochet in the Caravan of death case, and ordered him to house arrest.

Still charged of a number of crimes, Pinochet died on 10 December 2006 – ironically on Human Rights Declaration Day, possibly demented, possibly unable to distinguish the time when he was pray of dementia from that when he found it convenient to simulate it, possibly unconscious, hence un-haunted by his crimes, and anyway without having been convicted in any case, at least in life.

At the end of 2010 Pinochet was tried in absentia with 14 other Chilean officers before a French court.

Next installment Saturday: Henry Kissinger – the man behind the rise of a dictatorship.

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.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Scenario 1 in Indo Pacific Futures 2051: The Triumph of Shared Strategic Might

Introducing the Scenarios

Denis Bright introduces three scenarios for the future of Australia’s international relations in 2051. It is the 150th Anniversary of Australian Federation but just another season in 60,000 plus years of Indigenous settlements.

Pre-historic indigenous migrations and exploration of our northern coastlines by Makassan, Indo-Malaya and Chinese navigators had also long predated such formal constitutional events in the long historical perspective of the Australian Republic.

The scenarios have the macro-political goals of fostering debate about future trends in international relations across a vast Indo-Pacific Hemisphere that extends from East Africa to the Pacific Coast of the US and Canada.

The three scenarios presented in these articles are far from cataclysmic. Other darker scenarios are possible.

The first two scenarios might indeed be very consoling to surviving federal LNP stalwarts from the Abbott-Turnbull Era.

In Scenario 1, Australia is a key player in the US Global Alliance Systems which has been re-branded as the New Coalition of the Willing (New Coalition).  

Our localized responsibility is to monitor the sea lanes and strategic air routes between the Pacific and Indians Ocean which are adjacent to US Bases in Micronesia and Diego Garcia in the Mid-Indian Ocean.

This is a demanding responsibility for Australia. It comes with a heavy price tag. It is also compromises Australia’s sovereignty. For the centre-right government of the Australian Republic, the challenge is a true imperative.

Clinging onto the strategic might of the US remains the cornerstone of Australian foreign policy in 2051 in the re-branded New Coalition of the Willing.

Australia basks in its evolving role as a key regional player with Japan, Indonesia, a United Korea and India to consolidate key strategic and economic goals of most countries in the Indo-Pacific Hemisphere.

Progress in building the New Coalition had come through a series of clever incremental steps since those unstable days of the Abbott-Turnbull Era. Eyewitness news services barely noticed the extent of Australia’s firm integration with the New Coalition. Media coverage of open days on naval vessels and sweeping shots of US troops in transit through Darwin helped to answer any doubts about Australia’s sovereignty.

Step by step the momentum of the New Coalition became unstoppable. Looking through the news archives prior to 2051, today’s students are becoming concerned at the extent of commitment required to be on the verge of armed conflict year after year. The universal concern after archival sessions in foreign policy research is quite simply how did Australia get into such an international stew.

Let’s visit this hypothetical university class who is looking back through the digital archives on the events of 2017. What incremental pathways towards the New Coalition is the class identifying?

Vital Incremental Steps from 2017

Back in the last weekend of July 2017, Australia and Indonesia had just co-chaired a leaders’ forum at Manado in South Sulawesi Indonesia. Makassan navigators had visited Northern Australia from here at least three hundred years ago. Now our leaders arrived in Sulawesi on a strong tail wind of political enthusiasm from the mythical South Land.

Australia’s then Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis QC had arrived with some high-profile information briefs. The official agenda was to encourage leaders from Malaysia, Brunei and New Zealand for joint action against Islamic terrorism in South East Asia (ABC News Online 29 July 2017: DFAT Media 29 July 2017).

A secondary but possibly more important longer-term agenda was to rescue the Philippines and Indonesia from any drift towards non-alignment in international relations.

Except for Australia, governments represented at Manado had supported the Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the UN Committee Meetings in New York during 2016-17 and supported the draft text for ratification on 7 July 2017.

Intensive lobbying by Australia and the US failed to stop Brunei and New Zealand from breaking ranks with their long-standing support for the Draft Treaty. This agenda had not been exhausted. A short-term set back was quite anticipated.

Ratification of this Draft Treaty would have closed the sea lanes and air routes in our near north to the movement of nuclear weapons between US bases in Micronesia to Diego Garcia and the Middle East.

