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The media is gearing up to report on the legislation to be introduced next week by Abetz seeking to “amend” some of the regulations administered under the Fair Work legislation and publish the terms of reference for a Productivity Cn review. Unfortunately, it looks as though the amendments will not extend to penalty rates, which Judith Sloan vividly highlights below as being outdated in most circumstances in a modern society (as are most of the other regulations). The Government is missing an opportunity to do more by arguing that a great many problems with the FW arrangements have been revealed since the election and that it no longer needs a Productivity Cn review.

The attempt by the US Administration to pass off the attack on its Benghazi facilities as nothing more than a protest by locals, rather than a calculated attack by an Al Quaeda group, seems incapable of being sustained now that access to various internal messages has been publicly exposed. These reveal that the then Deputy Director of the CIA (he has since resigned) deliberately covered up any Al Quaeda role in the “talking points” he wrote for Obama and other US ministers. This was at the time Obama was claiming that Al Quaeda had ceased to play a major terrorist role. This was never true and developments in Syria, Iraq and Egypt since Benghazi have led to Kerry saying recently the US  is “very, very” concerned about Al Q’s role in Iraq. One might add that many people are “very, very” concerned about US foreign policy.

An important acknowledgement has emerged that the “science” of dangerous global warming should take serious account of the views of  scientists who are sceptics. The American Physics Society (the most important such body in the world), which had a  “revolt” by internal sceptics a short time ago, has now held a meeting with prominent sceptics, including renowned Emeritus Professor Richard Lindzen. Leading economist, Ted Sieper, has forwarded me the lengthy transcript (see The holding of this discussion highlights that (to say the least) many uncertainties exist in the “science” and it reinforces the case for an independent inquiry by the Australian government, a petition for which is shortly to be moved in the House of Representatives by scientist Dennis Jensen MP (Case Smit initiated this and I agreed to be the Principal Petitioner). 

Meantime, analyst Tony Thomas has written a fascinating article in Quadrant online in which he reports that the Australian Academy of Science is updating its booklet on climate change and that contributors to this update appear to all be believers in dangerous global warming, with the most renowned Professor David Karoly a lead author. It appears that a sceptic who participated in drafting the previous booklet, Prof Garth Paltridge (retired), has dropped out on this occasion. According to Thomas the AAS aim is to have this booklet distributed to schools etc as the previous one was. One can only hope that State governments will not allow this to happen (it will be recalled that a judicial decision in the UK in response to action by an individual identified a number of mistakes in the Al Gore book which had been circulated to schools there).



Pay penalty rates, but not through awards system

Article by Judith Sloan published in The Australian, February 22, 2014

Penalty rates. Source: The Australian

Penalty rates. Source: The Australian

PENALTY rates have been a feature of Australian industrial relations regulation for nearly 100 years.

The regulators’ motivations for including penalty rates in awards were twofold: first, to compensate employees for working during what were deemed to be unsociable hours and, second, to dissuade employers from operating during those unsociable hours. The latter motivation was particularly tied up with providing scope for workers to attend church and sporting events.

Viewed historically, penalty rates made some sense. Men worked, while married women did not. Most children left school well before Year 12 to get a job. University attendance was rare. Additionally, church attendance was common and the only way to view sporting events was to attend them.

Restrictive trading laws in all states reinforced the notion of unsociable hours.

Today, penalty rates are a blast from the past. They reflect patterns of family responsibilities and educational engagement that no longer apply. Gone is the dominant model of families in which the man works full-time, generally nine to five on weekdays, and the woman stays home to care for children. Most children now stay on to Year 12 and more than 40 per cent continue on to university. Church attendance figures are way down and we can watch all the major sporting events from the comfort of our lounge rooms.

Trading laws have been relaxed and, while it is not quite 24/7 when it comes to the service industry, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays are popular trading days with customers.

So what are the penalty rates that are stipulated in modern awards? The table sets out, in simplified form, the penalty rates that apply on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays in a number of major awards.

