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Haneef – this year's "9/11 Australian Story"?

By Richard Tonkin
Created 02/11/2007 - 19:07

[Original post 21 August 2007] MARGO UPDATE 2/11: What does it take for Labor to have the guts to try to clean up our mess of  a justice system at the top under John Howard? Lots and lots and lots. Before Parliament ended, the Democrats moved a motion in the Senate calling for an independent inquiry into the Haneef debacle. Labor voted against it, despite Rudd's call for an inquiry. Last week Labor suggested there would be no inquiry - see Haneef inquiry no sure bet as Labor backs off [1].

But today it's all different, thanks to The Australian's Hedley Thomas, the reporter who began to blow the lid on the scandal by publishing the transcript of the AFP interview with Haneef. Now, after Keelty told the Bulletin last week he never thought there was a case against Haneef - contradicting his previous public statements - the news via Hedley in Secret Haneef plan exposed [2] is:

CONFIDENTIAL emails between top AFP agents and a senior public servant advising Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews indicate that there was a secret plan to thwart a decision bya magistrate to release then terror suspect Mohamed Haneef on bail.

The emails show the AFP was aware of a weekend "contingency" plan to ensure the Indian doctor would remain behind bars by having Mr Andrews revoke his visa under the Migration Act in the event of bail being granted by Brisbane magistrate Jacqui Payne on the following Monday.

The disclosure of the emails will be used against Mr Andrews, who has always insisted that he made his decision to revoke Dr Haneef's visa under the Migration Act and that it was "unrelated to the question of proceedings in the criminal court in Brisbane".

Read on and you'll find - surprise surprise - that Andrews claims he knew northing of the contingency plan. Plausible denialbility strikes again! I mean, who IS governing the country, when on the really controversial issues - think AWB for example - the Government is left in the dark! I don't think so.

So now, Labor's immigration spokesman Tony Burke, , although not Rudd as yet - says Labor WILL hold a judicial inquiry into the matter should it win office. Thank bloody Christ for that! How how low does public confidence have to get in the Howard Government's corruption  of our legal system and the basic ethics of ministers, police and prosecutors in relation to it before Labor acts! This far, perhaps.

Only this week the former Chief Justice of the Hight Court, Sir Gerard Brennan, warned that the Haneef scandal was a bridge too far - see an edited text of his speech at Liberty's threat from executive power [3] and this quote in Execution stance under fire [4]:

Sir Gerard also condemned Australia's anti-terrorism laws for trespassing upon natural justice. He said a person could be detained in custody, virtually incommunicado, without ever being accused of involvement in terrorist activity, on grounds that were kept secret and without effective opportunity to challenge the basis of the detention.

He said the experience of Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks starkly illustrated the injustices that can occur when power is exercised without effective judicial review. "Yet in Australia in recent times we have witnessed a series of erosions of the jurisdiction of the courts to apply the rule of law."

 He said the "sad experience" of Mohamed Haneef had     eroded public confidence in the agencies entrusted to safeguard public security.

The Richard Tonkin piece that follows was the last Webdiary piece on the saga - for all our coverage see here [5].   And see Intelligence, counter-terrorism and trust [5].

Haneef – this year's "9/11 Australian Story"?

by Richard Tonkin  [5]

The Australian Federal Court is now likely to face appeals from two government ministers on two cases of accusation of terrorism. In both cases the inference is that the suspects have been detained and booted out of the country on false and improper reasoning.

The Federal Court proclaimed today that Haneef's visa had been cancelled for the wrong reasons. If, instead of making his decision on the "character test", Andrews had revoked Haneef's visa on the grounds of his known associations (the second cousins involved in the UK incident), the court would have upheld the decision. Instead, Justice Jeffrey Spender, in setting aside Andrews' decision, said that the minister had made a "jurisdictional error” [6].

Justice Spender stayed his decision for twenty-one days. Today being August 21, that gives Andrews until September 11 to announce his course of action. Andrews has announced this afternoon that he will lodge an appeal [7]. If he uses the allotted timespan (applied for by Crown prosecutors) the cases of Haneef and Scott Parkin will bear remarkable similarities.

On September 11 2005 the Australian media was awash with the story of another "terrorism arrest". The day before Halliburton activist Scott Parkin had been surrounded by immigration officers and Federal police at a cafe in Brunswick Street, Melbourne. Parkin had organised a street theatre protest in front of the KBR office in Sydney during the Forbes CEOs' Conference, and subsequently declined a request by ASIO to attend an interview. In his absence ASIO made an adverse security assessment. It was on the basis of this assessment that the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, cancelled Parkin's visa, detained him in solitary confinement, and deported him.

It was subsequently revealed by US magazine Newsweek that information on Parkin had been illegaly kept in a US Pentagon file [7], including another protest by Parkin involving the distribution of peanut butter sandwiches in front of a Halliburton office to protest against alleged profiteering by the company in its prices for the meals of US troops in Iraq.

The Federal Court later ruled that that Parkin should be granted access to the ASIO files that were used in his negative security classification. ASIO appealed this decision last yea [7]r, and the case is yet to be heard.

If Andrews uses the days the court allows him, on September 11 this year he will be able to place his continued suspicions that Haneef was connected to terrorism in the Australian media. To use the significance of the date in such a manner would be another attempt to invoke the tragedy in "proving" a case. Given that their last September 11 stunt has, two years later, yet to be proven as appropriate, it would be a gamble to put Haneef in the same basket as Parkin. However, the Federal Government could well be desperate enough for political "nation security" success to try it to please a grumpy Sydney public that has just endured the ordeal of APEC security measures.

By September 11 this year there may well be new terrorism suspects sitting in Australian cells. If foreign nationals are imprisoned in Sydney on charges relating to the APEC Leaders' Conference, and the cases of Haneef and Parkin are still unresolved, the Australian government will have an international reputation of being unable to deal with even the suspects they've apparently mishandled in their haste for political gain.

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