Friday, 14 March 2008

ASIO, police don't trust each other, report finds

A LACK of trust between the Australian Federal Police and ASIO has hindered co-operation between the anti-terrorism agencies, a report commissioned after the collapsed prosecution of the Sydney doctor Izhar ul-Haque has found.

It also revealed that, more than six years after the September 11 attacks that led to expanded counter-terrorism efforts, the agencies still can't communicate easily with each other because they don't have secure and common phone and internet communications. Moreover, there are no ASIO officers full-time at the joint counter-terrorism teams in the capital cities.

The former NSW chief justice, Sir Laurence Street, chaired the inquiry that produced the report, and made 10 recommendations to fix the problems. "While the intentions of both [AFP and ASIO] are good, trust between agencies could be further enhanced," the report said.

It found intelligence sharing between ASIO and the AFP was on an informal and ad hoc basis and was often heavily dependent on personal relationships, which were sometimes strained.

"Mutual trust and confidence are key to the required levels of co-operation between police and intelligence agencies which traditionally have different responsibilities," it noted.

The language of the report was measured, but other counter-terrorism officials and analysts have said the relationship between federal police and ASIO can, at times, be poisonous.

"The AFP has moved into an area that's traditionally been the domain of ASIO," said one official, who works with both agencies. "ASIO is always concerned about the potential for leaks from the Feds."

The Street report said a barrier to co-operation was that information technology systems were "incompatible" across agencies. ASIO had only a part-time presence on joint teams because it didn't want to set up computer terminals for its officers in areas shared with police. The report recommended the federal police improve the security of its systems "so trust could be fostered" , including setting up secure desktop telephones.

The joint investigation into Dr ul-Haque collapsed after two ASIO officers were found to have kidnapped the young Sydneysider, making the records of interview inadmissable.


Secret policemen's bill: $7.5m

Mr McClelland separately ruled out compensating or apologising to the Sydney medical student Izhar Ul-Haque, who a Supreme Court judge said had been kidnapped by ASIO officers. The conduct of ASIO in the case of Mr ul-Haque, who was cleared of terrorism charges, is being reviewed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Ian Carnell.

The Greens senator Kerry Nettle said Mr Keelty "has learnt little from this saga apart from a desire to shut down media scrutiny".

Quote: Long Live Tim Anderson and we all remember the Hilton Bombing saga.

The real problem though is that ASIO is corrupt and after John Howard wiped his bum on it and the federal police I do believe that we have to start again and find the faults with the corrupt organisations and fix the problem starting from the top down. One of the main problems is that these organisations have too much power. Draconian laws don't assist the community in 'reverse surveillance' and government secrets. Lets hope that the inquiry can find out more about these secrets but I wouldn't get your hopes up because these corrupt organisations have been used by both Liberal and Labor and more likely will continue to promote government propaganda whenever it suits them. God is great!

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