Pine Gap 4: Crime and Punishment

US Base at Pine Gap

Crown Appeal sentence in Pine Gap Case

Why are the missiles called peacekeepers, when they’re aimed to kill?
Why is a woman still not safe when she’s in her home?
Love is hate, war is peace, no is yes, we’re all free.
But, some-body’s gonna have to answer, the time is coming soon.
Amidst all these questions and contradictions there’re some who seek the truth
Why? a song by Tracy Chapman

The Director of Public Prosecution (on behalf of the Crown) have filed the following claims for the appeal against the sentence of the Pine Gap 4.


  1. The judge failed to have regard to the maximum penalties;
  2. The judge erred by placing inadequate weight on general deterrence;
  3. The judge erred by placing inadequate weight on specific deterrence;
  4. The judge failed to accurately reflect the seriousness of the offending and lack of contrition;
  5. The judge erred in considering the Second and Third Respondents (Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie) gave considerable cooperation;
  6. The judge erred when referring to the antecedent report of the Second Respondent (Jim Dowling);
  7. In imposing fines, the learned trial judge did not consider section 16C Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth); and,
  8. Having regard to the objective facts and circumstances, the imposition of fines by the judge was manifestly inadequate.

Without wishing to point out the obvious, this means the government wants to put the Pine Gap Four (PG4) in jail, probably more than the 2 weeks they would have got if they did not pay their fines.

The government regards fines of more than $1,000 too lenient on the PG4. [Jim Dowling was fined $1,300].

They were also required to pay restitution of more than $10,000 for some minor damage to a weld mesh fence. This means that they would lose wages and ant assets they might have. [Speculation that the bailiff could recover superannuation is just that, speculation].

There should be a staunch defence of these activists because their only ‘crime’ was to try to expose the role played by the American spy base at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory.

Pine Gap has been used by the Americans to locate targets to bomb people in Iraq.


The grounds being used by the Crown (acting on behalf of the Minister and therefore Government) above are quite absurd.

It was Minister Ruddock who authorised the use of the Defence Special Undertakings Act 1952 against these activists in the first place.
The Pine Gap Four co-operated in every way possible with the authorities including admitting to the facts of the Crown case (that they entered the base by cutting through fences).

Such entry into Pine Gap is usually met with a fine.

Why place these people in jail?kh_020.jpg

During the trial the court ignored many of the submissions by the defendants.

One example of the prosecution ignoring submissions by the PG4 defence was when the court refused right of appearance to a scientific expert on Pine Gap:

“MR DEMBO (DPP): Your Honour, firstly you’ll recall that I did say that the Crown would take under advisement the one witness, whose name I forget at the moment, Professor so-and-so. But we have considered very carefully and we make the objection on the same grounds as articulated both by yourself and indeed by the Crown yesterday.”

Who owns Pine Gap?

“I thought I had a good argument on the ownership of the land” said one of the PG4, Jim Dowling, “It belongs to the local aboriginal (Arrernte) people”.

The issue of land ownership was important because the PG4 claim they did not trespass on Pine Gap because they had sought and were given approval by the custodians of the land, an elder (of the Arrernte people), Pat Hayes.

“Aboriginal people supported the protest outside Pine Gap” said Jim Dowling.

The US backed Australian government wants to incarcerate any opponents of their war plans —no matter how effective or ineffective that opposition may be.


For a full description of this case see Pine Gap: Crime and Punishment

For words from the Pine Gap Four see the comments section below.

Ian Curr

13 thoughts on “Pine Gap 4: Crime and Punishment

  1. Bush Telegraph says:

    One message is coming through.

    The two people who got inside Pine Gap inner fences are specifically being targetted for jail time.

    The DPP grounds of appeal Number 5 that Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie gave no cooperation to the prosecution.

    They have targeted Jim Dowling’s prior peace activism with Ground number 6.

  2. Jim Dowling says:


    In November 2005 a small group set off from Brisbane in a vegi-oil powered van to travel 3,500 kilometers to central Australia. Disturbed by our nation’s role in a senseless killing spree in Iraq, we intended to do what we could to “disturb the war”; to “wage peace”. We intended to expose the insidious role of Pine Gap in terrorist bombing campaigns, and do what we could to disrupt it. We managed to enter the most secure base in Australia and cause it to be locked down for anumber of hours. (For details )

    Eighteen months later we journeyed back to Alice Springs this time to face court for our resistance. We hoped to use the court case to continue our disturbance of the war.

