"Liberating Pine Gap" by Jim Dowling (ed.)

The story of one small group’s efforts at resisting war and


“In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act!”— George Orwell

You can download the book by clicking here @ Liberating Pine Gap

Any people wishing to read about the campaign to ‘liberate Pine Gap’ contact Jim Dowling on (07)3425 3003 or email to penangke@octa4.net.au or see http://pinegap6.livejournal.com/


One telling passage in the Pine Gap 6 book “Liberating Pine Gap” was the excerpt of an email sent by Donna Mulhearn, one of the Pine Gap 6, about the effect that the Iraq war had on her.

“Wondering if tonight is the night you’re going to die weighs so heavy in your gut it feels constantly sick. Watching others die around you leaves you broken and empty. Trying to comfort the mourner leaves you exhausted, powerless and constantly asking: “did I do enough?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has affected my entire life. After returning home from the war last year I became so angry I could barely hold a conversation. Whenever I heard an aeroplane overhead I grimaced on the inside, covered my ears and curled up on the ground. I hated to go out and socialise, so I stopped. Although I had a book deal, I couldn’t write anymore, so I stopped. I cried every day for six months. So much it made me sick with nausea. I was a complete basket-case. My Doctor referred me to a Psychiatrist.

That was me – a relatively strong, resourceful adult. Imagine how it affected the kids.

Like the kid who found his mother’s body lying cold in the rubble after a missile ‘accidentally’ hit the wrong house. ”


Email from Baghdad – A Witness to Terror
Entering the ‘gap’ between what’s right and what’s legal
Peace on Earth..
The Charges
Pine Gap on Trial
Written by Christians Against All Terrorism
The booklet contains articles written before, during, and after our action to expose Pine Gap’s role in international terrorism. It will help understand the action and trial as they unfolded.

It is mainly for informative purposes but is also a fundraiser for further actions and trials which are likely to arise.

The Booklet: One copy- $5 including postage. Bulk copies $4 each.

Send to: Sean O’Reilly 69 Karumba St, Kippa Ring, Q 4021
for more details: email penangke@octa4.net.au or phone Jim 07 34253003

Darwin: The Pine Gap 4 (Bryan Law, Donna Mulhearn, Adele Goldie, and Jim
Dowling) will all be in Darwin in February for the appeal against our sentence (i.e. their
further attempt to send us to jail). It is likely some or all of us will spend a week or two in
jail as soon as wee arrive for refusing to pay our fines from the original trial.

ALICE SPRINGS/ANZAC DAY: We are planning further actions at Pine Gap around
the Anzac Day long weekend (25th April 2008). All are most welcome to join us and
support the resistance.

Any people wishing to become involved in our actions would be most welcome, however. Contact Jim Dowling on (07)3425 3003 or email to penangke@octa4.net.au or see http://pinegap6.livejournal.com/

Typeset in Calibri by LeftPress

Cover Photo of Adele at Pine Gap


clip_image002This booklet is attempts to serve two purposes. The first is to explain the actions of a small group of people resisting Australian war making. After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, the Australian government promised to support whatever bloodthirsty revenge the US decided to take and has resolutely kept that promise. This is despite overwhelming public opposition to the war in Iraq. Before the 2003 invasion, over two thirds of Australians opposed the war. The most recent poll (October 2007) shows 64% opposing our presence there right now. Tragically, however, there is rarely any acknowledgement of the terrible wrong we have done to Iraq. Pathetically, discussion often centers on the need to get out because there is nothing more we can do “to help.” Such is the power of patriotism and propaganda to prevent any focus on the real issues in a time of war.

Polls and surveys are also being done in Iraq despite the chaos which reigns. The Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS) recently released poll results showing 90% of Iraqis believe they are worse off than before the US led invasion. Despite the fact that now most of the slaughter is Iraqis fighting one another, the same survey showed that 66% of Iraqis believe the security situation would improve if the occupiers left. More than half of Iraqis now support violent attacks against the occupiers.

