31 July 2003

US admits bungling warning, Australia threat downgraded:
The United States today admitted it bungled a security warning that listed Australia as a potential target for al-Qaeda hijackers.

The US Department of Homeland Security said it would revise the advisory, downgrading the threat to Australia.

Australia would still be listed as a possible boarding point for al-Qaeda hijackers and bombers heading to the US but the country would no longer be listed as a potential target.

The reversal came after Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director general Dennis Richardson, Attorney-General Daryl Williams and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer all said the US warning was wrong.

'They clearly did make a mistake, and they've rectified that mistake, or are in the process of rectifying that mistake,' Mr Downer said.

Mr Williams said both the Department of Homeland Security and the US State Department had indicated a correction would be issued.

Early this morning Department of Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said there would be no revision to the warning but later changed his stand to say a revised statement would be forthcoming.

'The US Government had not realised the language it used was not specific enough and would cause confusion in Australia,' the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement, reported by the ABC. "

Remember these people are our closest allies and provided the indubitable intelligence on the basis of which the Howard government committed us to war. If an election had been on the horizon, and there'd been no threat to our travel industry, I wonder if the government would have been as quick to check and verify?

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