Who are we?

Hi Friends. Welcome to the blog of the Pine Gap trial, held in Alice Springs. For a background of the case and our group, and other stories please see www.pinegap6.org. At the bottom of the page is a photo of the four accused (from left) Jim Dowling; Donna Mulhearn; Bryan Law and Adele Goldie arriving at court on the first day of the trial, Tuesday 29th of June 2007.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

No Jail - only fines



Quick update. We have just come out of court and are VERY excited. What can only be described as a small slap on the wrists, the 4 have emerged from court with only small fines, ranging from $1,250-$450 each.

The public gallery erupted into song, applause, cheers and hugs and the feeling of victory and vindication was in the air.

Justice Sally Thomas noted their good behaviour and co-operation in the sentencing decision.

"All four were very genuine in the cause they sought to espouse," said Justice Thomas, "however their actions - no matter for what cause - cannot justify the breaking of the law."

We are all about to celebrate - YAY!

Day 11 - Waiting for the Verdict....Guilty


We resumed at 9am today, which made our procession much colder than usual! But we sang with great gusto as we took our last procession down the Todd Mall.

Judge’s final comments.

Reminded her of their obligation to the matter between ‘Our Sovereign the Queen’ and the accused. She told her that they can’t be mindful of the effect of their verdict (ie possible jail time!), and to remind them that the can get access to further information from the case if they need to be reminded of. She further reminded them that there is a burden of proof on the Crown to prove their case. She discharged the two reserve jurors, which were both women.

After less than five minutes the jury were then asked to retire to consider their verdict.

We were asked to ‘all stand’ and were about to leave when the Judge reminded us that that we needed to deal with bail. “the defendants bail is continued but they stay within the precincts of the court.

So at 9.20 am the jury retired, and we waited.

At 11.05 the four defendants were called into court as “Her Honor wants to see you”.

“I have had no contact with the jury. However I have had another matter that needed to be raised. I have been told by the Sherriff’s officer that you are distributing DVD’s within the court. Can I tell you that this is not appropriate.” She gave reasons that the defendants have to be available on short notice, and can’t be seen to be pushing something on staff.

Verdict
At 2pm we were informed that the jury had reached a verdict. At 2.10pm we all returned into court and rose for perhaps the last time for the entering of the judge.

The jury returned with faces not giving away anything.

The gallery was full, of locals, media, supporters, prosecution members, and the level of anxiety was palpable.

For each of the fourteen charges for the four defendants the question was asked: Do you find the accused guilty or not guilty? Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

We took a short break for sentencing, with lots of emotion, including from those on the so called ‘other side’. It reminds me that we have a system where we believe we have no enemies.

Sentencing
Mr Dembo’s sentencing submission, which took over an hour, could be summarised by “throw the book at them”.

He outlined that the maximum penalties of ten years is possible for these offences. He asked the Judge to consider the seriousness of the offences. He noted that there are limited other crimes that require the consent of the Attorney General, which includes other Intelligence and Security mattes, those under Acts relating to the ‘Crimes on the High Seas’ and the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’. Hardly offences that seem comparable to this matter.

He then went through to address each point of law individually.

The Law says that the Court must relate to “of a severity that is appropriate to the seriousness of the offences”, the nature and circumstances of the offence.

He submitted that “all of the offenders cooperated to a limited extent by making written admission…however those written submissions were received the afternoon before the trial proper started.”. In regard to specific deterrent effect of any penalty, “this is a matter that does cause the crown some concern…who have, for reasons of their own, expressed no remorse…and in fact talked about doing it again…Your Honor must take that into account…”

He noted that Bryan, Jim and Adele have prior convictions, relating to challenging war and injustice (with traffic violations also noted!!).

He once again stated that “no one is above the law and can take the law into their hands, and there must be deterrence for like-minded people”.

When Mr Dembo got to the rehabilitation clause, he stated “the crown sees there is no prospect for rehabilitation” to laughter to the courtroom.

In relation to comparing with other sentences, the Crown stated that in relation to the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act that “there are no previous authorities or sentencing under the provisions of this Act”.

It gives us no joy to state that our submission is “to make a sentence of imprisonment with actual time to be served is the only appropriate sentence in this case”. “Home detention is not appropriate as none of the offenders are resident of the Northern Territory.” “Their submissions to the jury is that they don’t recognise this law, wont recognise this law, and won’t commit to abiding by it”…”The crown is not asking for the whole term to be served”

Judge Thomas noted that people who have previously trespassed on Pine Gap, with a long history of this, have been given a fine. She noted that it is a “big step up” to talk about a jail sentence. “Here they are facing extremely serious offences that carry serious jail sentences”. “A prison statement is one of last resort, including if they are suspended”.

Mr Dembo responded by talking about the general deterrence required for drug importation, again a foolhardy comparison.

We then went to the matter of the cost of repairs to the fence. Mr Dembo submitted a final statement by the Raytheon employee, which was disputed by Jim. He was called in as a witness. He gave evidence that the final bill was $10,785.10, paid by Mr Burgess. Jim asked the witness whether he was aware of the fraud charges and missile making of Raytheon, and he replied he did not. Judge Thomas then asked about the change of cost to the bill. He stated that the fence was thicker than the usual gauge, and had to be transported from Melbourne.

Speaking for themselves the defendants had the following to say:
Bryan:
“If I can start in the traditional way in your Honour by putting forward facts in mitigation of the action I took. I would like to point out, in agreement with Mr Dembo that our damage of property is at the lower end, and I have no idea in relation to the trespass charge. I would suggest that our advance notice and our liaison and our discussion with authorities should be taken into account, as it allayed fears of what we may do…..No one had caused to be fearful…or that anyone suffered any lasting trauma…our crime is not like one in the traditional sense in that it did not seek personal advantage…our actions are conscientious actions…We were non violent and non-malevolent…there was no resistance to any arrest, we never offered violence or disrespect or resistance of any kind. It’s my belief my Honour, that we were, as Ghandi suggested “be the change you want to see in the world”. He presented a number of reference, including a letter from his State member, and one from Des Ball.

He asked for mitigation based on the intentions and behaviour in the carrying out of the actions.

He said that all his words are his own and not the others. His words about future actions related only to himself.

He also said that it was his intent to shut down Pine Gap. To do general protest is accepted by the
the State. “while this state remains at war I intend to continue to make efforts to shut the war fighting elements of the Base down.”

There is no chance of rehabilitation he stated. “I took advantage of the circumstances. We planned for this event. And it is no wonder that there was this effect as the result of that planning.

I would submit that really Your Honour has to give me a custodial behaviour.

You should consider an appropriate custodial sentence and lay it on me Your Honour and I will just serve it out.”

Jim
Jim stated that the bill to fix the fence was farcical because Raytheon itself was responsible for billions of dollars worth of damage in the first days of the war through the use of its missiles.

Jim asked not to be sent to jail as they were trying to stop war. “I Invite you to join resistance in war and not give us any penalty”

Adele
“I’m thankful of the opportunity to speak the truth about what Pine Gap actually does, which is part of the war machine. Which is part of treal time etc…

I’m not willing to pay the Raytheon bill based on these submissions. I don’t particularly want to go to jail. But I stand by my principles”.

Donna
“Ask that no conviction be recorded and that I receive no penalty. As you notice I’ve never been convicted of a crime ever…I’m generally regarded as a good citizen and a previously been a representative of the elected body….I would accept whatever your decision would make… I live in a monastery, missionary of the sacred heart, brothers and priests…I consider their authority as higher than this authority and I accept their support of me is more important than whatever decision of a court of law. I believe my behaviour was excellent, and if I am given a good behaviour bond, I’ll continue my behaviour as the last year and a half…and I’ll continue to resist war. I’ll do whatever I need to do according to my conscience, and I’ll continue to act according to my conscience.

She indicated that she will return to deliver her sentence at 11.30am tomorrow.

Special Sitting of Court - Richard Tanter




“Pine Gap is primarily a US base, it would be foolish to assert otherwise” Professor Tanter

Our anxiety about the activities of the court was tonight soothed by some good humour of a court of our own making, a special session of the (almost) Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, where we all played roles of the court, and we accepted Professor Richard Tanter as an expert witness about Pine Gap.

