Today’s talkback army talking points

In response to Dr Mohammed Haneef’s interview last night on 60 minutes:

Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

He was only inconvenienced for 4 weeks.

Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s all been corrected now.

Sure he was incarcerated, but he was fed and safe and he must have known that if he was innocent he’d eventually be set free.

He shouldn’t have been traumatised by that, he should be happy to be contributing to the safety of society by being thoroughly investigated.

The attempts by partisans to game talkback shows are becoming more and more obvious.

The last two lpoints strike me as particularly disingenuous. They’re trying to imply that only a person with some guilty secrets would be traumatised by being investigated. As if anybody who’s been paying attention to justice narratives (both fact and fiction) at any time in their life ever doesn’t know that innocent people get persecuted all the time for cynical political gain. Why on earth should Haneef’s pofessed innocence have made him unafraid of the investigation’s intensity?

Categories: culture wars, law & order, Politics

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17 replies

  1. It doesn’t make me feel safer that they investigated a clearly innocent man so vigourously. It makes me scared. They weren’t using all those resources to investigate the real terrorists.

  2. Was this on 702? I heard some very similar stuff on there when I was driving home from the vet this morning.

  3. I must admit, my first thought was about how often this crowd tends to crossover with the crowd who scream bloody murder about ‘false rape accusations’ and about how it’s oh so traumatic to be investigated on a rape accusation. To borrow their own talking points: ‘Surely if they’re innocent they should be happy to be investigated to contribute to the safety of Australia’s women’ … oh, right. I forgot they don’t like applying their own logic to the rest of their ideas.

  4. Adam, I first heard it on 702, then I flipped to 2GB and there were similiar calls coming in there as well. The teev this morning had the same talking points coming in as feedback too. I know that those of us defending the upholding of the principles of civil liberties have our own stock phrases, but that tends to be because we’re quoting actual law and stuff.
    Did you keep listening on 702? Trioli ended up putting together a segment about how the phonein had been dominated by that string of talking points, while the messages sent in via SMS were very much against the AFP/DPP post hoc justifications.

  5. No, I didn’t listen long enough to hear that. Trioli was plenty challenging to the callers I heard, though.

  6. Ariella, I meant to respond to your point above. That’s an excellent insight. I bet that exactly while they’re exercising these double standards they’re yabbering on about the moral relativism of the left as well.

  7. He wasn’t traumatised but said he wanted to come back to Australia.
    He understood that his relatives had dumped him in a mess. Moreover he could scarcely believe his relatives were involved. They were not obviously terrorist suspects. This is very revealing.
    It is part of the criminal justice system. People are charged and acquitteg. The alternatives were not to investigate or to convict immediately charges are laid.
    I know that this blog and many others are virultently anti-Howard but it is time to come back to earth and look at things dispassionately and fairly.
    There was a presumption he could have been involved in terrorism. Many things pointed in this direction. In part these presumptions were based on wrong information and that is a real problem that needs investigation.
    But this was an investigation into the existence of terrorists – people who kill innocent civilians. It was not an investigation into alleged jay-walking.

  8. It is part of the criminal justice system. People are charged and acquitteg. The alternatives were not to investigate or to convict immediately charges are laid.

    I’m having difficulty parsing your argument, Harry. I’ll do the best I can with what I can manage to determine as your stance.
    Has anyone argued that Haneef should not have been investigated? It is, as even you acknowledge, the laying of charges on evidence full of discrepancies that is the concern, as well as the prosecutorial testimony in court that totally misrepresented the facts of the case and the information gained via interview.
    The government inappropriately politicised this investigation, and now they are feeling the blowback. Procedures to charge someone with terrorism need to be at least as rigorous as those used to charge someone with jay-walking (should such a crime exist in Australia, which I don’t think it does).
    The government sought to use their power inappropriately to bypass rigorous procedures. This is power corrupting, Harry. It’s valid to be disturbed by it.

  9. You are questioning whether it is better to be safe or sorry. You are questioning the charging and presumably bthe decision not to allow bail until he faces court. Is that so complicated?
    The discrepancies were discovered after the charges were made and after Andrews revoked the visa. The criminal justice system cannot rely on being wise after the event – you act on information available to you.
    An immigrant in Australia enjoys less rights than a citizen. If there is the presumption the migrant associated with criminals – Haneef definitely did although the extent of the association remains in dispute – his visa can be revoked and the Minister did this. This is not politicisation – as you describe it – but applying the law of the land – The Migration Act.
    I don’t believe people are treating this issue fairly. Yes he was disadvantaged but I fail to see that the correct processes have been followed. The vinformation provided was wrong but this is the result of evidence given by the DPP as transmitted by the Federal Police.

  10. You are questioning whether it is better to be safe or sorry.

    I’m criticising that cliche as facile and oversimplistic.

    You are questioning the charging and presumably bthe decision not to allow bail until he faces court. Is that so complicated?

