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Ben Roberts-Smith


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How can Joe Citizen form an opinion when the whole matter suffers from professional legal obfuscation? 

 

Who trusts any media? Who can show, beyond reasonable doubt, that the alleged facts are true? 

 

By publishing the allegation before due process had been completed, the Defendants did in fact libel Roberts-Smith. If published after due process had been completed and the allegations proven, then there could be no libel.

 

Who knows if this attack on the son is not an attack on the father, Major General Len Roberts-Smith, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and a former commissioner of the Corruption and Crime Commission of Western Australia?

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I also would deny war crimes and so would anyone else accused of them. If he has been accused he should have an ability to clear his name. It seems that now we have lots of people who are well known being accused of crimes.  Some are even charged with them and then later the charges are dropped. I don't see the justice in that. What happens is that the smear sticks. Actors and sports people seem to be the most affected, but our military get more than their share, mainly because they are sent to fight a war with their hands tied and everything against them.

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It's not only out Military Forces who get this sort of thing. Police have been coping vexatious complaints since Sir Robert Peel handed out truncheons and rattles.

 

It seems that the functionaries of Government are now subject to the closest supervision by various Commissions who are answerable to the government of the day. In order to appear to be carrying out their commissions, these bodies accept every complaint and allegation without examining the motives of the complainant.

 

The Law in NSW is quite clear about making false complaints:

Sect.314 False accusations etc

A person who makes an accusation intending a person to be the subject of an investigation of an offence, knowing that other person to be innocent of the offence, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

 

It seems to be an offence that is overlooked by police who have to deal with false allegations on a regular basis, especially on the Domestic Violence front.

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If you're an Allied Forces soldier, you're obliged to follow Rules of Engagement and the Laws of War according to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

But terrorists, infiltrators, 5th columnists, suicide bombers, and guerrillas are not obliged to obey, and do not obey, the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

Therein is the conundrum.

Do we, as Allied Forces soldiers, continue to honour and obey the Geneva Conventions (to which we are a signatory), whilst the enemy combatants who seek to destroy us, disobey every Law of the Geneva Conventions?

When I wore Green and carried an SLR, we were given the Rules of Engagement. The obvious one is you were allowed to shoot if you came under fire.

You were allowed to shoot if a suspected enemy combatant failed to stop upon being ordered to do so. You were allowed to shoot if a suspected enemy combatant indulged in what was obviously war-like behaviour. This also covered finding a suspected enemy combatant setting a booby trap, a mine or other explosive device triggered by hidden methods.

You were allowed to shoot if you spotted a fleeing suspected enemy combatant who was wearing typical enemy combatant clothing or uniform - and they were too far away to be called on to stop.

You were not allowed to shoot any suspected enemy combatant if they were indicating surrender, and had thrown down any weapons they might have been carrying.

You were not allowed to shoot anyone you merely suspected of being an enemy combatant, if they were not indulging in any suspicious or combative behaviour.

You were not allowed to kill any enemy combatant who had incurred incapacitative injury, and who if conscious, had indicated surrender.

You were allowed to kill injured enemy who continued to fight or who were suspected of hiding a grenade or other booby trap, intending to kill Allied Forces (and themselves).

But in the heat of War and with many enemy combatants taking many forms, it is difficult to prove that the person you shot WAS an enemy combatant - particularly when his surviving relatives claim he was innocent and he was murdered without reason.

I trust the truth prevails and Ben Roberts-Smith is exonerated from the claims of War Crimes.

But as regards the evidence presented against him, the motives of the witnesses must be scrutinised - and that includes his fellow soldiers.

 

Edited by onetrack
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9 hours ago, onetrack said:

You were allowed to shoot if you spotted a fleeing suspected enemy combatant who was wearing typical enemy combatant clothing or uniform - and they were too far away to be called on to stop.

 

And therein lies the conundrum. How do you determine if a person is a combatant if the enemy combatants do not wear clothing that is different from non-combatants?

 

9 hours ago, onetrack said:

You were allowed to shoot if a suspected enemy combatant indulged in what was obviously war-like behaviour. This also covered finding a suspected enemy combatant setting a booby trap, a mine or other explosive device triggered by hidden methods.

 

In a guerrilla war, more attacks are made by stealth than by set-piece engagements.

