Republic of Moreland

March 28, 2007

Justice for young Moreland men

Filed under: crime,events,Glenroy,neighbours,politics — Kath @ 3:02 pm

Few people swallow the federal government’s spin that David Hicks’ guilty plea vindicates the charges against him or his treatment. As Bob Brown told SBS last night: “David Hicks’ guilt will always be in doubt. John Howard’s guilt won’t be.” Or something like that, bless him.

Last night, at a legal briefing organised by Civil Rights Defence, concern was expressed that while Australia is rightly worried about the treatment of David Hicks, few of us are aware of the Guantanamo-style conditions happening to those branded ‘terror suspects’ in Melbourne.

This should be a particular concern to Morelanders, because many of the young men kept shackled in isolation at Barwon prison are our neighbours. There have been applications to the UN about their treatment at Barwon. Their lawyer, Rob Stary, told the briefing that last week, in extreme heat, the men were taken from court in a van whose air-conditioning had broken down. After an hour and a half trip back to Barwon, he said, they were kept inside the airless tin van in sweltering heat for more than an hour, dehydrated and shackled with no water. One of them was allegeldly taken out of the van unconscious and another allegedly had a respiratory attack. We heard that when they were finally let out they were “literally hysterical”, and punished by being forced to strip and line up and stand with their noses touching a wall. There has been a complaint that guard dogs sniffed their genitals.

These young men have been charged with no violent offence, and convicted of nothing. During the bail hearing for one, Justice Osborne said: “These conditions, which I have personally observed, are not those in which ordinary Australians would expect any member of the public to be held on remand for extended periods of time when charged with no more than membership of an organisation.”

By the time their cases go to trial, they would have been kept in isolation for two years at Barwon. (A place which has Orwellian names for punitive conditions. Stary said: “They say ‘individual case management’. We say ‘solitary confinement'”.) The men are apparently entitled by law to have 12 hours a day out of solitary and shackled confinement, which they haven’t enjoyed at Barwon because, a court was told, it doesn’t have the resources. On the face of it, it seems Corrections Victoria has a lot to answer for.

This morning an Age article touched on the issues Stary raised in court about Barwon prison.

Members of the public are urged to go along to the court hearings to witness the way these men are being presented and treated. Apparently up to 26 hefty sucurity guards stand with the prisoners, which Stary believes will prejudice any jury as it gives the impression the men pose a security threat. He said relatives of the men are intimidated. But if you go to a hearing, ensure you have photo id, as you will be required to show it. And ensure you go soon, before the DPP decides to hold the hearings in secret. National security reasons, and all.

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41 Comments »

  1. I believe that al-Qaeda camps provided a great opportunity for Muslims like myself from all over the world to train for military operations and jihad. I knew after six months that I was receiving training from al-Qaeda, who had declared war on numerous countries and peoples.

    David hicks in a letter to his father from herehttp://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2005/s1494795.htm

    You say that these me have
    These young men have been charged with no violent offence but all terrorism offences are by their nature about violence and I and many others consider that conspiring to make and detonate bombs is a very serious matter indeed and while I abhor stuff ups like poorly air-conditioned transport don’t for one minute Think that it has any relevance to their guilt or innocence. This is not a matter of schoolboys who have been shoplifting but a group of men who are alleged to have been plotting death and destruction. I want their case resolved swiftly as much as you do but no legal process is ever that swift in this country. If however they are found guilty I think that no hole is too deep or too dark and no sentence is too long.

    Comment by Iain — March 28, 2007 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  2. As I said, Iain, they have been charged with no violent offence. They have not been charged with plotting or planning a terrorist attack. They have not been charged with possessing any weapon, or planning to make any weapon. When you say “make and detonate bombs”, who are you talking about? The only bomb made or detonated in this case was apparently done so by a police agent, not any of the men. You can read about this here

    They were charged with membership of an unnamed and unlisted terrorist organisation. What organisation? Themselves. Why were these young men deemed a terror organisation upon (not before) their arrest? Because at a stroke of a pen, Phillip Rudddock, a politician (not a judge, not a court), decided they were (the arrests coincided with the govt’s unpopular introduction of Workplace laws). So far, the court has heard that they discussed, a year or two before they were arrested, things like, how John Howard should be blown up at the footy. The sort of things 19-year-olds tend to discuss. (Oh, and adults, too. Why, don’t you remember Amanda Vanstone discussing sticking a sharp pencil in Howard’s eye while he’s sitting on a plane?) Oh, and they accessed things on the internet that I have googled myself. That sort of thing.

    I have no sympathy for the crazy Islamic cleric in this case, but he, along with the young men, like David Hicks, should have been brought to trial within a reasonable time. That is, if you believe these new terror laws, described by Liberty Victoria as “redolent of Stalinist Russia”, have any validity. These men are being treated worse than the very worst convicted murderers, and, like I said, have been charged with no violent crime, let alone convicted of anything.

