Duncan Lewis told to say “Be nice to Muslims”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says it is “appropriate” for ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis to “speak out” if the debate on counter-terrorism in Australia is concerning him.
The Australian has revealed Mr Lewis phoned Coalition politicians to urge them to use the soothing language favoured by Malcolm Turnbull in their public discussion of Islam.
In what is thought to be an unprecedented intervention in politics by a head of the spy agency, Mr Lewis is said to have told the MPs that their more robust comments risked becoming a danger to national security.
Mr Lewis has been defended by Labor and Greens MPs today and by the Foreign Minister.
Well, you have it right there. If the ALP and the Greens defend Duncan then he's plain wrong. It smacks of Turnbull directing Lewis to talk to politicians with the implication being that Abbott is wrong to say Islam needs a reformation and is therefore dangerous.
I would like to know whether he initiated the calls or was directed to do so.
I suspect the latter.
Disclosure: In a previous life I served with Duncan in the West and hold him in high regard.
Turnbull denies instructing Lewis to phone MPs and says that just two MPs, Andrew Hastie and Dan Tehan, have been called by Mr Lewis.
In a thinly veiled reference to predecessor Tony Abbott, who wrote a column last week calling for a blunter debate about Islam, Mr Turnbull said Mr Lewis "doesn't just write" about terrorism.
"There are some people who like to write about terrorism," he said. "There are some people who like to express theories about terrorism – theories about religions and so forth. That's fine, they're entitled to do that.
"Duncan Lewis has actually fought against terrorism. He has led soldiers against terrorism. He is defending Australia today. He knows what he's talking about."
Abbott just doesn't write about terrorism either. He was PM for a part of the War against Terror and actually realizes we are in a war and that the people we are fighting will not respond to diplomacy but need to be defeated on the battle field.
Until the West does that the war will continue.