THE Howard Government has behaved entirely reasonably in the case of Mohamed Haneef, the Brisbane doctor accused of helping terrorists...And of course, that's what this is all about, isn't it?
Rudd knows the immense danger of standing against measures to protect the community from terrorism. The amendments will make it harder for defendants in terrorism cases to get bail. If Rudd backs the Government's amendments, there will be some angst from the Burnside crowd. But if Rudd opposes the amendments, it could conceivably cost him the election.
Imagine if the authorities had someone in custody who was genuinely a terrorist and the terror plot was in the 36,000th piece of encrypted information on his computer. And imagine if they released this terrorist after getting through 10,000 such pieces of information and a terrorist outrage occurred that they could have prevented.Imagine if someone smashed a steel-capped jack-boot right into Sheridan's mouth.
We live in a democracy in Australia. This means, among other things, that parliament is constrained by the courts. But parliament is superior to the courts in making laws. That's what makes us a democracy. Parliaments are accountable to voters. Courts aren't.So parliament can just ignore laws, or make new laws, whenever they seek a surge of xenophobic support. That's Democracy, m'kay? Robert Mugabe and friends, please take note.
If any part of our system has performed badly here, it is the courts for refusing to implement the intention of the legislation, which is that bail should be rare in terrorism cases."Rare"? This is the first implementation of the new anti-terror laws. The judge had to decide if the evidence of a public danger warranted bail or not. He clearly and emphatically decided that it did not. That doesn't seem to enter into Sheridan's cerebrum, which is wired to see terrrrrsts on every corner.
If this case is to set a standard for anti-terror cases in Australia, then the bar has been set very low indeed. Every one of us should be concerned.
The government keeps hinting that is has damning secret evidence available. But it cannot show the evidence, and it cannot explain why it cannot show the evidence. A government with a better track record on truthfulness and human rights might be able to get away with that sort of nonsense - this one certainly cannot.
The Haneef case perfectly illustrates all that is wrong with the approach to terrorism adopted by the Bush, Blair and Howard governments. Minimal threats are over-hyped for partisan political purposes. To maintain the charade, our governments are forced to attack civil liberties, which they happily do. This damages our true democratic freedoms and makes a mockery of our professed values. It enrages the scape-goated victims and their supporters around the world, contributes to anti-Western propaganda of violent radicals, and thus ultimately exacerbates the more serious and growing threat of global terrorism.
But maybe that's the whole idea, right? Create a new "long" War On Terror out of nothing, to replace the Cold War profits so long enjoyed by the military-industrial complex. Enrage Islamic radicals so that we have a good excuse for the next war, and the next, till all the oil wells in the Middle East are ours. Nothing else seems to make any sense.