Following 9/11, John Howard and his cabinet became enthralled by the US neo-conservatives and sought to emulate their political tactics, which were a logical extension of Howard's own "wedge politics".
But the cynical Australian public did not respond to these tactics in the same way as the gullible US public did, and the Howard government could not fall back on Dick Cheney's use of "executive privilege" as a blanket excuse for over-riding the laws of the land.
The Haneef saga was a perfect illustration of these national differences. Front page stories about an alleged plot to attack the Gold Coast's Q1 tower were met with a yawn. Talk of secret evidence was met with a "put up or shut up" response. The bluffing and fear-mongering, which had been so successful in the USA for so long, was already old and tired before it hit Australian shores.