Monday Message Board

It’s time for the regular Monday message board, where you are invited to post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

52 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. In the light of ABC Insiders interview with Habib’s lawyer (here at and Beazley’s statement that he would not make a hero of Habib or give him the time of day in the Senate, firstly, does anyone still believe Habib is innocent as he claims and secondly what ramifications does this have for the ‘free Hicks’ supporters now? In other words, is it now obvious to most, that our authorities largely acted in our best interests, with the detention and interrogation of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay?

    Personally, I take the Beazley view, that Labor needs to stop cuddling up to Islamic terrorists.

  2. Observa I have seen a lot of assertions that Habib is a terorist but NO evidence.

    I don’t imagine ASIO has photos of Habib in a camp so what evidence do they have?

    What everyone have missed with regard to the Hopper interview is Habib had no experience in a cleaning business.
    He wasn’t going to get a contract with regard to business experience. It was going to come from WHO he knew.

    Moreover it is a business with a lot a strong cashflow. What organisations need business with strong cashflow?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Habib was going to be used in such a cleaning business.
    Whether he was a willing or ignorant partner we have NO information to go on yet.

  3. Homer, you may well have put your finger on something with the ignorant/stupid and the willing here. My own view is that Habib was a stupid would be terrorist/mercenary/footsoldier, whereas Hicks is the more satanic one. Hence the eventual release(with monitoring) of Habib vs the continued detention of Hicks. The difference between such motivational types is explored crudely here at (compliments of John Ray)
    Beazley has at last come to the correct conclusion that both types are dangerous for his community and his party.

  4. Coupla points, Observa.

    As Homer noted, there’s no evidence that we’ve seen that Habib was or is a terrorist.

    The revelations about Habib’s alleged torture and the inconclusive nature of the US government’s interrogation of the fellow suggest even more strongly that Hicks has likewise been denied justice.

    Your assertion that “our authorities largely acted in our best interests, with the detention and interrogation of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay…” ignores a key point: it wasn’t our government detaining and interrogating our citizens.

    The Howard government allowed a foreign government to imprison our citizens in an extra-judicial location in opposition to the United States’ own laws. How has our government been “protecting our interests” by allowing foreigners to lock up our citizens illegally?

  5. Voice of Reason (for the ninety-ninth time):

    Whether we think Habib is innocent on the basis of media reports, is not the point. The point is that he and Hicks are as much entitled to due process as any mass murderer, and that confessions obtained under torture do not and should not count.

    Observa (for the hundredth time):

    So, in the light of the latest media report, who thinks Habib’s innocent now?

  6. “Labor needs to stop cuddling up to Islamic terrorists.”

    Observa, when has Labor ever cuddled up to Islamic terrorists? I’ll bet you can’t name a single occasion, because there hasn’t been one. Did Labor – by which I mean the Australian Labor Party, not some fringe dwellers on the extremes of Australian politics – cheer on, or excuse, the perpetators of 9/11? Or the Bali bombers? Or the Madrid bombers? Or the head hackers in Iraq? Does the ALP have fraternal relations with Al Qaeda or its offshoots?

    Merely to pose these questions is to answer them.

    Your view, which is a singular failure of logic, appears to go like this:

    1. John Howard, who leads the Government, is opposed to Islamic terrorists.

    2. Labor is the Opposition.

    3. Therefore, Labor supports Islamic terrorists.

    Such a view is illogical, factually wrong, and really just plain stupid.

    As for whether Habib is innocent, I thought the onus was on those who say he is a terrorist, or a consorter with terrorists, to prove their case, not the other way around. It’s a pretty fundamental part of the way we do justice.

    Next thing, you know, we’ll all be asked, inquisition style, to prove that we haven’t been thinking impure thoughts.

  7. Point taken Dave. I guess I really meant cuddling up to those who would cuddle up to would be terrorists. In this sense I would suggest that Beazley has made a conscious call now, to ditch those that do. I agree with his stance now on the basis of what is in the public domain and serious questions that remain unanswered by Habib. The question I am asking is- Do you agree with Beazley’s call now? If not why not and what should he do to rectify his error?

  8. My problem with this case is that how come ASIO is quite certain of what Habib did when he was on his lonesome and then had little idea when US/Pakistani/Egyptian people had him.
    If they did suspect he had been taken to Egypt what in heavens name did they think was going on? Habib was visiting his relatives.

    Torture is a poor way of acquiring evidence and is inadmissable in most courts.

    I would think at this stage it looks more likely people have exploited Habib’s position on the Koran and his need for more money.

