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David Libra

to wish impossible things


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
Location: the edge of the deep green sea

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2024 8:49 pm
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Regardless of McBride's initial motivations â€" my understanding is that he came around on this over the past decade â€" I think we need to change the way we're thinking about whistleblowers if we expect them to act perfectly or only according to the political principles we share. (For what it's worth, I completely opposed Reality Winner's prosecution and imprisonment in the US even though it was in service of Russiagate stuff that was mostly nonsense.) If McBride felt it was the soldiers who were being victimised, then obviously I don't agree with that but it doesn't remove his moral onus to do what he did. It should be actively encouraged and rewarded, not punished, for people working in these important spaces to blow the whistle on issues they think are serious and not being dealt with appropriately internally. Otherwise there's no possibility for accountability, and we should all understand by now that the military, government, police and security agencies absolutely cannot be trusted to deal with issues of corruption in their own backyard.

There was a time when it was generally understood how crucial the role of the media is in holding power to account, and how essential it is for democracy that stuff the powerful don't want us to know becomes public knowledge. Leakers, whistleblowers and anonymous internal sources have always been a crucial source of that kind of information â€" i.e. the real journalism that actually matters, of which there is currently precious little â€" and they need to be protected, not thrown under the bus. We've gone very far down a bad direction if we're shrugging about (or even applauding) a source for a major news story being harassed by the courts, convicted and jailed.

I note that no publisher, editor, journalist or reader has been legally punished for printing that story, and rightfully so, though there are some countries where that wouldn't be the case. Maybe we still recognise that kind of tyranny for what it is, at least. So let's quit with this inane bullshit about "stolen" documents and acknowledge that the only meaningful topic at hand is information in the public interest and why it should be kept from citizens living in a democracy.

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nomadjack 



Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Location: Essendon

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2024 9:33 pm
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I don't disagree with much of what you're saying David, and you'll need to go a long way to find a stronger advocate for transparency and accountability in government. McBride is not the poster boy for this though. If he had his way our special forces soldiers who were accused of a range of atrocities would not have been investigated. These actions run completely contrary to transparency or accountability. As the recent court case made clear, he chose to leak documents to push his case without fully exploring internal processes. His complaints were investigated and were found to be unsubstantiated. He had the option of pursuing them further in house but instead, when he didn't get the answer he wanted, he leaked to a number of journos. Ironically, the Afghan files reports that flowed from these completely blew up in his face by lending creedence to the need for investigating atrocities that McBride was effectively an apologist for. He's no friend of transparency or accountability.
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Magpietothemax Taurus

magpietothemax


Joined: 27 Apr 2013


PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2024 11:31 am
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^ Well said David.
I have never heard NJ's claims regarding McBride's initial motvations before, and I don't believe a word of them.
1) It would make no sense whatsoever for McBride to leak these documents to the media if his intent were to try to attenuate the level of scrutiny in military justice processes.
2) The paragraphs that NJ quotes do not provide support to his claims. They are suitably vague and unmeaningful. What is meant by "window dressing" within the short exceprt provided is meaningless, for example.
3) the court case itself was a travesty of justice.
The government’s lawyers strenuously argued in a pre-trial hearing against McBride’s main planned defenceâ€"based on the post-World War II Nuremberg trials of the Nazisâ€"that he was obligated to refuse to follow unlawful military orders to suppress the war crimes evidence. pecial Counsel Trish McDonald, who led the government’s team of prosecutors, told the court that all defence personnel were required to comply with a “general order” and “defence instruction” that official information must be treated as confidential. Supreme Court, the trial judge, Justice David Mossop, accepted the government’s repudiation of the Nuremberg principle. He said he would instruct the jury, which was to be selected starting today, to disregard any public interest in the defence. “There is no aspect of duty that allows the accused to act in the public interest contrary to a lawful order,” he ruled on Wednesday. McBride's legal team appealed this decision, but the appeal was rejected.
In other words, the Nuremberg Principle was rejected as a basis for prosecuting David McBride.
Finally, Mossop gave permission to the Attorney General's office to seize from the defence classified documents in its possession that it intended to present to the juiry. The permission to confiscate McBride's evidence was based on "national security " concerns - which of course was the very basis for the McBride's prosecution in the first place!!
Because of these rulings, McBride's defence team advised McBride that there was no viable defence left, and that he should plead guilty to three charges. McBride accepted this advice. This is where the BS mentioned by StuiM comes in ,ie "but didn't he plead guilty to theft? ".
So in summary NJ, I think your claims are totally unsubstantiated, and until I see any reason otherwise, I reject them out of hand.
But, as David says, even if by some perverse irony of cause and effect, McBride's initial motivation had been to shield the ADF top brass rather than expose their complicity in war crimes, what matters is that he acted bravely by breaking military rules for what he believed was a higher principle, and due to his action war crimes were exposed, and the public's knowledge of the nature of the war in Afghanistan has been deepened as a result.
My source for thie information above is:
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/11/20/fwib-n20.html

