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Evan Whitton
13 October, 2008  
The Witchfinder-General

We need a third verdict for people like Allan Kessing: guilty, but who cares … Having a cop run the Australian Crime Commission hasn’t helped … Bobby Zoellick and Dollar Pete Costello dancing together at the World Bank … Obama needs a margin of at least seven percent to win (because he’s black)


imageCNN’s Larry King, 74, isn’t just a guy with more braces than wives (seven) and a technique The 7.30 Report’s Kerry O’Brien could usefully study: the four-word question.

Mr King edited Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Phoenix, 2006). The books is thus about what a Melbourne subscriber to this organ called “the elephant in the room” (July 15, 2008).

An Alibris snip at .21 for the book and .89 for the postage, Mr King’s book collects the views of some 80 US contributors, mostly lawyers, on that excellent device for getting criminals off.

Several express surprise that beyond a reasonable doubt is not in the Constitution.

It is not there because the Constitution was written before the formula was invented, but you can’t expect law schools to teach that.

In his introduction, Mr King regrets that jurors don’t have three choices: Guilty, Not Guilty, and Guilty But Who Cares.

He says the third option, jury nullification, is a good thing when it sends a message that the law is bad.

Most lawyers would say that laws are bad when they push Australia in the direction of a police state, e.g. overly enthusiastic terror laws and laws which oblige the Federal police to hunt for witches among public servants who do their duty to disclose vile practice in the trade of authority, and reporters who do their duty to report it.

The latter put Mr Kelpie in the position, as it were, of Witchfinder-General.

This cannot be a comfortable position. His predecessor, Matthew Hopkins, was thought to have such a nose for witches that in 1647 he was suspected of being a witch himself.

Hopkins was subjected to the infallible witch test: he was tied-up and flung into a river. When he floated rather than sank, it proved beyond the slightest doubt that he was a witch, and he was fished out and hanged.

imageIn R v Kessing (Sydney Dizzo, 2007), it seems some jurors desperately tried to enter a verdict of guilty, but who cares?

Mr Allan Kessing (pic), a Senior Customs official at Sydney airport, reported in 2003 that the airport was not secure against evil terrorists, and that organised criminals – drug traffickers and baggage thieves – were operating on the premises.

The report did not get to Canberra.

In 2005, Kessing’s report was leaked to The Oz.

Startled, Jackie leaped into action, and eventually put up $200 million to address the problems identified by Kessing.

Mr Kelpie’s police were also on the job. If there were two crimes, one of leaking and one of covering-up drug-running and baggage theft, it appears that they could only get evidence of alleged leaking.

Mr Kessing alone was charged.

His defences obviously included the Prince of Denmark defence: where are the others? and that whoever leaked the report had rendered the public a huge benefit.

Judge James Bennet told the jury they must not take the public interest into account, and the prosecutor, Lincoln Crowley, said a prison sentence was appropriate to deter leaking.
The were out for three days. They asked Judge Bennett some 13 questions, and twice told him they could not agree, but he told them to persist.

They eventually found Mr Kessing guilty, without the rider.

Bennett gave him nine months, suspended. That makes him a convicted criminal, which I believe is a travesty of justice.

Mr Kessing’s appeal is on foot. We can only hope the appellate chaps find a way to find him guilty, but who cares?

ACC blues

imageIf the AFP’s reputation has not been enhanced by the Kessing case and others, including the interminable pursuit of an innocent Indian doctor, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) also has its problems.

It is thought that the ACC’s origin lies in a remark made in 2002 by the chairman of the National Crime Authority (NCA), Gary Crooke QC (pic), that got up the wick of that great drug warrior, Jackie.

Crooke said there is a case for decriminalising drugs.

The case is of course perfectly respectable. Taking drugs off the criminal list would put a lot of organised criminals out of business and save a lot of nice people in the trade of authority from being corrupted.

In Crims in Grass Castles (Pascoe, 1989), the (as it was then) Melbourne Herald’s Keith Moor quoted Victorian Assistant Police Commissioner Carl Mengler as saying:

“Over many years, [Bob] Trimbole compromised and got on side literally hundreds of influential people from all walks of life, probably including State and Federal police, State and Federal politicians, and others, including lawyers and public servants … I suspect … there are … members of the judiciary who are tied to the Family” (i.e. ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrese Mob).

Being hard on drugs thus tends to make you look, however wrongly, as soft on organised crime, but Jackie abolished the NCA and replaced it with the ACC, and for some reasons he wanted a cop instead of a lawyer to run the new body.

imageThere were plenty of high profile investigators who knew where the bodies were buried, obviously including Mengler and the Sydney ace, Geoff Schuberg, but Jackie, in his inscrutable wisdom, plucked a retired cop, Alastair Milroy, from decent obscurity.