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — March 28, 2007 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  3. Read the page you link to and although you keep insisting that they have not actually committed any violent acts the charges say that they were conspiring to do so which is still violence in my book.
    The events of Bali, New York London Madrid et al have changed the security paradigm and we can’t just pretend that if we close our eyes that no similar atrocity will happen here. The difference between us is that I have faith the government wants to protected its citizens but I suspect that you believe that it wants to enslave them.

    Comment by Iain — March 28, 2007 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  4. Iain, I didn’t at any point insist these young men didn’t commit any violent acts. I insisted that they’re not even accused of committing any, nor is there any evidence presented to the court so far that they have. You are wrong: they are not charged with conspiring to do anything.

    But you’re right, I don’t have faith that the Howard government is really interested in protecting its citizens. Look how it treated its citizens stuck in Lebanon when Israel attacked; look at how it treats citizen Hicks, citizen Van Nguyen. It’s interest lies in political mileage from its war on terror campaign. Shame it’s backfiring so badly now: couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of folks.

    And you’re right, I do subscribe to the view that, although there’s general agreement among terror experts that Howard’s participation in the Iraq occupation has made a terror attack here more likely, it’s not a very scary prospect. Not ruling it out, but even in the US, even taking the events of 9/11 into consideration, you’re far, far more likely to get shot by a policeman or to fall out of a window or drive off the road than get struck by a terrorist.

    Given the staggeringly small risk here in Australia, I’d say the $20 billion spent on the war on terror so far is a tad much. Particularly when you consider that the real threat to Australia’s security is global warming (the existence of which many in the Howard govt still deny.)

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — March 28, 2007 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  5. “This should be a particular concern to Morelanders, because many of the young men kept shackled in isolation at Barwon prison are our neighbours.”

    Jeez, I think you’re stretching the ‘local interest’ angle a bit here, GoTA. Some of our neighbours are undoubtedly Nazis or paedophiles, too. Are you sure this is relevant to anything at all?

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 28, 2007 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

  6. Well, Banesy, put it this way. If John Howard were my neighbour, and he was charged with plotting to kill (civilians in Iraq, for instance), or even charged with having unsavoury conversations like the blokes above, as much as I think he’s the country’s biggest knob and warmonger, I would not tolerate him subjected to the conditions the men in Barwon suffer, and I would advocate a fair and swift trial, and presumption of innocence. Him being a Christian and all, and believing in loving thy neighbour ‘n that.

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — March 28, 2007 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

  7. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the accused being a local resident or not. One would expect that in any situation, irrespective of where it happens on the globe.

    On the other hand, if there ARE jihadists plotting terrorist attacks in my city, and they happen to reside in my immediate neighbourhood, THAT would actually be a cause for immediate concern. So your logic is topsy-turvy, methinks.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 28, 2007 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  8. Interesting to hear reactions to your post GOTA. I find it concerning that people have such faith in these laws, and that they are actually taking the charges at face value.

    So terrorism became a crime in Australia in 2002, and more laws were added in November 2005 – between those dates, over 400 pieces of legislation have been introduced. But for me, terrorism can never be a crime because it is actually a political strategy. Murder is a crime, attempted murder is a crime, theft is a crime, rape is a crime. Iain is right – making explosives or planning to set off explosives is a crime. But that is not what any of the 13 men are charged with. If the men were charged under the normal criminal code then I would not be so concerned, but they are charged with a vague crime of association that was rushed through parliament in two days flat without proper review, and on the back of the IR legislation, by an out-of-touch executive who led Australia into an illegal war. I just do not trust them. The laws resemble those you would find in a totalitarian dictatorship, not an ‘advanced democracy’.

    Added to that are the unprecedented, punitive conditions the remand prisoners are kept in at Barwon – conditions that Corrections Victoria are being pressured to change (by might i say, the judge in both the committal hearing and the current pre-trial hearings). The shackles, manacles, strip searches, solitary confinement, orange jump suits, lack of contact with family and lawyers were all attributed to “security assessments” again and again. But last week, CV turned around and said no, they are actually “operational”. wtf? Of course they are really about creating an impression which will influence peoples perceptions, and judging from what Iain and Bane of Malakas have said, it’s worked.

    Of course Morelanders should be concerned when their neighbours are being locked up in appalling conditions under these absurd laws. Also, why are the laws only being used against Muslims? We need to scrutinise every aspect of this case, because the more I hear about it, the more i see political theatre and no actual substance.

    Comment by Will — March 28, 2007 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  9. I’m all for thinking global, acting local. These laws are a travesty. Well said, Will and GoTA.

    Comment by Neighbourhood Pervert — March 28, 2007 @ 10:46 pm | Reply

  10. It seems you both have this ass-backwards. At no point have I said these charges are not highly politicised, which they evidently are. I also believe that any charges, if justified, should be promptly laid and swiftly dealt with in court.

    My objection was to GoTA’s contention that these folks being Morelanders should mean anything. Surely detention without proper trial should be of concern wherever it happens, like Zimbabwe. I really don’t see why we should care more about it because these people are “our neighbours”. The principle applies globally.

