16 April 2004

Minister trying to 'discredit' Collins

Despite releasing one report into the Collins affair, the Howard Government is refusing to publish a differing legal review into the case, which backs claims the nation's spy agencies are prone to serving up politically tainted advice.

Opposition parties stepped up calls yesterday for the top-secret Brown review to be released, as John Howard again rejected calls for a royal commission.

According to defence sources, the Brown review provides some support for the Toohey report, which backed Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Collins's claims that an intelligence analysis on East Timor to the Defence Intelligence Organisation in 1998 was essentially ignored because of a 'pro-Jakarta lobby' within the defence community.

Captain Toohey also found Lieutenant-Colonel Collins had been 'disgracefully' treated, and recommended an inquiry be held into broader claims that agencies provides only the intelligence the Government wants to hear.

But the findings were debunked on Wednesday by Defence Minister Robert Hill, when he released a review by Colonel Richard Tracey QC suggesting the Toohey report was flawed. Defence sources confirmed yesterday the Brown review was favourable to Toohey's report and Lieutenant-Colonel Collins's claims - though with reservations.

All that's happening is that the Man of Steel is repeating his usual pattern of cherry-picking reports to make himself and his policies look good. This will not make the continuing intelligence failures into successes or make the allegation about a Jakarta lobby and politicised intelligence go away.

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