105 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Michael – In my book Monckton is essentially a self appointed PR guy. His flavour of AGW scepticism is simplified for the mass market. He would not be high on my list of people to consult for a detailed understanding of AGW scepticism. I think a lot of the criticism of Moncktons simplified version is naturally reasonable, but also simplistically seeks to throw out the sceptic baby with the sceptic bath water. It is comparable to judging the sophistication of the finance industry on the basis of a single retail investment seminar time share appartments. Or perhaps like judging the AGW theory on the basis of a Green Peace brochure handed out on mainstreet.

    Gerard – I think if we had a comprehensive wiki on climate science it could be useful. In terms of whether anybody could edit it I’m not sure that this would necessarily be the best approach. As I indicated it may well need a different rule that that used by wikipedia. In particular the rules associated with citations might need to be more specific. I would however expect that such a system if done well would allow critical input by the general public in some form or other. Perhaps the rule set might be along the lines suggested for Citizendium which excludes anonymous contribution and provides an elevated standing for recognised subject matter experts.

    http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/CZ:About

    The benefit of a wiki is that it fully captures all input from all parties and leaves an audit trail for who changed what. The IPCC is supposed to be transparent and to keep records on review feedback and decision making regarding such feedback however in practice it seems to be pretty awful at delivering on transparency and on retaining an audit trail on how and why feedback is rejected / accepted. A wiki style approach could in theory streamline this substantially. However I’m merely offering a creative suggestion and this isn’t a highly developed proposition.

  2. Hence your problem. It seems to me you were engaging in a bourgeois stereotype.

    Not all the communists in the West in the 70s were supportive of the Russian system.

    The Trots, for example.

  3. Poor SJ

    most of us are able to understand common words and phrases.

    And more of us USE common phrases and words.

    Anyway, who really wants to deal with vague statements as:

    you read something into smiths’ words that just wasn’t there.

    where this supposed “something” is not stated.

    smiths simply tried to refer to some mass murder without referring to all mass murder.

    If you want to refer to mass murder then you need some rigor. In some circumstances this is pandering to bourgeois stereotypes. It is important to recognise all mass murder, not just some convenient some.

    I won’t need to pay any attention to you in future.

    Yes, that’s probably best for all concerned.

  4. @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Disbanding the CRU is a ridiculous suggestion by climate audit. Objective discussion about whether the data products meet their specified goals is reasonable. It is going too far to first pound CRU with more than 100 FOIAs, 40 of which were clearly coordinated to harrangue particular staff at CRU, and then to argue that they aren’t on top of the job they are “meant” to be doing. The CRU staff cannot respond in kind and nor can they ignore vexatious FOIAs. Have a look at what Phil Jones had to say about what happened, from his perspective.

    He also suspected that the CRU was the target of a co-ordinated attempt to interfere with its work — a suspicion that hardened into certainty when, over a matter of days, it received 40 similar FoI requests. Each applicant asked for data from five different countries, 200 in all, which would have been a daunting task even for someone with nothing else to do. It was clear to Jones that the attack originated from an old adversary, the sceptical website Climate Audit, run by Steve McIntyre, a former minerals prospector and arch climate sceptic.

    Perhaps Climate Audit ought to ‘fess up and then disband.

  5. smiths,
    Good to see you again.
    Let’s start with a quick (and rhetorical) question. Who was it that granted those privileges to the BIS? Of course – the free market can do that. Wonderful thing that free market.
    In reality (remember reality?) though, the BIS is owned by the world’s central banks (not a private bank in the shareholder list any more, although there were a few early on) and handles the transactions between those banks and no-one else. It also acts in an advisory role to central banks and governments on banking policy and houses the BCBS which writes the advisory rules on bank regulation as agreed between the world’s (well, at least 13 of them) regulators.
    Fabulous “…private bank made up of private banks…” that one, huh.
    The good part of seeing you here again is that you are so prejudiced against the freedom of the individual to interact economically that you make whopping errors like that one.