    I certainly do question the charging in light of the fact that the most cursory examination of the evidence by the media showed that it was riddled with discrepancies that undermined the prosecution case. That such discrepancies were so easily discovered by the media means that the public officers entrusted to investigate such matters competently should have discovered them prior to charges being laid. Matters such as the location where the SIM card were found and the statements actually made by Haneef in interview were before the investigators and prosecution before they were available to the media. Why did they not note the discrepancies and draw the obvious conclusion that the British Police had already drawn – that Haneef was not involved in the conspiracy? Are these entrusted public officers all thick?
    As to the decision to essentially nullify the bail as granted by the magistrate and subject Haneef to immigration detention, that is exactly where the politicisation lies. His passport had been surrendered, he could be monitored on bail, what genuine justification could there be for so politicising this case which was proceeding already as it should have done?
    Your argument appears to be that if a Minister applies his discretionary powers according to the letter of the law then such acts can’t be political because they are legal? How astonishingly naive. Andrews had the discretion to allow the courts to proceed in the Haneef matter without his decision muddying the waters or not. He chose to muddy the waters, and now he and his government colleagues are complaining that the mud is sticking to them.

  11. hc, it’s false to assume that it’s just anti Howard sentiment.
    Excess politicking in the agencies who act on visa holders suspected of crimes can as likley undermine investigation efforts as uphold them. Staff of AFP and Immigration are obliged to be politically neutral remember? Some prefer to be so too, to do their jobs well, rather than be at the bait switch beck and call of politicans.

  12. Again the decision to charge was taken before the falseness of the claims was known. Perfect ex post foresight is of no help in a criminal investigation.
    I don’t know whay errors of judgement were transmitted and you don’t either.
    Sorry but the Minister does have the power under the Act. It makes sense to assigning higher rights to citizens than to those on visas. The Minister made the judgement that he had associated with criminals and he had. He said he had. It may have been innocent but he had.
    I see no evidence of politicking at all – just your claim. If Andrews had known the charges were based on trumped up information he would have rejected the visa cancellation – in the interests of his own self-preservation if nothing else – as would Kevin Rudd who also supported the move.
    Its fun to concoct a political conspiracy – and in this case avoids the fact of having to live with awakward imperfections in the criminal justice system – but you need to be fair to those concerned – even if you don’t like their politics.

  13. My comments, and suspicion of politicking by him, is based upon having previoulsy worked for him, in this field.

  14. ..which isn’t, i should acknowledge, proof of anything in this case.
    My point being that, I reject the idea that it could only be enjoyment of conspiracy theories, or political bias, or denial of respect for the limits of the criminal justice system that leads to question the government’s pressue on these portfolios. Conspiracy theories are foolish, but so many mistakes and abuses in the this field in recent years don’t inspire trust, the government has only it’s own track record to thank for that.

  15. Harry, saying it’s just virulent anti-Howard sentiment is as enraging to those of us who do actually think carefully about these things as it would be to you if someone here said ‘Oh, Harry’s just an apologist for Howard and won’t hear a word against him.’
    It just isn’t that simple.
    Given that the British police seem to have some culpability in this, and given the world climate, I’m sad about but resigned to the idea that every now and then someone in Australia is indeed going to get arrested on suspicion of terrorism or associating with terrorists, and sometimes there will be grave grounds for that. I have not forgotten Willie Brigitte (Sp?) and I bet nobody else here has either.
    Personally my own main gripe is with the attitude that the government and its ministers have shown throughout, particularly in the last couple of days, which also appears to me to be the subject of TT’s post here. First Kevin Andrews, and now — quite shockingly, I thought — Alexander Downer have responded like sullen schoolboys to the events of recent days, Andrews saying Haneef’s departure ‘just made him more suspicious’ and Downer last night at his insufferable ‘born-to-rule’ worst, scoffing at the notion of saying Sorry.
    Are the appalling gracelessness and meanness of spirit shown by these two senior ministers representative of their party and its leader, or have they broken ranks?

  16. PC, If you are only worried about their attitude I’ll email JWH and tell him to send them both to their rooms until their attitude changes.
    Then we will be in 100% agreement. Where’s the Bollinger! I favour detaining people about whom there is a reasonable presumption that, on the basis of information available, might have links with terrorism – and so it seems do you.
    And have an investigation that works out why the information flows got distorted and then how things can be improved. One suggestion might be to improve the terrorism capabilities of the AFP.
    But it seems to me very few on the left are adopting this sensible posture. Its more like hysteria based on a chance to engineer yet another attack on the government. One of my gripes is that even Kevin Rudd had the decency not be so silly. Indeed he showed the sort of civic responsibility that makes me think – yeah this guy might make a reasonable PM.

  17. PC, If you are only worried about their attitude I’ll email JWH and tell him to send them both to their rooms until their attitude changes.

    It’ll be a long wait, in both cases!

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