 

9 hours ago, onetrack said:

But as regards the evidence presented against him, the motives of the witnesses must be scrutinised - and that includes his fellow soldiers.

 

 

And in this case, not only actual witnesses, but those making claims based on second hand reports.

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We must honour the Geneva convention, because if we don't we will become like US troops and other nations that do whatever they can get away with. We only have to read tales from combatants of the US or UK forces to see that the laws are con honoured. It may be hard to not kill your perceived enemy, but he must be an actual enemy or we will become less than wild animals.

That is the problem for the modern soldier. It is applied far less to the airman or naval combatant, because they tend to kill from further away and get away with explaining that they didn't intend to kill non combatants.

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I think that perhaps we can be trained to the highest degree but in the end we are all just human and with that comes emotions. For example what would happen if you come across a combatant who shoots and kills 5 of you army mates, shoots and wounds you and then throws down his rifle and puts his hands up to surrender...or a person surrenders only to walk up to you with an explosive device strapped to his chest...pretty hard to control your emotions and fear in that split second. The problem is, I feel, is that in most cases of warfare today the other side does not play by the rules and let's face it the Germans and Japs (WW2), Koreans and Vietnamese also didn't play by the rules as well...do we sit in our ivory tower playing by the rules of warfare as we watch our soldiers give their ultimate sacrifice to us?

 

War doesn't decide who is right or wrong...it only decides who is left!

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As General George Patton told his troops, "A war is not won by you dying for your country. It's won by making the other bastard die for his."

 

It's extremely hard to avoid appling some "summary justice" when, as a person authorised to use physical force, up to and including deadly force, to calm down and play by the rules when you have just been fighting a belligerent person, copped a few painful hits yourself, then managed to control the person.  

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The bottom line always was, when I wore Green, that if there was any doubt, you didn't shoot. You didn't want to be responsible for killing civilians who were just running away, frightened, because they spotted armed soldiers - and because they'd always endured bad experiences at the hand of armed soldiers, in previous contacts.

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Gents... I have not been a part of the armed forces, although I have been involved in both the ADF and UK forces (much more so in the latter).. I also worked for a company that was founded by an ex US serviceman, of which a lot of (now ex) employees are ex US servicemen. One of my very good friends I made is an ex US elite serviceman. So, although I have not first hand experienced the theatre (or other forms) of war, I feel those brains I have tapped into to understand were not exaggeratig too much.

 

And through all of it, Onetrack's account is the core.. however...

 

Some of those I have spoken to tell me of civilians they are talking too pull a gun on them and shoot them as they were walking away... lucky to be alive...

 

One, who did two tours of Afghanistan as a commanding officer and abouty 20 years my junior told me of exactly what it is like to be ambushed and watch the bloke next to you get shot and instantly killed (apparently, the bullet just managed to pass through all the defences).

 

One tells me of that he had served in Bosnia but can't speak of it...

 

One tells me he has had to make a slit second decision... and "today" dreams about it

 

Apart from the Afghanistan conversation (which for me was outside the official secrets act), these converstations were c. 20 years ago...

 

The thing about all oif these, is how they react to the immediate situation...

 

I may be mistaken as I haven't read about this for some time, but isn't BRS (couldn't help the aviation pun) accused of intentionally killing a civilian by ultimately kicking him off a ridge or something while his hands were tied behind his back?. At the time, it is alleged there was nothing to have been present to suggest a threat?

 

I know even in this situation they are nervous.. FFS - I would be, too (and more)...

 

It is not a job I would sign up for.. It is one for heroes... Heroes make mistakes and for genuine ones they should not be held to account (but should learn from). If this is the situation I am thinking of.. the quesiton has to be asked - was this a mistake or retribution? I say this with the utmost respect for BRS and all servicemen.

Edited by Jerry_Atrick
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On 20 June 2020 at 11:08 PM, onetrack said:

The bottom line always was, when I wore Green, that if there was any doubt, you didn't shoot. You didn't want to be responsible for killing civilians who were just running away, frightened, because they spotted armed soldiers - and because they'd always endured bad experiences at the hand of armed soldiers, in previous contacts.

I am of the lucky generation that didn't have to make those terrible decisions. (I missed out on conscription by one day).

Despite this, I have followed Australia's various conflicts closely. What has made me most proud is a couple of stories about our Vietnam vets.