Despite its long-standing commitment to non-alignment in Indonesia, Australia had worked behind the scenes with supportive sections of President Widodo’s administration which was still basking in the successes of a state visit to Australia in February 2017.

Indonesia’s Defence Minister Retired General Ryacudu was particularly receptive to a more militarized Indonesia. He proved his strategic credentials as Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army (2002-05), Commander of Security Operations in Kostrad (2000-02) and long-standing but retrospective supporter of General Suharto’s coup d’état in 1965 when General Ryacudu was still at high school.

Despite the relative decline of the US in the global economy particularly after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2007, right-wing governments from Israel to Saudi Arabia, India, Taiwan, United Korea all welcomed the assistance of Australia and Japan in maintaining US strategic influence across the Indo-Pacific Hemisphere.

In 2017, New Zealand was still a strategic challenge for the New Coalition. Since 1986, New Zealand had been off-limits to visits by nuclear powered ships carrying nuclear weapons.

Now in 2017 opportunities existed for changes in New Zealand’s strategic outlook after the election on 23 September 2017 if Prime Minister Bill English could be returned as a minority but potentially unstable government with the support of the NZ First Party of Winston Peters to survive the unexpectedly strong swing to the Labour/Green Alliance bloc.

The role of Japan’s Abe Government in maintaining the profile of the New Coalition was also invaluable to the New Coalition across the Indo-Pacific Region. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott had helped by claiming Japan as our best economic and strategic partner in Asia. Now our contacts in the New Coalition were swamping us with more and more strategic friends from Israel across to Canada.

Japan contributed $3.1 billion to assist in the redeployment of US Marines in Micronesia which still bristles with US bases in Guam, Marshall Islands and other locations (ABC News Online 27 April 2016):

While international attention is often captured by US military operations in the Middle East, for the past decade, Guam has quietly been the location of what the US assistant secretary for the navy, B.J. Penn, called “the largest project that the Department of Defence has ever attempted”.

About $US20 billion ($26 billion) is being spent on establishing a Marine base and upgrading existing bases including the Andersen Air Force Base and the naval base around Apra Harbour.

Guam also hosts an increasing number of B52 bombers and jet fighters, and its upgraded ports will soon be able to accommodate more submarines and destroyers.

The US regularly flies its B52s on training missions over the South China Sea, which is now the site of aggressive Chinese territorial expansion.

Always on Patrol

Keeping the sea lanes and air routes open for strategic aircraft between Micronesia, Diego Garcia and the Middle East to Australia’s North became a diplomatic imperative for other right-wing governments in Taiwan, India and Israel whose Red Sea Fleet operates in the Indian Ocean with operational undersea nuclear missiles (The National Interest Online 9 October 2014).

As the confidence of these loyal US Allies increases, Australia is becoming more daring in its local commitments to Pax Australiana with offers of military assistance to our neighbours in the Near North in PNG, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu who persist in retaining that foolish nostalgia for ASEAN values of keeping out of the global arms race.

Under Australia’s highly politicised presidency, Australia remains a bastion of the New Coalition.

This is a badge of honour which continues to frighten dissidents at home and abroad.  After a century of evolution since the ANZUS Treaty of 1951, the New Coalition has become a locally focused article of faith in shared wider economic and political values. Singing that our land is girt by sea has become a real understatement in 2051 in the centenary year of the ANZUS Treaty under its mid-century New Coalition logo that is so eulogised by the mainstream pro-republican media networks.

Tomorrow … Scenario 2 in Indo Pacific Futures 2051: Living with Strong Steady States

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 globalisation.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Inequality amblyopia

By Ad astra

Inequality amblyopia is a condition affecting some conservatives, who simply cannot see inequality when looking directly at it. The facts and figures that convince objective observers that there is increasing inequality in our nation, are simply not visible to them.

As in childhood amblyopia, or ‘lazy eye’ as it is called colloquially, there is nothing wrong with the eye. Amblyopia results from a developmental problem in the brain, not the eye. The part of the brain that receives images from the amblyotic eye is not stimulated properly.

In conservatives that part of the brain is where political concepts, ideology and entrenched beliefs live. So ingrained are these beliefs that no contradictory facts or figures can erase them. The beliefs are unshakable. Evidence has no impact; it is invisible.

