This book opens with a possible link between signals from Pine Gap and targetting people in Afghanistan for assassination by drones. I say ‘possible’ because the court case that followed the peace crimes suppressed testimony by experts who could have given us insight into the link. Apparently Obama authorised 570 assassinations by drone during his Presidency.
It comes as little surprise that Australian judges would seek to exclude such evidence of wrong-doing by their masters in government during a trial of people charged under the Defence Special Undertakings Act 1952. The concept of ‘separation of powers’ is paper thin in political court cases, non-existent in cases like these. The prosecutor, Mr Hughes (QC), was embarrassed on more than one occasion by the naked contempt the Commonwealth government showed for court process and independence.
For example, Mr Begbie intervened during the trial about what evidence would be permitted by the Commonwealth. This is a big ‘No No’ in criminal proceedings.
I have witnessed first hand such interventions at political trials, where the state government has intervened mid-trial. Presiding judges aborted the trials. On one occasion the judge dismissed the jury and called into question the authority to appeal my incarceration even prior to the jury being empanelled. Judge Bernie McLoughlin, District Court of Queensland (1968–1987) that in all his years on the bench he had not experienced such callous contempt for a presiding judge during a criminal trial. Such interventions are regarded as being capable of producing perverse results. They certainly did in the case of the Pine Gap Pilgrims. They were all convicted under cold war legislation design to defend is Britain’s nuclear program in Australia.
Nevertheless the Peace Pilgrims (Andy, Tim, Franz, Jim and Margaret) who are the focus of Keiran Finnane’s book did manage to make the connections between Pine Gap and mass murder despite interference from Judge Reeves.
I encourage people to read this book, it is a well written account of a determined group of people challenging the war machine that Australian governments have signed onto. It is available in many libraries and independent bookstores.
1 Sept 2020