One told me about going back to the old battlefields with his former comrades and being incensed at the way veterans are treated in Vietnam. Some were beggars in the street. They befriended a former Viet Cong and brought him to Australia, where he has family.

 

A TV report has one setting up a club near Vung Tau for former adversaries. Veterans from the other team said they bore no ill will towards the Australians and appreciated that the Diggers always buried enemy dead and never mutilated them. 

 

 

 

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I do not know the soldier but do know war crimes happen and to think a Aussie is is incapable of such things ignores human nature.

 

A aweful lot of national security laws and secrecy has been invoked in this case including current and former soldiers been muffled, threats made and journalists raided.

 

Seems like a lot of smoke if no fire exists.

 

I have a open mind, yes in a instant we make flash decisions but take the right path. The allegations however are not about mistakes but intentional murder.

 

The standard is ours not what the enemy do.

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"Seems like a lot of smoke if no fire exists."

 

All the views in this thread seem to have put up fair comments. Furthermore, I can't say what my behaviour would be, had I been posted to a war like that.

 

However, I have a problem seeing our justice system degenerating into dangerous territory. The general public now expect instant answers, and tend to instantly believe the first social media meme they see.

 

It's a bad day for justice when Trial by media is the norm.

 

In this instance, as usual, we don't have access to the facts, only to second hand reports.

 

Edited by nomadpete
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In this day we do not even have trial by media. They are quite happy to make a big song and dance about someone, accuse them of un described behaviour and then just stop mentioning it. Smear by media is more the word.

Just to add to the smear they find an ex politician who does not like the person they are smearing to add his poisonous comments.

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That may be the case, but this appears to be an excellent journalistic piece: https://www.theage.com.au/interactive/2020/one-last-mission/index.html

 

I am sure there is some sensationalism - there always is.. but it doesn't name a soldier other than the ex-soldier who is part of the feature.

 

It is probably behind a paywall.. I would recommend buying the paper for it, or you can try opening in a private browser.

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On 26/06/2020 at 12:49 PM, Yenn said:

 

There is a bit about the investigation and has some very forthright comments from those leading the enquiry. 

 

Plainly obvious not just smoke but a lot a real fire.

 

Sorry can't get link working but see Smh or Age etc.

 

Re the trial by media- that is a byproduct of the media actually getting this to our attention and ensuring it does not stay buried. Remember they raided the ABC and others to silence the story.

 

It appears a lot will be found accountable and those that colluded or turned a blind eye will be out and charges will follow. The SAS deserve to be accountable, be able to root out the rotten, punish them and those above who are  proven guilty and return to being the elite of our service. Returning confidence is vital to our national interest.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 20/06/2020 at 1:13 PM, old man emu said:

As General George Patton told his troops, "A war is not won by you dying for your country. It's won by making the other bastard die for his."

 

It's extremely hard to avoid appling some "summary justice" when, as a person authorised to use physical force, up to and including deadly force, to calm down and play by the rules when you have just been fighting a belligerent person, copped a few painful hits yourself, then managed to control the person.  

To be able to win any engagement, you need to be as ruthless or even worse than your enemy, otherwise you need to pack up your bongos and leave the area of conflict. It reminds me of the worlds supposed greatest army getting pushed off a beach in Somalia because they could not fight as dirty as the enemy.

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On 27/06/2020 at 2:20 AM, Jerry_Atrick said:

That may be the case, but this appears to be an excellent journalistic piece: https://www.theage.com.au/interactive/2020/one-last-mission/index.html

 

I am sure there is some sensationalism - there always is.. but it doesn't name a soldier other than the ex-soldier who is part of the feature.

 

It is probably behind a paywall.. I would recommend buying the paper for it, or you can try opening in a private browser.

Yes, it was an "excellent journalistic piece", also a harrowing one. It is sad that such an excellent soldier had to suffer so much because of some bad apples in the bunch. Let's be clear about this, there are bad apples everywhere, who can be usually weeded out before they cause so much harm. (You might remember Julian Knight and the Hoddle Street massacre in Melbourne)

Without trying to excuse the behaviour, those SAS soldiers were trained to the highest level of fitness, to overcome the enemy, the drive to win at all costs.  In other words, I would say that they were "programmed" to be highly trained killers. Then the general public expects them to be "nice" killers?   The conflict and stress in some of these soldiers heads would be enormous!  I  can see that some people could easily turn bad in that situation!

