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The Haneef Conspiracy

It appears that Alexander Downer has finally been sprung as a liar. At the time he told Australia that Haneef's imprisonment wouldn't harm our friendship with India, he was, it would seem, on the verge of wetting his gusset with panic.

"My view about it is that the Indians have the same sort of common law legal system that we have and they understand the procedures" was the glib routine he gave the media, Downer had tried and failed to appease India by setting up a plan to psychologically bully Haneef into leaving Australia of his own accord. From FOI-acquired emails given by Haneef's legal team to the Australian, it appears while Downer was suggesting that Indian Government Ministers had a passing interest in the case, the message received through diplomatic channels was apparently more intense than we were led to believe. It was after discussing the matter with our High Commissioner to India, and apparently being told of strong repercussions, that Downer attempted to delay Haneef's deportation.

Downer's attempt at diplomacy, through an email from one of his senior DFAT officials, was carried out four days before Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews cancelled Haneef's visa and had him sent to the Wolston Correctional Centre. It was only on the later day that DPP Bugg dropped the charges and Immigration Minister Andrews had the doctor transferred to "residential detention" that our Foreign Minister was able to say that all was well with India.

On the day of the DFAT email, according to Four Corners' Sally Neighbour, there was already much afoot. This was also the day when the Immigration Department found out that the AFP told both Immigration and the DPP (the latter personally by Keelty) that there was insufficient evidence to charge Haneef.

The next day, Friday the 13th, the AFP dropped its bid to keep holding Haneef without charge. The SMH reported that this still allowed for a further twelve hours questioning over another three days. This period of time may well have served as the "couple of days grace" that Downer had wanted "during which it was to be hoped that Haneef himself would see the writing on the wall and leave Australia voluntarily."

On Saturday July 14th, more than two weeks after the Glasgow blast, Haneef was charged with "recklessly providing resources to a terrorist organisation."

Then, according to Crikey's Greg Barnes, came a flurry of activity:

  • On that Saturday, Haneef’s lawyers Keim and Russo applied for bail for Dr. Haneef before magistrate, Ms. Jacquie Payne. Pursuant to s.15AA Crimes Act, they needed to show that there were "exceptional circumstances". One of the grounds relied upon was the weakness of the Crown case. They relied on Mr. Simms’ material as indicating the weakness of the case as well as aspects of the submissions by the DPP officers who appeared for the Crown.
  • Unbeknownst to any of Dr. Haneef’s lawyers, shortly after the bail application finished, four senior Australian Federal Police officers, David Craig, Frank Prendergast, Ramzi Jabbour and Luke Morrish, discussed the possibility that the bail application might be successful. They came up with a contingency plan. They would get the Minister for Immigration to cancel Dr. Haneef’s visa. This would allow them to keep Dr. Haneef in detention. At 5.22pm on Saturday, Mr. Craig was able to report that these "contingencies" were "in place". Mr. Craig does not say to whom in the Minister’s office or to whom in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship he spoke, to put the plan in place. On Monday morning, 16 July 2007, at 8.10 am, Mr. Morrish, one of the Australian Federal Police officers, forwarded Mr. Craig’s affidavit to Peter White, a high ranking officer in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Mr. White would, shortly thereafter, prepare all the documentation which would allow the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Andrews to cancel Dr. Haneef’s visa.

As we know, the bail application was successful, and on Monday the 16th a well-prepared Kevin Andrews went about his business.

I hope that somebody has FOI'ed DFAT's emails from the ensuing week. On the day after the visa cancellation our High Commissioner to India was called in for a chat By the following Saturday, the editorial of the Hindu Times was slamming the Australian Government's double standards in letting three Tamil Tigers out on bail while keeping Haneef detained. By July 25, the High Court of New Delhi was highlighting Haneef's incarceration by using it as an example of improper imprisonment. If Downer was worried earlier about Indian sentiment, surely by now he was beginning to panic? The next day, Minister Andrews announces he's reviewing the case, and DPP Bugg suggests the charges might be dropped

Which of course happened. And Downer was able to tell his lie with an air of truth. Haneef was about to leave the country of his own free will, as the Foreign Minister hoped. The only alternative was to remain detained while inquiries continued. If I were the Foreign Minister I wouldn't be saying "all's well that ends well" if I didn't know the doctor would be leaving the country the next day. I bet Downer did. More juicy emails for a hunter?