    Conversely, as I’ve already said, but will repeat for those hard of hearing in the gallery, IF there are indeed jihadists plotting attacks in our community (again, I stress IF), then that IS in fact a cause for local concern. More so than any similar plots in other countries, which are a matter for their local law enforcement, and will not directly affect us. The threat may well be local.

    Now, this isn’t a major point. I just think GoTA was playing up the local angle a bit too much to entice comments. As for the dudes in Barwon, they deserve regular remand treatment, a swift indictment (if justified), and a speedy trial. I felt the same way about Hicks. It’s ridiculous, therefore, to assert that I’m pre-judging their guilt. However I wouldn’t shed many tears for these “neighbours” if they were found guilty in a proper court of law, on firm evidence.

    Having spake thus, you are excused.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 29, 2007 @ 10:20 am | Reply

  11. “Now, this isn’t a major point.”

    You got that right. If you don’t like the local angling, get a blog. Don’t take up space derailing threads.

    You seem intent on clarifying your position, insisting that you’re not pre-judging their guilt. The point is that these laws implicitly and explicitly pre-judge guilt (look at Iain’s response, and your comparison with Nazis and paedophiles). There’s no way a jury could find the accused ‘not guilty’ under these laws because they’re absurdly vague and framed in a way that you’re damned either way. These men have guilt-by-association because Ruddock has branded them a terrorist organisation. A jury can’t find them not guilty of associating with themselves.

    Despite a couple of controversial convictions, there’s no evidence that these laws have prevented any crime. But there’s plenty of evidence they’ve been abused, and history shows that giving these kinds of powers to the State and police leads to abuse. These laws give ASIO and police the power to harass, persecute and prosecute ordinary people with impunity and without accountability. They don’t reduce the risk of terrorist attack (as Will said, consensus among lawyers is the existing criminal code did that fine), but they do drastically reduce all of our civil liberties and democratic rights.

    Comment by Heinrich Himmler's Chihuahua — March 29, 2007 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  12. “Don’t take up space derailing threads.” With contrary views, you mean?

    “You seem intent on clarifying your position…” Yes, that happens when misrepresentation is rampant.

    “[These laws] don’t reduce the risk of terrorist attack (as Will said, consensus among lawyers is the existing criminal code did that fine)…” Perhaps they don’t, and, as I’m sure we both agree, this has undoubtedly been politicised beyond any point it deserves. But equally, it’s true that our existing criminal code is weighted towards crimes that have already been committed. Conspiracy is a notoriously difficult charge to prove under existing laws. In terrorist cases, waiting until attacks have been committed, then hunting down and prosecuting the perpetrators is clearly not the best strategy. I’m all for treating it as a purely criminal issue, not a political one, but something has to be done to identify, disrupt and prosecute those who intend to cause such harm before the actual crime is committed and innocent people are hurt or killed. In such cases, one would have to prove intent, and therefore the suspect telephone conversations between Benbrika and the other accused become very significant.

    Now, again, none of this justifies these guys being kept in the conditions they’re currently in, nor the Junior League Abu Ghraib abuses that have been alleged (if true). Once arrested, the accused should be swiftly charged and prosecuted like regular criminal cases. But I do believe there needs to be strong anti-terrorist legislation that includes conspiracy, intent and planning. The problem, obviously, is in framing such laws without political interference.

    Part of a successful anti-terrorist strategy must include agents provocateurs. I see GoTA complained earlier about the use of these. But really, the use of provocateurs is an age-old strategem. I’d actually consider ASIO and the Feds to be negligent or delinquent in their duties if they weren’t infiltrating suspect groups and testing how far they are prepared to go, and whether they’re prepared to put their rhetoric into action. Because, really, anyone confronted with an associate who advocates violence has some clear choices: acquiesce, remain silent, disagree or go to the cops.

    No-one would seriously challenge the utility of undercover police officers in drug or organised crime gangs, so their use in suspected terrorist cells should be little different. And if they have to act like red-hot firebrands to smoke the others out, well, that’s just good tactics, and maybe saves operational time and resources. If I see you murder someone, or rob a corner shop, or bash your wife and choose to remain silent about it, then I become culpable and an accessory. Same principle, except that we obviously don’t want to wait until an attack on any scale — let alone one like in London or Madrid — is actually carried out. It must be nipped in the bud.

    Now, all other questions aside, at what point did these accused say to the police provocateur, or to Benbrika the jihadist cleric, “No, I disagree. Violence is not justified, and if you continue banging on like that, I’m telling the teacher”? Did this happen? I’m not asking rhetorically; I genuinely want to know, if someone can enlighten me.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 29, 2007 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  13. “At what point did these accused say to the police provocateur, or to Benbrika the jihadist cleric, “No, I disagree. Violence is not justified, and if you continue banging on like that, I’m telling the teacher”?”