  6. I read your taxonomy of denialists – mildly amusing…anyway, what about the people that simply don’t care. We’re not lobbyists for the Oil Industry , we just don’t care about climate change – we don’t care about rising sea levels or melting glaciers. Why should we have to pay a tax on something we don’t care about? It’s fascism pure and simple. I don’t care how many parts per million of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. If you’re gonna tax people – at least do it for something that will help people right here right now today – Bjorn Lomborg is right – you don’t have to deny AGW to be against it – I don’t deny it , i simply don’t care

  7. @Xander Burrows

    Freelander is right. The Golden Rule applies. If you don’t feel you have obligations to others, then in your opinion, others need not feel obligations towards you, so your observation is just white noise. In this case, those who mistake your whote noise for ideas would be predisposed to act in ways that protect the interests of filth merchants. You and everyone can then be “taced” by filth and declining ecosystem services. Neiother that nor anything you have claiemd is any kind of fascism, but as you say, you don’t care what others think so when you use words, like Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland, they mean just what you want them to mean.

    Lomborg’s claim is just as silly. Lomborg proposes no specific expenditure on programs to improve the welfare of other humans, nor any way such programs could be implemented effectively or cost efficiently if the climate anomaly is not brought under control. There’s no reason he should have of course. He’s a game theorist rather than a humanitarian whose book was shown to be dishonest and sloppy. It too is simply socio-politcal patter aimed at protecting the interests of the priviliged through inaction on human need, dressed up as the apparent but hackneyed idea that one cannot work on more than one program at a time or in coherent concert..

  8. Donald – We disagree on the nature an intent of the FOI requests. There is plenty in the leaked emails to indicate that Phil Jones deliberately obstructed perfectly reasonable FOI requests. And in fact he conspired to destroy data that was subject to FOI requests. The man is without honour.

  9. Freelander @ 7 said;

    “You will be happy to know we don’t care about you either. Hence, if it were possible you would be paying double.”

    We also don’t care that an ETS is not going to stop carbon increasing in the atmosphere at the rate 1.5ppm per year. All we want to do is charge you double with this great big new tax so we can redistribute your wealth through people like Conroy to our mates.

  10. Terje writes:

    “In my book Monckton is essentially a self appointed PR guy. His flavour of AGW scepticism is simplified for the mass market.”

    Interesting. The reality is, Monckton is not a self appointed PR guy but a person who was invited, was supported by Ian Plimer, and received $100,000.

    The notion of ‘mass market’ is insulting to the public because it amounts to assuming that people who are busy working to make a living and a profit (‘free cash flow’) for whoever paid the $100,000 are idiots. These people, the so-called ‘mass market’ are not idiots! Intelligent people, like Malcolm Turnbull, who happen to have been successful in their profession and in business, do not treat ‘the mass market’ as consisting of idiots. There is a distinction to be drawn between assuming others are idiots and not suffering fools lightly.

    Contrast Terje’s opinion with the interview of Professor Oppenheimer on the 7:30 report http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s2810662.htm.

    Professor Oppenheimer does not try to find weasel words. He does not sit on the fence. He does not paper over anything. However, he also puts the discovered errors in the IPCC report in perspective. To the best of my knowledge, in all areas of sincere research one distinguishes between an error that needs to be corrected for the sake of accuracy and an error that destroys the results. Professor Oppenheimer made it quite clear on national television that the errors do not destroy the results.

    Comparing Professor Oppenheimer’s public interview with Terje’s public statement, the difference between professionalism, where the public is not treated as a ‘mass market’ to be serviced by people like Monckton, and special interest groups – political or otherwise – becomes very clear.

  11. I think a couple of considerations show that Australia has a lot of leverage in global carbon emissions. First the Clive Palmer project to export coal to China; that seems to reinforce the belief that the Chinese need to burn vast amounts of coal without hindrance. If as some predict the Chinese run short of coal in a few years their low labour costs won’t be enough to save them from a slump. Reducing not increasing coal exports could force global carbon cuts much more effectively than a weak ETS at home.

    Second it seems to me that boat people and overseas students with dodgy diplomas essentially want to join our ’25 tonne lifestyle’. That’s per capita CO2 emissions. Perhaps Wayne Swan can explain why these people are trying to get away from populous countries if high population is such a good thing.

    Therefore I suggest that Australia is not only the world’s swing producer of coal but we set a false aspiration level for the rest of the world. We physically can and morally should influence global carbon emissions.

  12. ahh andrew, this quotes for you …

    Agrarian and progressive interests, led by William Jennings Bryan, favored a central bank under public, rather than banker, control. But the vast majority of the nation’s bankers, concerned about government intervention in the banking business, opposed a central bank structure directed by political appointees.

    The legislation that Congress ultimately adopted in 1913 reflected a hard-fought battle to balance these two competing views and created the hybrid public-private, centralized-decentralized structure that we have today.

