David Hicks

When the news came through that David Hicks had pleaded guilty to a charge of providing material support for terrorists (as well as having many allegations dropped), there was a feeling amongst at least some MPs that this would neutralise the significant political problems which Hicks’ situation had been causing for the Australian government.

Indeed, the new Minister for Justice, Senator David Johnston, gave what seemed to me an extraordinary response to a question in the Senate that “To the extent that Senator Brown raises the question as to what has gone before, it would seem rather redundant in the face of an admission which has been afforded to the court.”

I interpreted this as words to the effect that “he’s pleaded guilty now, so all those allegations and concerns about due process don’t matter any more”. I must say my initial feeling was that a guilty plea wasn’t very informative. After all, a key purpose of show trials is to gain a guilty plea or a conviction. In the absence of a fair trial, such a result in itself doesn’t tell us a lot either way about the guilt of the accused.

Whilst the guilty plea has changed the political dynamic (as well as dramatically improved the situation for David Hicks and his family), if anything the public and media reaction seems to have got even more incredulous.

To quote Malcolm Fraser,

Both governments will say: Hicks has had his day in court, he pleaded guilty, he has been justly treated. What we really need to concentrate on and to understand is that Hicks did not have a day in a court. He had a day in a fraudulent tribunal, controlled by a special law, which the Americans would never dare to apply their own people.

GetUp! placed a large advertisement in The Australian today (reproduced below), which quotes some scathing assessments from Australian media outlets.

From The Australian: “There is an unmistakable stench of political expediency to the terms of the plea bargain, in particular the extraordinary 12 month gag order”.
From The Age: “Has Hicks’ plea validated the existence of Guantanamo Bay or the process by which its detainees have been treated? No. Has justice been served? No.
From the Sydney Morning Herald: “Yet even Hicks’ most vehement detreactors cannot be satisfied with such a ‘trial’, its outcome determined in high-level backroom deals”.

Even more interesting has been the response in the USA, which of course can’t be accused of being overly parochial or anti-American on this issue. The Age reported that “outcry has erupted in the US over the secret deal struck by a Bush Administration appointee to slash David Hicks’ jail term to just nine more months”.

Here’s a few examples:

From an LA Times correspondent

The first war-crimes trial here drew outrage Saturday from legal experts who de- scribed it as a perversion of the rule of law that may fatally discredit the Pentagon’s already disparaged handling of terror suspects.

From Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish:

If you think this was in any way a legitimate court process, you’re smoking something even George Michael would pay a lot of money for. It was a political deal, revealing the circus that the alleged Gitmo court system really is. For good measure, Hicks has a gag-order imposed so that he will not be able to speak of his alleged torture and abuse until after Howard faces re-election. Yes, we live in a banana republic. It certainly isn’t a country ruled by law. It is ruled by one man and his accomplice.

and The Washington Monthly, which starts with a quote also used by GetUp!

To say that it stinks is to do a disservice to rotten garbage.

Apropos of nothing in particular, this case is a good demonstration of what the Bush administration has cost us. The fact is that the whole issue of enemy combatants in an age of transnational terrorism is a really difficult one. This isn’t a conventional war where we can just release prisoners after it’s over, nor is it like domestic crime, where the state has the power to coercively collect evidence and demand testimony. It’s a helluva hard problem, and under normal circumstances we’d all be well advised to cut the administration some slack as they try to figure out how to deal with it.

And we might, if it weren’t for what this administration has done. But the combination of torture and “coercive interrogation,” including rendition of high-value prisoners; widespread imprisonment based on evidence the Pentagon knows to be blatantly fabricated; and the adminstration’s almost fanatical resistance to even minimal standards of review, has convinced even sympathetic observers that the Bush administration isn’t struggling to find a solution to a hard problem. They just want to keep people locked up forever — unless it happens to be politically inconvenient, of course. Is it any wonder virtually no one trusts us on this subject any longer?

