Terrorist raids

The PM has his coup. Front-page headlines proclaiming an “imminent” terrorist plot has been foiled. I had to scan four pages and five articles to uncover what suspected all along:

The Federal Government’s decision to rush counter-terrorism laws through Parliament has been vindicated by the police raids resulting in the arrest of 17 people, the Prime Minister has suggested.

…But police sources said that the raids could have gone ahead without the amendment rushed through Parliament last week.

"It was going to happen anyway," one source said.

"We already had the powers and we believed the threat was becoming imminent, so we had to act on it regardless."

This little tidbit, however, is not emblazened upon the front page, or the second page, but the first mention occurs in a lesser article on the fifth or sixth page of the print paper, 9th in the online edition this morning.

Disappointing, but entirely expected. I can’t help but think that the media are complicit in bolstering Howard’s stance by not clearly identifying this more prominently in their lead articles.

Still, I’m glad that at least the issues are being aired.

‘Specific’ terror threat

ABC News Online: PM warns of ‘specific’ terror threat.

A “specific intelligence about a potential terrorist threat in Australia”. And they can’t talk about it for “operational security reasons”. How convenient! I’m sure that the AFP and ASIO receive “specific intelligence” about “potential terrorist threat[s]” every week…

Ruddock says “We have seen material, it is a cause for concern.” Unfortunately that is not enough given your track record Mr Ruddock. The sad thing about this whole affair is that we should be able to trust our leaders when they make pronouncements of this gravity.

Yet we can’t.

From as far back as the “children overboard” scandal this government, and Howard and Ruddock in particular, have given short-shrift to the truth. If it’s politically expedient, they’ll say what they like, and then find some way to avoid an inquiry (or someone to fall on their sword) later.

In my view the most “specific” terror threat at the moment is the passing of the legislation that Howard is trying to ram through using such crass and obvious methods (straight out of the Bush/Rove playbook). Hopefully the state premiers will keep their heads about them and take this for what it’s worth. I can’t help but fear for the worst…

Update: Andrew Bartlett has his say. In part:

Normally when ASIO is asked for details of security matters – even by Senate Committees – they refuse to answer on security grounds. Yet here’s the front page of the national Murdoch daily saying “ASIO is believed to hold genuine security concerns about an estimated 700-800 Muslims in Australia who have expressed support for politically motivated violence.”