A second independent study by ORB, a British polling agency has confirmed the much publicized Lancet reports on violent deaths in Iraq. Both surveys conclude that over one million Iraqis have now been killed since our invasion. This far surpasses the Rwandan genocide figure of 800,000. Unicef reports that malnutrition amongst children continues to rise, while, as I write, a cholera outbreak is spreading throughout Iraq. Prior to the invasion the Baghdad morgue received twenty bodies per month of people killed violently. Now that figure regularly passes 2000, many brutally tortured and left for dead on the streets. In our absurd claim to be fighting a war on terror we have terrorized a whole a nation. The UN now claims over 4.2 million Iraqis are refugees. Think of it – a country with not many more people than Australia, and a population bigger than Queensland’s fleeing their homes.

clip_image004In December 2005 Christians Against All Terrorism traveled to central Australia to do what we could to expose and resist Australia’s largest contribution to the War crime which is the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This small booklet reprints the articles we wrote as our action unfolded – essentially the lead-up, the action, and the trial. As I write we are still awaiting the outcome of the State’s appeal against the leniency of our sentencing, as they attempt once more to send us to jail. The second purpose of this booklet is to encourage others to resist in whatever way they can. The oft repeated sentence bears repeating one more time. “All that is required for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing”. Of course not everyone can take the action described in the following pages, so I will leave your form of resistance up to you. The main thing is to do something to resist the violence being done in our name.

Any people wishing to become involved in our actions would be most welcome, however. You can phone me on (07)3425 3003 or email to penangke@octa4.net.au

Peace, Jim Dowling, October 2007

Email from Baghdad – A Witness to Terror

Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Donna Mulhearn felt called to join a group of Westerners in Baghdad who became known as “Human Shields”. They placed themselves at potential civilian targets after notifying the US of their positions. Although they could not stop the war, none of the places they were protecting were bombed while they were there. (At least one place was bombed immediately after Human Shields left).

After the invasion Donna returned home to Australia, In November 2003 she went back to Baghdad to help the numerous street children made homeless by the war. She started a home for some of them called “My Home Iraq”, and later a school designed to help children with trauma. The following is an email Donna sent back to Australia on the 8th February 2004. It can perhaps explain a little why Christians Against All Terrorism risked our liberty to resist our nation’s ongoing role in terrorizing a whole nation.

Dear friends,

Little Mohamed loves to draw. His colourful pictures include typical Iraqi scenes: palm trees, a big sun, blue sky, and of course the tanks, choppers, bullets and blood which are part of everyday life here.

He takes time to draw them in great detail, especially the blood spurting out from the bodies on the ground. The tanks and soldiers doing the killing all display American flags.

Haider, 14, gets angry quickly. He snaps and lashes-out violently at the other kids. He also practices self-mutilation. Once when he was angry, he smashed a window with his fist, grabbed a piece of jagged glass and slashed his arms in front of us.

Haider is an exceptionally smart and talented boy. When I asked him if he wants to go back to school. He answered emphatically “No!”

“I cause trouble in school,” he explained.

“Why?” I asked. “Because I’m angry,” he said shaking his fists in the air.

“Why are you angry?”

“I’m just angry,” he said. “I’m very angry”.

Many of the other boys we meet are angry too. They are violent, agitated, tense. Some haven’t played and laughed for months. It’s as if they‘ve forgotten how.

These boys reflect the state of millions of children across Iraq who are suffering acute trauma as a result of the invasion, the occupation, a decade of harsh sanctions, and life under an oppressive regime.

“The street kids are the tip of the ice-berg,” says Dr Ali Rasheed from the Iraq Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Program.

“In every family children are suffering,” he tells us.

“Because 50% of the Iraqi population is below the age of 14, this means millions of children – an entire generation – are currently suffering psychological stress.”

I’m not surprised.

Many of my friends, well-adjusted adults, who watched the war in intense frustration have since been struck with profound sadness, insatiable anger and a sense of helplessness that is, at times, debilitating.

As for me – experiencing the emotional heaviness of living in pre-war Iraq and then enduring 12 days of the ‘shock and awe” bombing campaign of Baghdad was enough to send me bonkers.

My experience was typical: Regular ear-splitting explosions, sleep deprivation because your bed shakes every night when the bombing starts. The windows rattle, and often smash, the roar of the planes overhead brings with it an anxiety that causes a constant clenching of teeth.