    At what point did the provocatuer even suggest a question for that response? You see, we’re not told. None of this came out in the commital hearing (it’s a wonder that the provocateur information even slipped out). If we ask that question, the prosecution can make a response classified for “national security reasons” that GoTA refers to (this was done in previous trials). There is no transparency in this process.

    I don’t always agree with or ‘correct’ the views of people in my soccer team, even though they may be racist or stupid. That the defendents may or may not have challenged the views of someone in their prayer group is irrelevant. It certainly should not be a criminal offence, or scrutinised by a court. What you’re advocating is thought-crime.

    All the “conspiracy, intent and planning” risks you speak of are more than adequately covered in the pre-2002 criminal code, as most law societies and many criminal law academics argued at the time.

    Comment by Heinrich Himmler's Chihuahua — March 29, 2007 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  14. “What you’re advocating is thought-crime.”

    In the specific context of advocating terrorist violence against civilians or innocent parties, in the current political context of jihadist terrorism around the world (and not just the Western world — look at Iraq and Pakistan), then yes: certain pronouncements by certain people must carry greater weight and be treated with greater seriousness than others.

    As an Irish person in London in the 1970s and ’80s, one wouldn’t have made ill-advised, loose comments about blowing up the Houses of Parliament or “topping Thatcher” without the real risk of arrest and harassment by Her Majesty’s Finest. The political context meant that you were more suspect simply by dint of having red hair and freckles and speaking with a touch of the Blarney. Similarly, communists were suspect during the height of the Cold War.

    The current context is that Muslims — whether by birth or conversion — are similarly suspect. That is unfortunate, and there will be abuses (just as there were with Irish people in the UK and ‘Reds’ in McCarthy’s USA), but one can certainly understand how it arises. Most recent terrorist outrages — especially the large-scale ones in Europe — have been committed by Muslim fanatics. Law enforcement and security agencies obviously aren’t going to ignore this elementary conclusion in their allocation of scarce resources.

    Now, the average Muslim must be defended from scare- and hate-mongering of the ignorant kind. But equally, scant counter-terrorist resources must go to where the threat is greatest. In the current climate, that’s more likely to be a Muslim prayer group than an Irish history class.

    Finally, couldn’t it be argued that the laws against racial vilification constitute a form of thought-crime, too?

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 29, 2007 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  15. Law enforcement and security agencies obviously aren’t going to ignore this elementary conclusion in their allocation of scarce resources… scant counter-terrorist resources must go to where the threat is greatest.

    I wonder what you mean by “scarce” and “scant” resources, Bane. $20 billion in the last 5 years is scant? ASIO’s budget has almost quadrupled in these 5 years. The Office of National Assessment’s has increased threefold. ASIS, Foreign Affairs, the Federal Police, the Department of Immigration, AUSAID and Defence have all ballooned with massive budget injections.

    And this is what they come up with? If budget is your concern, I’d suggest that Alan Jones could have whipped up the same hysteria and misery for a fraction of the cost. A million, perhaps.

    As an Irish person in London in the 1970s and ’80s, one wouldn’t have made ill-advised, loose comments about blowing up the Houses of Parliament or “topping Thatcher” without the real risk of arrest and harassment by Her Majesty’s Finest.

    You say that like it’s a good thing.

    Part of a successful anti-terrorist strategy must include agents provocateurs. I see GoTA complained earlier about the use of these… Conspiracy is a notoriously difficult charge to prove under existing laws.

    Um… don’t go misrepresenting arguments, Bane, or making assumptions about existing laws. I mentioned the agent provocateur because Iain said the suspects were accused of detonating bombs (which they weren’t: it would seem the agent did it). And contrary to your opinion, criminal laws already allowed for police plants: hence drug criminal syndicates being exposed by plants; hence the recent case of a police plant hearing of a woman conspiring to murder her husband. The argument against these laws in this thread is not about police plants, but of secrecy, abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law. As Will said: “The laws resemble those you would find in a totalitarian dictatorship, not an ‘advanced democracy’.”

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — March 29, 2007 @ 2:29 pm | Reply

  16. Has the increase in funding in these agencies led to more field officers, more “boots on the ground”? That’s what I was referring to specifically. And, obviously, if there’s been an increase in funding, it’s more than partly owing to the very global political and security climate we’re all talking about. The other part is undoubtedly fluff, fear and bombast, but that’s only successful so long as a real threat exists. One must endeavour to separate the two, but to pretend there’s no real threat is equally naïve and daft. I’m sure everyone in London figured there was little or no threat there on the morning of July 7th, 2005. Not so come evening.

    As for my IRA illustration, it’s neither a good nor bad thing, but a real thing. A practical thing. It is obviously on these matters that we part ways.

    As for misrepresenting arguments, I already used the examples of police informers or plants in criminal cases, so please don’t act as if you’re illuminating me on this point. Try actually reading my posts.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 29, 2007 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  17. Now, now, Bane, you said I “complained” of provocateurs, which I didn’t. And I pointed out that existing laws (not new terror laws) allowed for these. Let’s not descend into tedium.

