This is not (just) about East Timor

ABC TV’s Australian Story tonight features an exclusive interview with top intelligence analyst Lieutenant Colonel Lance Collins. Aside from detailing the power and influence of the pro-Jakarta lobby within the Australian establishment during the late 90s – contributing to a denial of vital intelligence during Australia’s 1999 operation and placing troops in danger – the underlying thesis of Collins is far more disturbing.

Our intelligence services are determined to receive certain answers to certain questions, Collins alleges. “The problem with our intelligence system is it’s the politicians that choose or approve the choosing of bureaucrats that run it,” he says. “The system is very heavily weighted to produce a certain answer that is acceptable to a certain political party and its agenda rather than the nation and its wellbeing.”

A military source tells me that government policy and direction determines the kind of intelligence they are receiving. In other words, the deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan are regarded as necessary and good and intelligence that may provide alternative ways of seeing the situation are dismissed or ignored.

Don’t let our media paint Collins as a figure solely discussing Timor and Indonesia. This is a much bigger story. It directly affects our government’s ability to serve the country’s best interests and politically meddle in a field needing independence and forthright opinions, our intelligence services.

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