Thursday, 24 October 2013

Incompetence Vs Conspiracy

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

This quote from Napoleon Bonaparte is relevant in the context of a new book written by an Australian ex-detective.

The gist of the story is that John Kennedy was actually killed by a member of his own security detail on November 22nd in 1963.

That, on the face of it, sounds far-fetched, but given the variety and range of conspiracy theories produced since the Kennedy assassination, it’s at least as credible as most.

The interesting point, of course, is that he claims incompetence, rather than a malicious conspiracy, killed Kennedy, and given my personal experience and memories of the weapon in question, I find it strangely compelling.

Put briefly, McClaren (the author) claims that although Kennedy was wounded by a shot fired by Lee Harvey Oswald from the book depository, the shot that killed him was actually an accidental discharge from an AR-15 carried by agent George Hickey who was traveling in the open-topped vehicle following Kennedy’s car in the motorcade.

He bases this on ballistic evidence, and claims that he went to the case in the same way as he did as a detective, with no pre-conceived ideas, and relying purely on verifiable fact.

McClaren claims that the shot that killed Kennedy was a hollow point high velocity round fired from a .223 AR-15, a weapon which in 1963 was a novelty to the security detail. He says that Hickey was not trained on it and was carrying it for the first time on 22nd November 1963.

Occasionally I carried an Armalite rifle 40+ years ago. The Armalite is the military version of the Colt AR-15. I remember that the rotating safety switch had three positions – safe, semi and full auto. Safe was 180 degrees across from full auto. I remember an incident in my unit when a digger (a company clerk) went out on an overnight TAOR patrol carrying an Armalite.

In theory, he was trained on it (a couple of sessions in rookies in Oz), but had never carried the weapon in country.

On the way out through the wire, the clerk tripped, the weapon discharged on full auto, and the high velocity rounds did terrible mischief to the lower leg of the digger in front of him. This bloke was RTAd, and after extensive surgery, his leg was saved.

It was discovered that the weapon was on full auto, which the digger carrying it had confused with the 180 degrees opposite safe.

In the light of this memory, McClaren’s explanation of Kennedy’s death is entirely believable. It’s probably worth a read.

Monday, 21 October 2013

The Great Queensland Bikie Scam

Photo courtesy Mackay Daily Mercury

I've lived in Queensland most of my life, and have never had an encounter with an outlaw motorcycle gang.

That experience would be shared by most Queenslanders. I doubt many of us lie awake at night worrying about bikies.

The Newman government, however, have cottoned on to the obsession the media have with outlaw motorcycle gangs, and are milking it big time.

Big blokes with tatts, big black motorcycles, and fortress-like clubhouses make great TV.

Every night for about a week, the television news has featured a raid on a clubhouse. You'd wonder why they're not all raided at once, until you understand that there's more media mileage made out of stringing it out.

Our police minister says we will now all be able to sleep nights n the clear certainty that we are safe from bikies. I'm not sure that curing insomnia comes within the operational brief of the Police minister, but there you go.

I'm unaware of anywhere else in the world (including one-party and totalitarian states) where it's illegal to wear certain regalia. It was illegal to wear green in Ireland under the British occupation, so I guess it comes from the same colonial handbook.

You can also be charged with gathering in a group of three or more if you are a member of an outlaw motorcycle club. This kind of legislation is typical of one party states. Given the numbers in parliament, and our lack of an upper house, a one-party state describes Queensland pretty well.

Collateral damage is likely.

This article in the Mackay Daily Mercury describes the effect on the Vietnam Veterans' Motorcycle Club - a charity.

From that article -

Wolf believes all motorbike riders are being lumped in with the criminal gangs.
"It's not the guys up here that are causing the problem."
A big concern for him is being forced to remove his patches.
"We're Vietnam Veterans and that's something to be proud of and a way we express our pride for our country," he said.
"It's an insult to the veterans of this country if they try and take our patches off us."

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...