Monthly Archives: August 2013

Obama, in a speech today amid a worsening situation in Syria, downplayed the possibility of US intervention without a UN mandate and the backing of a coalition:  “If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it — do we have the coalition to make it work?”  On the surface, Obama’s speech appears to be advising caution on Syria, but similar language has been used prior to previous wars.  Is this speech a veiled call to former Iraq War coalition partners?

Rudd has called a halt to the election campaign today in order to seek a briefing about the situation in Syria.  And on September 1st, Australia will begin it’s one month tenure as President of the UN Security council.  Is the briefing Rudd is seeking really about the US wanting Australia to exert pressure on the Security Council in favour of intervention?

Time will tell.

Today marked a National Day of Action in protest against the government’s PNG Solution.

3000 People nationwide marched in capital cities, with Melbourne leading the largest rally.  In Brisbane, speakers Penny Spalding from the Queensland Teachers Union, Greens candidate Rachel Jacobs, St Mary’s priest in exile Terry Fitzpatrick and other speakers addressed a crowd of 250, before taking to the streets.

Speech audio is available here (Audio recordings courtesy of David Jackmanson).

Photos of the Brisbane rally can be seen by going here, or viewing the small selection below:

PNG Solution Protest 24 Aug 2013

PNG Solution Protest 24 Aug 2013

PNG Solution Protest 24 Aug 2013

PNG Solution Protest Aug 24 2013

PNG Solution Protest 24 Aug 2013

PNG Solution Protest 24 Aug 2013

PNG Solution Protest 24 Aug 2013

Manning, recently sentenced to 35 years prison for releasing classified documents, has released a statement declaring her wish to henceforth be known as Chelsea Manning, and to be referred to with the feminine pronoun.

This isn’t an out of the blue announcement, Manning having often posted as Breanna Manning in chat rooms at the time of the classified document releases, and having lived as an out gay person for a number of years.

Manning in wig and lipstick.

This photograph was attached to emails Manning had sent to therapist Captain Michael Worsley and NCOIC Sgt. Paul Adkins, in which Manning expressed a hope that a career in the military might “get rid of it”, in reference to what she called “my problem”, the gender dysphoria that she has now come to accept.
Chelsea Manning has released this image into the Public Domain.

Manning has expressed her wish to start hormone treatment to more effectively live as a woman. Manning’s sentence will be served out in Fort Leavenworth, in the male population, where authorities have claimed hormone treatment is not provided to prisoners. Chase Strangio, a lawyer of the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT project, has said this raises “serious constitutional concerns”.

“The official policy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and most state agencies is to provide medically necessary care for the treatment of gender dysphoria, and courts have consistently found that denying such care to prisoners based on blanket exclusions violates the eighth amendment of the constitution.”

Chelsea Manning’s full statement below:

“Subject: The Next Stage of My Life

I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.

As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.

Thank you,

Chelsea E Manning”

The Bradley Manning trial sentence has been handed down, a sentence of 35 years for assorted disclosures.  The government had sought a minimum of 60 years.

The sentence is a mixed blessing.  Much harsher than many other whistleblowers, and many years longer than US servicemen found guilty of far worse crimes, such as the deaths of civilians.  But on the reverse side, Manning will see the light of day again, which is much better than the 136 year possible sentence he was facing.

A cynical view would be that the US government have manufactured this sentence in order to send a strong signal that whistleblowing will not be tolerated, yet at the same time forestall the protests and negative publicity that would follow a sentence that would have seen Manning in jail for the term of his natural life.

The sentence is expected to be subject to immediate appeal.

Bradley Manning US Army

Peace Convergence Media Release 21 August 2013
Jury unable to reach verdict after six hours in Rockhampton Tiger Ploughshares Trial 
After six hours on day three of the Rockhampton Tiger Ploughshares Trial the jury was unable to deliver a unanimous verdict. The jury was sent out twice and returned both times without a decision reached – ten voting guilty and two not guilty. The judge sent the jury home and will seek further clarification from the defence and prosecution on how to proceed in the morning. 
Evidence in the landmark trial has included the now infamous WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” footage leaked by Bradley Manning (to be sentenced tonight). The footage shows Iraqi civilians being gunned down by US military in an Apache helicopter. Baptist Minister Reverend Simon Moyle (Voices for Creative Non-violence delegate in Afghanistan) and journalist Donna Mulhearn (former human shield and human rights observer in Iraq) also gave evidence of their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
Mr Dunstan (71) of the Tiger Ploughshares Action was charged with damage to Commonwealth property during the Talisman Saber exercise in 2011. Mr Dunstan assisted the now deceased Bryan Law who rode a large red tricycle across the Rockhampton airport tarmac and disabled an Australian Army Tiger Attack Reconnaissance Helicopter in a creative act of disarmament. Mr Law used a garden mattock to deliver a blow to the military helicopter. The action was inspired by the biblical prophecy of ‘Beating Swords into Ploughshares’ meaning taking action to convert killing machines such as the Tiger helicopter into ploughshares or agricultural tools that promote life.
Mr Dunstan of is representing himself with the help of a legal support friend Sean O’Reilly of Brisbane. 
Supporters of Mr Dunstan will gather on 
Thursday 22 August
9am Procession from ‘Havachat’ 20 East St to Rockhampton District Court
9.30am Peace Vigil outside Rockhampton District Court 
Photos available on request and on:

