London

You’re probably all aware of the suspected terrorist attacks in London overnight (our time). It’s hard to comprehend the impact of these events on the people who have been injured, or have lost loved ones. When I saw images of the bus that had been attacked you can’t help but get a horrible sinking feeling…

It’s hard to know how to feel about Blair’s “afternoon visit” to London, pulling himself away from the G8. Discussion of resolving debt in African nations, trade talks, and the need to look appropriately shaken but still resolute vs. dealing with a tragedy at home. Tough call.

During the blanket coverage on the major news networks, incessantly repeating the same unconfirmed, pointless information, I turned to the wikinews story on the attacks (via Joi Ito).

I have to admit I’ve been a sceptic about the wikinews project, but last night it became clear just how valuable it is. IMO it was the best coverage of the event around, and continues to develop and evolve (the article that’s there today is very different to the one that was there last night). All of the relevant phone numbers for hotlines established by embassies etc. are there, along with the clearest picture I’ve seen of reported events.

Both the end-result, and the near real-time developments last night were invaluable in getting some idea of what was happening. It is a different approach, but I think provides a valuable addition to the media sphere.

Doc Searls has more, and points to the wikipedia article.

Enough power

News.com.au: Terrorists ‘at large in Australia’ running with the opening graf: “AUSTRALIA’S top spy has told an international law conference that suspected terrorists are moving freely around Australia because security authorities don’t have enough powers.”

Reading further in the article it seems that they lack the power to prosecute retrospectively (which is a fundamental principle that must be upheld) and that “Australians could have confidence that its legal system had worked well so far and had the capacity to adjust to future challenges.” We don’t need to give away any more freedoms in other words. But just watch the pollies try to wrangle more freedoms away in the name of this bogus “war on terror”.

More on Habib

Toby continues the thread to an article in The Age about Mamdouh Habib.

An interesting excercise to do when reading these stories (a similar one graces the front page of the SMH this morning). Wherever you read ASIO/Keelty et. al “believes”, replace that with “believes, but cannot support with sufficient evidence”.

Also remember the current controversy about senior public servants covering the government’s ass about issues ranging from asylum seekers to torture in interrogations. The presumed assumption is that we are meant to believe that ASIO/Keelty are not political operatives in this mess – this could not be further from the truth, and has been shown on countless occasions. Remember Keelty having to retract clarify his statements a while back that contradicted the government’s official line. Just read Andrew Wilkie’s damning book to get some idea of the politicisation of such agencies.

Of course – you’d think after THREE YEARS the US or ASIO (or someone!!!!) would have enough to at least lay charges if there was sufficient evidence that Mamdouh was linked to al Qaeda. This is trial by public opinion – it is the type of trial the government is so good at manufacturing to deflect attention from the REAL ISSUE – claims by Mamdouh that he was tortured in (unlawful) custody.

The real shame of all this is the fact that we cannot trust our government to tell us the truth about such significant matters.

Mamdouh

Toby: Mamdouh minutes …:

…but the plain simple fact is no evidence – over three long years – came to light that enabled the US or Australian authorities to convict this man of any crime.

Until that changes, leave him alone.

I missed the interview – but I’d read/heard that there wasn’t a lot new in there, and I usually start yelling at the TV when I watch shows like 60 Minutes. I’m more disappointed I missed the 4 Corners program last night about the same topic (alleged torture of prisoners by the US/coalition).

But I have to concur with Toby’s appraisal. After three years the US found nothing to charge this man with and still the government keeps on with its line that he’s still a suspect and needs to be watched and trying to stop him from getting paid for telling his story. Leave the man in peace. He’s been through enough.

Retrospective law

Joo-Cheong Tham (on Webdiary): Habib’s right to earn a living. It’s clearly about more than his right to earn a living. Read the full text to get a sense of what this government has managed to do with the rule of law, all in the name of “anti-terrorism”. Pretty scary stuff.

From within

Jeff Jarvis posts an interesting take on how to stop (as opposed to respond to) terrorism. He has some interesting points, some I agree with.

And yet Jeff supports the war on Iraq, in which his government, with his support, has killed almost 12,000 people. And not for credible linkages with terror (not before the war at least). Maybe that sword cuts both ways? Perhaps the people of the US need to exporess “the revulsion any civilized soul should” at the acts of their own government and the impact that those actions have on the innocents of Iraq. Or Afghanistan. (And there are plenty of other examples). Yes, there are terrorists in Afghanistan, but the “Coalition of the Willing” is making the civilians pay for crimes they did not commit, and were unable to stop.

As an aside: ordinarily the kind of opinion Jeff presents is one I dismiss outright as completely hypocritical – I wouldn’t even bother responding. But I read Jeff’s blog regularly – I see the variety of viewpoints he presents. He is intelligent and articulate. And I find it difficult to dismiss. I also find it difficult to marry his seemingly extreme views on the war on Iraq with the views he presents on other matters.