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The Filth of the Dirty Bomb

Now that the Guantanamo charges of al Qaeda dirty bombers are disappearing, it's a great time to look at the effect of the scare that the mere possibility of this terrorism technique has created. For the way it's changed Australian society, you need look no further than the drinking thermos that froze Adelaide.

Authorities being "alert but not alarmed " in their vigilance for explosives is no new thing in this town. As an accordion player you get to know such things: leaving something the size of a squeezebox case beside a pinball machine while I played was enough to agitate young constables twenty years ago. An accordion case is one thing ... enough room for a fair bit of semtec in there, I guess? But a thermos? How much damage could a thermos do?

Yesterday a bloke walked into a bank, put down the drinking flask in a corridor, then left. The bank is located between the city's business-end and parliament, adjacent to the main shopping mall and the nightclubs.

The street block in front of the bank was closed for an hour and a half. How long had it taken to identify what had been identified to the media as a "package"? It wasn't detonated by the robot, and in such a location you certainly couldn't do so (if the thing was a dirty bomb, and how could something so small be anything else?) without spreading low-level radiological contamination across the heart of Adelaide. The contents of this potentially lethal container have been taken away for forensic examination, and I'm guessing the cops will find Cup-A-Soup, or something equally as explosive or radioactive.

Had the thermos been a dirty bomb and it had exploded, chaos would have ensued purely from the fact that the Australian public has been kept ignorant of the most likely resultant effects. Here's what AP's Ben Stein wrote about the effects of an attack in 2002:


The latest post-9/11 disaster scenario making news headlines is the "dirty bomb." The theoretical situation occurs when terrorists get hold of radioactive material from a hospital or food-irradiation plant, attach it to an explosive, and detonate the bomb in an urban area. The explosion spreads the radioactive material all over a city and exposes the population to radiation. Yet according to a health physicist, the biggest health risk from a dirty bomb would not, reassuringly, be cancer, but something more preventable: panic.

A dirty bomb "would probably not lead to many, if any, cancer deaths," says Andrew Karam, radiation safety officer of the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. But if the public receives unreliable or exaggerated information about dirty bombs, Karam worries that "the use of a radiological weapon would result in many deaths in traffic accidents as people flee the scene, and possibly stress- and anxiety-induced heart attacks."

The radiation dose from a dirty bomb would likely be relatively small, says the Rochester health scientist. Even a potent dirty bomb, consisting of a radioactive cobalt-60 rod used for food irradiation, for example, would deliver an average dose of a few tenths of a rem for people within a half-mile radius, he says. (A rem is a unit of radiation dose.) This compares to the 0.3-0.4 rem average dose per year that a person receives from natural sources, and 5 rem, the typical annual dose limit for nuclear and radiation workers (most radiation workers receive less than 1 rem of exposure annually).

Some recent news accounts have predicted that dirty bombs would cause a small amount of additional cancer cases. However, Karam says these estimates are all based on a faulty assumption

Did I mention that our central railway station is also well within such a half mile radius? Even if such an explosion didn't hurt people, the city would've been paralysed with fear. Cars would be crashing into each other on their way out of town. Some people would die of heart attacks. Such folk are expected to comprise the vast majority of dirty bomb victims.

Normally the most amazing thing about a thermos flask would be along the lines of the old joke "It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.. how does it know?" Since September 11 2001 such an object is now capable of halting cities When the CIA was torturing Al Qaida suspects, the notion was obviously on the interrogators’ minds. In this era that is becoming renowned for its attempt not only eliminate terrorism probabilities but possibilities as well, it seems the US agents were going to get the answers they wanted by force, and with no regard for an interviewee's truthfulness. Peter Finn's report in last week's Washington Post describes the results of such zeal:


The Justice Department's decision came after a Washington federal judge, in a habeas corpus proceeding, ordered the government to turn over all available exculpatory evidence to Mohammed's attorneys, according to documents filed by government attorneys. The material includes 42 classified British intelligence documents, among them communications with the United States about Mohammed's fate after his arrest in Pakistan in April 2002.

Mohammed's attorneys said they think the documents could shed light on the period between his disappearance in July 2002 and his transfer to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in September 2004. Mohammed, a 30-year-old Ethiopian native, and his attorneys charge that he was secretly transferred by the CIA to Morocco, where he admitted to various plots only because he was tortured.