  9. Given that the contributors to this blog have ipso facto proven their interest in public affairs, it is somewhat troubling that there is sometimes evidenced here so sketchy an understanding of the guiding principles of the system of British justice in particular and the rule of law in general.

    Makes me shudder just a little to imagine the quality of thinking beyond the blogosphere.

  10. Let’s be quite clear here Homer. Noone has been charged and found guilty of torturing Habib and in any case, there is little evidence to suggest Australians were complicit in such torture, if it were true. Nor has Habib been found guilty in a recognised court of law, of aiding and abetting terrorists. Whatever one’s personal suspicions, it seems obvious to me that Beazley has done an about face with his party and now backs the govt’s view of Habib. In other words, piss off Prof Tennant and Co, we like the govt, are not going to give Habib the time of day any longer. Are Labor supporters happy with this sea-change?

  11. No one in the ALP, Observa, is cuddling up to Islamic terrorists. The best that can be said about Habid is that he is a twit, the worst – we we don’t know that yet, and neither do you.

    That lack of knowledge however doesn’t stop the lunar-right from wanting to lynch the guy, before he’s even been charged with anything.

    Your (broken) link to Insiders reveals somthing else as well. The toxic Andrew Bolt asserting that Habib’s lawer Stephen Hopper is a Muslim convert and implying, pretty brazenly, that Hopper because of this, is a terrorist sympathiser.

    That’d make all the Irish Catholics in Australia terrorist sympathisers too because of their natural affinity with the IRA.

    That’s what’s happend to the conservative side of politics. Its the “whatever it takes” attitude that you pursue, which you seem to think allows you to jettison all reasonable forms of behavior because you’re pursuing a greater good.

    The antecedents of todays conservatives would be shocked at their disregard of due process, eviction of evenhandedness and contempt for reasonableness.

    It’s not just a disgrace, its a potential tradgedy.

  12. I find it difficult for anyone to say straightfaced given that ASIO has now essentially said yes we know he was in Egypt that Habib wasn’t tortured.

    It seems pretty clear he was.
    One interesting fact is that he was able to identify the Asustralian diplomat in Pakistan whom we are led to believe he never met.
    How could he identify him?
    It seems to me until I see further evidence to the contrary some people were trying use use Habib to launder money if he set up his cleaning business.
    No-one is led to such a business opportunity in Pakistan unles there are other motives given the level of corruption there.

    I agree with Dave though Habib doesn’t have to prove anything. It is up to the authorities to prove their allegations on the balance of probabilties

  13. The financial media is swimming in stories of “capacity constraints”, “labor shortages”, and “wage explosion fears” at the moment. The response of the government is that they want to further deregulate the labor market.

    Call me hopelessly ignorant, but how is deregulating the labor market going to alter a) the supply, and b) the demand for labor by anything more than marginal amounts? And isn’t deregulating it just as likely lead to even faster wage rises in certain sectors as employees exploit the market conditions to the fullest?

    Or is this like social security privatization in the US – something the party in power has wanted to do for decades and they’re using the largely parallel issues of the day to advocate for it?

  14. Observa,
    I would contend that imprisonment without charge or trial for an extended, indefinite period without the ability to talk to anyone other than fellow prisoners (if that was indeed allowed) or your jailers is, in itself, torture. Psychologically, it would probably be devastating. No matter what you stand accused of doing you deserve a fair hearing.
    It is certainly against the principles of the common law at least since the Magna Carta.
    In my opinion there is and can be no excuse for this and the governments that perpetrated or supported it are simply wrong. None of us should have to live in fear of any government that has the ability to do this – it is one of the most absolute powers a government can have over people and, as Lord Acton put it “all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely�.
    Just to put it in context, imagine a government agency that decided that you were a terrorist on some grounds – say a series of (possibly false) allegations. It then locked you up and said “this person is a terrorist – they do not deserve a hearing”.
    There are very few issues that I believe to be right or wrong, but this is certainly wrong.

  15. As for Observa et all… why bother?
    Dunno, but i’ll try..

    – you are willing to accept there has been a huge amount of misinformation, deceit and cover ups by the Australian government (while leaving Australian citizens at the mercy of our ally, Dubya the II)

    – Or you are just sh*t stirring and trying to turn readers off this blog by being as thick as a brick.