    As for strawman arguments, no one here is “pretend[ing] there’s no threat”.

    (I think the threat is small, particularly compared with the threat of death from bird flu or falling off a circus tightrope, but it’s there.)

    As for the increase in funding, yes, security agents and policing is a major growth industry.

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — March 29, 2007 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  18. In the hope of forestalling tedious forensic tit-for-tat, GoTA (and in contravention of my own rules about posting twice in a row on the same thread), I’m interested in how you concluded this:

    “And contrary to your opinion, criminal laws already allowed for police plants: hence drug criminal syndicates being exposed by plants; hence the recent case of a police plant hearing of a woman conspiring to murder her husband.”

    When I had previously posted this:

    “No-one would seriously challenge the utility of undercover police officers in drug or organised crime gangs, so their use in suspected terrorist cells should be little different.”

    I furthermore invite you to remain fashionable, if possible, in your response.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 29, 2007 @ 2:58 pm | Reply

  19. True. I am pleased to advise that I am most unfashionable, Sir.

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — March 29, 2007 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  20. And so to bed…

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 29, 2007 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  21. I’m sure everyone in London figured there was little or no threat there on the morning of July 7th, 2005.

    er, let’s wait and see. i urge you to check out Rachel from North London. I don’t like conspiracy theories and neither does she, but it seems some painful truths about 7/7 are about to come out.

    Regarding Bane of Malakas’ argument about infiltration, i agree, there is no problem with police using this tactic. but there is a problem with entrapment, and under these laws, which as i have said above, i have absolutely no confidence in, pretty much anything can be seen as suspicious.

    As for the idea that A Person of Middle Eastern Appearance cannot say something that another person can, sorry, that’s just racist. And yes, the UK’s anti-terrorism laws during the Irish Troubles, their Diplock Courts and arbitrary internment policies, were also racist. I remember growing up in Thatcher’s Britain when there were three gates at the airport – British citizens, non British citizens and Irish.

    Comment by Will — March 29, 2007 @ 4:36 pm | Reply

  22. Whether it’s racist or not, Will, it will happen, has happened, and will continue to happen. Because, all political squeamishness aside, such targeted methods are more effective than blanket alternatives. If there was a terrorist threat from neo-Nazis, would security single out dark-skinned folks at airport queues? It wouldn’t make any sense, and would waste time and resources. They’d target young white males first and foremost.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 29, 2007 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  23. Of course racial/religious profiling will and does happen. We’ve seen that on numerous documented cases of aircraft being evacuated and innocent people being detained because the mob thought they were behaving dodgily. This is the hysteria resulting from governments banging on about ‘the Islamic terror threat’. Laws that are only used against one religious group goes against all ideas of justice and equality. There is a vast difference between saying ‘i could kill that bastard Howard’, and actually planning or preparing to commit a violent offence. If a Jew or a Christian or a Rastafarian says this, is it less or more sinister than a Muslim? This also goes for one of the dodgiest parts of the sedition laws – urging the overthrow of a government. Where the hell do you draw the line? The laws are a disgrace, an act of pure political theatre, and they ought to be repealed.

    Comment by Will — March 29, 2007 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

  24. I’m not talking about the laws, Will. I’m talking about how they will be practically policed, ‘on the front line’, as it were. The laws themselves don’t target any specific group or ethnicity… but everybody knows who’s in the frame at any one time. Once upon a time it was Irish ‘Fenians’ and Republicans, now it’s POMAs and other Muslims. It depends on contemporary circumstances.

    My point is simply that, in the particular political and security context of the day, authorities will obviously seek to save time and resources by focusing on the most likely groups. Al-Qaeda knows this, too, which is why we’ve seen converts like Richard Reid come to the fore in many of their operations. But that doesn’t change the fact that the majority of Al-Qaeda and similar jihadist footsoldiers are of Middle Eastern, South Asian or other Muslim background.

    Now, a world without racism would be nice, but so would a world without violence against civilians — whether perpetrated by state or non-state actors.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 29, 2007 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

  25. I’m not sure if any lives have been saved by the assumptions behind racial profiling, Bane, but certainly lives have been lost, as I wrote here.

    Thanks for the video link, Will. Very interesting. It stopped half-way through, but I’ll be interested to view it in full.

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — March 29, 2007 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

  26. so i take it that Bane of Malakas approves of the capture of British naval officers in the Persian Gulf. After all, it is white, Anglo-Americans causing most violence in that region.

    Comment by Will — March 29, 2007 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  27. sorry, white, Anglo-American Christians

    Comment by Will — March 29, 2007 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

  28. pretty ridiculous to imagine al the soldiers doing th eshooting up are christians

    Comment by toerag — March 29, 2007 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

  29. here’s a link to evidence that Boise Idaho is everything the jokes claimed. The US is in a 9/12 groundhog day state of mind I think.