The High Court in London ordered the release of the documents to Mohammed's attorneys, but the British government argued that they were covered by "public interest immunity" because their release would damage intelligence cooperation and relations with the United States

In Australia we understand how far authorities will bend to protect US intelligence communications. ASIO has been fighting in the courts for years to lock up the "Peanut Butter Files" that led to the arrest and deportation of US Halliburton activist Scott Parkin, and it's a fair guess that this has happened to conceal the flimsy amount of evidence provided by the U.S. against an enemy of U.S.Vice President Cheney's business interests. The continued attempts at secrecy around the evidence of the Haneef deportation nowadays makes me wonder if the intelligence both the UK and Australia acted so appallingly upon was provided by U.S. surveillance. That would explain this second adamant refusal to divulge.

The case against "dirty bomber" Binyam Mahommed had reached the same point as Parkin's: a judge's discovery order, when the U.S. military decided that convicting the man of what he was accused of was not worth the price of revealing how the prosecution's evidence was acquired. From this the least that can be surmised is that a disciplinary example to prevent future dirty bomb attacks was no longer required. With a little imagination it's thinkable that a true threat to the U.S. only existed in the minds of its Administration and information extractors, transferred by pain to the mouths of perceived "likely looking suspects".

At any rate, especially as this is the second such case, it appears that no convicted dirty bombers are going to be found amongst America's prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. And if true would-be perpetrators of such a crime do exist, they are considered of less importance than the revelation of US intelligence gathering techniques.

Authorities in Adelaide obviously treat such a possibility with a greater level of alarm. Otherwise the bank teller, or the corner cop (oops forgot to mention that the Governor's Residence is also just across the road) would've wandered over with an optimistic tea bag and cup.

I wish I could be inventive enough to think of placing a flaskful of soup in such a place to demonstrate the level of paranoia that our society has succumbed to. If I had thought of it, especially knowing the Guantanamo trial situation, I'd be sorely tempted. We've changed our way of looking at everything not even because of terrorism but because of a possibility (without precedent) of how we might be harmed. To potentially change the thinking of many through such a harmless action could be considered as a meritorious act of non-violent activism.

If the continual crumbling of Guantanamo "justice" signifies an approaching end to the War On Terror, a golden opportunity may be approaching. In the similar way that the Bush Administration has promoted or devalued terrorism fears according to prevalent national security priorities, we can now pause, breathe out, have a look around us. Are there truly any terrorism threats to our existence? Are they possible, probable, or highly unlikely? Are they worth changing our society into a fear-riddled, security-controlled, culturally segregated dumbed-down pack of propaganda believers?

On thinking further, I've decided that I wouldn't want to be the person to cause all that alarm, because at the end of the day the increased fear created would outweigh any new community awareness of the con-job. And if I was truly wanting to set off a dirty bomb, I'd do it another way. You see, one train stop down the track from this hullaballoo is an unguarded station. Although the bins have been taken out of Adelaide Central for (we're told) exactly such a reason, there'd be nothing stopping me from leaving a "package" similar to the one today in the dunnies. From there I could "irradiate" the Casino above (forgot to mention that one before, or the neighbouring Convention Centre, Hyatt and Festival Theatre), Parliament House, the Governor's Residence, Rundle Mall, the nightclub strip, and probably the business and legal districts.. maybe even the Central Market.

I assume that because such an opportunity exists that its probability is extremely low. Either that, or a tempting possibility has been left invitingly available.

The last thing I would want to assume would be that today's activities were nothing more than a drill. Certainly it wasn't a publicity exercise, as it hasn't (at time of writing) appeared on Murdoch's Adelaide website. So far only the ABC has reported, quoting a police spokesman as saying that "What actually raised his suspicion was the fact that someone actually placed what looked like a thermos in the corridor. Probably not something that's considered to be normal behaviour, especially in a bank building."

I have been writing the possibilities surrounding this situation to demonstrate how they might reach Guantanamo proportions. Were I writing from other places in the world, about U.S. locales, my chances of winding up in Guantanamo might have been much higher than that of a dirty bomb going off in my city.

Mind you, when the Adelaide railway station's bike rack was closed for a day's worth of renovation on 6/6/06, I had a fair idea of what might of been on the minds of counterterrorism advisers.

