Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Judge refuses to unseal criminal charges against Assange

January 31, 2019  FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a request to unseal criminal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that were mistakenly revealed in another case.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said in a 10-page ruling that free-press advocates seeking to unseal the charges have no proof Assange has actually been charged.

The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press sought to unseal the charges after a federal prosecutor inadvertently typed a reference to “the fact that Assange has been charged” in an unrelated case.

The government has acknowledged it made an error but has not publicly confirmed that charges against Assange have been filed.

After the mistake was made, news outlets including The Associated Press reported that Assange has indeed been charged. But those reports relied on anonymous sources.

The precise charges against Assange are unclear. The Wikileaks founder has been staying in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 under a grant of asylum and has long expressed fear of a U.S. prosecution. WikiLeaks has served as a vehicle for release of thousands of classified U.S. military and diplomatic cables. In addition, WikiLeaks’ role in releasing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee in 2016 has also been under scrutiny as special counsel Robert Mueller has investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign was involved.

Criminal charges typically remain secret and under seal until a defendant has been arrested to prevent a target from fleeing prosecution or destroying evidence. Lawyers for the free-press foundation said that rationale for secrecy no longer exists given the inadvertent disclosure and the fact that Assange has long assumed he has been charged.

Brinkema, though, wrote in her ruling that the Reporters Committee “has not demonstrated with sufficient certainty that Assange has been charged. Unlike in other high-profile cases, the Government has not affirmatively disclosed that charges have been filed. Although the Government acknowledges that it made a mistake … the nature of that mistake is fundamentally unclear.”

Katie Townsend, a lawyer for the Reporters Committee, said no decision has been made on whether to appeal. “The disclosure of the nature of the charges against Assange are a matter of public interest and should be made public,” she said.

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February 2, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

UK “reviewing” files on nuclear bomb tests in Australia- this smacks of a cover-up

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

“worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

Review or ‘cover up’? Mystery as Australia nuclear weapons tests files withdrawn https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/11/australia/uk-australia-nuclear-archives-intl/index.html, By James Griffiths, CNN

More than 65 years since the UK began conducting secret nuclear weapons testing in the Australian Outback, scores of files about the program have been withdrawn from the country’s National Archives without explanation.

The unannounced move came as a shock to many researchers and historians who rely on the files and have been campaigning to unseal the small number which remain classified.

“Many relevant UK documents have remained secret since the time of the tests, well past the conventional 30 years that government documents are normally withheld,” said expert Elizabeth Tynan, author of “Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story”.

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

Withdrawal of the files was first noted in late December. Access to them has remained closed in the new year.

Dark legacy   The UK conducted 12 nuclear weapons tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in the sparsely populated Outback of South Australia.

Information about the tests remained a tightly held secret for decades. It wasn’t until a Royal Commission was formed in 1984 — in the wake of several damning press reports — that the damage done to indigenous people and the Australian servicemen and women who worked on the testing grounds became widely known.

Indigenous people living nearby had long complained of the effects they suffered, including after a “black mist” settled over one camp near Maralinga in the wake of the Totem I test in October 1953. The mist caused stinging eyes and skin rashes. Others vomited and suffered from diarrhea.

These claims were dismissed and ridiculed by officials for decades — until, in the wake of the Royal Commission report, the UK agreed to pay the Australian government and the traditional owners of the Maralinga lands about AU$46 million ($30 million). The Australian authorities also paid indigenous Maralinga communities a settlement of AU$13.5 million ($9 million).

While the damage done to indigenous communities was acknowledged, much about the Totem I test — and other tests at Maralinga and later at Emu Field — remained secret, even before the recent withdrawal of archive documents.

“The British atomic tests in Australia did considerable harm to indigenous populations, to military and other personnel and to large parts of the country’s territory. This country has every right to know exactly what the tests entailed,” Tynan said. “Mysteries remain about the British nuclear tests in Australia, and these mysteries have become harder to bring to light with the closure of files by the British government.”

Alan Owen, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, which campaigns on behalf of former servicemen, said “the removal of these documents affects not only our campaign, but affects the many academic organizations that rely on this material.”

“We are very concerned that the documents will not be republished and the (Ministry of Defense) will again deny any responsibility for the effects the tests have had on our membership,” Owen told CNN.

Unclear motives Responding to a request for comment from CNN, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said the withdrawal of the Australian nuclear test files was done at the request of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which has ultimate responsibility over them.