    PS: I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here, by not just assuming that YOU ARE as thick as a brick…
    Maybe you just are!
    I could be wrong… It’s happen before 😉

  16. Andrew, while I agree with much of the concerns expressed about the current undermining of civil liberties (and about where it will end), there is clearly a need for security forces to have powers beyond what has traditionally been the case. The extent of extremism within the Islamic world (including among Muslims living in the west) and the increasing likelihood that an Islamic or other extremist will gain access to a WMD or the materials to produce one (e.g. a gun type nuclear device fuelled by Highly Enriched Uranium) ensures that some civil liberties will have to be discarded. Unfortunately, I see little evidence that protagonists on both sides of the debate are prepared to engage in a reasonable dialogue on this issue.

  17. Michael,
    I would agree that there needs to be some differing handling of terrorist suspects from those of a common street assault. These procedures already exist – closed courts, security clear barristers etc. The problem comes when a government comes up with a mechanism to keep people locked up for extended periods without judicial review. This is plain wrong.
    “Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither”.

  18. Michael, you’re asserting things without providing evidence.

    In any case, if you’re worried about nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists, worry about Russia and the many tonnes of the stuff, much of it unguarded or poorly so, lying around there. That could be fixed by either a) getting rid of it or b) securing the sites at which it is stored.

    That would be a far, far greater contribution to reducing the threat of a terrorist nuclear strike than anything else the world could do, and wouldn’t require any infringement of our civil liberties.

    Oh, and while you’re busy worrying, why don’t you worry about the next influenza pandemic, which is well overdue and will likely kill far more people than any single nuclear weapon could?

  19. Robert, I don’t quite understand your logic. You suggest that I should be worried about Russia and the many tonnes of the stuff, much of it unguarded or poorly so, lying around there. Well I am and at the current rate of progress towards a more secure regime it will be many years before we can feel secure on this issue – which then leaves biological and chemical weapons as well as the often neglected issue of the vulnerability of chemical plants to attack. In other words, a multi-pronged approach is needed. As for Andrews’s comments that there are sufficient procedures already in place, I somehow doubt that given the number of Islamic crazies we and especially the UK and US allow to move around freely in our societies. I am still waiting for those who marched through the streets calling for the death of Salmon Rushdie to be prosecuted and their possessions confiscated.

  20. Michael, my overall point is simple. I think your fear of Islamic terrorism is way out of proportion to the actual threat. I think there’s plenty of other things that are far more important to worry about than a vanishingly small number of nutters who face a considerably more difficult task than you believe. And, finally, I think your implied solution isn’t likely to be particularly effective and there are much better things we could do.

  21. Robert, I have to say 1) that the small number of nutters comment is somewhat Eurocentric given the hundreds of thousands/millions of lives already lost to radical Islam (Sudan, Algeria, Iran, etc), and the extensive torture and violation of human and women’s rights that occurs. 2) The fact that the main response of the Dutch government to the murder and public mutilation of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was to take down a sign put up by an artist with the words thou shalt not kill because it offended Muslims. This suggests that the problem is greater than you suggest and not being addressed. 3) The disgraceful neglect by western governments and liberals and feminists of violence against women in Western Muslim communities again suggests that Governments are increasingly bending to their political power. 4) Moderate (that is real moderates) Muslim writers such as Irshad Manji freely acknowledge that extremism is the mainstream in Islam and not just a few nutters as many liberals and academics suggest. Basically we are dealing with the equivalent of the third Reich and not just a few neo-Nazi skinheads.

  22. ‘…calling for the death of Salmon Rushdie to be prosecuted and their possessions confiscated.’

    There are laws against inciting violence. The ringleaders of that march should have been prosecuted if they weren’t. But what’s that got to do with the issue at hand?

    As usual, you are dragging irrelevant issues into the story. Even you would not be so illogical as to imply that someone who, unlike you, opposes further reductions in civil liberties, must also be a defender of the fanatics who terrorised Rushdie.

  23. “It is up to the authorities to prove their allegations on the balance of probabilties”
    Homer raises our community’s general rule of law here, but IMO Beazley is bringing Labor around to the view that Michael Burgess is hinting at, that in the WOT, we may have to take the view from time to time(eg Habib and Hicks), that they must show on the balance of probabilities, that they are not to be reasonably judged, a threat to society. In this respect, I note that Beazley has turned his back on Habib and also backed training of our troops to resist harsh interrogation and the like, perhaps in violation of international conventions. My take is that this is largely the view of the lunch room. Presumably Carlos thinks either Beazley has been hoodwinked by govt lies, or he is thick as a brick. Perhaps that would drive Carlos to forsake Labor for the Greens or Democrats, on this issue alone, although I think Beazley knows where his bread is buttered on this. Labor still seems to be a grudging convert to the govt’s general tack, with such semantics as splitting hairs posthumously on ‘interrogation’ vs ‘interviews’.