See what they've done to us? It's a convoluted web of confusion created by the "evidence" of "perpetrators," stuff that's seemingly of secondary importance to U.S. national interests, yet echoing around the globe.

I wonder if trust could become as infectious as fear? It certainly couldn't be less preventative than the counterterrorism psychology we've had shoved down our throats. Shall we give it a try?

With the rose-coloured glasses back on the table, my guess is that it's more likely for us to be kept alert by the banning of thermoses and the purchase (while there's still enough money) of thermos-detecting Dalek-style toys. The echoes of Guantanamo will be with us for a while yet, and this is something that can be considered as a distortion of human nature for political purposes.

Back to trust ... it's cheaper than Daleks. Treasurers take note!

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Dirty bomb myth unravelling

Hot off the presses of the New York Times:

At the Thursday hearing, Judge Sullivan asked why, after more than six years, the government had stepped away from its claims about a dirty-bomb plot. “That raises a question as to whether or not the allegations were ever true,” the judge said.

In 2002, John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, announced that a plot to detonate a radioactive bomb in the United States had been foiled and an American citizen, Jose Padilla, detained. The Pentagon has claimed that Mr. Mohamed assisted Mr. Padilla.

After Mr. Padilla was held for three and a half years in a naval brig, the Justice Department abandoned its dirty-bomb claims against him. He was convicted of other charges in 2007.

Pressed by Judge Sullivan on Thursday as to whether the government stood behind its assertion of a dirty-bomb plot, a Justice Department lawyer, Andrew I. Warden, said, “The short answer is yes.”

But Mr. Warden said the government could prove that Mr. Mohamed was being properly held without evidence of that plot. Military prosecutors have said they will file new charges against Mr. Mohamed with the Guantánamo war crimes tribunal, but they have not said whether the bomb plot will be among those charges.

The government claims Mr. Mohamed confessed to the plot and to attending Qaeda training camps.

But Zachary Katznelson, a lawyer for Mr. Mohamed, said in court Thursday that all his confessions were made after “he was tortured again and again and again until he just parroted what his torturers wanted him to say.” In Morocco, Mr. Katznelson said, Mr. Mohamed was beaten and repeatedly cut with razor blades on his genitals and elsewhere.

Eliot, Eliot, Eliot

David Hicks has not been able to tell us one single thing.

There are none so blind...

Eliot, if you think that shitty rag's article does anything to support your case, you obviously didn't read it properly.

Let Mamdouh Habib speak for himself

Scott Dunmore, the "article" in the Good Weekend is actually a verbatim extract from Mr Habib's book. Is that the "shitty rag" you mean?

Likewise, the extract quoted in the Australian. Taken from Mr Habib's book.

They are Mamdouh Habib's personal accounts of his experiences.

What does that tell you?

Haneef/AFP on 4Corns tonight

You lot will dance every time Eliot plays a jig....

Poor old AFP are going to appear "mortally offended"on 4Corns tonight.  Has anybody else read the inquiry submission?

Pretty fascinating

Four Corners confirmed some things - there are still a lot of good guys in the AFP - but those at the top ?..mmmm.

The Haneef affair reeks of a conspiracy but will it fade into the mists of time like the great Patricks/wharfies strike?

A triptych of treachery

I'd always thought, Michael, that in the week of Howard/Keelty handshakes a bargain was struck. Watching the sequence of events tonight was most helpful in restoring perspective. I'm now certain that something drastic occurred backstage. Perhaps Keelty was "enlightened" ?

Perhaps the memory of one such event of collusion might fade more quickly than the recollection of three? Juxtapose the Cheney manipulation of the Hicks plea bargain and the ludicrous deportation of Scott Parkin, and you have a florid triptych to hang on your wall, one for which little imagination is required to fill the spaces between the oh-so-similar motifs.

Haneef may appear to be the odd one out. Like the others, though, his predicament had nothing to do with anything going on in Australia.

Dirty Bombs in Australia: Then and Now


 Militants would need specialist knowledge of where radioactive material is stored, as well as how to process it into a bomb, a combination Mr Cameron described as "unlikely".

Reports suggested that ANSTO staff had discovered a piece of cobalt, commonly used in radiotherapy treatment, at a disused medical centre.

Incorporating radioactive material into a conventional bomb would contaminate large areas of a city, causing panic and increasing cancer rates.

