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.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Day 3 - from Donna

Dear friends,
Today (Thursday) was a mixed day at court. It started with our cross-examination of the prosecution' s first witness, Mike Burgess, the Australian head of Pine Gap.
Bryan started a line of questioning which started to reveal some interesting facts about which American and Australian security and intelligence agencies were present at Pine Gap, it was going really well, but before long those words that we were expecting were spoken...
"Objection, your honour..."
At first the objections came from Crown Prosecutor, Mr Dembo, on the basis of relevance.
The judge ruled in Bryan's favour a few times and in Mr Dembo's once or twice.
But then an appeal came from Mr Maurice QC, one of the bevy of barristers and QCs (I'm not sure what the collective noun is for barristers, but 'bevy' sounds respectful and appropriate) gathered in the courtroom. Mr Maurice represents the interests of the Department of Defence and other Commonwealth agencies.
He objected to Bryan's line of questioning and claimed "public interest immunity" on the basis of "national security".
The jury was then asked to leave while a legal argument began around the concept of 'public interest immunity', that is witholding certain information from the courtroom because it is deemed to be in the interests of 'national security', whatever that means... This is an argument we were expecting to have on the first day of witnesses and an argument we were prepared for and looking forward to.
We thought that the debate would take half an hour or so, and when Mr Maurice suggested it would take the rest of the day we were surprised (and a little alarmed!).
The very tedious argument did take up the rest of day and it will continue tomorrow morning.
I am not allowed to share with you the details of the argument because it has been placed under a suppression order by the judge, so that the jury would not inadvertantly hear about it. Jury's are only allowed to hear evidence, not legal argument.
It was a hard afternoon. I cannot tell the story yet, I will respect the suppression order, but I hope to recount it another time.
We are looking forward to our chance to respond to Mr Maurice tomorrow.
We are confronted with a tough legal argument presented by highly experienced QCs who are trying to dismiss our arguments in quite a patronising manner.
But we are ready to answer. Please send your prayers and good wishes our way.
Thankfully the day ended on an upbeat note. Long-time anti-nuclear campaigner, Dr Helen Caldicott, arrived in town with a bang! What an amazing woman! She did some media interviews and then was a guest speaker at a public meeting in Alice tonight.
The hall was packed, it was a great feeling, and everyone hung off Helen's every word. Her knowledge of Pine Gap and its functions was extremely informative and her account of the effects of nuclear attack were sobering.
She tapped into a great deal of energy in the hall, and it was a great opportunity to keep us all focused on why we are here opposing this dodgy US spy base.
Despite the dazzling technical legal arguments of men in gowns and wigs, the fact is that we will name Pine Gap for what it is: a US spy base shrouded in secrecy. The fact is, it's function is kept secret for a good reason. It is a vital cog in the US war machine It's ends are not neutral. They are violent.
The fact is, Pine Gap has been part of progressing senseless violence and war crimes in Iraq.
We're a funny-looking bunch sitting at the bar table besides the men with trolleys of files and volumes of case law, but we will not be deterred from speaking the facts, of speaking the truth...

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