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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Assessing the threat

"Don't forget, Mr Howard, that if ever there is a terrorist attack in Australia, it is you personally who must take the lion's share of the blame for it as a result of your rushing to support George Bush in the Iraq war."

Former Federal President of the Liberal Party, John Valder, in a letter to John Howard.

The current terrorist hysteria proves, once and for all, that our corporate media has become an extension of the government and its various agencies. "Imminent attack foiled." "A massive terrorist attack on Australian soil has been narrowly averted." Maybe. Maybe not. We will never know the full truth, neither from the government nor the media. The Murdoch press is boasting of its impeccable contacts within government though I would have thought the leaking of national security matters would be a concern for the government. Not so, says the Attorney General.

The presumption of innocence and proportionality seems to have been lost in the hype. By all means, prosecute people if they pose a real threat. But don't tell me that the Sydney Morning Herald needs to give the story five pages of coverage, as it does today. This story has a long way to run and somehow I wonder whether the initial media hysteria will have been justified. If I'm wrong, I'll be happy to say so, but the inherent acceptance of intelligence, government and police spin shows a public and media too afraid or gutless to question "reality."

19 Comments:

Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

I'm tearing my hair out here... thankfully I have copious amounts. With the timing of a Hollywood script, the saga has moved from leak of draconian laws, to vague alleged terrorist threat requiring new legislation, a muffled backlash from State and Federal police, and now, finally, an alleged crackdown on numerous terrorist plotters.

Now there is a prospect some of these people were plotting an attack. What is unclear is whether the Federal Government's recent brinksmanship (and faithful shadowing by the State Governments) compelled Police and security officials to mount raids, lest the people they were surveilling pick up shop. Instead of following this (where is Australia's version of Seymour Hersh??) the media has bought the whole story. It's all very exciting I suppose.

Dangerous times for all of us. For today it may be Muslims. Tomorrow it could be Tamils, or anarchists, or some other group. The problem is that a situation often only stops appearing absurd when it's too late.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 12:20:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Iqbal, your concerns are indeed valid. The media's collusion disturbs me perhaps the most. Little questioning. The SMH said today 'we must trust the govt.' Really? Why. I see no reason why on past form.
Some of the accused may well be suspect, who the hell knows, but the lack of critical investigation is yet another sign that our democracy is, well, broken.
Also, what media org, like the ALP, wants to be accused of being 'soft on terror'? The Murdoch/Packer press long ago forgot what journalism was about and the Fairfax press aren't far behind.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 12:28:00 pm  
Blogger SUPERIOR AMERICAN said...

It was good of PM Howard to support President Bush. He recognizes Superiorness when he sees it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 2:18:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Anty, if you'd ever worked in a real newsroom, you'd know about these things called police scanners. Journos often listen to them to find out what's going on. Good ones even have mates in the cop shops who pass on a tip or two. Nothing necessarily sinister there.

These would-be terrorists had ample opportunity to pick up on what was going on; apparently even a Danish exchange student on one of their streets was aware that the house was under watch for months! Remember, one of them fired at a cop outside a mosque - these were not peaceful people.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 2:18:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

You can pick up ASIO and the AFP on a scanner? No wonder we can never catch any drug lords.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 2:27:00 pm  
Blogger smiths said...

murdoch knows better than anyone what journalism is about today, and he knows its very different from what it used to be about, he meets with bush and blair and howard behind closed doors, and he tells them the agenda for the coming years and they know if they cross him they are gone,

this from the independent not long ago

Tony Blair has told Rupert Murdoch he believes the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina was "full of hatred of America and gloating".
In an extraordinary disclosure that will acutely embarrass Mr Blair, the world's most powerful media mogul revealed details of a private conversation that took place in New York on Thursday.


or this one from the BBC

The news that media mogul Rupert Murdoch has had a secret meeting with European Commission President Romano Prodi has set pulses racing in Downing Street.

Last year, Mr Blair was accused of trying to oil the wheels of a Murdoch deal to buy into the Italian TV network Mediaset when it emerged the British premier had raised the matter with Mr Prodi, who was then Italian prime minister


or this

More significantly, Lance Prince also reveals that Tony Bliar promised Rupert Murdoch that he would be consulted on any change to Britain's policy towards Europe... in fact one entry described the atmosphere at No. 10 Downing Street as "very edgy" after Pro-Europe comments by the then Secratary of State for Trade, Peter Mandelson "because we have promised News International we won't make any changes to our Europe Policy without talking to them."

the media are without doubt the topmost responsible party for the shit we're in because none of the secret agenda could be prosecuted without their complicity,
what saddens me is that i really didnt think it would be so easy for them

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 2:38:00 pm  
Blogger SUPERIOR AMERICAN said...