This is why Scott Morrison was able to argue that rather than increasing in Australia, inequality was decreasing! He said: “The latest census showed on the global measure of inequality, which is the Gini coefficient, that is the accepted global measure of income inequality around the world, and that figure shows it hasn’t got worse, it has actually got better,”

Even if Morrison actually understood how the Gini coefficient was computed, what it measured, and the nuances that surround it, he is pushing his luck to base his refutation of Shorten’s inequality claim using only the Gini to ‘prove’ that inequality is decreasing, not increasing. More of this later.

For those not familiar with this measure of inequality, the following explanation extracted from Investopedia may be of value.

The Gini index or Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of distribution developed by the Italian statistician Corrado Gini in 1912. It is often used as a gauge of economic inequality, measuring income distribution or, less commonly, wealth distribution among a population. The coefficient ranges from 0 (or 0%) to 1 (or 100%), with 0 representing perfect equality and 1 representing perfect inequality. A country in which every resident has the same income would have an income Gini coefficient of 0. A country in which one resident earned all the income, while everyone else earned nothing, would have an income Gini coefficient of 1.

The same analysis can be applied to wealth distribution (the “wealth Gini coefficient”), but because wealth is more difficult to measure than income, Gini coefficients usually refer to income and appear simply as “Gini coefficient” or “Gini index,” without specifying that they refer to income. Wealth Gini coefficients tend to be much higher than those for income.

Morrison has likely made his assertion after reading the 12th iteration of The University of Melbourne Melbourne Institute’s annual study of The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA). The preface to the HILDA Survey explains that it ‘…seeks to provide longitudinal data on the lives of Australian residents. It collects information annually on a wide range of aspects of life in Australia, including household and family relationships, child care, employment, education, income, expenditure, health and wellbeing, attitudes and values on a variety of subjects, and various life events and experiences. Information is also collected at less frequent intervals on various topics, including household wealth, fertility-related behaviour and plans, relationships with non-resident family members and non-resident partners, health care utilisation, eating habits, cognitive functioning and retirement.’

The important distinguishing feature of the HILDA Survey is that the same households and individuals, 17,000 persons in all, are interviewed every year, allowing the study to see how their lives are changing over time.

Of relevance to this piece is one of the findings of this year’s HILDA: ‘The Gini coefficient, a common measure of overall inequality, has remained at approximately 0.3 over the entire 15 years of the HILDA Survey.’

The flakiness of using this measure to support a political point of view about the level of inequality in Australia is illustrated by Figure 4.2 on page 48 of the 2017 HILDA Survey, which details the Gini coefficient up to 2015 for males and females based on the weekly earnings of full-time employees. The graphs show a tiny downward flick for males (indicating less inequality), but there is a larger upward flick for females (indicating more inequality). The movements are so small that to claim inequality is decreasing is patently dishonest, particularly as the Gini for males and females go in opposite directions, females more than males.

Do take a look at Figure 4.2 below to convince yourself of Morrison’s deception.

Image by Roger Wilkins, HILDA

The OECD Economic Survey Australia 2017 also comments on the Gini. It states: ‘The Gini coefficient has been drifting up [towards inequality] and households in upper income brackets have benefited disproportionally from Australia’s long period of economic growth. Real incomes for the top quintile of households grew by more than 40% between 2004 and 2014 while those for the lowest quintile only grew by about 25%.

You may care to look at Figure 3 on page 8 of this report that compares the Gini coefficient of Australia, Canada and the US. It shows how much the income of the top 1% has grown, as it benefitted most from the economic boom.

So let’s dismiss any serious claim that Gini ‘proves’ that inequality is decreasing in Australia. There is so much other evidence to the contrary that inequality amplyopia must be affecting the brains of those who argue so.

Conservative commentators too, such as Adam Creighton, economics correspondent for The Australian, and Paul Kelly, editor-at-large, were quick to attack Shorten’s call of inequality. Creighton wrote a headline in The Weekend Australian of July 22-23 that read: ALP’s ‘false’ pitch on inequality. He goes on to assert that Shorten’s claim that inequality is at a 75-year high is ‘patently false’. Creighton supports his argument by quoting Professor Roger Wilkins, author of HILDA, who told an Economic and Social Policy conference that “Inequality is still relatively high by modern standards but the narrative that says inequality is ever rising is patently false…”, and that the proportion of Australians over 15 with incomes less than half the median level of income had fallen to about 10%, adding “That if anything inequality has been declining”.

