17 March 2004

Keelty retreats on terrorism remarks

Earlier today, Mr Downer told reporters: 'I think (Mr Keelty) is just expressing ... a view which reflects a lot of the propaganda we're getting from al-Qaeda.'

The AFP chief has been at odds with Prime Minister John Howard who insists that Australian involvement in the war has not heightened the risk of a terror attack.

Late today the commissioner moved to douse the political fire by saying his comments had been taken out of context.

Mr Downer tonight said Mr Keelty was doing a wonderful job in the fight against terrorism.

'He is an outstanding Australian, he will go down in history as one of the great police commissioners,' he said.

'I certainly have no intention of reflecting on him and his professionalism.'

Bad enough that the Howard government seems to have no sense of shame. Now they even seem to lack a sense of the ridiculous. Downer's propaganda allegation is unambiguous. He should withdraw it.

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