Prof Tanter presented a mind boggling amount of technical information about what is happens in the US intelligence collection. I wont even attempt to explain the details, but check out his Institute’s website in the next week or so: “Australian Forces Abroad Project” http://gc.nautilus.org/nautilus/australia/afghanistan

Some of the key aspects of Professor Tanter’s address for me are:
• That there are three interrelated space based intelligence facilities Pine Gap in Australia, Buckley, Colarado in the USA and Menwith Hill in the UK.
• He noted that the Australian section of Pine Gap is quite separate from the US. “Pine Gap is primarily a US base, it would be foolish to assert otherwise”.
• There are currently many US staff at Pine Gap from all the major security agencies, as well as all elements of the US Defence forces.
• Pine Gap has always collected significant satellite information. However Pine Gap now also analyses much more of this information on-site.
• There are 40-50 air strikes a week on both Iraq and Afghanistan.
• He recommended looking at Human Rights Watch website about the investigations of the “decapitation strikes” on leadership of the Iraq leadership in early 2003.
• Prof Tanter suggested that we need to move beyond concepts of the National Interest, and talk about human interest.
• He also directed us to the 1999 Joint Parliamentary Treaty on Committees report #26.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Photos of todays solidarity procession




Court Day 11 - short(er!) version - ie. press release

Pine Gap Trial – COURT UPDATE June 13th 2007

Blood of Iraqis brought into court
Hiking boots stained with the blood of an Iraqi person were put before the jury in the final moments of the Pine Gap Four’s NT Supreme Court trial today.

In her closing address, defendant Donna Mulhearn asked the jury to consider the stained hiking boots she was wearing in court. She had worn them in an Iraqi marketplace, in the aftermath of a US missile.
"Now, in this court room, there is blood on my boots. Blood of a human being, that is there because of the targeting decisions made in Pine Gap," she told the jury. "I'm asking you to honour the memory of this person's blood.. for the sake of the truth, for the sake of your humanity, I'm asking that you find me not guilty."
Defendant Jim Dowling stated that at every stage the prosecution had attempted to cover up the truth. "The Commonwealth's hands are dripping with blood of the Iraqi people", he said.
The fate of the Pine Gap Four rests with a jury of their peers tonight following the conclusion of the Crown's case against them. Legal history will be created whatever their decision.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has charged the group under the virginal Defence (Special Undertakings) Act of 1952, with a sentence of up to seven years imprisonment. No legal precedent exists for this case.
On December 9th 2005 Bryan Law of Cairns, Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie of Brisbane and Donna Mulhearn of Sydney conducted a Citizen's Inspection at Pine Gap to spotlight the base's role in the Iraq war.
The defendants had planned to use sections 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5 of the Criminal Code (necessity, defence of others etc.) to legally justify their actions, but these were ruled inadmissable by Justice Sally Thomas yesterday.
Proceedings will resume at 9am for brief comments by the Judge, and then the jury will be sent out to deliberate on the verdicts on all 14 charges.
Nine barristers and lawyers have been present for the prosecution case, while the Pine Gap Four have been unrepresented.
In her closing statement today, Ms Mulhearn stated "when peaceful protest doesn't work, further action is required. History shows this, my faith demands this, and my humanity requires it…Everything that I did that was lawful, didn't work. And then I went to Pine Gap. For a few hours the coordinates didn't get relayed, and the missiles didn't drop."
Justice Sally Thomas summed up: "This is a case that has evoked quite a great deal of emotion. Some of you may feel quite strongly that Australia should have no part in the war in Iraq… you may feel that as members of the Australian public we should know more about what is happening in Pine Gap - having feelings of sympathy or empathy or perhaps prejudice is a normal human reaction. However when it comes to deliberations in this matter I have to ask you to put aside your prejudices, sympathy or empathy and use your intellect to examine the facts of the case."
Tonight the group and supporters will hold a mock trial, where expert witness Professor Richard Tanter will discuss the evidence he was not able to presen during court proceedings.


EVENTS & INTERVIEWS:
Tonight: 13 June Mock Trial: with PROF. RICHARD TANTER
Professor Tanter was due as an expert witness on the nature of Pine Gap but was not granted leave to appear. He will present his evidence tonight in a public meeting.

Professor Tanter is a professorial fellow at the Nautilus Institute at RMIT University. He has widely published on intelligence and military issues in Australia, Japan and Indonesia.
Meeting Details
Wednesday 13 June, 7pm. Flynn Memorial Church Hall, Todd Mall, Alice Springs
Professor Tanter is also available for media comment.
INTERVIEWS with defendants can be arranged with sufficient notice. Photographs of defendants also available, including portraits (individual & group) & action pics of pre-inspection demonstrations.
For more information contact Jessica Morrison 0431 519 577
13 June, 8.30am
"Celebration and Solidarity" parade by supporters from Todd St Mall to Courthouse
13 June, 8.50am
– courthouse steps, Hartley St Alice Springs, Photo op with defendants
(photos available of all events on request)

Court Day 11 - long version

Long blog today, afraid I’m too tired to edit it or even check my poor spelling! Thought it would be good to get it out there. I’ll also post our media release for a shorter version!

The summary is that the jury will go out just after 9am tomorrow to consider their verdict – so we may enjoy the freedom of the night!

Before proceedings began today, Mr Dembo, for the prosecution noted a banner hung over chairs in the court, that he thought would prove a distraction to the jury. The Judge stated that she could only see a strip of yellow, which seemed a non issue. While Mr Dembo stated he could also see a peace sign, the Judge didn’t think it was necessary to remove it. So today we were able to proudly sit around a traditional rainbow colored flag with the words PEACE and the peace sign displayed.

Then Donna made an application to the court -
“After legal advice we’ve all come to an agreement, that we’d like to make a formal application for a permanent stay of the trial…We believe that an objective observer of the trial would not see that Justice would be se to be done, for a number of factors including: the application of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act; the public interest immunity ruling restricting critical evidence being presented; that the ruling on Parliamentary Privilege also restricting evidence; the restriction of expert witnesses that would have strengthened the case; and the lack of defences that are able to be presented to the jury.”

In reply Judge Sally Thomas stated “I note the application and the reasons for it…however the application is refused”.

The jury was then brought in, and the crown began its closing statement.

The crown detailed their argument, representing the defendants as flagrant law breakers - “It’s not for any of us to place ourselves above the law” he argued. “There are ways and means, sometimes they take a long time...for the due process to work”.

He stated “I’ll be asking you to take into account the relevant facts…this is not a parliament, it is not a bible school, and it is not a church, it is a court of law”. It was an insulting comment, it’s clear we all know that we are in the domain of the law, a fact that has been painfully obvious as the many rulings have gone against us, restricting severely the evidence that could be presented.

He implored the jury “You can’t go in there are say we’ll forget about what the Judge has said to you about the law”. Perhaps he would fears that anything other than the law may be significant to the jury. Later he implored them not to consider the result of the charges. He insulted Jim, by suggesting that by wearing a t-shirt with an Iraqi mother and her child, and then weeping as he holds up the photo – that he was being inconsistent.

“You’re not dealing with violent offenders here…but you cannot take into account any sympathies you may have…neither can you take prejudices into account…you can only take into account is the evidence, not emotion…I will suggest that all they have put to you is emotional information”.

“Please remember that these accused persons knew in advance…they thumbed their noses at the law…”

As I was sitting hearing Mr Dembo go on, I was struck by what might a different case look like. If it was Mr Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq that was on trial – and the court of law being presented evidence about whether he was guilty or not guilty of war crimes, much more severe crimes in the scheme of things.

Bryan’s concluding
Bryan in his closing stated “I am not going to be part of an adversarial system. I have no enemies in this court. He quoted from Dr King “the choice is no longer between violence and non-violence. The choice is between non-violence and non-resistance.” He cited the experience of his father in fighting in the Second World War, who was so depressed who attempted suicide. He also quoted Jefferson, that citizens must engage in their democracies or that parliamentarian will rule the day.


“I’m proud of what I did. I proud that I took whatever action I took to address the situation.”

“Our act was a simple act. Of four ordinary people. And we can see around us how seriously this action is being taken. Mr Dembo rightly pointed out the futility of writing letters to politicians who will not hear…We have seen a procession of lawyers who are here to protect the interests of the Commonwealth…one of the key interests of the Commonwealth in this instance, is that we should not disclose what happens at Pine Gap. Because I think Australians are thinking people, and if they know what happens at Pine Gap they will also be……(?)

I think the person with the hardest job in this court, is Mr Dembo. I’d like to thank Mr Dembo for all the efforts he has made to put his case.

I just want to say that I’d really like to be acquitted. I don’t look forward to the penalty I might face, I don’t look forward to time in prison.” He recalled that he spent a month in prison for speaking in public during the Beilkie Peterson(sp???)years, and that he was since found justified. “I have a life worth living because I stick to the principles that I hold…if that requires me to serve a prison sentence, then that’s O.K… what’s important to me is that you uphold your conscience.

Jim stated:
“We have tried to tell the truth at all times, the truth as we see it, as we believe it” “While we tried to tell the truth, it’s probably obvious to everyone that the prosecution…have tried to cover up an enormous amount of the truth…”. He recounted how it was Bryan’s question to Mr Burgess about whether Pine Gap was involved in the war fighting in Iraq that caused an objection and almost two days of legal argument. He said “the Commonwealth’s hands are dripping with blood of the Iraqi people”.

