Countering spin: An attempt

G’Day. Yesterday on SBS community television I debated the head of the Australian Broadcasting Authority David Flint on the government’s proposed cross media changes. He will administer the new cross media regime if it gets through the Senate next time round. The audio of the interview, arranged and presented by Tanveer Ahmed, is in the right hand column of Webdiary.

Professor Flint, a monarchist conservative from way back, has broken ranks from most conservative opinion on this issue. Like our resident conservative commentator Daniel Moye, ultra conservative New York Timescolumnist William Safire – a strong supporter of the war on Iraq – is also against more media power for Rupert Murdoch and the other US media giants. As I’ve said before, Murdoch would have less media dominance in the USA AFTER Bush’s reforms than he has NOW in Australia. Besides abolishing the cross media rules to give Murdoch and Packer a stranglehold on our media, Howard also wants to abolish foreign ownership limits on our media, opening the way for the other US media conglomerates, including Viacom, to take over Australia’s media. I’ve republished Safire’s column below.

After that, Iraq war maestro columnist Jack Robertson runs the spin meter over Howard again, in a companion piece to his essay on Howard war spin last week in Anger as an energy. He reveals that the government WAS warned before the war that its claim of solid evidence linking Saddam and Osama was false.

Jack writes:

Sorry if I’m harping on pulling Howard’s lies to bits, but watching Max Moore-Wilton try to shaft the RAN Captain involved in kids overboard today on Howard’s 64th birthday Sunday special – putting the blame back on the military just as I feared when I wrote my Christmas letter to our leader – has made me explode with rage all over again – just when you’d calmed me down. (The transcript of John Lyons’ ‘Man of Steel turns 64’ piece on yesterday’s Sunday program is at Sunday.)

Margo, these people have ZERO shame. Somebody – anybody – has to nail them down at last.

I hope my latest piece is not too anal, finicky or self-centred. But I kind of figured during the war debate that a careful, written paper-trail of some kind might be needed after the dust had settled, and this ‘deconstruction’ business is necessarily complex and tedious. In particular, I think it would be worth including the entire ‘roll-call’ of Parliamentary email recipients as shown at the end of Cadman’s (sole) reply – it kind of highlights starkly the fact that every MP in the joint received my urgent – if slightly hysterical – demand.

We’ve got to smash the firewalls down, mate. Not one of those listed MPs can pretend they ‘didn’t know about doubts’, etc. I’m not much of a demo-type dude, and I can’t think of any other way to do so than by pedantic precision + written records + occasional outright rudeness. Sorry.

And even the admirable things about our Iraq commitment are being undermined now: Yanks are still dropping like flies over there, but Howard – the Man of Steel – has effectively made it look like Australia has run away from the TRUE heavy lifting there, which was always going to be the democracy and human rights reconstruction side, not the regime change fight itself.

American Republicans and Bushies observing Howard’s latter-day ‘firewalling’ of himself from any serious domestic-electoral fall-out arising from a prolonged, casualty-sodden (ie fighting force) Australian component of the occupation in Iraq – exactly the kind of heat Blair and Bush are both experiencing now – must be feeling pretty bemused. If Australia was fair dinkum about ANZUS and TRULY supporting America when it needs us, our PM would be sending MORE troops to Iraq NOW, not trying to distance him/ourselves using handy excuses – however admirable – like the Solomons.

And let’s face it – as recently as January, Downer was saying we’d never, ever intervene in such ways and places anyway. Suddenly, just when the going gets rough in Iraq, it’s an urgent local priority? I mean, I support the Solomons intervention very strongly in itself, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if our ‘Coalition of the Willing’ allies are suddenly feeling a tad ripped off.

Some wartime PM, eh?

I’ve got stacks of emails on the latest Howard/Alston assault on the ABC (see Good one John, but why stop at the ABC?) and will pull them together tomorrow.


Bush’s Four Horsemen

by William Safire

On the domestic front, President Bush is backing into a buzz saw.

The sleeper issue is media giantism. People are beginning to grasp and resent the attempt by the Federal Communications Commission to allow the Four Horsemen of Big Media – Viacom (CBS, UPN), Disney (ABC), Murdoch’s News Corporation (Fox) and G.E. (NBC) – to gobble up every independent station in sight.

Couch potatoes throughout the land see plenty wrong in concentrating the power to produce the content we see and hear in the same hands that transmit those broadcasts. This is especially true when the same Four Horsemen own many satellite and cable providers and already influence key sites on the Internet.

