Friday, December 10, 2004

HoWARd Government intelligence cover-up

Lieutenant Colonel Lance Collins claimed access to intelligence was deliberately blocked.

The Federal Opposition has described the Government's failure to release the final report into the claims of intelligence failures within the Defence Department as a cover-up.

Earlier this year, Lieutenant Colonel Lance Collins claimed access to intelligence was deliberately blocked while he was on assignment in East Timor in 1999.

A report issued by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security has backed Colonel Collins' allegations.

Inspector General Ian Carnell says access to vital intelligence databases had been turned off because of security concerns.

But the Federal Government says the shutdown was not an instruction of the director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), Frank Lewincamp.

Senator Hill says the investigation found the flow of intelligence was limited, but on reasonable security grounds.

The Australian Defence Association has called for the Government to release an unclassified version of the report, while the Opposition has accused the Government of deliberately sitting on the report, releasing details after Parliament closed down for the year.

Senator Hill says while he intends, in due course, to release the unclassified version of the report, his hands are currently tied.

"The matter is not yet complete but I've released what I can so far," he said.

"I would want to, in due course, release an unclassified version of that. But as there are still legal and administrative processes taking place it would be premature and inappropriate to do it at the moment."

But Labor's spokesman for homeland security, Robert McClelland, says that does not cut it.

"It is a cover-up and it's just not good enough," he said.

Mr McClelland thinks there was a major blunder which could have cost Australian lives and he says heads should roll.

The Australian Defence Association (ADA) also wants more information to be made public.

"There may be legitimate security grounds not to release parts of the report, but certainly if they can't release the whole report, they should release certain aspects of it," ADA spokesman Neil James said.

In Other Developments:

James Dunn on the Ordeal of Lieut Colonel Lance Collins
Some Comments on the Ordeal of Lieutenant Colonel Lance Collins James Dunn: To most Australians there is something mystifying about cases involving intelligence officers. Because of the very secret nature of the agencies concerned, the issues are seldom satisfactorily resolved in the public mind. There is a lingering suspicion about the role of those commonly called spooks, who have the image of James Bond characters. While we no doubt have agents engaged in furtive espionage activities, today the majority of intelligence officers are involved in more mundane, and by and large more productive activities. Most of them are researchers or analysts, with appropriate academic qualifications, who seek to present governments with balanced, professional assessments. It is the processes between the desks and Government that are prone to political distortion.

Report backs Collins' 'Jakarta lobby' claims
HAMISH ROBERTSON: Here at home, the controversy over allegations of bias and intimidation in Australia's intelligence services has deepened this morning. A new report has been released, backing claims by top military intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Lance Collins, who says he's been victimised by a 'pro-Jakarta lobby' in the intelligence community.

By Jack and Jill 10 December 04


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