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David Libra

to wish impossible things


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
Location: the edge of the deep green sea

PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2024 12:37 pm
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I think NJ is correct as far as I know but my impression was that he was initially trying to protect individual soldiers he felt were being scapegoated rather than the top brass. Again, it’s complicated, but I don’t think it’s right to conclude from that that he was against transparency â€" otherwise why leak anything? Whether it be exposing covered up war crimes or standing up for low-ranking employees being singled out for failures higher up the chain, the common thread is accountability.

As for Shanahan’s assertion that we were going to find out about all this eventually anyway (pull the other one), the point he misses is that there should have been twenty news stories about whatever the hell we were doing in Afghanistan for every one story about politicians sneezing in question time. People like Shanahan are happy for us to only get the carefully filtered, spun and approved version; whistleblowing and leaking is how we get something closer to the truth.

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Magpietothemax Taurus

magpietothemax


Joined: 27 Apr 2013


PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2024 1:47 pm
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^Well it makes far more sense if in fact he was iniitially motivated to protect lower level employees whom he thought were being targeted, rather than the suggestion that he was leaking documents in order to protect the top military brass! !
It makes no sense, as you pointed out, to argue that he was opposed to transparency - if that were his position, leaking any documents whatsoever would be anathema to him! Regardless of the initial motivations, his actions initiated a sequence of events which were of immense benefit to publci consciousness, and required great personal courage to undertake in the first place.
..and now you mention it, i do recall reading that the top military brass was attempting to palm off the atrocities on to a small group of "bad apples" who were to be blamed for the war crimes committed, rather than the general policies and attitudes that were being created by the military command, necessary for creating the type of soldiers necessary to carry out a criminal colonial war in which every Afghan person was seen as an enemy. So by opposing the criminalisation of a few soldiers, McBride's actions logically led to the exposure of an entire brutal and criminal military policy pervading the ADF from the top downwards.
As an example of what I am talking about, the order was issued by the military command in Afghanistan that the hands of Afghanis killed by the ADF should be servered off the corpse for identification purposes. This is the kind of attitude towards the Afghani popultion that the military command was responsible for, and which therefore created a force of trained military killers capable of murdering innocent civilians.

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nomadjack 



Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Location: Essendon

PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2024 7:55 pm
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MM, I've got a novel idea...take the time to read the bloody court transcript including McBride's own words. If you were to do so you would find that McBride defended the practice of soldiers severing the hands of Afghanis for id purposes as an operational necessity. Military command were against the practice because of how the Australian public would most likely react. McBride's whole argument with command was that the threshold for investigating potential misconduct and war crimes was set too low, meaning that soldiers were potentially going to be 'unfairly' investigated and potentially held accountable for actions he regarded as legitimate, including the accidental /careless killing of civilians. It's all there on public record and in McBride's own words if you care to look. You've hitched your wagon to the wrong horse.
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Magpietothemax Taurus