Wondering if tonight is the night you’re going to die weighs so heavy in your gut it feels constantly sick. Watching others die around you leaves you broken and empty. Trying to comfort the mourner leaves you exhausted, powerless and constantly asking: “did I do enough?”

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has affected my entire life. After returning home from the war last year I became so angry I could barely hold a conversation. Whenever I heard an aeroplane overhead I grimaced on the inside, covered my ears and curled up on the ground. I hated to go out and socialise, so I stopped. Although I had a book deal, I couldn’t write anymore, so I stopped. I cried every day for six months. So much it made me sick with nausea. I was a complete basket-case. My Doctor referred me to a Psychiatrist.

That was me – a relatively strong, resourceful adult. Imagine how it affected the kids.

Like the kid who found his mother’s body lying cold in the rubble after a missile ‘accidentally’ hit the wrong house.

The girl who started vomiting as she hid under her bed every night when the building started to shake. It shook so hard that the windows smashed all over her bedroom floor, and the explosions were so loud they ripped through her body and she thought her head might explode. Then it all started again the next night.

The boy who watched his mother weep uncontrollably because she was one of many women to lose her unborn baby as a result of suffering shock from the ‘terror’ bombing campaign of Baghdad. A campaign that was not designed to hit targets but to terrorize and create fear. It worked.

Think of little Omar, who I met in a hospital one day during the war. He had just lost his entire family when his house was bombed. He’s now an orphan. The nurses were afraid to tell him because they feared the shock would kill him. Imagine how he might be feeling now.

And there’s the 12-year-old boy who suddenly became the head of his house-hold after his soldier-father reported for duty before the war and never came home. Not even a body. His father is just a statistic now – ‘Iraqi military casualties’ – a statistic that is never spoken of. His mother sends him out to the street to beg so the family can survive.

Think of the little girl who saw her little brother’s legs blown off by one of the thousands of brightly coloured cluster bombs that now lie through the fields in Iraq.

Now think about the kiddies in Samara who were herded into a corner and handcuffed when the Americans raided their house in the middle of the night wielding machine guns just last week. Who watched their mother being humiliated as she was searched by foreign men and to top the humiliation, they put her out onto the street to stand in the cold in her night dress.

Think of the kids in Balad who screamed when soldiers took away their father with a sack over his head because the military ‘heard’ that he had spoke badly of the Americans. They’ve cried every night for six months because they’ve been refused a visit. He’s been detained without charge or trial. They don’t know when they will see him again. The family now lives without an income and struggles to survive.

clip_image005Think of the children of Baghdad who have had four of their large family ‘amusement’ parks confiscated and transformed into ugly military bases. Where there were once Ferris Wheels there are now tanks, where there were slippery dips there are munitions stores. Baghdad Island has been re-named Bandit Island – the soldiers there have made a large skull the new logo. During the school holidays this week in Iraq large banners around Baghdad asked: ‘Where will the children play?”

Imagine how the kids in Al-Almariyia felt when their school was surrounded by tanks, the guns pointed towards them and 15 students dragged away and put into jail. All because they were in the vicinity of an anti-US demonstration held the day before.

Think of the kids in Ojua, an entire village now surrounded by razor wire and concrete. They can’t leave home to play at the park unless they have permission and a pass. The tanks park outside their homes: the choppers swoop with their thunderous wings overhead all day.

Imagine experiencing any of the above.

Imagine experiencing it as a five-year old boy or an eight year-old girl.

Imagine what that might do to you. To your mind, your heart, your body, your spirit.

I can shed a bit of light.

According to Dr Ali, for a start, nightmares, bed-wetting and panic attacks are common.

Other symptoms of trauma include deficiency in initiative, less interest in school, creating trouble at home and school, reading difficulties.

Apprehension, anxiety, obsessive behavior will develop later. He says Post-Traumatic Stress could erupt after weeks, months or years.

The statistic on Iraq’s age is staggering. Half the population is under 14. That means the recent war was, in effect, a war against children.

And let’s spare a thought for the other part of the equation. A report has found that US soldiers in Iraq are suffering Post-Traumatic Stress in record numbers. Suicides are unusually high. Families of the service men and women back at home also suffer extreme stress and secondary trauma.