The NDA said that “a collection of records has been temporarily withdrawn from general access via The National Archive at Kew as part of a review process.”

“It is unclear, at this time, how long the review will take, however NDA anticipates that many of the documents will be restored to the public archive in due course,” a spokeswoman said.

Jon Agar, a professor of science and technology at University College London, said the withdrawal “is not just several records but two whole classes of files, many of which had previously been open to researchers at the National Archives.”

“These files are essential to any historian of the UK nuclear projects — which of course included tests in Australia. They have been closed without proper communication or consultation,” he added.

Agar shared correspondence he had with the NDA in which a spokeswoman said some files would be moved to a new archive — Nucleus — in the far north of Scotland. Howevethe Nucleus archives focus on the British civil nuclear industry, and it is unclear why files on military testing would be moved there, or why those files would need to be withdrawn to do so.

Nucleus also does not offer the type of online access to its records as the National Archives does.

“Why not just copy the files if the nuclear industry needs them at Nucleus for administrative reasons? Why take them all out of public view?” Agar wrote on Twitter.

Information freedom In correspondence with both CNN and Agar, the NDA suggested those interested in the files could file freedom of information (FOI) requests for them.

Under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, British citizens and concerned parties are granted the “right to access recorded information held by public sector organizations.”

FOI requests can be turned down if the government deems the information too sensitive or the request too expensive to process. Under a separate rule, the UK government should also declassify documents between 20 and 30 years after they were created.

According to the BBC, multiple UK government departments — including the Home Office and Cabinet Office — have been repeatedly condemned by auditors for their “poor,” “disappointing” and “unacceptable” treatment of FOI applications.

Commenting on the nuclear documents, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, a UK-based NGO, said it was “worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

“It suggests that the historical record is fragile and transient and liable to be snatched away at any time, with or without good reason,” he added.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, history, secrets and lies, weapons and war | 2 Comments

ANSTO’s worrying history of covering up releases of radioactive gases from Lucas heights nuclear reactor

New nuclear reactor spark cover up claims, PUBLIC not told about potentially dangerous gases spread over hundreds of kilometres for fear of causing alarm. https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/poison-gas-leak-from-sydney-nuclear-reactor-spark-cover-up-claims/news-story/7a2bea7f047cf87f997ad7aff5646213?fbclid=IwAR3YTUCw81aekayba61OSWLYkemq6Eb0u9rlPYnej5B3EUHc9iE0n50_B7I#.s3vdk By Linda Silmalis, The Sunday Telegraph, AUGUST 29, 2010 POTENTIALLY dangerous radioactive gases have been secretly pumped into the atmosphere from Lucas Heights and have spread hundreds of kilometres from the nuclear reactor – but the public have never been told.

The release of the highly volatile radioxenon over several months last year was so concentrated that the plumes were detected in Melbourne up to two days later.

Other plumes were dragged out to sea by winds before drifting back over Sydney.

The Sunday Telegraph understands the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) decided against releasing a public statement at the time to avoid causing alarm.

Scientists at a nuclear testing station in Melbourne traced the source of the radioactive gases to Sydney after they picked up 10 specific events between November, 2008 and February last year.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation International Monitoring System site in Melbourne contacted Lucas Heights after detecting the radioxenon isotope Xe-133.

They were told that 36 hours earlier the first “hot commissioning trials” at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights radioisotope facility for Molybdenum-99 had taken place.

Molybdenum-99 is produced by the fission technique – the intense neutron-bombardment of a highly purified uranium-235 – and is used in nuclear medicine.

While the nuclear reactor – and the government body that oversees it – insists the release of the radioxenon by-product were no threat to public safety, no one, including neighbours of the suburban Sydney plant, were informed.

“Xenon gases are highly volatile and, being inert, they are not susceptible to wet or dry atmospheric removal mechanisms,” a scientific report obtained by The Sunday Telegraph says.

“Consequently, once released to the atmosphere they are simply transported down-wind while radioactively decaying away.”

Significant amounts of the main gas detected – Xenon-133 – can be released during a nuclear reaction or a nuclear explosion.

While it is used in medical procedures, specialists are urged not to administer it to pregnant women and children.

Side effects of its use in medical procedures can include allergic reactions such as itching or hives, swelling of the face or hands, swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat, chest tightness, and trouble breathing.

