The following is a modified version of an article which first appeared in the Fiji Sun on 12 September, 2011 and which Blak and Black has linked to since publishing the following article. The Fiji Sun article was subsequently copied and published by the Solomon Star on 14 September 2011. I gratefully acknowledge the Fiji Sun as being the major source for what follows.
As the High Court of Australia deliberates its decision in the long-running Julian Moti Affair, three high ranking Australian public servants must worry whether they have done themselves a disservice by ruining the career of the former Attorney-General of Solomon Islands and his ascendant Melanesian constituency.
They are Miles Jordana – of “Children Overboard” fame, who became the fall guy for former Australian Prime Minister John Howard; Federal Agent Peter Bond who became the fall guy for former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty; and finally Patrick Cole who became the fall guy for former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
Over the last six months or so I have written and published extensively on the careers of the latter two fall guys – Bond and Cole. However, Miles Jordana has remained in the shadows, a man of mystery hiding in plain if shadowed sight. It is time to correct this oversight.
Jordana has been and remains an important player in the affairs of the Pacific region. He was the architect of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (“RAMSI”) treaty and was the author of the legal advice that facilitated the unlawful removal and rendition to Australia of the former Attorney-General of Solomon Islands, Julian Moti QC.
While ruminating on the fate of these three fall guys, I realised that I have reached that point in my life where the Tanakh takes on a more immediate relevance and so demands a more thorough investigation. As I was reading my Tanakh the other evening I came to the account in 1 Kings 3: the two women plead their case, the sword is suspended over the child, and then Solomon grants the child a last-minute reprieve, resolving the case as he determines the identity of the true mother.
But a tragic loose-end is usually forgotten as the story is remembered today, that being of the second child, who was accidentally smothered by its mother and scarcely acknowledged after its death. This child is largely forgotten partly because our understanding of the story is based on one particular version of the biblical text the Masoretic Bible. The dead child has more of a presence in other ancient versions of the biblical text.
So it is with the wondrous career of Miles Jordana.
When one reads the published curriculum vitae of Jordana one wonders how a man with a largely forgotten background has managed to rise to the dizzying heights of a Deputy Secretary with the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (“AGD”), not a mean feat by any standards. So, in order to shed some much deserved light of the forgotten career of the AGD’s own Miles Jordana I have decided to look beyond the Masoretic Bible of the Australian press to find the real Miles Jordana.
Jordana becomes Howard’s fall guy
“Lord, how this world is given to lying. Quite so, Falstaff, but there is lying and lying.”
Miles Jordana first rose to prominence during the so-called “Children Overboard Affair” when he was point man for Prime Minister John Howard on the issue. Readers will probably recall that day in 2001 when Howard and his team threw truth and the ‘rule of law’ to the wind in favour of political expediency, which is just another term for corruption.
For those who don’t recall the incident let me refresh your memories. In the early afternoon of 6 October 2001, a southbound wooden hulled “Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel” designated SIEV 4, carrying 223 asylum seekers and believed to be operated by “people smugglers”, was intercepted by HMAS Adelaide 100 nautical miles (190 km) north of Christmas Island and then sunk. The next day, which was the day before the issue of writs for the 2001 Australian Federal Election, Australian Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock announced that passengers of SIEV 4 had thrown children overboard. This claim was later repeated by other senior government ministers including Defence Minister Peter Reith and Prime Minister Howard.
Shortly after the rumors about asylum seekers throwing their children overboard began to circulate in the Australian press and almost a month before the 2001 Australian Federal Elections, Miles Jordana was told that photographs purporting to show asylum seekers throwing their children overboard were misrepresented.
Children Overboard misrepresentation – the timeline – compiled after first Senate enquiry
8 Oct 2001: Katrina Edwards – first assistant secretary of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – testifies that Jordana rang her asking for more material on the children who were thrown overboard such as their age and the number who went into the water. Jordana was sent a number of reports. No report ever came from Defence that mentioned children being thrown overboard.