But healing is possible. And we can be part of it.

Our Home – Iraq’s new project is based on the fact that we believe it is our responsibility to help Iraqi children heal from their trauma and reach their full potential.

I’ll share with you next how we can do this together.

Your pilgrim

Donna (Mulhearn)

PS: The boys are well, blossoming like flowers.

PPS: Thanks to all who’ve said prayers for my Mum and thanks to Martha for your visit. Mum’s in rehab now and is doing well.

PPPS: “With their tanks and their bombs and their bombs and their guns – in your head, in your head they’re still fighting.” Zombie, The Cranberries.

Bryan published the following in Margo Kingston’s WEBDIARY in October 2005, shortly before we headed for Pine Gap. The footnotes have been added for this publication.

Entering the ‘gap’ between what’s right and what’s legal

Around September 2005 I was invited to take part in a small, daggy affinity- group action at the Pine Gap intelligence facility near Alice Springs. The invitation came from Jim Dowling, a Catholic Worker friend of mine.

Along with the invitation came a few pages of eloquence from Father George Zabelka who, in August 1945 was the Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group of the US Airforce on Tinian Island in the Pacific. He blessed the crews of the Enola Gay (Hiroshima) and Bok’s Car (Nagasaki) before they flew to drop the Atomic Bomb on Japanese civilians.

Father George gave a speech to a Pax Christi conference at Notre Dame University in August 1985.

I worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights struggle in Flint, Michigan. His example and words of nonviolent action, choosing love instead of hate, truth instead of lies, and nonviolence instead of violence stirred me deeply. This brought me face to face with pacifism – active nonviolent resistance to evil. I recall his words after he was jailed in Montgomery, and this blew my mind. He said, “Blood may flow in the streets of Montgomery before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood that flows, and not that of the white man. We must not harm a single hair on the head of our white brothers.”

I struggled. I argued. But yes, there it was in the Sermon on the Mount, very clear: ‘Love your enemies. Return good for evil.’ I went through a crisis of faith. Either accept what Christ said, as impossible and silly as it may seem, or deny him completely.

For the last 1700 years the church has not only been making war respectable: it has been inducing people to believe it is an honourable profession. This is not true. We have been brainwashed. It is a lie.

Pine Gap – what does it do?

Pine Gap is a ground receiving station for space-based intelligence gathering. It’s the most strategically important US base in Australia and enjoys substantial secrecy and protection from Parliamentary oversight.*

From what is known outside the official record , Pine Gap is a vital component of war-fighting in Iraq. It’s monitoring of radar, cell-phone, radio, and long-distance telephone communication enables it to provide targeting information for US air and ground forces.**

When the US launched it’s “shock and awe” bombardment of Iraq, information from Pine Gap pointed the missiles and “smart weapons” toward Iraqi military targets – towards air-defence radars, towards Iraqi missile silos, and towards command bunkers. Many thousands of civilians died in that initial phase of the Iraq war.***

Now that the US is attacking “insurgents”, information from Pine Gap tracks and monitors telephone communications, identifying and tracking suspects and leading troops, missiles and bombs to the houses and neighbourhoods they live in. Many thousands of civilians continue to be killed as “collateral damage” in these campaigns.

If I asked any one of you, “Ought I shoot to death a family or group of families, or a child or group of children because their lives are inconvenient to me?” , you wouldn’t hesitate in saying NO! If I said I was going to go ahead anyway, you would try to stop me, perhaps by intervening yourselves, but almost certainly by calling the authorities and asking them to act.

Yet Pine Gap is a base which has been used to slaughter thousands of families who got in the way of US and Australian foreign policy, who were inconveniently present in urban areas scheduled for saturation bombing, or who are even now in the wrong place when Coalition forces patrol the chaos of Iraq.

There are no authorities to call regarding Pine Gap. The Australian government and the US government support the massacres in Iraq. They use otherwise just laws (public order, trespass) to protect the operation of Pine Gap, to protect the machinery of war and injustice.