The awards are confusing to interpret because some figures include the casual loading (now 25 per cent in all these awards) and some do not. Even in the same award, the casual loading is not treated consistently. It would be very easy for an employer to slip up because of the ambiguous way penalty rates are presented.

One of the strange things is that not all the penalties are the same across the modern awards. Indeed, the penalty rates are a dog’s breakfast, in part because they emerged from a number of pre-existing awards that were merged to create modern awards. In this process, penalty rates floated to the highest common denominator. The differences across these major awards really make no rhyme or reason.

In the Fast Food Award, the penalty for working on Sunday is 50 per cent, whereas in the Retail General Award it is 100 per cent. Should we assume fast food workers regard Sundays as less anti-social than retail workers?

Why would the hospitality award provide for 250 per cent for working on a public holiday whereas fast food is 150 per cent?

Why should fast food workers be paid 50 per cent more on Sundays while retail workers are paid 100 per cent more?

And you can see why most pharmacies are closed on public holidays when the penalty for employing staff is 250 per cent.

Is it time to reconsider the place of penalty rates in awards? The first thing to say is that the market will dictate that, at certain times of the day and week, some employers may need to offer a loading on normal rates of pay to some workers. This is likely to be the case with more skilled workers.

Having said that, there is absolutely no case for a one-size-fits-all approach, which is inherent in the inclusion of penalty rates in legally binding awards. These days, many people find themselves in a position where these so-called anti-social hours are, in fact, their preferred hours of work.

University students can work on some days while attending lectures and tutorials on others. Mothers with young children can work at times when the father of their children can provide childcare. To be sure, those people who are working in penalty rate periods almost certainly enjoy the bonus they receive. But there is little doubt that many would be prepared to work these hours for a lot less.

If that is where the issue rested, it might be tempting to let sleeping dogs lie; some workers receive an unwarranted bonus for working hours they would prefer to work anyway, but is this really harmful?

The answer is that significant harm is done to the operating times of firms, to their profitability and to investment. It is now common to see clusters of restaurants closed on public holidays, notwithstanding a throng of eager customers ready to order coffee and food.

This is lose-lose-lose. Business owners lose out and bear the cost of idle capital, workers lose out by getting no hours of work and customers lose out because the choice of eateries is restricted. This makes no sense at all.

And just in case you think I am exaggerating, under the Restaurant Award, a level 2 worker is paid $44 per hour on public holidays, a figure that does not include superannuation and other costs.

So what is the solution, given the political sensitivity of the issue? Rather than remove penalty rates from awards by statute, one way forward would be to insert preferred hours clauses in awards. Workers would nominate the hours and days they would prefer to work and, as long as the employer provides work during these periods, then no penalties would apply. Work outside preferred hours would attract pay loadings during the traditional penalty periods.

An alternative is to provide for penalty rates only after employees have worked a certain number of hours in a week. Every day is treated the same, but days six and seven attract penalties, irrespective of the days on which they fall.

And for those skilled workers who will only work during certain hours if they are paid penalties, these should be specified in agreements, not through awards.

Just as the days of the six o’clock swill are behind us, the days of inflexible, compulsory penalty rates specified in awards should also fade away.

Man who might be president

Article by Greg Sheridan published in The Australian, February 22, 2014

Joko Widodo poses with former Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri during his gubernatorial campaign in 2012.

Joko Widodo poses with former Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri during his gubernatorial campaign in 2012. Source: AFP

THERE is something incongruous about the combination of the slight, lithe, sinuous figure of Joko Widodo, governor of Jakarta, in his loose batik shirt and informal slacks, and the grand, white, colonnaded Dutch colonial building that houses the governor’s office.

Jokowi, as he is universally known, has invited me to spend the day with him as he tours Jakarta’s slums to talk to his constituents. A strange mix of populist, technocrat, Mr Fix-It, Mr Clean, social media maven and above all a man in the midst of his people, Jokowi is most in his element among the voters.

“I only spend an hour or two a day in the office,” Jokowi tells me. “The rest of the time I spend outside with people.”

The business of government doesn’t stop when Jokowi is out and about. He carries a tablet everywhere and aides follow him around. Decisions get made. Jokowi Skypes, texts, emails, uses Facebook.

