Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 17:31 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 17:31 | SYDNEY

Is the counter-terrorism-industrial complex in retreat?


Sam Roggeveen


23 January 2008 10:23

The Sydney Morning Herald had some welcome news on the weekend: the Rudd Government, as part of its shake-up of national security policy, will 'consider putting more resources into building relationships with vulnerable local communities rather than solely pumping more funds into intelligence agencies'. Today, The Australian points to another small measure of regained sanity in our counter-terrorism policy: the number of sky marshals on international flights is going to be cut. The Liberal opposition's hysterical reaction demonstrates how politically difficult it is for governments to make even such modest changes:

Opposition justice spokesman Christopher Pyne attacked the changes, although they were initiated during the time of the Howard government. "Unless they have information that the terrorist threat has diminished, it's potentially playing with people's lives to reduce ASO teams," he said.

You have to get to the bottom paragraph of the story to understand why this is a massive over-reaction:

Executive director of the Australian Homeland Security Research Centre Athol Yates said he was not surprised to hear of the changes to the program, which he said was of "questionable" security value. "Hardening the cockpit doors and changing the protocols for hijacking has made it harder for terrorists to get weapons on board an aircraft and take control of it," he said.

Not that the government itself is shouting about this change from the rooftops, with the report saying Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus refused to comment. It is still politically suicidal to even hint at the idea that the terrorist threat is perhaps not as overwhelming as the previous government portrayed.

Photo by Flickr user geistbear, used under a Creative Commons licence.