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59 Comments

  1. Thanks for the analysis Andrew, and the US media comment.

    You’re completely right about the political fix being put in, and the gag order can ONLY be political in purpose.

    Still I feel relieved that David Hicks will be sprung from Guantanamo and the torture regime there.

    I suspect that many Australians will ease up on their concerns now, and that while the political classes will continue to address the issues, the government has innocculated itself somewhat on the Hicks front.

    However I also suspect that every voter in this country is now solidly convinced that no lie, no ploy, and no cynical manipulation is beyond the brutish toadies of the Coalition Cabinet.

    John Howard equals kiss of death for democracy.

  2. Andrew Bartlett:

    On capture, David Hicks, because of his recent experiences, was an intelligence treasure and he had the potential to be of tremendous value in training members of the Australian Defence Force if he could have been encouraged to do so …. regardless of his background and attitudes.

    Now, after more than five years of ill-treatment by a bunch of American amateurs and born-losers, he has lost all his potential military value to Australia.

    He should have been handed over immediately to the Australians and brought straight back to Australia for interrogation by competent professional Australian investigators [sorry, that one lengthy chat with a couple of AFP officers was only a preliminary] and, if charges were thought necessary, then been dealt with by Australia’s OWN impartial, comprehensive, civilized and long-established judicial system. Despite the incredible waffle by Ruddock, I still believe Hicks could have faced certain charges in Australia ….

    But no …. the U S military showed they had such contempt for their Australian allies that they could not even trust us with one single prisoner.

    This whole scandal has been an egregious insult by the Bush regime to the sovereignty of the Australia …. and to the soldiers of the Australian Defence Force..

    Everyone:
    Just like to remind you that David Hicks is not home yet …. and as the proverb goes “There’s many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip”

  3. Actually not an piece of useful information has been gained from anyone in Gitmo but people still aren’t asking the proper questions.
    1. The interrogation in May 2002 with the AFP that has been kept secret until Monday night clearly shows that they were more exasperated with a nong than facing a. “terr’ist” yet they have kept silent.
    b. who in the government saw that report and is this why they kept saying he couldn’t be charged here?
    c. is this another example of our corrupted feds like we saw in the CMI where they were training and paying the INP to scuttle refugee boats and setting up phoney people smuggling scams?
    d. Corby has always said the feds had information about her that they were holding back – could she be right?
    e. These are the same feds who acted outside the law to turn young Australian’s into the Indonesians knowing they could be shot.

    We need a Royal Commission into the feds I think as they have gone rogue with Howard and Ruddock’s blessing.

    Then the other question – why are those few people in that Gitmo prison the only ones in the world being subjected to this lunacy when there have been hundreds of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered, Afghanistan is again in the grip of the Taliban and Karzai is trying to make peace with them and the former head of the Taliban is at Yale university.

  4. It’s not right for the supporters of a fair trial for David Hicks to say on one hand that he did not receive a fair trial, but to then treat him as if he was “A little bit guilty of something”.

    The fact is that (as far as we can ascertain) Hicks broke no Afghan law, Australian law, American law, International law or any Law of war. He only ‘broke’ an invalid law that was written 5 years later. That makes him an INNOCENT man in the eyes of rational people, and we are not supporting a “suspected terrorist” at all, and we should continue to assist this innocent man until we establish that he broke some moral rule in our society.

    Some people would be quite justified in rejecting David Hicks on moral grounds for “supporting Al Qa’ida” if he did in fact DO something to “assist” Al Qa’ida, but we don’t know if he did or not.

    We know he was trained to be a Taliban fighter by their Al Qa’ida sub-contractors, but that may well have been normal routine for thousands of their fighters. Hicks apparently had no say in who he was trained by.

    We should also remember that the Taliban were not involved in terrorism. Their fight was local and Hicks would never have dreamed of his own country attacking a Muslim country in 2001.

