Friday, January 17, 2003

George Bush's other poodle

John Howard, Australia's PM, is the mouse that roars for America, whipping his country into war fever and paranoia about terrorism within.

Strange days in Australia. "Paranoia in the lucky country", say the headlines in Sydney, "Terror threat grips a nation".

The government of John Howard has issued full-page advertisements calling on Australians to protect their "friendly, decent society" from terrorists within by spying on each other.

[Just plain fear mongering and propaganda to bolster support and quell dissent for the Coalition of the Killing's illegal and degrading resource wars in the Middle East.]

More than a thousand people have used a hotline "to report things", causing grief to Muslim Australians.

Asked if he thought it better that Muslim women made themselves "less conspicuous at this time" by not wearing their traditional headdress, Howard replied: "Obviously."

Howard's is the only government in the world willing and eager to join the Bush/Blair assault on Iraq, a faraway country that buys Australia's primary produce and with whom Australians have no quarrel.

For those Australians yet to succumb to the amnesia of the times, this is all very familiar, evoking a melancholy history of obsequious service to great power: from the Boxer Rebellion to the Boer war, to the disaster at Gallipoli, and Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf.

Some years ago, I interviewed an Australian warrant officer who had served on a CIA-run assassination team in Vietnam, and ruefully recalled to me the words of his American commander. "We really like using you guys," said the American. "It's like this: the British have the Gurkhas; we've got the Australians."

In denying the truth of this humiliating role, and mythologising the war fodder of its youth, imperial Australian elites have kept the public in what a former deputy prime minister once called "the mushroom club". "Like mushrooms," he explained, "they are kept in the dark and fed bullshit." A vivid example of this is Australia's current role in the "war on terror".

Recently, the head of Australia's version of the SAS announced that his heroic troops had "helped break the back of al-Qaeda" in Afghanistan. This amazing victory, unknown to the rest of the world, was reported without a hint of irony, let alone the truth of what Australian troops actually did in Afghanistan - kill tribespeople without knowing who they were.

Mushroom Club citations have been handed out. An Australian pilot beams from the news pages with his American Bronze Star, awarded for flying Black Hawk helicopter gunships "in combat".

Untold numbers of innocent Afghan villagers were killed by these gunship attacks; but that is beside the point. The gormless television news begins with "heart-warming" scenes of Australian sailors being welcomed home from the Gulf, where they are "playing a leading role in the international community enforcing the sanctions against Saddam".

There is no mention of the human cost to their fellow human beings, not a word about the latest, shocking UN State of the World's Children report that child mortality in Iraq has tripled since sanctions were imposed.

Unheard and unheeded by the rest of the world, Howard is our mouse that roars. Almost anything that falls from the lips of George Bush or Donald Rumsfeld is repeated by him. When Bush announced that America would attack any country as "pre-emptive" action against "those harbouring terrorists", Howard chimed in and threatened Australia's Asian neighbours with attack, demolishing what was left of Australia's diplomatic reputation in its region.

None of this almost comical warmongering is reflected in the public mood, as far as I can detect. The task of humiliating England's cricketers has been far more important. Moreover, half the population oppose Australian involvement in an attack on Iraq.

Following the [CIA false flag] Bali atrocity in October, in which many young Australians died, what was striking was the public's restraint and mood of reflection; a number of relatives of the dead have since called on Howard not to use the murder of their loved ones to justify joining an unprovoked attack on another country.

In contrast, "paranoia" and "threat" are daily media fare. A Mushroom Club "exclusive" in a Murdoch tabloid, the Herald Sun [Scum], claims that "terrorists train in forests in secret camps" near Melbourne. [Keywords: cells, plots, links, training-camps, jihad.]

Australia has the most narrowly based and tightly controlled press in the western world. Seventy per cent of capital-city newspapers are owned or dominated by Rupert Murdoch; in Adelaide he controls everything, including the printing presses. The only national daily, the [Un] Australian, is owned by Murdoch. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, [Howard's ABC] directly funded from Canberra, is routinely intimidated. Much of the rest is Murdochism by another name.

This is demeaning for Australian democracy, but never more so than now, when the fabrication of a war atmosphere here surpasses any absurdity spun by Jack Straw. The foreign editor of the [Un]Australian, Greg Sheridan, is not untypical. Sheridan earned a formidable reputation as an apologist for the genocidal Suharto regime, mocking the Australian parliament's study which revealed that 200,000 East Timorese had died under Suharto's brutality.