He is Indonesia’s first social media political superstar. And he is very likely to be Indonesia’s next president. “If Jokowi runs, the rest of us are basically golf caddies,” says another presidential candidate (admittedly a long-shot candidate).

There is a kind of Jokowi fever in Indonesia at the moment. Before politics, he was a furniture manufacturer and exporter. About a decade ago he became mayor of the small, central Javanese city of Solo. There he established the trademarks of his approach to government administration: absolutely no corruption, constant dialogue with his voters, effective program delivery and big efficiency reforms of the bureaucracy.

Then, in an Indonesian version of Mr Smith Goes to Washington, he decided to take his approach to Jakarta. He was not a Jakarta native, he had a Chinese running mate and he took on a well-regarded incumbent.

Against expectations, he romped to victory.

“When I saw that my city of Solo was not getting any better, I wanted to improve the life of my people,” Jokowi says. “Then I wanted to improve the capacity of our capital, Jakarta.”

He’s careful not to make too many national claims, to look too ambitious at this stage, but draws the obvious lesson: “Integrity is very important in government, to show our people how we work here. When we work this way, I’m sure our country can do a lot better.”

This careful and limited claim is as near as Jokowi gets in our interview to commenting directly on national leadership. But everyone wants to know the answer to the big question: will Jokowi run for president this year?

I ask him straight out if he will.

“I don’t think about that,” he says, this most painfully honest of politicians surely telling a white lie. “My job is governor of Jakarta.” But the Jokowi guessing game is hot right now, and the smart money is he will run and win. But the equation for Jokowi, like everything in Indonesia, is intensely complicated.

Jokowi represents the Progressive Democratic Party - PDI-P - which is led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, a former president and daughter of Sukarno, Indonesia’s magnetic and erratic leader in the years of living dangerously.

Will Mega want to run again for the presidency? Her ego is gigantic and she has a thousand political wounds to salve. But like the other leading candidates apart from Jokowi, Mega represents Indonesia’s past. She harks back to the New Order days of Suharto.

The other leading candidate is Prabowo Subianto, a highly controversial former general who married Suharto’s daughter. He offers a sense of purpose and command. But his party, Gerindra, has a patchy presence across the vast Indonesian archipelago.

The other candidate, Aburizal Bakrie, is the champion for Golkar, Suharto’s old party. Golkar is still the best organised and wealthiest party.

Jokowi, unlike all these old stagers, represents a new generation of younger, reformist, post-ideological politicians.

The sequence of elections is important for Jokowi. Parliamentary elections are in May, followed by presidential elections in June, then a second round for the presidency in September if no candidate gets 50 per cent in the first round.

If PDI-P announces Jokowi as its presidential candidate early, it is likely to increase its numbers massively in the parliamentary election. Among other things, this would give Jokowi a chance of actually getting legislation passed and running a coherent, reforming government if he does become president.

If Mega decides to run for the presidency, Jokowi would be courted by the other parties. A presidential candidate needs the support of 20 per cent of the parliament to nominate. A Mega v Jokowi contest would vastly improve Prabowo’s chances.

If Mega backs Jokowi she will be an immensely influential king-maker –

Indonesia’s Sonia Gandhi - and she will offer her party, and her nation, a means of transition to a new generation and a new politics.

I am unable to spend the day with Jokowi, despite his kind invitation, because I have to get a flight just after lunch. But this has the advantage for me that Jokowi sits down instead for a rare, extended interview.

This gives me the chance three times to try to get him to say something about the dispute between the Indonesian and Australian governments over boatpeople.

Every foreigner in Jakarta, and large numbers of Indonesians, are keen to discover Jokowi’s views on foreign issues.

Australians, Jokowi assures me, are still welcome in Jakarta.

“People-to-people relations are important,” he says. “We are welcoming to everybody, we are open to everybody.”

I press him for his opinion on the disagreement over boat turn-backs. “I think this is a national issue,” he says, “I don’t know about it.”

