10 Jul. 2007

The Government's Got Nothing on Haneef

Is it time to ask what the fuck is going on yet?
Dr Haneef has been held without charge for more than a week under Australia's new anti-terrorism laws, and today the AFP will ask a Brisbane magistrate for more time to question him.
Come on. The police have raided this guy's house, questioned all his contacts, checked his phone records, and Lord knows what else. They haven't found any WMDs under his bed or bazookas in his cupboard (you could be damn sure the Howard government would have rushed to let everybody know about it if they had). If the cops still haven't got anything on Haneef, after all this time, they should let him go.

Here's the sum of the publicly-available evidence so far:

(a) He was related to the UK bombers,
(b) He was in telephone contact with the UK bombers (hardly surprising, if he is related),
(c) He was about to leave Australia on a flight to India (hardly surprising, if his wife really has had a baby),
(d) It was a one-way ticket (is that illegal now?), and
(e) His parents worked in Saudi Arabia.

The Australian police are interpreting the "24 hours" interrogation clause in our new anti-terrorist laws very liberally indeed. As Peter Webb from the Law Council of Australia explains:
It was never envisaged that 24 hours of interrogation time might take two or three weeks to complete, and that a person would be held uncharged, incommunicado from their lawyer, for that period of time. So we're concerned that the AFP have only so far used up 12 of the 24 hours of interrogation time, but that it's taken them 10 days to do that.
So now this bloke is just sitting in a Brisbane cell, with nobody even talking to him, while Aussie police race off to India, and British police race to Australia, and the global media stirs up a frenzy of idle speculation.

And even if and when the AFP do release him, ASIO will be waiting to arrest him and question him under seperate laws!

But hang on a minute... What if Haneef is innocent? That just doesn't seem to enter into the equation any more:
Federal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock has rejected criticism about Dr Haneef's detention and says that with 31,000 documents to consider, police need time to cover every base.

"You would be asking me different types of questions if these enquires were truncated unnecessarily and we found out later that there were were avenues of inquiry that could have been pursued that ... weren't, and some terrible thing happened," he said.
A terrible thing is already happening, Mr Ruddock. The presumption of innocence is being flushed down the toilet, to protect your sorry PM's arse from an electoral wipeout.

Let him go, Ruddock. Put him on that one-way flight to India, if he wants, so he can see his wife and new baby (have police verified that birth yet? have the media chased it up?). Or else tell us what you've got. Don't turn this man into the next David Hicks.

UPDATE: All too predictably, the madness spreads to the USA. This is supposedly connected to the recent London bombings:
ABC News cited senior US intelligence officials as saying that new information suggests a small al-Qaeda cell was on its way to the United States or may already be in the country.

Separately, US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune's editorial board his "gut feeling" is that the United States faces an increased risk of attack this summer.
Nothing to do with Bush's abyssmal poll figures, his looming Constitutional confrontation, or his ongoing quagmire in Iraq. Of course not.