Aug 7, 2017

Something is badly wrong with the way we protect ourselves from terrorism

The discovery of an unsuccessful plot to bring down an airliner should raise serious questions about whether our massive national security spending is making us any safer.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The uncovering of an alleged plot involving the Khayat brothers to bring down an airliner or launch some sort of toxic gas attack in Sydney should prompt a serious rethink about how effective we are at protecting ourselves from terrorism and why we're spending so much money doing so.

If police allegations and leaks from within security agencies are true -- and we have previously seen lurid charges of terror plots levelled against individuals either proven to be wrong or wildly overstated before -- the poison gas attack appears to have been wildly ambitious, but the plan to bomb an Etihad flight, using another of the brothers as an unwitting mule for a bomb, was only a couple of steps from succeeding. 

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20 thoughts on “Something is badly wrong with the way we protect ourselves from terrorism

  1. Saugoof

    I read a great quote the other day, “We all prepare for the catastrophes we want, not the ones we’re going to get”. Preparing for terror attacks is “exciting” and is almost guaranteed to bring votes. On the other hand, preparing for catastrophes like global warming is just boring. Doesn’t matter that this will have a massively bigger impact than terrorism ever could.

  2. Xoanon

    Well said. Sadly both politicians and the media seem addicted to the scariness of terrorists and the excitement of making expensive announcements to “stop” them.

    1. gerald butler

      Did gas mask Malcolm top 10 flaga Tony? Politicians, mostly, are low life spivs with the intellectual honesty of a radish.

  3. James O'Neill

    Bernard, you ask a valid question, but ignore what has been the case for many years. We create the terrorists as proxy fighters (as Brzezinski boasted in The Grand Chessboard – Operation Cyclone) which then sets up a demand for intervention to help “save” the victim country, the process of which then creates more terrorism which requires ever bigger budgets to combat that which we created. It is a perfect circle for those growing rich on the “war on terror”. Australia valiantly does its bit by joining in those foreign interventions, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria. You quote Tony Abbott’s alleged justification but fail to mention the significant surrounding history, not the least part of which is that our (and the US) intervention in Syria is illegal under international law.
    So not only do we create the conditions under which terrorism flourishes, we do so on the basis of lies, misinformation and obfuscation by the political leadership. As we seem to have passed into an era where those waging illegal wars are no longer held accountable, don’t expect any change in policy any time soon.

  4. Jen Barron

    Thank you Bernard for so succinctly stating the case for a much needed review. For decades we have been making tough decisions in health on “value for money” and it is about time we also did this for our so called “protection” services!

  5. Judy Hardy-Holden

    Why worry about actual ‘safe from terrorism’ outcomes when all the government really wants (and maybe the Opposition too) is to scare the living daylights out of the proletariat and make sure you get elected next time around? Cynical, self-serving and self-interested just about sums it up.

  6. Marilyn J Shepherd

    Why is it that middle aged men in Australia are so damn stupid. There was no frigging plot, just more hysteria to raise Truffles shocking poll figures and distract from SSM and other stuff.

  7. Chris Days

    We cannot continue to expend large amounts on terrorism if there are not some alleged planned events. Even meat mincers and kitchen gas are sufficient.
    I recall a decade ago a 35 year old chemistry teacher living with his parents described to his students how to make a bomb. His parents’ house was raided and the police found nothing except a terrorism CD. The teacher denied all knowledge of the CD and eventually the charge was dropped. I suppose the only finger prints on the CD were those of the police.

  8. Chris Days

    Some say that the reason for the anti-terrorism legislation is so that the tax authority can examine every person’s emails. But I think this underestimates the determination of governments to know what every citizen thinks.

  9. klewso

    “Tired of smoke and mirrors? Dog and pony shows? …. Have we got a plan for you…..this time!”

  10. Richard Shortt

    An alternative view. If most, or even some, of the planned attacks in Australia had been successful I predict this conversation would be quite different. Security agencies have worked very hard, with counterparts, to prevent this acts of murder from occurring. Yes, politicians have jumped on the ‘securitizing bandwagon’ and yes money is needed to resource constant vigilance. But please, do not accept that because of success there is no threat nor danger. Other countries can show us the folly of that belief. By all means question and ensure spending is appropriate, but do not denigrate the work of our agencies because of their success.

    1. gerald butler

      Oh, c’mon, watch the pollies on the telly putting on their serious faces surrounded by flags or ghouls. Conservatives love nothing more than flags, uniforms, medals and really serious secret meetings. Remember Abbott, in full blown hysteria mode, croaking,” Daesh is out to get each and every one of us?”
      I’m grateful to the police and security agencies for protecting us but I threw Howard’s fridge magnet in the river years ago.

      1. klewso

        Then there’s the “funny(?)” way the media always seem to be there by some fortunate happenstance, when there’s a raid, to capture all that PR on film?

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