Beyond the “minor” war-crimes of tens of thousands of civilian dead in Iraq, Pine Gap is also a major component of the proposed “missile defence shield”, or “Star Wars” project as it is often called. This “shield” proposes putting satellite based weapons in space to shoot down any incoming missiles. The US has spent billions developing this system but is still a long way form making it work. Both China and Russia have strongly denounced the project, as threatening a new arms race. Obviously it has the potential to allow the US to wage a first strike Nuclear War, if they were confident of shooting down all enemy missiles.

The new US doctrine of “pre-emptive war”, obviously makes the other nuclear states very wary indeed.

Nuclear proliferation has proceeded apace since 1945, and nuclear weapons are now present in Pakistan, India, China, North Korea (?), Israel, England, France, and Russia, as well as in the USA where they were invented. Iran is said to have an active development program. South Africa has disarmed. The first five states I mention are adjacent to areas of active and intense political conflict. In the event of even limited nuclear warfare, it is likely that millions will die

At a time when Australia MUST have a discussion about providing more uranium for nuclear power and nuclear weapons proliferation, we are encouraged to ignore the presence on our soil of an insidious war-fighting base that is preparing to fight a nuclear war. *****

From 16 November this year the Australian government becomes entitled to give three years notice of termination of the Pine Gap treaty with the US, at any time. The goal of our affinity group at this important time is to build public awareness of the goals and operation of Pine Gap so that the Australian government will terminate its lease

Pine Gap – a history of dissent

The first major protest against Pine Gap was a gathering of 700 women on November 11 1983.

The Alice Springs News reported the story of the “Karen Silkwoods” and their amazing protest . Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this protest is that it was supported indirectly by twelve Labor women Parliamentarians, including then Minister for Education Senator Susan Ryan, in a telexed statement approved by PM Bob Hawke and Foreign Minister Bill Hayden.

In October 1987 some 300 people were arrested at a “Close the Gap” action organised by the Australian Anti-Bases Coalition and the Alice Springs Peace Group. These protests were aimed at publicising the nature of Pine Gap as a spy base (it had previously been promoted within Australia as a space research base), its links with nuclear weapons systems, and its role in nuclear war-fighting.

The 1987 resistance at Pine Gap took place in the context of US deployment of Cruise and Pershing nuclear missiles in Western Europe. This very unpopular escalation of the Nuclear threat in Europe created a mass popular peace movement around the world

The next mass action at Pine Gap took place October 7-9, 2002, and was largely aimed at the war-fighting role it was about to play in the attack on Iraq by providing intelligence and targeting information. Around 400 people showed up with the usual vibrant displays of costumes and actions, and were met by an equal or larger number of police.

No members of the Labour Party showed up. The only politicians present were from the Greens and Democrats.

This action continued the themes of nonviolence, national and international networking, and seeking closure of the base. Its new features were the effective use of the internet, and an abandonment of the technique of mass arrests. The 2002 actions were subject to just 17 arrests and achieved national coverage in the Australian media.

Our little affinity group is expecting to undertake civil disobedience at Pine Gap. We believe that Pine Gap, and therefore the laws protecting it, is unjust in its operation.

We will break the minor law to pursue justice and the greater good.

A few days ago Dr Mark Hayes reminded me again of Dr King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, which I read once more and contemplated.

One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

Many of you will ask, “Why must you practice civil disobedience? Isn’t it enough that we live in a democracy where we can change government policy through the ballot box?”

Dr King’s letter deals with the issue of waiting for negotiations which never come, or which are conducted in bad faith. Remember that Australian parliamentarians from all parties have been denied essential information about the operation of Pine Gap. Our elected representatives are not allowed to know what the base does.

Secondly, Australians now (from November 16 2005) have an opportunity to terminate the electronic spying of Pine Gap and to end our complicity with the massacre of innocents that it represents. Those following Christ are called upon to love our enemies. How can we accept the murder of innocents? How long do we accept the slaughter of innocents before rising up to say “enough!”?

I’ve been arrested many times for civil disobedience, and the only explanation I can offer for my actions is the dictate of my conscience. In the presence of injustice, how can I not act? I am not able to stand aside just because it’s difficult, or unpopular, or it makes me look like a crank.