Reflecting that widespread worry, the Senate Commerce Committee voted last month to send to the floor Ted Stevens’s bill rolling back the F.C.C.’s anything-goes ruling. It would reinstate current limits and also deny newspaper chains the domination of local TV and radio.

The Four Horsemen were confident they could get Bush to suppress a similar revolt in the House, where G.O.P. discipline is stricter. When liberals and conservatives of both parties in the House surprised them by passing a rollback amendment to an Appropriations Committee bill, the Bush administration issued what bureaucrats call a SAP – a written Statement of Administration Policy.

It was the sappiest SAP of the Bush era. “If this amendment were contained in the final legislation presented to the President,” warned the administration letter, “his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.”

The SAP was signed by the brand-new director of the Office of Management and Budget, Joshua Bolten, but the hand was the hand of Stephen Friedman, the former investment banker now heading the president’s National Economic Council.

Reached late yesterday, Friedman forthrightly made his case that the F.C.C. was an independent agency that had followed the rules laid down by the courts. He told me that Bush’s senior advisers had focused on the question “Can you eliminate excessive regulation and have diversity and competition?” and found the answer to be yes. He added with candor: “The politics I’m still getting an education on.”

The Bush veto threat would deny funding to the Commerce, State and Justice Departments, not to mention the federal judiciary. It would discombobulate Congress and disserve the public for months.

And to what end? To turn what we used to call “public airwaves” into private fiefs, to undermine diversity of opinion and – in its anti-federalist homogenization of our varied culture – to sweep aside local interests and community standards of taste.

This would be Bush’s first veto. Is this the misbegotten principle on which he wants to take a stand? At one of the White House meetings that decided on the SAP approach, someone delicately suggested that such a veto of the giants’ power grab might pose “a communications issue” for the president (no play on words intended). Friedman blew that objection away. The SAP threat was delivered.

In the House this week, allies of the Four Horsemen distributed a point sheet drawn from Viacom and Murdoch arguments and asked colleagues to sign a cover letter reading, “The undersigned members . . . will vote to sustain a Presidential veto of legislation overturning or delaying . . . the decision of the FCC . . . regarding media ownership.”

But they couldn’t obtain the signatures of anywhere near one-third of the House members – the portion needed to stop an override. Yesterday afternoon, the comprehensive bill – including an F.C.C. rollback – passed by a vote of 400 to 21.

If Bush wishes to carry out the veto threat, he’ll pick up a bunch of diehards (now called “dead-enders”), but he will risk suffering an unnecessary humiliation.

What next? Much depends on who is chosen to go into the Senate-House conference. If the White House can’t stop the rollback there, will Bush carry out the ill-considered threat?

Sometimes you put the veto gun back in the holster. The way out: a president can always decide to turn down the recommendation of his senior advisers.


Fisking John II

by Jack Robertson

Four more dead American soldiers in Iraq. Meanwhile, post-invasion debate here at home continues about the roles government spin, Liberal and National Party Parliamentary acquiescence, watery public language, politicised and timid bureaucracy, firewalling, dog-whistling and imprecise reportage played in helping John Howard temporarily sell his case for war.

Here’s another deconstruction of how the unilateral war-spinning worked, and also a reminder of how many people worldwide tried hard to counter it when it still mattered, using their Democratic freedoms and Parliamentary mechanisms (Britain and Turkey spring to mind, in particular). My comments are in bold.

1. The nasty in-swinging jagger is boringly dead-batted away through point:

Melbourne’s Radio 3AW, March 14, Neil Mitchell interview.

MITCHELL: Do you have any proof that Saddam Hussein is working with al-Qaeda?

A superbly crisp, clear and unambiguous question. A real cracker.

PRIME MINISTER: We have plenty of intelligence suggesting a number of things of the toleration of al-Qaeda people in Baghdad, of links between an al-Qaeda related organisation and Iraqi intelligence. Now they’re that’s the solid evidence we have of links.

It is of course no such thing, but by merging these two statements into one and slickly substituting the soft-verb ‘toleration of’ and the soft-noun ‘links’ for Mitchell’s rock-hard verb phrase “working with’, the PM has spun a sellable approximation of a ‘yes’ answer, at least as far as Public Opinion is concerned. The ball – though seemingly only dead-batted away – is never-the-less past the man at point and well on the way to the boundary.

What I have argued is not what some people have suggested, that I didn’t prove yesterday. What I’ve argued is that if a country like Iraq is able to keep possession of chemical and biological weapons, other rogue states will want to do the same thing and the more countries like that that have those sorts of weapons, the greater it becomes the possibility that they’ll get into the hands of terrorists.