The report into the release from Lucas Heights says the doses were “well below the annual limit for public exposure”.

Officials from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency said it was notified at the time and that the emissions were within public safety guidelines.

In 2006, ANSTO was forced to allay public fears after a leaked memo revealed xenon and krypton were released into the atmosphere following the rupture of a pipe.

 

December 30, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Defence Department accused of deception over Woomera radioactive wastes

Defence under attack on nuclear waste dump   https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/defence-under-attack-on-nuclear-waste-dump/news-story/fd851b6cefd7c5701d354c7ed1adf09d  LUKE GRIFFITHS @_LukeGriffiths DECEMBER 27, 2018

 Woomera must be revisited as a potential site for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump, says Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, ­who accuses the Defence Department of deception over claims the site is unsuitable.

Senator Patrick said he would question Defence officials at Senate estimates hearings over why the department dismissed Woomera as a potential site because of an “intolerable risk” and its “impracticability” — a position since backed by Resources Minister Matt Canavan.

 The 122,000sq km Woomera Prohibited Area, located in the South Australian outback 450km northwest of Adelaide, is a milit­ary testing range under federal government control.

 Senator Patrick said significant nuclea­r waste materials had been stored there since 1994, including 10,000 drums of low and intermediate-level waste from a CSIRO research facility at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.

In a report published on its website last week, the CSIRO said tests had found the material posed no threat to health or the environment.   Tests in May found radiation levels adjacent to the storage had “natural background values” for Australia, as would be found in typical soil and rock.

“The report findings make a mockery of Defence claims there’s no way a national radio­active waste management facility could be located anywhere in the enormous expanse of the WPA,” Senator Patrick said.
 “The reality is radioactive waste has been safely stored at Woomera for a quarter of a ­century. Defence can expect considerable scrutiny in the new year over the bureaucratic obfuscation and deception on this issue. It seems Defence is never stronger in defending territory than when it comes to defending its own.”

 Senator Canavan has short-listed two sites near Kimba, 465km northwest of Adelaide, and one site near Hawker, in South Australia’s mid-north, for the waste facility.

   The process, which has divided both communities, stalled after a Kimba ballot scheduled for August 20 was delayed by court action from an Aboriginal group that believes traditional owners should vote, despite not living within the shire’s boundaries.

 In a similar move, traditional owners at Hawker last week lodged an Australian Human Rights Commission complaint, prepared by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, that alleged a “fundamentally flawed process”.

   Labor has not said how it would proceed should it form government after the election, which must be held by mid-May.D    The Department of Defence did not respond to questions.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies, South Australia | Leave a comment

Fabricated media attacks on Julian Assange

The attempt to implicate WikiLeaks in a Russian plot has no less anti-democratic motives. It is aimed at justifying the prosecution of Julian Assange on charges of “conspiracy” with a foreign power to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 election, rather than the sealed charges of espionage that were filed against him in late 2010, after WikiLeaks published documents that exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and international diplomatic intrigues.
The Guardian attack on Assange exposed as politically-motivated fabrication, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/12/06/assa-d06.html, By James Cogan , 6 December 2018Last week’s sensationalist allegation by the Guardian newspaper, that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange met with Paul Manafort, American political lobbyist and one-time campaign manager for Donald Trump, has been exposed as a politically-motivated tissue of lies. Continue reading

December 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

False claims against Julian Assange pave the way for USA to imprison him (DOES AUSTRALIA NOT CARE?)

Indeed, we could see those articles as pivotal in the current hostile environment against Assange; the purpose of which is presumably to prepare the way for the extradition of Assange to the US. Meanwhile, the Mueller inquiry into alleged links between US president Donald Trump and Russia – and Assange – is gaining headlines on an almost daily basis. And there is evidence that Assange has been secretly indicted and that an extradition request is imminent.

In such an environment, media outlets must provide hard evidence to substantiate allegations, and not simply fall back on anonymous ‘sources’ (usually code for spooks). The people these allegations target deserve better, and so do readers

Former diplomat challenges ‘fake’ Guardian claims about Julian Assange meeting Paul Manafort  The Canary Tom Coburg  3rd December 2018 A former consul and first secretary at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has spoken out against a “fake story” from the Guardian. Speaking to The CanaryFidel Narváez insisted that the claim that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is entirely false. Continue reading

December 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Manipulations and machinations of UK, USA, Ecuador (?Australia) against Julian Assange

U.K. and Ecuador Conspire to Deliver Julian Assange to U.S. Authorities https://www.truthdig.com/articles/u-k-and-ecuador-conspire-to-deliver-julian-assange-to-u-s-authorities/ 

Gareth Porter  28 Nov 18 The accidental revelation in mid-November that U.S. federal prosecutors had secretly filed charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange underlines the determination of the Trump administration to end Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been staying since 2012.

