Hurricane Katrina brought martial law (off the books)
by Mary W Maxwell, PhD (Politics), LLB
This 22nd article in the series addresses a new question: Has someone, somewhere, probably in Canberra, decided that the Sydney siege is to be used to justify a greater military presence in civilian life in Oz? I will not be able to play the neutral reporter here. I advocate against such a development.
My background is this: I have seen local police departments in the United States (city, more often than state) get subordinated to …um… we are not sure. They have names like anti-terrorism squads and JTTF’s – Joint Terrorism Task Forces. (“Joint” could mean joint between several agencies or between local and non-local police.)
On the Streets of America
It began in the 1970s. At first the militarization of law enforcement was enabled by “the war on drugs” if you can believe that. Legislation for that encroachment was needed, as there are barriers against the use of military in law enforcement.
The main barrier is states’ rights. Each of the 50 states has the sole police power over its people. (Exceptions are so minor it is a nuisance to list them. The US Constitution designates a few crimes as inherently federal, such as manufacturing counterfeit money.)
Some federal laws invented by Congress also attach a penalty — let’s say dumping waste in a national park. So gradually there has been a build-up of some “police forces” relevant thereto. In this case, park rangers.
Since 1908 there has also been an FBI, federal bureau of investigation. It has no police power. I repeat: it has no police power. You’d hardly know that, though, as we see men wearing FBI jackets going around like they were the sassiest cops in Christendom.
How can that be? It is partly bluff. It is also that they sometimes walk into a city and asked to be deputized as local police (but still wear that super-macho FBI jacket). I’ll bet local cops hate this usurping of their function and their prestige.
The FBI also acts – this is comical – as I myself might act, making citizen’s arrest. Yes, it’s true. Mr Macho Jacket knocks on your door and says “Yer under arrest, you jerk.” Or words to that effect. Little does the person know that the apparent cop is only acting as a citizen, not a cop. Quel scream.
And now, thanks to anti-terrorism laws, there is much encroachment on the states’ exclusive police power. I mean heck, with all those Arabs hijacking planes all over the place, only an old fuddy-duddy would insist on the Constitution.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, folks on the ground had no idea who was bossing them around I believe that it was members of private security companies such as Blackwater. They have zip respect for people.
They no doubt received military training. That means you should be as rough with the people as possible. It’s all a part of winning the war. Even if there really is no war, we fantasize a war into existence. The human brain loves to focus on an enemy. And Congress love to fund war. It’s blank chequesville.
I am opposed to all this. I wish the Americans had not let it happen and now I want the Australians to avoid falling in the same trap
Back to the Inquest
During the inquest into the deaths of three people, Tori Johnson, Katrina Dawson, and Man Haron Monis, much has been said, so far, about the job done by police — especially at the end of the siege when NSW cops stormed the Lindt Café.
My attendance at the Inquest has been spotty. I missed many of the witnesses who may have talked about ADF involvement. Occasionally I saw in the newspaper that SAS persons expressed disgust (not in the Inquest courtroom) with the way the siege ended, claiming they would have done a more effective job.
Being the suspicious person I am (based on the aforementioned experience in the US), I suspected that the media had a purpose in dropping those little hints about the possibility of a better outcome if SAS or commandos had been give their head. Or somebody else’s head as the case may be.
To me it looks like “somebody somewhere” has a plan.
Jeremy Gormly’s Statement
Recall that the quote about Holsworthy came from a document that acts as a summary of some of the Inquest’s doings. You can read that “Statement of Jeremy Gormly, SC, Regarding Australian Defence Force Issues” here.
In it, I note that he has made a request for anyone out there in the public who can help him regarding the matter below. (You should contact Melissa Heris, the solicitor to the inquest if you have information.)
The issue is that Gormly found that “respectable journals” had quoted unhappy ADF personnel – unhappy, that is, with the final storming of the café. They did not give their names. (And as far as I know, thanks to freedom of the press, the journalists cannot be made to sing.)