    Yes, Hicks guarded a tank – a Taliban tank – not an Al Qa’ida tank, and he did it BEFORE Afhghanistan was invaded while the U.S. was dropping bombs. He was not captured at the tank (contrary to what Wikipedia and 60 Minutes reported). He was captured at a Taxi Depot 3 weeks after Kabul had been taken and the war was effectively over.

  5. I’m not particularly surprised at the international reaction to the shambolic end of this show trial, but I’ve been amazed at some of the commentary in the Australian papers, even from some usually sensible people. Virginia Hausegger’s rant in the Canberra Times this morning nearly made me spit out my cereal, and Karen Middleton on Insiders last week wasn’t much better.

  6. Rebecca wrote:

    ” but I’ve been amazed at some of the commentary in the Australian papers, even from some usually sensible people. Virginia Hausegger’s rant in the Canberra Times this morning nearly made me spit out my cereal […]

    Yes, it certainly was a rant. I knew that journalists guilded the lily a bit, but (honestly) I had no idea until this Hicks’ issue became prominent that some journalists grossly distorted the facts – sometimes quite savagely, although not so much in this instance with Virginaia.

    In view of the fact that Hicks broke no VALID law in 2001 you would think that a few people could put together morals-based cases that are derived from the facts. It seems self-defeating to do it any other way.

    Virginia Hausegger seems hell bent on rejecting anything that Hicks may say, but you’d think a journalist would be skilled enough to either disprove what he says or diminish it with logic.

    Perhaps she’s another one who’s “all tip and no iceberg” (but in the journalism racket).

    Next time I read anything she says, I’ll be a bit more careful, because it’s not good to see fear-mongering and distortion in the same article.

  7. Shaun Carney’s wasn’t much better or the Spooner cartoon that went with it. What is wrong with so many of the cretins in the media who have not bothered to follow the story and hear the explanations given by Michael Mori that they would claim not a decent person in Australia would have anything to do with Hicks.

    How do they know? All the prison guards who bashed kids, who tear gassed, water cannoned and destroyed thousands of kids in detention are our neighbours, none have ever been charged for their heinous crimes and yet the Australia public doesn’t say a word.

    Soldiers and mercenaries are in Iraq and Afghanistan and accepting of the torture inflicted on innocent people by the US and UK. Why no condemnation of them.

    Is is because you call someone a terrorist even when they aren’t and that makes all manner of torture acceptable?

    I remember when the media had a feeding frenzy over two young Afghan lads, demonised them into monsters of mythical proportion and when the stories of torment and torture came out swallowed the lie that they were from Pakistan as if torturing Pakistani kids was acceptable.

    What sort of nation have we become is the question.

  8. [my 2nd comment on topic in 24 hours]
    Ray [post 4]:
    Correct. Although David Hicks might have been charged under the Crimes (Foreign Incursuions and Recruitment) Act,it would have been very foolish to do so because of his superb potential value to the Australian Defence Force in the fight against terrorism.

    Now not a single decent judge in whole of Australia would sully their Court and their reputation with such a case.

    Marilyn Shepherd [post 3] said, in part, “Actually not an piece of useful information has been gained from anyone in Gitmo” …. you don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to see why!

    Andrew Bartlett:

    One of the most damaged casualties in the Iraq War is the credibility of Australia’s news media; they have dropped from being disliked and distrusted right down to being widely ridiculed and disbelieved.

    The item by Patricia Karvelas “Party recoils fron Democrat’s call for terrorist to run” on page 2 of today’s Weekend Australian wouldn’t even qualify as a beat-up by a paperboy – how pathetic; all she [or more likely her editor] had to do was get out on the street and ask the first dozen people who happened along what they thought of the idea of voting for Hicks and get one hell of a shock at the responses.