    Comment by Go Away! Please. — March 29, 2007 @ 10:48 pm | Reply

  30. ok, toerag, not the best analogy, but i was trying to illustrate the stupidity of the argument that it is not the laws that are the problem, but the ‘kind of people’ that break them, and the ‘context’ in which they are policed. it is the laws that are the problem. its important to understand the political context as well, but that is a secondary argument.

    Comment by Will — March 30, 2007 @ 12:43 am | Reply

  31. And some arguments on this thread seem to presume that somehow Australia isn’t at all responsible for this “political context”.

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — March 30, 2007 @ 1:02 am | Reply

  32. We’ve been all over this, but it seems a quick summary is needed of the main points as I see them.

    Do these 13 “Morelanders” deserve to have been arrested in the first place? Yes, based on what I know of the evidence.

    Should there be robust laws to deal with terror plots against civilians, in addition to existing laws regarding consipracy, etc.? Absolutely.

    Have the laws that were drafted by this government in 2002 been badly put together, and has the whole situation been politicised beyond what it deserves? Definitely.

    Are the conditions under which these men are being held — including the unacceptable delay in bringing charges — justified? Definitely not. They should be speedily charged and tried on the evidence.

    Should they be redrafted with cooler heads, knowing everything we now know? Yes.

    Should they be scrapped altogether? No, I don’t think so.

    Should security forces operating both in the community at large and at airports, etc., waste resources by pretending, for political reasons, that the current terrorist threat comes from all sections of the community, regardless of their origin, ethnicity, or other factors? Certainly not, in my view.

    Would the immediate scrapping of these laws actually translate into different policing and counter-terrorist methods on the ground? I doubt it very much.

    As for the specious question about Iran’s capture of the British naval personnel, it’s entirely irrelevant. That’s part of a much larger game between Iran and the Western Allies which, if a certain Russian journalist is to be believed, is soon to be resolved in a rather spectacular fashion. Check it out here:

    http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/printer_1888.shtml

    Seems to me the Iranians have done nothing more than hand the West a casus belli at a delicate time. Not terribly smart. Mind you, I won’t shed any tears for the Iranian regime, either, or its reactionary mullahs.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — March 30, 2007 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  33. Bane, what is your justification that there needs to be extra laws to deal with “terror plots against civilians”? I see no reason to bring in these laws other than as a post hoc justification of bad policies and rash spending(deployment of troops to disastrous occupations in the Middle East, massive spending on weapons manufacturers, police, security agencies, nationalist rhetoric about conforming to Australianness etc. etc.) If Australia’s existing conspiracy laws needed to be updated then fine, but why all the hoo-ha about “terror plots”?

    Comment by Will — April 1, 2007 @ 12:21 am | Reply

  34. Because, Will, no other conspiracy scenario I can imagine could possibly have the consequences of a Madrid or a London. And killing innocent people on a mass scale requires planning, organisation and logistics, very often for months beforehand. So, if such planning is detected, why wait until the attack is carried out before acting? Why wait, even, until the explosives have been prepared and the targets chosen? Some of the attackers might slip through before authorities can act.

    Likewise, what’s the point of heavy penalties after the fact, when you’re dealing with people (allegedly in this case, proven countless times in others) prepared to sacrifice their own lives in the taking of others, and who are motivated by the demented notion that their actions will somehow alleviate suffering halfway around the globe, and bolstered by crazy religious nonsense?

    One thing that’s been overlooked in this debate is the simple fact that, on a purely tactical counter-terrorist scale, this whole ‘operation’ with the Barwon 13 has been a success. If they were planning something — or even just commencing on the road to eventually carrying out a civilian bombing or other terrorist operation — well, they sure as hell won’t be doing that now, even if they were to be released tomorrow. Others contemplating taking such a course must also now examine the very real prospect of going to prison for simply discussing it. It has a massive deterrent effect, or at least stifles planning to the point of serious retardation.

    On to broader notions: the idea that Islamist terrorism against civilians and other innocents in the West is in any way justified, even after the Iraq mess and the ongoing Palestinian conflict, is a massive load of garbage. Any Western-based jihadist who is truly concerned about this should have the cojones to front up to the real struggle and head out to the front line if they really think it’s worth the candle. There they can tangle with Infidels who can shoot back, and see how they fare. I still won’t shed any tears for them if they get hosed, but at least I can respect it. Blasting morning commuters — kids, old people, disabled folks, Manchester United supporters and other less competent souls — to pieces on the Tube because you think it’s going to help Iraq or Chechnya or get you fellated by fictional heavenly virgins is the action of weak-kneed piss-ants. If they think they’ve got what it takes, they can take it to Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Kashmir, and see how NATO or the Indian army can help them get into Paradise.

    Even then, look at their conduct in these jihadist “theatres of operation”… In Kashmir, they’re just stooges for Pakistani intelligence; real Kashmiri separatists don’t want to join Pakistan, and there was never that pronounced jihadist element. Islamabad cooked that up to make it more popular in the Muslim world, to serve their own (not Kashmiri) ends.

