The Guardian • Issue #2030

“David McBride: declassified” a whistle blower unleashed

Major David McBride and Richard Titelius.

There are moments in our lives when we witness someone who has tried to do the right thing to others, to the society in which they live, and to themselves, but most of the time, the mass media and mass society takes this person out of context and misunderstands their intentions. Tonight, the target of many peoples misunderstandings and misplaced wrath about what happened in Afghanistan with regards to our nations Special Forces, gets a chance to put the record straight – an evening with Major David McBride when he tells us who his is, what he did in Afghanistan, and why he later upon his return, released what many came to know as the, “Afghan Files”; details of unauthorised killings of unarmed men, women and children in Afghanistan and a warrior culture within Australia’s specialist military forces.

David McBride opened his presentation by stating, “This is not about war crimes, it is about truth and it is about the public relations machine about the war.” The pressure which he faced as a consequence of his belief in the truth and what is right for our soldiers, for this country and for his conscience, drove him to alcoholism and to contemplate suicide by throwing himself from a steep coastal cliff near Bondi in Sydney where he lives. But his belief in justice and defending what the ANZAC’s fought for, which is being trashed by this governments current brand of obsequious militarism is what pushed him to take the stand which he took and landed him in the ACT Supreme on the 13th June 2019, where he had his first hearing on charges that he breached national security. The matter is currently listed for hearing in November 2022, and in the lead-up, Major David McBride, as he prefers to be known, is touring the major centres of this country to let people know the real issues involved and what is at stake for this country. A five-minute video was shown of a few incidences from the body cams of various soldiers in Afghanistan (which most Australians would have seen from the ABC Afghan Files), which show soldiers dealing with unarmed Afghan civilians in unethical ways before the 25-minute documentary on, David McBride: Declassified was presented.

Viewers learn David McBride had a privileged upbringing including attending the best schools in Sydney while growing up and studying law at Oxford University in England. He served for three years in the British army before returning to Australia and joining the military, which included two tours of Afghanistan in 2011 and 2013. He was concerned by some of what he saw while in Afghanistan and when he returned and told his superiors in the Department of Defence, they did not take his concerns seriously. He saw that some soldiers who did the wrong thing were exemplified while some soldiers who did the right thing were scapegoated. McBride also suggested that some war crimes were covered up with phony prosecutions. Through his service in the military and then seeing how conflict and war is portrayed in the media, McBride began to understand, “the difference between truth and propaganda.”  It was also important to know what the real Afghanistan is and with a friend and filmmaker, David Adams, McBride returned to Afghanistan to make a film about the real Afghanistan, not just the one which the US media utilises to push the interests of the war. He got to know a little about the real Taliban as well as ordinary Afghanis.

In the discussion which followed the film presentation, militarism and imperialism generally was also discussed. Former Nuclear Disarmament and Greens Party Senator and long-time peace activist, Jo Vallentine asked McBride why this nation is so enchanted by militarism, pursuing an alliance with the US and how are we to break this military nexus with the US. McBride responded by saying Australia with the UK and other white and or US friendly countries seek cooperation and make alliances or agreements which bind those countries to take security or defence positions which support US interests in the Asia Indo Pacific region. This includes the Quad, AUKUS, and Five Eyes, the latter which is made up of US, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and Australia. Of the latter McBride said, “Once you join you cant get out.” This pretty well sums up Australia’s participation in all these groups with the US. McBride said that since the Watergate scandal in 1972, over US President Richard Nixon’s conduct, we appeared to have learnt the wrong messages about what is required, as the establishment has learnt how to better suppress the truth or distract the masses from knowing what the real issues are and then being able to do something about it.

McBride is also a supporter of that other Australian being persecuted for showing up the lies about militarism undertaken supposedly in our name; Julian Assange. Like many Australians, McBride has noticed that our current ALP Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, while making all the right noises while in opposition, has now gone strangely quiet or more likely compliant. Liberal and Labor to McBride were quite similar on militarism and security in that it is about promoting and protecting US interests – they are both like Coke and Pepsi and when a political leader like Gough Whitlam starts to go off script by saying he wanted the US military surveillance base at Pine Gap to be closed, then suddenly Whitlam is no longer in government. McBride made the observation of Australia being so tied to US foreign policy that Australia and the US both entered Afghanistan on the same day and both left on the same day.

Major David McBride initially reported his findings about the multiple incidents of Australian Special forces troops killing unarmed civilians, including children through the necessary chain of command, but after nothing happened, McBride offered his findings to journalists from the ABC. This led to the Afghan Files which in turn led to the current charges which McBride is facing. Though the report produced by Justice Brereton suggested McBride was telling the truth about what had happened, this has not led to the military abandoning the changes against McBride.

The Communist Party of Australia calls on the Australian Defence Forces to abandon the charges against David McBride, revisit the Brereton Report to look at who was really responsible for the atrocities committed by the Australian military in Afghanistan, and the Australian government re-examine our alliances and cooperation with the US to determine whether they are really in the best interests of maintaining our peace, security and sovereignty.

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