He also talked about Raytheon and the unclear evidence about the timing of the alarms and the costs to the damage of the fence. “he whole alarm system is a farce, as is the Raytheon corporation who have been convicted of defrauding the government in the US…the evidence is that not only that we disclosed that Pine Gap is involved in providing intelligence that has….killed thousands of people in Iraq.”

“The Pine gap facility has caused millions of dollars of damage in Iraq…we cut through fences not to damage property but to save property….if I cut through a fuse of a bomb left over from the second world war, I wouldn’t be charged with damage to property.”

“I’d like to invite you to join us non supporting mass murder…and finding us not guilty.”

Adele:
“I agree with Mr Dembo that I’m not above the law. Mr Dembo seems to think that international law is not relevant and should be ignored…without these laws, citizens have no protection against government. Where, like in this case, the Government ……The Nuremberg principles are not to be ignored, civil disobedience have given us many of the freedoms that we enjoy today.” She was interrupted in her statement by the Judge indicating she has already ruled that that defence should not be withheld.

Donna:
“Despite having no legal training like you, I know what’s right or wrong.” She opened.

She said that her position is “that when peaceful protest doesn’t work, further action is required. History shows this, my faith demands this, and my humanity requires it…Everything that I did that was lawful, didn’t work. And then I went to Pine Gap. For a few hours the coordinates didn’t get relayed, and the missiles didn’t drop.”

“I’m asking you to decide using your conscience.

Donna indicated that she was wearing the boots she was wearing in the market place, the day that a bomb had dropped. She said “now in this court room, there is blood on my boots. Blood of a human being, that is there because of the targeting decision made in Pine Gap. I’m asking you to honour the memory of the person’s blood that is on my boots…for the sake of the truth, for the sake of your humanity. I’m asking you to exercises your right as a human being, to make the decision that you believe is right. I’m asking that you find me not guilty.”

Judge Sally Thomas’s concluding comments:
At 11.55 the case finished at the Judge began her directions. She indicated to the jury that their job is to make decisions regarding fact, based on the evidence they have before them. She indicated that her role is to preside over the trial, and make rulings in regard to points of law. She indicated that quite a period of time has been spent during this trial on legal argument, particularly in regard to which evidence was admissible.

She indicated however that law is non-negotiable. “You might feel you do not agree with the law, I may feel that I don’t agree with the law, but the fact is that this is what is binding on all of us.”
“This is a case that has evoked quite a great deal of emotion…some of you may feel quite strongly that Australia should have no part in the war in Iraq…you may feel that as members of the Australian public we should know more about what is happening in Pine Gap…having feelings of sympathy or empathy or perhaps prejudice is a normal human reaction. However when it comes to deliberations in this matter I have to ask you to put aside your prejudices, sympathy or empathy and use your intellect to examine the facts of the case.”

She mentioned that she has been called upon to make some rulings about what is admissible.
…It is not appropriate to speculate about what you could not hear…the reality of the court process and this trial, there are some matters that I have made rulings that some evidence is not appropriate for this trial”

“You heard a lot of information from the defendants about the defences that they were relying on, and then I ruled that these defences were not open to them.” These included the necessity in ceasing an emergency, self defence/defence of law, and the Nuremberg principles. “they have been ruled out as defences … do not justify breaking the law

“it an unusual case you have been hearing because of the extensive admissions that each of defendants have made in relation to the charges…however the defendants have entered a plea of not guilty to each of the charges…

Then we for the first time got to hear the voice of Mr Dembo’s junior counsel, Ms Cooper. There were then significant submissions made by the prosecution in regard to the Judges’ written statement to the jury (ie. Asking for wording changes, which she won!).

After lunch, Judge Thomas began her legal direction to the jury. She noted “the elements that the crown needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt before you return a guilty verdict” for each of the four for each of the charges (14 in total) and “if you are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the crown has not proved all these elements of the offence then you should return a verdict of not-guilty”.

I’m now going to take you to some of the evidence that you’ve heard in these proceedings, and a summary of the elements of the case as presented at the conclusion:
• Exhibit P1: admissions of defendants, which the crown does not have to prove. The exception here is that Dowling, Goldie & Mulhearn stated that they don’t believe that the Commonwealth owns the land. She noted the evidence that the crown presented towards the assertion that the Commonwealth owns the land. She also indicated law that says the fence belongs to the owner of the property
• Exhibit P2: series of correspondence between Mr Law and Minister.
• Mr Burgess: Deputy Chief of Facility, and Officer in charge of the facility. He began work after the date of the offence,
• Oops tuned out for a while….
• Ruling regarding account for fence repairs: “you do not have to find any findings about what the cost of the damage might have been. You just need to indicate whether there is any damage to the fences at all”.
• Lots of restating of facts re-stated, very hard to stay tuned in…..

“You’ll be aware from the evidence that it was Mr Law and Mr Dowling have used the bolt cutters. The reason Ms Goldie and Ms Mulhearn are charged with this offence also is with the legal principle of “conspiracy for a current purpose”.

She stated that in view of her ruling that the defences that they referred to are not admissible, it is probably not appropriate for the jury to consult these exhibits.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Court Day 10 - Big Day - and not such a good day - by Jess

Adele’s evidence
Adele presented her evidence this morning. She began by introducing herself as a paid worker and volunteer, as someone who doesn’t rely on Government support for her income. She powerfully told her story, with tears throughout, testifying to the depth of her convictions and grief about Iraq.

She stated that before entering Pine Gap she was involved in many vigils, information stalls, organising public meetings, petitions, submission, writing of letters. “I tried many legal means to try to stop horrendous crimes that were being perpetrated against my fellow citizens.”

I knew that the majority of lawyers had said that the war was illegal, that Kofi Annan stated that the war was illegal, and that al these people with all their power couldn’t stop the war.

She shared the story of the Seeds of Hope Ploughshares, who took a hammer to a B52 on it’s way to assist the Government of Indonesia to bomb the people of East Timor, and who were acquitted. Adele said “I thought this was a very practical means, and a very actual means, of stopping these governments that were out of control”.

I heard of the Nuremberg principles, and that it was my duty as a citizen of the world, that if I knew something was going on I had to act to stop it. She attempted to tender the Nuremberg charter during her evidence as relevant to her defence, but was not allowed to do this.

My point is that my belief is that as a citizen, it is my duty, if my Government is committing War crimes and crimes against humanity, then I must act to stop it. She read from an ABC radio transcript about the actual and hideous operations of Pine Gap.

Adele went on to detail information that formed her belief about the activities in Iraq – from Dr Salam Ismael, independent journalists, Australian media and the like. When the prosecution queried these relevance. “I want to prove that in 2005, my small incursion into Pine Gap, was attempting to intervene into what was happening in Iraq. “I want to share this with these fellow human beings” When the prosecution objected to the submission of documents about current atrocities in Iraq, she said “if this isn’t relevant to us as people, then I don’t know what is”.

She submitted [turned down by the Judge] the Lancet report “the study confirms that violent civilian deaths were widespread, and were mainly associated with coalition forces”, which at that time was conservatively estimated to be 100,000 people. Of course since this time, the report has been updated, and they now estimate over 600,000 civilians have died in the Iraq war.

Adele also raised the members of veterans movement who have stood up against the war. She said that she had heard from individual conscientious objectors who had been imprisoned for standing against the war. She said that they too had contributed to the forming of her belief.

Donna’s evidence

Donna detailed how she learned about the role that Pine Gap plays in wars of a foreign country. She quoted Michael McKinley, Phillip Dawling, Des Ball and Richard Tanter, all experts about Pine Gap. She attempted to tender Peter Garrett’s 1987 book “Political Blues” which includes a chapter on Iraq, but it was refused, as with the Lancet report and others, as unnecessary for the jury to read.

Donna stated that “no one on public record has disagreed with what we are saying about what happens at Pine Gap. The head of the base, in this (witness) box, when we presented that Iraq is involved in war fighting, stated no comment. He didn’t disagree”.



Donna gave evidence of her experience of going into Pine Gap. For those who have heard Donna share this story at a churches or public meetings, it will be very familiar. When Donna got to the end of her story, she gave evidence about the hundreds of cars parked outside the front of the gate and stated “we had achieved our goal of disrupting that base and shutting it down for a period of time”.

Donna then shared about her experience in Iraq, focusing on missile strikes, which are linked with Pine Gap - “when a precision bomb lands anywhere within 5 kms of you, it feels like your own personal earthquake.” And she went on. The Prosecution rose and stated that “all know that a bomb is a horrific thing”, and that we don’t need to hear any more. Donna reported, and showed photos, of the effects of precision bombing, people being bombed in restaurants, in the cars, and in their homes. Donna was asked by the prosecution to prove where the bombs were coming from, which she didn’t think that this was needed as only one country was bombing Iraq at the time. “The missile that had landed on the market place, the US reported later in the day that this was a mistake…the coordinates for that missile was given from Pine Gap.”