    You were right in defending your party from yet another anti-Democrats bad news story [ the only ones that seem to run in the glorious “free press”] HOWEVER Sandra Kanck might be onto something after all …… why don’t the Australian Democrats offer David Hicks five years free MEMBERSHIP as part of his rehabilitation process and offer Terry Hicks the same out of appreciation for his sticking to fair-dinkum [as opposed to spin-doctored] Australian Values; don’t cogitate too long though because other parties – excluding NSW and Qld Liberals – may be working on that already. Food for thought..

  9. Oh dear, some “friendly” journos crossing the line re Hicks eh.
    Honestly Ray, are you trying to tell everyone that Mohammed Dawood was just an innocent tourist?

    Hicks was member of a terrorist organisation.
    He also trained with Al Qaeda… BTW it wasn’t a course on floristry.

    He shot at and quite probably killed Indians in Kashmir.
    He spied on the US.

    He was an armed beligerant who eventualy fled the frontline and was caught by the US allies the NTHRN Alliance.

    All these things are abcked up by his own words in letters to his family.

  10. But Goeff, David Hicks (which is the name the US charged him under) was only charged and pleaded guilty to the crime of material support for terrorism (a crime that didn’t exist when he carried it out). Nothing about spying or fighting in Kashmir was included. I accept that he quite probably did of those things, and that he is an anti-Semitic idiot.

    But even anti-Semitic idiots deserve a fair trial. Hicks didn’t get one, and nor (does it appear) will any of the other detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

    That surely is the point. A country that is trying to spread democracy and the rule of law abroad does not abide by the rule of law at home.

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  12. I seem to always find some problem with Marilyns posts and I am asking that of myself,whilst persisting,where I could make few points about others here.I think it is very easy to think Australians have dramatically changed in some way to be uncaring…but whilst some may be able to assert through statistics on that,I take the position it is extremely difficult for people to assess the truth of something generally,and, that must surely apply to David Hicks.I find it galling most of the accusations about Hicks are brought to us via Murdochs in Australia, then they get the advertising that condemns the Government,paid by Hicks organised supporters.Rather than claim media claim organisations and who owns them.I also found it difficult to understand Kancks position on this,because of a number of reasons, including the family probably needs a good rest,and maybe, will have unacceptable mental problems for the rest of their lives,being subjected to a truth about democracy and its workings that are both grinding and reprehensible.All through this care for the son David,an old man had to work himself up over and over again.Whilst all the media had advertising and promotions skewed around the old mans endeavours.Reward!? To share mental disorders together. Whilst the Howard government looks pretty guilty of an uncaring attitude…maybe eternal vigilance has been learnt by some.

  13. In reply to Geoff:

    [GEOFF]: Honestly Ray, are you trying to tell everyone that Mohammed Dawood was just an innocent tourist?

    [RAY] : No – he was quite open (anad even proud) of being a Taliban religious student and soldier. I’m not sure how you managed to extract “tourist” from what I wrote. It sounds like you (to quote Major Mori) “made it up”.

    [GEOFF]: Hicks was member of a terrorist organisation.

    [RAY]: Not true. The Taliban was not a terrorist organisation, and he never joined Al Qa’ida.

    [GEOFF]: He also trained with Al Qaeda.

    [RAY]: Yes, and it was quite legal at the time, and he (apparently) had no say in who trained Taliban.

    [GEOFF]: He shot at and quite probably killed Indians in Kashmir.

    [RAY]: If he “probably killed Indians” you should have reported it to someone.

    [GEOFF]: He spied on the US.

    [RAY]: Not true. The ex-U.S. embassy had been gathering cobwebs for 12 years.

    [GEOFF]: He was an armed beligerant who eventualy fled the frontline and was caught by the US allies the NTHRN Alliance.

    [RAY]: In reality he ceased involvement 2 hours after he faced the (anti-Taliban government) Northern Alliance rebels at the front line on 9th Nov – a week before Kabul was taken on 16th Nov and he was captured unarmed at a Taxi depot 3 weeks after the war was effectively over. At that point 2 (two) “coalition” soldiers had been killed by the WHOLE Taliban army.

