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Margot O'Neill, Lateline.

PM backs Guantanamo military commissions

PM backs Guantanamo military commissions

Reporter: Narda Gilmore

TONY JONES: The Prime Minister says he still believes Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David
Hicks will get a fair trial, despite claims the US military commission process is rigged.
Australia's top military lawyer added to the debate today saying he has serious misgivings about
whether detainees will be treated fairly. The drawn-out case of David Hicks is new causing concern
amongst some Liberal MPs who say they'll consider raising the issue directly with John Howard next
week. From Canberra, Narda Gilmore reports.

NARDA GILMORE: Australian David Hicks has been held at Guantanamo Bay for more than
three-and-a-half years. He's one of many detainees set to be tried before the controversial US
military commission. Yesterday, the ABC revealed two military prosecutors wrote to the Pentagon
last year claiming the commissions were rigged to favour guilty verdicts. Australia's top defence
lawyer also has serious concerns about the process.

PAUL WILLEE, QC, SENIOR MILITARY LAWYER: Most lawyers who have seen the process and the changes in
international law since the end of the Second World War were very surprised to find that this
almost, if not thoroughly, discredited process had been revived in this form by the Americans.

NARDA GILMORE: But the Government has had an assurance from Washington that the concerns of the
military prosecutors were properly investigated.

ALEXANDER DOWNER, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: This was a serious investigation into these allegations
and they have cleared the Military Commission process of the allegations made in these emails.

NARDA GILMORE: The case of David Hicks was discussed when John Howard visited Washington last
month. He remains confident in the military commission process.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: We went to very great lengths about a year, 18 months ago, to secure
changes in the military commission procedure and we were satisfied and we remain satisfied that the
changes made in the military commission procedure would produce a fair outcome.

NARDA GILMORE: The Opposition is not convinced.

KEVIN RUDD, OPPOSITION FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESMAN: It's time for the Government to take action on
this, to ensure that this individual is provided with a fair trial. All Australians would want that
to happen.

NARDA GILMORE: Some of John Howard's own Liberal colleagues are becoming increasingly concerned
about the Hicks case. Some MPs are considering raising the issue directly with the Prime Minister
when Parliament resumes next week. John Howard says people tend to forget that David Hicks is
facing serious charges and can't be tried under Australian law.

JOHN HOWARD: The consequence of simply saying, "Well, he should come home," would be that he would
go free without answering in any way for those allegations.

NARDA GILMORE: Captain Paul Willee says there are other more appropriate options.

PAUL WILLEE: The best that could happen would be that the process was turned over to an independent
civilian court with all the normal safeguards that an accused person has.

NARDA GILMORE: John Howard says his Government will continue to push for David Hicks' Military
Commission trial to be brought on as quickly as possible. Narda Gilmore, Lateline.

There's been more turmoil within the New South Wales Government with another senior minister
resigning. The Treasurer and Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge says his decision was entirely his own
and was not brought on by pressure from within the party. Meanwhile, the Premier-designate Morris
Iemma made a major announcement, abolishing a controversial property tax which had been blamed for
driving investors interstate.

I announce today that the vendor duty will be abolished. Effective for all contracts exchanged on
or after today.

Mr Iemma is to be sworn in as Premier tomorrow.

Department reinstates Seidler's citizenship

Department reinstates Seidler's citizenship

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

TONY JONES: Australia's Immigration Department moved today to reinstate the citizenship of the
high-profile architect Harry Seidler after it emerged that it had been cancelled by the Department
in 1986. In the ensuing 19 years Mr Seidler was awarded an Order of Australia, and travelled on an
Australian passport. He only learned of the problem when he registered a new home address in Sydney
last month. Tom Iggulden reports.

TOM IGGULDEN: Over the years, Harry Seidler's had much in the way of official recognition. From
medals for his architecture, which has changed the face of Australian cities, to his appointment as
companion to the Order of Australia. He became an Australian citizen almost 50 years ago, after
fleeing Nazi occupation of his homeland, Austria. But after applying to change his address on the
electoral role some weeks ago, he and wife Penelope were in for a surprise.

