Perhaps inappropriately, Sirdan and I were tucking into an excellent $10 roast pork lunch at The Shakespeare Hotel as we discussed the matter of Dr Haneef yesterday. Apparently The Empress and Kiwi Nick had almost come to blows on the subject at The Shift during the week, The Empress complaining about government incompetence while Nick tended to think Haneef was indeed a “person of interest”, as they say nowadays instead of “guilty party”. Come the weekend and Kiwi Nick was apologising; the government has not followed suit.
When Sirdan told me Dr Haneef was giving a paid interview on TV I tended to doubt him. You see, I have been without TV ever since the communal antenna and booster was knocked out of action some time Friday night. All I can watch is DVDs (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon last night) so I missed Sixty Minutes.
He was evil — a dangerous man. If he wasn’t a terrorist, his mates were. And he was helping them. Or so we were told.
For more than three weeks, the Haneef affair dragged on. And let’s face it, on the strength of the so-called evidence, the Gold Coast doctor certainly looked suspicious.
For a start there was his SIM card, his relationship to the UK bombers, some odd financial transactions and the fact that he was arrested trying to leave Australia.
Then the case against Mohamed Haneef began to unravel and the charge against him was dropped. Last night he finally went home to India. But first, he told us his side of the story…
Having read all 140 or so pages of that leaked police interview transcript, I can tell you Dr Haneef’s account of the interrogation is accurate.
TARA BROWN: With all he’s been through, it’s quite incredible Dr Haneef is even considering coming back but then of everyone in this clumsy investigation, perhaps Mohamed Haneef is the only one who emerges with some dignity.
DR MOHAMED HANEEF: Thank you very much.
TARA BROWN: Thank you.
Which just about says it all. Except that one thing I said when I wrote about the police transcript still irks me:
…without getting on a high horse about it, one thing that struck me reading the interview transcript yesterday was that the interviewers did not seem to have much real knowledge of either Islam or Indian life… That, I would have thought, may have been useful knowledge to have in sorting the suspicious from the mundane.
However, as ABC reported about one hour ago:
Under-fire Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews is sticking to his guns on the Mohamed Haneef case, saying he still has doubts about the innocence of the Indian-born doctor who arrived home in Bangalore overnight…
If the government had hoped this case would be a 2007 “Tampa” they may have been right, except this time it seems they are rather more in the position of the “Tampa”‘s involuntary passengers…
Reminds you of something else, doesn’t it?
Let me cite Marcel this morning:
One of my colleagues wondered how Andrews could have got it so wrong. Leaving aside the point that he probably thought he was on to a political winner here (and in non-chatterati Australia he may still be) my own feeling was that he was just acting as he has become accustomed to act…
The monkeys with the word-processor who helped the minister reach his decision were Peter White, Assistant Secretary, and Zoë Clarke, Character Assessments and War Crimes Screening Branch.
Earlier Marcel had written Trumped-up “terrorism” charge? (July 14th) and Haneef: it’s not what he did, it’s who he knew (July 16th). Marcel is a barrister, not at all connected to the case, but well-informed about immigration law and other relevant legislation.
…he probably thought he was onto a political winner here (and in non-chatterati Australia he may still be)… This may well be true, Marcel, though I find the way the story is playing in the Daily Telegraph — as non-chatterati as you can get — is interesting.
KEYSTONE Kops? If only it were so comical. Sadly, the case of Dr Mohamed Haneef – or the lack of one – is beyond lampoonery.
Until now, Australia’s only real political prisoners were those transported to our shores from Ireland aboard the Lord Cornwallis in 1795.
At best, the Haneef scandal is an expose of outrageous incompetence. At worst, it’s potentially yet another vulgar example of Tampa-style politics by the Federal Government.
The scramble for police, prosecutors and Prime Minister John Howard to divert and avert blame and responsibility for the bungling of the Haneef affair is indeed farcical.
But it should be disturbing to everyone in Australia that a case could be so monumentally stuffed up…
Even the dreaded Telegraph reader poll is going: Should Mohamed Haneef be allowed to return to Australia? Yes – The case was a farce. He should be free to come back. 52% No – The minister’s decision was the right one for Australia. 47%
See also The Jurist.
ON THE NEW McCARTHYISM
See Muslim blogger Indigo Jo’s experience in the UK earlier in July.
…When I’m near an Apple Store, I always go in to check my email and my blog, so as to approve any legitimate comments and delete any spam…
Today, as I was closing up (and leaving my blog open, to drum up a bit of publicity), two policemen came up to me and asked me if I’d come out for a chat. They told me that someone had raised concerns about me, that they were there for anti-terrorism purposes…
We had a bit of a talk about what I do on my website, what a blog is (he had never heard of them) and the fact that I used their machines to approve legitimate comments, so as not to hold up discussion, and get rid of spam. The other cop talked to his colleagues over his radio and gathered that I was not under any suspicion, and eventually I was let go.
The two cops weren’t discourteous at all, but I was rather annoyed that suspicion was raised about my using Apple Store Macs to read websites which are not extremist, in the sense of advocating terrorism, at all. My hunch is that it was either the way I dealt with the staff as I walked in that raised suspicion, or else someone was annoyed with my manner and complained out of spite. Any time I walk into that shop, I have shop staff coming up to ask me if I need any help, which (like most people who go in, I’m sure) I didn’t. I had just come in to use the Macs…
Mind you, Jo, using a Mac is a bit suspicious… 😉
Operating on the assumption that it is impossible for any Muslim to be a good American/Australian/citizen, this blogger takes a great deal of interest in “Australia: Bleeding Hearts For Dr Haneef”. For him it is blindingly obvious. Haneef is a Muslim, therefore any doubt about his guilt is pure illusion… He even manages to see ANDREW BOLT as a bleeding heart! That will be news to most Australians, even — especially? — Andrew Bolt’s fans! Mind you, even Andrew Bolt is saying Immigration Minister Andrews is looking like a dill!
Well, I guess you’ve seen Goody Proctor with the Devil too, mate… Thanks for your contribution to a more peaceful world. Wonder what your thoughts were on Srebrenica 1995?
- My TV is back on!
- John Howard is not apologising. Not about my TV, of course… PM backs Andrews on Haneef case. “I support Mr Andrews’ handling of this matter from start to finish,” he said.
See Poor law, poor decisions: Immigration vs Dr Haneef by Jocelynne A Scutt on the new look ABC News site.
Chat room talk behind Haneef’s visa cancellation. But according to the 7.30 Report just now, this same information was available at the time of the bail application. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Compare Jim Belshaw’s careful entry. With every respect, Lexcen — see comment on Jim’s post — worries me at times (and I him perhaps), but we should also remember he is not alone in his views. My post of 31 July Thinking about the think tank remains valid, as it is really dealing with another issue. I still consider that think tank suspect, and Lateline’s use of it interesting.
Having watched Kevin Andrews on Lateline I am prepared to moderate my criticism of him this far: I have a clearer idea of the difference between his role as Immigration Minister and the court room process. Keep watching…