Further information 

Simon Moyle 0407 951 688 or Treena Lenthall 0447 851 858
Downloadable flyer:

Peace Convergence: Media Release 16 August 2013

Rockhampton Tiger Ploughshare trial begins Monday 19 August 

with widespread support for the accused

Peace activists will be gathering in Rockhampton to support Graeme Dunstan when he appears for the beginning of the Tiger Ploughshare trial

10 am Monday 19 August
Rockhampton District Court 

Solidarity rallies will also be held by peace activists in Brisbane and Melbourne. The trial is expected to take three days.

Long time peace activist, Graeme Dunstan of, is charged with wilful damage of Commonwealth Property, namely an Australian Army “Tiger” Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter which was disabled by a blow from a garden mattock during the 2011 Talisman Saber Military Exercises.

WIN Tv news footage of the event show Bryan Law, dressed in a black suit and a Bob Katter hat, riding a tricycle across the Rockhampton Airport tarmac and striking the blow.  Mr Law died last Easter.

Graeme Dunstan has confessed to being Mr Law’s driver and assistant and is a charged as a co offender.  But Mr Dunstan is pleading not guilty to the charge and is defending himself with the assistance of Brisbane based nurse, Sean O’Reilly, as a “friend in court”. Sean is the brother of Ciaron O’Reilly, a Brisbane born activist, famous for his Ploughshare actions in the US and Ireland.

“Ploughshare” is a reference to the Biblical prophecy of Isaiah (2:4) about a coming time when “nation will not rise up against nation, spears would be beaten into pruning hooks, swords into ploughshares and we would study war no more”.

There have been more than 80 such actions since 1980, with three common elements:

1. being absolutely nonviolent towards people;

2. to remain and take responsibility for the action; and

3. to make some attempt to disarm a weapon and begin its transformation into something useful.

The Tiger is similar in design and identical in function to the Apache helicopter used by the US Army to gun down innocents in the Collateral Murder footage leaked by Bradley Manning and Julian Assange and which has had in excess of 14 million viewers on YouTube.

Dunstan will be arguing that the strike was an act of conscience aimed a raising public awareness to the true nature of the war in Afghanistan where the attack helicopters were to be deployed.

“Disarmament is often seen as an impossible dream; desirable, certainly, but utterly unrealistic,” said Mr Dunstan.  “It is precisely this societal torpor that the Tiger Ploughshare action sought to address.”

Further information

Graeme Dunstan 0407 951 688

FaceBook event

Downloadable flyer:

Peace Convergence: Media Release 10 August 2013

Melbourne Baptist Pastor to defend Ploughshare accused

The Reverend Simon Moyle of the GraceTree Community in Melbourne will be coming to Rockhampton to support and defend Graeme Dunstan in the Tiger Ploughshare trial which will begin the Rockhampton District Court on Monday 19 August

Mr Dunstan is charged with a wilful damage of an Australian Army Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter on the tarmac of Rockhampton airport during Talisman Sabre 2011. His co accused, Bryan Law, who actually struck the blow with the garden mattock, died last Easter.

The Reverend Moyle describes Mr Dunstan as “a spiritual companion” and says Dunstan’s willingness to risk jail and suffering in order to arouse the conscience of the Australian community on war demonstrates integrity of the highest order, not to mention exemplary citizenship.

“Civil disobedience is generally not well understood in this country,” observes the Rev Moyle. “But it is one of the highest duties of any person when their government is acting immorally or unjustly.”

Ploughshares actions take their inspiration from the Biblical books of Micah and Isaiah, which speak of a day when “swords will be beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks”.

