9 Aug. 2007

War On The Law: Howard Attacks

Our War Criminal PM has his back to the wall, with everything to lose. Now Howard is launching a full-scale attack on the judiciary. When I first heard of these laws, I couldn't believe the Senate would ever dare pass them:
On Wednesday the Senate passed a bill that provides for "delayed notification search warrants". These are warrants to empower the federal police and other agencies to covertly take a look around your home, download the contents of your computer and sniff the bedsheets, and not tell you for up to 18 months after the warrant has been executed, or never, ever, if Philip Ruddock says so.

These warrants can only be issued by judges, and even non-judges, who have been carefully screened and approved by the Government. We are not told who these judges are and what makes them "eligible". Maybe it is shorthand for "on the team".

Members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal can be selected to issue these warrants, and they need not even be lawyers, let alone judges. Some are even retired Liberal Party MPs, along with a sprinkling of Colonel Blimps out of the armed services.
Got that, folks? The cops can break into your house, and do what they please, and only Howard's hand-picked elites ever need to know about it. There is no judicial oversight of these illegal government operations.

We have just been entirely subsumed into BushWorld. Look at the parallels:
The Protect America Act... does not enhance security-related surveillance powers. Rather, it allows the government to spy when there is no security justification. And it abandons all but the pretense of oversight. The result, as with so many of this Administration's ill-advised policies, is power without responsibility -- and it is by now all too clear how wisely and carefully this Administration wields power in the absence of accountability.
Consider the following para from the SMH URL above, which will surely sound familiar to US readers:
Justice Michael McHugh said that between 1989 and 1994, of the 2639 police applications to the Federal Court for telecommunication interception warrants, only 13 were refused.
Given that the courts are not actually blocking such police applications, why does the government need expanded powers? Neither Washington nor Canberra can answer that one.

Howard is now pushing his major policy initiatives - the War on Aborigines and the War on the States - towards a judicial showdown. I think Peter Beattie is gambling that he can stave Howard off in court long enough for the federal election to make any outcomes irrelevant. But that assumes the Judiciary will adhere to current laws, and such an assumption looks increasingly less certain.

There are seemingly no depths to which this immoral, discredited PM will not stoop.