2946-10-13 – Editor’s Loudspeaker: Leaked Report Verified

Yesterday I posted a highly skeptical breakdown of the leaked New Rheims Investigation report, expecting that before long we would be seeing the complete report and hearing about the committee staffer who, with an axe to grind, had fabricated the wild conclusions of the leaked document.

I was quite wrong. Since I called attention to its existence on this feed, several waves of takedown orders attempted to destroy all datasphere access to the report, but this had only limited success, and it convinced many that the leaked document was genuine.

Earlier today, Delegate Nisi-Bonn, chair of the New Rheims Committee, came out and verified the leaked report and its conclusion. She said that she had been attempting to clear the document with Naval Intelligence through several drafts, and that they had rejected each one, citing the likelihood of civil unrest. While she didn’t say so, I can only conclude that her staff leaked the report at her direction, and I salute her leadership in this matter.

An emergency motion to cut all Navy funding from the Confederated treasury is on the Congressional schedule for tomorrow’s session, which starts about six hours from the publication of this feed item (remember that our studio is on the other side of the world from Congress). It’s being widely whispered here on Planet at Centauri that the Admiralty Council might attempt to invoke their wartime power to suspend Confederated Congress (Article 6, Sections 3-4) to prevent this action.

I am aware that current events and political content is not the purpose for which many of you ingest this text feed. Feel free to filter out Editor’s Loudspeaker feed items; we have an excellent Tales from the Inbox ready to go live on the 16th, on schedule.

2946-10-12 – Editor’s Loudspeaker: Leaked New Rheims Committee Report

For those of you following the investigation into the disaster at New Rheims, the appearance of a supposed leaked copy of the New Rheims Committee final report is not news; here on Centauri it has been available for almost two full days. I did not wish to report on it until some attempt to verify it had been made, and have been in contact with Agent Durand, our favorite Naval Intelligence representative, the office of committee chair Sylja Nisi-Bonn, and other sources friendly to Cosmic Background. While no source was willing or able to verify that this was in fact the committee’s so far unpublished report, some of my sources did confirm that the report contains some accurate details about the closed-door sessions of the committee, and that the committee’s report had been completed more than a week ago.

Unfortunately, that is where my information ends. The supposed leaked report does apparently reflect the actual testimony before the committee, but it could be the product of anyone with knowledge of the proceedings and familiarity with the usual congressional report structure, and its conclusions and findings are not necessarily those of the committee.

In full honesty, I do hope that the wild conclusion the available report reaches is not the genuine conclusion of the proceedings of the previous months. The idea that the disaster was caused inadvertently by a weapons project initiated by the Confederated Navy in violation of the Treaty of Scherer is more horrifying than the most sinister of the conspiracy theories I’ve seen bouncing around the datasphere, but I find it quite unlikely.

This conclusion draws heavily on a combination of the closed-door testimony of Captain Samuel Bosch and two un-named whistleblowers who submitted textual testimony only. Apparently, the Naval Survey Auxiliary training squadron operating at the system’s edge was attacked by an unknown vessel of approximately cruiser size, but the fortunate arrival of Bosch’s patrol squadron interrupted their destruction. The vessel fled toward New Rheims and, when cornered in planetary orbit, performed a Carthage Strike on the planet in its last moments before being destroyed. None of this was in Bosch’s initial recorded testimony, further suggesting an attempted Navy cover-up.

How the committee got from this act of terrorism to a violation of the Treaty of Scherer is not clear; testimony from confidential witnesses is referred to but not included. It is possible that this is a convenient way to further a forged conclusion; New Rheims might just as easily be the victim of a terror plot by Rattanai Imperialists or Ladeonists, though I can’t see the benefit in any of this for either ideology.

Even if this report’s conclusion is not accurate, and the real report is forthcoming in the next few days, this will fuel the conspiracy theories; if it is a fake report, some testimony has been omitted from it, and there will inevitably be datasphere sources who insist that the facts and testimony of the later report not found in this one are hasty fabrications.

If this is in fact the committee’s understanding of the truth of the situation, we are in for an interesting few weeks. Legally speaking, Congress can’t remove the admirals responsible, but expect a move to cut all military funding until those persons are removed.

2926-09-28 - Editor's Loudspeaker: New Rheims Committee Final Report

As many of you likely already know, staff leaks from Congressional staffers suggest we'll be seeing the preliminary report from the New Rheims Committee within the next few days. This feed was quite active in covering the first week of the committee's activities, and we were as disappointed as anyone when Sylja Nisi-Bonn took the remaining proceedings behind closed doors, but the decision was at least understandable. It had, by the first day of the second week, become a media circus, with most of the interstellar news operations picking apart every question and every answer to excessive detail. Admittedly, this feed participated in this over-focus, though I believe that the one significant feed item concerning the matter was reasonable and relevant to this audience's interests.

Full recordings of the testimony provided behind closed doors will probably be released shortly after the report. Of particular interest, Samuel Bosch's in-person testimony in the last week of the committee hearings is of interest; there are no major leaks of what was said during his appearance, and as far as can be determined, the captain was before the committee less than three hours (this is about half the total time the other major witnesses spent before the committee, and we don't yet know why Bosch, who was as close to an eyewitness to the disaster as can be found, was not questioned in greater detail).

As the cruiser Arrowhawk, Bosch's command, is currently in the Centauri Naval Yards undergoing a minor refit, I have reached out to the captain through a third party, asking whether he would like to provide his account to this publication once his testimony has become public. I do not think he will accept this offer, but I hope he does; I've noticed a concerning datasphere trend toward New Rheims conspiracy theories in the weeks of silence on the issue, and perhaps a direct eye-witness report of the incident that is not filtered through the Navy or Congress will help to quash some of the more unlikely theories.

When the committee report becomes available, I will go over it, and call attention to what I think is significant in its results. I caution this audience not to expect a bombshell; Congressional committee reports tend to be remarkably dry and maddeningly reluctant to prove definite, un-hedged conclusions.

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.