It would be wrong to verbal Jokowi here, or to over-interpret his remarks. But certainly they demonstrate a determination not to join in the Australia-bashing that has been going on in sections of Indonesian politics and media.

More than that, Jokowi likes Australia, His son studied for two years at the University of Technology, Sydney, and he visited him there. But these matters are far from Jokowi’s mind. Every day he wrestles with the mighty problems of his mighty metropolis of 10 million souls, with a special focus on the poor.

“We have a lot of problems here,” he says, and ticks them off: “The system in our bureaucracy, squatters living on our river banks, floods in the city, traffic congestion and basic human needs like health and education.”

More than any politician, Jokowi uses social media to get voter feedback. He gets an aide to show me the weekly report on concerns expressed on social media - it is many pages long and full of multi-coloured pie charts and graphs.

E-commerce and e-government of all types have helped Jokowi help Jakarta. He has almost doubled the city’s revenues without raising tax rates. E-transactions, especially e-taxes, reduce the need for businessmen to interact with bureaucrats. This cuts the scope for bribes and tax evasion.

Corruption is still a huge problem in Indonesia. But gradually the calculus is changing. The national anti-corruption commission is vigorous and has huge public support, senior people are regularly charged and jailed, the media is relentless in exposing corruption, and now a new generation of anti-corruption politicians such as Jokowi is emerging in cities across Indonesia.

Jakarta has had monumental failures as a city, many of these exacerbated by corruption. Jokowi tells me there have been plans approved for a mass rapid transit system for 26 years, but not until he came to office did the project really get going, last year, and he hopes to have it finished in five or six years. Jakarta desperately needs it. Soon the city will have enough cars to totally fill all its road space if all were used simultaneously.

Jokowi has used extra tax revenues to help the poor, giving them health cards for free visits to clinics and hospitals, and school cards for uniforms, books and school bags.

Many of Jakarta’s problems are truly intractable. Every year in the rainy season it floods, a consequence of decades of over-building and no run-off capacity. Jokowi wants to deepen and widen rivers and reservoirs, and make them less flood prone, but tens of thousands of people live in illegal dwellings on river banks. Building them decent, low-cost housing is a huge undertaking.

If Jokowi does run for president he will encounter huge opposition from vested interests. He could revolutionise political funding because he can raise a vast amount of money from huge numbers of voters making small donations. The influence of the old tycoons could diminish.

After our interview I chat with one of his aides on the veranda outside his office. Jokowi emerges a few minutes later and is mobbed by a swarm of Indonesian journalists, cameras clicking, lights flashing, questions fired away.

He smiles through it all and stops to answer questions for 10 minutes. Then he’s off, out to the people. A wave from the back of the car; would I like to come with him? Indonesia will soon surely answer that very same question.

The Benghazi Cover-up: How the CIA’s No. 2 misled Congress

Article by Stephen F Hayes published in The Weekly Standard, VOL. 19, NO. 24 March 3, 2014

Two leading Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence say that Michael Morell, then acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, gave an account of his role on Benghazi that was often misleading and sometimes deliberately false.

“I went back and reviewed some of his testimony the other day and he’s gotten himself in a real box,” says Senator Saxby Chambliss, the highest-ranking Republican on the committee. “It’s really strange. I’ve always thought Mike was a straight-up guy, gave us good briefings—factual, straightforward. I mean, this has really been strange the last few weeks—all this now being uncovered.”

At issue is the role Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, played in producing the Obama administration’s flawed talking points about the fatal attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, and the misleading answers he gave lawmakers who investigated them.

The allegations of misconduct are serious. In the recent Senate Intelligence Committee report, six Republican members accuse Morell of lying in sworn testimony to Congress. Several Republican senators tell The Weekly Standard that Morell misled them in one-on-one or small-group meetings about the talking points. Morell—now counselor to Beacon Global Strategies, a consultancy close to Hillary Clinton—did not respond to a request for comment.

Three aspects of the controversy are drawing particular interest: (1) Morell’s obfuscation of his central role in rewriting the talking points, (2) Morell’s contention that the FBI rewrote the talking points, and (3) Morell’s false claim that the talking points were provided to the White House merely as a heads-up and not for coordination.

