Secret police business

monis mugLate in 2014, Sydney’s CBD was “locked down”, to use a term we’ll just have to get used to, as the “irritant” Man Monis, to use prime-time Muslim Waleed Aly’s preferred description of his more ardent co-religionists, took control of the Lindt coffee shop and irritated many people until two of them were dead. All these months later, the NSW Coroner continues attempts to determine for the record what happened, what went wrong and who, if anyone, must shoulder the blame, if any. The testimony so far has been fascinating, not least that the Army offered to send in a highly trained assault team but was warned off by NSW Police, who preferred to retain control of the situation. The word “control” is used advisedly, as the only person in control for 17 grim hours was Monis.

Sooner or later, given the glacial pace of the court system, the coronial finding will be handed down and we might all have a better notion of what transpired in Martin Place on that December day. Then again, maybe not. According to the ABC, police are prepared to explain their conduct of the operation, but initially sought to explain themselves only behind closed doors:

Counsel assisting Jeremy Gormly SC had said there was a need to balance protecting police methodology with reporting the siege to the public…

“There has arisen an issue about the degree to which some aspects of the evidence have to be dealt with,” he said.

“There seems to be a general acceptance that police adopt policies to deal with violence and possible terrorist activity that must be kept secret.

“We know for example there are lone wolves like Monis … and there are others who aren’t lone wolves.

“They work in groups that function with a greater capacity, degree of planning than was demonstrated by Monis.”

To take Gormly at his word, it would have jeopardised national security were future terrorists to learn more of “police methodology”.

Some, er, methodology you’ve got there, officer.

— roger franklin

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