    Having perhaps intimated a sea-change for Beazley and Labor here, such an accusation might also be levelled at Bush as described here at
    Perhaps evidence of a more conciliatory stance by both sides, now that some of the initial heat has gone out of the debate over Iraq. Some of the protagonists in this debate appear to be moving on from their prior confrontationist stances. Iraqis clear support of free elections may well have induced this state of affairs.

  24. Michael, here’s some friendly advice. You do your cause (with which I basically agree) no good at all with your preposterous rhetoric.

    Changing the subject: why did Hunter S. Thompson top himself? Now there was a guy who could use rhetoric to good effect.

  25. Michael,

    Thee is little possibility of AQ using WMDs.
    1) they use little to no sophisticated weapons
    2) They would need sophisticated firing mechanisms to use such a weapon.
    3) given the unlikely event they gain one it is virtualy impossible it would be a long range missile therefore you are assuming an AQ group in the USA firing such a weapon.
    4) they would need more than one
    5) it cost too much and we know AQ only buy proven weapons.

    As I read the tea leaves it seems it is because of people such as yourself that Habib is not facing trial.
    The ‘evidence’ was gained from torture thus inadmissable.
    you seem to be advocating we become like AQ. That is a dubious proposition.

  26. Homer, this is simply nonsense. I suggest you read some of the publications produced by the US’s Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) or any of the flood of other recent publications on this topic. It is clear that producing or obtaining a nuke would not be that difficult – oh and terrorists can read these publications as well-so if they did not know in the past how easy it is they know now. I also note that you have little to say regarding my comments about the condition of Muslim women etc – attacking Bush et al is much more fun is it not than dealing with real pressing political and social issues.

    Moreover, if it was not for the ideological obsessions of many so called progressives and their general lack of perspective where the evils or alleged evils of the west are concerned relative to other forces in the world today, I suspect conservative governments would not have a hope in hell of getting elected. The damage done by many so-called progressives to social progress is one thing I learnt from living in Thatcher’s Britain for a time. For while I loathe Thatcher, I also cannot forgive the Labor party, the trade unions and many academics for being so ideological out to lunch, blinkered and incompetent that they let someone like this get elected. The current tendency of allowing conservatives to take the high moral ground when it comes to issues such as standing up for the rights of Muslim women and children or the existence of Israel or exposing the realities of so-called moderate Muslim organizations shows many progressives have not learnt their lesson.

  27. Michael,
    Perhaps a simple question is in order. Do you believe that the executive arm of a government is entitled to place into solitary confinement for an indefinite period any person that it may believe might be a terrorist without there being any independent review process?

  28. I think you all should go back to the comment by Voice of Reason – James.

    A person in our law system is innocent until proven guilty.

    Habib has not been convicted in a court of law by his peers of any crime – therefore he is innocent.

    End of Story

    Martin Bryant received no more or less than this.
    If anyone would like to change this then they are welcome to however I would not like to live in a system where I could be locked up for 3 years without charge or trial.

  29. Andrew, where have I even suggested that I would support such a policy. I have simply argued that the current regime is not capable of dealing with Islamic extremism or the growing threat of WMDs. Now if those who regard themselves as progressive (despite their neglect of Muslim woen’s rights etc)were to acknowledge that the threat posed by Islam goes well beyond a minority of nutters, that Bush and Blair etc had at least some vaid reasons for intervening in Iraq, that academia is riddled with ideology, and that the west and middle class white anglo-saxon males are not responsible for most of the evil in the world, then they might have some credibility when raising concerns about civil liberties or god forbid in even arguing for a society where resources are shared more equitably and the rich and the self-employed pay more taxes.

  30. Michael,
    What limit do you propose on the abilities of the security forces, then? I would contend that the policy that is being followed by the current US government is exactly that outlined in my previous post.
    I should also add at this point that I supported and still support the action in Iraq, that academia is ideological (it should be – that is why it is academia and not the real world) and I would agree with comment on Anglo-Saxon males. I also support a flat tax system and recognise that, as Deng Xiao Ping put it “…to get rich is glorious…”.
    The only one I disagree with is your first point about Muslim “nutters”. Fundamentalist Christians are just as dangerous as fundamentalist Muslims – the Christians just happen to tend to have more material wealth and therefore less of a tendency to fly aircraft into buildings and more of a tendency to get reported by their peers. They are not exempt from it however, just ask the people of Oklahoma City.
    The thing is that unsupervised security forces and the governmental power that implies is entirely inconsistent with the freedom that allows for us to get rich in the first place.