Donna’s defence is that of defence of others, and she detailed the boys in the children’s shelter that she established and worked with, as specific people she feels an obligation to protect. She stated “the people I’m trying to protect, the ones in defence of others, they have names and faces and stories.” The prosecution, in objecting to photos being tendered “the jury can’t have emotions when they reach their verdict”.

Through a strained voice and tears, Donna said “When I was preparing for the action in Pine Gap, there were no abstract concepts about people far away. They were about people that I know.”

Donna, in detailing why she believes her actions were reasonable stated “considering the experience I had in Iraq, when I prepare to do the incursion in Pine Gap, I thought it was the least I could do….given the magnitude of the crime I was trying to prevent, I believe my actions were reasonable and proportionate.”

“Needless to say, I did much more than write letters. I did the things that many people did. Then I took another step of becoming a human shield in Iraq…I spoke at public meetings and did hundreds of media interviews when I returned…But when I came home the war went on and the role of Pine Gap continued.

“one of the greatest influences on the choice I made was my faith... I believe in loving each other and treating each other with respect. As a Christian, my teacher Jesus goes further and says ‘Love your Enemies’…The other main influence is non-violent action which flows from this teaching.” She noted the many successes of non-violent action – end of slavery; women’s rights; civil rights in America; and freedom of colonial rule in India “When you’ve got something in history that works, I feel we need to explore this further.”

“The greatest influence on me… is my experience in Iraq and how this has effected me…All of those scenes that were here, you come to a point where you feel like you have an obligation… I have felt a compulsion to act, a responsibility. Everything I had done before didn’t disrupt the war process, but going into Pine Gap did…I was trying to fulfil the promise I had made to the people of Iraq to do something to stop the war.


Defending the Defences
Mr Dembo then restated his wish for a ruling that the defences mentioned by the defendants should be disallowed by the Judge. He stated that the Nuremberg principles are “not defences known to law”.

This argument has been well made previously by the Commonwealth lawyer, and Mr Dembo adopted this submission in it’s entirety. This submission referred to important earlier protest cases that have been before the case. One was of Limbo, who had previously protested at Pine Gap, and the two who painted ‘No War’ on the Opera House.

Then we responded. One of the key points that the Commonwealth have made is that the action was an attempt to influence Government policy, which can never be accepted as a defence under the criminal code. In his response, Bryan indicated that “It cannot be legitimate Government policy to commit War Crimes…nor can it be legitimate government policy to provide intelligence to other parties so as to enable them to commit war-crimes.” Bryan had a 10 page submission which rivalled any of the prosecution documentation, making arguments through a significant body of case law. Adele noted that at the time of their action, Australia was engaged in War Crimes, Crimes Against Peace and Crimes against Humanity and therefore under the Nuremberg Charter she was obliged to act. She also cited the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a valid instrument for her to act under. Donna indicated that many prominent International experts had condemned the Iraq war as illegal, and for the lay person who doesn’t understand the nexus between domestic and international law, it must be accepted that for a reasonable person the condemnation of the law as illegal, as an authority to listen to. She noted that since these defences are relatively untested in Australian law, and that the charges are unprecedented, that the Judge should err on the side of the defence, and allow the defence to go to the jury.

During the discussion, Judge Sally Thomas stated that “history has shown that non-violent action has been very effective”

However alas, the Judge ruled against us. She made a ruling stating that “no jury properly instructed should be asked to consider public policy. The defences under 10.3/10.4/10.5 under the criminal code (necessity, self-defence/defence of others) or the defence raised by Ms Goldie under International law should not be put in relation to any of the four defendants”.

Cross Examination
While we were all still shattered from this result, the prosecution commenced it’s cross examination. They asked the four to repeat the same confessions from the group of their actions, now so painfully placing them in such a vulnerable position in regard to a verdict and sentencing.

Mr Dembo, who had been so polite in prior proceedings, made nasty and undermining comments to the defendants in this case, leading me to wonder whether his respectful and jovial manner towards the defendants was merely an act for the jury and Judge.

In cross examination, Jim prouced an A1 Google Earth map of Pine Gap which showed significantly more detail about the Pine Gap facility than on the mud map that the prosecution had used in their evidence.

Adele stated that “If we wait to read these things in the history book, it will keep going on”

Donna, when asked by the Prosecution did she agree that we live in a Parliamentary Democracy, she stated that “Having studied politics, I would say that what we have is more like a fascist regime”. She went on to say that as the Executive (Cabinet) makes decisions, such as the one to go to Iraq, without the consejavascript:void(0)
Publish Postnt of the Parliament, then we cannot call this a Parliamentary democracy.

When discussing witnesses that the Defence was likely to call, the Crown indicated that they would object to all on the basis of relevancy.

So tomorrow may be the last day!

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Weekend together



It was a big weekend for the group here in Alice Springs. The four have been hard at work preparing their evidence and for arguing why their defences (of necessity; self-defence (of others); and the Nuremberg Principles), should be admissible before the Judge.

On Friday night we had a ‘last supper’ of sorts, as 11 of our members had to leave over the weekend. It was a wonderful night of formally affirming each other and their gifts to the group, and enjoying songs by the campfire. Thankyou most sincerely to all those people.....

Saturday morning we went out to Pine Gap to hold a Quaker style meeting for reflection. We sat in a circle in silence and people shared ‘as they felt led’. Reflections included Hindu mantras; a Quaker query relating to seeds of conflict in ourselves; stories of civil disobedience by Quakers; that prophets went into the desert to find God and that we go into the desert to find the truth about our country; the nature of silence; and the experience to attend the base in listening, rather than broadcasting of our opinions. We finished with the laying of a peace sign of flowers and holding hands.

Sunday morning we participated in the Flynn Memorial Uniting Church service in town, which is the church who has given us use of their facilities. Donna shared a message about Jesus and non-violence, and a few people shared their stories about their journey with their group. Stu sang his song ‘flowers in the guns’ where he got us all to sing along. June shared how her experiences in East Timor led her to work for peace; Margaret shared her love for her brother Jim, his moral life, and her belief that he shouldn’t go to Prison, and Jo sharing how he feels he needs to work to challenge the war in Iraq and Pine Gap’s complicity to this.

Sunday afternoon and Monday provided us opportunity to get some time out – beers at the pub, going out into the bush for walks and camping, climbing hills and so forth. We are all tired, and living life in an intense community and stressful court proceedings is taking its toll on us all. So hopefully the beers and the bush will give us sustenance for the next time.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Photos of Today's Die in

(see below's entry from Margaret for more information)



New Catholic Saint - a non-compliant pacifist!

See http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=2958 for more information

Court Day 9- from Margaret

Bryan’s Testimony
Friday morning – early start. Bryan gave his testimony from the witness stand. He spoke of the transparency with which they had acted and tended a letter to the police explaining what they would be doing.

He was allowed to tender some documents that referred to the role of Pine Gap not on the basis of their veracity but on the basis that they contributed to the forming of his beliefs.

Bryan ended with an exploration of lawbreaking as an honourable deed. Bryan reminded the jury that Jesus had led a movement of law breakers – they had crossed caste and ethnic and religious social boundaries: Jesus had eaten with ‘sinners’ and women and touched the woman who was bleeding.

More legal argument/objections
It had been agreed that he would be then cross-examined by the other three defendants and by the crown. However, Mr Dembo for the prosecution began to request again that the judge make a ‘ruling’ on whether she would allow a defence argument to go to the jury under 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5 in the Commonwealth criminal code. These sections – acting because of extreme emergency, acting because of self defence, or acting because of some other lawful authority. The Judge said that the defendants could have a few more days to prepare the legal arguments in relation to these codes. But also allowed Mr Dembo to reserve his cross-examination until after the others give their testimony.

Jim’s Testimony
Jim began his case and outlined how he came to develop a perspective that he should act at Pine Gap over the years leading up to the act. Jim played a video that was an example of how his mind/beliefs had been formed.

He also spoke of how he surfed the net for information about the war in Iraq. He told how he had come across video footage of children killed in bombing raids in the early parts of the Iraq war. He talked about how he had repeatedly rung the terrorism hotline to report on Pine Gap.

Early start – Early finish for the day!

Adele’s Opening
Adele’s opening statement was eloquent and clear. She outlined that she would be arguing under international law. – International humanitarian law – that the PG facility was involved in international war crimes and crimes against humanity.

She quoted the Nuremberg principles. “Preparation for war is itself a war crime”. “Murder, extermination, and other acts against a civilian population when in connection to a war situation” [paraphrased]. “States must never make civilians a target or use weapons that cannot distinguish between civilians and other combatants.”