    [GEOFF]: All these things are backed up by his own words in letters to his family.

    [RAY]: Not true. In reality very little of what was mentioned above was in his letters. You “made it up”.

  14. Geoff, the US kidnapped several children and flew them to Gitmo Bay, the youngest was 10, the oldest 15. That 15 year old Canadian boy has now spent one quarter of his life in solitary in Gitmo without charges or trial.

    Hicks was not with Al Qaida, he specifically said in 2002 that he thought they were over the top and crazy. He guarded a tank for one week, end of involvement.

    Now stop simply swallowing the ugly tripe of this ugly government.

  15. Sorry Ray he joined LET… oops. forgot that did we?

    Sorry Ray the Indians have already voiced concern and interest in Dawood.

    Sorry Ray, ypu should have watched The President vs David Hicks and you could have seen and heard the contents direct from his Dad.

    Marilyn knowing how reliable your information is I’m heartened by what you posted. He was with AQ and has stated such. you can’t train with an organisation and meet Bin laden without being WITH AQ Marilyn.

  16. It seems to me both sides are arguing about whether or not David Hicks did something. I must confess that I have no way of verifying or otherwise the various claims.

    What I am convinced of is that all accused criminals should have the opportunity to face their accusers and be able to respond in a fair and open court.

    I have yet to hear anyone provide a convincing argument that the accused in Guantanamo Bay are going to be provided with a fair and open court. To argue that they are terrorists is irrelevant to this central issue.

  17. muzzmonster wrote:

    [muzzmonster]: It seems to me both sides are arguing about whether or not David Hicks did something. I must confess that I have no way of verifying or otherwise the various claims.

    [Ray]: Yes, many claims have been made by numerous people, and some can be verified with corroborating evidence and others cannot. That also applies to Hicks’ own statements and alleged admissions. There are however other things that are not disputed, such as the fact that Hicks appears to have broken no valid laws as a result of any activity in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

    [muzzmonster]: What I am convinced of is that all accused criminals should have the opportunity to face their accusers and be able to respond in a fair and open court.

    [Ray]: Yes, it’s a part of ‘Natural Justice’ and is at the very core of (English) law, and it’s not just for crimes – it’s for all allegations of wrong-doing. Some people think Natural Justice (or Procedural Fairness) is a principle that is only applied in footy tribunals, but it applies everywhere (with a few reasonable exceptions).

    [muzzmonster]: I have yet to hear anyone provide a convincing argument that the accused in Guantanamo Bay are going to be provided with a fair and open court. To argue that they are terrorists is irrelevant to this central issue.

    [Ray]: The detainees cannot obtain justice at Gitmo because they are trapped in a lawless land. Perhaps if Cuba enforced it’s law, things would be different, but pesumably it is not game. There’s still a chance that the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress will assist the detaines (if Gitmo isn’t closed down beforehand).
    ————
    Geoff wrote:

    [Geoff]: Sorry Ray he joined LET…[…] the Indians have already voiced concern and interest in Dawood.

    [Ray]: It was legal to join LET back then.

    [Geoff]: Sorry Ray, ypu should have watched The President vs David Hicks […]

    [Ray]: I’m familiar with nearly everything that’s been published.

  18. Muzzmonster [16] and Ray [17]:
    Yes ….. and along with such ancient protections as being able to face one’s accusers, not being made a criminal by retrospective laws [that one was in the old Afghanistan Constitution too, Mr Ruddock], habeus corpus, not being subjected to trial-by-ordeal, not having to offer gifts to one’s judges and jailers ….. there is another concept that lies at the very foundation of our culture, including the good old Aussie fair go: Redemption. [Alright, it’s Easter}.

    David Hicks, regardless of who he is and what he may or may not have done, deserves the full protection of our laws ….. and he deserves the chance to redeem himself if he has the need to do so.