    From start to finish the state seemed determined to use a sledgehammer to crack nuts (without drawing the analogy with nuts too far.) The four of us were charged under a 1952 law created to protect Nuclear testing at Maralinga and Monte Bello. The law had never been used before and required written permission from the Attorney General (Phillip Ruddock) to be used. It carries a maximum penalty of seven years jail for trespass. The trial lasted for 3 weeks. Estimated costs to the state are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    When we arrived in court on the first day, we faced a team of six Commonwealth barristers including two QCs. The presence of uniformed and plainclothes police, other security personnel, and Pine Gap staff inside and outside court was no less prolific. At one stage I had a revelation like a scene from Men in Black, a movie I had recently watched with my children. In the movie, one of the “Men in Black” had walked out onto the street and looked around him. He had a sudden revelation that the streets were full of aliens. When I looked around me I did not see aliens (with apologies to the Pine Gap flying saucer theorists) but the forces of the state ranged against us. There were over 20 government security personnel and lawyers standing around the court foyer because of our little act of resistance at Pine Gap. We were often under “secret” surveillance in the streets of Alice Springs. Sometimes it was quite comical, like an old spy movie, with the plainclothes police stopping to look in a shop window when you looked at them. As Ciaron often says, they take us a lot more seriously than we take ourselves. Another friend’s response was, “Well, it just shows the level of fear of these people.”

    More than once in court, the chief Prosecutor, Hilton Dembo, would disclose what his “intelligence” sources had revealed about our actions the previous day or that morning. This intelligence prompted his first submission to the court before proceedings even began. He asked Judge Sally Thomas to issue an order that 1) we be made to stay at our home(s) while not in court – i.e. under house arrest ; and 2) we be made to come to court an hour early and stay an hour after court. All this was necessary Mr Dembo declared, because intelligence had informed him we were planning to march in procession to court each day, as well as hold rallies etc in the Todd Mall, and at the front of the base. We might contaminate the jury or further disrupt the base.

    Happily Judge Thomas declined to deny us our basic rights at this time and refused Mr Dembo his requests.

    As is often the case, a harsh response from the state can galvanize resistance. And so it was that over 30 people made the long flight or drive to Alice Springs from all over Australia to attend the trial. Many of us stayed at “Campfire in The Heart” retreat center run by David and Sue Woods. We started each morning with prayer and reflection before breakfast, and then proceeded to the Todd Mall to begin a colorful procession to the court house. We sang songs of peace and hope, led by a number of talented singers and musicians. Stu Martin who wrote the inspirational song “Flowers in the Guns”, had traveled from Cairns to be part of the proceedings and we often started off with his song. On arrival at the court house, we gathered in the park opposite to listen to a few final words from the bible or (more recent) inspiring activists, before facing our day in court.

    The prosecution opened its case with Paul Burgess, the Deputy Director of Pine Gap. (i.e. the Australian head of the Base.**)

    When asked about Pine Gap’s role, Mr. Burgess replied that it provided “intelligence on treaty verification and arms control, early warning information on ballistic missiles, and monitored military developments worldwide”. In cross-examination, Bryan Law asked Mr. Burgess to verify that Pine Gap was used in conventional war fighting, especially in providing targeting information. This question became the trigger for Mr. Michael Maurice QC to earn his $5000 plus a day.

    Mr. Maurice was sent by Canberra to make sure as little as possible of Pine Gap’s murderous role in the Iraq war was made public. He had three young barristers to assist him, all seated at a desk specially set up behind the prosecutor. So began two days of what we termed an “Alice in Wonderland” of legal arguments. Mr. Maurice argued that we could not ask questions or introduce evidence that compromised national security (Public Interest Immunity); that we should not be allowed to produce evidence about Pine Gap from books or newspapers as this was merely opinion and not facts; and finally that the laws of Parliamentary Privilege prevented us from using any information from parliament, including Senate committee reports.

    So this was how the prosecution intended the case to proceed. Every witness would take the stand and promise to tell “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, and four barristers from Canberra would make sure that they could not keep their oath. Judge Thomas made it clear she would go along with whatever Mr. Maurice and his colleagues declared needed to be secret.

    However, we soon discovered in the Wonderland of this court we were still permitted to present evidence that “formed our beliefs”, causing us to act as we did. These beliefs did not necessarily have to be facts. Naturally we used this to great advantage to expose the truth about Pine Gap.