Who Revised the Talking Points?

Within days of the Benghazi attacks, it was clear that major elements of the Obama administration’s public story about the events were dubious. Within weeks, investigators on the Senate Intelligence Committee learned that the unclassified “talking points” provided by the CIA to members of Congress and top administration officials told a different story than the classified intelligence. “We were seeing the classified stuff and then we see the unclassified talking points,” recalls one lawmaker with access to the intelligence. “It just didn’t match up.”

Among the changes: Early drafts referred to “al Qaeda” and “attacks,” while later drafts did not. So lawmakers began to ask questions.

On November 15, 2012, four top intelligence officials appeared before the Senate committee to answer questions about Benghazi: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; Matthew Olsen, head of the National Counterterrorism Center; Patrick Kennedy, under secretary of state for management; and Morell, acting director of the CIA.

Chambliss says he grilled the officials about changes made to the talking points. “I went down the line. I said: ‘Okay, guys, did you change the talking points?’ Every one of them said no.”

The questioning might not have been that precise, according to sources familiar with the hearing, but much of the hearing was devoted to uncovering how the talking points had been put together and who had made the changes. Morell volunteered nothing.

Senator Richard Burr was more specific. The senator asked each witness if he knew who had been responsible for changing the word “attacks” to “demonstrations.” Again, denials down the line. “I think that Mike answered what he felt he was asked,” says Burr. “But there was clearly enough that he knew that he could have shortcut this process.”

A similar process played out at a hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that same day. Clapper, as the top U.S. intelligence official, was asked if he knew who had revised the talking points. His answer: I don’t. According to three officials in the room, the other intelligence officials also indicated that they didn’t know who had made the changes, but their answers were nonverbal and thus do not appear in the transcript. Representative Peter King reported after the hearing that the officials had claimed not to know who had changed the language. The denials were widely reported.

“When U.S. intelligence officials testified behind closed doors two weeks ago, they were asked point blank whether they had altered the talking points on which U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice based her comments about the Benghazi attacks that have turned into a political firestorm,” read a Reuters story on November 28. “Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, acting CIA Director Michael Morell and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen each said no, according to two congressional sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

For two weeks, the official public position of the intelligence community was that no one knew who had made the changes. In private meetings with lawmakers, on Capitol Hill and at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Morell denied that he had played any significant role in writing or revising the talking points.

Without any answers, members of the congressional oversight committees pressed the White House to turn over emails and other documents pertaining to the talking points. For months, the administration refused, citing the deliberative process inside the executive branch. But when the president decided to nominate John Brennan to run the CIA, Republicans in the Senate finally had some leverage. Several threatened to block Brennan’s nomination unless the administration cooperated more fully on Benghazi. Eventually, the White House made available on a “read-only” basis nearly 100 pages of emails between top intelligence and Obama administration officials.

Those emails, which the White House gave reporters in May 2013, showed Morell had been a key player in rewriting the talking points. In fact, a September 15 email to Susan Rice described a secure video teleconference in which Morell told others on the call that he had rewritten the talking points and would be happy to revise them further in consultation with top advisers to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. The email reports: “Morell noted that these points were not good and he had taken a heavy editing hand to them. He noted that he would be happy to work with Jake Sullivan [State Department] and [Ben] Rhodes [White House] to develop appropriate talking points.”

The messages contradicted claims from Jay Carney and other top administration officials that neither the White House nor the State Department had played any role in revising the substance of the talking points. Among others, top State Department officials expressed concern about the contents of the talking points and, in consultation with “building leadership,” pushed for changes. 

Carney was grilled on the contradictions at the White House press briefing on May 10, 2013, after The Weekly Standard and ABC News reported on the emails.

“On Benghazi, and with all due credit to my colleague on the right,” a reporter asked Carney, “we have had emails showing that the State Department pushed back against talking-point language from the CIA and expressed concern about how some of the information would be used politically in Congress. You have said the White House only made a stylistic change here, but these were not stylistic changes. These were content changes. So again, what role did the White House play, not just in making but in directing changes that took place to these?”

