January 30, 2005 | Graham

Worst of the worst

“Worst of the worst?” was the title of a Four Corners investigation into Mamdouh Habib on 20th July, 2004.
Anyone wanting to weigh into the debate about his detention and then lack of trial ought to read the transcript. In showing that he wasn’t the worst of the worst the programme still demonstrated he was working hard to recruit jihadists, if without success.
I’ve always thought that David Hicks has been hardly done by and I will be following his trial closely. Seems to me like he was an adventurer who ended up in the wrong war in the wrong country at the wrong time – Beau Brummel in a parallel universe. It’s not a crime to accidentally find yourself fighting against your own country.
As for Habib, if I were the Australian government I’d have him under close surveillance too. I certainly wouldn’t stand with Bob Brown who said:

He says Mr Habib is now a free man and should not be under watch.
“Mr Ruddock’s talk about constant surveillance is to try to continue the presumption of guilt rather than innocence under the law,” Senator Brown said.
“It’s this reversal of law and Australian standards by Mr Ruddock and Mr Howard that we need to keep under surveillance.”

The absurdity of this statement is highlighted by the AVO slapped on Jamie Fawcett and Ben McDonald by Nicole Kidman on the basis that they “might” be charged with “menacing driving” (whatever the hell that is). Allegedly threaten our Nic and anything’s OK, but involve yourself in terrorism, and the enforcement agencies are not even entitled to be vigilant. Imagine how much more crime would be committed if the police were only permitted to survey suspects after they had been convicted! We’re not talking Queensland Special Branch here, keeping files on ALP and Civil Liberties activists (not to mention some parliamentary members of the Liberal Party). That was absurd, but this is commonsense.
Of course, if Habib’s allegations of being tortured can be proven, that is another thing. Undoubtedly the evidence will be hard, if not impossible, to gather, so they probably can’t be proven, but who will believe the Yanks innocent? In Australia these days, balance of the doubt only appears to cut one way – in some quarters there is no doubt who the worst of the worst really is.
[BTW, I notice Trevor Cook at From the sidelines has an entirely different take, but Michelle Grattan and I appear to be on much the same wavelength.]

Posted by Graham at 6:20 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I stand with Bob Brown. Mr Habib must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise…
    After almost 3 years in Guantanamo; tortured; questioned at the whim of his captors;No charges laid;what sort of circus is this ?
    Australian Government Ministers offering no support until prompted and then taking a weak, subservient position with the USA.
    Mr Habib should be prosecuted if he has broken the law. I want to see a full independent inquiry into this whole affair including actions taken on his behalf as a citizen by his Government.
    The AVO actions by Nicole Kidman against intrusive papparatzi should not be confused with the likely actions of the AFP and ASIO if Mr Habib is a person of interest to national Security.
    Meanwhile he is Innocent until proven otherwise.

    Comment by Brian T. Manning — January 31, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

  2. To Brian Manning.
    In times of war the ideals of human rights and smart arse lawyers have no place.Rough justice may not be nice,but it is efficient and cuts to the chase.Under our present laws Habib would be in gaol,it’s a shame that it’s not retrospective legislation.Just wait till one of these lunatics murders your family,you won’t be so understanding.

    Comment by Arjay — February 1, 2005 @ 8:50 pm

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