magpietothemax


Joined: 27 Apr 2013


PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2024 7:08 pm
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In fact McBride was defending soldiers from prosecution whom he believed were being prosecuted unjustly to cover for real war criminals who were being protected by the military command.
The military command in Afghanistan realised that it has a public image problem when several war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan were publicised and responded by issuing new Rules of Engagement which placed extreme conditions on the justification for soldiers to pull the trigger. This was to cover up for the real war criminals, who continued to falsify their reports - while the soldiers with integrity, who gave true reports of events, then found themselves questioned over their decisions, and then unjustly prosecuted. The new ROE were ":window dressing" for the real war criminals, while other soldiers attempting to do the right thing were being prosecuted for public consumption, ie to create the facade that the Australian military "takes war crimes seriously".
McBride's entire argument was that these rules of engagement were placing the lives of honest soldiers in danger, while the war criminals continued to do as they pleased because their reports were continually being falsified.
Dan Oakes, the reporter who used McBride's evidence for the Afghan Files report, appeared in an "exclusive" ABC interview just before McBride's court case, and helped publicise the malicious distorsion that McBride was not interested in reporting war crimes, but simply wanted to defend soldiers from unjust prosecution. Naturally, this distorsion appears in the court transcript, which is just as despicable as the Oakes'ABC interview. The Gauardian is the only news outlet which has at least had some degree of balance in reporting on McBrides case:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/nov/27/war-crimes-whistleblower-david-mcbride-reveals-why-he-went-to-the-media

I think NJ that you have hitched your horse to the wrong wagon.

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nomadjack 



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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2024 9:59 pm
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^I don't have a horse in the race. I also prefer to base my views on evidence rather than someone's summary of a Guardian journos article. Read the transcript including McBride's own words.
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Magpietothemax Taurus

magpietothemax


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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2024 10:04 pm
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nomadjack wrote:
^I don't have a horse in the race. I also prefer to base my views on evidence rather than someone's summary of a Guardian journos article. Read the transcript including McBride's own words.

I just explained why the transcript is garbage.

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nomadjack 



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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2024 11:13 pm
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Simple question - have you read it?
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Magpietothemax Taurus

magpietothemax


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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2024 11:33 pm
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nomadjack wrote:
Simple question - have you read it?

Have you read the Guardian article i referenced?
Have you read the other link i included in my previous post?

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nomadjack 



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PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2024 6:36 am
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Yes to both. And David's link. Pretty radical idea, but if I'm arguing with someone I actually take the time to read what they put up. Interesting to note the WSWS piece dances around McBride's motivations and focuses entirely on the issue around whistleblower protection. It's disingenuous in intimating that McBride was a warrior against war crimes without actually saying his actions were aimed at bringing these claims to light. Almost as if Head new such claims were indefensible given McBride's own statements. Read the transcript...it doesn't take that long.
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David Libra

to wish impossible things


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
Location: the edge of the deep green sea

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2024 12:42 pm
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This sums things up well:

https://johnmenadue.com/justice-miscarried-the-unanswered-questions-of-the-mcbride-verdict/

Quote:
In the light of the many commentaries on the case, and the limitations of length, the intention here is not to reprise all of its contentious aspects; rather, it is to draw attention to three aspects which, unaddressed will haunt the Australian Defence Force (ADF) forever.

These are [1] the ruling that personnel in the ADF have no higher duty than to obey lawfully given commands to the exclusion of all other considerations; [2] that this duty relegates the public interest to the point of non-existence, and [3] that 1 and 2 are examples of a bankrupt understanding of politics, society, and psychology in states declaring themselves to be democratic.

Accordingly, the sentencing of David McBride to a long period of incarceration does not make Australia safe or secure so much as it intimidates â€" but also enrages â€" those citizens who take democratic politics (both theory and practice) seriously.

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