Adele’s opening was interrupted by the prosecution but she will continue on Tuesday.


Donna’s Opening
Donna told the jury about the irony of the prosecutor’s statement that this is just a criminal act of trespass and the use of a camera. But Donna said that the fact that they are the first people to be arrested under the Defence Special Undertakings Act and the fact that they are facing 7 years in prison and not a $50 fine is an indication that this case is not just about trespass and the use of a camera.

It’s much more than trespass and the use of a camera.

She also highlighted in her opening several times that there’s more evidence that they want to give the jury but they are not allowed to; that her testimony is limited by the ‘bevy’ of lawyers appearing for the commonwealth.

She finished by reminding the jury that her mother thought it was reasonable!

Procession
We held a small procession from the court back to the Uniting Church to end the week. We walked single file back to the mall to the slow beat of a drum. We then made 4 statements about the connection between Pine Gap and war and conducted a ‘die in’. This die in links us with other nonviolence and peace activists across the world who have done die ins.

Boom Boom Boom Boom

Pine Gap was established in 1967. It was said that Pine Gap was built for “space research”. It was a lie.
[die in]

For 40 years Pine Gap has orchestrated the U.S. war of aggression.
[die in]

Pine Gap is a weapon of mass destruction.
[die in]

What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the earth.
[die in]

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Court Day 8- The Defence Opens! - by Jess

PROSECUTION EVIDENCE
The prosecution’s case was over by 11am this morning, concluding with Bryan’s interview with police. Bryan stated “we believe that Pine Gap as a facility carries out terrorist bombing attacks against civilians particularly in Iraq, but around the world”, therefore “for me it’s not about trespass, it’s a moral issue”.

Bryan recounted our trip in the vege van on the way to Alice Springs as along “bloody awful long hot road”, gaining smiles of recognition from many of the locals. “We prayed for a miracle” he responded when asked how he thought they’d get in.

Bryan relayed that officers said to them “Move away from the fence and get down on your face now”. He stated “ I did for a moment figure that one of those officers might have pulled out his gun and shot me…I felt like …. I do not wish to participate in being shot at so I dropped my bolt cutters and sat down and said ‘Well look yeah okay, arrest me’. But I was made to lie face down on the ground in the dirt while officers put their knees in the small of my back, put my arms behind me, handcuffed me, rolled me over….”

When asked whether he thought it was the right thing to do, he responded “If I didn’t’ believe it was the right thing by Jesus, and in favour of God, I wouldn’t do it”. “what’s moral is not always legal, and what is immoral is not always illegal. First and foremost I must do what I believe to be morally correct and if there is a minor law that has to be broken in the pursuit of moral faith then I will break it.”

PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEDGE
After the close of the prosecution case, we had the debate we had to have – the one about Parliamentary Privilege. This was held without the jury. This is because the lawyer appearing for the Commonwealth has asserted that any discussion of parliament, including parliamentary committees (such as the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties), is not allowed to be discussed in court, particularly before the jury.

An SBS Dateline transcript is significant to the defence in this trial, as it discusses in some detail deficiencies of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in regard to Pine Gap, and the Commonwealth lawyer seeks to have this struck out of relevant evidence.

Mr Begby, for the Commonwealth had a six page submission about the Parliamentary Privilege issue, in which he referred to the 1688 English Bill of Rights and some relevant case law.

Conversely, Donna in her submission stated that she felt the need to quote the great Australian movie, the Castle “I think it’s the vibe. I don’t think the purpose of this Act is supposed to restrict the flow of information to assist the defendants in a courtroom”

However the defence were not successful in their argument this time, and the Judge ruled in favour of the Commonwealth, ruling out any reference to Parliament and their committees.

The defence case then opened after lunch.

Bryan provided an opening statement, which is provided in a separate entry.

In his evidence which followed, Bryan detailed events since the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, when the landscape of peace, security and war changed significantly. He noted that he went to University with the aim to promote peace. He noted how he was involved in the forming of a peace group in Cairns in January 2002 to attempt to limit the spread of war, and for a year they engaged in research into the situation in Iraq, including its military resources. It’s impossible to do that kind of research without coming to a profound respect of its people. It appeared to be filled with people of goodwill. They held information stalls to counter the disinformation campaigns that were running. He stated that for the 14 months up to the start of the Iraq war the group worked intensively on the issue – they: wrote letters, not only to the editor of the local newspaper, but to the politicians responsible, including the Prime Minister; spoke to the local member; conducted rallies; published articles; communicated with the armed forces and the public.

Then, he said, the war went on and continues to go on, with bombs killing citizens every day. “I’ve been taught… that when this kind of atrocity is happening, it’s my responsibility to try and stop it”. He stated that there are two ways we, as Australian citizens, support the war. The first is in the oil industry, and he is involved in attempting to inspect war ships in Port.

Bryan began to introduce the concept of non-violence, by referring to Ghandi’s ‘illegal’ acts in India. In response to an objection from the Crown, the Judge stated - “You’ve made the point that non violent actions can be very persuasive….you don’t need to say any more than that”.

Bryan indicated that when Jim suggested facing Pine Gap as a focus, he undertook significant research. He indicated that Pine Gap collects signal intelligence including tracking of mobile phones, and other land to air intelligence, and is used to establish links to military forces in Iraq. The prosecution sought for Bryan to provide further documentary evidence that led to this belief. As a consequence, Bryan attempted to tender evidence of a 1991 media statement from the then Defence Minister about Nurrangar’s role in the first Gulf War, and a book by Des Ball in 1980 which related to the functions of Nurrangar, both which were objected to on relevance. He then indicated he published his perspective on Margaret Kingston’s webdiary, which was successfully tendered to the jury (after previously negotiating this with the Judge and Crown without the jury present), though Mr Denbo still felt the need to outline to the jury that this must be considered as a matter of opinion, rather than fact.

Tomorrow will continue with the conclusion of Bryan’s evidence and will then move on to Jim’s opening statements and evidence, and if time Adele then Donna. Given we will finish court at 1pm, we are likely to not get to our strong women this week.

Bryan's Opening Address

Bryan’s Opening Address (as best as Jess could transcribe it)

Hello. I feel like we’re into the second year of the trial, and this is my first time I’ve had to address you. My name is Bryan Law, I'm 53 years old. I'm a husband, a father, and a nonviolent social justice activist, that’s my vocation. For employment, I drive a taxi in Cairns for money.

You already know what's involved in family life, and how rewarding and challenges of that. You probably know less about the theory and practice of nonviolence, and I'll be explaining a fair bit of that during the trial because it's central, absolutely central, to why I did what I did and what I thought I was achieving….And why and how I carried out the entry into Pine Gap for which I'm on trial today.

Many of you are Christians, at least nominally, and you'll be aware of the love and nonviolence of Jesus in the Gospels – love your enemies. You'll have heard of Mohandas Gandhi, and of Martin Luther King Jr as giant practitioners of a new form of spiritual nonviolence in the 20th Century. You’ll be aware of their achievements in the independence of India and the civil rights in America. Fewer of you will have read and heard about Dorothy Day as a founder of the Catholic Worker movement in contemporary USA, and around the world. Who gave rise to a more interventionary form of non-violence called the ploughshares movement. When I get into my evidence, I’ll ex…..my actions weren’t of a desperate or. …

I began conscientiously to adopt the principles and practices of what I call nonviolence in 1981, in Brisbane, while I was studying at Griffith University. For 25 years I've developed and refined my ability to understand and practice nonviolence. The Citizen's Inspection of Pine Gap by Christians Against All Terrorism is in many ways the culmination of all that training and practice. That is the act for which I and my friends are on trial today.

You’ll be pleased to know I got my degree from Griffith University in Modern Asian studies, and went on to do some post-graduate work. My field of interest in the last few years of University was strategic weapons systems and security issues in the Asia/Pacific basin. I was looking for direction in how to bring about disarmament in practical and real ways.