    In Iraq, the “Iraqi resistance” are just sectarian crazies and Arab Sunnis hoping to regain their hegemony. They hope that if they stir up a civil war and get Iran involved, the Yanks will be forced back to supporting the old status quo of Sunni despotism to keep together what is, after all, a colonial construct, not a nation. Never mind that the Kurds — the real victims of the Saddam years — are now prospering like never before, and that there’s virtually no insurgency in Kurdistan. And for every GI they kill, the Sunni Arab insurgents kill well over 100 Iraqi civilians — mostly Shi’ites.

    So the ‘battle’ there isn’t what young Western jihadists are being told, either. Hell, just like the John Birch Society did Stalin, if you were red-hot in your opposition to Islam you’d have to give the Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq an award for killing the most Muslims. Nobody does it better.

    Me, I supported the invasion of Iraq for one compelling reason that was never discussed amidst all the crap about WMDs and all that: because I thought it would lead to a better outcome for the Kurds. It did that. It’s still doing that. Plus, if Western troops were to be withdrawn, Turkey would probably invade Kurdistan, in order to crush that dangerous example.

    The best outcome therefore is a three-way partition of Iraq, guaranteed by the UN and with some serious muscle on the ground to warn off predatory neighbours. The Sunni Arabs can then have their worthless patch of desert as an independent space, or perhaps Syria can annex it. End of problem.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — April 2, 2007 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  35. Bane, we obviously have very different concepts of the threat posed by terrorism, and that posed by anti-terrorism laws. You seem to have strongly held views on the subject, and enjoy debate.

    So, to address your points:

    I actually said that if conspiracy laws needed to be beefed up, then that is fine. These terrorism laws do nothing whatsoever to prevent terrorism. But they do bypass the normal procedures needed to detain someone, e.g. ‘preventative detention’ meaning that people are not allowed to know what they are accused of, do not need to be charged, and are not permitted to tell anyone that they are in custody. This seems to be a serious affront to the rule of law, and more of a threat to “our values” than the jihadist menace you are so afraid of. There is nothing in pre-2002 laws preventing surveillance or allowing conspiracy charges. That is not at issue. It just happens to help the “terror industry” of intelligence creeps, biometrics companies, security agencies, prison contractors and military men.

    Which brings me to the second point. On what authority can you say that people discussing political violence is tantamount to planning a violent act? If the 13 men were planning a violent act, they could be charged under the numerous laws that were available long before Howard brought in the draconian 2002 and 2005 acts. But they’re not.

    The idea that the laws are ‘preventative’, that people intent on political violence will be put off by little Johnnie’s laws – yet at the same time you portray such people as fundamentalist nutcases intent on violence – is frankly, a bit laughable. So are you saying I’m not allowed to suggest topping Howard? Oh, i’m not Muslim, so i’m not likely to be in the ‘target catchment’.

    I am not an apologist for violence, though i do see a place for armed resistance. You contradict yourself when you clearly show you understand the strategic, territorial objectives in the Kashmir and Palestine conflicts, and then make slanderous statements about the Muslim faith. At that point, my opinion of your argument went down.

    Then you said something about targeting Man U supporters. Well, quite apart from the fact i’m an Arsenal fan, don’t you know that the “Old Trafford plot” was exposed as a hoax long ago? I suppose you believe in Red Mercury too? Another Murdoch confabulation.

    Can’t you see that there is an interest to exaggerate the threat of domestic terrorism to detract from the genuine terror that US, British and Australian troops are inflicting?

    Your comments about Iraq are frankly absurd. There may be more Iraqis being killed than Americans, but according to their own statistics, attacks on foreign troops far outnumber sectarian attacks. So it’s ok that Sunnis are killing Shia and vice-versa? For the sake of the Kurds, or as neocons so like to cite, the marsh Arabs? This is jumbled, cruel, sectarian thinking. Your support for partition shows that you have more sympathy for oil execs than the Kurds. Are you one?

    Comment by Will — April 2, 2007 @ 11:21 pm | Reply

  36. What, precisely, were my “slanderous” comments about the Muslim faith? If you’re referring to the promise of heavenly virgins, you’d best know that many Muslims themselves reject the notion, and that it’s only really used by jihadists (usually old men who don’t themselves intend to do anything of the kind) to encourage young men to blow themselves up. There’s real debate as to whether the Koran really promises anything of this sort, as far as I’m aware.

    (It is interesting, however, how fundamentalists prohibit virtually all forms of sexuality out of wedlock, yet recognise that the promise of free sex — even if confined to a fictional afterlife — is about the only real way to motivate young dudes to commit crazy actions.)

    You can suggest topping Howard all you like. Please be my guest. My point is simply that you’ll do so in the knowledge that no-one really cares, and that, in this current political context, it doesn’t carry much ominous portent. If, however, there had been many recent attacks on crowded public transport in cities around the world by blog commentators called Will, then I suggest that the ASIO operatives monitoring our posts would sit up rather straighter, put away the doughnuts and make a telephone call. As you’re making your way to the paddy wagon with the lads at 3 am the following morning, you can then muse and what a foolish thing it was to talk of such things in that specific political context.

