Bali Bombing compo: Howard Government blood money?

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In Bali for the APEC Summit, PM Tony Abbott is expected to acknowledge Saturday's 11th anniversary of the horrific 2002 Bali Bombings by attending a special tribute this morning to the hundreds of the mostly Australian victims who lost their lives and were wounded in 2005.

In this two-part exclusive, in which we publish part one today, contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence reveals for the first time that the tragedy could have been averted had a secret CIA warning passed on to holidaying Australian Army Defence Personnel, been shared with civilian tourists.

Lawrence also reveals how and how Rupert Murdoch intervened to kill any follow up investigation of the outrageous failure of the Howard Government to protect Australians abroad.


Hanabeth Lukes helps Tom Singer from the burning Sari Club. Singer later died from his injuries. (Image via The Age)

MORE THAN THE STENCH of coagulated Australian blood, burning flesh and potassium chlorate in this story of betrayal; is the stench and congeal of cover up and true lies; of murder and Murdoch most foul.

Under the once rigid political dominance and frigid discipline of the Howard Government, cradled in the visible hands of Rupert's News behemoth, this is a story but once told and like a cadaver missing its body parts, left to rot in the rubble of history and the mounting pile of Australia's dirty little secrets.

Moving forward backwards.

On August 27, 2013, in the company of survivors of the Bali bombings, the man destined to be sworn in as Australia's 28th Prime Minister made an apparently magnanimous statement that within the first 100 days of office he would move to retrospectively compensate each victim of terrorism since 9/11, 2001, with $75,000.

Only 78 more fitful nightmare sleeps to go for Australian survivors.

Seventy-five thousand dollars is rather a meagre sum.

Still, it is a Queen's Ransom compared with the $1,200 pittance we pay Afghanistani families if we accidentally kill their innocent children.

To my reckoning that works out to about 240 Big Macs per child. Sound fair to you ?

Buying time. Selling-out our hearts with our minds.

Back in November 2009, Tony Abbott introduced a Private Members Bill for restrospective compensation.

Whilst the Gillard Government introduced supportive legislation in June 2012, mean-spirited political expediency did not stretch to backdate the compensation, despite robust Parliamentary debate on the subject.

So, his August 27 announcement made for a compelling and justifiable photo shoot for Abbott, obedient student and ruthlessly ambitious heir to John Howard's legacy-style politics — makeover and make-up notwithstanding.

But why didn't Mr Abbott introduce such compensation when he was Minister for Health in the Howard Government, you might well ask.

Confirming that the Howard Government had thought about setting up a compensation scheme, he told reporters:


"...unfortunately this fell through the cracks. I regret that." 


Like Howard, his alma pater, Abbott has personally witnessed the sting of terrorism and its corrosive impact upon the psyche of a nation, including ours.

For some, its bitter aftertaste and emotional residue forever lingers. No perfumes of Arabia or minted mouthwash can sweeten the breath of those quietly dying from within, tormented by the demons of memories and recurring nightmares.

Many of our refugees and settlers have experienced this kind of terrorism trauma first hand. And not just once, but possibly numerous times.

John Howard was in the States visiting his mate Dubya, when a fistful of American trained Al-Qaeda operatives embarked on a plane hijacking suicide mission spree that included effortlessly flying unchallenged across US air space, slicing into the vertebrae of the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Centre and piercing the supposedly impenetrable defence and intelligence fortress known as The Pentagon.

Think of what more they could have achieved had they been well-trained.

In terms of information gathering, national security protocols, protection and guardianship of the American people, The Pentagon is it, babe.

It is the oeuvre of US frontline defence. Or was.

This audacious incursion by Osama Bin Laden's acolytes, of course, elevated them immediately to legendary martyr stardom.

In death, they became recruitment pin-up boys for Al-Qaeda.

Their rampant success was a tragic, shameful and embarrassing exposé of America's inept monitoring.

Floundering incompetence on that day was to reveal tragic flaws and systemic logistical defence, communications and intelligence failures. Across the board.

The lack of coherent tactical response systems and slow deployment is filed under inglorious infamy; especially given that eight years earlier there had been a wake-up call when terrorists executed a successful bombing hit on the World Trade Centre.

For the terrorists, 1993 was no dress rehearsal. It was the real deal.

So how come national security hit the snooze button on 9/11?

It was the American people and their communities and local leaders, including emergency services, and not 'the system' who ultimately saved the day.

Amidst the carnage and heartbreak, we saw breathtaking civic heroism and courage. It was the American people who shone and rebuilt morale; not the rusted Government machinery, per se.

But almost immediately, Dubya's Administration, aided and abetted by a coven of professional warmongers and war materiel carpetbaggers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers – along with other dealers in the machinery of death – put on their corporate flak jackets under their immaculate Brooks Brothers suits.

Boy, they were ready for War. Bring it on.

They included the likes of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, 'Bush's Brain' Karl Rove, and their mates, who specialised in outsourcing lucrative contracts and wars along with the Administration's conscience; at times some firms were not even required to put in a tender for the gig.

And 'mates rates' meant that you could collectively overcharge by not millions, but billions of dollars. Who said anything about kickbacks ?