PENELOPE SEIDLER, WIFE: On the information currently available to me I am not satisfied that you
are entitled to enrolment because you are not an Australian citizen. When I actually opened it I
read it once and read it again and I was staggered, absolutely staggered.

TOM IGGULDEN: Apparently, the confusion was caused by the Austrian Government reinstating his
citizenship 20 years ago as a gesture of goodwill. Eighty-two-year-old Harry Seidler's in hospital
recovering from a severe stroke, leaving his wife to sort out the mess.

PENELOPE SEIDLER: A lady has phoned me. She phoned me last night - I suppose when the media got on
to her - and twice today, and the second time was about 2:00pm, to tell me that they had made their
determination and that Harry was now an Australian citizen.

TOM IGGULDEN: In the 47 years that Harry Seidler's been in Australia, he's hardly kept a low
profile. He's designed many of Sydney's landmark buildings and been embroiled in some of the city's
landmark controversies. But none of that came to the attention of the Immigration Department or the
Australian Electoral Commission.

PENELOPE SEIDLER: Well it's rather perplexing. It doesn't inspire one with confidence.

TOM IGGULDEN: And there were plenty who'd agree with her.

ALAN JONES, BROADCASTER: They're morons and they've just behaved as morons. What more could you
expect? Harry Seidler's reputation and Australianness will live long after the no-hopers in the
Immigration Department have been forgotten.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Immigration Department has promised to fix the problem that led to the mistake.
Tom Iggulden, Lateline.

the funeral of King Fahd has just get under way. Thousands of Saudis have gathered to pay their
respects at a mosque in the centre of the capital. They've been joined by world leaders, including
the French President Jacques Chirac, Australia's Governor-General Major Michael Jeffery and Prince
Charles. After a simple ceremony, King Fahd will be laid to rest in an unmarked grave, in keeping
with Saudi Arabia's strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

Astronaut to make repairs to shuttle

Astronaut to make repairs to shuttle

Reporter: Norman Hermant

TONY JONES: NASA will be holding its breath tonight as an astronaut walks in space to make running
repairs to the shuttle for the first time. The US Space Agency says it anticipates no problems in
the maintenance mission, but admits if it doesn't work that it could mean the shuttle Discovery
will not be able to return to Earth safely. Norman Hermant reports.

NORMAN HERMANT: As the shuttle Discovery orbits in space, back on Earth, mission control will be
watching this latest space walk anxiously. Tonight, the astronaut who will perform some very
specialised maintenance said he was ready.

STEVE ROBINSON, DISCOVERY ASTRONAUT: Well, like most kinds of repairs, it's conceptually very
simple, but it has to be done very, very carefully.

NORMAN HERMANT: This is what is causing the latest problem - a thin sheet of material called gap
filler used to keep the shuttle's heat-resistant tiles apart. Two of those gap fillers are sticking
out and that could cause big problems on re-entry when the lack of a smooth surface could mean a
deadly heat build-up.

JOE PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: It could exceed the temperature capacity of tiles towards the back of
the shuttle. That could cause a burn-through and that could lead to the destruction of the vehicle.

NORMAN HERMANT: To fix it, astronaut Steve Robinson will be carried underneath the shuttle on its
mechanical arm, something NASA has never tried before. Then he'll either pull the gap fillers out
or saw them off. It's the latest hiccup in a mission that started with a repeat of the problem that
doomed the shuttle Columbia - foam insulation again broke loose on launch. Everyone, including
Australia's Andy Thomas, thought that problem had been fixed.

ANDY THOMAS, ASTRONAUT: We were disappointed. We were surprised, too. We were very surprised. It
was very unexpected. The biggest emotion was one of disappointment that all of that work that had
been done to make sure that foam would not come off had failed to address one critical area where
foam was liberated and it was a great surprise.

NORMAN HERMANT: Eyebrows were raised earlier when one of the top shuttle officials had this to say
about the ramifications of the insulation problem.

WAYNE HALE, SHUTTLE PROGRAM MANAGER: The Columbia actually made us realise that we had been playing
Russian roulette with the shuttle crews.

NORMAN HERMANT: Tonight, Andy Thomas was asked if he knew that was the case would he have flown on
four previous shuttle flights?