  19. As Muzz and others have pointed out, this issue (for me at least) is about ensuring a person’s right to a fair trial – not making definitive character assessments.

    Labels like ‘terrorist’ obscure more than they clarify. The Taliban were/are violent, anti-democratic extremists, but so were the Northern Alliance, but they happened to be an ally of the USA at the time. As I understand it, Hicks also trained/fought with Albanians in Kosovo – who were on the side of NATO at the time.

    Hicks has never had much of a chance to speak for himself so one shouldn’t draw definitive conclusions (and given he has now become a highly politicised rhetorical symbol in range of ideological stoushes, I doubt there’s anything he can say now which wouldn’t just be reinterpreted by all sides anyway). It is also reasonable to assume his mental state is such that it would be very much in his interests to try to not say much at all and disappear from view for a fair while.

    However, as mentioned above, the Taliban are violent anti-democratic extremists, who also have a record of extra-judicial executions, seriously oppressing women, persecuting homosexuals, etc. ards of due process, let alone a fair go. As Graham says, like everyone, Hicks deserves the chance to redeem himself – but regardless of his not being properly convicted of any crime, supporting the Taliban is not something which can just be waved away. For that reason, I wouldn’t support at all Graham’s suggestion of offering him membership of any party I’m a part of (let alone being a candidate). There’d be rather a lot of ‘redeeming’ required before that sort of thing could be countenanced, AFAIAC.

    Of course, that’s totally hypothetical and is never going to happen. And none of what he’s done justifies five years jail without charge, torture and coercion, solitary confinement, followed by a kangaroo court.

  20. Andrew Bartlett [19}:
    On membership: Yeah. Okay. It was only a suggestion :-)

    On the future: What can we do to get laws that work against the real terrorists for a change instead of against the citizenry [whether noisy or well-behaved]?

    I would love to take the nasty, ignorant ratbags who draughted those ineffective Pro-Terrorist mock-Laws down behind the Q Store for a bit of instruction on how terrorists think and how democracy works.

    What can be done to prevent the monsterous abuses that have been committed against David Hicks ever happening again?

    Wouldn’t it be poetic justice if all those responsible for this injustice and its consequent insult to the sovereignty of Australia spent exactly the same amount of time as Hicks in Gitmo as inmates in the new Christmas Island konzentrationslager and political prison.

    Uncharitable? You bet I am …. and I’m not alone in that.

  21. Muzzmonster, well said. Andrew, likewise. Graham Bell, I’ll have a go at the answer to “What can be done to prevent the monsterous abuses that have been committed against David Hicks ever happening again?”

    We can reclaim and develop what ought be the very best part of our democratic heritage – an alert and active citizenry.

    Our political masters are as corrupt now as I have ever known them. Moreso when I consider the mastery of lies, and the way in which conventions of executive accountability have been subverted (discarded?).

    Yet we’ve so far seen little effective mobilisation of the people to counter the abuse.

    That’s why the David Hicks case is so bloody hopeful. It is a very broad church.

    The trick now will be to continue with and strengthen the determination of people everywhere to take back our heritage, reclaim our democracy, and assert the Universal values of our humanity.

    (See? Easy!)

  22. [Andrew Bartlett]: Labels like ‘terrorist’ obscure more than they clarify. The Taliban were/are violent, anti-democratic extremists, but so were the Northern Alliance, but they happened to be an ally of the USA at the time.

    [Ray]: Yes the Taliban were certainly anti-democratic. That was the WHOLE idea – to follow their religion – not popular opinion. Does anyone here know which groups have been proclaimed to be “terrorists”, and is the Taliban one of them? Also, does anyone know what the Taliban government’s penalties were for various breaches of law, or are we just imagining some of them?

    [Andrew]: As I understand it, Hicks also trained/fought with Albanians in Kosovo – who were on the side of NATO at the time.