Now a crusader for George W Bush, Sheridan's work is beyond parody. "Pilgerist Chomskyism is ideologically fuelling the followers of [Bush demon] Osama Bin Lenin, sorry, Laden," he announced last month. "Travelling recently in south-east Asia," he wrote, "I was struck by how often, in the offices of Islamist activists and fellow-travellers, I saw the works of Noam Chomsky, and somewhat less often our own John Pilger [who] provide the Islamists with much of their interpretive narrative of the west." News of this two-man conspiracy was displayed over most of a page and illustrated by a caricatured Muslim swatting away "facts" while reading Chomsky's books and my own.

On other forms of "terror", closer to home, the hysteria is different. Imprisoned behind razor wire in some of the most hostile terrain on earth, in what, by any definition, are concentration camps, are refugees who have committed no crime. Many are from Iraq and Afghanistan, the countries to which Howard is prepared to send troops "in the cause of freedom". [Resouce Wars] The racism is self-evident. Mandatory detention does not apply to the thousands of Britons and other Europeans who overstay their visas.

The conservative former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has described these camps as "hell-holes". Australians caught a glimpse of their horrors when an ABC programme told the story of a six-year-old Iranian boy. Having spent a quarter of his life behind the wire of Woomera camp in the South Australian desert, he witnessed desperate adults set themselves on fire and a suicidal man slashing himself. Silent and depressed, he refused food and drink and sat day after day, drawing pictures of razor wire. The Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace has described conditions in the camps as "institutional child abuse".

When the head of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Louis Joinet, was finally allowed to visit Woomera and other camps, he said he had not seen a more gross abuse of human rights in more than 40 inspections of mandatory facilities around the world.

The minister responsible for the camps, Philip Ruddock, once boasted to me that Aboriginal infant mortality was "only" three times that of white children.

The Howard government opposes the protocol designed to strengthen the UN Convention Against Torture. Alexander Downer, the foreign minister, unwittingly explained why. He said he did not like the idea of UN officials from the Committee Against Torture arriving unannounced to inspect its refugee detention camps.

Racism is never far from the surface in Australian politics. John Howard promoted a "One Australia" movement in the 1980s, the precursor of Pauline Hanson's campaign, with its veiled white-supremacist message. After years of political failure, he took power in 1996, the beneficiary of an extraordinary public cynicism towards a succession of Labor governments whose spin and betrayal of those known here as "true believers" are acknowledged by Blairites in Britain as prototypes.

Howard is now lauded in the media for his "political skills". Having waged a war of attrition against the Aboriginal people, denying them universal land rights and incurring a shaming judgement of racism from the UN committee on discrimination, Australian government policy is clearly directed at exploiting the "threat" of non-European refugees - when, by any measure, there is no threat.

Some 4,000 asylum-seekers arrive illegally by boat in Australia every year, one of the lowest figures in the world. During the last election campaign, in October 2001, it has since been revealed, Howard and his ministers lied about refugees throwing their children into the sea, an incident that was presented as evidence of their inhumanity.

His re-election was credited to this "tough stand". While he was telling his favoured radio talkback bigots why it was kind to be tough, a leaking boat on its way to Australia took 353 people to their deaths - including 150 children. Known only as the Siev-X, it was overloaded with Iraqi refugees and in Australian waters, although the government disputes this.

An inquiry by the Australian senate last March disclosed that the Australian navy had extensive prior knowledge that the Siev-X was in a perilous state. In other words, the people on board could have been saved. In April, Rear Admiral Geoffrey Smith, commander of the navy's "border protection" department, testified three times under oath that he knew nothing about the boat until it had sunk. Jane Halton, a special adviser to the prime minister on asylum-seekers, made the same denial.

Then on 22 May, the commander of Australia's Coastwatch revealed that the navy had known all along the boat's date of departure, its intended destination, unseaworthiness and gross overcrowding.

Smith hurriedly retracted his original denial, and on 15 June, Admiral Chris Ritchie, the incoming chief of the navy, admitted that the boat "never came within our search area and we did not change our search area specifically to look for [it]". It is questionable whether the navy let the ship sink, [?] but what is clear is that Australia's defence forces have become immersed in corrupt, callous and racist policy designed to keep the Howard government in power.

Navy personnel have been ordered to act as jailers; and prior to their accredited heroics in Afghanistan, Australian SAS troops were sent into action against a Norwegian ship whose captain had rescued asylum-seekers from drowning in Australian waters. A handful of tenacious journalists have told these stories for as long they can, but a consensual silence inevitably descends on what George Orwell called "smelly little orthodoxies". The price Australians are paying for this silence and compliance is not immediately obvious in these midsummer days.

