Monday, October 21, 2002

Five men meet to plan a robbery. They take care to never speak on the phone, never meet is a public place. Only the leader and deputy know the target, and all the details. They may or may not be getting outside funding and technical assistance, but that is only known to the leader. The fact they know each other is not known to the police. Some of the group are not known criminals.

On the day of the robbery, they meet at a new location, possibly a hotel room. There, the leader explains the final details of the robbery, and details each member’s role. They do not leave each other’s company for the next several hours as they rehearse and refine the plan.

Finally, the group leaves the hotel and makes their way to the location of a freight yard which, unknown to the police, is handling the movement of a large number of high-end microprocessors. The group shoots five security guards and a driver. They make their getaway without being seen by any survivors.

Are the police to blame? Was there a failure of intelligence?

Just as it is axiomatic that “anyone can kill anyone”, police will also tell you that perfect crimes take place all the time. They are committed by persons unknown to police, and often they are virtually untraceable. Any cop will tell you that for prevention they rely on slip-ups, sellouts, informers, mistakes and surveillance. But everyone of these involves some link to the perpetrators. If the security of the gang is tight, they make no mistakes, and the members are not previously known, then there is no way for police to prevent the crime. The focus switches to detection and apprehension, because that’s all that is left.

To expect any security force to prevent a crime prior to commission is a tall order. Add good gang security, low levels of required technical expertise and unlimited targeting opportunities, and it becomes an impossibility for all intents and purposes.

Now consider that the Bali bombing took place in a third world country, with poor identification procedures, no border control, endemic corruption of law enforcement and public officials, and may have been committed by outsiders travelling to Indonesia just for the attack, and leaving after. In a country where Australian security agents stand out in race, language, even height. Where political sensitivities reduce the ability to run operations and informers.

Now do you see that even asking the question “Where did Australian security fall down?” is orders of magnitude more complex than anything Greens Senator Bob Brown might consider?

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