I can't explain why it is so, but since I was 10 years old and US President Kennedy was assassinated, I remember that, it’s a distinct memory in my mind I have had an abiding interest in the politics of peace, of how to achieve international systems of peace. Since I adopted Gandhian nonviolence I can document a consistent and persistent involvement in community-based campaigns to transform the machinery of war into equipment for harmonious society.
The Biblical authority is Isaiah 2:4 : "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks".
In secular thinking that process is known as Peace Conversion, and in relation to Pine Gap it involves transferring the ownership and mission of that base. To bring it under international control in order for arms control. I don’t have a problem with I’ll bring all information that I am allowed to, to show this.
It's an important point to remember that Christians Against ALL Terrorism does not call for Pine Gap to be dismantled or closed. But to be transformed and to have it changed. We say strip it of its present war-fighting and terror-waging role, and make it a force for world peace. I have to say that I can’t distinguish between a suicide bomber who drops bombs on innocent civilians in a market place, and a jet bomber that drops ….or white phosopherous bombs on a market place. They are the same to me.
I'd like you to understand that our actions are not isolated instances of frustration and despair welling up as merely symbolic protest action.
My action, our action was and is calculated to effectively intervene into the war-fighting operation of Pine Gap, under the public gaze, as part of an effective campaign to limit the damage from war in Iraq in the short term, and bring about global disarmament in the medium term.
There's no denying I experience frustration as we see such violence in our world, but I do not despair. I act. I act with a plan to achieve the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi to transform hate into love, and war into peace. Within ourselves, within myslelf and in the wide world, I seek transformation and peace. I can and will demonstrate to you that nonviolence is the most powerful tool for achieving practical results - and that it wards off despair and brings hope. I would encourage you to try it for yourselves.
I imagine that you'll hear once or twice from the prosecution that none of this is $r$elevant to the case, the prosecution case is based soley on whether I was at a certain place, at a certain time, without a permission or authority from the appropriate bureaucrat. I think that would be pretty clear from the prosecution case, that I don’t deny this…. What Pine Gap does, they will say, is irrelevant to the charges, and is not something which ought be aired in this Court. Pine Gap should be kept secret, because the government says so. The war in Iraq, they will say, is irrelevant to the charges. This is another issue in which government privilege, the government perogative is said to operate. Their decision to go to war. Ours to take it, to accept this decision.
And, I can see why they'd think that. Keep things simple. Strip our act of all context. Shield the government from accountability. Nothing too difficult there to face for those who represent the Commonwealth in this room..
I hope you’re not surprised that I disagree with that.
The war in Iraq, Australia's involvement with the war in Iraq, and Australia's military alliance with the USA are growing imminent catastrophes for all concerned. More than 100 people a day die as a result of the violence in Iraq. I have to say that if we are not able to address this as citizens, then we have failed as a citizen and as a country. I can point to a direct threat to civilians in Australia is the growing likelihood of a terrorist attack in this country. Probably Melbourne or Sydney, maybe in Cairns, maybe here, but it could be anywhere.
While horrible, in itself, that threat pales into insignificance when compared with the slaughter of innocents in Iraq. …………..
Object…………please stop talking about Iraq…opening statements about generalities.
I will give further evidence to this in my testimony. ….I do have an defence, which is under 10.3 of the Criminal Code, So I will be giving evidence about how I informed my thinking and how my actions are reasonable.
When Mr Dembo opened he stated that it is nor the role of the court to input into parliamentary democracy.
We didn’t sneak in at night and hope to get away with that. If that means that you mean that you have to convict me…..
Follow your conscience, act to the Judges instructions, and we’ll have the result that supports our society the best.
What I would like to give evidence about is the illegitimate and I would say…..of the Howard Government. You will remember the enormous amount of lies that have been told by our Government. You’ll remember the children overboard, you’ll remember the comments that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
I'm not just saying this as a matter of theory. Since November 2001 I and various friends formed a peace group and used every available method of standard political influence. In February 2003 when activists world-wide collectively achieved a massive display of public majority opposition to the coming invasion, John Howard called us a mob.
Now, speaking just for myself, I'm happy to acknowledge and agree to all the facts as alleged by the prosecution. I was happy to acknowledge them in the interview I gave Northern Territory Police at Alice Springs watch-house some hours after my arrest on 9 December 2005. Indeed, I was happy to predict them at a speech I made at a public meeting at the Arid Lands Environment Centre on 6 December 2005.
I understand clearly that the government wishes to keep information about Pine Gap as secret as it can, from the Australian people. I agree that we were warned by Defence Minister Robert Hill in 2005 that our proposed Act could draw prosecution under that Act. I agree that efforts to reason with Minister Hill proved fruitless, and that I and others entered what is said to be the Pine Gap prohibited area, at various times in the early hours of 9 December 2005. I agree that I cut such fences as were necessary to affect entrance into the Pine Gap terror base.
Where I disagree with the prosecution is that I believe I had a lawful justification for being there, which constitutes a legal excuse to the charges laid against me.
In short I was compelled to take some action out of necessity to avoid or ameliorate the imminent dire consequences, the existing dire circumstances, arising out of the extraordinary emergency created by the war in Iraq. Under all the circumstances, the best action I could organise to take was the Citizen's inspection of Pine Gap on 9 December 2005. I say that action was a rational and reasonable way to achieve withdrawal and disarmament.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Garrett in Alice



“U.S. forces give the nod, it’s set back for your country”
“nothing’s as precious, as a hole in the ground”
“They’re only there to lend a hand. Short memory”

These are some of the lyrics we sang last night outside the Alice Springs RSL where Peter Garrett was due to speak at an ALP organised event. We decided to sing Midnight Oil songs that particularly resonated with our perspective: US forces; Blue Sky Mining; Short Memory. Our plan was to support the views expressed in these songs, with solidarity for where Garrett still shared these views.

It was an hour in the cold night before he arrived, giving us plenty of time to let loose in singing and dancing – so our voices are a bit sore today!

Garrett’s speech was a bit disappointing for many of us, most of his speech was talking of why Howard’s regime is bad for Australia (which most of the audience already believed), and when moving to Labor’s policy he sprouted clean coal (oxymoron in my view)!

He chose not to take questions from the floor, but to move among the crowd in conversation, which proved very controversial!

The realists among us reflected that this is what you need to do as a shadow-cabinet member. He got a bit of heckling from the audience (including us) about Rudd’s view of the war, and the change of ALP policy on uranium mining.

So when I got my 10 seconds with him, I thanked him for his previous and current work in the struggle against uranium mining, and stated that there were many outside the party standing behind him in this view. He assured me that he would continue to work, within party structures and limitations, for this aim.

“Political party line don’t cross that floor”…………..(U.S. forces)

Court Day 7 - from jess

Today we continued to hear the evidence for the Crown prosecution, which is now over, bar the shouting – oh I mean bar Bryan’s interview with police. The rest of the week is likely to be taken up with legal argument. We finish early on Friday because it’s a long weekend, it is the Territory after all. And there a thousands of people due in Alice for the Finke Desert race – the police advised us to be careful on the roads with our bikes as there are lots of people who may be hooning about.

Much of today’s proceeding was evidence from further AFP officers giving evidence about the ‘incursions’. What surprised me was how close many of the AFP officers were to apprehending the four, but that they didn’t see them for quite a period of time, even in when in “no man’s land”. There were also evidence presented about Jim in a “prayer-like position”

Jim was able to point out some seeming inconsistencies in the crown’s case of timing of certain alarms, when people were alerted, and when the individuals were actually inside the “technical area”.

Jim also managed to bring up the Raytheon link – the world’s fourth biggest arms dealer is one of Pine Gap’s contractors. When Raytheon employee Tollosep was on the stand, Jim asked “Are you aware that Raytheon manufacture Cruise missiles? Are you aware that 40 Cruise missiles were dropped on Baghdad at the start of the Iraq war in 2003?” The prosecution objected.

Some newspaper articles and other documents left on the roof of Pine Gap buildings by Adele and Jim, seem to have gone missing, and were not presented as part of Crown evidence.

The most poignant moment for me in the court was when our banners were brought out of AFP possession and held up. “Expose Pine Gap” was held up by a Sherriff’s officer; an AFP officer and a NT police officer across the length of the court room. Another particularly beautiful banner telling a story of dispossession of Aboriginal land through to the time where, through public involvement, Pine Gap is eventually closed. We look forward to returning this banner to it’s rightful owners.

It’s hard to know what the jury are thinking, though we always try to make sense o their various face expressions during the evidence

I’ll finish with some excerpts from Donna’s interview at 11.18am 9th December 2005 at Alice Springs Police Station.

“I don’t believe I’m breaking the law because I believe I have personal responsibility to alert the public to the activities of Pine Gap of which I have become aware. I believe that anyone is responsible for the death of other human beings, that we have an obligation to report that.

So I thought I had a responsibility to investigate further what is happening in Pine Gap and to try to make other people Australia citizens aware of the very strong risk that Pine Gap poses to the safety of Australian people….

I’ve witnessed first hand the activities of Pine Gap and the result of what occurs there...so I’ve seen women and children’s bodies ripped to pieces and maimed and I feel that it’s a crime and if I know that it’s being facilitated from Pine Gap I have to report that…

it’s been proven throughout history that people in my position who have to alert others to crims of maybe Government or political groups are not committing crimes so this is the philosophy of which I was there today…I am a pacifist which means I don’t use violence of any kind…

“On Monday night for example I have a talk about the massacre in Iraq in a town called Fallujah Iraq of which I was a witness so I have photos of like children shot through the head by American snipers and things like that and bodies where their skin is peeling because of chemical weapons used in Fallujah and so we had a public meeting to share this with the public that was part of our linking what we’d planned for Pine Gap with the war in Iraq…

Part of our goal was to learn more about Pine Gap Facility, it’s a secret place, and I don’t think it should be secret and many people are curious about what it looks like… I was disappointed that I actually didn’t’ get to take the photos that would’ve revealed more information.