10 Oct 2001: Jordana received a copy of the Taskforce “Talking Points” for the 10th October which stated, “15 suspected authorised arrivals either jumped or were thrown overboard by other suspected unauthorised arrivals.” No mention of children.
7 Nov 2001: Miles Jordana calls Jenny Bryant on 7th Nov to “refresh” Howard’s memory for National Press Club Address. Bryant says she supplied Jordana with reports from 8th Oct: DFAT SITREP 59. – HDHQ OP GABERDINE/OP RELEX 0800 BRIEF 8 Oct 2001. Jordana later tells Bryant they were not much help to him in preparing for Howard’s speech (probably because neither mentioned children being thrown overboard).
7 Nov 2001: Miles Jordana told by PM’s People Smuggling Taskforce chief Jane Halton that she has heard there are doubts about the photos and that they did not represent the children overboard incident. According to Halton, Jordana said that the Prime Minister’s Office already knew about the photos and they had it under control. The next day, The Australian reports that HMAS Adelaide sailors claim no children were thrown overboard. Asked at the Press Club about the claim, Howard dismisses it as hearsay on hearsay. He ignores a question on whether the photos were wrong. He reads from an Office of National Assessments (“ONA”) report that says children were thrown overboard.
7 – 8 Nov 2001: ONA report attachment warns Howard that the report he subsequently uses at the Press Club on 8 November 2001 is flawed. Attachment is sent with ONA report to Howard, but Howard claims Miles Jordana separated the two documents, only gave him the reports, and didn’t tell him about its flaws. ONA rings Jordana again on 9 Nov concerned about the way the ONA report is being used in the media. Once again Jordana does nothing to clear the record.
What is certain, is that Jordana was told unequivocally that the photos were of the sinking of the refugee boat on 8 October – the day after the Government said the children overboard incident occurred. What is fact, is that the Government never corrected the misrepresentation or conceded that the event had never happened, until after the 10 November election which returned Howard as Prime Minister for a third term.
The account of Jordana’s role shows that one of Howard’s closest confidants was aware of serious misgivings almost a month earlier, although it remains unclear whether this was passed on to the Prime Minister.
What is most revealing about the Children Overboard Affair is the fragility of the public service in the face of both ministers and more perniciously, ministerial staffers, which leads to clear failings in accountability structures and mechanisms.
Howard refused to allow Jordana to give evidence at either of the two Senate Enquiries into the Children Overboard Affair; the Australian public has never been given the opportunity to test the veracity of Howard’s statements. If Howard is correct and Jordana failed to properly brief him, this would be negligence of a high order. So what became of Jordana who so negligently advised Howard?
Jordana directs Australia’s national security
After so negligently advising Howard on the Children Overboard Affair, Jordana was appointed head of the National Security Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (“DPMC”), which was responsible for providing whole-of-government advice to the Prime Minister and his office on national security issues and on defence and intelligence matters. In addition, the division provided secretariat and policy support to the National Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Australian Government Counter-Terrorism Policy Committee.
In his role overseeing the National Security Division of DPMC, Jordana became the architect of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (“RAMSI”) and the Pooh-Bah (my apologies to Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan for so desecrating the Mikado) of Australia’s neo-colonial expansion into the Asia-Pacific region.
RAMSI was created under the Agreement between the Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tonga concerning the operations and status of the police and armed forces and other personnel deployed to Solomon Islands to assist in the restoration of law and order and security. It came into force in Australia on 24 July 2003, following an agreement executed in Townsville on the same day. The Agreement continues indefinitely, with Australian financial support reportedly exceeding one billion dollars during the first five years of RAMSI’s operations.
The legal status of RAMSI was and remains problematic, which has been an issue of contention between the Solomon Islands Government (“SIG”) and the major donor countries Australia and New Zealand on several occasions, most notably when Manasseh Sogavare was the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands and Julian Moti QC, the SIG’s Attorney General.