    One of the highlights of the case for me was the way in which we were able to expose the lies of the Australian government. When cross examining resumed I asked Paul Burgess why Pine Gap was called a “Space Research Facility” for the first ten years of operation.

    “That’s because it was”, he replied.

    After an appropriate silence I asked, “Are you serious?”


    “Can you tell me what planets and stars were studied there?”

    At this point, the farce of the Deputy Director’s version of “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” was terminated by the judge declaring my question “irrelevant”. (i.e. lies and deception are a right of the state that override any oath sworn on however many stacks of bibles)

    Amazingly, this rather absurd lie was able to be exposed dramatically in the last week of the trial when we were allowed to show six minutes of a Documentary called “Inside Pine Gap”. This documentary was originally shown on Australian TV in 1987. A six minute segment of an interview with former CIA agent Victor Marcettti was shown to the court. Marcetti tells how Pine Gap was set up by his former colleague and friend Richard Stallings, and how a “cover” was used to keep the truth about Pine Gap from the Australian public. Pine Gap was to be called a “Space Research Facility.”

    At the end of the segment interviewer Bob Plastowe, asks, “You mean you told a lie?”

    Marcetti smiles wryly, “Yes, of course. That’s what a cover is.”

    No surprise there. After all, war and lying are the health of the state.

    Other Highlights of the trial

    The wonders of Pine Gap security systems!
    After Paul Burgess, Ken Napier, head of Pine Gap security, had the unenviable task of explaining how four untrained pacifists could penetrate the most secure base in Australia after telling them we were coming. Both Ken Napier, and Anastasias Markos, security console operator on the night of the action, admitted that all the external alarms were regularly set off by “snakes, lizards or security patrols”, in the words of Mr Markos.. It became apparent that the job of monitoring alarms is so important, shifts are only 2 hours long. It also seems that the first job of each new operator was to turn off all the previous alarms that everyone had ignored! In effect we were really discovered by the low-tech observation of our banner on the fence and flashing of our camera from the roof of the building where we were gathering information for our terrorism inspection. There is no telling how long we would have remained undetected if we had not hung our banner, climbed over the fences instead of cutting them, and not taken photos with a flash.

    Then again…. The miracle acknowledged by all
    During the preparation for our action, we often talked about needing a miracle to get in. I would sometimes whisper about my personal belief in miracles.
    In court Donna pursued the issue. Inspector Napier explained that security at the base was high and preparations had been made for our ‘inspection”, including extra police numbers.

    “You would be aware that Mr. Law and I evaded three security patrols to reach the fence. Were you surprised by that?” Donna asked
    “Yes,” Inspector Napier answered.
    “Many said we’d need a miracle to get in, do you agree with that?”
    “At that time, yes.”

    The role of the Raytheon Corporation continued to be exposed in court. Raytheon is the world’s fourth or fifth largest military contractor. Their most infamous weapon is the cruise missile. Loaded with conventional or nuclear weapons these little items start at $600,000 each. Hundreds have been fired into Iraq and Afghanistan since September 11.

    During the course of our trial it was disclosed that Raytheon are the sole contractor for all operational maintenance at Pine Gap. It was they who presented the absurd bill of $10,000 to fix the small cuts we made in the security fences. Raytheon employs 120 people at Pine Gap and provide much of the hi-tech equipment. In cross examining both Paul Burgess and Raytheon employee Ron Tollasepp, we were able to highlight the insidious nature of this company. Pine Gap is used to provide targets for Raytheon cruise missiles to do their deadly work, as untold wealth pours into their coffers. An article was presented to Mr Tollasepp showing that the Company’s share rose 46% immediately after Sept11, in anticipation of their huge profits from death and destruction. Adele used her cross examination to expose the numerous fraud charges leveled against Raytheon and subsequent compensation payouts made by them.

    It would be hard to imagine a better example of the evils of the “military industrial” complex that US President Dwight Eisnehower warned against after world War Two.
    Raytheon makes $21billion a year from being involved in almost all aspects of war, from the intelligence gathering, to the targeting, to the bomb making. At the sentencing hearing I took the opportunity of pointing out the absurdity of Raytheon presenting us with a bill for $10,000 worth of property damage when they themselves were responsible for billions of dollars worth of property damage in Iraq during the war – the real crime which we were trying to prevent.