"A dirty bomb is not a weapon of mass destruction, it is a weapon of mass disruption," Mr Cameron said.

"The major consequence of a dirty bomb would be panic and that is of course what the terrorists are after."

Two days ago:

AUSTRALIA'S proximity to the hotbeds of terrorism in Asia places it at greater risk of a biological terror attack, one of the US's leading biosecurity experts has warned.

John Clerici, an architect of US President George W. Bush's emergency bio-terrorism laws, says Australians must be wary of complacency about the threat of this unusual form of terrorism, which he says represents a growing challenge to the Western democracies.

"The threat (of bio-terrorism) is perceived to be very real in the US and is taken more seriously there than it is in Europe," Mr Clerici told The Australian. "But Australia's proximity to the hotbeds of terrorism in Asia means there needs to be a greater awareness of the threat here."

Mr Clerici, who is in Australia to address the AusBiotech Conference beginning in Melbourne today, says it is hard for many people to imagine the devastation that terrorists could unleash through the deliberate spread of smallpox or anthrax or similar deadly agents.

"In the US, we have put close to $US10billion into producing large amounts of smallpox vaccines and anthrax vaccines, but there is still a lot to do," he said.

"The biggest gap in preparations by the US and in the rest of the world is in dealing with a so-called dirty bomb (which disperses deadly radioactive material).

"If a dirty bomb were set off near the White House, it would make a five-block radius unlivable for many years. We are not yet ready to deal with something like that."

Mr Clerici said Australia was taking the threat of bio-terrorism more seriously than many European countries were, but more needed to be done.

"There seems to be a greater awareness of the bio-terrorism threat here than in Europe," he said. "But obviously, the further we get away from the events of 9/11, the more people become lax in their notion of the reality of the threat."

The federal Government stepped up its defences against the threat of bio-terrorism in July last year by opening a new Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Data Centre.

The centre provides intelligence to law-enforcement and intelligence agencies and emergency services to help prevent, prepare and respond to the use of CBRN weapons or materials by criminals or terrorists.

It has committed $5.2million over four years to research ways to improve the response capabilities for bio-terrorism.

Plans have been made to establish deployable mortuary services within Australia capable of managing up to 5000 fatalities in any one event.

Experts say terrorists could construct and detonate a dirty bomb by stealing or buying radioactive material on the global black market.

Ironically, both stories were apparently first published in the same newspaper, the Australian.  As was (from memory) that one with the expert calculating the probability of simultaneous al Qaeda bomb strikes on Australian cities during APEC at around forty per cent.

Anybody seen or heard of Dick Cheney lately?  With the election only a week away, it won't hurt us to keep our eyes wide open.

I wonder?

I wonder if they ask the obvious question:

Was the behaviour of the AFP influenced by politicians?

And if they do will we get an honest answer?

Do we need to ask such questions?

No need to ask, Justin

G'day Justin. Mr Keelty, the AFP boss, lost his dignity, independence and trust when he capitulated to the Howard "New Order" regarding his statement that we were increasing our danger of terrorist attack (not by America) by invading Iraq!

That brought down on him the wrath of Howard, Downer, Heffernan and many other jack booters.

Since then the AFP has done as they were told by the Howard mob up until the election of the Rudd Labor government.

The events, AFP behaviour and subsequent investigations speak for themselves. Mr. Keelty has had his time and a more professional Commissioner should be appointed - there are plenty to pick from in the force currently serving.

Cheers Ern G.

We know but how interesting

The "election" of Bush/Cheney in 2000 from Wikipedia:

"Bush narrowly won the November 7 election, with 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266 (with one faithless elector abstaining in the official tally). The election featured a controversy over who won Florida's 25 electoral votes (and thus the presidency), the recount process in that state, and the unusual event that the losing candidate had received 543,816 more popular votes than the winner.

In the American system of presidential elections, the electoral vote determines the winner, and Bush won this count by 271 to 266, although Gore received the most votes (called the "popular vote").

Then the "Ice Cream" hit the fan.

On September 11 (same as the 911 American emergency number and a Jewish holiday) an alleged number of 18 men, 14 of whom were Saudi Arabians - attacked the World Trade Centre twin towers;  the Pentagon and made an effort for the White House.  All were reported as successful except the attack on the White House.

