Christians Against ALL Terrorism
298 Fearnley St
MANUNDA Q 4870
Minister for Defence
Canberra ACT 2600
Congratulations on the election of your party to government, and on your appointment to Cabinet as Minister for Defence. I note the appointments of Greg Combet and Michael Kelly as Parliamentary Secretaries, which I believe illustrates the importance your government is placing on defence matters. Congratulations once again.
CITIZENS INSPECTION OF PINE GAP
On 9 October 2007 I e-mailed you as Shadow Minister for Defence in relation to the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility. You acknowledged my e-mail and undertook to discuss these issues with our group after the Federal election.
I appreciate your expression of respect for our position in relation to Peace and Pine Gap.
Put simply, Christians Against ALL Terrorism believes that Pine Gap plays such a role within US war-fighting doctrine and practice today that it has been used, is being used, and will continue to be used in the commission of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
A specific instance of the behaviour we allege is the probable use of intelligence collected and processed through Pine Gap to provide target coordinates for a series of what are known as “decapitation strikes” at the very beginning of the war in Iraq in March 2003 and succeeding months. The intelligence provided GPS coordinates of use for particular types of satellite phones believed to be in possession of Iraqi political and military leadership. Missiles were launched on those coordinates and duly exploded - causing exclusively civilian casualties. All these smart “decapitation” missions failed in their military objective. Such carelessness with civilian lives and property amounts to a war crime. Pine Gap enabled it.
Our knowledge of Pine Gap comes from privately conducted research of material on the public record, including Report 26 of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Treaties, and through ongoing discussions with Professors Richard Tanter and Des Ball and other eminent Australian academics who research into ELINT bases and their role in contemporary intelligence/warfighting. Donna Mulhearn has been an eye-witness to the war in Iraq and its consequences. Some of Richard Tanter’s material on Pine Gap can be found here: http://gc.nautilus.org/Nautilus/australi
While we believe, along with Des Ball, that these bases can be legitimately useful for arms control and verification, we firmly believe those functions can and should be carried out under international control - and any illegitimate uses by the USA or Australia curtailed.
Chiefly we believe that the US doctrine of pre-emptive war (aimed at nation states and non-nation groups alike) is immoral, illegal and futile - and amounts to a crime against peace. We are already seeing local, regional and global arms races, accelerating militarisation, and terrorism spreading around the world. This doctrine relies upon the US strategic and tactical advantages achieved by space reconnaissance and real-time communication and coordination – tasks in which Pine Gap plays a vital role.
The Missile Defence Shield being researched and developed at Pine Gap is another engine of the renewed nuclear/space arms races we’re seeing between the US and China, and the US and Russia. In 2007 Russia suspended its compliance with arms limitations treaties in Europe because of the developing missile defence shield. The Cold War is back.
The function and ownership of Pine Gap must be transformed. Christians Against ALL Terrorism is committed to doing what it can. We use the methods of Christian and Gandhian nonviolence.
PREVIOUS DEFENCE MINISTERS
In late 2005 and early 2006 I enjoyed a brief correspondence about these matters with Senator Robert Hill who was then Minister for Defence. It was not a very fruitful correspondence. Minister Hill chose not to answer our concerns, or to provide us with any reasonable opportunity to test and clarify our understanding of Pine Gap and its function in contemporary war-fighting. He chose instead to threaten legal sanctions against us.
Four CAAT activists conducted the first Citizens Inspection of Pine Gap in the early hours of 9 December 2007. The correspondence with Senator Hill became prosecution exhibit P2 in our subsequent trial.
Senator Hill was not the first Defence Minister to threaten nonviolent protestors with prosecution under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 (DSU ). in April 2006, with the consent of Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, he was the first to make it come true. Those charges are still being resolved, with the next episode listed for February 20-22 2008 in the Court of Criminal Appeal at Darwin.
I believe your Department is still interested in the matter, and is seeking leave to be heard if necessary at the Appeal. I believe your Department’s interest lies in the operation of s8 of the DSU.
I propose we leave that Appeal to run its course, learn from the trial, and commence a new activity whereby we can improve productive outcomes for all concerned.
We can do that in a way which emphasises the consultative, respectful and inclusive manner in which the Rudd Labor government does business.
