Ex-Australian Army officer turned independent politician Andrew Wilkie is regarded as a brave man who resigned as an intelligence analyst over the 2003 Iraq War. He is now in a unique position as a member of the newly formed ALP-Green-Independents-federal coalition government to call for an inquiry into the controversial ABC TV camera man Paul Moran who was killed in Iraq.
Wilkie resigned as an analyst with the Office of National Assessment (ONA), an intelligence organisation that directly services Australia’s Prime Minister, disagreeing with claims made by the then Howard government about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and the reasons for going to war.
One of those killed in that war was Paul Moran, who helped to publicise the WMD story, which we now know was a complete fabrication. Wilkie has the opportunity to press for a parliamentary inquiry into the ABC’s employment of Moran and possible conflict of interest.
Moran, 39, was killed on March 22, 2003 by a car bomb while covering the war in Northern Iraq for the tax payer funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC TV). He was an Adelaide-raised freelance cameraman who worked on and off for the ABC as well as US public relations firm Rendon, which had ties to the CIA and the Bush Administration.
Walkely Award winning Australian journalist, Mr Colin James, of the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper, was the first to break the story about Moran’s shadowy past when he attended Moran’s wake in Adelaide.
He talked to relatives who revealed that Moran had a James Bond other life.
“For a freelance cameraman, Moran sure had some incredible access to US State Department officials in Washington,” Mr James said. “How many freelancers get to play games of social tennis with US diplomats?”
Moran had worked for Rendon for more than a decade in places like the Middle East and Kosovo, pushing US government spin while doing freelance work for the ABC TV as a combat cameraman.
On November 17, 2005 prominent American journalist, academic and former US Navy intelligence analyst James Bamford wrote in the influential American magazine Rolling Stone a detailed account of Moran’s work with Rendon and its link to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its selling of the Iraq War to the American public.
The controversy surrounding Moran stems from his exclusive story about an Iraqi defector who had knowledge about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program. A Rendon colleague gave him the scoop which turned out to be false, but was a pretext for the US invasion of Iraq, according to Bamford.
The Australian cameraman also helped to set up a television station for the Iraqi National Congress (INC). The INC was established by the US as an opposition group to the Saddam Hussein regime.
In 2006 the then ABC’s Managing Director, Mr Russell Balding, was approached and asked if he would launch an internal inquiry into the Moran allegations. Mr Shane Wells, his spokesman, said there would be no comment. The Moran story remains a hot potato.
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