How will history judge John Howard?
‘God bless the Civil Service, The nation’s saving grace, While we expect democracy, They’re laughing in our face’
crooned Billy Bragg in reference to the British civil service going public on matters of conscience.
The Clive Ponting and Sarah Tisdall cases stick in my mind, Tisdall actually serving 3 months of a 6-month gaol sentence after being prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. I had cause to reflect on these incidents after the brave stance taken by intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie this week. The Howard Government has been quick to downplay the significance of Wilkie’s role within the Office of National Assessments (ONA) but then you wouldn’t expect them to do anything else. After the sorry attempt by John Howard at the weekend to conflate Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism to justify war, causing offence to families of the Bali bombing victims, I’d like to know where Howard is getting his intelligence advice from if he isn’t getting it from the likes of Wilkie. Regionally, there is no support for Australia’s stance and there have to be question marks over Australia’s long-term security as a consequence. If he continues down this path, then John Howard will most certainly secure his place in history, but for all the wrong reasons.