Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Spy network putrid, army man tells PM: "A high-ranking military analyst has accused the Federal Government of systematically putting foreign policy objectives ahead of intelligence, seriously undermining the work of its own spies... Colonel Collins penned damning assessments as far back as July 1998, saying the Indonesian military was funding and supporting militia in East Timor. The intelligence never got through and a member of Defence's strategic and international policy division told him his reporting did not reflect the "fundamental drivers" behind the foreign policy relationship between Indonesia and Australia. At the time, Australia recognised Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, a unique position in the world. It is understood senior officials in Defence attempted, unsuccessfully, to prevent Colonel Collins acting as General Cosgrove's senior intelligence adviser in the East Timor operation, a post he took up in mid-1999."

"A navy lawyer, Captain Martin Toohey, conducted a review of Colonel Collins's grievances and found his intelligence on Timor was blocked at high levels in the DIO. Captain Toohey said the DIO reported what "the government wants to hear" on East Timor. He found it vindictively and unfairly placed Colonel Collins's name on an Australian Federal Police search warrant looking for leaked intelligence documents, effectively ending his career as an intelligence officer. The names on the AFP warrant was leaked to media. Colonel Collins remains in the military but has not been promoted and is not involved in intelligence, despite Captain Toohey finding he was the army's most outstanding intelligence officer and should be reinstated with an apology."

Yet another chapter in a long running scandal: high level Australian government support for one of the worst dictators and mass murderers of the 20th Century, former Indonesian president Soeharto. It also raises again the fundamental issue of whether 'intelligence' can ever be anything but distorted by political imperatives.

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