Sure, John. But so what? The (implied and) direct question Mitchell is asking is DOES Saddam have possession of such weapons and DOES your government have evidence that he will very likely pass them on to al-Qaeda in future because, as Mitchell asked, ‘he has been working with them’ in the past? That’s the crux of Mitchell’s excellent question, in relation to the urgent matter at hand, which is whether or not we should help America invade Iraq. Your Tony Blair-esque answer: “Golly, Neil, wouldn’t it just be really bad if they do/did, and we didn’t do anything about it?” is irrelevant drivel.

That’s my greatest concern and that really lies at the heart of my belief that something should be done.

Duly bedding the drivel in with contrived conviction politics, those Newt Gringichian ‘good’ words – ‘greatest concern’, ‘heart of my belief’, and especially that classic slice of Talkback-ese: ‘Something should be done’, Neil! The ball is running away from the chasing point fieldsman; can he catch it? (For the Gingrich handbook of spin, see Grant Long’s piece in Spin, anger, ethics: Your say.

MITCHELL: Do you really believe Australia is facing its own Pearl Harbour?

Mitchell, for time or flow reasons, keeps motoring on ahead, unable or unwilling to stop, back up, and then pick up and pull to pieces the Prime Minister’s outrageous – casual – claim of ‘solid evidence’. Now third man is racing around the boundary to cut off the dead-bat shot.


2. The newsworthy bits are spin-snowballed into firmer shape by a third party:

From the Sydney Morning Herald report:

…[Mr Howard] said many were still undecided and he hoped to win them over. “In the end, governments have got to do what they believe is right and suffer properly the consequences or otherwise of their decisions at the ballot box,” Mr Howard said on Melbourne Radio 3AW. “You can’t make policy, particularly on national security, according to the latest opinion poll.” Mr Howard said Australia had solid evidence of links between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network, blamed for the September 11 attacks. But if Australia had to wait for criminal jury proof, it could result in another Pearl Harbour style attack, he said.

But the third man can’t cut it off, either. Or rather, he kicks it into the fence accidentally while trying to do so – that ‘solid evidence’ soundbite takes on ‘extra’ resonance and credibility when re-cited out of context and by/in the third person. Note, too, the way the memorable, simplistic ‘Pearl Harbour’ riff gets good traction. Howard/Mitchell’s out of nowhere segue into what is (at least) a middle-older electorate dog whistle security/invasion/border protection/ooh, they’re coming to get us! riff is bedded in here, with that (unwitting) clause-connecting ‘But’. What Pearl Harbour and al-Qaeda – let alone Saddam Hussein – ever have/had remotely in common, is militarily mystifying. Conservative wartime governments always fail by trying to fight the last war instead of the current one, of course, but JH should re-read Churchill’s History of WW2, methinks!


OK, so I’m sorry about the pedanticism (and the cricketing analogies), but this was utterly typical of how the case for war was sold. And once fighting started, the war was always going to gather public support simply on the basis of us naturally supporting our soldiers (look at Crean’s gutsy and honest but doomed attempts to split the two).

There was nothing politically courageous about the PM’s decision to take us into war. Nothing at all. Howard pretended it was all terribly hard and brave and electorally-dangerous, but I’ve got a hunch he loved every minute of ‘playing Winston’.

So what? As with the WMD lies and spin and hyping, I’m just a bad loser on the Saddam al-Qaeda link lies and spin and hyping? Maybe so. But those of us who opposed this invasion and occupation for good reasons did try hard to expose this kind of concrete, identifiable misleading back when it still mattered:

3. Futile Saddam-al Qaeda ‘solid evidence’ Counter-Spin Attempt One

In response to reading the precise 3AW quotes and the Sydney Morning Herald’s necessarily-truncated reporting of them, your angry, hysterical, feral Left, un-Australian, anti-Howard, linguistically anally-retentive but security and Westminster-Government respecting Concerned Citizen (who reckons he smells a dead rodent), tries in real time to by-pass the frustrating ‘Journo V. Spinmeister’ information barrier by cutting straight to the Representative Horses’ Mouths.