    As for the Man U thing, it was a joke, dude. I’ve never actually heard of this “Old Trafford” plot you mention. I meant that such folks no doubt figured among those killed in the 7/7/2005 attacks and that, like the old and infirm, they are hapless and incompetent. Even then, they don’t deserve such a fate. Few do.

    As for the Kurds, I don’t see how citation by the neocons invalidates my points. I get a whiff here that the mere fact of a neocon finding something satisfactory is enough to send you the other way. You’ll no doubt correct me on that point in an edifying manner if I’m mistaken. But your argument that attacks on foreign troops outnumber those on Iraqi civilians holds no water at all. Even if true, it’s ridiculous to compare a roadside bomb attack on a Humvee, which may or may not kill one or two GIs, with a suicide bomber strolling into a market with the deliberate intention of killing as many fellow Muslim civilians as possible. In recent weeks, many of these attacks have claimed scores, in some cases over 100, victims at a stroke. Here you are counting only the number of attacks, when it’s clearly the style of attack and number of victims that’s important. And, in these suicide bomber cases, this is sectarian, Muslim-on-Muslim violence. That “genuine terror” you speak of speaks Arabic, mate. Yet, uh, I see, the West is to blame for that, too.

    The Kurdish issue is not “sectarian”, as the Kurds are themselves majority Sunni, like the Arabs to the south. It is a nationalist issue, one of self-determination. I support that, just as I would have done in Vietnam, Aden, Kenya, Ireland in 1919-21, and countless other similar struggles. “Sympathy for oil execs”? You must be joking. Sympathy for an oppressed people genuinely deserving of independent nationhood? Yep, four square, with bells on. Obviously Kurdish suffering like at Halabja in 1988 is less important to you than others, probably because they’re in de facto alliance with the US.

    I wonder what outcome you would imagine for the Kurds, or even the Sunni and Shia Arabs, given that the withdrawal of foreign forces now would result in a massive inter-ethnic and sectarian war in Iraq followed by rapid intervention by all its neighbours, leading to a huge regional conflict not seen since at least 1973, and probably much worse than that. How exactly would you seek to resolve this current situation in Iraq?

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — April 3, 2007 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  37. a few days since i looked at this thread. cheers for the comment, bane, can’t be arsed being drawn into a debate about iraq, but yes, i do distrust neocons, whether they happen to be oil execs or christian fundamentalists.

    back on topic, this story – “Suspect chained like a dog for three months” seems to be significant with regards to the australian government’s support for torture and dereliction of the rule of law.

    Comment by will — April 9, 2007 @ 2:45 am | Reply

  38. Sure, dude. Whatever. I myself thought this thread was finally heading in an interesting direction…

    On that note, check this out: http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/xml/2006/06/images/afj.peters_map_after.JPG

    Sure, it’s not perfect. I don’t know what ‘Greater Lebanon’ is supposed to be, for example, given that it would be an even more disastrous melange of traditional enemies; and I also can’t see why the phoney buffer state of Afghanistan, concocted by the Russians and British as part of the ‘Great Game’ in the 19th century, has survived the redrawing of borders… Makes more sense to give the Pushtun parts to Pakistan and the northern areas to the various Stans, according to ethnic realities. You’d also see how fast the Pakistanis mop up the Taleban once they became an internal security problem, rather than a way of destabilising a neighbour.

    I think if plans like these met with oil company approval, as you suggest, Will, they would have already been effected. I think that, like most big business, oil companies would much prefer a single, stable authority to deal with: a ‘single desk’, as it were.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — April 9, 2007 @ 11:23 am | Reply

  39. you do realize that people, especially the people that matter are really beyond this propaganda bs… right?
    be on the right side, or be left — just dont for a moment think that this world doesn’t matter.
    what you do echoes in eternity 😉
    if you dont understand the symbols – you’d better start check’n… there’s proof all around you.
    all the new cults have something in common 😉
    1995 inwo?
    lone gunmen pilot episode?
    look CLOSELY at the names of them ‘black ops’ types..
    look closely at the wall of video games @ gamestop
    look closely at the lyrics
    look closely at the words
    look closely at the truth – in all things.
    ~LOVE EXISTS~

    Comment by goodguy — April 18, 2007 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

  40. A Civil Rights Defence public forum will be held at Fitzroy Town Hall on Thursday November 15, 6pm. Details here:

    http://www.civilrightsdefence.org/?p=54

    Also, there could be a story in tomorrow’s Age on this issue…

    Comment by Will — November 2, 2007 @ 6:50 pm | Reply

  41. Justice for young Moreland men, alright, courtesy of a jury and due legal process. Check the news sites.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — September 15, 2008 @ 4:25 pm | Reply


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