Five years later, on October 3, 2008, Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker reported in The Age and the SMH that a senior ACC officer, Chris Enright, had put together a secret file on the ACC’s political master, Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus (pic).

The signature, “regards, Chris Enright”, suggested that the dossier was a briefing note for other ACC officials on their Minister.

Prime Minister Rudd will be wondering how many dossiers on him and his ministers are lying around in the bureaucracy.

Milroy said the Enright material is “unofficial personal notes”, and that an investigation is being pursued into how it was prepared and how it got out. That means a witch hunt is on again.

All things considered, it seems like time for Mr Rudd and Mr Debus, a politician with a famously safe pair of hands, to pull the ACC and the AFP into gear.

Billy Kristol, Bobby Zoellick and Petie Costello, global corruption-buster

imageBilly Kristol, 55 (seen here being struck by a pie), editor of Rupie Murdoch’s money-losing, low circulation (83,000) organ, The Weekly Standard (founded 1995), is a cheery lunar rightist with the enviable distinction of being wrong about almost everything.

In 1997, Kristol started The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a war lobby with the fairly hubristic aim of establishing US hegemony over the entire world.

In 1998, PNAC sent a letter, written by Paul Wolfowitz, to President Bill Clinton urging him to start a war with Iraq.

Among the signers was Bobby Zoellick, now 55, a graduate of an institution, Harvard Law School (founded 1817), which teaches would-be shysters the vital arts of artifice, chicanery, avarice, and, necessarily, that morals don’t count.

A lot of the PNAC crowd got nice jobs in the administration of the great Ozymandias of our time, George W. Bush. As US Trade Ambassador 2001-05, Zoellick imposed an Unfair Trade Agreement on Jackie and Australia.

In June 2006, Zoellick became vice-chairman of investment bank Goldman Sachs, but answered Bush’s trumpet when Paul Wolfowitz, President of the World Bank, was forced out in a corruption scandal in 2007.

Petie Costello, BA LLB Hons (Monash), said Zoellick was an excellent candidate and Australia would support his nomination.

The World Bank, founded in 1944 to reduce poverty, had gross disbursements in 2006 of $US12 billion and loans outstanding of $US103 billion.

imageThe bank’s projects in third world countries are notoriously victims of skimming; there is still a lot of poverty; and there is a view that the bank is merely an instrument of US hegemony.

It was announced on September 22 that Costello had accepted Zoellick’s (pic) invitation to take a part-time job on the World Bank’s new anti-corruption body.

Zoellick, who seems to believes a thin mo enhances his distinguished features, breezily described Costello as an “international statesman”.

All will wish Costello well in his important task, and we can assume there is no one in the old Wheat Board or the ministerial bureaucracy who can embarrass him or his new boss concerning Zoellick’s old target, the late Mr Saddam Hussein.

For nearly two years, Mr Kelpie’s troops have been investigating – in what little time they have left over from hunting witches – certain Wheaties who lavishly bribed Mr Hussein to get wheat contracts.

The investigation presumably extends to those who had guilty knowledge of the bribes and so may be seen as accessories, but I don’t imagine the matter was discussed, however obliquely, in Cabinet.

Obama’s 7 percent problem

You might think that Billy Kristol’s dreams of war and US hegemony were shaken by the billions spent on lost wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and finally died with the collapse of Wall Street.

Not a bit of it.

Randall J. (Randy) Scheunemann, a PNAC board member, is foreign policy adviser to the Republican candidate for President, John McCain, 72, and Kristol’s latest dodge was to persuade him to take on Ms Sarah Palin, 44, as his running mate.

McCain needs all the help he can get. He graduated 894th out of 898 from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, tended to drive his aeroplanes into the drink, and has some fearfully dubious connections.

There is a view that Kristol’s plan was that Palin might just win the election for McCain, and that she would be a useful war President when that sly dotard retires hurt or croaks.

A win for McCain/Palin is difficult but not impossible.

imagePolitical scientist Andrew Hacker noted in The New York Review of Books that the electoral system is rigged against blacks, and that some people lie to pollsters when they say the black man has their vote.

Hacker (by Levine) estimates that Barack Obama, being partly black, needs a lead of more than 7 percent in the opinion polls to have a chance of winning.

That does not seem to worry Australian punters who are backing Obama.

In the last fortnight, they have driven his price at Sportingbet Australia down from $1.40 to a prohibitive $1.15. The price for the candidate of the party of hate, McCain, has blown out from $2.90 to $5.00.