Australian Citizens Party Citizens Taking Responsibility



Make the war party’s overreach its undoing

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Lead Editorial

15 May 2024
Vol. 26 No. 20

David McBride at court
David McBride turning to take his final walk as a free man into the ACT Supreme Court after addressing the media and supporters. Photo: Robert Barwick

This week, the Five Eyes war machine made an example of David McBride to send a chill through military personnel everywhere who may be tempted to grow a conscience. Judge David Mossop sentenced David McBride to 68 months (five years, eight months) in prison, with a nonparole period of 27 months (two years, three months), officially for “stealing” classified documents, and then leaking those documents to journalists.

Notably, the mainstream media journalists to whom McBride leaked the documents were not in the court to support him. Australian Citizens Party Research Director Robert Barwick was in the court, however, to support McBride and report on the judge’s ruling.

It was clear the judge was intent on giving the war machine what it wanted—a pound of David McBride’s flesh. This was the judge who put his thumb on the scales of justice by denying McBride of his entire defence on the grounds of national security because it implicated a foreign “partner”, i.e. the USA or UK, and who back in November made the following chilling statement to shoot down McBride’s defence that he had a duty to the people of Australia:

“There is no aspect of duty that allows the accused to act in the public interest contrary to a lawful military order”, Justice Mossop ruled—tearing up the Nuremberg principle against “just following orders”.

For more than two excruciating hours, David McBride sat stoically in court with his eyes closed, listening to Mossop read his very detailed, but also very repetitive judgement, to justify the sentence he was giving. Mossop resorted to blatant legalism to deconstruct the essence of what McBride did—challenge the corrupt culture of the military scapegoating innocent soldiers for war crimes to protect guilty ones and the military’s reputation—down to a black and white question of breaking the law. He acknowledged McBride is a decent man, that he wasn’t motivated by personal gain, and that he and his family have already suffered immensely, but that wasn’t enough to apply natural justice in his sentencing. Instead, he chose to emphasised two revealing factors in his decision:

  • That the “harm” David McBride caused by leaking the documents was not physical harm to anyone, but reputational harm with Australia’s closest partner, the USA, which may impact future intelligence-sharing;
  • That the sentence must “deter”—by which, he specified, he meant both to deter others who may witness wrongdoing from growing a conscience and copying McBride, and to deter McBride himself from revealing anything else.

That these were the factors that shaped the sentence confirms that the intent of this entire exercise was to protect the Five Eyes war machine.

Soldiers don’t decide to go to war, politicians do. David McBride, while a lawyer, did not exist in an academic legal climate, but on the front line of a futile war in which the soldiers he was responsible for were facing live ammunition. David saw that these soldiers were victims of injustice from commanders and politicians more intent on protecting the reputation of their forever war than protecting the soldiers in their command, and he went in to bat for them driven by an intense sense of responsibility for their lives. To acknowledge David did the right thing would be to own up to the crimes of a corrupt war machine, which the powers-that-be refuse to do, so the system closed ranks to destroy the lone whistleblower.

When Mossop handed down the sentence to the packed courtroom, it took a few moments to sink in before the shock turned to anger. David’s supportive ex-wife Sarah was distraught, while the audience grew angry and started shouting at the judge, with loud cries of “shame” ringing out. Across the country, prominent Australians have denounced the judgement.

We must fight to ensure the backlash provoked by this extreme overreach undoes the war agenda, and inspires Australians to value peace and truth.

In this issue:

  • Matt Comyn betrays Buderim. Who will stand up to CBA?
  • Trust is something that is hard to win but easy to lose
  • Australian naval ops in Yellow Sea are aimed at China, not North Korea
  • Huawei must die. But here’s why we can’t tell you why
  • The bell tolls for US Treasury market
  • Terrors strikes imperialists as liberal financial order unravels
  • Effective industrial policy requires dumping neoliberalism
  • Australia’s National Defence Strategy: Where ideology trumps strategy
  • ACP fires up Buderim
  • Beethoven: A true political activist to this day
  • ALMANAC: NATO careens towards nuclear war with Russia (Part I)

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Page last updated on 16 May 2024