Friday, May 6, 2016

THE ROYAL PREROGATIVE



A Place Called Pine Gap


The year was 1975.

Gough Whitlam, Australia's Labor prime minister, was trying to cash in on the anti-CIA frenzy gripping the world, all because CIA Director Bill Colby displayed costume jewelry at a Congressional hearing as a means of safeguarding CIA's truly valuable family jewels.

Whitlam's focus is Pine Gap, an Australian military base that houses the US National Security Agency's (NSA) Asian listening post and is also the CIA hub for Asian covert operations.

Gough is angry because he knows he's among those targeted by NSA for telephonic eavesdropping.

So Gough threatens to expose NSA/CIA activity at Pine Gap (an arrangement known to and approved by Australia's intelligence service) and close the base.

CIA couldn't have that.  Pine Gap was too strategically vital to its Asian mission.

Drastic action was necessary.

Telephone calls were made at the highest level.  Secret meetings were convened.  The Queen of England was consulted.

Solution:  A constitutional coup d'etat.

The coup was based on the little-known royal prerogative:  the Queen's constitutional power to fire a prime minister and dissolve parliament in any Commonwealth country, including Britain itself.

Here's how it played out in Canberra, Australia's capital:

John Kerr, the Queen's ceremonial governor-general, invited Gough Whitlam to his office and demanded the prime minister's resignation.

Gough refused.

So Kerr handed him a letter of dismissal signed by the Queen.  

Then Kerr invited Malcom Fraser, leader of the Conservative Party (waiting in the next room), to form an interim government pending a new election.

Gough was shocked.  

Once he regained his balance, he whipped his supporters into several feeble demonstrations, amounting to less than nothing.

How so, less than nothing?

Two months later, Gough lost the election. 

Gough is long gone; Pine Gap remains.