But Australian social democracy, which was achieved by the struggle of the ordinary people of my parents' and grandparents' generations, is being subverted if not dismantled. (The minimum wage, an eight-hour working day, pensions, child benefits, the secret ballot were all won first in Australia.)

A "free trade" treaty with the United States is being negotiated, mostly in secret, giving the Americans a version of the one-sided North American Free Trade Agreement and de facto legal control over everything from Australia's quarantine laws and the pricing of drugs to the spread of genetically modified food and the content of Australian television. There is virtually no public discussion about this surrender of sovereignty.

And as the Bush gang destroys America's Bill of Rights, so the Howard gang follows suit with, as Scott Burchill of Deakin University in Melbourne wrote, "confected wars against imaginary or exaggerated threats [as] an effective tool of social conformity and a powerful antidote to political dissent".

[But it's not even that and that statement, one could expect from Howard's long list of line up's from universities, that have only served to cover his lies. He used or paid? People like Peter Saunders on Social Services, (Jumping ahead to 2005) Torture, Professor Mirko Bagaric, and fellow Deakin lecturer Julie Clarke The real truth here is there is no threat in the Middle East but there are lots of resources. Howard chose University academics to back up his lies because the general public would be more likely to believe it. To claim one is defending one self but attacking others is criminal malice.]

In a land plentiful with academics, Burchill is one of a handful who have dared speak out. As for the federal Labor opposition, its mostly invisible leader, Simon Crean, has commended the CIA's assassination of "terrorist suspects" [scapegoats and patsies.] With no public scrutiny, the Labor government of New South Wales is enacting legislation that gives its police force totalitarian powers in the "war on terror". [In the war on resouces in the Middle East.]

No longer, says a bill being rushed through parliament, can police behaviour "be challenged, reviewed, quashed or called into question on any grounds whatsoever before any court, tribunal, body or person in any legal proceedings".

The great American sage Mark Twain loved Australia. He described it as "a place where the ordinary man is king, or thinks he is".

In The Mysterious Stranger (1916), Twain also wrote about "statesmen [who] invent cheap lies,putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of these conscience-soothing falsities . . . and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception".

By John Pilger reports from Sydney 17 January 03
Updated and edited by Gregory Kable 26 June 2005

Ed: Just remember that people like Howard and his cronies that have constantly lied to cover up their criminal acts cannot be believed. So those question marks that Mr John Pilger reports about Siev-X etc are more likely sustained as a gross violation of human rights and at the very lease complicity to murder.


Better late than never 'Democrats'

The Democrats are confident they will win at least one seat in the upper house in the NSW election by tapping into voter unease about the Carr Government's tough anti-terrorism laws.

US prepares for trade talks with Australia but it's not worth it!
The office of the United States Trade Representative has started formally preparing its negotiating position for the first round of talks on a free trade agreement between Australia and the US.

As we go to press (December 2002), both the Federal parliament and the NSW parliament are debating legislation that would give police and ASIO agents greater powers of search, interrogation and detention, and significantly erode the fundamental rights of citizens. In both cases, of course, the alleged purpose of the bills is to combat terrorism.

Civil and Democratic Islam websites communicating?
In other words another propaganda green light from the west to bolster support and quell dissent and to continue the Coalition of the Killings illegal and degrading resource wars in the Middle East.

Govt plays down reports of complicity to torture its own citizens
The complicit federal Government says reports there are two highly trained members of Al Qaeda operating in Australia selling GI and are consistent with information it has already released.

Transcript: Abu Bakar Bashir
So actually America wants to fight the Moslems and Islam in Indonesia but using the excuse of terrorism so that it wont be openly (seen as fighting Islam) but under the terror camouflage. This is what I understand about the developments of the investigation into the Bali bombing as well as the other (bombing cases).

GI Strikes again! Plots plots and more plots
Gi's foiled plot to bomb foreign embassies in Singapore, including the Australian high commission, would have to use high sugar levels at the controls of cordial laden truck, a US interrogation of a key GI figure has revealed.

Alarm over terror in 'Australia'?
All of the families ASIO raided in October were believed to have attended the weekend camps, which have run for the past five years. GI cordial was on the refreshment list of drinks.

Special powers? Or political grandstanding?
In NSW, great slews of legislation over the past year have increased powers for everything from police to sniffer pups and train guards and vastly reduced the rights of individuals to engage in civil disobedience, freedom of expression and communication with each other.