There’s some self- interest in it. If I allow injustice to thrive, I will inevitably become its victim. More importantly I’m 51 years old and I’ve learned what Dr King learned, and what Christ taught – that oppression disfigures and de-humanises both the oppressed and the oppressor.

I love humanity. I’ve seen enough of the wonder and power of human love and creativity to rejoice in the miracle of God’s creation. I know that love is the fertiliser for human growth, and that justice protects the flow of love while keeping down the weeds. I weep at the despair and injustice presently in the world, and I am called upon to act. How can I not?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a remarkably good life with my beautiful, powerful wife and beloved son. I get to live in a lovely house, tend my garden, and work for justice in my local community. I get my share (probably more than my share) of consumer durables, and I love the modern electronics. If it weren’t for this rotten conscience I could stay here forever and enjoy a quiet life.

I believe with all my heart that these are critical times. In front of us lies the choice between a militarist security state, and a liberal democracy. Parliament has failed us. Neither the ALP nor the Coalition will help us. It’s time to make a stand.

Bryan Law

* Indeed in 1999, when the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties asked (twice) for a detailed briefing on Pine Gap, and an inspection of the facility, they were (twice) refused on the basis of “need to know”. Apparently our parliamentary representatives don’t “need to know” the operational nature of the facility for which they’re approving a treaty. Report 26 of the Joint Standing Committee concerns Pine Gap, and Part 2 of that report details the government’s refusal to provide any visit, or any detailed information about the operation of this facility.

**The following appeared IN SMH 23rd August 2002: Michael McKinley, a strategic analyst at the Australian National University in Canberra, said yesterday that the US had been boosting its satellite capability since the 1991 Gulf War, including the level of information feeding into Pine Gap. “What you are looking at with Pine Gap is a lot of signals intercepts and photo reconnaissance,” he said. “Certainly in relation to identifying specific targets, Pine Gap is important. The Pine Gap contribution is very much more significant than any sending of Australian soldiers. “For more detailed information see Prof Richard Tanter’s website: http://gc.nautilus.org/Nautilus/australia/afghanistan

***On October 29, 2004 British medical Journal THE LANCET published the report of the first survey done by John Hopkins University (US).The report claimed that by this stage over 100,000 civilians had died in Iraq as a result of the invasion. The report claimed that the biggest contributor to these deaths was allied aerial bombing.

****Information Clearing House is a news website containing daily reports on the situation in Iraq from a variety of the world’s media. As this booklet is being written, last night’s stories include one of 15 civilians killed by US helicopter gunfire in Sadr City including at least two toddlers (Reuters TV report). Sadly such slaughter hardly warrants a second glance as anyone following the war soon accepts mass murder by “our side” as the norm.

****FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE STAR WARS PROJECT SEE: Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power In Space WEBSITE www.space4peace.org

Peace on Earth

Friday 9th December 2005. Today we were part of a miracle.

A number of months ago I first proposed the idea of exposing the terrorist nature of Pine Gap by attempting to enter it and perhaps climb on one of the structures. Pine Gap is Australia’s most important contribution to the killing spree in Afghanistan and Iraq, providing much of the targeting information for the bombing raids etc which have resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 civilians in the last 3 years

Eventually a group formed for the Pine Gap action calling ourselves Christians Against ALL Terrorism. Bryan Law introduced enormous energy and made the group viable. He notified police and Senator Robert Hill we were coming and even told them the planned date of our action: December 8th. We were full of enthusiasm, but still it was a firm belief of most participants that only a miracle would enable us to succeed given that Pine Gap is the most secure military establishment in Australia. Today that miracle took place.

On Wednesday morning we sought out Pat Hayes, the traditional Arrente caretaker for the Pine Gap area and asked his permission to walk on his land in order to expose the violence of the base which occupied part of that land. No permission had ever been sought or given for Pine Gap to be used by the military. However Pat graciously gave us permission to enter the area.