Carney explained the process, downplaying the administration’s role. Then he got specific. “The CIA—in this case, deputy director of the CIA—took that process and issued a set of talking points on that Saturday morning, and those talking points were disseminated.”

Five days later, when the White House released the emails, the administration enlisted Morell to participate in two background press briefings. While the emails themselves showed robust and sometimes contentious exchanges between top officials, Morell told reporters that he had been responsible for most of the substantive changes.

That’s quite a reversal. In November 2012, Morell had dodged responsibility during congressional hearings and misled lawmakers in private meetings. Then in May, the White House spokesman told the world that Mike Morell had been in charge of the process that produced the talking points, and Morell privately told reporters the same thing. 

In June, Morell resigned. Soon he joined the consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies, cofounded by four men: Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff to Leon Panetta, who was secretary of defense during the Benghazi attacks; Michael Allen, former staff director of the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence, which helped investigate Benghazi; Andrew Shapiro, former assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs; and Philippe Reines, recently described by New York magazine as Hillary Clinton’s “most visible spokesman and the guardian of her public persona.” 

Senator Chambliss notes that before leaving government, Morell “ultimately did own up to the fact that he made the changes. But,” he adds, “if he’d have said that early on, it would have solved a lot of problems and answered a lot of questions.”

The FBI Did It?

On November 27, 2012, Morell accompanied U.N. ambassador Susan Rice to Capitol Hill to meet with senators, including Republican critics of her role in selling the misleading Benghazi narrative to the country. At the time, Rice was considered a possible successor to Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and the meetings were seen as an attempt to mollify her critics. Morell had been named acting CIA director after the resignation of David Petraeus.

Senator Lindsey Graham met Morell and Rice along with Senator John McCain and Senator Kelly Ayotte. Graham says they were not told in advance that Morell would be joining Rice, and he remembers asking Rice why he was there. “She said: ‘He will help you understand what was going on with the talking points,’ ” Graham recalls.

The first question of the meeting was simple: “Who changed the talking points?” Morell responded, telling the senators that the FBI had made the revisions. “He told us that the FBI made the changes because they were the ones on the ground talking to people, and they didn’t want to jeopardize their investigation.” Graham says Morell implied that the CIA didn’t have enough information to have made the changes, telling the group that the FBI wouldn’t share with the CIA information from their interviews with the survivors.

Graham was surprised. “It was the first time I’d heard anyone say the FBI,” he says. And if the FBI wasn’t sharing intelligence in real-time with the CIA, Graham recalls, it would mean we were back to pre-9/11-style stovepiping. So Graham called FBI leadership to ask why the bureau would have withheld such important information from the CIA. “They went apeshit,” says Graham, and offered an unequivocal denial.

Here is the press release Graham, McCain, and Ayotte put out that afternoon:

Around 10:00 this morning in a meeting requested by Ambassador Rice, accompanied by acting CIA Director Mike Morell, we asked Mr. Morell who changed the unclassified talking points to remove references to al-Qaeda. In response, Mr. Morell said the FBI removed the references and did so to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation. We were surprised by this revelation and the reasoning behind it.

However, at approximately 4:00 this afternoon, CIA officials contacted us and indicated that Acting Director Morell misspoke in our earlier meeting. The CIA now says that it deleted the al-Qaeda references, not the FBI. They were unable to give a reason as to why.

Graham doesn’t think Morell misspoke. “He knew when he met with us that it wasn’t the FBI who had changed the talking points. He lied.”

Senator Richard Burr, who sits on the intelligence committee and is expected to become the top-ranking Republican after Chambliss retires, sees a simple explanation. “Morell tried to dump this on the FBI and got caught.”

Awareness or Coordination?

Perhaps the most serious charge against Morell comes in the “Additional Views” section of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Benghazi. The authors, six Republican senators who sit on that panel, report for the first time that in his testimony on November 15, 2012, Morell “emphatically stated” that the talking points were provided to the White House “for their awareness, not for their coordination.”

