WHAT a shemozzle the Haneef affair has been. The puppet master, off vote-chasing in Bali last Friday, must have been livid when he heard that, back home, two of his deputy puppet masters had well and truly dropped the people-terror ball he had entrusted to them.

The good news radiating from the Haneef fiasco is that now we know there are still public servants who have not been brainwashed and bullied by the skulduggery of ruling politicians and lackey departmental heads into abandoning their civic responsibilities (and democratic principles in general) in favour of meekly doing exactly as they are told irrespective of the damage it might do to our nations moral fibre and international standing. We should thank for this the cautious fair-minded performance of members of our legal profession throughout the whole sorry saga.

There’s no doubt that, somewhere along the way, the director of public prosecutions and the chief of the Australia Federal Police made careless mistakes in their handling of Haneef; and that, if Harry Truman’s buck-stops-here philosophy still enjoyed even the remotest respect, the two people most to blame, Attorney General Philip Ruddock and Immigration Kevin Andrews, would by now have tendered their resignations, along with abject mea culpas.

At the time of writing, no such luck. For too long now, we have learned that politicians in positions of responsibility frequently do not act responsibly.

Andrews, having resisted the temptation to deport Haneef as an undesirable alien, had returned his passport and allowed him to depart the country; but he appeared to be giving no ground on the question of his cancelled visa.

Ruddock, in his usual sonorously sinister tone, was fuelling the blame game that emerged between the DPP and AFP chief by saying he would be seeking full reports from each to find out what had gone wrong. Both ministers of the crown seemed to be showing no awareness of how their own loose tongues had contributed to the disastrous sequence of events.

In itself, the blame-game sidelight to an incident internationally damaging to Australia poses a question: were those two beleaguered public servants really into damage control for the sake of their own organisations or were they puffing up a smokescreen to distract attention from the real villains in yet another security debacle for Australia? If we ever find out it will be sheer luck.

What we do know and the Haneef affair has been instrumental in providing us with this knowledge is that, after a decade in which hardworking, diligent public servants have found themselves increasingly constrained in their freedom to do their jobs properly (and to preserve their own integrity), these same people are at last sensing that enough is enough and that the grip of the man who has become their dictator is no longer absolute.

Public servants are once again reminding themselves that their loyalty is to the interests of their nation and their people, not to a motley band of power-hungry politicians who have repeatedly made it obvious that they will stop at nothing in (i) their ruthless cowing of voters into supporting their strong leadership; and (ii) their gagging, by regulation and law, of any public servant in possession of information that could be harmful to the government.

Mind you, dont get too optimistic that whistleblowers will be getting a fairer hearing than has been the case in recent years. Were all asked to dob in perceived suspiciously terroristic activity, yet were all discouraged from exposing corrupt and illegal practices within government and the bureaucracy.

There may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel of autocratic blackness that has enveloped our nation this past decade. But dont get too excited that the darkness will be any more than slightly diluted by a more humanitarian regime should the autocratic Kevin Rudd manage to wrest control from the ruling forces of darkness.

What a terrible tragedy it was, on Setember 11, 2001, that the Anglo West (with the possible exception of Canada) was ruled by such incompetents, by such opportunistic idiots that they did exactly what must have been beyond Osama bin Ladens wildest dreams: they taught their subject electorates to be frightened of a new threat that, in fact, was as old as mankind.

Terrorism has always been with us, and will always be with us. But until it happened on United States soil, inflicted by aliens, you might be forgiven for thinking that it had never existed.

Now, in 2007, they have all been rumbled. First it was Tony Blair. Then it was George W. Bush. Now our own John Howard is looking increasingly like the fear monger I have long believed him to be. His deft touch in manipulating our largely trusting and gullible society is showing growing signs of deserting him. May he and his henchmen soon no longer wield the authority that has given them the power to have us quaking before mainly perceived threats to our way of life. Eternal vigilance will never stop terror coming to our shores, but barefaced aggression towards people who have never thought of harming us certainly will.

Bob Hawkins

What we do know and the Haneef affair has been instrumental in providing us with this knowledge is that, after a decade in which hardworking, diligent public servants have found themselves increasingly constrained in their freedom to do their jobs properly (and to preserve their own integrity), these same people are at last sensing that enough is enough and that the grip of the man who has become their dictator is no longer absolute.