On the issue of legality, there has been no formal United Nations Security Council endorsement of RAMSI, beyond a media statement in 2003 from the President of the UN Security Council at the time of the initial intervention.
According to the Press Statement on Solomon Islands by Security Council President Fayssal Mekdad (Syria), UN Press release SC/7853, 26 August 2003:
“The members of the Security Council welcome warmly the collective action of the countries of the Pacific Islands Forum to support the people of the Solomon Islands in their quest for the restoration of law and order and stability. The members of the Security Council welcome the leadership exerted by Australia and New Zealand, in close partnership with other countries in the region in this regard. They hope that this important regional initiative will quickly lead to the restoration of normalcy and national harmony in the Solomon Islands and that it will facilitate a peace-building process and economic recovery. They encourage all parties to cooperate in promoting these objectives and to renounce the use of armed force and violence to settle their differences.”
It was the lack of formal United Nations endorsement and perceived Australian self-interest, in the form of ‘boomerang aid’, that was at the heart of the friction between the Sogavare Government and Australia. Sogavare had expressed his determination to replace foreign officials in the SIG with nationals, as a way of promoting homegrown nation building.
This friction came to a head when Sogavare decided to appoint Fiji-born Australian lawyer Julian Moti QC as the SIG’s Attorney-General. From the moment of his appointment as Attorney-General Australia had desired to ‘rid’ the Solomons of Moti, because he was seen to be an impediment to the proper workings of the RAMSI Agreement and for other reasons they wanted him out. Australia saw him as an impediment to Australia’s neo-colonial interests, so the long-dead and buried prosecution in Vanuatu was revived to discredit Moti and obstruct his access to the office of the Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands. That was the subject of careful and considered thought by Australia from 2004 to 2007. There was a segment of the Solomon Islands parliament who held the same view and when a change of government came about in 2007, that is when the plans to deport him were hatched and executed.
Jordana targets Moti
Jordana came from obscurity and rose to prominence riding the wave of the Children Overboard Affair, an affair – scandal is perhaps a more appropriate word – in which he became Howard’s fall guy and was rewarded with the Pooh-Bah of national security for his sacrifice.
What Moti meant for Jordana was the premature end of RAMSI as well as the prospect of mainland China’s encroachment into the Australian-protected territory of Solomon Islands which was being quietly charted by Moti. The premature end of RAMSI would also oblige Australia to pay out certain RAMSI related contracts, an obligation that over the remaining six years from June 2007 to June 2013 could run into many hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. A scandal of that magnitude would require a head and not just any head; it would claim the head of none other than the Pooh-Bah himself.
How to save the Pooh-Bah’s head? Depose the Attorney-General and it would be business as usual. From the time Moti was nominated by Sogavare to be the SIG’s Attorney-General his days were numbered as he potentially stood between Jordana and his next promotion. Perhaps more concerning for Howard, Moti became a bigger and bigger obstacle to Australia’s neo-colonial ambitions as his ideological influence grew in Melanesia.
A major issue impacting on Jordana’s plans was that the SIG’s Solicitor-General at that time was none other than the RAMSI-appointed Melbourne silk Nathan Moshinsky, who seems to have been professionally troubled about the legalities of extraditing Moti to Australia. His concerns stemmed from two core issues that rendered Moti non-prosecutable and therefore, non-extraditable: dual criminality and the Solomon Islands statute of limitations. Australia then removed all the stops in an effort to change Moshinsky’s mind.
