When Scott Morrison was Minister for Immigration he very firmly stated that speaking about operational matters was a no-no.
“That goes to operational matters that, whether they affect current or future operational activity, you will not be getting commentary from this podium or that podium either way on those matters. We want to make it crystal clear: operational and tactical issues that relate to current and prospective operations… will not be the subject of public commentary from these podiums.”
Lieutenant General Campbell advised that the secrecy was necessary “to prevent the potential for messaging to people smugglers with regards to changes to procedures or our tactical activities that might evolve over time”.
Personally, I would have thought that loudly advertising every interception would have had a deterrent effect on the people-smuggling trade but I’m not a politician.
Apparently, this same logic does not apply to terrorism. We are filled in on every detail, often as it happens.
Television crews are invited along on raids. If they don’t make it in time, the police provide them with footage.
People who have not been charged with anything at all are named and their homes and families filmed.
We are told what evidence has been collected. It often gets paraded on the nightly news.
We are told how explosives enter the country, what the suspects planned to do with them and how.
We are told in detail about the inadequacies in our customs and border protection and what new measures might be trialled, at the same time as we are told there is no possible way we can scrutinise all mail and cargo or patrol our entire coastline.
Every day we are told more and more. What chemicals to use. Where you can get them. How to build a bomb. How to smuggle it.
We even advertise who dobbed the suspects in and what raised their suspicion.
If you were a terrorist network, or even just a disturbed teenager with bad thoughts, you just got given a hell of a lot more information and ideas.
Even if you can’t make a bomb, our politicians are keen to point out how simple it is – all you need is a knife, or a car, or some acid.
The aim of terrorism is to create fear and mistrust – something that our politicians and media have willingly aided and abetted.
They give the terrorists the attention they crave, the publicity they need to reach potential new recruits.
They victimise, alienate and isolate innocent people – Yassmin Abdel-Magied for example. Would she have been hounded out of her home if she wasn’t a vocal Muslim?
The police and military didn’t used to be used for advertising but now they are paraded before the cameras whenever the politicians need a distraction. Operational matters are now broadcast on the nightly news and described in detail to the Murdoch press who always go that step further in promoting hatred and blame.
Stop disclosing every last detail of foiled terrorist plots. Stop giving them publicity. Stop disclosing sources. Stop telling the media how security was breached and what new measures you are implementing.
Stop using national security as a political plaything.