The world and the U.N. were reported as horrified and sympathised with the United States. The Bush government promptly blamed Osama bin Laden, another of their allies.

Only the visiting Saudi Arabian royalty was allowed to leave America and fly home - all other flights were cancelled.

Subsequently, but only momentarily, it was reported that Osama who had been trained by the Americans, denied involvement in the attacks but called the offenders heros.

The government of Afghanistan, previously a US ally against the Russians, notified the Americans that Osama was in their hands and offered to hand him over if he was guaranteed a fair trial.  The Americans refused.

On October 7, 2001, less than a month after the WTC attack, the UN authorised the invasion of Afghanistan, led by the U.S. - to capture the alleged leader of that attack, Osama bin Laden, (who was a member of the Saudi Arabian royalty) and to thereby eliminate his Al Qaeda organisation.

While the Afghanistan conflict continued, America claimed that another of their allies (against Iran) Saddam Hussein of Iraq, was part of Osama's alleged web of terror.  Nothing could be further from the truth since it was revealed later that Saddam hated Osama and vice versa.

It is most probable that the US will not win in either Iraq or Afghanistan and the cost to the American taxpayer's; their dead and maimed soldiers will have been for nothing except the Cheney/Halliburton expensive rebuilding of that which they have destroyed.

Add to that situation the lessons ignored in Vietnam, Somalia, Rwanda, Kosovo and other limited wars led by America. Also consider what has happened to most of the US-backed dictators and their infamous Black Ops.

So, with a history of these betrayals of "allies" and puppets, how can anyone trust the American system of government with their practice of unlimited and unrestrained decisions to bomb, invade or apply sanctions, sometimes without warning?

Whatever our feelings about the Nulear Proliferation Treaty, that is nothing but a paper tiger, and which doesn't apply to the US, the UK, Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan and India - all supposedly for defence of their territory - why haven't we been included in that special club?

The Howard government wanted nuclear reactors and a nuclear dump in the Northern Territory. The Rudd government is continuing to mine uranium and, while the latter is more circumspect about who and for what they are selling it, we are nevertheless part of the nuclear industry.

To give us a nuclear weapon to protect ourselves, like Israel and Pakistan and India, would hardly cause a ripple in the scheme of things and would almost remove entirely the uneasy need for American protection.


Just as I thought

You are correct and I'm one of those who dances a foxtrot with Eliot everytime and he calls the tune!

Waiting with bated breath for Four Corners tonight as it will confirm what I always say - the AFP, ASIO, even our NSW police, are basically filled with honest and good people, but if the guy at the top is a joker it filters all the way down until the whole organisation is rotten to the core.

Fiona: Michael, I've been trying to get in touch with you but your email doesn't seem to be responding. Could you possibly email the editors (editor@webdiary.com.au) so I can make you an offer that you are welcome to refuse?

Let's clear David Hicks' name, I say

Marilyn Shepherd: "David Hicks has not been able to tell us one single thing."

There's no legal or other impediment to stop him talking. He could write a book if he wanted, too.

The media would be falling all over themselves to get to it.

By contrast, Mr Habib cannot stop talking about his experiences. Since his newest account now seems to contradict in quite striking respects the things Terry Hicks has been saying about David's time in Gitmo, and if I might be so blunt, since Mr Habib's account paints David in a rather poor light, perhaps it's time for David to speak up?

Why has Terry gone so suddenly quiet?

Michael de Angelos: "Probably the greatest example of how dreadful Gitmo is, is the reaction of people and the media to Mr Habib."

I bet it was nothing compared with David Hicks's reaction to Mr Habib when he picked up his copy of the Good Weekend on Saturday.

Man, that must have been something to see.

The real scandal though, is the Photoshopped family snaps of Mr Habib's wife and children.

Whoever took the original photographs is probably at the centre of one of the most amazing human rights violations in this nation's history.

The family must know who that person is. That person would have taken the photographs, the family members sitting for them in good faith.

Then the photographer either handed them over the Red Cross - or to ASIO or the CIA or the Australian Embassy or or whoever. Then to Gitmo for a re-touch.

Man, that piece of information is a political A-bomb.

Yet, nobody seems at all interested in following it up?

Why could that be?

Oddly, too, it's different now from what we were told earlier..

"Mr Hopper said officials at the base also defaced photos of Mr Habib's wife, Maha, and their four children.