I propose the following parallel process.
1/ Christians Against ALL Terrorism continues to build its capacity to carry out further acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. On each occasion we’ll conduct a process of community consultation and private preparation which will determine the exact form, but peak actions will aim at a real-world intervention into what we allege are the criminal and deadly operations of the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility. I imagine they will range anywhere from a continuation of our December ’05 Citizens Inspection of the technical area to an act of actual disarmament of relevant equipment. Ciaron O’Reilly and his friends used a mattock at Shannon Airport. http://warontrial.com/
Right now Christians Against ALL Terrorism intends returning to the technical area of the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility for a peak action on ANZAC Day, 25 April 2008. You’re invited!
2/ We are also asking for your permission and assistance to inspect Pine Gap and more accurately evaluate its role in peace and security issues.
It’s an axiom of nonviolence that while a constructive opportunity remains untried, it takes precedence over any disruptive actions. Attempts to communicate with previous Ministers for Defence were unsuccessful. You and your government may have a different response. We’d therefore suspend disruptive actions if you are able to offer positive engagement. Professors Tanter and Ball would likely make themselves available to assist us in digesting any material you make available and we’d like them to help us with inspecting and asking questions.
From your speech to Parliament on 20 September 2007, I see that you want a method of bringing all of these issues forward in public debate, increasing the knowledge and autonomy of the Australian people, while not alienating our powerful allies (masters?). I hope you share my high opinion of the capacity of the Australian people to make appropriate and wise decisions when called upon to do so.
We are able to assist you in this process. Please give us your permission to inspect Pine gap and arrange a Departmental briefing that addresses the concerns we’ve raised. In turn we’ll distribute quality information to interested publics and facilitate informed debate. We could transform Pine Gap together. What could be better than that?
During our trial in the NT Supreme Court in June 2007, Prosecuting Counsel Hilton Dembo continually characterised my correspondence with Minister Hill as issuing a threat of the “either you do this or I’ll do that” kind. Michael Maurice QC, acting for the Commonwealth, including the Secretary of Defence, made the same assertion. It’s a misconception I’d like to explain.
I want to be clear that our group has only one purpose and method – the achievement of a just and peaceful society through the practice of spiritual nonviolence. We believe that humanity is able to build a society of justice and enlightenment and end the scourge of war. We acknowledge the great US practitioner of nonviolence, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Dr King’s “Letter from Birmingham Prison” http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/popul
Based on what we now know (and we know much more now than we did in December 2005), Pine Gap is a vital component of an active, unjust warfighting machine. It is a vital facility and its role and importance are expanding.
Christians Against ALL Terrorism have chosen it to illustrate everything that Australian citizens are capable of in the struggle for peace and justice. We have made our mind up. We are going to transform Pine Gap into an instrument of peace.
If we can get it, we’d like your assistance. We’re prepared to make limited concessions to encourage that assistance. Beyond that we are always willing to listen to reason.
Eventually you or one of your successor Ministers WILL move to de-classify and expose the actual nature of Pine Gap to the Australian people. Likewise the Australian people and government will ensure that we play a positive role in developing the mechanisms and methods of building and maintaining world peace. Our task is to facilitate these transitions sooner rather than later by whatever nonviolent means are available to us. Interventionary NVDA is a powerful tool. Christians Against ALL Terrorism will continue to use it as required.
While some aspects of the gap between us may seem wide, there are already areas where we agree. You told Parliament in September that you’d like to see more understanding developed among the Australian public about Pine Gap and the security of Australia. So would we. There are undoubtedly ways in which this can be done whilst preserving such operational secrets as are truly necessary.
If you’re interested in positive engagement and further disclosures of information, we are happy to explore that path before further interventionary action.
We would be interested in meeting with you to further explore these issues. We’ll all be together in Darwin in February 2008. Otherwise Brisbane is the centre of gravity of our core membership, and we could gather there at your convenience in the lead-up to ANZAC Day at Pine Gap. We’ll be gathering in Alice Springs a week before ANZAC Day, and you might like to speak to that gathering about Pine Gap and world peace, and your intentions towards both.
Christians Against ALL Terrorism