Late at night on Thursday the 8th, four of us, Donna Mulhearn and Bryan Law in one group and Adele Goldie and myself in the other started the walk to the base from two different directions. We walked for five hours and three hours respectively. At 4 am Adele and I came close to the first 3meter high security fence. As we lay on the ground perhaps 500 metres from the fence, security vehicles drove nearby with their floodlights panning the area. We thought they must have known of our presence and were searching for us. At least twice we thought they must have seen us and our attempt to enter the base was over. Later we realised their surveillance was routine, and they had miraculously not seen us.

After two vehicles had gone Adele and I made the last 100 meter dash through the open floodlit area to the outer security fence. As Adele hung our banner – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? YOUR BROTHER’S BLOOD CRIES OUT TO ME FROM THE EARTH: Gen4; 10- on the fence, I placed Jessica’s beautiful barbed wire crucifix against the fence. Then I cut through the fence. We climbed through and I cut the second fence about ten meters away. Again we climbed through and realised all the power of the most powerful empire in history could not stop two untrained, unfunded, unarmed Christian pacifists from entering one of their most important and secure bases – even after we had told them we were coming.

I looked around at the huge white domes and radar dishes around us. I had sometimes fantasised about climbing onto one of the white domes but it was obvious that it was not going to be possible. Adele headed for a tower next to a building and climbed on to the roof. I followed. Once on the roof we placed photos, leaflets, and other information on the roof and gave thanks to God. Shortly after this we saw a security guard on a bicycle ride by, but we still had not been seen. But the guard then rode around to the back of the building and must have noticed the banner on the fence. Meanwhile Adele and I took photos of one another with a huge white dome behind us. The security guard came back in sight and quickly climbed a tower which supported the radar dish directly in front of us. Amazingly (although by this time nothing would surprise us), he must have looked around for a minute before seeing us. I waved, and he scrambled back down.

Within a minute there were a number of Federal security guards and police assembled below us. My response to the first one who asked us to come down was to inform him that we had come to inspect the base for terrorist activity and would come down when we had something in writing from the Commander saying we would not be stopped from doing so. A second guard angrily yelled at me that he was coming up to drag me off the roof. I responded that I would certainly not be surprised by violence as I was aware the base had been directly involved in the slaughter of thousands in terrorist attacks.

Of course it is easy to be brave when you are “king of the castle”. But shortly a number of guards and police were on the roof. The first one said, “Get on your knees”. “That’s a good idea”, I replied. I knelt down and prayed that he would withdraw his co-operation from the violence of Pine Gap. Unfortunately, while praying, it was impossible to hear the instructions that were being given to me. This made the original guard who threatened us rather annoyed. Amazingly he used a new compliance technique with which I am becoming familiar – the old “push the head into the ground and push your knee into the head” technique. Luckily unlike the concrete floor last time, the metal roof we were on had a little give and I only suffered a bruised cheek instead of a bloody face. After being escorted from the roof and into a wagon we were driven to the front of the base, searched numerous times and driven to the watch house.

About an hour after Adele and I, Bryan and Donna had completed their amazing walk in daylight. Bryan has health conditions which made the walk extremely difficult, and any chance of running impossible. So they slowly walked the last stretch to the security fence, Donna dressed in black and Brian in his bright white “Citizens Inspection Team” overalls. What followed seemed like another miracle. A security van drove towards them. They waved and the vehicle drove on! They reached the first security fence, unchallenged by the numerous police and guards now behind it- until Bryan started to cut the fence with bolt cutters. Then the security forces realised Bryan was the “enemy” and called out. Bryan kept cutting until a security guard put his hand on his gun, and, perhaps not coincidentally, Bryan decided he had done enough inspecting for the moment.

[Bryan and Donna were “captured” by Ken who had talked to us two days before. Ken Napier is the head of the Australian security at Pine Gap. He had been extremely friendly during a number of visits to the front gate. Now however, Ken had totally lost his jovial sense of humour as Bryan was rolled roughly in the dirt. Donna and Bryan did not think it was the time to remind Ken of how we had all laughed together about his advice that trying to break into the base in white overalls was probably not very helpful for us. Later in the watchouse we joked about how next time we should try it handcuffed and carrying tracking devices to give them a fairer chance of catching us.