At Item 36 C of his May 16, 2016 document, Gormly mentions two of the complaints (made by the mystery informers):
— “that Army Special Forces have better equipment than State tactical operations units;
— that had the Army been given control of the siege its commandos would have used rifles that fire a much heavier 9mm round, which is specially designed for indoor situations that involve citizens and were less likely to fragment.”
Of course this alarms me. It looks like this may lead to a recommendation that SAS handle our next siege.
Note: regarding the second item, just as a point of logic, if the military has those better bullets, is there some reason why the state could not acquire the same ones?
Who Was in Charge?
A different matter of interest to the Inquest is: who ran the show? Here at Gumshoe I have presented my shorthand notes of several discussions by police witnesses. Recall in Part 5, the evidence of “Dennis Albrecht” (that name was my way of avoiding his code name, Delta Alpha).
He was the leader of Team Tango Charlie. Then in Part 14 we heard testimony from “Officer A” (the cop who killed Monis). In Part 11, which was entitled “Holy Fuck; It’s Turned Real,” the shield bearer gave his impression of the chain of command.
Each man said he was not the decision maker. I believe it was in Albrecht’s evidence that it was stated the decision would come from higher up than his boss. Even Officer A who said he took his commands from Officer B, gave me the impression that Officer B was not the decision maker.
That is, even when they heard the shots that should have automatically caused them to storm the café, they still awaited word on the police radio. Excuse me, I am not dead sure of that — would need to get a hold of the transcripts (which, as I mentioned, the media have access to).
Perusing the Gorlmy Statement
Since the Gormly Statement is dated May 13, 2016, it does not contain the (later) oral testimony of any of those three men. I think it does contain what they sent in, in writing, plus reports of their official walk-through that took place in early January 2015.
Item 6 of the May 13, 2016 statement by Gormly says:
“It is well known that the NSW Police had management of the siege. It made the critical decisions, using NSW Police resources. It managed the siege from start to finish; that included the forced entry of the Café using officers of its Tactical Operations Unit.”
Mr Gormly would now have to amend that, I think, based on evidence given in June and July. It simply is not the case that “the NSW Police… managed the siege from start to finish.”
I believe SAC-PAV was in there. As far as I know it is their job to be in there when a hostage-situation is happening.
You must pardon me for the fact that SAC-PAV’s hidden involvement in the Port Arthur massacre (and I don’t mean involvement in the rescue, folks) has left me skeptical of any claim that Canberra was not running the show. Surely Canberra was in, deep, back in 1996.
Skeptics with bigger skepticism than mine say the “highest point” in the chain of command was not even in Australia. I am not going to go there today as I have zilch information about that.
But from remarks made by cops in the witness box, heard by my very own ears, I can say “Canberra very likely – yes.”
Speaking of my very own ears, there was no perception by my very own eyes. Whenever a cop was in the dock we were prevented from seeing him or hearing his real name. Thus, while he took the oath, the court was cleared. He couldn’t very well say “I, Dennis Albrecht” or “I, Officer A,” or “I, Claudius,” or anything fictitious, with one hand on the Bible.
(Actually, Bibles are not used in this coronial court. We did get to see expert witnesses, such as Lucas Vander Walt, take the oath and it was hands free.)
Conclusion, for the Moment
The Inquest needs to go explicitly into the issue of a possible plan to give more power to the SAS.
Surely we can judge from the Boson Marathon experience, that it is easy to overwhelm a community with a martial-law like show of force. No legislation was needed for the governor of Massachusetts (sorry — Assachusetts) to go on TV and tell the people that their safety required house-to-house searches.
None of that Ciceronian “Salus populi suprema lex esto” nonsense when there is a Muslim on the loose. Folks: you will obey.
I say if it’s going to happen in Australia, let it happen by the Powers That Be coming right out and saying “Gotcha.” That would be preferable (in my law-loving book) than using an inquest to make it happen by a side door.
I ain’t saying it is happening in this inquest. But I say we have to be alert for it.
— Mary W Maxwell can be reached at her website (that she has not updated in years for lack of time): ProsecutionForTreason.com
Photo credit: media.sacbee.com