So, if Downer couldn't tell the truth about the strain the Haneef case placed on Indian/Australian relationships, can we trust his word about other situations in which some think he's lying? AWB? Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Somehow, I don't think so.

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Inquiry report delayed

The reporting date for the Clarke Inquiry has been set back a week, and is now 21 November 2008.

It's a little bit odd. McClelland's media release gives the reason as:

In a letter I received today, Mr Clarke asked for the short extension following an unexpected delay in interviewing a critical witness.

The additional time will allow Mr Clarke to fully review and edit the report, before he provides it to the Government.

The last interviews scheduled were of ex-Minister Kevin Andrews and AFP Senior Investigating Officer Ramzi Jabbour, more than three weeks ago. Both would count as critical witnesses, and I think the Andrews interview at least had been delayed. (My guess on the Jabbour interview is that it was affording him natural justice - a chance to respond to potential adverse findings.)

The "unexpected delay" does not strike me as referring to either of those interviews, although it could. It's more likely referring to an interview that was expected to take place within the last few days, but has been delayed.

If that is the case, then it is probably affording natural justice to Andrews, whose original interview was so late in the piece. It is unlikely that the interview, at this late stage, was expected to yield new information, though it could be a matter of clarification.

It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, appears on the inquiry's schedule this week. Strictly, though, there is no need for the inquiry to advertise who it is interviewing, since the interviews aren't public, so we may not find out.

I used to think that, given Clarke's limited powers, it was unlikely he would make adverse findings against individuals, I now think it likely there will be adverse findings against Jabbour and Andrews.

Downer's comments

I'm pleased that dear old A tells "the public" what they should care about.

As a member of the public, I had been concerned by the question of what I should care about  - global financial meltdown?  climate change?   international political instability?  hunger, poverty?  my own family and their dilemnas? - and what I needed was for an ex-pollie to set me in the right direction.  Thanks, Alex.

I know and am grateful that Mick Keelty keeps me free from terrorism, just as I know and am grateful that the three clay frogs on my bookshelf keep me safe from elephants invading my living room.

And, history tells me that policing power has never been abused in Australia.  Never, ever.


Poor Lord Downer - to accuse a public servant of being "arrogant" translates into one brave enough to stand up to him as dozens of others who were on the receiving end of Downer's bullying would testify.

Within weeks of being elected Downer was smugly proclaiming the UN had become irrelevant. In one interview he described it as "quaint". That notion was quickly reversed after 9/11 when the decision to invade Iraq was made.

From the snippets of recordings played in Sally's report (from a leaker in the AFP?) it seems the officers interviewing and Dr Haneef  were conducting themselves in a civilised manner and eventually believed him. But a decision was taken to demonise this man somewhere high up.

Interesting to hear that the government has been seeking out a replacement for Keelty.

I was going to be relevant

Sorry, Richard. I started out to be directly relevant, but got side-tracked when I checked the Clarke Inquiry website and found two new submissions from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on behalf of Dr Haneef. A Supplementary Submission (388KB PDF) and a Response to the AFP submission (128KB PDF). Here is the AFP public submission (225KB PDF).

I'm still reading the supplementary submission, but the response to the AFP submission is comprehensive and damning. The AFP submission does not address most of the charges against it. It does not accept that it made any errors, and the few errors it does acknowledge it blames on others. It misunderstands both the law and the AFP's role. It raises as reasons for suspicion matters that where never put to Haneef or, as far as we know, to the magistrate, DPP, judge or minister. It fails to acknowledge the considerable evidence that Haneef was innocent, and failed to provide that evidence to Haneef and his lawyers, the magistrate, DPP, judge or minister. (That, by the way, should get them in serious trouble.)

Repeatedly through its submission the AFP asserts that counter-terrorism investigations are large, complex, time-consuming, expensive and positively humungous. The response points out that the British Metropolitan Police had, as best we know, merely asked the AFP to check a peripheral detail to its investigation. The rest is AFP fantasy.

