ASIO looking to cut overtime budget

Can anybody explain what else putting a midnight-5am curfew on David Hicks, and making him report to police three times a week, will achieve?

Let me just register my deep and abiding sympathy for ASIO agents doing surveillance, sitting around in cold minivans with only thousands of dollars worth of electronics gear for company. And even given the massive swelling of ASIO’s budget over the past few years, I’m sure the beancounters must get narky about this kind of thing.

But given that David Hicks and anybody he talks to are going to be monitored for years to come, it’s hard to see what the point of the control order is – except as a handy demonstration that the incoming Labor government is going to be Tough On Terrorists as well.

Posted in politics, Terrorism
34 comments on “ASIO looking to cut overtime budget
  1. Chade says:

    The only thing that I can think of is that Hicks out and about does actually cause some concern… except that it won’t stand up in court in Australia (pretty much like it didn’t/wouldn’t in the US)…

    The second thought I had after that was that they were concerned for his safety and possible martyr status…
    *shrugs* The whole thing’s been a sham, why should it get any better now? It’s still the same ASIO and AFP.

  2. anthony says:

    “Can anybody explain what else putting a 12pm-5am curfew on David Hicks, and making him report to police three times a week, will achieve?”

    No All-night Star Wars Movie Marathons?

  3. mbahnisch says:

    It’s still the same ASIO and AFP.

    Exactly. The incompetence of the AFP and ASIO should be top of the agenda for the government. As well as headline cases like Haneef, look at all the bungled charges laid under the terrorism laws for explicitly political reasons. I suspect Hicks is a dingbat, but I doubt there’s any evidence he’s a threat to anyone – this is just reflex paranoia and ass-covering from teh security authorities.

  4. FDB says:

    #3 – plus they have a photo of him with a grenade launcher. Absent that little beauty, I doubt Hicks would have been abandoned so summarily in the first place, nor treated so shabbily since his brave and daring rescue.

  5. Doesn’t go far enough, I reckon – unless the police are going to be checking him over to see that he’s been keeping his teeth clean like a good little boy. But can we ever be sure that he’s eating his greens and not wasting his pocket money on lollies?

  6. mbahnisch says:

    I might say as well that McClelland is shaping up as a big disappointment so far, though I guess it’s only early days. Both with the Hicks stuff and with the ACT civil unions hamfistedness, he appears to be locked into “avoid the Coalition wedge” thinking – you’re the minister now, dude! Maybe it’s unfair because this early in the piece inexperienced ministers would be leaning heavily on advice, but if the advice is coming from the clowns who gave us the Haneef affair, you’d think a decent minister might think twice.

  7. Mark, there’s been some discussion as to what parts of the sorry history of the Howard government are worth inquiring into. I reckon that the performance of the AFP and ASIO are worth a good look – even if in ASIO’s case we’re not going to get to hear about the results until somebody leaks to 4 Corners.

  8. mbahnisch says:

    Well, they’re worth a look even if the angle of political pressure from the Howard gov’t weren’t taken into account, because if security is so important, we need good security services!

    Btw, Rob, I think you mean “12am to 5am” curfew, not 12pm, unless he’s not allowed out after noon.

  9. swio says:

    I hope Rudd and co really do get on top of the incompetence at the AFP and ASIO. In a funny way Howard and Co did not have much incentive to actually go about quietly stopping terrorists attacks (as opposed to holding press conferences announcing they’d caught another man of “middle eastern appearance”). If a bomb went off it would only help them play the fear card all over again. A good thing they are gone.

    On anoter note I know alot of people that live close to the mosque in Lakemba and they told me the AFP/ASIO people stand out so badly it was frankly getting a bit embarrassing for all concerned. Maybe with the christian cultural warriors out of the picture ASIO and the AFP will finally be able to recruit a few local muslims and start developing a bit of trust with islamic community in general. Things that they should have been doing since 12/9/2001 without the the prime minister irresponsibly undermining them by attacking anything vaguely islamic at every opportunity.