First strike and you're out!
The ideology of a super loser? John Howard shocks the nation again. A nation who cannot believe Howard's stupidity following his [complicity in the CIA's false flag operation, the Bali bombing.]

UN charter doesn't reflect new self-defence needs: Hill?
The Defence [War] Minister, Robert Hill, says the United Nations' charter needs to be changed to help countries defend themselves against potential threats. [?] [Pre-emptive strikes on soveriegn nation states like Iraq and Afghanistan?]

Middle Eastern: Specific Legislation
"If there is a target person the police would have powers in relation to that type of person," Mr Costa said. Asked what he meant by "type of person", Mr Costa said: "The example that's been given is if there's a description of somebody, an identikit photograph released by Interpol or other agencies ... these powers may well be exercised on that type of person."

Suspicious police are not trusted to terrorise the community
Short memory my friends when just around the corner police were out of control and now you want to trust Police in NSW to be given extraordinary powers to search vehicles, sites and even a general "type of person" in the event of a terrorism threat or after a terrorist attack.

Howard defends terror alert
Prime Minister John Howard says the Federal Government would not have issued a terror alert if it had not come from a credible source. (America?) Speaking for the first time since the Government revealed the warning, Mr Howard says he wants people to be more careful, but not to stop living. [As long as they don't go dancing in Bali? And sure we'll all be depressed for as long as John Howard and Bob Carr say so.]

Carr backs Fed Govt's terror alert
New South Wales Premier Bob Carr has defended the Federal Government's decision to issue a warning to Australians about a possible terrorist attack in Australia.

NSW Police Force may get 'special powers'
Civil libertarians are questioning the need for further anti-terrorism laws, which will be announced in the New South Wales Parliament on Tuesday.

When Johnny comes marching home again: 'hoorah hoorah'
Posted on the Resistance web page Bronwyn Powell, an organiser of the youth-led mobilisation told Green Left weekly that "in the face of attacks on civil liberties, it is unfortunate that some union officials have felt they need to submit. It could set a negative precedent for upholding the hard-won right to demonstrate in the street."

Police show their real colours 'blue'
Several thousand people have marched through the centre of Sydney protesting against globalisation and the treatment of asylum seekers. Police provided the protesters with an escort despite refusing to issue permits for demonstrations.

Give peace a chance
PIERS AKERMAN DT 28 Nov 02: JUSTICE John Dowd should be removed from the bench. His crime? Stupidity. In a breath-taking display of hand-wringing sanctimonious morality, Dowd has condemned the State and Federal Governments' anti-terrorism measures, claiming they erode rights and give encouragement to oppressive regimes.

Bills, Bills and more Bills NSW Parliament deep in debt
NSW Parliament is unjustifiable creating intellectual debt, Academics, politicians, judges, lawyers and volunteers.

It is an absolute disgrace to: Undermine civil and democratic rights The event, hosted by a State MP Lee Rhiannon just a week before the meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Sydney, has enraged Police Minister Michael Costa, who said using the House for the event was appalling. Upper House Greens MP Lee Rhiannon is hosting the forum for about 60 people in State Parliament's Jubilee Room on November 8.

The scavengers of terror
The NSW Government is to introduce increased police powers bill. Legislation giving New South Wales police special powers to deal with an emergency terrorist situation [emergency scapegoat situation] will be introduced into the New South Wales Parliament today.

Greens more of a human touch
What is a real job? Writes Political Reporter Malcolm Farr Daily Tele Article 11 Nov 2002. "It would start if candidates had a CV of real jobs, such as medicine (Senator Brown), or even zoo keeping (NSW Upper House Green Lee Rhiannon ). Which leaves the type of candidate summed up by Kerry Nettle, who was elected a NSW senator at the poll a year ago.

Koch's Skoff Channel 7' Sunrise
Charming when you run some one down like Zanny Begg member of the National Executive of Resistance using the power of National Media and the presenter is opinionated to go along with it.

The Australian Flag - Burn baby burn
If John Howard is not constitutional and racist. If our obligations to human rights are not being upheld, then burn baby burn the Australian flag in protest and start it with little Lucifer like a picture of Bob Carr.

About Protesting &: Corporate media, Ben English and Rachel Morris who spell their names in capitals? [Yes too right! Ordinary people some protesting against the occupation, murder and genocide of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. And you call yourselves reporters? You should hang your head in shame and go get jobs defending those poor innocent people. Shame on you!!!]