The Bulletin has an interesting article on the terror raids, the conspiracy theory of which I am still part an adherent, and the non-conspiracy theory. Recommended reading.
Following is a snippet
The atmospherics post-9/11 and especially since the invasion of Iraq, have dramatically polarised Australia’s political debate on terrorism. Just as it was legitimate to oppose the war, it seems no less reasonable today to question the government’s proposed draconian terror laws on civil liberties – or other – grounds. But the government, thanks to its national security attack dogs in federal cabinet and growing cheer squad of right-wing commentators, has successfully cast even the most moderate digressers from the status quo as much more than mere dissenters. The none-too-subliminal message is that at best they’re appeasers, at worst subversives. You’re for us or you’re against us.
As Labor’s Senate leader Chris Evans told the upper house last week: “It is despicable that senior members of the government sought to characterise calls for proper scrutiny of legislation as reflecting that members of non-government parties were soft on terrorism.”
Beazley and most of his subordinates – “tough on terror”, tough on the causes of terror – are at pains, meanwhile, to parade their masculinity. For weakness, as the Tampa showed, is political death. The unedifying result is a public discourse more closely resembling a law and order shit-fight in a Northern Territory by-election than a sophisticated national security debate.
Two notable intelligence failures – the first which led the government to claim asylum-seekers had thrown their children overboard, the second which led the coalition of the willing to invade Iraq on a false premise – give the sceptics pause. Today Howard is urging us to “trust me” on the latest intelligence, even though he won’t say precisely who is planning what. It’s a measure curiously at odds with that employed recently in the US, from which Australia so often takes its security lead, where New York mayor Michael Bloomberg warned citizens that intelligence indicated a terror attack could occur on the subway.
It seems a pity, at least politically, for Howard that he can’t – or won’t – tell us, especially as so much detail about the terror threat has since been accurately reported at who knows what cost to operational security.
“The problem remains,” says a leading Liberal Party moderate, “that although there might be a demonstrable need for these new terror laws, Howard et al have not demonstrated the need.”
“There has, however, been disquiet inside the major security agencies in recent weeks over what some insiders fear could be politically motivated media leaks which have distorted the extent of Australia’s home-grown terror threat. There are strong suggestions that some of this material has been leaked to enhance the perceived threat of homeland terrorism to bolster community support for the new terror laws.”