  10. fred says:

    I haven’t followed this closely, just caught the tail end of a Radio National newscast, but it seemed to me to be simple buck passing.
    As in McClelland is just allowing the AFP to ask a magistrate to make the ultimate decision.
    So the buck will stop with whoever that unfortunate individual is.
    Have I got this right?

  11. Enemy Combatant says:

    [The incompetence of the AFP and ASIO should be top of the agenda for the government. As well as headline cases like Haneef, look at all the bungled charges laid under the terrorism laws for explicitly political reasons.]
    Blood oath, Mark. Why, for instance, was Al-Haque kidnapped and water-boarded on Australian soil? Howard’s “Special Powers” legislation kyboshed habeas corpus and the liberty of innocent Australian citizens is in serious peril. The same legislation is still in place.

    After five years of systematic torture in Gitmo, David Hicks has more than paid for any previous “dingbat” decisions that he made in the past. Yet still he is to be hounded, and this is just ASIO and the AFP. Does anybody think the media jackals arn’t going to harry him like they did Habib?

    swio, it doesn’t surprise me that ASIO field operatives stand out like dogs ball on a canary around Lakemba. I’m surprised nobody has snapped them on mobile and posted the shots on some web site.

  12. Iain says:

    So you lot think that a self admitted terrorist should be treated like some kind of hero?
    I but all of you would be whining loud and long were he to revert to the Jihad game that led him to Afghanistan, and the loving arms of aL Qeada. Be real for once this man has been given a chance that he very arguably does not deserve and if he wants to once again be a part of this society then he has to prove himself in the same way that any other criminal does, maybe later the conditions may be relaxed….

  13. mbahnisch says:

    So you lot think that a self admitted terrorist should be treated like some kind of hero?

    No, I said he was probably a dingbat. He doesn’t have to be a saint or a hero – he just needs to be accorded human rights. As Rob says in the post, he’ll no doubt be under surveillance anyway, so what good does a “control order” do?

  14. Debbie(aussie) says:

    I like the ‘self admitted terrorist’ bit. I am sure any one of us would have admitted to anything to get away from GITMO after 5 years. Sure he’s no saint nor a hero, but he deserved then and deserves now to be treated like a human being.

  15. shishkin says:

    this is legalism gone mad!! no doubt the wheels spin on the basis that Hicks is a convicted terrorist and this fact then imposes a range of obligations on law enforcement agencies to take reasonable action – of course, most everyone can guess “the truth” (that Hick in all likelihood is no threat or at least he’s no greater threat than any other down’n’out loser you pick up off the street) but its a cliche to point out that the law and truth have never had anything in common

  16. Graham Bell says:

    Robert Merkel and everyone:

    Oh for pete’s sake!

    One way to save the taxpayers’ money, to show that a new and benevolent government is in office, to thumb the nose at the hystericals [and America’s failed president too] and to keep a bit of an eye on David Hicks …. would be to give him a job at ASIO, ASIS, DSD, ONA or AFP.

    I’m quite serious.

    Of course he woudn’t pass the usual vetting process in a blue fit but enough is known about every little detail of his whole life now as to make the usual vetting process superfluous. His health – physical and psychological – is now such that he would fail the usual medical standards. Okay, waive those standards specifically for David Hicks. Make a slot especially for him – after all, there doesn’t seem to be any problem at all making slots for disgraced former ministers [of the Crown, not of religion] or for failed academics and all at “mates’ rates” so what would be wrong with doing one for David Hicks as well?

    A high security job would be out of the question but what about as a library assistant or as a cha-wallah or as a vehicle service officer or as a gardener or somesuch …. Quick!! Call an ambulance!! A Colonel Blimp, a fuddy-duddy old-fashioned spook and a “rissole” have all collapsed with apoplexy and the vapours after reading this.

  17. Iain, Hicks has served his sentence. If he really remains a threat, a midnight to dawn curfew and reporting to police three times a week makes SFA difference to his ability to perpetrate terrorism, and he’ll need to be watched like a hawk.