    2006, Donald L. Kohn, vice chairman of the Board of Governors

    in my opinion, anyone who believes this statement that the public interests are balanced with bankers interests is a muppet

  13. smiths,
    Perhaps not as much as a muppet as someone who believes that the BIS is a private bank run by private banks. Or someone that believes that the Fed is anything other than just another national regulator.

  14. @Tony G

    Barnaby Joyce thinks the science on climate change ‘doesn’t add up’. Is this a reflection of the science, or of Barnaby’s well known problem with numbers?

  15. @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Phil Jones has himself – in the news article I linked for you to read, Terje – admitted to not treating some of the FOIs appropriately, and he will pay for that I have little doubt.

    However, it is a big stretch to claim that “he is a man without honour”, as you have done, Terje. As I have explained several times now, the 40 odd FOIs that each asked for data on 5 different countries, in such a manner that the aggregated results of those 40 FOIs is a set of data for approximately 200 countries, is a reasonable indication of prior communication among the 40 FOI requesters.

    Why not roll it all up and just have one FOI that asks for all 200 countries worth of data?
    The simplest and most transparent reason for 40 separate requests is to snow Phil Jones and CUR under with an impossibly large number of separate detailed responses. As Phil Jones and others have explained, there is a legal requirement pertaining to the minimum amount of time spent on analysis of an FOI request – going through records, establishing what is being actually asked, whether there are any confidentiality or security issues and the like.
    The arithmetic is 40 x 18hrs = 720hrs minimum versus 1 x 18hrs = 18hrs minimum.

    Given the discussions I have seen in the blogosphere concerning the UK FOI Act, I have little doubt that the 40 odd FOI requesters were coached on how to maximise the burden upon the CRU staff. If you are looking for people without honour, Terje, perhaps this is the place to start.

    Let’s not f**k around here. The strategy is to snow under the CRU, and then as individual staff buckle, to point the finger at them and say “Look how bad they are!”

    The problem is that this strategy has been a stunning success and will almost certainly be repeated on other targets. I hope to the God of Atheism, aka Reason, that good sense will prevail.

  16. Terje is just playing games – NONE of the antics around the CRU theft, minor errors in the non-peer reviewed parts of the IPCC report or the opinions of the blogosphere amount to a case for informed scepticism about global warming. What they do affect is the public debate (and that’s sometimes the intent, and often people think the public debate is in some way connected to the science.

    To put it as succinctly as possible – global warming is based on uncontested understandings in physics and chemistry that are used in every sort of way daily – in power stations, jet engines, air conditioning systems and much else. yet the internet is not over-run with clowns positing a vast conspiracy among aeronautical engineers or power station designers, despite regular aircraft crashes and the occasional power station mishap.

    If it were happening somewhere else it would not get much more than an mention on the science section of the papers (we established decades ago that CO2-induced warming is a major part of why Venus is very hot – I do not recall anyone screaming for an audit of Venusian climate science). As the earth’s climate is a complex (but bounded) system, there is the possibility that some so-far unknown feedback will limit sensitivity or counter warming. We have so far failed to find such feedbacks, and the work on paleoclimates does not support their existence.

    The basics of why its uncontroversial among scientists is available to anyone with a good high school education. So all the screaming is not about the science – it’s about the unwelcome nature of the message. No amount of science will make that go away, nor will audits or wikis (or, on past form, will information, attempts at education or whacks with a stick). There’s no point in the argument unless you are in a debating society and enjoy defending the indefensible for the fun of it.

    More interestingly, there were parts of the Abbot program I found myself in sympathy with – funding some obvious winners avoids the gaming markets are prone to, and tree-planting is useful both to soak up CO2 and mitigate some effects of warming – and needs to be done by people with a good knowledge of the local ecology rather than as an exercise in market returns. The scale proposed is pitiful, but I thought the public reaction was reasonable given recent experience with market solutions and an awareness that there’s multiple issues to deal with, so a single solution is probably not going to hack it.

    That said, the Coaltion program is a joke – too small where it matters, and informed by the spectatular ignorance that keeps Terje and others posting.

  17. EG – Monckton is not me and I’m not responsible for how he treats people even if I choose to discuss it.

    Donald – 18 hours is apparently how many hours you must exceed before you can charge for an FOI. Many of the FOIs sought the same information so there would have been significant economies. And many of them would never have been needed in the first place if Phil Jones wasn’t so hostile to transparency. I don’t have any really pity for the claim that the FOI chore was too onerous.

