Subject: AGE: Barrister Disputes Hill's Use Of Report
The Age (Melbourne)
April 16, 2004 Friday
Barrister Disputes Hill's Use Of Report
Mark Forbes Defence Correspondent
Canberra -- The barrister whose report was used to deflect allegations of intelligence failings made by a senior military analyst says his views do not invalidate those allegations.
Defence Minister Robert Hill used a review by Richard Tracey, QC, on Wednesday to undermine an investigation backing claims of intelligence failings made by Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Collins, the top army intelligence analyst for the East Timor operation.
Mr Tracey has told The Age "there is nothing in my report that is in any way critical of Collins and any suggestions, in any way, to the contrary are wrong".
Mr Tracey also said that his review was not a proper analysis or reinvestigation of Colonel Collins' criticisms, which were supported in a report by Captain Martin Toohey. He objected to media reports portraying his review as "something it's not, namely an attack on Collins".
Contradicting Senator Hill, Mr Tracey said his review looked only at the legality of a limited number of recommendations to Defence Force chief Peter Cosgrove, and did not evaluate the Toohey report.
Senator Hill yesterday reneged on releasing another legal review that had endorsed the Toohey report. His spokeswoman said that "the minister has been too busy to look at this issue today".
On Wednesday, Senator Hill said Mr Tracey's review found the Toohey inquiry had miscarried, was conducted without proper authority and lacked evidence to substantiate its findings. Mr Tracey's review was "the detailed analysis of the Toohey report", he said.
The Opposition has demanded a full judicial inquiry into the "Collins-Toohey claims" of intelligence failings. The allegations include inaccurate assessments of the pre-war threat posed by Iraq, a failure to predict the Bali bombings and a cover-up of predictions of mass killings following East Timor's independence vote.
The Toohey report found that the Defence Intelligence Organisation told the Government what it wanted to hear and was influenced by a "pro-Jakarta lobby".
Labor leader Mark Latham has said that the proliferation of reports that surfaced since Colonel Collins' criticisms highlights the need for a royal commission.
"There is a first report, a second report and now a third. That just demonstrates the need to get all these matters before an inquiry with royal commission powers to establish the facts," Mr Latham said. "Let's actually have an inquiry, an improvement in our intelligence services to get it right for the benefit of the Australian people."
Opposition defence spokesman Chris Evans said the Prime Minister's suggestion of referring the issue to the Flood inquiry into the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was inadequate.
The inquiry had only limited terms of reference and lacked the power to compel witnesses, he said.
"Only a full judicial inquiry can resolve the current intelligence crisis, given the independence of intelligence agencies has been called into doubt," Senator Evans said.
Mr Howard established the inquiry after revelations of unsubstantiated intelligence about Iraq's WMD and reports that intelligence experts disagreed over the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
OUR INTELLIGENCE - STORIES OF CONTROVERSY
DEFENCE INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION
* This main military intelligence body withheld intelligence from troops in East Timor for 24
hours, contained a "pro-Jakarta lobby" and reported "what the Government wants to hear", according to the Toohey report into allegations of intelligence failings made by Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Collins, above.
* Ongoing tension over suppression of evidence of Indonesian involvement in atrocities in East Timor led to the suicide of a DIO liaison officer in Washington, Merv Jenkins.
* However, the DIO was the one agency that correctly indicated that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability amounted to little or no threat.
AUSTRALIAN SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
* It emerged recently that an ASIS undercover agent was detected in Indonesia by Indonesian counter-intelligence officers in 1997. The ASIS agent had arranged to receive
documents from a key Indonesian contact, believed to be a military intelligence officer, but both spies were caught when they went to swap documents.
* ASIS has also been criticised for failing to warn of the Bali bombings.
OFFICE OF NATIONAL ASSESSMENTS
* During the 2000 federal election campaign, ONA produced a report for Prime Minister John Howard saying that children were thrown overboard by asylum seekers, but then it admitted after the poll that the false claim was based solely on media reports.
* According to a governmentdominated inquiry, ONA made exaggerated assessments of
Iraq's WMD program, inexplicably boosting the alleged threat at a politically opportune time.
AUSTRALIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION
* ASIO's heavy-handed approach in a series of controversial raids conducted after the Bali bombings was widely criticised when the homes of Indonesians with suspected
links to Jemaah Islamiah were raided in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
* The domestic spy agency has also been criticised for failing to quickly respond to French warnings about terrorism suspect Willie Brigitte, above.
An urgent message about a possible Australian attack arrived on October 3 last year,
but it was not read until October 7, when the ASIO office reopened after a long weekend.
DEFENCE SIGNALS DIRECTORATE
* Australia's satellite spy agency monitored communications with the Tampa vessel during the asylum seeker stand-off and improperly gave reports to the Government of
conversations of three citizens.
An investigation by the then inspector-general of intelligence and security, Bill Blick, found that one of the improperly taped conversations could have given advance notice of a legal proceeding to be launched against the Government.
REPORTS: MARK FORBES, LIZ GOOCH
BBC Monitoring International Reports
April 16, 2004
INDONESIAN ENVOY COMMENTS ON AUSTRALIAN INTELLIGENCE ROW
Canberra: (Passage omitted on material previously reported in The Australian and The Bulletin concerning accusations that Australian intelligence agencies manipulated intelligence data so that it did not conflict with Australian government policies. The accusations were made by Lt-Col Lance Collins, who was formerly a senior military intelligence officer and served under Peter Cosgrove in East Timor. Amongst other examples, Collins said that he had produced an intelligence report in 1998 claiming that the Indonesian military had funded militia groups in East Timor, which was rejected by defence and intelligence officers in Canberra because it was not in line with government views on East Timor at that time. Collins also claims that a "pro-Jakarta lobby" group has been running the Australian Defence Intelligence Organization and has called for a royal commission into the issue. His claims have been backed-up in a report by Captain Martin Toohey, who said that he also uncovered facts showing that such a lobby does exist, and that there has been distortion of information to suit government purposes.)
Responding to this matter, from Canberra, the Indonesian ambassador to Australia, Imron Cotan, said that the term "pro-Jakarta lobby" was unclear. "We ourselves do not know who this refers to," said Imron Cotan, when contacted by Kompas via telephone from Jakarta on Wednesday (14 April) night.
"However, in relation to accusations that TNI (Indonesian National Military Forces) funded militia groups, I don't think that is true. As far as I know, as an organization, TNI never funded militia. And if Kiki Syahnakri did cooperate well with Peter Cosgrove in East Timor, is that then referred to as a 'pro-Jakarta lobby', if the fact is that that good relationship helped to make their task in East Timor easier," he said.
Prime Minister John Howard firmly rejected this demand (for an inquiry into the Australian Intelligence Services). "I think a commission is unnecessary," said Howard. In the lead up to the general election, national security will be a main focus. In light of that, a report like this could be said to be a set-back for the conservative government.
Source: Kompas Cyber Media web site, Jakarta, in Indonesian 15 Apr 04
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