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Why Australia needs an intelligence inquiry

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This post is part of the Snowden WikiLeaks and the future of espionage debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

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11 April 2014 16:24


This post is part of the Snowden WikiLeaks and the future of espionage debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

I've already had the opportunity to argue that listening in on the wife of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (and the subsequent defence of these actions) is clear evidence that our intelligence people have lost that essential quality, their sense of judgment.

I was struck by Allan Behm's argument that revising the law will fix these problems. In everyday life, the law sets the perimeters on our actions, but we all have to constantly exercise judgment above and beyond the requirements of the law. Society can't function without the extra constraints imposed by good sense. International relations are just the same.

There are other judgmental issues. Is the intelligence valuable enough to justify both the cost and the risk of being caught out? Is there a cheaper or better way of gathering the information, say through conventional diplomacy?

We need an external inquiry to establish how our intelligence community lost its judgment and what ongoing supervision will be needed to make up for its demonstrated lack of common sense.

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