U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms

In a classic of headline writing skills, the New York Times (NYT) published an article with the Headline above – U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms. The article was written by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad and published on 18 November 2007:

With the future of Pakistan’s leadership in doubt, debate is growing about whether a classified program has done enough.

Of course, now that it is published in the New York Times it can’t possibly be a secret … unless the NYT has 0 readership of course, then it could still be a secret 😆

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New South Wales’ Counter-Terrorism Website

I discovered the other day that we New South Welshmen have our very own Counter-Terrorism website. Yep, it’s there under the New South Wales Government Gateway at http://www.secure.nsw.gov.au/. I learned two things today from it. The first was that Australia has had a national counter-terrorism alert level system in place since 1978. Boy weren’t we forward thinking or was it simply a response at the time to the 13th of February 1978 bomb blast outside the Sydney Hilton when the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting was due to take place?

The second thing I learned was that the three-level system that was implemented then (I guess that was Low, Medium and High Risk) was replaced in June 2003 with the current four-level system of low, medium, high and extreme.

Of course, the two most interesting things about that were that the level has been at medium in the over 4 years the four-level system has been in place. Guys, really, don’t you think that medium now loses some significance after the alert level’s been left at that level for so long? I mean who is going to take that seriously anymore?

The other interesting thing is that the extreme level applies when a “terrorist attack is imminent or has occurred”. I can understand extreme when one is imminent but having an extreme level after one has occurred seems a little like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. I am sure this rates with the Australian Government’s insistence that aircraft meals into and out of Australia be served with plastic knives, which are in themselves three times more dangerous than the metal butter knives they replaced.

Hicks Pleas Guilty to Leave Guantánamo

David Hicks, Australian, today entered a plea of guilty in a US Military Tribunal to charges of providing material support to a terrorist organisation (Plea of Guilty From Detainee in Guantánamo). Without going into the fairness or otherwise of the trial process, the five year detention, the backdating of charges, the judge disqualifying two of Hicks’ legal counsel or whether or not Hicks was/is a terrorist, the most disappointing thing about all this has been the Australian Government of John Howard.

Hicks should have been brought back to Australia for trial, as the British prisoners were taken back to the United Kingdom. It was even more important to bring him back after Mandouh Habib had been released with no charge. The Australian government disgracefully stood by and did nothing. Whether or not Hicks is truly guilty matters not now. What matters is that an Australian government that had the power to do something in this case did nothing. Habib was released in early 2005 after having been captured in 2001. He was released with no charges being made – held for over three years without charge. Hicks has been held for 5 years until charges were laid.

Hicks was not even captured directly by American forces but rather captured by Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, a private warlord with a private army. Hicks was then held, interrogated and allegedly tortured whilst the Australian government stood by and did nothing. As I said at the start, I do not wish to comment on the trial, the charges, the system he was detained and prosecuted under. I do not want to speculate on whether or not he was a terrorist, what is shameful is the way the Australian government stood by and did nothing.

The Australian government gives more support to Australians convicted of drug smuggling and dealing in drugs overseas than it has given to Hicks.

In the past few years Australia has lost its heart. Today it lost its soul.