  31. Andrew, I should also point to the lack of discussion in this blog and elsewhere on the threat to civil liberties and the building blocks of liberal democracy (free speech etc) by the increasing failure of western governments to protect those of its citizens who dare to criticise religion. Recently the British government capitulated to the threat by Sikhs to bomb a theatre by pulling a play that dealt with sex and death in a Sikh temple. The failure to engage with such issues suggests that much of the criticism of the treatment of Habib and David Hicks is not really motivated primarily by concerns about civil liberties.

    Given that I have just noticed Dave Ricardo’s comments in my preposterous rhetoric, I suppose it is worthwhile asking what rhetoric was preposterous was it that about the numbers killed or oppressed under Islam – I don’t think so add up the numbers starting with the situation in Sudan over the last quarter of a century or so – or the neglect by western liberals of Muslim’s women’s rights – I am just echoing the comments by some Muslim feminists (that is the real feminists not the ones who argue that somehow the veil liberates women). What is preposterous is to get so angry about Howard and Bush’s reactionary views on issues such as gay marriage that one loses all sense of perspective and then assume that this makes them worse than or nearly as bad as Islamic fascists. More than shades of the cold war here I think when many on the left spent far more time criticising the US leadership than they did that of the Soviet Union.

  32. Andrew, sorry I missed your post before posting mine. Your comments that Fundamentalist Christians are just as dangerous as fundamentalist Muslims is naive. I don’t see Bush’s or Howard’s wives wearing veils etc. Nor do I worry about Bush dropping a nuke on Sydney. On the issue of where should the limits be, my point is simply that civil libertarians would have greater credibility in the debate if they acknowledged the real extent of the Islamic problem being faced and offered some solutions rather than simply opposing everything the current crops of governments do.

  33. “what rhetoric was preposterous”?

    “Basically we are dealing with the equivalent of the third Reich

  34. Michael, the Sikh dispute you mention was discussed extensively by my British co-bloggers at Crooked Timber. I thought it reasonable to leave it to them.

  35. Dave, maybe that was over the top. But then again I have met quite a number of Iranians who were tortured or who had relatives tortured in Iran (often while religious music was played) and who viewed the regime in a similar fashion. My point was that the damage done by Islamic fascism is far more pervasive than the ‘it’s only a small number of extremists harming the reputation of Islam’ comment that one often here’s mentioned. When you start adding up the figures from Iran, Sudan etc you end up with a fairly horrendous set of numbers and this of course does not include the terrible daily grind experienced by massive numbers of Muslim women.

  36. Homer what’s this no experience as a cleaner?
    “Habib had a cleaning company, 4M&A Cleaning Services, that won a contract to clean military housing. But after the contract was ended because of complaints about his work, Habib began to harass tenants and employees of the military housing authority, according to court documents.
    The agency sought a restraining order. At a hearing in 1995, Habib’s psychiatrist testified that he was being treated for depression with Prozac, according to a transcript.â€?
    Were we paying for his Prozac while he was in Pakistan?

    The story re the Australian being present during his torture in Pakistan.
    In his affidavit, “a heavyset English-speaking man in his mid-50s was present throughout. “
    Has become an Australian diplomat? It does not strike any of his defenders that this man tailors his yarn to suit the audience. Then the abuse on the way on the way to the airport when he struggled became torture at the airport.

    “In an affidavit filed in November 2004 in federal court in Washington, Margulies said Habib was then interrogated by two women; both spoke English and one spoke Arabic.

    The thought of the Pakistanis using female interrogators! And women again. Like American women who throw menstrual blood at him, or Australian women who cost him his cleaning contract. Or wives that he leaves to support herself and her kids on the disability pension while he travels around Pakistan.

    “On the way to an airfield, Habib told his lawyer, he struggled with his guards and was subdued by several men wearing black T-shirts and
    “ Then they put him on a plane to Egypt, according to Margulies. “

    Let’s try and remember that he was an Egyptian citizen. Anyone know the position on dual citizenship and legal rights?

    “Friends say that Habib was becoming increasingly radical, railing that he was being persecuted for being a Muslim and expressing approval of the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.
    In the late 1990s he bought a coffee shop, the Alexandria, on Haldon Street, a polyglot immigrant bazaar in Lakemba, a Sydney suburb.
    But in March 2000 he headed to Pakistan, telling friends he wanted to raise his family in an Islamic country.�
    What not start a cleaning business!

    Let’s try and remember that his wife didn’t mention that he was in Pakistan to set up a business, particularly in a field in which he was incompetent.