ANDY THOMAS: Naturally, there's a lot of risks associated with space flights. That's true of this
mission. It's true of every mission that's preceded it. And it will be true of every mission that
follows. Hopefully we can learn to properly mitigate that risk and that's what is one of the aims
of this mission is that we are trying to achieve. Yes, I would have flown those missions. I've
enjoyed space flight. It's a really unique experience. I feel very strongly about it and I would
like to keep doing it.

NORMAN HERMANT: Tonight's repairs could be crucial for the future of the shuttle program.
Discovery's crew has already had success fixing a gyroscope on this mission. NASA hopes tonight's
space walk has similar results. Norman Hermant, Lateline.

Former CIA worker analyses bin Laden threat

Former CIA worker analyses bin Laden threat

Reporter: Tony Jones

TONY JONES: Well, only yesterday it was reported that one of the key members of the conspiracy to
bomb the Australian Embassy in Jakarta last September has claimed links with Al Qaeda. The alleged
bomber, Rois, claims that the $10,000 which funded the operation came directly from Osama bin Laden
and that Australia was targeted because it was an "American lacky" which was leaning on Muslims,
especially in Iraq. If true, bin Laden's influence is still profound in our own region. So does
Osama bin Laden still command global terrorism or is he now a symbol emulated by thousands of
would-be Jihadies in a global insurgency? Well, tonight we'll ask one of the world's foremost
experts on Al Qaeda. Michael Scheuer worked for the CIA for 22 years, eight of them as chief of the
bin Laden unit, which he set up in 1996. He resigned from the CIA late last year after becoming
frustrated with political and bureaucratic inaction on intelligence indicating that bin Laden was
going to kill thousands of Americans if he was not stopped. He joins us now in Washington. Michael
Scheuer, thanks for being there.


TONY JONES: Now just like in Washington there's been a fierce debate in this country over whether
the war in Iraq has made Australia more vulnerable to a terrorist attack. What's your assessment?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, it's hard for me to imagine that there's any doubt about that, sir. You
know, Australia was really the first of America's allies to be attacked at Bali. Bin Laden has been
very clear with his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, that those people supporting the US in Afghanistan
and Iraq would be hit and I think we can certainly see that right up through the bombings in London
earlier in July this year that Al Qaeda and its allies have gone down the list of people who have
supported America. So, I don't know why that's still open to debate, but it seems to be still a
question in some people's mind.

TONY JONES: It's open to debate in both countries, isn't it? Donald Rumsfeld seems to deny it as

MICHAEL SCHEUER; Yeah, Mr Rumsfeld is sort of lost in space on this issue. The facts are so clear
and irrefutable. As in almost always the case with Osama bin Laden he matches his words to his
deeds. And to continue to ignore that, either in Australia or in America, is to proceed in the
world at our own peril.

TONY JONES: Alright. You've actually described the invasion of Iraq as a "Godsend" to Osama bin
Laden. Tell us why you think that?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Yeah, if bin Laden was a Christian, it was the Christmas present he always wanted
but never expected from his parents. It basically validated all of the things he had said about
America over the past decade. The Americans, he said, want our oil. The Americans will destroy any
Arab government that is a threat to Israel. The Americans want to destroy Islam and occupy our
sanctities and of course Iraq is the second holiest place in Islam. And besides validating what he
had said, the invasion of Iraq in the Islamic world is viewed as an invasion by the infidels of
Islamic territory. And so, the view that there should be a Jihad against the Americans is no longer
just what our president calls the "lunatic fringe". It comes from very mainstream Muslims. Muslim
leaders, Muslim clerics. So Iraq is really - I think in the future will be seen as a turning point
- and not a good one - in the war against Islamic extremism.

TONY JONES: Alright. Here is what the Australian Prime Minister John Howard said in London just
after the second wave of terrorist bombings there. He said, "Australia was a terrorist target long
before the operation in Iraq and all the evidence suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way
of life." You've also heard that argument in Washington, haven't you?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Ad nauseam, sir. If that was true, Al Qaeda and its allies would be a lethal
nuisance, rather than a threat to our survival as a great power. The only way you can come around
to say that, and say that repeatedly, is to ignore all of the evidence that the intelligence
services and the media, for that matter, have produced in the Western world. The idea that they're
attacking our way of life because we wear blue jeans and we have R-rated movies and we have
elections is just so much hooey. They are whistling past the graveyard if they think that's the
answer to our enemy's motivation.

