Wikileaks – trying to wrest back control

One of the more important things that Wikileaks has done is highlight just how little control the Voters have over their pollies these days. Denials of behaviour are normally held in secret till long after the perpetrators have left office or even died and corrective action cannot be taken. The system is loaded in their favour, but worse than that, there is no incentive for those that come along later to obey the rules. It means that effectively, there is no control.

To make matters even worse in Oz the current trend is for the next party coming in to bat does not reveal the misdeeds of the previous party. I assume it comes from “people who live in glass houses not throwing stones” attitude.

It doesn’t look good for improving behaviour and forcing our pollies (and their advisors) to obey the rule of law if no one has to bear responsibility.

Recently we have seen that Mr Habib has received a (deserved) payout from the Aussie Government after it was confirmed he suffered extraordinary rendition to Egypt and was tortured in front of an Aussie official. Eight months in their hands to gather “Urgent” information then shipped off to Gitmo for a couple of years then released without charge.

This might be acceptable in the US but it’s a harder sell in Oz.

The behaviour of the previous conservative government needs to be examined and the path followed to see who knew, who lied, and the results need to be made public to ensure those who don’t follow the rules are held to account.

Howard and Downer were long and loud in their denials of Aussies being tortured when the claims were originally made. Even going as far as to claim being offended by such claims. But now we find it was indeed true so let’s follow the path and see who dropped the ball.

Howard. Sadly he thought Dubya was it and a bit and he liked to play plausible deniability. (Don’t tell me stuff I don’t want to know). Technically he may have a defence by giving Downer a hospital pass but morally (and he liked to claim the moral high ground) he is ultimately responsible. And just saying “I take responsibility” is nowhere near good enough. 8 months torture then Gitmo demands more punishment than an unfelt “Sorry”. Putting mateship before morals is simply not good enough especially when you break Australian laws.

Downer. Even closer to the action but has a history of not paying attention to detail. Who can forget his 7 plus signatures on the Wheat for Weapons fiasco? His ultimate defence will be “I didn’t know.” Jeeze, Alexander. Can you just sign this blank cheque for me?

The path here is for the Foreign Affairs Minister to ask his Head of Department to investigate these claims. Either Downer knew, or the Department Head did, or someone further down the chain. Time to find out if the Minister behaved illegally or someone further down did, and corrective action should be taken. If it wasn’t Downer then it is highly likely the culprit/s are still in positions of trust and should be moved out. There is not much point to Parliament setting rules if the pollies or their staff can simply ignore them.

Of course the final responsibility lies with the Voters themselves with a further responsibility falling on the Media. If Voters feel the “what’s done is done” is the way to go, then we may as well stop pretending we have any say in Democracy and surrender our right to demand better behaviour. Thankfully the Media has drawn some attention to the problem but in a very low key way and with no appreciation for exactly how it is undermining control of politics.

Folk have given their lives for a better world. We shouldn’t let it slip away from us when we can get it back on track and score a much more responsive Government and better outcomes for ALL our citizens.


6 thoughts on “Wikileaks – trying to wrest back control

  1. I’m currently reading David Hicks’ “Guantanomo”. I’m keeping an open mind as to whether he was training in terrorism or not. Of course he says he wasn’t, and he may well be telling the truth. That said, leaving him to rot in Guantanomo for 6 years without charge was completely unacceptable. The British had their people out of there as soon as they could, while Howard did nothing to help an Australian citizen. Of course he and Andrews like to parade their Christianity. Hypocrites!

    1. I’m reading it too Snowy. Up to page 146 at the moment so still in the lead up to imprisonment.

      I have to say it’s a good read and aside from allowing himself to get too locked in to religious instruction, he was following a path I could easily have imagined for myself.

      The idea of sticking up for the downtrodden appeals to me and I can’t help thinking how similar it was to George Orwell signing up against Franco. The difference being Franco was not nominated as a terrorist.

      On such small considerations your life can be upended. Indeed some folk who have been employed as Mercenaries can easily find themselves going from hero to zero at the stroke of a pen.

      When you get to the bit where David first meets the Taliban it gets very dangerous and I think it is then that he realises his safety is not assured.

  2. A number of Americans don’t accept what our government has been doing since 9/11, Peter. One huge disappointment I’ve had with the Obama administration is its slow response regarding the release of prisoners held at Guantanamo who have not been charged with anything. Obama’s foreign policy decisions have not been much different from W.’s, and he seems to think that the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners should be left to the judicial system, or lack thereof in their cases, since it’s apparent some will face a military court or will still be held as POWs.

    I am also angry that my own country is considered a violator of human rights by Amnesty International. Isn’t that sort of thing done by military dictatorships in third world nations? Or does our government really think it’s above the United Nations charter or the International Court?

    1. I feel sorry for the Americans who still feel moral outrage at pollies who blatantly disregard the rule of law. I thought Obama was going to drag the US back to appreciation of human rights but it appears the fear mongering of the Republicans has driven the majority towards “Might is Right”.

      For a country that was the shining light of Democracy, it’s a tragic fall into the ordinary.

      Now the country has shown how fragile human rights is in the States, dropping to 3rd World ranking with a pro torture attitude is an obvious result.

      Sadly, when you finally get folk with a higher level of respect, your opponents will point at Bush and Rummy and claim the whole country feels the same way.

      It takes a long time to overcome the residue of political leaders who have a poor grasp of foreign affairs.

      Bush had to discredit the UN simply to cover his own behaviour.

  3. The whole Guantanamo business was/is disgusting especially in a country that claims to lead the world in Democracy.
    It was mainly through the efforts of Dick Smith that Hicks was released.

    Oh, and Downer is apparently employed on a cruise liner giving “entertaining” lectures on world politics.

    Now that’s one cruise ship I don’t need to be on. 🙂

    1. Good grief GOF. Is that trading on his fishnet stockings performance or his time spent sleeping during the Wheat for Weapons debacle?

      I just wish Aussie Pollies would rate us as equals with the Yanks instead of the embarrassing 2nd class status. We used to do the same with the Poms but now it’s the US.


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