  18. ok andrew, what does it mean to say a central bank is fully independent of a federal government?
    for example
    “The Bank deutscher Länder (precursor to Bundesbank) was independent of German political bodies from the start, including the federal German government”
    “The Deutsche Bundesbank was the first central bank to be given full independence
    “The design of the ECB was modelled on the German Bundesbank, in particular on its political independence.
    “The ECB is designed to be independent of political interference. It also has financial independence by virtue of its having its own budget, separate from the EU’s budget, sourced from national central banks..”

    “A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a banking institution granted the exclusive privilege to lend a government its currency. Like a normal commercial bank, a central bank charges interest on the loans made to borrowers, primarily the government of whichever country the bank exists for”
    “Most richer countries today have an “independent” central bank”
    “Some central banks are publicly owned, and others are privately owned. For example, the United States Federal Reserve is a quasi-public corporation.”

    what is quasi-public?
    and what kind of state bank creates money and lends it to itself at interest?
    you are right that i am confused …
    none of this stuff makes sense

  19. “The Federal Reserve today is thus a regionally dispersed institution with both government and private interests represented in its ownership and control.
    Initially, the government was represented on the seven member Board of Governors by the secretary of the Treasury and the Comptroller of the Currency. In 1935, Congress removed these two officials from the Board in an effort to strengthen the Federal Reserve’s independence
    The creation of the district banks as separate corporate entities with local boards of directors and member banks as stockholders was a key aspect of the Federal Reserve Act

    FRBNY Quarterly Review/Spring 1994

  20. smiths,
    You were referring to the BIS when you were making a fool of yourself about “…a private bank made up of private banks… ” here. Just because a central bank is nominally independent of the government no more makes it a private bank than the fact that the police are nominally independent of government makes them a private security firm.
    Give it up, mate. You are on a hiding to nothing on this one. That said, this seems to be normal.

  21. @Chris Warren

    I am not sure what a “running dog” is.

    A greyhound or similar used in contests, commonly involving people gambling on the outcome. Indeed the term greyhound may well have a saxon derivation as the saxon term greu means “running”. Maybe this is a coincidence, though because an Old English word grig means bitch (as in female dog). Also, the proto-indo-european for grey is ghreghwos. By the time it gets to OE the term is pretty similar to the word for grey. Interesting sidebar, the Old Norse word for bitch is written as grey — hence that famous old ditty about the goddess Freyja being a “bitch” itself a reference to the mores of the time and her role in lore. The title Freya of course simple means lady cf: frigg (lord) hence the German Frau = wife. Thus Freya being a “bitch” might have been the result of some sort of pun … I digress, but isn’t etymology fun?

    In the period after 1937, the Maoists popularised this term (the Mandarin transcribes as zou gou = running dog), in an attempt to describe those who would simply do the bidding of any master who would fill their stomachs — like the running dogs whose only purpose was amusement of the wealthy but had no agenda of their own but the lure in front of them controlled by the said elites.

    I hope that helps.

  22. Thanks, Fran. I had always wondered where that one came from. I did not realise it was a Maoist term. I will have to use the possible near synonym “fellow traveller” when referring to others from now on.
    That said – “running dog” has an edge to it that a mere “fellow traveller” does not.

  23. @Andrew Reynolds

    Yes but the connotation is different. Running dogs are puppets (the pro-western equivalent usage) or catspaws, whereas fellow travellers are co-thinkers or people who are at least sympatico with some political culture (though by connotation, leftist political culture).

    If you’re going negative you and your fellow banshees is always good. I do like the classical references.

  24. @Andrew Reynolds

    Who cares about the composition and origin of the BIS. Its all on wikipedia anyway? You are like a dog with a bone. I wonder whether it is because this is a rare time when you have argued with someone and got something right?

