The Chief of Navy’s response to Captain Shindy’s pro-Islamic and politicised Twitter account becomes more bizarre by the day.
However, considering that the Chief of Navy is great mates with the Grand Mufti, joins in the Ramadan fast and holds Islamic dinners at the Australian War Memorial, it is really not at all that surprising. Rather it is concerning.
In fact, one could rather drily question if the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, has already converted to Islam.
As such, it was concerning to see a reader comment online in The Australian this week claiming that Tim Barrett’s brother had done exactly that.
While I normally do not publish such statements without verifying them (and I have found no evidence that Tim Barrett has any brother, let alone one who has converted to Islam), there still remain serious questions about the motivations of the man who has the responsibility of leading the Royal Australian Navy when we are so clearly at war with those who hold Islamic beliefs dearly and sincerely.
And the hypocrisy of the Mona Shindy scandal only deepens them.
Let’s start with the dating game that is being played by the Chief of Navy and then move on to other matters.
The dating game
In the big scheme of things, the dates of who said what in this scandal are completely irrelevant. All that matters is that an official Royal Australian Navy Twitter account was publishing pro-Islamic and political propaganda in contravention of orders.
The fact that the Chief of Navy has gone down this little rabbit hole says one thing: he is desperately trying to avoid examination of the real issue and is hiding behind trivialities.
But it won’t help him. Not one little bit.
The dating game revolves around two questions:
- When was the @navyislamic account shut down?
- When was Captain Mona Shindy counselled?
And it is all designed to try and make it look like the Chief of Navy was not responding to the Australian Liberty Alliance’s letter sent to the Chief of Defence Force on 10 December, 2015.
So when was @navyislamic shut down?
I noticed the account had vanished on 22 December, 2015.
I promptly tweeted this interesting news to the ABC and, unsurprisingly, it remains the only outlet not to have filed a report about this issue (although, to be fair, I am informed there was some discussion of it on Radio National yesterday).
— Bernard Gaynor (@BernardGaynor) December 21, 2015
A search of Twitter clearly shows that there were regular interactions with the account until at least 17 December, 2015 and the first mention that the account was gone came on 18 December, 2015.
— Jonah Sporran (@sporran666) December 18, 2015
And then there is this. Google cached the account on 16 December, 2015. That means the account was active on that date.
So there is definite proof that Mona Shindy’s @navyislamic Twitter account was up and running until at least 16 December and possibly for another two days after that.
But the Chief of Navy is not having a bar of the facts. Defence put out a statement yesterday and it said:
“The Twitter account was shut down on 10 December 2015.”
Defence, presumably with the go ahead from the Chief of Navy, also briefed journalists that this proves that the retreat from @navyislamic had nothing to do with the letter sent by the President of the Australian Liberty Alliance, Debbie Robinson.
As an alibi, it’s not very good.
For a start, it’s wrong. You might call it a lie. All it does is show that Defence, at best, can’t get its facts straight, or at worst, is being deliberately deceptive.
And in any case, I have been writing about Captain Mona Shindy and her political activity in her capacity as a member of the Royal Australian Navy for over six months. So the alibi still doesn’t cut it.
Then there’s the question of when the Chief of Navy ‘counselled’ Captain Shindy about her political activities.
The Guardian was informed initially that this occurred on 8 December, 2015.
“Defence said Shindy had been counselled on 8 December, two days before an official complaint was lodged by the head of the Australian Liberty Alliance, a newly formed political party critical of Islam.”
Then Defence put out its new, revised statement yesterday, giving a new, earlier date:
“On 3 December 2015, the Chief of Navy counselled CAPT Shindy”
And then Defence briefed The Australian that the Chief of Navy himself became concerned about Captain Shindy’s activities much earlier:
Defence sources yesterday said Vice-Admiral Barrett began questioning how to deal with Captain Mona Shindy’s @navyislamic Twitter account in November after she posted a series of controversial political tweets.
The Chief of Navy has decided to play politics with dates over the fact that one of his closest advisors was playing politics publicly. On an official Royal Australian Navy Twitter account.
And he’s done it to try and downplay the embarrassment of having been caught out by the Australian Liberty Alliance.
It’s a logical strategy if you are a political party trying to make yourself look stupid.
However, the Australian Defence Force has yet to lodge the paperwork to register as a political party, so it becomes an illogical strategy that simply makes the Chief of Navy look tricky. And inept.
The ‘councilling’ session
Apparently, Captain Shindy was ‘counselled’ by the Chief of Navy.
I say ‘apparently’ for a good reason.
The Chief of Navy has gone through a tortured process of trying to extricate himself from this embarrassing position by painting a picture that he took action against Captain Shindy on earlier and earlier dates.
It’s a tactic that only opens more questions. Like what exactly was Captain Shindy counselled about? After all, if the Chief of Navy’s story is true that he became concerned in November, why was the account not shut down for up to seven weeks, with about two weeks between his ‘dressing down’ of Shindy and the closure of the account?
Furthermore, doesn’t the fact that absolutely nothing happened after the counselling session only reinforce the exact story that the Chief of Navy is attempting to avoid?
According to Defence, Captain Shindy was ‘keelhauled’ on 3 December. It was so severe that immediate action was taken to do absolutely nothing with her Twitter feed.
