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AFP = Above Freedom of Press?

By Richard Tonkin
Created 31/01/2008 - 10:33

As 22 terrorism cases are being prepared for trial in Melbourne and Sydney, the boys and girls of the Australian media are being told to speak when they're spoken to.  No more interrupting please.  The Australian Federal Police have a job to do.  They're preventing crimes before they happen, and don't want want people complaining about how they do it.

AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty may have more chance of gaining the confidence of the Australian public if he hadn't let his officers be perceived as the political tools of the Howard Government.  Complaints that media reporting of AFP bungling are hampering the processes of Justice would be much more valid if we hadn't seen the appalling treatment of Haneef and the ridiculous charade (which ASIO are doing their damnedest never to reveal)  surrounding Scott Parkin.    That a Premier of a state of Australia publicly called the AFP "Keystone Cops" surely would have hurt Keelty's feelings, especially when the "Ministerial Direction" his force received began to appear focussed on implementing the goals of the Bush/Cheney White House.

Keelty, it would seem,  serves Whitehall more than the White House.  He is aware of MI5 beliefs that Australia is being used as a preparation ground for Islamic terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom.  That's a main part of the reason for all the embarrassment.  On the day of Haneef's arrest the available circumstantial evidence suggested that the doctor was indeed part of such an attack.   The AFP were publicly exposed to the world as being apparently unable to handle a situation that  may have resulted in another cataclysmic event occurring in London. 

The ministers that presided over the fiascos have been booted from the corridors of power to the back-alleys of Liberal Party HQ.  Keelty, on the other hand, remains aloof from calls that such as him should be accountable for their mistakes.

Thanks to all the publicity surrounding the inept handling of counterterrorism suspects, there will be many more people keenly following the upcoming trials than there would have been had the AFP been perceived to do its job properly.  Fair enough, I reckon, they deserve it.  If the extra vigilance ensures that the forthcoming terrorism cases are handled properly, and that everything's been "done by the book" up to the point of trial, such observers are fulfilling a useful role in aiding the maintenance of integrity in Australian society.

Anyway, that's enough rambling from me.  Here's the full text of Keelty's much discussed Tuesday night speech [1].  Over to you.  Oh, one more thing.  The AFP are protecting us against Climate Change?  It makes for interesting comparisons.

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