The police raids of 18 September 2014 have made it an extremely sad week for Australian democracy.
All Attorneys-General, Governments and Parliaments since 2001 have been obsequious in their approval of anything that the national security extremist apparatus has requested.
The current round, comprising three tranches of legislation, supported by multiple, orchestrated media events, represents an entirely unjustified deepening of ‘police state’ provisions.
We believe that people at every level of society need to communicate serious concern, through the media, and through all channels that they have available, including directly to politicians and public service executives.
The Police Raids of 18 September 2014
The Good News:
Good, conventional police work identified and tracked a number of individuals who were involved in criminal activities. Telephone intercepts were put in place, conversations provided evidence of criminal intent, and the individual concerned was arrested.
The Bad News:
[Caveat: The following summary is based on news reports. Clearly a great deal that was in those reports came directly from law enforcement agencies, and a little from journalistic research, but some may be journalistic speculation or misunderstanding, or police misinformation.]
- 800 Police were involved in the raids alone, despite the number of detainees appearing to be only 2 in Brisbane and 16 in Sydney
- law enforcement agencies made a large amount of information and imagery available to media outlets, and at a very early stage in the operations, with a clear intention of manipulating public opinion
- all but 1 of the 18 detainees were released within 36 hours, and to date only 2 of the 18 have been charged:
- Azari, 22, in Sydney, with planning to commit a terrorist act (but presumably planning to commit an act of violence was a pre-existing charge that would have been entirely appropriate). He was denied bail. (For clarity, this aspect seems to be good)
- an (unnamed?) Merrylands mechanic, 24, with possessing ammunition without a licence and unauthorised possession of a prohibited weapon. He was granted bail
- In short, 800 police were diverted from other work, and massive media manipulation was engaged in, when all that actually happened was a single newsworthy arrest and detention pending a hearing
- 3 detainees were held for 12 hours longer than the maximum 24 hrs without charge. It’s always open to the Police to seek a magistrate’s authority for a further 24 hours’ detention. Instead, the NSW Police had applied for and gained a ‘prevention order’ from the Supreme Court in advance of the raid.
It’s very difficult to see this as anything other than a blatant endeavour to justify the existence of the prevention order power. (It’s due to expire under a sunset clause in 2015. The second tranche of the latest round of pseudo-counter-terrorism laws is believed to include a 10-year extension to the power)
- Abbott was reported as saying that Australian Muslims who protested against allegedly brutal tactics used in the raids should take a long, hard look at themselves. This is a blatant attempt to enable illegal behaviour by law enforcement agencies, by denying the moral right to challenge that behaviour
In a contemporaneous and related matter:
- the first tranche of the latest round of pseudo-counter-terrorism legislation was considered by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, but it rolled over and approved everything that the national security cabal instructed Brandis to ask for, in doing so flying in the face of a vast amount of evidence and argument from civil society organisations
- in relation to cl.35K of that Bill, Abbott was quoted as justifying the use of what everyone in the world calls torture, on the basis that “the whole point of torture is to cause injury”. On that logic, provided that the intention of the torturer can be claimed to be something else, e.g. to extract information, then the act isn’t torture and hence isn’t in breach of international law or morality