2947-07-29 - Editor's Loudspeaker: Observations from the Committee Hearings

The week's hearings ended today (early this morning in Cosmic Background time), and I have finished reviewing the recordings. As I promised on Wednesday, here are some highlights, which were not highlighted by the media staffers working for committee chairwoman Sylja Nisi-Bonn. Delegate Nisi-Bonn's datasphere hub has a list of other highlights which is far more comprehensive - my objective here is to point to an item from each day of hearings which I think is not receiving sufficient coverage already. I will clearly delineate my own thoughts with the marking [D.C.] where applicable. I probably don't need to remind you, but any opinions presented alongside these markings are my own, not necessarily those of Cosmic Background.

There are also other details about these hearings which probably deserve more coverage than they're getting; I encourage those in the audience with the time to do so to view the recordings in their entirety.

  • 2947-07-25: While the recorded interviews with survivors was what the datasphere focused on from Tuesday's hearings, The recorded testimony of the New Rheims orbital port stationmaster proved far more interesting. He asserted that ships which broadcast Naval Survey Auxiliary IFF codes had been performing some sort of maneuvers at the fringes of the system several days before the disaster, and that the Arrowhawk patrol group had arrived in-system shortly after the NSA flotilla departed. The station, being outside the planet's atmosphere, was presumably unaffected by the ecological collapse, but according to the Naval representative who provided the recordings, this official too had been evacuated.
    • [D.C.] The NSA ships were not reported in relation to this incident until this testimony. I did a cursory search, and could find no evidence of this activity elsewhere. NSA certainly does training exercises in safe, well-patrolled systems, but they are usually very public about these maneuvers and the ships involved. After all, the Survey Auxiliary is not a true military operation, and in theory it has no need for secrecy.
    • [D.C.] What happened to that spaceport station? None of the Delegates on the committee seemed to pick up on this detail.

  • 2947-07-26: Admiral Godfrey, representing the Admiralty Council, sat before the committee for nearly three hours. Early in his testimony, he admitted that Naval Intelligence issued Article 54(f) takedown notices for orbital images of the disaster which made it into the Core Worlds datasphere, and that they continue to regard these images and others like them as military secrets. Article 54(f) is the section of the Mandates which gives the Navy the right to censor data related to imminent threats to the security of the Confederated Worlds. When asked thirty-four minutes later in the same session whether there were any imminent threats to Confederated security, he replied that there were none.
    • [D.C.] Based on her reaction, I suspect that Ms. Nisi-Bonn recognized the contradiction, but this issue has not yet been raised in the questioning of later witnesses.

  • 2947-07-27: Climatologist Najma Wright provided only brief testimony which largely went unnoticed by the datasphere news-feeds. Among the things she reported was that New Rheims was among the most ecologically stable planets outside the Core Worlds. When asked whether the situation as she understood it was consistent with a "Carthage Order" scenario, she said that she did not have enough data to say, but that nothing she had been provided  as of her appearance ruled out the possibility.
    • [D.C.] No Navy crew would knowingly execute a Carthage order on a Confederated world during peace-time. Despite tensions between the Confederacy and the Hegemony, I don't think any Hegemony military crew would execute a Carthage order on any human-inhabited planet either. A Navy representative (I don't recall which) later confirmed that no Carthage order has been issued by the Confederated Navy, and I suspect this is accurate - but it doesn't rule out the possibility that the planet was attacked by a warship. If it was, and the ship wasn't a Navy ship, why would they cover it up?

  • 2947-07-28: While he is still in the field with his command, Captain Samuel Bosch of Arrowhawk recorded testimony for the committee several days in advance. Bosch's comments are already receiving a lot of media coverage, but what isn't is that there are several cut-jumps in his pre-recorded testimony. The editing job done on the recording was of high quality.
    • [D.C.] Given how many signs of cover-up there already are in this matter, I am skeptical. It's possible that Bosch will not see the hearings for several weeks or months; if the Navy chose to omit sections of his account, it will be some time before the omissions are corrected - if they ever are. Perhaps I am too suspicious; it's also possible the editing was the work of Bosch himself before he sent the file along.

  • 2947-07-29: Three officials from Naval Intelligence took the stand and their evasive answers have been exhaustively covered by the dedicated news sources. What went almost unnoticed, however, was their admission that none of them were involved in the decision to censor all images and data of the disaster recorded from orbit around New Rheims. This was surprising because they had been enrolled into the schedule of testimony as the officials responsible for invoking Article 54(f).
    • [D.C.] Perhaps this was a staff oversight - it would hardly be the first time - but the Delegates seemed fairly angry when they found out. I rather suspect the Navy lied about their relation to the decision, and sent up three of its most evasive smooth-talkers to delay the investigation. This probably didn't get a lot of attention from Delegate Nisi-Bonn's office because it indicates the Navy got the better of her; we can only hope she's learned her lesson.

While this studio is still not a news operation, we have decided to continue to follow this story; our audience feedback in relation to it has been tremendous.