His instinctive scepticism of the PM’s public ‘solid evidence’ claim may be based on linguistic close deconstruction and his memory of the children overboard affair; publicly-available other information; the failure of the PM (or anyone else in the Coalition) to prove such claims; and especially the powerful (and personally costly) protests of experts like Andrew Wilkie. Or – hypothetically – his scepticism may arise from having recently spent Christmas chatting at some length with a loved one who has considerable recent experience fighting Fundamentalist terrorism, and who has spent the last six months on exchange with a foreign Special Forces unit that has been planning future operations against Ansar al-Islam in Iraq’s northern regions which are, of course, mostly beyond Saddam Hussein’s control.

Then again, this Concerned Citizen might just hate John Howard’s guts. It doesn’t matter.

For whatever reason, boldly, recklessly, rudely, hysterically, the Concerned Citizen takes out his trusty Green Cyber Pen and tries to encourage someone important and democratically-accountable to tell the public the full truth about the PM’s ‘Saddam al-Qaeda solid evidence’ claims, to help him make an informed decision about whether or not to support Australia’s commitment to invading Iraq.

From: Stephen John ‘Jack’ Robertson


To: All Australian Liberal and National Party Senators and MPs

Information copies: All other Australian MPs, the Parliamentary Press Gallery, ABC Media Watch, Margo Kingston’s Webdiary,, all Australian journalists.

14 March 2003


Dear Liberal and National Party Parliamentary member,

I draw your attention to the Prime Minister’s address to the nation at the National Press Club yesterday, in which the Prime Minister outlined his case for Australia’s frontline role in the impending American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. I draw your particular attention to his arguments about the general WMD and terrorism nexus ‘lethal threat’, and to his repeated attempts to give this added weight by linking, either directly or by so-called ‘dog whistle’ semantic agility, the terrorist group al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. I also draw your attention to the Prime Minister’s comments of today, on Melbourne’s radio 3AW, that your government has ‘solid evidence’ linking al-Qaeda and Saddam.

I put it to you that Prime Minister Howard is lying when he uses the phrase ‘solid evidence’. This phrase and the context in which it is used explicitly carries with it an implication that there is a direct terrorism-enabling and supporting relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. There is in fact no such ‘solid evidence’ to date of this kind, and you all know it. I draw your attention to the statements of former ONA officer Andrew Wilkie and the many, many repeatedly expressed views by terrorism experts worldwide that such a link to this time is both a) unlikely on account of the historically-apposite and hostile differences between Saddam’s extremist secular philosophies and al-Qaeda’s extremist theological ones, and b) in any case utterly unproven by the revealing of any serious evidence against that first principles argument.

I draw your attentions to the fact that not even the US Secretary of State has been able, or has seriously attempted, to make such a ‘solid’ link. I draw your attentions to the recent tape-recording allegedly of Osama bin Laden, in which he once more described Saddam Hussein, an implacable target of his past hostility and contempt, as an ‘infidel’ to be ultimately overthrown.

I put it to you that Prime Minister Howard is well aware that at best, any link at all between Iraq and al-Qaeda – such as those he cited on 3AW – has to date been purely incidental, and in no way could be characterised as solid evidence that the Saddam-al-Qaeda nexus is anything but a purely opportunistic and cynical lie, one designed to dishonestly lend subtle weight to his more general, and in any case erroneous and illogical, arguments about WMD and terrorism.

Member of the government, your Prime Minister is once again lying through his teeth to the Australian people. You know it and I know it. If any such solid evidence did in fact exist, it would have been presented by the US, Britain and Australia long, long ago. If I am wrong in my accusation and there IS such solid evidence, then he MUST present it now.

If the Prime Minister has a case for war, then he should make it without lying. I deeply resent being lied to by our government to win support for its dangerous, fear-mongering policies. This divisive lying and fear-mongering has been a Liberal Party tactic for too long, now. Your party is now tearing this country apart day-by-day, piece-by-piece. The Liberals will surely reap the whirlwind that your Prime Minister has long sown, even if he manages to retire in personal glory following a temporary triumph in Iraq. The strategic doctrine to which he is about to commit the Liberal Party will, of course, be with the rest of you for many, many years. That is your choice, I suppose.

However, since the Prime Minister’s lies on this occasion relate not to a ‘trivial’ matter – such as whether or not children were thrown overboard by Iraqis fleeing Saddam’s brutal regime, say – but to the matter of whether or not Australian soldiers, one of whom is my brother, will be committed to the first pre-emptive war in Australia’s history, I therefore write demanding individual acknowledgement from each member of the government as to whether or not you, as a member of the government, support Mr Howard’s claim that your Executive is in possession of solid evidence linking al-Qaeda to Saddam’s Iraq. Please advise me as a matter of urgency – personally, member-by-member, in writing – your answer to this simple question:


Your CANNOT keep lying to us like this, for Christ’s sake. This is WAY, WAY beyond party-politics and personal ambition, now. It will be critically-important for us as Australian Citizens, in the long and messy strategic aftermath of this invasion and occupation, to be very precisely clear on exactly which members of the Liberal and National Party Government that committed us to it stood where, and publicly so. For the public record.

