G'day. I don't suppose anyone in the Opposition or the mainstream media will dare make these obvious points today, so here goes. Where did the newspapers get their information from of the supposed details of the specific intelligence which Howard claimed triggered his emergency amendments to terror laws yesterday? I've read the news stories linked in today's Daily Briefing  and lots of detail, mostly stated as fact without naming any source - when a source was mentioned it was a 'government' or 'senior security' one - is there in black and white. I've set them out below.
Yet Howard himself said over and over at his press conference yesterday  that he wouldn't, indeed COULDN'T go into any detail IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST, as did the unctuous Philip Ruddock  on Lateline  last night:
I'm not going to elaborate in relation to matters that I have been briefed on. It wouldn't be appropriate. I know it would be good for the program, but in terms of what we are dealing with, all of the advice is that we have put in the public arena is appropriate, but anything further would be distinctly unhelpful in operational terms...we deal with threats and they can come from many sources and I have no intention of offering comment that's going to suggest that a particular part of our community out to be identified with any of these matters.
Some quotes from Howard's presser:
* I am not going to speculate on what the law enforcement authorities will do on an operational matter. I do not talk about operational matters.
* I don’t want to overstate the situation but I don’t want to understate it, I can’t say any more without straying into matters that are truly operational.
* Q: Prime Minister, is it reasonable for the Australian public to expect that some of our anti-terror laws, some of our response resources are now on stand by? PRIME MINISTER: Look I am not going to start answering questions, I am sorry... I know you want a word here and there that sort of provides this or that but it’s a bit too serious for playing word games.
* Q: Is the threat specific in nature Prime Minister (inaudible) or is it generally against Australia and Australians? PRIME MINISTER: I am not saying any more - I am not saying any more…
* Q: Notwithstanding the operational sensitivities, do you understand Australians could be frustrated, even angry, that you’re drawing to our attention an alert, specific intelligence of a threat, but not giving any geographical - PRIME MINISTER: David, I understand that but you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. If you go into a lot of detail and you wreck the operation the Australian public will not forgive you... Now I can’t go into any more detail because if I do I might weaken the capacity of authorities to respond.
It's a classic Howard play - he act the statesman, then his minders in his office or his 'public service' do the rest. He washes his hands of the leaks, of course, if they're wrong he's not to blame, and no-one in opposition takes him on because then he'll say his questioners are impugning the good faith of his law enforcement agencies which are comprised of wonderful men and women doing their duty blah blah blah.
But take Howard and Ruddock at their word and what we've read in the papers this morning amounts to a grave and devastating breach of national security which could destroy the chances of success of an operation against potential terrorists on our soil. Take Howard at his word and he'd have already called in top investigators to track down the leakers and deal with them without mercy. And on past performance, when a leak that DOESN'T suit his political interests happens, he'd get his AFP to drop everything to raid newspaper officers and have journos charged with contempt if they wouldn't reveal their sources.
After all, if there are terrorist cells planning attacks on Australian cities, they'd be scarpering right now, wouldn't they? And Howard would be furious, wouldn't he, that his own people had treated his public statements with such contempt that they'd told reporters where, who and lots of other stuff. And remember, Howard made it clear there was no imminent threat, so we could well have lost a great chance of a preventative strike by these, well, SEDITIOUS leaks! And Ruddock would be desperate to prosecute all those newspapers for their SEDITIOUS reporting!
What purpose is served by this obviously government authorised leaking pre-warning targets of what's to come, apart from Howard's political aim to get his still secret reign of terror laws through quickly and without fuss by scaring the bejesus out of Australians yet again? If any of what's been leaked and oh so confidently reported as fact by most papers this morning is true, of course.
One more point.Why is the media conniving in this two-face Howard game without pointing out the bleeding obvious nature of it? Why aren't the headlines 'Government leaks hinder terror arrests?" Or "Howard loses battle to keep anti-terror operations secret from targets?"
Surely the Australian people will wake up to Howard's media scams soon. Surely they won't keep falling for the same, perfectly timed tricks time after time after time.
And please, I'm not saying that there isn't anything in these stories of people planning terrorist attacks here. Maybe there is, but if so, Howard's play this week made it much harder to catch them. And the media's role as Howard propagandist is a stain on all of us. Howard has worked out the mainstream media news judgement and he's playing journos and editors for fools. From this morning's papers, some of them are just that.
The Oz 
FEARS terrorists are moving closer to an attack
on Sydney and Melbourne have forced the Howard Government to rush
through an emergency law to make it easier for police to arrest
suspects... The Australian has learned the
intelligence relates to home-grown terror suspects in the country's two
biggest cities who are believed to be building the capability to mount
an attack. The SMH 
The SMH 
Security agencies are poised to swoop on alleged terrorist cells throughout the country once Parliament passes an amendment to the anti-terrorism laws today... A senior security source said the legal issues solved by the amendment had been the main barrier to the raids.
The Daily Tele A TERRORIST plot targeting an Australian city has been uncovered by the Australian Federal Police and intelligence agencies...According to Government sources, the threat involves "a number of individuals" but is not linked to a public event or single location. The group under surveillance is made up of Islamic extremists, sources told The Daily Telegraph. Investigators fear the plot is not confined to one place. It is something more general rather than just Sydney or Melbourne," one source said... While no specific target has been identified, emergency services chiefs fear terrorists could strike any of a number of targets around the country, with both Sydney and Melbourne again featuring as likely targets. Other possible targets include Pine Gap spy facility in Northern Territory, the SAS barracks in Perth, the Victoria Barracks in Paddington and future sporting events such as next year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Herald Sun 
Asio agents and police are poised to move aghainst an unnamed terorirst groups planning attacks in several states. The immediate and unspecified threat came from an Islamic extremist group centred on Sydney, Government sources told the Herald Sun.
Courier Mail 
AN emergency terror law was pushed quickly through the House of Representatives last night to stop a suspected Sydney-based group launching attacks across Australia. The law was rushed into Parliament with bi-partisan support to enable authorities to take urgent action against the undisclosed threat. It is understood an Islamic extremist group is being closely tracked by a team of agents from ASIO and the Australian Federal Police.
The Advertiser 
ASIO and federal and state police are set to move against an unnamed terrorist group centred in Sydney that is planning attacks in several states. According to Government sources the threat involved "a number of individuals" but did not focus on any event or single location and potentially affected a number of states. quot;It is something more general rather than just Sydney or Melbourne," one source said. A Government source confirmed that the threat came from an Islamic extremist group.