Thanks, Mark

Oh good, Mark, I needed some bedtime reading.  The AFP submission was a beauty, and to those who had not followed the circumstances of the case it could well have sounded quite convincing.  

I thought for a while that the AFP were doing a fair job of seeming to be credible for a while, but there was one line that made me think "you've gotta be kidding".  That was when the Benbrika verdicts were described as "a watershed moment" in Australian policing. What a blooper.

The Four Corners report had me agreeing with Michael in thinking that many well-intentioned people have been treated poorly.

At the other end of things, where I had once considered Keelty as a tragic puppet, a final nail sealed my opinion that this man might have gotten a little drunk on all the power he'd assumed.

Damned by their own words

What is really astounding about the public AFP submission is that they made it. I think at one point Keelty said that a submission would be made at an appropriate point, containing what could be made public. The appropriate point is apparently the end of interviews, though why is mystery. A greater mystery is why they would demonstrate their own incompetence by making the submission public, and insult the Clarke Inquiry by tendering it as an official submission.

As Richard pointed out, the submission might have some credibility with those who haven't followed the case - but most of those will never know about it. Except for some Telegraph readers. There is a transient benefit to the AFP there. But surely this benefit is massively outweighed by the damage to whatever credibility they had left with those who do know something about the case. Maybe their judgment was that they couldn't do themselves any more damage, so they might as well go for whatever small positives they could get.

The AFP is in very deep shit. Whatever is in the secret material (and it is probably not much - hints of radicalism, some unwise associations maybe, but probably not even that) is not very relevant, because it doesn't affect what is on the public record:

  • An arrest and detention that may well have been unlawful from the start, and certainly from quite early in the detention.
  • The failure to provide relevant exculpatory evidence to Haneef and his lawyers, the DPP, the Court or the Minister.
  • Allowing, and failing to correct, relevant errors of fact in the DPP's submission to the Court.
  • The apparent failure, despite the massive (and expensive) investigation, to confirm many simple matters of fact. (Some may,in fact, have been confirmed, but appear to leave no trace. An example is the sequence around Haneef's daughter's birth and his applications for leave.)
  • Raising, in their public submission, as reasons for suspicion, matters which had never been put to Haneef.
  • etc...

The problem with the AFP public submission is that it doesn't address those issues, probably because there is no reasonable defence. The issues have been raised, though, by Haneef's lawyers and in the various submissions to the inquiry - they are, after all, a big part of why the Haneef case caused so much controversy in the first place. There is no reason to believe that the AFP's confidential submissions address the issues to any greater extent than the public submission.

So the AFP public submission is an insult to the inquiry. It reflects the cowboy arrogance culture documented in the Four Corners piece. I don't think that Clarke will be happy.

Downer defends Keelty, AFP

From the safety of his Advertiser column, where Google News doesn't tread,  Downer has started to protest:

Last week, the ABC's Four Corners program rounded up a group of malcontents and know-alls and got them to unload on Mick Keelty and the AFP. It was a monstrously one-sided attack on Australia's greatest Federal Police Commissioner and on one of our great national institutions.

There was a former police officer and blatant political activist and partisan called Wayne Sievers ranting against, oddly enough, what he perceives as the politicising of the AFP

Downer proceeds to write Wayne Sievers off as a troublemaker, delivering one of his typical sneers:

At the end of the day, who cares about a clown like that who is just a footnote in history. What the public should care about is whether the AFP keeps them safe.

Amazingly, given that the Haneef saga was such a major focus of the show, Downer made no mention of it whatsoever.  Does Alexander have something to hide?

Nowadays, when he goes into one of these routines, I automatically assume that his opponent is in the right. 

What's even funnier about Downer

After the Liberal senators launched that bogus attack on Ken Henry in estimates based on a story we all now know was W R O N G ! as Henry stated at the time, Downer wrote a piece stating that Ken Henry was the most arrogant public servant he had ever seen.

Downer was up to his neck in the children overboard lies, the Pacific Soluton lies,  bullying the neighbours to do our work for us, he claimed to the world that the Bakhtiyari family "were very well known in Pakistan" even though he had just been told by the Afghan Ambassador that they were Afghans, he was involved in the Keelty stuff all along and his department were deporting people on false documents.

Presumably with his blessings.

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