At this point it is worth considering the exchange between Moti’s barrister Ian Barker QC and the bench during the hearing of Moti’s appeal in the High Court of Australiaon 3 – 4 August:
“Also my friend has said several times, and it is in the submissions, that it would have been improper for the Australians to have given advice to the Solomon Islands and that they had to go along without the benefit of Australian advice, it would have amounted to meddling in their affairs, but the evidence is quite to the contrary because when Mr Moshinski [sic], the Solomon Islands Solicitor-General, advised that the extradition could not succeed, Australia did its best to talk him out of it. I will take you, if I may, to volume 2, page 730, the last paragraph of that letter. It is again to Mr Bond and it is dated 16 October 2006:
Urgent advice is now required from AGD – that is the Attorney-General’s Department, of course – that may influence Mr Moshinsky’s position. I request that a copy of the aforementioned Cable be obtained – Then if we go to page 732, the last paragraph in that passage:
We were preparing a written response to the Acting Attorney-General of the Solomons indicating that we do not agree with his interpretation of Solomon Islands extradition law and its application –
Again, that is referred to at pages 882 and 883 of the same volume. Page 883, just below line 10:
23 Oct 06 –Australian Attorney-General forwarded a letter to Mr Moschinsky [sic] suggesting a more persuasive alternative interpretation that could be considered. (My emphasis)
Jordana’s “more persuasive alternative interpretation”
The more persuasive alternative interpretation referred to above was actually signed off by none other than Miles Jordana. At that time Jordana was a Deputy Secretary in the Australian Attorney-General’s Department and head of the National Security and Criminal Justice Group. What is interesting about the choice of person to sign the more persuasive alternative interpretation is that at the time Jordana signed this advice, both the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions (“CDPP”) in the person of Patricia Summerell and the AGD’s in the person of Joanne Blackburn had officers who specialized in extradition. Why didn’t either of these officers sign the more persuasive alternative interpretation?
While I’m prepared to accept that in a public service that had become increasingly politicized under Howard a fall guy could still achieve the dizzying heights of a Deputy Secretary responsible for National Security and Criminal Justice, I wonder what expertise a non-practising, non-academic and non-specialist lawyer could possibly offer as a more persuasive alternative interpretation to the Solicitor-General of a sovereign state on a matter beyond the scope of his portfolio? For someone who had no standing and qualifications to express any legal opinion on Solomon Islands law, how Jordana could even venture a more persuasive alternative interpretation of that law is astonishing.
What is of even more interest and concern is the covering e-mail that accompanied the more persuasive alternative interpretation sent to Moshinsky. The e-mail reads:
“For file, Miles Jordana only wanted to send the Moshinsky letter he signed if senior officers in DFAT, and the Minister were happy for it to go. As you can see from the file notes, a FAS [First Assistant Secretary ]in DFAT approved the letter, but it was not ultimately sent because Greg Mole did not want it to go.”
That e-mail was followed later in the day by one advising a number of interested parties that the letter containing the more persuasive alternative interpretation was going to be sent. It was sent by Anthony Seebach, Director Extradition, International Crime Cooperation Branch and reads:
I just wanted to confirm that the letter signed by Miles Jordana on Friday evening will be sent to Mr Nathan Moshinsky, Acting Attorney of Solomon Islands, this afternoon. The letter responds to Mr Moshinsky’s concerns about the application of Solomon Islands extradition law to the Moti case. That is, based on his interpretation of the legislation, the Solomon Islands may not be able to act on Australia’s provisional arrest request. The letter from Miles suggests there is a persuasive alternative interpretation that could be considered.
Greg Mole, the Chief of Staff for the Australian Attorney-General probably didn’t know that Nathan Moshinsky was not the Acting Attorney General of Solomon Islands but merely its Solicitor -General.Even so, he wasn’t comfortable about sending the letter, the FAS in DFAT who approved the letter wouldn’t sign it, the signatures of the officers in the CDPP and AGD who specialized in extradition law and practice don’t appear anywhere on the letter, but it was signed by Miles Jordana. Why? I have asked this question in the form of a Freedom of Information (“FOI”) request to the AGD. I’m still waiting for a response!