Horrible crimes, misdemeanours and brutal exploits have been committed by these sub-contractors and today many face criminal charges, including the likes of  the notorious Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater/Xx Services/Academia, L-3 Services/Engility Corporation and CACI.

Compliant and nodding assent in all of this was the beholden Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, prone to tickling the ivories and like the others, fiddling with the truth whilst Afghanistan and Iraq burned.

The White House went into Black Ops mode and an indecent frenzy of spin.

Desperate to deflect from America's overall vulnerable intelligence attention deficit syndrome and faced with the apalling violation of The Pentagon, they called for blood and war, dragging a tarpaulin of lies over the smoking bodies, ruins and heartbreak, and blaming everybody but themselves.

Some of those lies were to lead to the military fistula that remains the catastrophic never-ending wars and seduced the 'Coalition of the Willing' invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the subsequent demise of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime.

Both broken countries are now supplanted with arguably more corrupt and brutal regimes, riven with convoluted religious and political sectarianism, relentless blood-letting and tribal feuds, ideological and idiotic infighting, and frightening gender wars.

If the Taliban don't get you, AQ and the wannabees will — especially if you're a little girl on your way to school.

There is now almost an hourly pulverising of innocent civilians and children on the front and backline, including from Drones, that Australia assists in despatching via Pine Gap.

Margaret Thatcher rides in a British tank in 1986 during the Falklands war.

The Blood Oath sworn by George W. Bush, John W. Howard and Anthony Charles Blair saw a triumvirate of politically needy men compelled to redeem themselves to their constituents and to their parties and, in Dubya's case, to his father as well.

What better way to fortify imperial manhood than to start a war or two.

After all, it worked for Margaret Thatcher. For a while.



And for a while it worked for George, John and Tony.

In an attempt to legitimise the invasions and warring, they knowingly fed the world with true lies that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that Al-Qaeda was operating out of Iraq.

At that time, it wasn't the case on either count.

Earlier this year, the courageous Independent for Tasmania's Denison, Andrew Wilkie, celebrated the 10th Anniversary of his resignation from the Office of National Assessments (ONA) over Australia joining in the invasion of Iraq.

On his website, he wrote:

Andrew Wilkie (Image via Wikipedia)

I was the only serving intelligence official from the Coalition of the Willing to break ranks before the war started.

Time has not diminished the shocking reality that Australia’s involvement in the Iraq War was not ethical, not necessary and not legal.

The Howard Government took us to war because it said Saddam Hussein possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that it was only a matter of time before some of those weapons were passed to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network.

But no WMD or evidence of cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaida were ever found. This was no accident, because the invasion of Iraq was based on a lie and no amount of Liberal Party revisionism of the reasons for the war will let the Howard Government off the hook.

That there has never been a proper inquiry into Australia’s involvement in the war continues to disturb a great many Australians. Two reviews have been completed, but they were deliberately restricted to narrow terms of reference and prevented from looking into the behaviour of Prime Minister John Howard, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer or their departments and political staffers, among others.

On the other side of the world, Bush had to save face.

After all, his Daddy was once Head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Crashing into the WTC's sentinels was one thing — a successful hit on The Pentagon was quite another.

Not a good look for Bush the Younger on his watch, especially when craving approval from Big Daddy.

Who can forget the time when Bush, on a warlust-building mission, told a fundraiser gathering at Houston

“…this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.”

As a result, Houston wasn't the only one who had a problem. The world had a problem. And his name was George W. Bush.

Howard's spiritual son, Tony Abbott, was in Bali during the second bombing on 1 October 2005, witnessing firsthand the ensuing carnage and relentless mayhem such terrorism unleashes.

Without question he too was among those many people who helped to save lives, administer help and offer comfort; in Abbott's case to those with whom he was later photographed. Their testimonies attest to this.

But choosing the 27 August date to make such an announcement involving Australian victims of the Bali Bombings is outrageous and contemptuous, not only of  lives lost of all nationalities, but of the still walking wounded, their families and friends.

It is an incendiary date and implies a sick joke. Who picked that particular date? And why did Abbott and his presumably well-paid minders go along with it?

Because it was on that very date, 27 August 2002, six weeks before the first cowardly Bali bombing on 12 October 2002, on John Howard's Prime Ministerial watch, a classified intelligence alert was issued by an Army security officer to travelling Defence Personnel, citing Bali.

But why weren't we told?

By 'we', I mean we the people. Civilians. The Great Unwashed. Tourists. Travellers. Happy Little Campers.

Why did the Howard Government allow Australian citizens and others to unwittingly walk in the line of fire?

And is the $75,000 compensation scheme merely a wily pre-emptive strike by the Coalition to circumvent any class action over its untenable secret intelligence warning?

To mark such a warning as 'Classified' and only for the eyes of a favoured privileged sector of the community is divisive and surely offensive to all sectors of the Australian family.

At Independent Australia and like-minded websites, we will not tolerate such ludicrous suppression of freedom of speech, nor narrow-cast intelligence.

We owe it to all the victims of the Bali Bombings.

Had this vital intelligence not been classified and instead been shared with all people regardless of ethnicity or career status, perhaps some of our brothers and sisters would be alive today.

Don't miss Part 2 of this exclusive, soon on IA.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

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