So the game, as always, is to quote the data, or the person that supports the argument being made. This is what Morrison, Creighton and Kelly have done, shamelessly, although it flies in the face of the facts and figures.

Yet, ask the average person in the street whether they believe that they, or Australians in general, are becoming better off or worse, and the predominant answer will be ‘WORSE’.

Writing in Crikey, political editor Bernard Keane says: ‘We’re missing the point on inequality. Arcane debates about measures of inequality don’t deal with the day to day perceptions of voters of an economic system that has stopped delivering for them.’

He goes on: ‘Is inequality in Australia getting worse? Is the Gini coefficient going up or down? Who’s right, Bill Shorten or Scott Morrison and the conservative newspapers beating the bushes for academics who’ll back them up? It doesn’t matter, and the longer the government and its media allies debate it, the more they’ll play into Shorten’s hands on what will become a key issue for the next election.

‘Inequality is a central outcome of the kind of market-based economic reforms we’ve pursued since the 1980s. That’s how neoliberalism works. It has made us all wealthier – even the poorest Australians are wealthier than they were 30 years ago, in real terms. But the wealthiest have benefited more than the rest of us. This is indisputable.’

Writing in the same issue of Crikey Helen Razer says Inequality IS the point’. She continues: ‘Inequality has reached a crisis point in Australia, no matter your definition. The poor can’t afford homes or electricity, and something has to be done. Rising inequality, says the Leader of the Opposition, is a terrible fact of Australian life. Rising inequality, says the Treasurer, is a non-fact that opposition leaders evoke when what they really want to do is stunt economic growth.

‘The Herald Sun says that everyone should just shut up about rising inequality, because causing people to worry about what they don’t have and can’t get is a destructive “politics of envy”. There’s no point in scrutinising the odd claims of the Herald Sun – it’d be a bit like arguing with my Aunty Dot about global warming three sherries in. But there must be a point in scrutinising what is meant by “inequality” and how much of it we have, or don’t have, in this nation.’

Also in Crikey Alan Austin writes: ‘ Company reporting season begins this week with confidence sky high that record annual profits will be achieved. With these will come exciting news of higher executive salaries, well-earned performance bonuses and, of course, increased shareholder dividends. These are already being hailed by the corporate media as proof that all is well with the world. Meanwhile, data on Australia’s economy published in July confirms two things. First, that much of the increased income and wealth accruing to rich corporations and individuals is taken from the poor and the middle. And second, that this rate of transfer is accelerating.

Peter Martin, economics editor at The Age frontally addresses the disparity between Shorten’s claims and Morrison’s in his article: HILDA. Why we’re suddenly concerned about inequality. Things have stopped getting better.

Martin begins: ‘Bill Shorten’s on to something. Not the pointless debate over inequality – whether it’s rising or not depends on what you measure – but the truth that lies beneath the debate. It’s that, unusually, life is getting harder.’

He goes on: ‘In all but four of the past 15 years, things were getting better. Two of those four years followed the global financial crisis. The other two were the two most recent years for which we have data: the first two full years of the Abbott-Turnbull government. It means that whereas before the election of Tony Abbott, a typical Australian family took home about what it did in 2009, it now takes home less, after adjusting for inflation.’

He quotes Shorten: ‘As Shorten put it in a speech that purported to be about inequality but was actually about declining real incomes, “It feeds that sense, that resentment, that the deck is stacked against ordinary people, that the fix is in and the deal is done.” We didn’t get that sense when ordinary incomes were rising, even though inequality was widening. Only now, when real incomes are slipping, do we feel resentful. And it’s mainly men who are resentful. Female earnings are trending up, especially those of women employed full-time. Male earnings are trending down.’

Can Morrison or Creighton or Kelly counter these feelings? Especially when the average Joe sees corporate high fliers sitting on salaries and bonuses that often run into millions. No, not with their amblyotic vision! The visual centre in their brains can’t process the facts and figures that we all can see.