Donna was asked “Did you have permission to take them photos of the base?”. To which she responded, “There was no one to ask...

I’ve never broken a law before. I’ve never been arrested or convicted of anything so for me it was a very serious thing to do.”

“Do you think what you did was the right thing or the wrong thing?” she was asked, “I think it was the right thing”…“I don’t believe I committed a crime… What I did was an attempt to transform a military base into something you know open and honest.”

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

General Update - Margaret

The four defendants are all going well. Bryan is very happy and pleased
with the job that he is doing. The other barrister said that one of his
colleagues suspects Bryan of being a trained barrister! The others sound
totally competent as well and the Judge is sometimes quite flexible.

It’s cold here – Tomorrow will be about minus 3 in the morning apparently. But we
are warm enough.

Our community is lovely. Terry has been coordinating the stall. I have
been doing a fair bit of facilitating – assisting group decision making.
We are heading for three more public events – we are going to welcoming Mr
Peter Garrett at the RSL this evening with some of his own songs. We are
looking at doing a simple “die-in” in the Alice Mall on Friday. Its aim is
to link Pine Gap with war. And on Saturday we are looking at a plain
looking, silentish Quaker style action at the Gates of Pine Gap. The
community will start to break up on the weekend though as people go back
to their normal lives.

It looks like the court case will go into next week. It is a long weekend.
Bryan has arranged for the expert witnesses to come on Tuesday and
Wednesday next week. Hopefully the prosecution will get through its
evidence today. And our mob will start presenting their own evidence
tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone for their love and support. If you have a reading or
comment to contribute to the morning procession that would be very
welcome. Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated.

Love Margaret

Wednesday proceedings
This morning we held a procession to court as usual. Barry read from Leo
Tolstoy – Tolstoy’s reflection of a civilised society and the violence he
witnessed in Paris that led to his taking a position of nonviolence.

Today we have heard briefly from the following witnesses.

Mr Kramer who owns the adjacent property to Pine Gap. His electric fence
had been cut so that Donna and Bryan could get through.
The AFP officer who checks the alarms through the night.
We saw the video of Jim and Adele crossing between the security fences –
the no-mans-land area.

Few were cross-examined or opposed except for occasional questions. Jim
explored the many false alarms – snakes mobile patrols goannas.

Court Day 6 (ie Tue 5 June) - Jess and Katie

CROWN WITNESS AGREES CITIZENS INSPECTION "MIRACULOUS" - Katie & Jess

AFP Officer in Charge at Pine Gap base Inspector Ken Napier agreed in court today that the Pine Gap 4's successful Citizens' Inspection was "miraculous". During cross-examination of Inspector Napier, defendant Donna Mulhearn described a conversation she had with a police officer prior to the inspection. "He said to me 'you'd need a miracle to breach security at Pine Gap' - would you agree with that?" asked Ms Mulhearn. Smiling, Mr Napier replied "At the time, yes."

Adele in cross examining Ken Napier was able to gain confirmation that the base was locked down for at least ninety minutes after their inspection on the 9th December 2005. Donna was able to gain confirmation that to his knowledge, despite the large number of people who have trespassed on the base, that none have been charged under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act (1952).

Another Crown witness, Mr Geoffrey Cooper, testified to selling two pairs of bolt cutters to the Mr Bryan Law at an Alice Springs hardware shop. Under cross-examination Mr Law asked Mr Cooper to recall details of the transaction. "The gentleman asked 'Do you know what I want to use them for?' and I said yes, to get into Pine Gap," said Mr Cooper, also smiling. "He asked what chance I thought they had, and I said none."

Federal Agent David Perry was asked to recount a public meeting that he attended on the 6th of December. He very rigidly held up his fingers to display that people had been asked to hold up a peace sign. When asked in cross-examination whether he held up a peace sign, he said “I did but I didn’t hold it up”. He stated that he was unaware of the powers he had under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act to arrest the group for both the possession of a model or intending to enter a facility. He stated that there was a movie, shot in Fallujiah, shown at the meeting which depicted horrific injuries of children. Donna put to him that “any person presented with this information would be compelled to respond”, to which he replied that he had to disagree, that this was not his experience. It was a profound moment for me, as this agent reflected that his experience was that people do not always step in to help a fellow human being.

A model of Pine Gap was in the courtroom, and Mr Begby, appearing for the Commonwealth, stated (in the absence of the jury) that this could be constituted as a further offence under Section 9 of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act, and requested that this be placed in the custody of the Court.

The afternoon brought many AFP officer’s evidence about their experience on the day of the “incursion”. We were able to clarify that Jim was kneeling when officers arrested him and pushed him onto his face. It was also clarified by many witnesses that it was only the fence that was cut. One officer obviously wasn’t a fan of the action stating “they were quoting some form of rhetoric…anti-war slogans about the atrocities of Iraq”. What was interesting about this is that even this skeptic called the actions in Iraq atrocities.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Court Day 5 - from Jess

The rubber hit the road today, with a full afternoon of prosecution evidence. Throughout the serious evidence presented, there were plenty of light-hearted moments through the day.

So since there is lots that happened, it’s a bit of a long report today!

The day started with the Judge ruling in favour of the Commonwealth’s bid for public interest immunity – basically shutting down the defence’s ability to present any evidence about the actual operations of Pine Gap (it of course leaves open to the Prosecution to reveal whatever they like). But she stated that the defence is able to talk about their belief about the operations of Pine Gap, leaving plenty of room for the defence to present evidence about what the public believe happens there. The Judge also stated that it was too early to make rulings in regard to the accused’s defence – as the Commonwealth’s lawyer had sought for the defences to be struck out as evidence that can be presented to the jury.

ASIO came up a few times today as their presence in the arrest was discussed. This was the piece of information that the defendants had fought so hard to be able to reveal through the lifting of their suppression order. However whenever more general questions were asked about the presence of ASIO at the base, the four withdrew their questions, not wanting to allow further delays to the proceedings.

This afternoon we had the remainder of cross-examination of Mike Burgess, Deputy Chief of the Facility. Bryan was able to clarify that “Pine Gap contributes to timely US and Australian knowledge that has military significance”. Jim then explored the fact that the original Raytheon estimate to fix the fence was only $6,400 while the final bill was over $12,000. Mr Burgess stated that it was unusual for a final cost to be double the quote, but didn’t query it, as Raytheon has the maintenance contract for the base. When Adele then got up and asked whether he was aware that Raytheon had just paid $410 million in the US for defence fraud (which he was not aware of), it raised some interesting questions for us all. Adele said “Well, maybe you should change your contractor,” to laughter throughout the courtroom.

Donna queried why all members of the US Congress were allowed access to the base when Australian MP’s were not, and unfortunately Mr Burgess was only able to disclose which MP’s are allowed in, not why the discrepancy exists. She also queried why the 4 are the first to ever be charged under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952, despite the vast number of protesters that have scaled the fence in protests throughout the year. Mr Burgess suggested that it was because no one else had ever entered the technical area (the inner area), however this is not the case.

Jim also clarified that, to their knowledge, no authority from the East Arrente people had been sought or granted to use their land as a military base. The four had sought permission from a senior traditional owner before they went in, and this will be presented in the defence as permission having being sought and granted to enter the base. He also asked what was actually happening during the early years of the base, when it was called a ‘Joint Space Research Facility’? When Mr Burgess replied that it was used as a joint space research facility – Jim replied that “are you serious” – what planets were they researching? When the Judge queried why this might be relevant, Jim stated that it was because everyone had lied about the base.

The second witness was the duty manager of the hire company we hired a car from in December 2005. After months of waiting and days of interrupted work waiting to give her testimony, she was able to give her five minutes of uncontested evidence.

Then the AFP officer in charge of the base ‘Inspector Napier’ took the stand, or Ken as he is known by and well regarded by us. He was asked by the prosecution to look at photos of us and identify the people and activities contained. It was quite surreal having a photo presented of me praying in the dirt, and Ken having to identify what was happening! When asked about the naming of the prayer vigil at the gates on the 8th of June, where he had noted people were on their knees with candles, and stood in a circle holding hands, he stated that whatever we may call it, to them it is a protest. Ken was able to confirm that we were all peaceful and respectful at all times.

Ken was also able to confirm under cross-examination that the group made clear to him their intentions for entering the base. Bryan pointed out to him a section of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 that allowed him to have arrested people at this point, however he indicated that he believed that the security at the base would be sufficient to keep members of the group outside the base.

