In an article for
the Guardian, John Pilger marks the death of former Australian prime minister
Gough Whitlam with the one story missing from the "tributes" to a man whose
extraordinary political demise is one of America's dirtiest
Australia mourns former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Flags across the nation are flying at half mast, as Australia pays tribute to towering political figure Whitlam.
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political and media elite in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of
the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died. His
achievements are recognized if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow.
But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be
buried with him.
briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An
American commentator wrote that no country had "reversed its posture in
international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution." Whitlam ended his nation's colonial servility. He abolished Royal patronage,
moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported "zones of peace" and
opposed nuclear weapons testing.
regarded as on the left of the Labor Party, Whitlam was a maverick social
democrat of principle, pride and propriety. He believed that a foreign power
should not control his country's resources and dictate its economic and foreign
policies. He proposed to "buy back the farm." In drafting the first Aboriginal
lands rights legislation, his government raised the ghost of the greatest land
grab in human history, Britain's colonization of Australia, and the question of
who owned the island-continent's vast natural wealth.
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will recognize the audacity and danger of this "breaking free" in
a country whose establishment was welded to great, external power. Australians
had served every British imperial adventure since the Boxer rebellion was
crushed in China. In the 1960s, Australia pleaded to join the US in its invasion
of Vietnam, then provided "black teams" to be run by the CIA. US diplomatic
cables published last year by WikiLeaks disclose the names of leading figures in
both main parties, including a future prime minister and foreign minister, as
Washington's informants during the Whitlam years.
Whitlam knew the
risk he was taking. The day after his election, he ordered that his staff should
not be "vetted or harassed" by the Australian security organization, ASIO --
then, as now, tied to Anglo-American intelligence. When his ministers publicly
condemned the US bombing of Vietnam as "corrupt and barbaric," a CIA station
officer in Saigon said: "We were told the Australians might as well be regarded
as North Vietnamese collaborators."
demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near
Alice Springs, a giant vacuum cleaner which, as Edward Snowden revealed
recently, allows the US to spy on everyone. "Try to screw us or bounce us," the
prime minister warned the US ambassador, "[and Pine Gap] will become a matter of
Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who
had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, "This threat to close Pine Gap caused
apoplexy in the White House ... a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion."
Pine Gap's top-secret messages were
de-coded by a CIA contractor, TRW. One of the de-coders was Christopher Boyce, a
young man troubled by the "deception and betrayal of an ally." Boyce revealed
that the CIA had infiltrated the Australian political and trade union elite and
referred to the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as "our man Kerr."
Kerr was not
only the Queen's man, he had long-standing ties to Anglo-American
intelligence. He was an enthusiastic member of the Australian Association for
Cultural Freedom, described by Jonathan Kwitny of the Wall Street Journal in his
book, "The Crimes of Patriots," as, "an elite, invitation-only group... exposed
in Congress as being founded, funded and generally run by the CIA." The CIA
"paid for Kerr's travel, built his prestige... Kerr continued to go to the CIA
When Whitlam was
re-elected for a second term, in 1974, the White House sent Marshall Green to
Canberra as ambassador. Green was an imperious, sinister figure who worked in
the shadows of America's "deep state." Known as the "coupmaster," he had played
a central role in the 1965 coup against President Sukarno in Indonesia -- which
cost up to a million lives. One of his first speeches in Australia was to the
Australian Institute of Directors -- described by an alarmed member of the
audience as "an incitement to the country's business leaders to rise against the
and British worked together. In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain's MI6 was
operating against his government. "The Brits were actually de-coding secret
messages coming into my foreign affairs office," he said later. One of his
ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, "We knew MI6 was bugging Cabinet meetings for
In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the "Whitlam
problem" had been discussed "with urgency" by the CIA's director, William Colby,
and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said:
"Kerr did what he was told to do."
On 10 November, 1975, Whitlam was shown a top secret telex message
sourced to Theodore Shackley, the notorious head of the CIA's East Asia
Division, who had helped run the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile two
Shackley's message was read to
Whitlam. It said that the prime minister of Australia was a security risk in his
own country. The day before, Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Defence
Signals Directorate, Australia's NSA where he was briefed on the "security
On 11 November -- the day
Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia -- he
was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal "reserve powers," Kerr sacked
the democratically elected prime minister. The "Whitlam problem" was solved, and
Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true
John Pilger grew up in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, author and documentary film-maker. He is one of only two to win British journalism's highest award twice, for his work all over the world. On 1 November, he was awarded (more...