Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Andrews' beef with Haneef

I just can't get over the recently imploded Australian case against Mohammed Haneef, who was alleged to have "recklessly supported" the failed car bomb attacks in the UK.

Two major errors in the case against Haneef are described here: first, it was claimed that a cell phone SIM card connected with Haneef had been found in the burning car sent into the airport in Glasgow, but in reality had been found in Liverpool; second, it was claimed that he had offered no explanation for why he'd purchased a one-way plane ticket to India, when in fact he had explained to police that he'd planned to fly out to see his wife and recently born child.

These are not, I think, plausibly attributed to innocent mistakes. Somewhere along the line from the police collecting the evidence to the lawyer prosecuting the case, someone lied, knowingly and willfully.

So, OK, this is nothing new. Police and prosecutors develop firm suspicions against someone, and maintain certainty of the person's guilt in spite of a lack of evidence, and go on to twist evidence to support their case--after all, if you're sure the suspect is guilty, you don't want minor points of evidence to get in the way. It happens. Distribute slaps on the wrist all around (that's all you can expect, because after all they just wanted to protect citizens from terrorists, and you can hardly blame them for being a little overenthusiastic about the job), and let's call it a day.

In addition to that, though, I'm mystified by the antics of Kevin Andrews, the immigration minister, who's generally making an ass of himself in various ways. Here's one example. After the charges were dropped, Haneef decided to go on and take off to India, which prompted this response:
Mr Andrews said on Sunday [the 29th] that he still harboured suspicions against the Indian doctor.

The fact that Dr Haneef decided to leave the country "actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicion", he said.
If we are to assume that Andrews was honestly speaking his mind here, then we must conclude that he was entertaining the following thought at the time: "Well, if this Haneef fellow is so innocent, then why in the world is he so committed to leaving the country to see his wife and recently born child? This is terribly suspicious."

But, what's more, in a press release from the 28th, the day before making the above statement, Andrews commented:
After taking advice, including from the Australian Federal Police, I have indicated that the Commonwealth has no objection to Dr Haneef departing Australia.

Indeed the effect of Dr Haneef's visa cancellation is that he should depart Australia.
Incidentally, that visa cancellation is something which Andrews personally stepped in to bring about. So, with this in mind, here's a fuller version of what Andrews was apparently thinking to himself when he made the statement on the 29th: "Well, if he's so innocent, then why in the world is he so committed to leaving the country--something which I personally made it legally necessary for him to do--in order to see his wife and recently born child? This is so terribly suspicious."

Now maybe this is in fact what he had in mind. It might just be the case that Australia has a psychotic immigration minister. Or maybe (keeping in mind that it's an election year) he's hoping that the racist asshole vote carries more weight in his constituency than the reasonable citizen vote. In any case, notwithstanding the fact that I know nothing else about the man, I'm going to go ahead and conclude that he's not a good person, and should lose his job as of yesterday.

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