TONY JONES: Alright. Let me go back to the rest of Prime Minister Howard's argument because it is
more complex, more developed than what I've just stated. He also makes the point that when 88
Australians were murdered in the Bali bombings, as you referred to earlier, bin Laden said that
Australians have been targeted because of this country's role in liberating East Timor. What the
Prime Minister is effectively saying is that bin Laden will always come up with some excuse and
that no-one is suggesting that we shouldn't have been involved in the liberation of East Timor.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, whether or not we should have been involved in it, that's kind of our
decision, but the idea that bin Laden is just looking for excuses is surely incorrect. In the
Muslim mind in the Islamic mind, the Americans and the Australians in the UN ripped a part of an
Islamic country away from its owner, if you will. East Timor was part, in Islamic view, of the
Islamic nation of Indonesia and certainly it's viewed as an aggression against Islam, just as the
invasion of Iraq was. So, unfortunately our leaders have not paid enough attention to the
consistency of the argumentation, not only of bin Laden, but of other Islamist leaders, sir. This
is not a question of...

TONY JONES: Alright. Go ahead. Finish your point.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: I was just going to say, sir, that this is not a question of evilness on the part
of the West or depravity that these policies were made to cause a war with Islam. That's certainly
not the case. But a war we have and the motivation comes from the policies, not from the way we

TONY JONES: There is another theory that bin Laden deliberately targeted New York in the September
11 attacks to somehow draw the West and the US in particular into a front-on conflict with Islam.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, that's again if you go back to the caucus of bin Laden's writings and
speeches, that's clearly the case. Since '96 he's been very eager to get America to Afghanistan
because he thought that the Taliban and Al Qaeda would treat America the same way they treated the
Soviets there. I think he must be extraordinarily frustrated that the great bulk of the Western
forces in Afghanistan don't come out of their Garrisons.

TONY JONES: Looks like we've actually lost that line to Washington. We'll try and get it back but
in the meantime, we'll have to move on. Now I'm please to announce we have that satellite back to
Washington. Sorry for the interruption Mr Scheuer.


TONY JONES: I was actually going to come to you with - one of the points you appear to be making is
that you seem to be ascribing to Osama bin Laden's legitimate motives.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Certainly in the Islamic world, the perception that bin Laden describes of Islam
being under attack are entirely legitimate. That doesn't mean that they're accurate or true or that
we need to sympathise or empathise with him. But the broad perception that Islam is under attack by
the United States and its allies is there and until we've assessed that as the motivation of our
enemy, it seems very unlikely to me that we'll be able to defeat the enemy. You know, it's the old
Sun Tzu saying from centuries ago, "Know your enemy and you can defeat him."

TONY JONES: You have referred to bin Laden as a very worthy enemy. In fact, on one occasion I think
you even referred to him as a "great man". Can you tell us in what context you believe he's a great

MICHAEL SCHEUER: He's indisputably a great man with affecting history. Not with a positive
connotation, of course. To live in America these days, to try to get on an aeroplane, to see our
budget deficit really spiralling, to try to take your children into a museum without having them
searched it's almost to me unbelievable that people don't recognise that he's changed the course of
history in the last decade. Certainly for America, it's a hard thing to deny.

TONY JONES: Now, I appreciate that there are subtleties here because after all you actually led
efforts to assassinate him in the late 1990s and essentially only stopped, as I understand it, by
CIA lawyers.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, we didn't try to assassinate him. What we tried to do, sir, is to do two
different things. First, to either capture him and take him to a place where he could face justice
or to provide the US military with precise targeting locations so the military could kill him. If
you look at the 9/11 Commission report here in the United States, we provided that information to
the Clinton Administration eight to 10 times and it was never acted on. By all rights, sir, if
there was fairness in the world bin Laden today would be just a smouldering memory.