Behind the revelation of those secret charges for supposedly threatening U.S. national security is a murky story of a political ploy by the Ecuadorian and British governments to create a phony rationale for ousting Assange from the embassy. The two regimes agreed to base their plan on the claim that Assange was conspiring to flee to Russia. Continue reading

November 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Moving Intermediate Level Waste from Lucas Heights to another Intermediate site – dubious and possibly illegal

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

British scientists secretly used Australian population to test for radiation contamination after nuclear tests at Maralinga

November 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nov 28 in Flinders and Kimba – ClOSED meetings on nuclear waste dump plan?

Katrina Bohr  No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia, 14 Nov 18
Is the National nuclear waste dump a transparent process?

After 3 years of supposed community consultation are we
to presume that they have the community’s best interests
in mind?
Are they really listening to those affected by this proposal?
Apparently there is likely to be closed meetings on the 27th in the Flinders, and Kimba on the 28th of Nov.
Should we the community be excluded at such a critical point in the process? https://www.facebook.com/groups/1314655315214929/

November 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Nuclear whistleblowers strive for a green future for generations to come.

Paul Waldon Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, October 1

We are in debt to people like Rick Parks receiver of the IEEE Barus Ethics award while being a nuclear whistleblower, and Australia’s own ANSTO whistleblower David Reid, whom I hold in great regard of their honesty and credibility, that of which the opposing dichotomy has proven to have shortcomings. These whistleblowers have suffered loses to erode our ignorance, and we owe it to them to keep passing the anti-nuclear baton and strive for a green future for generations to come. https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/?multi_permalinks=837501786594633%2C837469919931153&notif_id=1538379410382955&notif_t=group_activity

October 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

‘Adani and the War Over Coal’ – a new book: Quentin Beresford spills the devious beans

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Adani and the War Over Coal’ — a pox on both their Parties, Independent Australia  John Biggs 30 September 2018  The story of the devious and secretive negotiations between Adani and Australian governments of both stripes is appalling, writes John Biggs. “…… Conservation groups, Indigenous people and, eventually, a strong majority of ordinary Australians are outraged. In this book, Dr Beresford brings his sharp research and writing skills to tell this story of the war over coal.Gautam Adani had close connections with India’s PM Narendra Modi, who protected Adani over environmental and human rights violations in India. Adani donated heavily to both major Australian parties, especially to the Coalition. The Abbott and subsequent Coalition governments pushed for Adani as hard as they could. At first, so did Labor, but then sort of didn’t, but if certain conditions are met, well, maybe .

ISSUES IN DISPUTE

The major issues in dispute, as Bereford see it, are as follows.

Climate change

If all the Carmichael coal is burned – here or anywhere – the carbon emissions would be more than Australia already produces. That would likely tip global warming irreversibly. The pro-Adani group deny this.

Great Barrier Reef

The Reef is already seriously endangered by climate change, drainage from fertilised farmlands, and starfish. The mine would make matters immeasurably worse, as dredging (authorised byLabor’s Tony Burke) has already indicated.

Julie Bishop even denied the Great Barrier Reef would be in any danger.

Beresford notes (p.361):

‘None of the major parties has been prepared to unequivocally put the reef’s long term health over the interests of the fossil fuel industry.’

Great Artesian Basin

The Great Artesian Basin, vital for Australian agriculture, would be seriously endangered by the mine, either through using the water or by puncturing and draining the Basin. Adani supporters say this is exaggerated, and anyway coal mining is a thirsty business.

Native title

Doongmabulla Springs is in the mining area and is of high cultural significance to the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples. However Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) that favour developers have been foisted onto the locals. These are currently under appeal.

Economic case

The costs of mining coal are now higher than the costs of producing renewables — and the difference is rapidly widening. With Adani’s projected costs, current debts and likely returns, Adani is predicted to lose crippling amounts of money if it proceeds.