  25. Who cares about the composition and origin of the BIS?
    i do actually,
    the BIS sits at the apex of the global banking system, therefore its origins, operations and agenda are really quite important,
    Andrew seems to think he knows all the answers,
    i think that if it really were so simple there would be less crap spoken on the subject
    his example is farcical, the police? are you kidding?
    bloomberg news agency put in an FOIA to the fed to find out who it paid TARP money to,
    guess what?
    the fed didnt comply because it said it didnt have to because … its not a federal agency

    and freelander
    “The BIS was formed with funding by the central banks of six nations, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. In addition, three private international banks from the United States also assisted in financing the establishment of the BIS.
    Each nation’s central bank subscribed to 16,000 shares. The U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, did not join the BIS, but the three U.S. banks that participated got 16,000 shares each. Thus, U.S. representation at the BIS was three times that of any other nation. Who were these private banks? Not surprisingly, they were J.P. Morgan & Company, First National Bank of New York and First National Bank of Chicago.”

    The Bank of England was privately owned and operated from its foundation in 1694 until it was nationalised in 1946, meaning it was private when it went into the BIS system –
    interestingly the Bank of England operates from the City of London which is kind of state within a state
    “Nowadays, with its Lord Mayor, its Beadles, Sheriffs and Aldermen, its separate police force and its select electorate of freemen and liverymen, the City of London is an anachronism of the worst kind. The Corporation, which runs the City like a one-party mini-state, is an unreconstructed old boys’ network whose medievalist pageantry camouflages the very real power and wealth which it holds.” – pp110, Rough Guide to England, 2006

    since andrew is wrong about so much as amply demonstrated here over the years, what makes anyone think that he is right on this

  26. Freelander,
    I care for the reasons that I set out on the other thread where I was correcting your many errors. I am also happy to help smiths with his.
    If you do not like me correcting errors and then giving consequential opinion, do try to make less of them.
    I have no problems when critics of the current system make observations about, suggest improvements to or even advocate the overthrow of, the current system when those comments are factually based. They can be, and in the past have been, very useful. Mill for example heavily criticised the social and economic subjugation of women. His criticisms were factually based and, as a result, ultimately bore very useful fruit.
    When the criticisms are based on errors, as smiths were, they generally ultimately produce useless or even counter-productive output. I like to help others avoid that and, when I do make an error, as I have before here and will doubtless do so in the future, I expect that this will be pointed out to me, with appropriate support.
    It is called useful intellectual debate. Perhaps you should try it sometime.

  27. ooo yes, please help andrew

    please help me by pointing me to a solid reputable site that covers the ownership of the US federal reserve

  28. @Andrew Reynolds

    I wish I experienced your bliss, the bliss of ignorance and delusion. You haven’t corrected my ‘many errors’. You have, however, vividly imagined that you have found and corrected errors which never existed.

    Well at least my momentary distraction seems to have caused the dog to drop his bone. I see you now seem to have moved on from the BIS. Well done. Good doggie.

  29. Freelander,
    It looks like it is smiths that has moved on from the BIS, as he seems to have acknowledged that he was wrong on that. On the Fed, he seems to exist in some fantasy land where the private banks have some real say in its operations.
    I await with bated breath any actual evidence for any of your contentions. I will not hold that bated breath, though.
    .
    smiths,
    I think that the wiki is reasonably solid and reliable – possibly more than some areas you seem to read. Let’s start with

    According to the board of governors: “It is not ‘owned’ by anyone and is ‘not a private, profit-making institution’. Instead, it is an independent entity within the government, having both public purposes and private aspects.”[11] In particular, the US Government does not own shares in the Federal Reserve System nor its component banks, but does take all of its profits after salaries are paid to employees, a dividend is paid to member banks that is 6% of their capital investment, and surplus is put in a capital account. The government also exercises some control by appointing its highest-level employees and setting their salaries.

    So – it is not owned by anyone, it is established, and has its operations dictated, by statute and the US President (with the advice and consent of the Senate) appoints all of the senior officers.
    Sorry, but to me that does not sound like how a private bank operates. I cannot see how your contention that it is a private bank can be maintained.
    .
    See, Freelander – that is how to argue. Make a point, back it with some evidence and then discuss the evidence. Await either better evidence from your interlocutor or, perhaps, a concession of error.
    As I said, try it some time.