TONY JONES: Indeed, there was one occasion where you had him targeted for a cruise missile attack,
but it was called off, I believe, because there were members of the royal family from the United
Arab Emirates being entertained by him at the time.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, in fact the princes were entertaining bin Laden. It was the other way about.
And it was more than just cancelled. The National Security Council warned the government of the
United Arab Emirates at the time. Clearly they put a prince above the safety of Americans and
that's pretty much traditional in American - the governing elite tends to think more about what the
world thinks of us than actually protecting Americans.

TONY JONES: I gather you'd have pressed the button without any qualms?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Sir, the world is lousy with princes and I'm a Democrat with a small D. He would
have been yesterday's news.

TONY JONES: Do you still believe that it is close to inevitable that bin Laden will obtain and use
a nuclear weapon on US soil?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Sir, I think it's pretty close to a certainty for several reasons. First, he has
religious authoriser to do it which is for him the most important thing. Second, we've known for
the better part of a decade he has a very professional organisation made up of physicists,
engineers, technical experts, trying to purchase such a weapon and making sure his organisation
doesn't get scammed in the process. But most importantly during the presidential election last year
we became aware that the Soviet nuclear arsenal wouldn't be under control until 2010. And as kind
of a coda to that we know of course that the Soviets have told us they've up to 100 small nuclear
devices that aren't accounted for, as they say. I think we would be silly not to assume that at
some point, whether it is bin Laden's organisation or another, those devices will fall into the
hands of people we don't want to have them.

TONY JONES: Do you still believe he has those resources? We continually hear from the President
that Al Qaeda has been decimated.

MICHAEL SCHEUER; Yeah. Well, that's another I think whistling past the graveyard statement, sir.
What we have really is a body count. When the President and Mr Rumsfeld or your Prime Minister say
that we've killed two-thirds of Al Qaeda's leadership since 9/11, that is true and it's also
irrelevant. Al Qaeda is an organisation that's tremendously supple and spends a lot of time
training people to succeed leaders they expect to be killed because they're always fighting a more
powerful enemy. So we have a lot of dead or captured Al Qaeda fighters and that does not
necessarily mean that the organisation has been destroyed. In fact, the secondary series of attacks
against America's allies seems to contradict the idea that Al Qaeda has lost its functionality.

TONY JONES: Let me ask you this - it's obviously the critical question in a way. If Osama bin Laden
is, as you suggest he is, completely rational in his motives, how can that threat ever be
neutralised? What can be done to neutralise Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the general global threat
of insurgency?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, for America the key lies in two-fold process. First, we have to kill as many
of the first generation of Al Qaeda people as we can. We need to unleash our military and our
intelligence services to really treat these people as they deserve, which is to be sent to their
maker. But the second key for America is disengagement from the Middle East. We have to find a way
to back away from being so prominent in that area. We're under attack because of our policies. Our
policies put us in the way of Al Qaeda and the other Islamists doing what they want to do most of
all, which is to destroy the police states that rule the Islamic world, whether it's the al-Sauds,
Mubarak in the Egyptians or the Algerian generals Algeria. The road to safety for the West is
disengaging - not continuing to pursue policies that are the motivational factor that empowers our

TONY JONES: Very briefly because disengagement would obviously have big implications for the Middle
East and possible Taliban-style theorocracies set up across the Middle East. So that won't happen,
we suspect. So do you see any end to this at all?

MICHAEL SCHEUER; Not right at the moment. Certainly America will continue until it's defeated. If
it continues to pursue this course of believing that they hate our liberties and they hate our
freedoms. People that are fighting the al-Sauds and the Mubaraks as well as us clearly don't hate
freedom or liberty. They are looking for something like that in their own cultural context.

TONY JONES: OK, Michael Scheuer, we'll have to leave you there. We're just about out of time. Thank
you very much for coming to talk to us tonight.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: It was an honour, sir. I appreciate it.

talk to us tonight.

It was an honour, sir. I appreciate it.

To the markets now. The All Ordinaries finished in the black today, boosted by positive retail
sales figures. Property stocks were in demand, after the abolition of that NSW vendor tax. The
major retailers gained ground. And energy stocks continued to climb with the price of oil pushing
past $61 US overnight. In the region: Now to the weather. And that's all for this evening. If you'd
like to look back at tonight's interview or review any of Lateline's stories or transcripts, you
can visit our website at: I'll be back tomorrow night, so please join me
then. Goodnight. Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International.