    Moving hearts, minds, and tear ducts
    It was wonderful to see the positive effect we had on the ordinary people involved in the court process. Court staff looked at us warily for a couple of days, but then became extremely friendly. There were a number of very emotional moments when court staff cried along with many of us. I broke down while trying to read an article by Robert Fisk written in the first weeks of the 2003 attack on Iraq. Fisk describes the scene of a US cluster bomb attack in all its horror, including a villager holding up the remains of his baby screaming at the planes overhead. I distributed this article soon after reading it in April 2003, and no matter how many times I read it, I find it almost impossible to avoid tears. But this time the tears didn’t stop for a long time. An adjournment was called and court staff comforted some supporters.

    In another moment of high emotion, Donna brought everyone’s attention to the shoes she was wearing. She had worn those shoes when she walked into a bombed market place in Baghdad during the 2003 invasion. She described the experience of walking through pools of human blood and splashing some of that blood on her boots. She wanted everyone to know there was Iraqi blood in the courtroom, blood caused by missiles quite possibly helped to their murderous end by the Pine Gap Spy Base. It would be hard to find a heart not moved by Donna’s story.

    The Verdict and Sentencing

    Towards the end of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, there is a long, crazy court scene in which the Queen calls for the sentencing to be done before the verdict. While I have been in a number of court cases where this may as well have been the case, this time we were still holding out vague hopes for a hung jury, despite the Judge’s instructions to ignore the real issues.

    As it happened it took the jurors five hours to reach a guilty verdict. Obviously moved by our witness, but unable to rebel against the authority of the court, all the jury had their heads hung down, and one or two may have been crying as the verdicts of guilty all round were read by the foreman.

    Prosecutor Hilton Dembo, however, remained his stoic self as, soon after, he demanded prison sentences for all of us, even Adele and Donna who had no previous convictions.
    The demands of State Terror have not yet filtered through to all the judiciary, however.
    The grandmotherly figure of Sally Thomas was not quite ready to send four people to jail for nonviolently opposing that terror.

    We were all fined. Donna and Adele $450 each and Bryan and myself, $1000 and $1300.We were also ordered to pay restitution of $2500 each for fence repair. If we do not pay we will be jailed for one to two weeks. We declared a kind of victory, had a short celebration, and prepared to go home.

    But just when you thought ……..

    I had been home for a few weeks when the phone call came from Adele. Federal police had delivered a notice of Appeal. Someone was not happy with having us dangerous people on the loose. (Perhaps they thought it quite a poor return on their considerable investment – us being given miserable fines which we would probably never pay).

    Basically the notice said that the crown was appealing the leniency of our sentences, claiming the “learned Judge” had erred in not sending us to jail where we belonged.

    Of course we will probably never know who the “someone(s)” is/are who are not happy with the result. All we know is that sometime in the near future they will have another chance of sending us where they feel we belong. The appeal will be heard by the full bench of the NT Supreme Court in Darwin. Some of us may lodge a counter appeal against the conviction. Former Federal court judge Ron Merkle is still keen to challenge the validity of the DSU act being used against us.

    So this part of the struggle goes on…
    Hope you can (re)join us sometime.
    Thanks to all those wonderful people who have been a part of it so far.

    Jim Dowling

    ** (The actual head of the base (despite being called a “ Joint Facility”) is always American. An Australian gets to be Deputy, perhaps in a similar way John Howard offered to be George Bush’s “Deputy Sheriff” in the Pacific. Not only was the director of the Base never brought in, but none of us ever saw an American (that we know of) from the moment we entered the Base in 2005 until the court case finished. When John Negroponte, head of US intelligence, made a secret visit to Pine Gap in the same week of our action, the papers called him the top US “Spook”. What an appropriate title, I thought. The 500 or so US workers from Pine Gap have really been like ghosts, nowhere to be seen, as their Australian counterparts do their dirty work for them.)

  3. John Tracey says:

    Ian has invited me, as well many others, to give a comment about this.

    Firstly we must ask the PG4 people what is their objective at this point?

    Jim speaks of openly and honestly confronting the military beast
    Bryan speaks of the need to build interventionary affinity groups.

    This afternoons news that the Gold Coast doctor will be sent to Villawood after getting bail in court puts the PG4 appeal into context as does the approaching federal election. There is both a rapid NAZIfication of Australian law as there is also a rapid awareness and fear in the community that we have lost rights even within liberal notions of citizenship such as the presumption of innocence.