The arrests were not over however. Sean O’Reilly and Jessica Morrison had driven to the front of the base and were holding a banner in what they thought was a non-arrestable action (Jessica had a plane to Melbourne booked in 5 hours time, and Sean was due to catch one the next day). They were not expecting the anger of the Federal police. We had been to the front of the base twice to picket and pray. Each time they had happily assured us of our right to be there. Now they were intent on revenge and decided to confiscate our cameras and any interesting documents. When Sean politely asked them what law allowed them to do this, he was arrested and charged with hindering police. No receipt was given for anything taken and as yet nothing has been returned. Later that day it was Jessica’s turn. She was followed by the federal police all morning until she came to the watchouse to visit her friends. She was immediately arrested and told she would be charged with being an accessory. Happily, after an hour or so and much distress, Jessica’s charges were dropped and she was released.

The Charges.

The four who walked into Pine Gap were charged with:

· Destroying or damaging Commonwealth property;

· Trespassing on Commonwealth land;

· Unlawfully entering a prohibited area (Defence Special Undertakings Act)

· Taking a photo on a prohibited area (Defence Special Undertakings Act)

· Unlawfully damaging property.

Sean O’Reilly was charged with obstructing commonwealth police. Sean returned to court in 2006 and was found not guilty, when police seriously contradicted one another.

Later, we were told the Defence Special Undertakings Act charges needed to be approved by the Attorney General. This is the 1952 law with which Defence Minister Hill threatened us when we wrote to him telling him of our intentions to inspect the base. It carries a maximum of seven years jail. No one has ever been charged under this law in Australia before. The NT Director of Public Prosecutions flew down to personally handle our first court appearance. So they are obviously taking our little miracle quite seriously.

Finally an important moral from this story:

One of the most important messages from our entry into Pine Gap is that our security does not lie in bigger and better bombs, bigger and better targeting or surveillance systems. Our security lies in building better relationships. In the words on my Catholic Worker T-shirt: The Only Solution is Love.

Pine Gap on Trial

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. Indeed we did, for we managed to enter the most secure base in Australia and cause it to be locked down for a number of hours.

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. This law had never been used before and required written permission from the Attorney General (Phillip Ruddock) to do so. 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. During the following weeks, we were often under “secret” surveillance on 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 our friend 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. He believed 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’s 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?”, was my next question.

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. On the film 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, that 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 price 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 Eisenhower 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 Carroll’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.

** The date for the appeal hearing has been set for 20th February 2007.




Speak the Truth!

Rise Up and Speak the Truth is a compilation CD with inspirational peace and anti-war music from various artists around Australia and the world. All songs were donated in support of the Pine Gap4.

Professionally produced with beautiful artwork. Probably the best anti-war CD since the sixties – maybe of all time!

Artists include: Shane Howard (ex-Goanna lead singer), Seize The Day (U.K), David Rovics (U.S), The Love Bombs (Cairns), Myrrh (Melbourne), Steve Bevis (Blue Mountains), Dave Andrews (Brisbane), Penelope Swales (Melbourne), Solidarity Choir (Sydney), Trisha Watts (Sydney), Peter Kearney (now in Ireland), Andorra (Sydney), Dana Lyons (remember the big hit “Cows with Guns”-U.S), Alec Burns (Brisbane).


Available for only $20 each including postage. Write to Sean, 69 Karumba St., Kippa Ring, 4021 or email sean.oreilly@optusnet.com.au



There has been much debate about what the war was/is about –oil, WMD’s, Saddam Hussein, US imperial domination, Israel…but the photo on the left will tell what this war and all wars are about. Study it. You will learn a lot.

5 thoughts on “"Liberating Pine Gap" by Jim Dowling (ed.)

  1. Editor's Note says:

    Bernie Moloney and Jim Dowling go to trial at Wynnum courthouse on 15th May 2009 charged with ‘trespass’ on the premises of Raytheon, an arms manufacturer located at Murrarie in Brisbane.

    Perhaps they should change the Qld vehicle registration plates from “Queensland—The Smart State” to “Queensland—The Arms State”!

  2. I believe this specific blog post , “”Liberating Pine Gap”
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    I appreciate it-Phil

  3. Just as with most religious i – Pad apps, i – Pad Bible software takes preference when it brings
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    12:1 says this: “Let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

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