    This pious pontificating about rights and due process. If our law cannot protect us from people like Habib then the law is an ass. Habib has expressed no regret, including abusing those women he held responsible for the cancellation of his cleaning contract. He has explained no lies The attack on Bolt for asking Hopper about his religion, that correspondent made no mention of Virginia Trioll’s question to Hopper, would we be hearing soon that Habib hadn’t realized who the people he was associating with were.

    It is almost possible that what we have here is a nasty unbalanced little clean shaven man whose ego led him you go seeking the ultimate revenge on those who he considered had mistreated him.

    I wouldn’t ay that he suffers from high intellectual and social intelligence, indeed I think his lawyer has overplayed his hand as well. But it doesn’t matter much, this fight at the barricades for this unpleasant human being, held to be innocent because his supporters haven’t been privy to the interviews, intercepts and intelligence about him. Thus he is innocent. No he isn’t, just unpunishable by our law. I guess if he ever does mange to hurt Australians it will be their own fault because they drove him to it.
    The desire to believe Habib but not our AFP, ASIO, The government or Beazley is amazing.

  37. Fyodor comment #4 21/2/2005 @ 10:51 am displays the (typically Wet) super-agnostic attitude towards security agencies and super-credulous attitude towards terror-symps:

    there’s no evidence that we’ve seen that Habib was or is a terrorist.

    re is plenty of circumstantial evidence that Habib was up to no good. Several senior intelligence officials have asserted that Habib was a terrorist-associate, sympathiser and mercenary. If true (are they all in on a conspiracy?) thats as bad as a terrorist in my book.
    Habib was in injun country, under false pretences and known for his extremist views. Not a smoking gun, but not “no evidence”, as Fyodor blithely assumes.

    The revelations about Habib’s alleged torture…suggest even more strongly that Hicks has likewise been denied justice.

    The counter-claim of torture is not proven. There is no physiological evidence that Habib was tortured. This ought to be good enough to silence some doubters, but Fyodor would leave St Thomas for dead in these stakes.
    A pyschiatrist has been dug up to suggest there is psychological evidence of abuse. Who knows, a psych might be right for a change.
    Maybe the foreign authorities interrogating Habib roughed him up, maybe they didnt. He’s in much better shape than the average jihadist captive, seeing his heads still attached to his shoulders.
    It is a bit of a joke to treat a terrorist suspects allegations as prima facie proof of a denial of natural justice. Every villain ever bailed up by the cops begins by denying he did it and ends by insisting the evidence against him was bodgied up under duress.
    The only positive “proof” of Habib’s torture are his own self-serving statements – this from a guy who has already lied about his welfare payment eligibility and spun some implausible tale about visiting Pakistan to establish a cleaning company. Only Fyodor would be dopey enough to fall for an obvious fairy tale like that.
    The Wets are complaining about the disavowal of habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence. True, Habib was in foreign custody for a while, without formal charges being laid. Thats not in the finest tradition of British justice.
    Their position implies that homeland security under conditions of mass-casualty terrorist threat is on a par with regulating traffic offenders. Its the Global War On Terrorism, stupid!
    Jihadists dont respect any nations civil laws. So its fair and reasonable for authorities to tend a little towards martial law in their treatment of suspects – just to be on the safe side.
    No doubt Fyodor will claim that pro-active and tough regulation of jihadist suspects is the slippery slope to Big Brother. Karl Popper would disagree. Perhaps Fyodor and Michael Moore can make a fortune from a film about Habibs odyssey.
    Fyodor’s sucker-ness for terror-symp sob stories is an existence proof why unsupervised Wets are such a moral hazard to security forces trying to do their job. Thank God the cops are not such mugs. It looks like Grover Norquist, a like-minded libertarian ideologue, has finally found his AUS match.

  38. Observa’s last comment (re: Beazley) was certainly on the money, but requires further elaboration. What has really happened is that the Labor Party finally got over its adolescent fit of 2001-2004 and put the adults back in charge, meaning Beazley, Rudd, Conroy, Smith etc.

    The Kidz nearly ran the party into the ground, first through their prisoner Simon Crean, then via Mark Latham, possibly the worst Labor leader since Billy Hughes. Any leader that is embraced by Margo Kingston, Alan Ramsey et al must clearly have something wrong with them.

    Essentially, three years of self-indulgence, insanity, and volatility have been thrown down the memory hole, as if they never happened. We are effectively back to October 2001, only this time Beazley sticks it out.

  39. Widow Mite,

    I’m still waiting on that consignment of skin ointment.