And then just as Navy HQ was celebrating its non-Christmas specific, diversity holiday, alcohol-free lemon and mint shandies a letter arrived from the Australian Liberty Alliance. I can just see the smiling faces drooping while a committee held a ‘councilling’ session, agonising over how the Chief of Navy should respond. Eventually, it was decided that this particular game was up and that there was no way to avoid having to face the fact that the account must be shut down.
And then, after a painful six or seven days, the plug on @navyislamic was pulled.
It is not at all difficult to see why the diversity bright sparks thought this approach might have a silver-lining. Now they could claim that the account was shut down due to pressure from the mean and nasty right wing groups.
While I have no doubt that the Australian Liberty Alliance forced the Chief of Navy’s hand, this hopeful position does not help either. It just makes the Chief of Navy look weak. It only highlights that politics, and not principle, was behind the establishment of this Twitter account in the first place.
Can I be punished too?
The farcical saga does not end just yet for the Chief of Navy.
And he should expect further questions to come from the media.
For instance, Captain Shindy has been ‘punished’ by being sent off to study a masters of politics. Courtesy of the Australian taxpayer.
In fact, the Navy newspaper announced this on 3 December.
No doubt, whoever was responsible for choosing the dates in the dating game above was not aware of this. Now the Chief of Navy has been lumped into the somewhat embarrassing position of having to explain why the Navy was publicly announcing Captain Shindy was off to study politics on the same day that he was allegedly disciplining her for her politics in uniform in breach of Defence’s political and social media policies.
I’m sure there will be many sailors wishing they were punished the same way.
After all, six sailors were sacked in 2014 for posting anti-Islamic comments on Facebook in 2014. Will Defence now sponsor their university studies?
The public has grown increasingly sceptical about the ability of the Defence Force hierarchy to do things like kill our enemies when they are more often than not seen to be running progressive political agendas.
His transgender speechwriter openly boasted of wedging the Liberal/National coalition.
The former Chief of Defence Force has been found to have unlawfully exercised his power by sacking people for their private political beliefs.
The current Chief of Defence Force is going back to court to try and gain legal power to do just that.
For three years now Defence has participated in a blatant protest against extant Commonwealth laws on marriage and family.
All of these outrages have damaged public confidence in the hierarchy of the Australian Defence Force.
And now the Chief of Navy is punishing Captain Shindy for her pro-Islamic political activity in uniform by sending her off to do a masters in politics.
Unless the Chief of Navy rethinks his position on this, Australians will lose all confidence in him and his colleagues. In fact, it may well already be too late.
The reaction to this story on social media has been immense and it has been crystal clear; the Chief of Navy, however, is obstinately refusing to accept that he has a duty to impose discipline and standards.
Australians will be outraged at his attempts to shift the blame for this whole incident from Captain Mona Shindy, and himself, to them.
Yes. The Chief of Navy believes that the problem with this Twitter account was not what it said, but the response it received. In other words, we’re to blame. If only we were more tolerant of a pro-Islamic and politicised military, this problem would never have occurred.
This is the statement that insults the intelligence of every Australian that Defence released yesterday:
As part of Navy’s promotion of diversity within the Australian Defence Force, a Twitter account was established to promote Defence and Navy policy on employment diversity across Defence. Initially, the account received mixed attention but in recent months, in line with increased public debate on Islam, it has attracted a growing number of contentious comments.
In administering the account, CAPT Shindy has been inundated with these comments, many of which have been very personal and highly confronting and she has had to judge the right balance between policy and personal comment. On 3 December 2015, the Chief of Navy counselled CAPT Shindy on this dilemma. In discussion with CAPT Shindy, the Chief of Navy determined that while she may have misjudged the balance, there had been no wilful violation of policy, but that further use of the Twitter account and public comment of this nature would cease at his direction. She agreed with this position. The Twitter account was shut down on 10 December 2015.
Subsequently, the Chief of Navy initiated a review of Navy’s social media methods to regain the necessary direction for Navy and Defence’s diversity message. In conducting the review, Navy seeks to strengthen its messaging in sync with its support to traditional media and other lines of communication, to ensure accuracy of information, and to provide reliable supplemental communications to its members and the wider Australian public. Navy’s use of social media is continuing to develop as a necessary part of a synchronised communications plan.
Navy remains committed to the promotion of diversity and to strengthening its diversity message.
CAPT Shindy has provided 26 years of dedicated service and retains the Chief of Navy’s complete support.
What should happen?
DI(G) PERS 21-1 Political activities of Defence personnel is an order from the Chief of Defence Force.
This is what is states:
4. This Instruction constitutes an order to Defence members from the CDF.
10. Defence personnel may:
d. express their personal opinions on a political party, candidate or an issue, but not as Defence personnel.
Unless the Chief of Navy wants to give the impression that orders from the Chief of Defence no longer need to be obeyed, Captain Mona Shindy should face military disciplinary action.
She should be charged.
And I offer this advice: it’s not hard to do. I was charged 12 times and it all happened very quickly. However, I was not found guilty because I was charged for my private political views, expressed as a civilian. Captain Mona Shindy will not have that defence. But the Chief of Navy is running the defence that Captain Shindy is Islamic for her.
Public confidence in the military will rest on whether it upholds its laws, or whether it hypocritically proves, once again, that these laws have been politicised as well in order to protect Islam within the Australian Defence Force.
What will happen?
The Australian newspaper is reporting today that Defence is concerned about losing the following that @navyislamic had built.
I can guarantee that is not going to happen!