    But in any case, no aspiring terrorist is going to go anywhere near David Hicks. Being in his presence is going to be an open invitation for the police and intelligence agencies to look into you. Even if he retained the desire (which, as Mark notes, is extremely doubtful), his capacity to be useful to other terrorists is zero.

    All of which suggests that the control order is just either a) further pointless arse-covering or b) the chance to deal out extra petty punishment in a way not permitted by the conventional justice system. Either way, it’s bad news.

  18. Katz says:

    Maybe they could move Hicksy into Kirribilli House.

    I gather it’s vacant, and the security there was quite good, so I’m led to believe.

  19. silkworm says:

    If I were David Hicks, or his father who has a stake in this as well, I would be looking for compensation for the torture endured at the hands of the Americans. I would either be suing the government, or going to Channel Seven for a lucrative interview, maybe even going on the lecture circuit.

    These were the sort of things that Howard’s control orders were about. Now that Rudd has taken over, anything is possible.

  20. philiptravers says:

    A.S.I.O needs its sleep O.K., and besides ,if he was wandering around after twelve,he might start singing or humming songs before he had all this happen like…” Moping around the Streets at night, worried because you arent treating me right,come back again I m just crazy bout you babe.”And the tired old A.S.I.O. agents having sung that themselves endlessly in those hours to practice the art of others reading their lips by binoculars,under street lighting..are simply tired out.The reporting to Police,is just to let them know he isnt singing in the daylight,because well , how much can Police Handle. And I dont know either.Perhaps they are university educated and the authorities want him to socialise with people like that,before he makes that decision.

  21. CK says:

    “So you lot think that a self admitted terrorist should be treated like some kind of hero?”

    Oh dear. Poor old Iain Hall

    ‘Joke’ doesn’t really cove it.

  22. Iain says:

    Robert that is a crap argument, control orders and any kind of parole are all about protecting the community and as I said hicks has to prove himself in just the same way that a kiddie fiddler would ,even if his sentence and been fully served.
    Yawn You can’t even spell “cove(r) 😆

  23. philiptravers says:

    This subject gives me the absolute…if it extends to terrorism.A quick look at of recent days indicates so many developments in the U.S.A. alone that a minor,very minor player here named is just so much……….And to wakee up to the ABC AM. and hear about Algiers and no official A.S.I.O. or other Australian attempt at Intelligence is so much ….And if the passing out parade with the G.G. on-line in the SMH isnt all related then I must buy some KIWI shoe polish.

  24. Tony D says:

    Is this meant to be punishment or rehabilitation? Force him to stay home and get a good nights sleep yeah? After all sedition and such are a 3am, too-much-black-coffee kinda thing…

    How about we make him read at least 1 book a month, tidy his room, brush his teeth twice a day (floss too!), and be nice to old ladies and cute furry animals. I can’t see it being any less effective than the proposed solution.

    “it’s hard to see what the point of the control order is – except as a handy demonstration that the incoming Labor government is going to be Tough On Terrorists as well.”

    That or bureaucratic inertia from the previous administration.

  25. Paul Burns says:

    Don’t see why ASIO shouldn’t employ Hicks. I know for a fact they have no problems employing 60s radicals, ex-Coms and anarchists so long as they have the required tertiary qualifications. Straight from the horses’outh so to speak, circa 1980.
    Hicks has always been a bit ofd a gun-obsessed idiot, suffering from spiritual confusion. What Howard didn’t want us to know about til after the election was what went on in Guantanamo Bay. War crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated on Australians with Howard’s consent.
    ASIO certainly has a job to do in identifying and protecting us against internal threats.Its the identifying bit that worries me. Greenies and Socialists watch out! Now that perhaps they won’t be so driven by party political factors as they were under Howard, something that always happens under a Liberal Government,maybe they’ll do their job properly. I hope so, as its highly unlikely McLelland is gfoing to raid their offices the way Lionel Murphy did.

