Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Kevin Andrews and the secret police

See also:

What advice did Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews receive from the Australian Federal Police on 16 July, when he decided to revoke Mohamed Haneef’s visa on character grounds? And what are the protocols for such advice; i.e. can just any cop, state or federal, with a hunch about terrorism (or even a hunch about any crime?) have a whisper in the Minister’s ear, and have the Minister act accordingly, providing that the suspect has a visa (or citizenship?) that can be revoked?

These question are thrown into sharp relief by two side-by-side articles in today’s Oz. Dennis Shanahan does his usual pro-government grovel, arguing that Minister Andrews was only acting as the AFP’s glove-puppet in his visa decision. Certainly this is consistent with Minister Andrews’ 7:30 Report interview on the day, which deserves to go down in history as a truly Orwellian performance.

Then there’s Cameron Stewart, who writes:

No one involved in the Haneef case, from the prosecutors to the Australian Federal Police, asked Mr Andrews to intervene on July 16, when he arbitrarily revoked Dr Haneef's visa -- thereby extending his detention -- after the Indian doctor had been granted bail.

That action transformed a police investigation into a political trial, triggering a firestorm of public criticism and instantly turning Dr Haneef from terror suspect to political victim.

Mr Andrews' decision, taken after discussions with John Howard and the national security committee of cabinet, caught the AFP by surprise. Investigators had already planned how they would tail a bailed Dr Haneef on the Gold Coast.

It also angered the AFP because it complicated and inflamed the Haneef investigation, putting greater pressure on a case that was already crumbling.

I’d suggest that these two stories can be partially reconciled by throwing into the “discussions” Minister Andrews had “with John Howard and the national security committee of cabinet” the personage of AFP chief Mick Keelty.

In other words, Commissioner Keelty was (I’m guessing) brought in to launder away the smell of pure politicking. That he allowed himself to be used for this role means that Minister Andrews’ job shouldn’t be the only one that is currently on the line. That Commissioner Keelty’s rubber-stamping of the PM Howard (that much is obvious) decision also necessarily tore up the plans of front-line AFP cops makes his intervention doubly odious.

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