    On your latest spiel, you’ve previously demonstrated your illiberal willingness to sell out our rights to Big Brother, so you’ve added nothing new here.

    There’s plenty of evidence that torture was employed against inmates at GTMO, and Habib’s allegations are consistent with those of other inmates. You’ll notice that I stated “alleged torture” in my post way back at #4, but then I’d be surprised if you managed to maintain any objectivity given you’ve chosen to focus on my post way back then. Guess you’re still hurting, eh buddy?

  40. 1. Middle-Easterners and Islamists elsewhere are being beastly to each other over issues of religious orthodoxy.

    2. Habib may have sought to join some terrorist outfit or other.

    3. Habib may have shot his mouth off in Lakemba, which I take to be a suburb of Sydney.

    4. Excitable self-proclaimed liberal folk who imagine they detect the apocalypse in the Rorschach blot of their minds slip between the sheets with the old unreconstructed racists, ethnocentrists, conspiracy theorists, Fifth Empire Men have come to a single conclusion, for a variety of reasons, more or less naive, more or less rational, more or less self-serving, that we are engaged in a “Global War on Terrorism.” Hell-bent on the crusade of ridding the world of scary abstract nouns, this motley crew cry out in one voice “liberty is death”. They then set about attempting to dismantle guarantees to personal liberty that have stood the test of centuries of challenge and crisis far more immediate and dangerous than anything embodied in points 1 to 3 above.

    There is no doubt in my mind which of the above represents the greatest threat to my security.

    And to forestall another attempt to misrepresent this position, I believe that is right for the international community to eradicate by military means if necessary lawless regions such as Afghanistan was in September 2001. This principle is based on the observation that civil societies everywhere are the best guarantee of global security. And for precisely this reason I opposed the Iraq misadventure because its effect would be to worsen the prospects for the rise of civil society, not only in Iraq, but in the rest of the Islamic world. Now the vial has been dropped and quicksilver is skittering everywhere.

  41. Fyodor — 22/2/2005 @ 6:50 am starts with a defamity and concludes with a fallacy, which is pretty true to his form:

    You’ll notice that I stated “alleged torture�. There’s plenty of evidence that torture was employed against inmates at GTMO, and Habib’s allegations are consistent with those of other inmates.

    No intellectual chasm is to broad for the atonishing conclusion-jumping Fyodor to bound over. So alleged torture = actual torture because it happened to others. This is a Non Sequitur alright, but it is such a particulaly violent assault on the principles of logic that it deserves its own name. I will christen this Argumentum pro Fyodor (roughly translated meaning Fyodor believes its true, therefore its true).

    you’ve previously demonstrated your illiberal willingness to sell out our rights to Big Brother

    Fyodor’s committment to liberalism, like most of his intellectual and ideological positions, is a frivolous pose. I suppose its asking too much of im to forgo a low blow, given the paucity of his position, but it woul be nice if he stopped defaming me as a supporter of “Big Brother”. (How often has this charge been bandied about by lazy debaters in search of a cheap rhetorical points?)
    In fact, FWIW, most of my recent political activity & interest (in South Pacific independence movements) has been in support of non-Big Brother activists fighting Big Brother (eg OPM, Free Timor, Free Tibet). I would be interested to know about Fyodor’s recent anti-authoritarian political form. No doubt, going by his comments, he has been doing his bit manning the barricades in support of the oppressed stock market swindlers and carbon emitters of this world.
    Two can play at this game. Fyodor seems eager to give terrorist suspects and perps an armchair ride (bend over backward to believe their fairy tales, same legal rights as civil detainees). I could condemn him as a terrorist sympathiser. Instead I prefer to think of him as a silly boy.
    In prosecuting the GWOT I want to see our (liberal) community protected from (observably escalating) mass-casualty attack by jihadists. I dont want to see hundreds (Bali), thousands (911) and, one day, maybe millions of my fellow citizen blasted and burned into unrecognisable lumps of flesh by madmen hearing voices in the air.
    If this means giving the democratic state greater (lawful) powers of investigation, detention and (non-torturous) interrogation of those suspected of plotting terrorist mass-murder then so be it. This is not a “committment to Big Brother”, it is a real attempt at curbing a reign of terror by “Little Brothers”. So far, given the absence of further 911s and Balis, it has worked in the Homeland Security area.