"The Americans in their wisdom have taken the heads off the pictures, enlarged them and superimposed them with the heads of animals and then strung them up all over the walls of the interrogation room," he said."

That version of events from January 2005.

Now, the situation is reversed. The faces are visible, but have had things superimposed on them....

"There was my son, Moustafa, whom I hardly recognised. He had been a small boy when I left Australia. Now in the photos he was practically a man, with an ugly, large swollen eye, as if he'd been beaten. My wife, Maha, was depicted lying naked next to Osama bin Laden."

Oh, well. Some mix up there. Or maybe separate photos this time.

Anyway, how did the Gitmo boys get the photographs? That's potentially huge....

So wonderfully naive

"Anyway, how did the Gitmo boys get the photographs? That's potentially huge...." .

Is it? Is it possible Mr Habib carried photos of his family in his luggage, like everyone else does?

From that same article you quote comes this from the odious Phillip Ruddock:

"We haven't heard those sorts of allegations from Mr Habib but we're aware that allegations of that nature were made by other detainees released last year," Mr Ruddock's spokesman said.

"But if he's got any evidence to support those sorts of claims we'd pass them on." I think this is what drove people almost crazy during the Howard regime years-complete Kafka-style nonsense talk like this. This stuff was always said in the most smug , ironic manner.

As a lawyer Ruddock had a responsibility to follow up on such claims and investigate them, just as a police officer must investigate a complaint and not demand the complainant offer definitive proof of a crime having been perpetrated. But when we have a still un-punished Stasi (the AFP) who perpetrate their own frauds, as in the Haneef scandal. it was only to be expected.

How the Media Works (part 2)

Despite having strict guidelines on photoshopped images, both Fairfax and News Ltd violate their own rules. These rules will eventually be scrapped altogether as the Fairfax regime speeds headlong into a race to compete tabloid fashion with the Murdoch media.

Didn't recognise photograph

Michael de Angelos: "Is it? Is it possible Mr Habib carried photos of his family in his luggage, like everyone else does?"

Well, obvioulsy not as he claims to have barely recognised his son in the photographs, him having grown so much since he last saw him.

yes, Eliot my dear old thing

You are implying "guilt by association" with all these people innocently banged up at Guatanamo Bay whilst none have been charged or found guilty - except David Hicks who did a plea bargain which if anyone knows about US law (conveniently used only once for this ocassion and in time for the Australian 2007 election - oddly enough just after Dick Cheney's visit here) does not necessarily involve a person being guilty but is an oddity to avoid lengthy trials and huge legal fees and thus, a short sentence as a reward.

Unfortunately it also means millions of US citizens end up with criminal records when they shouldn't.

Probably the greatest example of how dreadful Gitmo is, is the reaction of people and the media to Mr Habib. Here is a man who was jailed for years and when finally freed without charge, flown back to Austrlia by private plane courtesy of the Australian government with absolutely no restrictions imposed upon him by the dreaded AFP (the Aussie Stasi) who would if they only could.

Yet the man is routinely abused by the general public, police officers and writers like Piers Ackermann. Note, despite Hicks' or Habib's luxurious accommodation with two blankets, they were also chained to a floor for up to 22 hours a day, and watched through a large window 24 hours a day. Not my idea of a Carribean holiday.

Despite these men running across each other's paths, you must apply the same rules then to most of our current or past leaders who have all dabbled at some stage with some of the world's greatest mass murderers. Keating and Suharto spring to mind along with Rumsfield and Saddam and George Bush hosting the Taliban leaders at the White House not long before 9/11, let alone Maggie Thatcher and her obsession with the odious Piniochet.

Is David Hicks being slandered by fellow inmates?

Marilyn Shepherd: "David Hicks has not been able to tell us one single thing."

David Hicks is perfectly free to tell us whatever he wants...

A gag order imposed on the only Guantanamo Bay inmate convicted of terrorism offences, the Australian David Hicks, has expired."

And Terry Hicks has never hesitated to speak on David's behalf. And indeed, Terry said that David was actually tortured in Gitmo. He didn't mention anything about David getting special privileges, that's for sure.

Perhaps they should speak up, because on the face of it, Mamdouh Habib's book is not entirely fair to David Hicks, is it?

Creating the impression that David enjoyed special privileges, acted as an informant, etc, etc.