  26. Russ says:

    It seems to me that putting a midnight to 5am curfew on him will prevent him mixing with football players. Surely that can only be a good thing, for Hicks and the country!

  27. David says:

    With reference to the Hicks-with-rocket-launcher photo (which I understand has been heavily cropped to remove its less-than-totally-sinister context), I have somewhere a photo of myself and another lad, c. 1977, dressed in greens and carrying rifles (during basic training at RTB Kapooka) which I’m sure could be doctored to be equally incriminating. I’m sure I’m not alone here.

  28. Ambigulous says:

    russ at 26

    Andrew Demetriou’s AFL has had a study done, which shows that footballers who drink to excess are more likely to be involved in altercations. Fancy that!

  29. Andrew says:

    Enemy combatant

    “Why, for instance, was Al-Haque kidnapped and water-boarded on Australian soil?”

    Where did you get the idea he was water-boarded from?

    The details of what happened to him can be seen here:

  30. blogreader says:

    As far as I’m concerned, David Hicks is no more of a terrorist threat than Humphrey B Bear.
    I would be more than happy to live next door to him.
    Especially if he is anything like his father.
    It must be obvious to anybody who has followed his misfortune that his guilty plea was a desperate attempt to obtain some prospect of an end to his nightmare.
    Mr. Rudd would do well to end the farce.
    Concerning the circumstances of his apprehension, you will never convince me that the invasion of Afghanistan was anything other than a cynical, premeditated crime.
    He is one of the many victims of that crime.

  31. blogreader says:

    This is a bit offtopic but it does shed some light on the sort of thing elements of the state will engage in in the name of good government.
    Many people take their cue from the state, the state sets an example for those who acknowledge no other authority.
    A bad example. i.e. anything goes….

    “….Cossiga’s tendency to be outspoken upset the Italian political
    establishment and he was forced to resign after revealing the
    existence of, and his part in setting up, Operation Gladio – a rogue
    intelligence network under NATO auspices that carried out bombings
    across Europe in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

    Gladio’s specialty was to carry out what they coined “false flag
    operations,” terror attacks that were blamed on their domestic and
    geopolitical opposition.

    Cossiga’s revelations contributed to an Italian parliamentary
    investigation of Gladio in 2000, during which evidence was unearthed
    that the attacks were being overseen by the U.S. intelligence

    In March 2001, Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra stated, in sworn
    testimony, “You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children,
    innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game.
    The reason was quite simple: to force … the public to turn to the
    state to ask for greater security.””

    It is difficult to imagine a greater betrayal of the social contract.

  32. Enemy Combatant says:

    Andrew, Ul-Haque was kidnapped and intimidated but there is no mention of water-boarding. My mistake. I keep forgetting that Dick Cheney didn’t have any influence with ASIO on Howard’s watch.
    Thanks for the lawlink, Ul-Haque’s case summary was a harrowing read.

    From His Honour’s judgment:
    [31 The very mode of questioning was intimidating. He was not told what was being investigated except in the most general terms. He was told, in effect, that he knew what he had done wrong. It is scarcely surprising that he hung his head. A later report by B15 says that he said he did not know what they were talking about. This is reminiscent of Kafka.]

  33. GregM says:

    “Concerning the circumstances of his apprehension, you will never convince me that the invasion of Afghanistan was anything other than a cynical, premeditated crime.”

    Which demonstrates nothing but that you have a closed mind.

  34. Enemy Combatant says:

    US House votes to outlaw CIA waterboarding

    Not that any of that sort of thing occurs, or is in the least supported, condoned or nudge-nudge-wink-winked by ASIO. Let me make that perfectly clear.
    However, one suspects that Four Corners can’t wait to get their teeth into this story now that former “man of steel” for The Bush Regime, JWH, is working furiously to diminish his golf handicap, and no longer has pull in Spooksville Central, despite personally selecting Paul O’Sullivan as Dennis Richardson’s replacement.

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