Come on, guys, this is NOT NOT NOT in the best long-term interests of either the Liberal or the National Parties, OR the future of our two-party democratic Parliamentary stability. This is pure, one-man-band, Presidential propaganda, and we can all see it, as plain as day. This is political suicide for the Libs in the long-term, especially.

I require a reply to this email as a matter of primacy. You may ring, fax, email or snail-mail me at the addresses and numbers below.

Stephen John ‘Jack’ Robertson


4. …but alas! All our Concerned Citizen receives is more waffle and spin!

To be precise, a whole lot of vague, irrelevant tosh about UN Resolutions – a body which itself is urging the Coalition not to invade Iraq! (There’s also a rather silly government accusation that France’s opposition to the invasion is all about oillll!!!! Naturally, fellow Webdiarists, your Concerned Citizen ignores that silly conspiracy theory, too.)

From: Alan Cadman, MP

To: Steve Robbo

Date: 20 March 2003

A number of people, including Simon Crean, are saying Australia should not be going into conflict now but should be waiting for yet another resolution of the United Nations. Everyone admits Saddam Hussein has done the wrong thing. He should reform, but we should wait for him to agree to change.

The history of requests for this tyrant and murderer to change began in 1990 – 13 years ago. The words used by the United Nations to endorse and enforce the views of the nations of the world began with resolution 678 on 29th November 1990.

“Noting that, despite all efforts by the United Nations, Iraq refuses to comply with its obligation to implement resolution 660 (1990) and the above-mentioned subsequent relevant resolutions, in flagrant contempt of the Security Council …” (resolution 678)

2nd March 1991: “Provide all information and assistance in identifying Iraqi mines, booby traps and other explosives as well as any chemical and biological weapons and material in Kuwait, in areas of Iraq where forces of Member States cooperating with Kuwait pursuant to resolution 678 … (1990) are present temporarily, and in adjacent waters …” (resolution 686)

3rd April 1991: “Conscious also of the statements by Iraq threatening to use weapons in violation of its obligations under the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925, and of its prior use of chemical weapons and affirming that grave consequences would follow any further use by Iraq of such weapons …” (resolution 687)

5th April 1991: “Gravely concerned by the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq, including most recently in Kurdish populated areas, which led to a massive flow of refugees towards and across international frontiers … “


“Condemns the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq, including most recently in Kurdish populated areas, the consequences of which threaten international peace and security in the region …” (resolution 688)

15th August 1991: “Recalling also the letter of 11 April 1991 from the President of the Security Council to the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations in which he noted that on the basis of Iraq’s written agreement to implement fully resolution 687 (1991) … the preconditions for a cease-fire established in paragraph 33 of that resolution had been met.

“Taking note with grave concern of the letters dated 26 and 28 June and 4 July 1991 from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, conveying information obtained from the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission and from the high-level mission to Iraq which establishes Iraq’s failure to comply with its obligations under resolution 687 …” (resolution 707)

(11th October 1991: Resolution 715, 15th October 1994: Resolution 949, 27th March 1996: Resolution 1051, 12th June 1997: Resolution 1060, 21st June 1997: Resolution 1115.)

23rd October 1997: “Reaffirming its determination to ensure full compliance by Iraq with all its obligations under all previous relevant resolutions and reiterating its demand that Iraq allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to the Special Commission to any site which the Commission wishes to inspect.” (Resolution 1134)

(12th November 1997: Resolution 1137, 2nd March 1998: Resolution 1154, 9th September 1998: Resolution 1194.)

5th November 1998: “Noting with alarm the decision of Iraq on 31st October 1998 to cease cooperation with the Untied Nations Special Commission, and its continued restrictions on the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)…” (Resolution 1205)

(17th December 1999: Resolution 1284, 8th November 2002: Resolution 1441)

The United Nations and the Security Council have expressed in the strongest terms their condemnation and rejection of the Suddam Hussein regime in resolution after resolution, year after year. The expressions in resolution 1441 are not just a recent occurrence.

From 1990 to October 1992, all the requests were unfulfilled or ignored.

