Mohammed Haneef, the Indian-born doctor arrested in Brisbane over alleged links to the failed British bomb plots, may be charged within the next 48 hours. Or not.

Australian police are continuing to question the Gold Coast Hospital registrar over the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow as a British chief inspector heads to Australia.

But the usual terror script isn’t being followed. The dynamics are different.

The story has dominated today’s newspapers, but journos and editors seem to have scraped the bottom of various barrels to assemble their yarns. The terror alert level hasn’t been raised. We officially remain alert, but not alarmed.

“We have no specific information about any planning for such an act [the planned British bombing attacks] here in Australia,” Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said this morning.

Some of the more measured reports have described the members of the doctors’ plot in the UK as “sloppy”.

Which probably explains why AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty was warning last night: “We should be cautious here that Dr Haneef may have done nothing wrong and may, at the end of the day, be free to go.”

Outside the grassy knoll set and Wedgespotters Anonymous, we now accept the general threat of terror. Which means the Brisbane arrests fail to give the government the fillip they may have a couple of years ago.

The Prime Minister was swift to deny weekend reports that a secret plan has been formulated to begin withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq by February. But he floated his backflip on the workplace relations laws in just the same way.

The dynamics of Iraq are changing. George W Bush is being pressured by senior Republicans afraid of the impact of the war on their poll chances next year.

Speculation abounds about new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s intentions. Overnight, he made a statement in Commons indicating a desire to remove the executive’s power to declare war without parliamentary consent.

The government has faced questions about Haneef’s presence in Australia. Ruddock, a former immigration minister, was forced to defend the operations of the 457 visa plan on ABC NewsRadio this morning.

And as the commentators keep saying, Kevin Rudd is no Mark Latham.

A member of the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue isn’t likely to talk about conga lines of suckholes.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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