There have been more than 80 such actions since 1980, with three common elements:
1. being absolutely nonviolent towards people;
2. to remain and take responsibility for the action; and
3. to make some attempt to disarm a weapon and begin its transformation into something useful.

Disarmament is often seen as an impossible dream; desirable, certainly, but utterly unrealistic. It is precisely this societal torpor that Ploughshares actions seek to address.

Ploughshares actions are an indictment on the imagination and moral commitment of contemporary society just to the extent that they are seen as outrageous, destructive, or utopian.

While most of us ask, “Why would we reduce or even give up our ability to kill?”

People like Graeme Dunstan and Bryan Law gift us with a confluence of flesh, steel and carbon fibre, and ask, “Why not?”

“In a time of perpetual war, it is high time we took that question seriously,” said the Rev. Moyle.

See full statement here.


Further information

FaceBook event

Simon Moyle 0402 857 915

Graeme Dunstan 0407 951 688

The Wikileaks Party in Australia is officially on the ballot in elections due to be held by November 30 this year. Wikileaks’ founder and its most famous personality, Julian Assange, will run for the Senate in the state of Victoria. On Thursday July 25 2013 they announced their slate of candidates, only to immediately suffer a DDOS attack for which US hacker @th3j35t3r claimed responsibility.

On July 26 the Wikileaks Party website was still down. An error message was provided by Cloudflare , a company which assists websites in surviving attacks by monitoring their traffic, detecting hostile activity and blocking that activity before it stops the original website working:

Wikileaks Party using Cloudflare

Cloudflare is already credited with protecting the main Wikileaks website from a DDOS attack in August last year. However, Cloudflare has a more sinister side, one that should give anyone connected with Wikileaks second thoughts about trusting any private information to it, and that knowledge has been public since 2011 thanks to Yasha Levine writing in The Exiled. Cloudflare founder Matthew Prince has a long history of working directly with US law enforcement, since he managed the anti-spam Project Honey Pot in 2003:

“Mr. Prince has…focused effort on providing enforcement officials with the necessary information and tools to prosecute violators of the federal CAN-SPAM Act and other anti-spam laws. To that end, Mr. Prince managed the development of Project Honey Pot, an Unspam community-service project that consists of a distributed system of decoy e-mail addresses that website administrators can include on their sites in order to gather information about the robots and spiders that spammers use”

So Prince happily says he has already started one company to work directly with US Federal law enforcement. His current project, Cloudflare is potentially even closer to the national security apparatus:

“We ran [Project Honey Pot] as a hobby and didn’t think much about it until, in 2008, the Department of Homeland Security called and said, “Do you have any idea how valuable the data you have is?” That started us thinking about how we could effectively deploy the data from Project Honey Pot, as well as other sources, in order to protect websites online. That turned into the initial impetus for CloudFlare”.

So, while the Wikileaks Party says it will be “fearless in its opposition to the creeping surveillance state, driven by globalised data collection and spying agencies”, and says it supports protection for whistleblowers, the Party is funnelling all traffic to its website through computers belonging to a company with close and friendly links to that very same surveillance state. This could give the US government very easy access to the IP address of all visitors to the Wikileaks Party website. How could this hurt Wikileaks supporters?

Well for example, one day Wikileaks may well release official Australian information that is embarrassing to the the US government. If the US Government had already issued a National Security Letter to Cloudflare telling it to retain details of which IP addresses visited the Wikileaks Party site, they could look at those records and see if anyone had visited the Wikileaks Party website from a government computer, or if an unusual or new pattern of visits had been logged in the time before the leak. If anything looked promising, for instance if many visits were logged from an Internet cafe that had never accessed the website before, that may well narrow the search for the leaker down a lot. Comparing records of visitors to both the Wikileaks’ Party website and the main Wikileaks website could make it yet easier to track down a would-be-anonymous leaker. These sort of techniques are how General David Petraeus’ lover was tracked down last year after she sent threatening emails from anonymous addresses connected to hotel Wi-Fi networks last year.

