Terror hysteria

Friday’s Crikey summed up the week nicely:

If John Howard is so good at spin, what reaction did he really expect when he called a media conference on Wednesday to announce that Australia faces an imminent, serious but undetailed terrorist threat? And what were the Opposition and every state premier thinking when they went along with the warning? Well here’s what they got today:

* Home-grown terrorist cells in Melbourne and Sydney have been stockpiling explosives, while ASIO uncovered an “advanced planning phase” for a terrorist attack on the weekend (Courier-Mail and Adelaide Advertiser).

* Police in Sydney and Melbourne claim the Prime Minister’s terrorism announcement placed their year-long terrorism investigation into jeopardy and the “blanket media coverage given to Mr Howard’s announcement may have alerted some suspects.”(Sydney Morning Herald).

* Police are expected to swoop in the next few days on a group of terror suspects in Sydney and Melbourne, and Melbourne Muslims are the prime suspects (The Australian).

* Don’t expect arrests any time soon (The Age).

Hysteria, alarm, speculation, fear, recrimination, discrimination, hyperbole, suspicion. Gee, that’s a responsible and reassuring way to run a country.

Have a safe weekend.

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