    A corollary of this is to secure more or less civil Islamic societies (eg INDON) currently under assault by armed minorities. We should, carefully and lawfully, promote Open Society institutions in these jurisdictions.
    The jihadists, when in power, run actual and existing totalitarian set-ups. Howard and Bush, for all their faults, do not. Howard, despised by Fyodor as a rotten Big Brother enabler, has helped to turn three actual & existing Big Brothered societies (Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq) into more Open Societies. Much thanks he gets for that for this from the supposed opponents of Big Brother.
    Fyodor, like most Wets, seem more concerned with any injuries or insults allegedly suffered by terrorist perps & suspects rather than curbing the real risk of injuries done to Open Societies by atrocious fanatics. Its no coincidence that this is why citizens of Open Society jurisdictions have been so underwhelmed by the Wets in recent elections.

  42. Just passing through before starting work. . .

    The word “defamity” cannot be found in the on-line Oxford Dictionary or the MS-Word spell checker, and I would contend that there is no such word. What Jack meant to say is that “Fyodor. . . starts with a libel”. I would stricture Jack most severely for such linguistic anarchism were it not for his activity in support of OPM, Free Timor, Free Tibet, etc., which covers a multitude of sins in my book.

  43. Michael (and others),
    Two wrongs do not make a right. If we abandon some of the central tenets of liberal democracy in fear of attack (or even after the attack) then we may as well give up. Everything we are fighting for is in vain.
    I am speaking not as an abstract theorist, but as a person who lost a friend in the September 11th attacks. He was a good man and a sad loss. I am sure, however, that if we start behaving like those who killed him (and many others) without thought of the human beings to whom we are doing wrong then we have already lost the war and we may as well accept that we are no better than them.
    Yes, we could ramp security up to the maximum, give up all our rights to due process and allow our government to imprison people on any suspicion that they are a terrorist and that would probably mean that some terrorist attacks would be avoided. But what would we lose? I would prefer that my daughters grew up with the fear of a terrorist attack than in a state that can systematically oppress them.
    If we give our government the right to imprison at will without review then that power is certain to be abused at some stage or another. I pray, not that the power is not abused, but that it will not exist.

  44. Reading this thread, I must say I’m not a little alarmed at how many contributors are up for a little bit of well directed torturing; of course if its for the right reasons – their reasons. I’m sure that Saddam Hussein would agree wholeheartedly that his torturings were purely for the right reasons, even if they did get somewhat out of hand, slippery slope perhaps.

    It’s really sad when you think we had to kill so many Iraqis, destroy so many of their cities and so much of their history, when we are assured that if sufficient ‘public opinion’ is for a bit of judiciously directed slitting up a treat, then it’s obviously necessary.

    However, let us hope, that down the track when those advocating a necessary bit of violence are in their demented, smelly, ticking bomb, terrorising dotage, that some public opinion led carer doesn’t decide that a well placed doing over is an efficient form of resident management. In this brave new world, perhaps Australia will be better off without all us human rights loving, bleeding heart, doing gooding pissants.

  45. Paul Norton — 22/2/2005 @ 9:51 am gets pedantic about linguistics:

    The word “defamity� cannot be found in the on-line Oxford Dictionary or the MS-Word spell checker, and I would contend that there is no such word.

    I think “defamity” [sic], apart from the rhyme with “fallacy”, has a lot going for it.
    For a start, it is shorter than “defamation”.
    And it can be parsed into several recognisable parts that are, in serial, synonymous with defamation. “Amity” is a word alright, meaning forms of friendship. The “f” converts this from private to public. And the “de” reverses valency.
    Do I get a bucket for linguistic anarchism or a boquet for linguistic innovation?
    PS My support for regional progressive movements was mostly superficial (the odd march, meeting, donations, buying drinks for journos etc) and nothing to get to puffed up about. It was mostly done for personal, rather than political, reasons – ie to curry favour with the (Wet) folk that I was mixing with at the time.
    Timor is different, of course.

  46. Jack,

    Can you treat us to ad hoc explanations of all of your neologisms in future? You seem to have plenty of time in the wee night to invent etymology. As a latin you should have gotten the origin of “to defame” right, but you even botched that.

    You still haven’t identified the “defamity” you referred to earlier.

  47. Here’s one for JS: ostrobogulous.

    I’ve just found a quotation in wikipedia, in the article on the Krag rifle. A century ago the US marines sang a little song about the Philipino, including the lines “Underneath the starry flag/Civilize them with a Krag”.

    Plus ca change (see Ken Macleod’s blog for some recent details from Fallujah). Does anyone have a full quotation for that song before I go searching?

  48. Anybody else a little disturbed by the appointment of Janet “Skanky Ho” Albrechtsen to the board of the ABC?

    David Marr but be spontaneously hurling his breakfast this morn.

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