Thursday, July 19, 2007

another life being destroyed for the public's edification

Stephen Keim - a career-destroying move?

Staying with politics and corruption and getting back to Australia, I worry about the future of Stephen Keim, the barrister acting for so-called terrorism suspect Mohamed Haneef. Keim has incurred the wrath of some of this country's most powerful politicians, and the head of the Australian Federal Police, in leaking the transcript of Haneef's interview with the AFP to the media. Now it may well be true that, within a few months, Howard, Ruddock and Kevin Andrews will be tossed into history's dustbin, but the fact is that there is a degree of bipartisanship in this issue, and my feeling is that politicians and the police love having more power and acting in cloak and dagger secrecy, and even with meanness and brutality, when they can convince themselves - and it doesn't take much convincing - that it's all for a Higher Purpose - the rescue of their country from terrorist invaders no less. Keim has tried to spoil their self-important fun and games, and I'm fairly convinced that they'll do everything in future to ruin his career. And they'll probably succeed. Alan Friedman's book Spider's Web, about connections between US Republican governments and Saddam Hussein, which told among other things of how ordinary people of integrity can be squashed and destroyed by the powerfully corrupted, is worth invoking here in terms of paybacks to whistle-blowers. And the public rarely hears about it.
The point that civil libertarians need to make again and again is that once politicians and the police find themselves with greater powers than they had, they won't give them up without a big fight. However, now it's too late to make the point, it's time to start fighting. Stephen Keim's action is a part of that fight, and I consider him a hero.
The frustrating aspect of this case, as with the Scott Parkin case a couple of years ago, is the veil of secrecy. Parkin, a non-violence activist, was deported, and forced to pay his own expenses for the privilege. Nothing has as yet turned up about any security-risk activities he was involved in or planning, but of course we were assured by government that he was a security risk. The public wasn't allowed to know why, but the Labour party agreed. We're supposed to be satisfied with this. I'm not. Similarly with the Haneef case, we’re told that it’s far from just a matter of giving his sim card to a second cousin. And we’re supposed to just trust the government on this? I don’t. Showing ‘strength’ in such situations is as much a political manoeuvre as anything. We need to hold our leaders accountable for their actions and not allow them this secrecy.
The legal fraternity and the media should continue to prise off the lid covering political and police action against the defenceless and vulnerable in a state that has, for self-serving reasons, gotten the balance between security and disclosure seriously wrong.

Haneef cannot get a fair trial in this country, and in any case, even if he's found innocent, he'll be deported. It's worth mentioning magistrate Janet Payne's reasons for deciding that there were indeed exceptional circumstances for granting bail in Haneef's case, summarised in The Age:

These included that he was not alleged to have been directly involved with a terrorist group behind last month's failed extremist attacks in London and Glasgow; that the mobile phone SIM card he gave to his second cousin was not alleged to have been used as part of an attack; that he left it with his family member when leaving Britain; that he was a doctor studying with the Australian College of Physicians; that he had no criminal history and a good employment history; that his passport had been taken and that he was likely to be placed under surveillance if released.
Kevin Andrews says that he has reliable information that must inevitably contradict this summary, but we're not permitted to know what it is, and of course we never will know. I think he's lying.

If you want to feel even more outraged, Glenn Milne has a truly imbecilic piece on the issue here. The errors of fact and logic in the first two paragraphs alone are almost too numerous to get your head around. And note the picture they've chosen to run with. Trial and conviction by illustration, you might call it.



At 7:24 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i believe oz would be a better place if ozzies got off their knees and demanded real democracy.

until they do, these outrages will continue, and grow.

until they do, verbal expressions of dismay are mere whinging hypocrisy.

al loomis

At 12:10 pm , Blogger Stewart said...

Strange remarks. What do you mean by real democracy? If you mean giving everyone an equal say in decision-making, what makes you think that would improve matters?

At 7:40 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i believe democracies make fewer mistakes, create fewer injustices, because a majority of a nation can only agree on what will benefit a majority of the nation.

autocrats can have whatever they wish. their decisions may benefit only themselves. oz is closer to autarchy than democracy.


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