With respect to David telling fellow prisoners that Mr Habib was an informant, Mr Habib is by contrast remarkably conciliatory to David, all things considered, and fulsomely forgives him.

Maybe it's time David spoke up.

I mean, he's so widely admired in this country amongst peace activists and the like.  Not as much as Mr Habib who even received a standing ovation at one peace group meeting, but still.

Perhaps some of the contradictions in their accounts of their time in Gitmo could be sorted out. Because, Mr Habib is coming out of it looking like a saint, isn't he?

But David?

Well, he's beginning to look a bit more like the "redneck" posing as a Muslim, as alleged by his fellow inmate, Moazzam Begg:

"David Hicks is a misfit in Guantanamo Bay, a "Southern redneck" who is learning to write a fishing novel and who loves to talk about hunting, says one of his former fellow inmates.

He is not even a practising Muslim, says Moazzam Begg, who occupied a neighbouring cell before his release in January."

Terry and David should speak up. For their own sakes. And not let Mr Habib monopolise the record.

I wonder why I bother

You're so full of it Eliot,  this ferkrisake, "I mean, he's so widely admired in this country amongst peace activists and the like."

No mate, he's considered an idiot but unjustly treated just the same.

Cannot speak for Tom and Harry, but...

Scott Dunmore: "No mate, he's considered an idiot but unjustly treated just the same."

Well, Dick Smith seems to think he's great. And even he wants him to speak up...

"ENTREPRENEUR Dick Smith is encouraging convicted terrorism supporter David Hicks to speak publicly about his ordeal at Guantanamo Bay, but says he shouldn't profit by telling his story."

Underlying premise of Hicks and Habib discussion rejected

To those of us who accept that there exists in the world a terrorist network known as Al Qaeda which has the intent and the ability to overcome the most formidable national defence system ever know to humankind in order to launch devastating terrorist attacks in spite of the best efforts of those in charge of that system to prevent that, then this discussion over whether or not David Hicks or Mamdouh Habib were members of the network or were intending to join that network would warrant considerable attention and energy on our part.

However, some of us do not accept that premise.

Amazing tales...

Marilyn Shepherd: "He is not lying and it is time the Australian public got that point."

 Okay. This was David Hicks’s personal ration allocation according to Mr. Habib (p22 ibid):

You were given two blankets, two sheets, two towels, a hand towel, a pair of slippers and shoes, a t-shirt, two pairs of shorts, a uniform, a book/magazine, a toothbrush, soap, a roll of toilet paper, a razor for shaving your head during shower time, a polystyrene cup, and a half-litre bottle of water that was replaced when needed. You were allowed tree recreational (“rec”) periods a week and showers any time.

That’s not what Terry Hicks told us, is it?

Also, the ex-patriot Australian population in Mr. Habib’s experience seemed to have had, so long as their and others' names featured prominently in media reports somewhere, an uncanny knack for crossing Mr Habib’s path, didn’t they?

Because, apart from Jack Thomas, "shoe bomber" Richard Reid , Matthew Stewart and David Hicks, Mr. Habib also met Mohamed Abbass in Egypt.

Mr Abbass has been missing for years.


Read some of the many books now being written about Gitmo instead of carrying on about Habib lying.

He is not lying and it is time the Australian public got that point.

Photoshop job, presumably

This, by Mr Habib in today's Fairfax Good Weekend magazine, p24:

On one occasion, in 2004, they sat me for hours in a small interrogation room facing the wall, which was covered with blown up photographs of my family. There was my son, Moustafa, whom I hardly recognised. He had been a small boy when I left Australia. Now in the photos he was practically a man, with an ugly, large swollen eye, as if he'd been beaten. My wife, Maha, was depicted lying naked next to Osama bin Laden. Mryann, my lovely daughter, was shown being raped. And my youngest, Hajer, wore a large Christian crucifix around her neck...

The dastardly thing here, of course, is how they got the recent photographs of the Habib family to digitally edit that way. Must have had the cooperation of someone back in Australia.

Probably ASIO. Does the family remember posing for te original pictures? Might be a clue.

More nonsense

Regarding Mr Habib's claim that he met a "Matthew Stewart" in Kabul, this is sort of public domain stuff where he would have sourced that information.


