Mamdouh Habib’s new mates


From the February 2 subscriber email

Our Homeland Security correspondent, Hugo Kelly, writes:

‘From Camp X-Ray to Palm Beach’ screams the Daily Tele’s front page splash today.

“Freed
terror suspect Mamdouh Habib strolls along a pier in one of Sydney’s
most exclusive suburbs yesterday, just days after his release from a US
military prison,” writes The Telegraph’s hack Charles Miranda.

Yes, Charles, and what was he doing there – and who was he with? Surely this is the same Bill Morrison who was the Whitlam Defence Minister and the Hawke ambassador to Indonesia.

For a start, why didn’t anyone at News recognise him? Maybe some bright spark at The Telegraph might have done an ID check on the bloke splashed across their front page? Nah, all too hard.

As
a former DFAT officer, Bill Morrison had a high security clearance and
worked routinely with ASIS. Sure, there’s no suggestion he’s still in
touch with Russell Hill. But, notwithstanding Mrs Morrison’s good
community works, it’s interesting – to say the least – that Habib has
wandered into his circle.

The Tele’s man Miranda wrote: “Habib, 48, travelled by water taxi to meet friends Marty and Bill Morrison at their Coasters Retreat home.

“As
he strolled through bush at Soldiers Point, there were no sign of ASIO
officers who have pledged to keep Habib under surveillance while he is
in Australia.”

Er, no. Not unless you ignore the bleeding obvious staring you in the face.

The SMH’s
Lisa Pryor also reports today on the Habibs’ new freinds. And it seems
the raw intelligence is starting to come in: “Mrs Morrison, who became
friends with Mr Habib’s wife, Maha, after learning of his detention,
would not say whether he had had a swim at the beach but said he was
doing well,” writes Pryor.

“‘For a man who’s kept himself sane through a lot of hardship, I think he’s wonderful,’ she said”. Check out the guff here:
Habib finds lifeline in peace of Palm Beach

What
can we make of Mahmdou’s new pals? Who knows, but we all know our
intelligence community likes to keep its friends close – and its
enemies closer.

So, before he opens his heart to his nice new
friends, Mamdouh Habib might take heed of the Prophet’s warning:
“Beware, the infidel within.”

Travellers beware: know your rights

From the January 28 subscriber email

By Frank Gumption

If
one is to look at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
web site, you will find the following description of the department’s
role:

“The
department’s aim is to advance the interests of Australia and
Australians internationally… The department’s goals are to: assist
Australian travellers and Australians overseas…”

Note the use of the word assist. Similarly if you visit he Attorney General’s web site you find:

“The
Attorney-General’s Department serves the people of Australia by
providing essential expert support to the Government in the maintenance
and improvement of Australia’s system of law and justice.”

Serves
the people of Australia? You could understand why then an Australian
citizen returning home might wonder if they have not landed in the
wrong country. Consider the following itinerary:

1) Leave the country
2) Legally enter and visit a foreign nation
3) Be kidnapped by the military of a third nation
4) Be held illegally, without charge for two years
5) Be tortured during this time
6) Receive NO ASSISTANCE from DFAT
7) Despite DFAT’s failings, be released and allowed to go home
8) Have the Attorney General (AG) tell you that you cannot profit from telling your story

Sound
unlikely. Well this, as we are all aware, is a true story. The last
part, still being acted out, is particularly interesting.

“At
this point in time there is no evidence … that Mr Habib has committed
a crime in Australia under Australian jurisdiction, so we have no
intention to arrest him when he arrives in Australia,” Federal Police
Commissioner Mick Keelty said.

Right, clear enough; no
evidence, no charge, no crime surely. Basic legal process (and there
are plenty of lawyers in the Howard Cabinet) tells us first there is a
charge with a presumption of innocence then a trial and finally a
guilty or innocent verdict.

Well it seems Phillip Rodduck
knows better. He has asked lawyers investigate whether the new Proceeds
of Crime legislation could be used to stop Mr Habib from selling his
story.

“There is potential for the legislation to cover
this. If he is paid for his story on his treatment in Guantanamo Bay,
the government will examine closely the implications.”

He
has not been charged. How can he have committed a crime? Simple, he
can’t. The role of the AG is to promote the use of law not to indulge
in political fantasy.

Is it possible the AG simply wants
to gag Mr Habib? DFAT and the AG have failed to perform there duties,
they have sacrificed the rights of an Australian citizen for their own
political ends. I can understand why they might want to gag Mr Habib
but we have the right to know the story.

In this case the
Foreign Minister and the Attorney General have clearly failed to
fulfill the mandate as defined by their own departmental web site. Are
they going to stand up and admit these failings? Unlikely.

As for Mr Habib’s story, bring it on.

Peter Fray

72 hours only. 50% off a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

Our two-for-one offer with The Atlantic was so popular we decided to bring it back.

But only for 72 hours.

Use the promo code ATLANTIC2020 and you’ll get 50% off a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year of digital access to The Atlantic (usually $70). That’s BOTH for just $129.

Hurry. Ends midnight this Thursday.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

Claim Now