George W Bush has refused a deal with Pakistan to hand over Osama bin Laden because it could hurt Republican chances in the Congressional mid-term elections. True story, or could be, according to The Australian. That is what the national daily wants us to believe happened in Queensland where rogue surgeon Jayant “Dr Death” Patel is the nearest thing to bin Laden — top of the most wanted list and still at large.  Yesterday the national daily dug itself into a hole with the exaggerated claim that the Beattie Government blocked a deal for Patel’s return because it would have harmed its prospects at the September 9 election. Today the paper keeps digging with this editorial in which it says: “The return of Dr Patel would have raised the scandal in the public mind as the Government struggled to put the issue behind it.” Yeah right, like capturing bin Laden would remind people of 9/11. The opposition and the media, rightly, do a good job, of reminding people about the gruesome deaths of 17 patients, allegedly at the hands of this quack. Sub judice rules would shut down much of that discussion had Patel been charged pre-election. More likely the return of Patel would have allowed Peter Beattie to claim that he was fixing the mess and ensuring that (cue hand on heart, sad face and sincere voice) “justice is done for the most important people in all of this, the victims”. From what we know of the proposed deal it was as dodgy as all get-out, with good reasons not to accept it, as many legal experts have pointed out.  Democrats in the US live in fear of a Karl Rove inspired “October Surprise” before the mid-terms, and the more paranoid claim bin Laden has already been captured, with the announcement of it delayed for maximum political advantage.  What are the chances that if Beattie had done a dodgy pre-election deal The Australian would now be criticising it as a pre-election stunt to cover up the water crisis?

Peter Fray

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