Jordana’s opinion: food for thought
What appears to have happened is that the more persuasive alternative interpretation became a hot potato that nobody wanted to sign, because there were concerns about the accuracy and impartiality of Jordana’s approach.
Why was the more persuasive alternative interpretation eventually signed by a Deputy Secretary with no specialist qualifications who headed an unrelated branch within AGD? Why was that opinion on a sensitive matter of national sovereignty for SIG to remain confidential only to Moshinsky, an Australian-funded official and not supposed to be distributed to his erstwhile employer, the SIG? The official answer to these questions will have to wait until I receive a response to my FOI request, however as a preliminary it is worth considering the implications for Jordana if Moti remained Attorney-General.
Moti had publicly stated his intention of lawfully terminating RAMSI’s unlawful occupation of the Solomons. This created a number of issues for Howard and Jordana. Howard didn’t want his Deputy Sheriff’s badge tarnished by being forced to back down on RAMSI, while Jordana didn’t want to be seen as the bureaucrat who wasted hundreds of millions of dollars of Australian taxpayer’s money to compensate for contractual breaches.
More importantly, if there was to be an investigation into why so much Australian taxpayer money had been paid to RAMSI-related companies in compensation for early termination, questions might be raised about the actual structure of those companies and where the real fruits of Australia’s ‘boomerang aid’ to the Solomons was really going. The potential political fallout from such an enquiry, coming on the back of the Children Overboard Affair, would have been disastrous for both Howard and Jordana. So Jordana became Howard’s fall guy once again.
Oil for Food
On 11 April 2006 John Howard made a statement to the Inquiry into certain Australian Companies in relation to the UN Oil-for-Food Programme. In that statement he identified Miles Jordana as being his Senior Advisor International from 12 April 2001 until July 2003. The issue in contention was not dissimilar to the issue in contention in the Children Overboard Affair:was Howard as Prime Minister of Australia aware of certain pertinent facts? As in the Children Overboard Affair, Howard denied all knowledge, he relied on his advisers. In this case it was his Senior Adviser International upon whom he relied.
Specifically, Howard was asked if he had read 21 cables written by officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (“DFAT”) identified by the solicitor assisting the inquiry. The period the inquiry was particularly interested in was from 1999 to 2003. Jordana was Howard’s Senior Advisor International for three of the five years in question. Howard advised the inquiry that he did not read any of the aforementioned cables, because they were not provided to him by his Senior Advisor International.
While I’m prepared to accept that it is mere coincidence that Howard relied on the same defence, with the same alibi in both the Children Overboard Affair and the oil-for-food scandal, the defence starts to rub a bit thin by the third attempt, but that’s what public servants are useful for, aren’t they?
Weapons of Mass Destruction (“WMD”)
In late 2002, the Bush administration began soliciting support for war in Iraq using the political slogan “coalition of the willing” to refer to what later became the Multinational Force – Iraq. To back up its claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, that administration referred to intelligence from Italy, Britain, and France detailing interactions between Saddam Hussein and the governments of Niger, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Specifically, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director George Tenet and United States Secretary of State Colin Powell both cited attempts by Hussein to obtain uranium from Niger in their September testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At that time, using information derived from the same source, the UK government also publicly reported an attempted purchase from an (unnamed) “African country”. In December, the United States Department of State issued a fact sheet listing the alleged Niger yellowcake affair in a report entitled “Illustrative Examples of Omissions from the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council”.
The classified documents detailing an Iraqi approach to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger were considered dubious by some analysts in U.S. intelligence, according to news accounts. By early 2002, separate investigations by both the CIA and the US State Department had found the documents to be inaccurate. Days before the Iraq invasion, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voiced serious doubt on the authenticity of the documents to the U.N. Security Council, judging them counterfeit.
In his January 2003 State of the Union speech, U.S. President George W. Bush said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” This single sentence is known now as “Sixteen Words”. The administration later conceded that evidence in support of the claim was inconclusive and stated, “These sixteen words should never have been included.” The administration attributed the error to the CIA.