Then we bring them home to a peaceful country and don't 'de-program" them but let them out on civvy street without any help whatsoever. No wonder that there is a high incidence of PTSD and suicide in the military.

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  • 4 months later...

Five months later this has reared its head again. It would seem that there may have been illegal acts or atrocities committed and no doubt people think those who took art should be brought to justice. We have in Afghanistan a war where the Aussie troops do not know who the enemy are until a weapon is produced. This is not a war like those envisaged by the people who brought out the Geneva Convention. It is a war brought on by politicians and religous zealots. The pity is that our troops have to fight, when it would be much better to put the politicians and religous zealots together and make them solve the problem.

I served my time as a regular soldier, volounteered to serve Queen and country, albeit England, not Australia, but there is no way I would have volounteered to fight in the types of war our pollies expect troops to fight in nowadays. I was lucky in that I didn't get involved in the bad troubles in Ireland, only when our depot was attacked by IRA and they didn't achieve much.

No doubt our pollies will now decide we have to maintain a presence in Afghanistan, now that the yanks are pulling out, just so that those who have already died there will not feel as if we have deserted them, or that their sacrifice was unnecessary.

No doubt there will be calls for a Royal Commission, it is expected nowadays that we have a Royal Comission into everything, not that it makes the least bit of difference, it just results in a delaying process of whitewashing, that achieves nothing.

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5 minutes ago, Yenn said:

No doubt our pollies will now decide we have to maintain a presence in Afghanistan, now that the yanks are pulling out, just so that those who have already died there will not feel as if we have deserted them, or that their sacrifice was unnecessary.

SARCASM ALERT!

So, by the same reasoning, should we have a military presence in Vietnam and Turkey?

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Apparently only about 15% of the population are killers. I would expect this percentage to be higher in the army, but still most soldiers deliberately miss when they see the enemy's face in their sights. They know that killing will destroy their sleep for ever after as they see unwanted replays in their heads.

The modern wars where you are fighting an enemy who is part of the population are just awful.  Nuclear weapons have stopped real world wars, so you have to find an enemy who has no nukes and send the poor soldiers into hell.

I would bring them all home tomorrow and say stuff the yanks and their stupid wars.

As for the troops accused of killing captive civilians, its a sad and awful thing to have to prosecute them, but what alternative is there?... how far up the chain of command do you need to go? I'd go right up, through the generals,  to the politicians who sent those soldiers. They are just as guilty, maybe more so.

 

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2 hours ago, Bruce Tuncks said:

 

As for the troops accused of killing captive civilians, its a sad and awful thing to have to prosecute them, but what alternative is there?... how far up the chain of command do you need to go? I'd go right up, through the generals,  to the politicians who sent those soldiers. They are just as guilty, maybe more so.

 

How is it "a sad and awful thing" to prosecute murderers?


Let's be absolutely clear here.  This is not some accidental killing in the heat of battle, or "collateral damage" from bad intel.  This is people, in some cases not even combatants, unarmed, under control and absolutely no threat to the soldiers who killed them.

 

That is, pure and simply, murder.  If we treat it as anything less then we're saying that lives in other countries don't mean as much as lives here.  Was it a sad and awful thing to prosecute Martin Bryant, or that idiot in Melbourne who ran over some people?

 

What these men have done is to shame the defence force and Australia's reputation.  How can we chide other countries for human rights abuses when they can point to those murders and call hypocrisy?

 

99.99% of Australia's soldiers are no doubt professional people who are doing a fantastic job and are owed our gratitude.  I bet they're more pissed off than the rest of us with these murderers.

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Its a sad and awful thing that those guys were ever there. They should be living as plumbers in Sydney or similar, not trained and armed and sent to that stupid war.

I think the main reason for the war was that the US thought the next Saudi of oil was in some funny place where you needed to run a pipe through Afganistan to get it out.

Well they were wrong, there was not so much oil there and anyway the pipeline is going to China. But before finding this out, they got committed. And we followed because we hope they will protect us with their nuclear umbrella if we are their best friends.

Wars are just so darned expensive. My father-in -law was proud of his 5 shillings a day or whatever. In fact he got veterans benefits in excess of a thousand dollars for every day of his service. I wonder how much all this legal stuff is costing... So while you are right Marty, murder diminishes us, as you get old like me you will mellow a bit.

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