Adani’s poor safety, criminal and environmental record

First in India and now here, Adani operations have already badly polluted land in the Carmichael region.

WHY, WHY, WHY?

Given all of this, why on Earth would Australian governments be so determined to support the Adani project?

Beresford discusses these issues and others in depth. His findings and assertions are fully referenced, his arguments convincing.

While much of this is due to the shocking judgement and wickedness of individual people, Beresford sees (p.360) as even more important the way in which the coal wars have transformed politics: …….https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/book-review-adani-and-the-war-over-coal–a-pox-on-both-their-parties,11949

October 1, 2018 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Great Barrier Reef scientists told to focus on projects to make government look good

Emails tabled in Senate inquiry recommended ‘trade-offs’ to Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Guardian, Ben Smee @BenSmee 26 Sep 2018

Great Barrier Reef scientists were told they would need to make “trade-offs” to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, including focusing on projects that would look good for the government and encourage more corporate donations, emails tabled in the Senate reveal.

The documents, including cabinet briefing notes, contain significant new details about the workings of the foundation and the government decision to award it a $443m grant, including:

  • The executives of mining, gas and chemicals companies – and international financial houses that actively back fossil-fuel projects – were among the guests at a six-star retreat hosted by the foundation less than a month after the grant was announced;
  • The media companies Foxtel and Fairfax and the tech giant Google are among a tightly held list of donors to the foundation;
  • The only CSIRO employee contacted about the grant before the announcement in April was in Patagonia, and did not get the email. Documents have previously revealed that the government’s peak science agency was cut out of the decision to award the grant;
  • In August, as scrutiny of the grant intensified, public servants pushed to block a long-planned meeting between the then science minister, Michaelia Cash, and the head of the foundation, Anna Marsden, because of concern about the “optics”.

Emails sent by staff at the Australian Institute of Marine Science outline how government expectations, the ability to leverage private donations and public perceptions “may drive the [foundation] to prioritise shorter-term research initiatives in order to demonstrate progress and return on investment”.

“Where it becomes challenging is that … interventions with the largest future benefit also take the longest to develop,” the institute’s executive director of strategic policy, David Mead, wrote in an email to colleagues.

“Among other trade-offs, we will need to determine to what degree we focus on quick wins or whether we progress longer-term strategic interventions and accept that we will only partially progress them during the next five years (perhaps with little outward visibility of success/progress).”

The emails also reveal an initial state of uncertainty about how a $100m allocation for reef restoration and adaptation would be handled……. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/26/great-barrier-reef-scientists-told-to-focus-on-projects-to-make-government-look-good?CMP=share_btn_tw.

September 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Why is the Australian government so secretive about Commonwealth land available for nuclear wastes?

Senator Rex Patrick No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia

LOOK AT CROWN SITES FOR RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT FACILITY

Yesterday I received copies of minutes from the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) Steering Committee under Freedom of Information laws.

What is clear from these minutes is that the Government has secretly considered a number of Commonwealth owned land parcels as potential NRWMF sites. Why has this fact not been made public? Why don’t we know what sites were considered? Why has the analysis and any decisions associated with potential Commonwealth sites not been made public?

It staggers me, in a process that the Minister claims to be open and transparent, that this important aspect of site selection process has not been made public, nor open to scrutiny.

I have written to Minister Canavan asking him to provide me with details of sites considered and the associated analysis. If he won’t I will seek a Senate Order for Production of Documents to get access to them.

Copies of the minutes are available here.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/g1nmw3nmgljp…/NRWMF%20Minutes.pdf…    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1314655315214929/?multi_permalinks=2498364660177316%2C2498213100192472&notif_id=1534461842151654&notif_t=group_activity

August 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Nuclear sacrifice bribe – no guarantee that it will all go to the towns hosting nuclear waste dump

Katrina Bohr No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia, 23 July 18

Media breakdown is that an extra 20 million is going to whoever hosts the dump, on top of the 10 million already promised.
The 20 million is to deliver long-term infrastructure projects.
In my opinion this amount was already allocated.
In the Federal government’s Business Case for the waste dump, these numbers are already part of their estimations.
There is no doubt the promise of infrastructure is to sustain their facility. 
This is manipulation by the government due to the pending postal vote.

Annette Ellen Skipworth The 10 million is going to go to the state government not the local government …and they dont have to spend it in the local area 

July 23, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, wastes | Leave a comment