  30. Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

    Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve must for the first time identify the companies in its emergency lending programs after losing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

  31. smiths,
    Our comments 31 and 32 overlapped, so I did not realise you had persisted. Apologies.
    Have you checked out who owns the BIS any time this century? I thought not. Let’s check out the BIS themselves. The key documents are here. To put it in brief, though – as I said, early on there were a few private banks involved, any you correctly found their names. As I also stated, there are none of them in there now – as the page I linked to makes clear – so the BIS is not, as you claimed, a “private bank”. They are owned and controlled by the big central banks of the world.
    So I was, and remain, entirely correct on the ownership and control of the BIS.
    On the Fed, sdfc is technically right – the Fed did not disburse TARP funds, the US Treasury did. The problem is that you are confusing TARP funds from the US Treasury with the emergency loans disbursed by the Fed. They are different programs, but both are backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government and authorised by statute or regulation. So the FOI request that was refused was not for TARP funds (that would have had to go to the US Treasury) but for the other funds that the Fed disbursed.
    Personally, I am happy they lost the lawsuit. I do not think they should have made the loans in the first place.

  32. Andrew you appear comfortable with a general banking collapse which would likely have meant a rerun of the early 1930s.

  33. @Andrew Reynolds

    Oh, I spoke to soon. The dog has that BIS bone again, firmly in his jaws and is gnawing away. Meanwhile, we’re all snoring away. And what is this, trying to give lessons on argumentation and thinks he has been one side of an ‘intellectual debate’. Dear, oh, dear. But ignorance and delusion are bliss, so Andrew I’m happy for you.

  34. Freelander,
    Perhaps you should discuss it with smiths. He keeps bringing it up – I am just correcting his errors. If you are sick of the discussion, perhaps you can just admit that you are happy to be ignorant and move on. Up to you – but I am not forcing you to read it.
    .
    sdfc,
    I do not believe the collapse would have been as bad as was being put in the press and was being played up by the bankers and regulators. Sure, there were many bad home loans made, but it was about as many (proportionately) as happened in the S&L issues in the early 1990s. The collapse then was not biblical, or even 1930s-like. To me some banks’ management had a strong incentive to play us their claim that it was a systemic collapse to mitigate their own problems (“it was not me, it was systemic!”) and regulators had a strong incentive to play it up as they know that bank crises are good for their business – regulating banks. The press just loves a good story.
    Some banks (in the US – not here) did fail, but they were mostly the ones that should fail – the ones engaged in reckless lending should, like any other business, (IMHO) be allowed to fail. The well managed ones survive.
    Personally, I do not believe the government should be engaged in propping up any failing business. Just because it has the word “bank” in its name should make no difference at all.

  35. By the way, your analysis of the GFC is cr*p, but elaborating would be wasted on you (and not required, I think, for others).

  36. http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/7798293?n=17

    There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary. The presentation sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists and their legal department. The points being made are made arbitrarily with legal sounding caveats without having established any foundation or basis in fact. The Executive Summary seems to be a political statement that is only designed to annoy greenhouse skeptics. Wasn’t the IPCC Assessment Report intended to be a scientific document that would merit solid backing from the climate science community – instead of forcing many climate scientists into having to agree with greenhouse skeptic criticisms that this is indeed a report with a clear and obvious political agenda. Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated. Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all. The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted

  37. AWB admits that it knew the trucking company Alia was paying AWB’s kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime, and it knew before the Iraq war. Given the stunning amnesia and outright denial of this during the Cole Commission in 2006, there is surely a case to be made that DFAT officials also knew the details. Only one DFAT official admitted knowing of Alia during the Cole Commission, but since the terms of reference precluded it, no deeper examination of Public Service officials followed from that.

    It is time to reopen this and to test these officials under oath but this time with powers to go where the answers lead. The only people who expressed serious doubts that DFAT officials or AWB knew about kickbacks was the government minister in charge of the portfolio of Foreign Affairs (and Trade), aka Alexander Downer, and the Prime Minister John Howard.

    The AWB admissions about the nature of the relationship between Alia (the trucking company receiving additional “fees” for transporting wheat) and Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq are sufficiently direct to consider whether criminal prosecution is a prospect. Payment of funds (in this case kickbacks) to an enemy state during a time of war is probably treason. Where is the front page story about this?…crickets chirping…

  38. @Donald Oats

    I find it difficult to believe that the AWB bribed Hussein on its own initiative. What was in it for them, except for their senior management to risk conviction? If they did do it on their own initiative they were extremely stupid, which is not impossible. Others had much more to gain from the wheat being sold to Iraq. I find it easier to believe that the AWB was leaned on and did the bribing unwillingly. The investigation stopped where it really should have begun.

  39. Comments that seek to score debating points at the expense of others (snarks) are discouraged; this is inevitably subjective, but please try to focus on substantial arguments rather than cheap shots.

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