    [Ray]: Hicks trained for 2 months with a wooden gun, but then NATO declared that the volunteers were no longer needed. That’s when he and his friends had pictures taken with weapons. He was not a gun nut.

    [Andrew]: Hicks has never had much of a chance to speak for himself [….] I doubt there’s anything he can say now which wouldn’t just be reinterpreted by all sides anyway).

    [Ray]: If he’s as straight-forward as his father, he may have some very plausible answers.
    His English friend in Gitmo said he was a very direct sort of bloke in his communication..

    [Andrew]: [..] supporting the Taliban is not something which can just be waved away.

    [Ray]: We need to find out what they did first.

  23. Andrew the point is precisely that the US were supporting and arming the Taliban in an attempt to get the pipeline from the Caspian and across Afghanistan.

    The head of the Taliban is at Yale University today while Hicks has been persecuted for doing nothing.

    The Afghan lads and lasses I know who were locked in Woomera claim that Howard is the Taliban.

    What is this drivel about not pushing aside the fact that Hicks supported the Taliban, the Federal police report makes it clear that he believed in January 2001 that they were the government of Afghanistan and nothing more, not that he supported them at all.

    Really, please don’t join the ranks of the ignorant with such stupid statements. We are supporting the Taliban to this day with soldiers who are watching the poppy growers and doing nothing at all.

    Not to mention that the so-called Northern Alliance are known to be 10 times worse than the Taliban and that the AFghan people want the Taliban back.

  24. [GEOFF]: Ray LET were listed in 1999. oops.

    [RAY]: It looks like you made that up too. In reality it was much later.

    [GEOFF]: As for the rest, I see no need to keep repeating myself.

    [RAY]: I told you earlier you made most of it up, so you’re right – there’s no need to repeat it.

    [Marilyn Shepherd]: (To Andrew) What is this drivel about not pushing aside the fact that Hicks supported the Taliban, the Federal police report makes it clear that he believed in January 2001 that they were the government of Afghanistan and nothing more, not that he supported them at all.

    [RAY]: Hicks wrote home about being made a member of the Taliban, so that would suggest that he basically agreed with their general way of life – (theocracy instead of democracy) whether it was for running Afghanistan or anything else, although he (like us) wouldn’t have known about everything they did. We (here) dont know ourselves 5 years later.

    [MARILYN]: […] We are supporting the Taliban to this day with soldiers who are watching the poppy growers and doing nothing at all.

    [RAY]: The Taliban controlled poppy crops are said to be thriving these days, however in 2001 they (with America’s financial assistance) had removed nearly all crops by the time of the invasion, but they later got involved in the drug crop to finance their civil war.

  25. I certainly agree that what hicks was or wasn’t doing is not the point. To my mind its a case of frames of reference that is causing so much grief.

    To a large degree the viwe of muzz and others is very justificalbe, from a refence pioint of viewing this issue as a civil judicial one – unarguable. To otehrs viewing it as a POW issue is equally valid. To otehres the Marilyn view there was never a war so the POW issue is equally unjustified. All have some basis and merit.

    We all view thisngs from a frmae of refernce generally from our experience adn this issue is no differetn.

    Hate them or not the US belive these people to be POW’s – so civil rules dont apply, make up the laws etc – Changi anyone .

    Otehrs just see conspiracy at every turn so its cruel unjuist political etc – and so it is to them.

    Clearly these are uncharted waters – I dont know whats right or not.

  26. Actually Ken they are not uncharted waters. The US has been doing this sort of thing since the end of WW11 it is just that this is so blatantly defying the laws of order written after that war.

    There is never an excuse under the magna carta to ignore human rights, the rule of law, the rights of “prisoners” or any other laws just because you can

    Because other nations will then say “if you do it unto us we will do it unto you”.

    And then we are all in trouble everywhere in the world.