Let’s look at some of the facts that Martin extracted from HILDA:

Education:
University graduates earn much less than their predecessors used to ($1023 a week, down from $1468) and they are much less likely to be in full-time jobs four years later (73 per cent, down from 91 per cent). Australians with only a high school qualification are even worse off. When the survey started, 81 per cent of them were employed full-time within four years. Now it’s 62 per cent.’

Work:
As more and more of us work in part-time rather than full-time jobs, an increasing proportion are combining part-time jobs in order to work full-time. This means that part-time jobs are more common than the Bureau of Statistics survey suggests and that full-time jobs are harder to get.

Australians are working longer without waiting for the pension age to rise. The typical retirement age has climbed from 62 to 66 for men, and for 61 to 64 for women. And retirement is less likely to be a one-off event. Thirteen per cent of men who retired between the ages of 60 and 64 find themselves back at work within a year, up from 9 per cent. Seven per cent of the women who retired between 60 and 64 find themselves back at work in a year, up from 4 per cent.’

Superannuation:
‘Even now, a quarter of a century after the introduction of compulsory superannuation and 15 years after compulsory contributions of around 9 per cent, the balances of retirees are surprisingly low.

‘Thirty per cent of men retire without super, and 29 per cent of women. The men who do have super retire with a typical balance of $325,200; the women with $110,952. That typical balance is the median, meaning half of the retirees will have more, and half less. The mean (average) is much higher, pushed up by very big retirement balances at the top.

‘Retirees with low balances are highly likely to use them to pay off debts, obliterating 58 per cent of their super (men) or 70 per cent (women) in one go.’

Home ownership:
’Home ownership rates for the under-40s have collapsed. In 2002 when the survey began, 32.5 per cent of 18- to 39-year-olds owned a home. It’s now 24.9 per cent.

‘The proportion of men in their early-20s living with their parents has jumped from 43 per cent to 60 per cent. The proportion of early-20s women staying at home has jumped from 27 per cent to 48 per cent.

‘Those who can buy houses find it hard to pay them off. The average mortgage taken out by a young homebuyer has almost trebled – jumping from $120,813 to $330,687. Going back to the same homeowners year after the year the survey finds that in most years the amount owed climbs as a substantial minority of young homeowners refinance or redraw or fall behind on their loans. HILDA author Wilkins says if they continue like this – using their mortgages to fund day to day expenses – there will be “real implications for future aged pension liabilities”.’

Martin concludes: ‘Australia remains a wealthy country. But it isn’t absolute wealth (or even relative inequality) that matters most when it comes to our feelings. It’s whether or not things are getting better. HILDA suggests they are getting worse.’

The following McCrindle image of Australian Income and Wealth Distribution 2016 summarizes inequality in this country graphically:

Image from McCrindle

Morrison, his Coalition colleagues, and their conservative cheerleaders in the media are petrified about the impact of Shorten’s inequality message. No matter what counter messages they shout over the airwaves or through the Murdoch media, they know that the people out there, most of whom have never heard of the Gini coefficient, let alone its variations over time, realize that they are worse off than before, know that life is getting harder for them as their wages stagnate while the costs of living continue to rise. They know that as they struggle to pay off their mortgage and their rising power bills they have less and less for food and other essentials. No amount of tough talk from Morrison and Co., no amount of quoting Gini, no amount of slick political blather will convince them otherwise.

The sad fact is that despite these verifiable facts, Morrison and his Coalition colleagues are incapable of processing what everyone else can see, now reinforced by HILDA data. They can see the facts just as anyone else can, but because of their inequality amblyopia their brains cannot process these facts, distorted as their thinking is by inbuilt ideological biases and deeply entrenched beliefs. Their eyes see the facts; their brains cannot, and never will.

Only by recognizing this form of amblyopia will ordinary citizens ever be able to understand how conservatives can deny that life is getting more difficult for so many, how they can deny that inequality is increasing.

Shorten is on a winner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postscript: If any of you doubt the soundness of the ‘inequality amblyopia’ allegory, you might be interested to read a pertinent article in Friday’s issue of The Conversation: How do you know that what you know is true? That’s epistemology by Peter Ellerton, Lecturer in Critical Thinking at The University of Queensland.

Do you believe inequality is increasing in this nation?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)

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.

Scroll Up