That is not true, according to the 100 pages of emails between administration and intelligence officials released last May. In fact, in one of the emails that began the flurry of communication among top officials, a CIA spokesman tells a White House spokesman that the talking points are being provided to the White House “for coordination.” That email, sent on September 14 from the chief of media relations at the CIA to the White House’s National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, reads: “You should be seeing some ‘White Paper’ talking points from us this afternoon for coordination.” Ben Rhodes, a top foreign policy and national security adviser to President Obama, was copied on the email. So from the very beginning, top White House officials were involved in coordinating the discussion of what would go into the talking points, with heavy input from senior officials at the State Department and the intelligence community.

Was Morell unaware that the express purpose of circulating the talking points was White House coordination? That seems unlikely.

Later that day, September 14, the CIA public affairs office sent White House officials another draft of the talking points with instructions to “review the below and respond with your comments ASAP.” An email later that evening from the same office noted: “everyone has submitted coordination comments.”

In an email the following morning, Morell writes to officials working for the director of national intelligence seeking their approval of the talking points. “Everyone else has coordinated,” he notes above a review of “tweaks” made by State Department and White House officials. Finally, according to a September 15 email from then-CIA director David Petraeus, the final decisions on the talking points were “[National Security Staff’s] call, to be sure.”

Given all of this, why would Morell emphatically claim two months later that the talking points, already the subject of public scrutiny, had been provided to the White House only for awareness and not “coordination”?

It’s a good question. And a growing number of Republicans are determined to get an answer from him.

“Morell’s explanations at the time didn’t seem plausible,” says Representative Devin Nunes, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “With these new revelations, Congress has an oversight responsibility to call him back to testify in order to get the full truth.”

Neck of asylum seeker killed on Manus Island 'had been cut'

Article by Michael Gordon and Judith Ireland published in The Age, February 22, 2014

A protester smears fake blood on the immigration office in Lonsdale Street while a crowd chants that the government has blood on its hands over this week's violence on Manus Island. Photo: Pat Scala

The Iranian man who died during violent clashes on Manus Island this week suffered a cut to the neck and head injuries, according to an employee at the detention centre who was with him before he died.

The man, who has asked that his name not be used, also said he saw another asylum seeker whose throat had been cut, and another whose face was swollen beyond recognition. He said more than one of those injured suffered gunshot wounds.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that the deceased asylum seeker was 23-year-old Reza Barati, who arrived on Christmas Island last July and been transferred to Manus Island in late August.

The employee said he helped tend to the injured after the attack, which asylum seekers told him had been perpetrated by locals employed by security contractor G4S and police.

He said asylum seekers in fear of their lives had been pulled from their rooms, beaten and told by their attackers: ''You want freedom? We'll give you freedom tonight.''

He also supported the account of interpreter Azita Bokan, who told Fairfax Media the asylum seekers had been told last Sunday that they had no prospect of being resettled and should return to their homeland - a claim that has since been denied.

Mr Morrison said Mr Barati's body was being moved to Port Moresby with a police escort, to ''maintain the integrity of evidence''.

An autopsy will be conducted in Port Moresby with assistance from Australia. Once police investigations are complete, Australia will ''assist'' with the repatriation of Mr Barati.

Mr Morrison said Australian diplomats had conveyed ''the deep sympathies of the Australian government to the family of the deceased''.

Mr Morrison also named the former head of the Attorney-General's Department, Robert Cornall, as leader of a government inquiry into this week's violence on Manus Island. The terms of reference will be finalised next week and published on the department's website.

The Immigration Minister said the review would ''look closely'' at the actions of security services contracted at the detention centre. He also told reporters in Canberra on Friday there were ''many answers that still have to come'' about the clashes that left Mr Barati dead and dozens injured.

''We intend to be patient and ask that you also be patient,'' he said.

Mr Morrison revised the number of asylum seekers injured in Monday's incident from 77 to 62. He also told reporters that no boats had arrived in the past week.

''There has not now been a successful people-smuggling venture to Australia for 64 days,'' he said.

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