You Aussies should follow America's lead. Afterall we saved your asses from the Japs. Ever tried to talk like them? Good thing we took the Stanley Range and rescued you guys coming up from Port Moresby.You all would be waking uo to a Rising Sun come rain or hail.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 3:15:00 pm  
Blogger smiths said...

superior, you are obviously some kind of inferior joke but what really intrigues me is, why bother?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 3:23:00 pm  
Blogger SUPERIOR AMERICAN said...

smiths - Oh yeah? Well some strange creature has a blog that goes no where, So whats the point with that?
At least my blog has a post.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 3:46:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

I just love the religious flourish of the Murdoch press:

From The Australian: Osama's Aussie offspring

From The Daily Terror: A holy war on Australia

From The Courier Mail: Ready to die for jihad

From The 'Tiser: HOLY WAR ON AUSTRALIA

Herald Sun: HOLY WAR PLOT



Only Tasmania's The Merc deverged: SMASHED, Raids foil evil plot
(At least they got "evil" in there, but I'll bet Murdoch will be jihading their arses for failing to follow the editorial "The Straight Path - the Path of those upon whom MurGod has bestowed His blessings".)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 3:56:00 pm  
Blogger Gibbo said...

So you are saying is that religion has nothing to do with this Edward?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 7:12:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 7:26:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Gibbo said...
"So you are saying is that religion has nothing to do with this Edward?"

Not for a second. I'm just commenting on the fact that there is a "line" being run across the Murdoch press. One would expect a little bit more variation from different newspapers ... but perhaps not if they all have the same owner ... and if that owner is known to dabble in a bit of Grand-High-Editor-In-Chiefing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 10:43:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

I agree ith Edward. It even came out receently that Blair consulted Murdoch on matters relating to the UK's interation with the EU.

Superiot, your posts are fine commic realief. Saving us from the Japs? Weren't you guys supposed to have saves us from the Commies in Vietnam? Funny how getting your arses whipped didn't result in us marching to the goose step.

Stick around.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 1:55:00 am  
Blogger SUPERIOR AMERICAN said...

addamo_01 - We did save you from the commies. It was just a delaying action. We could not just say that. We could care less about Vietnam, why just last month our Superior President met with the Commie President. Notice he came here and not the otherway around.If we had not fought they would of just marched right into Alice Springs. The plan worked so well that even till this day some people think America "lost". What a farce. Americans never lose. We are Superior.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 6:22:00 am  
Blogger Gibbo said...

Edward, so you agree that religion is a factor yet you don't feel it worthy of mention in the papers? Interesting.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:03:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Superior, you are good value. I like your style. Glad you're on the forum mate.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:59:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Gibbo, Edward (correct me if I am wrong) agrees with you in that religious belief has a role to play here. He (and others, including myself) simply feel that its role is over-emphasised for corrosive political reasons. What part are you disagreeing with?

Thursday, November 10, 2005 11:31:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Gibbo said...
"Edward, so you agree that religion is a factor yet you don't feel it worthy of mention in the papers?"

Obviously THEIR religious beliefs were a contributing causal factor IF they are guilty. The first question is: ARE they guilty? Don't know yet. Why? No trial. No evidence. No testimony. No cross examination. No testing of the veracity of the evidence. Etc. The second question, assuming the answer to the first question is 'yes', is this: is religion THE causal factor? We know the answer to that one already anyway: no. If it WERE, then there would be a hell of a lot more than eight of them and everyone would be dead by now. (Figuring out what makes people turn into terrorists is surprisingly complicated. Everyone working on the question agrees it requires a multi-disciplinary answer.)

Now, given only those two points, it was clearly irresponsible and misleading of Murdoch to put up the screaming, salivating, religiously "spun" HEADLINES (not a mere "mention") that he did.

NOW: that's not to say there is no religion-based story to be told here. It is a matter of finding it, however. Here's a good one, for example: Do you know why ASIO so easily tracked down Jemah Islamia followers in Australia after the first Bali bombing? Because they were allowed in by the DIMIA as refugees based on their claims of religious persecution in Indonesia. Great research DIMIA! And then there are other weird-arse stuff-ups with respect to less-than-desirable individuals being let in ... esp. some imams who are incompetant, unqualified, ethical neanderthals with shady backgrounds. The DIMIA spends four years doing a "security check" on some poor sod who turns out to have permanent residency anyway, BUT these other twits just swan in? C'mon. There's a story there.

Friday, November 11, 2005 2:07:00 am  

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