Speaking of security, Jim spent the last part of the day cross examining Mr Napier about the alarm system at the base. There were what appear to be over 30 false alarms in the half hour before the citizen’s inspection, which raise questions about the ability of the alarm system to adequately respond to a real threat – which raises the core question, of

What are we doing with a US base in the middle of Australia that we can’t possibly protect?

Mr Napier’s cross examination and further witnesses will take the stand.

Tonight a group of 40 people or so are watching a movie “The Ground Truth” telling the stories of US veterans from Iraq who are deeply disturbed about their experience – I would recommend it to anyone.

I’ll sign off with some words from a song we sing each day:
“I will stand and I will defend my right to fight against violence”

May we all do this in our own way…………

Jess

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Action at Pine Gap 2 June - from Margaret

We carried out a fabulous 'rise up' nonviolent action today - creative, full of singing and ritual and narrative - my favourite kind. [well I did help organise it!]

Part 1 - Acknowledgement and Reflection
We started with a senior custodian of that country, who attended with his sister and younger brother and grandchildren, welcoming us to that country. And in response we thanked him and apologised for the impact of our people and society on his people. We stood in silence feeling the earth and remembering and acknowledging.
We then listened to a prophesy of Ezekiel - dry bones that will return to life; Matthew's beatitudes and Jesus' pentecostal call to love and rejection of fear in John 14. This was a pentecost action, so we then placed on a cross black cards with the names of the dead in Iraq and red flame-cards with the names of people who have led/do lead us in action into the Reign of God. - Oscar Romero, Gandhi, Luther King, Seeds of Hope, Ploughshares, Ciaron O'Reilly, - all our favourite heros.
We sang - Hear the voice of Justice Cry, Moving through our Land ...
and then Rise up, Rise up on Eagles Wings

Part 2 - Transformation
We transformed the sign at the front of Pine Gap from "Pine Gap Terror Base" to "Pine Gap Peace Base"
... and we created a lovely peace symbol on the ground in front of it out of purple flowers while Stu sang "Flowers in the Guns"
“Come on Everybody, Lets put Flowers in the Guns, Everyone under the sun, Lets put Flowers in the Guns”

Part 3 - Inspection
We listened to Helen Caldicott speak about the US war machine, we listened to Bryan talk about the court case, we listened to Edward.
We congratulated the Pine Gap 4
Then we launched a mass citizen’s inspection. Unfortunately after asking three times, our inspection was not given authorisation. We then regrouped.
Edward and Terry decided that they were prepared to proceed with an inspection despite not being authorised by the authorities! So the crowd of citizens gave the authorisation needed.
Edward and Terry went forth and climbed the fence to carry out their mission - yes over the barbed wire. Unfortunately they were arrested on the other side.
We sang: “With my hammer I break the chain, I will not remain in silence. I will stand and I will defend my right to fight against violence.”
Then we sang: Let justice roll on like a river…
And went home ...
[Oh - Terry and Edward were released to our loving arms first, uncharged, unhurt.]
... I'm tired. - lucky we didn't have to do a watch-house solidarity vigil!
love Margaret

Oh be reasonable! - by Jess

It’s an interesting notion reasonableness. It is also a deeply embedded legal principle based on the notion of what the ordinary person would do in various circumstances.

In the last few days of court, the question of reasonableness has been central.

The defence is based in part on whether the four had a reasonable belief that their action would have some effect on the operations of Pine Gap. This is based on their belief that Pine Gap is instrumental in the war in Iraq, a belief that is shared by many.

Some interesting quotes:

“Engaging in activities to disrupt the implementation of public policy can never be reasonable” Mr Maurice, Commonwealth lawyer.

In response to the Commonwealth lawyer was trying to say there were many ways for citizens to express their political views within the law, citing writing letters and joining political parties -
“If writing a letter to the editor was the only reasonable way to respond to the dead and battered bodies of Iraqi children, then we have all failed” Donna Mulhearn, Defendant.

In response to the assertion that the actions would not effect the so called emergency in Iraq - “…our actions did disrupt that war machine for five hours and that seems to be a reasonable response to an emergency”. Adele Goldie, Defendant.

The Barrister for the Commonwealth has attempted to keep all discussions about reasonableness away from the jury. He argued that the jury should not be determining the reasonableness of the four’s actions. However today the Judge ruled against this submission.

What is reasonable for the public to know about Pine Gap? What was reasonable for the Australia Government to do in the face of the US led invasion of Iraq? What are reasonable actions for citizens in response to this war? At what point are laws so unjust that the only reasonable response is to break them?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Arrest Photos from Today



Photos of Today's Action





Action at Pine Gap 2 June - from Ross

Ross here on behalf of Barry myself from Alice Springs, Central Australia. This afternoon about 100 people assembled outside Pine Gap, the top secret US spy base here in the centre of Australia.

This CIA run base assists the US globally in its bombing and intelligence around the world.
Not even the Australian govt. gets a tour inside this place.
The event started with speeches from Traditional owners of the land on which the base is built, the Arrerente People.

A sign outside the base gates was covered to say "Pine Gap terrorist Base". Peace songs and bible readings followed from the Beatitudes and Ezekiel about the dry bones coming to life.
Flowers were made into a peace sign and a cross had names pinned to it of peace activists and dead Iraqis from the war.

A citizens inspection was then carried out with myself and three others dressed in inspectors uniforms. We approached the gates and were met by an Federal Police Officer who said "NO" to our request. As part of a dream a had a few days back, I came with my passport and said as an Australian citizen I had a right to know what the US and Australian governments were doing on this base and that it was being kept secret from the Australian people. After each inspector being refused we retreated back to the crowd for discussion. Two inspectors, one Australian and one Amercian said they would continue to persue the inspection. The "Coalition of the Willing" proceeded to the fence to the side of the gate and climbed it. The State Police warned them but did nothing to hinder their climb. On the other side of the fence were Australian Federal Police (AFP) waiting to arrest them on the other side.

After about 5 minutes the two completed their climb and were arrested when they reached the ground on the other side. After about half an hour, the AFP informed us that the two would not be charged, and were released back out the main gate.

As you can see the group here has a very good relationship with the police here, and the police were doing everything thing they could to appear reasonable. I myself had seriously considered climbing the fence also, but did not wish to be entangled in legal problems at this time. As it was I think the event worked fine with the two who offered themselves for arrest, without my extra assistance. However, I am happy that I was willing and prepared to do so should a future event and need arise.

I continue to admire the beauty of the landscape here, at the same time we are confronting a quiet death machine whose decisions kill thousands from remote distances. Pine Gap is also a target of Russian Nuclear missiles, as any American base would be in this country. And our close military cooperation with the US makes us ever more vulnerable to attack, receiving the same retribution as America would for their foreign military adventurism.

Day 4 - Donna

It was a long, hard day - including a two and a half hour presentation by Byran! As well as presentations by Adele and Donna. We all put our arguments against Public Interest Immunity as best we could, assuring the court our line of questioning would not threaten national security as had been suggested by the Prosecution.

Hope to make some more personal observations, but in the meantime here is a brief summary....we are looking forward to our action at Pine Gap tomorrow

love Donna

ALICE IN WONDERLAND?

The trial of the Pine Gap 4 took an odd turn today before Justice Sally Thomas the Northern Territory Supreme Court with references to Martin Luther King, Nazi Germany and Alice in Wonderland.

Bryan Law, Jim Dowling, Adele Goldie and Donna Mulhearn are charged under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 after doing a "Citizen's Inspection" of Pine Gap military spy base in December 2005.

Responding to a comment that the proceeding had become "like Alice in Wonderland", Jim Dowling said of Crown QC Mr Michael Maurice "I think the only thing left is for him to jump up and call 'Orf with their heads!'"

Extensive legal argument was conducted in the absence of the jury regarding public interest immunity. Mr Maurice made concerted attempts to attack not only the public's right to basic information but also the validity of civil disobedience as a tool for social change. He suggested at one stage that the appropriate response would have been to write letters to newspapers rather than enter Pine Gap. Donna Mulhearn responded by citing her experiences in Baghdad as a catalyst for the Citizens Inspection.

"If writing a letter to the editor is a reasonable response to images of children ripped apart, to the smell of human flesh, to the mourning cries of mothers in the marketplace then we have all failed," said Ms Mulhearn.

"I want to ask why members of the US Congress are regularly given tours of this facility when Australian Members of Parliament are not even given access to information [about the base]."

Mr Maurice went on to say that on a personal level he was sympathetic with the position the Pine Gap 4 have taken.

"Their position is a decent one," said Mr Maurice, "but that's not the point."

The trial will continue on Monday June 4 at 10am. The jury are expected to return after lunch at 2pm.