If we take Cloudflare’s assurances at face value, however, we have nothing to worry about. They tell us “If the NSA is listening in on any transactions traversing our network, they are not doing so with our blessing, consent, or knowledge“, and in the same post on the company blog they go into some detail about how SSL is used to encrypt traffic on Cloudflare, and why they think it is unlikely that the NSA is able to break Cloudflare’s 2048-bit encryption. Which is a lovely story to tell children at bedtime, but utterly irrelevant to your online privacy. What SSL does is encrypts your messages. So if you sent me an email saying “Let’s go to the pub tonight”, and I sent you an email back saying “Great!”, then an online snooper wouldn’t be able to read the contents of our messages. But what they could know is that you had sent me a short email, and that I had sent you a short email in reply. If that snooper already knew that the two of us often go to the pub, and that we usually arrange our drinking by email, it’s pretty easy to work out, without breaking any encryption, where she could snoop on us that evening. This is described in much more detail in a paper by Shuo Chen, Rui Wang, Xiao Feng Wang and Kehuan Zhang (pdf file):

“Specifically, we found that surprisingly detailed sensitive information is being leaked out from a number of high-profile, top-of-the-line web applications in healthcare, taxation, investment and web search: an eavesdropper can infer the illnesses/medications/surgeries of the user, her family income and investment secrets, despite HTTPS protection; a stranger on the street can glean enterprise employees’ web search queries, despite WPA/WPA2 Wi-Fi encryption”.

So the NSA may not be “listening in”. But they don’t have to listen in, as such, to find out a lot about you.

What has Cloudflare already provided the US government? We can get some idea by looking at another part of that Cloudflare blog post:

“To date, CloudFlare has never received an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court…As a policy, we challenge any orders that have not been reviewed and approved by a court. As part of these challenges, we always request the right to disclose at least the fact that we received such an order but we are not always granted that request…CloudFlare fully supports the calls for transparency today by other web companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. At a minimum, we request the law be updated to allow companies to disclose the number of FISA orders and National Security Letters (NSLs) they have received”.

So Cloudflare mentions orders from the secret FISA court, and National Security Letters. They deny that they’ve ever received FISA orders, but don’t deny receiving any National Security Letters. So we can infer that they have received NSLs, and that they have complied with them. In their security policy they say:

“It is possible that CloudFlare may be required by court order to provide information about our customers. CloudFlare may also be required to provide information pursuant to law, applicable regulation, subpoena or other legal process”.

Which once again implies that while they may challenge orders that are not issued by a court, in the end they are willing to comply with US Government orders for information.

When I asked the Wikileaks Party on Twitter why they were using Cloudflare, I was answered by their Chief Technology Officer who apparently chooses to be known online only as @karwalski. Karwalski said that Cloudflare was keeping the site online despite the attack. When I asked why Wikileaks was funnelling information through servers of an organisation closely linked to the national security state, karwalksi asked if I had an alternative suggestion. I responded that it wasn’t my job to help Wikileaks do it’s job of protecting the privacy of visitors to its site (19), and was told:

“Ok, you had better not ever be a passenger or driver of a car, they are dangerous. Cool logic dude“.

So that’s what the Wikileaks Party in Australia thinks of your privacy. If you’re ever thinking of leaking anything to anyone, don’t let it be to Wikileaks – you can’t trust them with your online security.



After a week of me calling out the Wikileaks Party by name on Twitter about the privacy risks with their website, Assange’s running-mate in Victoria, Leslie Cannold, finally decided to respond tonight (Monday August 12 2013), when Twitter user @BenHarkin asked her about it:

It’s not my area of control or expertise. If tone were different I would have referred it. But rude irks me. @benharkin @djackmanson

So, there’s some handy information. If you want to hold the Wikileaks Party accountable for anything bad they might be doing, remember that you have to ask nicely, or they don’t have to worry about it.


Cannold thinks my rude, aggressive, presumptious tone should insulate the WikiLeaks Party from answering questions about the security risk its website poses to visitors:

U r outrageously rude & entitled. I wouldn’t dream of following yr barked orders in real life & won’t online. @djackmanson @benharkin

I thought Wikileaks was all about aggressive journalists demanding answers and accountability from the powerful?

Members of Peace Convergence, The Greens and other anti-war groups met today at Luggage Point to share their message of peace.

Headline for the protest from Robin Taubenfeld: “US nuclear warship in our port? US-AUS games in our region? Bombs dropped on the reef? Bradley Manning in prison? Live firing and bombing practice are planned for this weekend at Shoalwater Bay! Just say no! ”

The protest was small but attracted interest from sightseers, including a US navy sailor scrutinising the protesters through Binoculars.

Photos below.

(full photoset here)


Anti-War Protest USS George Washington
Protester show pictures of war affected children from Iraq.

Anti-War Protest USS George Washington
Displaying the banners.

Anti-War Protest USS George Washington
Peace Flag.

Anti-War Protest USS George Washington

Anti-War Protest USS George Washington
Andy Paine sings some peace songs.