The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, has some questions to answer in relation to his handling of the Army’s ‘Jedi Council’ sex scandal.
But, so far, he has refused to do so.
This raises doubt over his ‘famous’ speech that he is intent on creating an Army that is respectful of women. But, then again, so does his decision to allow uniformed personnel to march with busloads of topless women at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
It also raises doubt over his commitment to transparency and calls into question his motive for making this matter public.
These are the facts.
On 13 June 2013, the Chief of Army gave a media conference informing the public about the ‘Jedi Council’ sex scandal. During this conference, he stated that he first became aware on 12 April 2013 of the allegations that a group of around 100 officers and soldiers had been sending or receiving sexually-explicit emails on Defence IT systems. At the end of that conference, Lieutenant General Morrison also gave the public a commitment to greater transparency.
Then, later that evening, the Chief of Army repeated his claim while being interviewed on the ABC’s 730 program that he first became aware of the Jedi Council scandal on 12 April 2013.
That’s all well and good. So is the fact that the number of those who actually engaged in criminal activity has been whittled from 100 down to one, although a small number of other serving personnel were also sacked.
But within days of the story breaking, it was revealed that Army investigators became aware of the allegations regarding the Jedi Council way back in September 2010.
Furthermore, Channel 7 has reported that the Chief of Army’s most senior staff were informed of the scandal by New South Wales police on 23 July 2012, almost a full year before the Chief of Army addressed the public about the issue. Additionally, Channel 7 also reports that the Chief of Army’s Chief of Staff, Colonel Leigh Wilton, provided Lieutenant General David Morrison with an Initial Incident Report of the scandal one week later, on 1 August 2012. Colonel Wilton also stated that the Chief of Army was briefed on a daily basis about these types of incidents.
However, the Chief of Army is now refusing to answer questions about when he knew what.
So much for greater transparency.
You can watch the entire Channel 7 story below.
To give some further context to this curious case of dates, consider this: the ‘ADFA Skype Scandal’ occurred on 31 March 2011. In contrast, the Army became aware of the Jedi Council scandal six months prior to this.
It is simply inconceivable that no one in the Army thought its Chief should know about a scandal involving the transmission of sexually-explicit material by officers, especially when the ADFA Skype scandal, a situation involving cadets in training, was the subject of such intense media scrutiny.
It is impossible to fathom that the Chief of Army’s staff, after being informed by New South Wales police that these officers and soldiers were under investigation for criminal offences, should decide that Lieutenant General David Morrison should only be informed nine months later.
However, one thing is clear: if the Chief of Army is sticking by his story that he found out about the Jedi Council scandal on 12 April 2013, when his senior staff are reported as stating that he was briefed about it in July the previous year, then the public is owed an explanation.
What is going on in the Chief of Army’s office?
Why did it take so long to inform the Chief of Army?
Why did the Chief of Army only choose to make the scandal public in June 2013, two months after he was informed?
What was his motivation for doing so then?
And why, if Lieutenant General David Morrison is so committed to transparency, won’t he answer questions about when he knew what?