Mamdouh Habib now claims that he and  David Hicks stayed at the same Islamic guesthouse in Kabul in the days before the September 11 attacks.

Mr Habib says he saw Mr Hicks in the company of Jack Thomas  and Richard Reid (the Briton who became known as the "shoe bomber" after he tried to blow up an aircraft with explosives hidden in his shoe).

While in Kandahar before September 11, Mr Habib says he met Matthew Stewart, a former Australian soldier who complained about the "rape and murder" committed by Australian peacekeepers in East Timor.

Marilyn Shepherd: "Jack Thomas has now been banged up in high security, had two trials, won an appeal, been demonised by the Murdoch hacks as a dangerous man,  been subjected to a control order based on nothing at all and after all this time all he did was fiddle with his own passport."

I wasn't aware that Four Corners was a Murdoch enterprise:

Jack Thomas' lawyers see it as a good result, he had initially faced much more serious terrorism-related offences after his arrest in Pakistan in 2003.

But this retrial came about because of comments Mr Thomas made to reporters including the ABC's Four Corners program.

And Jack Thomas again innocent

Once again the Keystone kops have wasted millions trying to turn an innocent man into a terrorist.

Jack Thomas has now been banged up in high security, had two trials, won an appeal, been demonised by the Murdoch hacks as a dangerous man,  been subjected to a control order based on nothing at all and after all this time all he did was fiddle with his own passport.

Get the diaries

I have just read the book by Marvish Khan, an Afghan/American translator - it's called My Guantanamo Diaries.

I would advise all and sundry to read this astonishing book.

Plus le meme crap, plus'que la meme propaganda

Marilyn, you and I both know the garbage we'll hear as declassified ancient history.

Last year, when I snuck into the arms expo, ASIO's  Paul O'Sullivan was saying that the terrorism threat would be with us "for generations to come", and he hasn't changed his tune.One has to again start wondering how old his U.S. intel might be.


Australia's geographic position, strategic posture, economic wealth, military technology and close alliance with the US make Australia a potential target for espionage," the report says.

"Increasing pressure to gain an edge in public and private sectors is fuelling a trade in sensitive information.

"And as the incentives to undertake espionage continue to evolve, so do the types of actors prepared to undertake them.

"Individuals, companies and terrorist groups may seek to gain access to sensitive information. ASIO anticipates that it will need to respond more often to non-traditional espionage threats."

The Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, said that with advances in technology espionage was "taking on a more dramatic dimension".

The director-general of ASIO, Paul O'Sullivan, said the intelligence agency would need to devote more resources to countering espionage as those spying on Australia were making greater use of electronic espionage.

The report identifies terrorism by "the global militant jihad" as the most significant threat.

If O'Sullivan had time to factor the latest Guantanamo results into this report and didn't do so, he's a dickhead, and his credibility is compromised now more than ever.

I'm still waiting for the brand or soup or coffee in that thermos ... and probably will be for twenty years.

Paul's still following the Cheney approach.  It's over.

I'm back to wondering how many thermoses it would take to cripple our counterterrorism capabilities.

BTW, seen the name of Cheney in the press of late? It's conspicuously absent.

fear works every time

I'm pretty sure that whoever makes duct tape was in on the last big scam after 9/11.

Remember when the laughable Department of Homeland Security (oddly enough the same name used by the Nazis for the same department that spouted the same nonsense) urged every US household to purchase duct tape for taping windows and doors and such to prevent whatever God knows was about to descend upon them?

And they all did. Some manufacturer in China working for WalMart must have laughed all the way to the bank.


Michael, the duct tape was apparently supposed to keep out post-dirty-bomb radioactive dust.

Marilyn, thanks.  Loved the "intel" on Osama shopping at a US military base.  I've only skimmed, but this looks like the background for the latest Le Carré novel.

CIA get too cocky... charges dropped against five

The rest of Mahomed's charges were dropped overnight, along with others being handled by a grumpy Guantanamo prosecutor who claims that evidence that would've cleared another prisoner was withheld.

The prisoners are still rotting in their cells while somebody goes through all those intelligence reports to find something else that will stick.

It would appear that cutting an interviewee's penis with a scalpel isn't regarded as an appropriate interrogation technique.  That's nice to know, isn't it, Eliot?

One quarter of charges laid at the current tribunal have now vanished.

You will love this one Richard

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