Most people now accept that there were no WMD’s in Iraq and the whole thing was a fairy-tale dreamed up by politicians and their spin doctors in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable. In Australia we had the same crew peddling the same spin about WMD’s as we did about Oil-for-Food, Children Overboard and Moti – Howard and Jordana.
Like the fable that is King Solomons Mines, those caverns of untold wealth hiding somewhere in Africa, the African uranium story was equally mythical, but leads to the invasion of a sovereign state – Iraq – the destruction of its regime which was antithetical to western interests and the plundering of its resources for the benefit of the invaders.
How is this injustice justified? In the same way that the Children Overboard Affair and the AWB scandal have been justified – ignorance!
Imagine for a moment that you are a defender in a criminal trial, standing in the dock, responding to questions from the prosecution and you claim ignorance of every fact presented to you. What do you think is going to happen? You’re going to be convicted. Yet, Howard and Jordana have done just that on more than one occasion and guess what, they have gotten away with it. Is this justice?
Now here’s the story, an allegation which had been debunked in public months before Howard used it as one of the justifications for going to war in Iraq. How could he possibly not have known that there was no substance to that allegation? He relied on his Senior Advisor International, who at that time was none other than one Miles Jordana!
Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is an Australian government agency, established in 1989 under the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988 (“FTRA”) and continued under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act). Certain classes of designated services must be reported to AUSTRAC, in particular bank cash transactions (i.e. notes and coins) of $10,000 or more. AUSTRAC passes information on to other government agencies to help them act against tax evasion, organised crime, money laundering, and welfare fraud.
AUSTRAC is the last aspect of Miles Jordana’s career that I will rescue from the vagaries of the Masoretic Bible and restore to its proper place in his curriculum vitae. As Deputy Secretary National Security and Criminal Justice Group, Jordana has overall executive responsibility for AUSTRAC.
While I’m prepared to accept that Jordana did not move into the role of Deputy Secretary National Security and Criminal Justice Group until after the events that I will detail below occurred, he still has an ongoing responsibility to fully investigate the issues, which hasn’t been done, because they are politically sensitive.
In 2003 a former Commissioner for ACT Revenue reported to AUSTRAC that he had found evidence of possible illegal money transfers from the ACT Department of Treasury that potentially breached certain provisions of the FTRA. Nothing was done about this complaint or subsequent follow up complaints. It is almost inconceivable that in this age of heightened concerns about organised crime and terror, the very organisation tasked with tracing and monitoring potential criminal activity failed to act on information provided by a senior bureaucrat in another Australian jurisdiction.
The ‘rule of law’
One of the justifications used by European colonial powers when they began colonizing other peoples lands was that they were bringing the ‘rule of law’ to the “savages” of the Southern Hemisphere. This is the same argument that Australia used when it established RAMSI and when it has intervened in the sovereign affairs of other near neighbors such as Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. How can a country that so disregards the ‘rule of law’ within its own borders claim to be in a position to export it to others?
While there is lying and lying, any lies by senior bureaucrats, whether directly or by omission, which serve to mislead the public in order to protect their political masters or their own jobs is unacceptable. Any country that allows its bureaucrats to indulge in this type of deception cannot claim to be operating within the ‘rule of law’. More to the point, any country that allows its senior bureaucrats or politicians to engage in deception for political or personal gain should not be rewarded with the public recognition that comes with appointments to United Nations bodies, such as the Security Council.
While Miles Jordana’s career is significant because of his role as a fall guy for his political masters and the rewards he reaped by being such, he is not unique in Australia’s modern public service. Are these the standards that the developing nations of the Asia-Pacific should be asked to aspire to, or do the indigenous people of the region deserve better? I suggest that all the indigenous people of the region, including Indigenous Australians deserve better. Say no to corruption – say no to Australian interference in our traditions.
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