    If the objective of the PG4 is to march into the lions mouth, as has characterised this movement so far, and through so doing building affinity groups and communities then I believe this movement is so different to, for example, the campaign to allow the doctor his civil rights, that it will inevitably develop parralel to the broader social movement brewing in Australia at present. At best the ridiculosness of the federal PG4 appeal will be a dot point in the propaganda of the broader movement.

    However, serious legal challenges backed by community pressure will set precedences such as those U.S. court precedences that are presently dismantling Guantanamo bay and the new military commissions. PG4 provides the opportunity for a proper legal defence, designed to win and set precedence on basic civil liberties such as an open and fair trial without federal govt. intervention and sentences being proportional to crimes committed, and indeed a proper legal argument based on indigenous sovereignty rather than the anecdotal reference to permission that was used in the original trial.

    This approach is very different to the aims and objectives of the PG4 as stated consistently by them since they began and would need a change of direction from the PG4 to incorporate their legal defence into a broader campaign around civil liberties and legal reform as we go into a change of federal government.

    perhaps it is time for such a change having apparently achieved the original aims of highlighting Pine Gap.

    However if the PG4 want to use this appeal as another opportunity to speak the truth and organise affinity and community groups to replicate the mode of action then it provides little opportunity for potential legal reform in the courts or from the new govt.
    Because the original mode of action was a deliberate breaking of the law (unlike the doctor) and there remains a defiant rebellion to the law rather than putting together a legal defence within the illusions of the law and court in order to set precedence, then this is not the opportunity to exploit contradictions in the legal system at the end of the Howard era..

  4. John Tracey says:

    Hi Bryan,

    resistance not reform is a cheap shot. I see it more as a difference between the social pressure of a broad movement and the commentary or assertion of opinion of symbolic protest.

    A significant section of mainstream Australia is on your side at present, just as they are on the doctor in custody or David Hicks. Not because they agree with what you did or believe that the doctor or hicks are not connected to terrorism. They are scared and outraged about the jackbootism that has undone notions of citizen rights in the name of the war against terror. They wanted David Hicks released even though he freely admitted to crimes considerably more serious than reckless management of a sim card or tresspassing at Pine Gap.

    This emerging mass sympathy for you has no avenue to manifest within the small group, resistance agenda. But this mass sympathy is a blessing that should not be discarded.

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  6. Bryan Law says:

    Hi John,

    you say “[PG4} will inevitably develop parralel to the broader social movement brewing in Australia at present. At best the ridiculousness of the federal PG4 appeal will be a dot point in the propaganda of the broader movement”.

    I suspect you’re right. I’m happy with that.

    My focus is on resistance, not reform, but I’m happy to provide material for reformers to use.

    In relation to building interventionary capacity, our job now is expose the vicious nature of the security state in our case, and show how to deal with it in good humour.

  7. cr_maverick says:

    You guys are awesome. However, do not expect your perceptions on life to be accepted by the unwashed masses that are the staple of Australia’s citizenry. It seems to any who are not profane that this country is indeed in a process of wilful nazification, and if you understand who actually pulls the strings, which it seems you do, this was always intended to be this way. I am disgusted by your average sovietised Police Officer; I have no mercy for them, and there is no such thing in this country as a Justice System. There exists only a protection racket to defend the machinations of the afore mentioned MIC. Anyway, the fact that true humans like yourselves are not lauded as heroes, while those who hit pieces of leather with pieces of wood or whatever are worshipped like deities is one of the reasons why I think this country should be immolated. That would be the way of justice, for unfortunately I do not see how else one can end the scientifically run dictatorship that seems to have complete and abject control over the masses here.

  8. Lee Rhiannon, Greens MP NSW says:

    Thanks for sending the update.

    We will highlight the website in our next Greens Ebrief.

    Good luck with the case.

    The protesters’ actions were courageous and need wide coverage.

    All the best


    Lee Rhiannon []

  9. Yes, I think there is a growing sense of alarm at the ease at which the govt selects individuals and minority groups for scapegoating purposes, as did the Nazi’s.

    I am also concerned about the growing shift to microchip forms of identification.

    To refuse these forms of compulsory identity will mean you can no longer access basic medical and other services.

    Yet, just as it was in the 80’s with the ID card protest, I don’t think this system will pass the Nazi test either.

    I don’t expect a Labor victory will change this piece of Police state legislation.

    I think it may be time to refuse such ID methods, and accept the penalties that will go with it.

  10. 'Paradigm Shift interviews on Pine Gap' says:

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