Nothing was done by the United Nations in the pursuit of peace. They made the strongest complaints and concluded all of their motions with the statement that the Security Council “Decides to remain actively seized of the matter”.

There has never been such inactive seizure of any important issue. Time and again the UN has requested Saddam Hussein to comply. The UN has complained when he did not take these resolutions seriously. The UN moved motions of criticism when he failed to comply, and said that they would follow through with strong actions. None of which they did. By its failure to act the UN encouraged denigration and non-compliance.

(On) 21st June 1997 the UN condemned Iraq for: “… the repeated refusal of the Iraqi authorities to allow access to sites designated by the Special Commission, which constitutes a clear and flagrant violation of the provisions of Security Council resolutions 687 (1991), 707 (1991), 715 (1991) and 1060 (1996) … “ (resolution 1115).

The UN has acted on the premise that it does not have to take action. Australia cannot be restricted to accepting that a belligerent decision by France in the UN can control our actions. The French decision to exercise a veto should not handcuff Australia. If the Chinese decide to exercise a veto, does that mean we should not be involved?

Such a policy allows anybody to make decisions for us, but we will not make them for ourselves. We would be captive to the UN veto-and it only needs one country to exercise the veto. One country alone could stop Australia exercising its sovereign right. We would never do anything the United Nations does not endorse.

France does not come to the table with clean hands. Saddam Hussein expressed the opinion to a Lebanese journalist in 1975, that his dealings with France were ‘the first concrete step towards the production of the Arab atomic weapon’. The first negotiations after the Kuwaiti war with Iraq for access to their oil were recorded in May 1992 when Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law and then minister for industry and oil, and the adviser of Monsieur Jacques Chirac started negotiations. Before bodies were cold, the French were in there negotiating for their cut of oil. The Iraqis preferred to deal with the Elf company because of its high political connections with the French government.

France should not be able to control our resistance to terrorism, genocide or tyranny simply because it has a veto in the UN.

My views coincide with those expressed in an email by an Australian Army officer to an Australian radio station. He said, “I’m catching snippets of Australian news up here yet the more I’m exposed to it the less I understand of the politicians. In my view the opposition is committing political suicide with its ill informed and puerile views on many related issues.”

He concludes:

“I fully endorse Australia’ involvement as a key member of the coalition in response to terrorism. The common belief that we are simply jumping blindly into bed with George Bush must be replaced with the understanding that peace is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity”.

Yours sincerely

Alan Cadman

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Oy, oy, oy, Alan – all I wanted was a specific answer to a specific question, mate, not a heart-felt lecture on the failures of the poor old United Nations! My thanks anyway to Alan Cadman, Liberal Party MP for acknowledging receipt in writing on the government’s behalf. And my apologies for not even bothering to reply to your waffling, side-stepping nonsense, mate. But in the end, even a Green Pen crank gets fed up with reams of rote-delivered government bullshit posing as individual Rep civic responsiveness.

On the other hand, at least Alan’s email reply is a sound written record proving that, if and when the Government starts trying to pretend that it was unaware of the doubts over intelligence assessments that there was, as John Howard claimed on 14 March on 3AW, ‘solid evidence’ linking al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, the Prime Minister can’t honestly claim that nobody tried to tell him.

Because as you can see, every member of the Australian Parliament was alerted in writing on 14 March to such doubts by at least one Concerned Citizen (and, in fact, millions of others, including counter-terrorism experts worldwide). Now that the (politically-delayed) US Congressional Report into 9/11 has indeed confirmed that the al-Qaeda/Saddam link was always, as far as the weight of the global intelligence community’s expert opinion was concerned, a great big pile of politically-manufactured bullshit, that angry Concerned Citizen wants to know why NOBODY IN THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION OR THE CROSS-BENCHES ANSWERED, OR PURSUED, OR WAS ALLOWED TO PURSUE, VIA A LONG, DETAILED PARLIAMEMTARY DEBATE ON THIS WAR, HIS CONCERNED CITIZEN’S EMAIL QUESTIONS IN TIME, IN DETAIL, AND ON THE OFFICIAL AND PERMANENT PUBLIC RECORD.

Firewall all you like, Prime Minister, but in my opinion, you were on 14 March this year, and you remain now, a liar. I respectfully request you to produce the ‘solid evidence’ of the Saddam al-Qaeda link you told us you possessed on that date, and if you can do so, I will happily withdraw that accusation and apologise. Alternatively, you should resign.

By the way, happy birthday.

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