  27. Appreciate your point of view marilyn – however magna carta has no legal staus, certainly not in US or Cuba, and only Chapter 29 of the 1297 version ever had any standng under Australina statutes, and then only in some states- althouyhg many have tried udner commonlaw to invoke its intent – with very limited success.

    See Clark in [2000] MULR 34

    by unchartered i meant the notion of statelessness, and boundariless, that seesm to be developing in the 21st century.

    Arent we already in trouble verywhere in the world?

  28. But Ken, the US has made clear that these people are not considered Prisoners of War – a distinction that guarantees them certain rights as delineated in the Geneva Conventions.

    But then, didn’t George Bush decide that these were no longer applicable to the USA (ie, they weren’t going to pay attention to them anymore).

    Once again, and following up Marilyn’s point, it’s hard to take a nation’s statements about human rights and the law seriously when they decide they’re not bound by them. (and I’m not just talking about the US here)

  29. Howard has unbottled the war effort today after a case involving Hicks return.The George Bush government on the warpath against illegal citizens.Gates wants to close Gitmo.Why!?Do you believe him.Gulag ahead.First stop psyps operation in Australia against Hicks supporters via more Afghani involvement.Use mufti as further excuse,media watchdog not interested in anything but being pious.Old Castro under the ten pin bowling until election time,liberals see what they are made of when we start using the cattletrains in U.S.A. Spinning wheel alert Strongman at Conservative Parties talk fest…strongman tactics coming up.Read what Howards words are about Australian troops to Afghanistan re the public.Through the looking glass with Alice in Wonderland.

  30. Everyone:
    The case of David Hicks has brought forth a few interesting questions to worry Mr Ruddock:

    i. What is the legal position of Australian military contractors who are or were or will be in Iraq?

    ii. Were such military contractors working there or serving there?

  31. Ken made us stop for a minute and think that perhaps our various “perspectives” were part of the problem, but it’s not that complicated at all. Some things are just plain wrong – no matter which way you look at it.

    It’s plain wrong to buy prisoners who were alleged to be combatants in a conflict, or terrorists or terrorist supporters, AND then
    torture and mistreat them until they all look guilty AND hold them for years even if we think they may not be guilty and theirconfessions were lies.

    It’s also just plain wrong to make prisoners LOOK guilty by writing retrospective laws.

    Ken attempted to confuse the issue further by saying that Magna Carta has no legal status in the U.S. but in reality it does because
    (the bit we are talking about) is clearly written into the U.S. Constitution.

    People must be given a fair trial – even if for no other reason than to save the lawmakers and the country a fortune in other ways. THIS is the essence of the matter – if justice doesn’t prevail, a country usually pays via legal public action of the people. This “fairness” business is not ALL altruism – it’s a self preservation thing as well – that’s why it MUST prevail.

    America’s stupidity, pigheadedness and ruthlessness has cost them a lot more than the value of Hicks’ life to date, and it will keep on costing them for many decades.

    It’s cost them 54 lawyers for each prisoner, international credibility, exposure of their legal torture, ridicule in the press and internet, the jobs of high-ranking staff, support from Australians (which will directly impact on the reruitment of valuable fighting soldiers in the future – soldiers who could affect the number of Americans who go home from wars).

    Incidentally, Australia’s anti-terror laws are far worse than those that the U.S. has for it’s citizens. We don’t even NEED back-dated laws or secret islands with all the secrecy.

  32. Muzz et al..

    If you bothered to look at the links in #23 you’d have noticed more on the legal situation Hicks found himself in. The “Laws of War” as I think ken noted are quite different to common-law and domestic criminality.

    As for Ray’s diatribe re Ken’s more reasoned argument… Ray, you claim to know all re Hicks etc… which is why you dismiss the facts presented by others… yet it is you who seem to know not all that much at all.

  33. Thanks for ascribing those motives to me Ray, I’ll keep that in mind.

    While I also agree its wrong, just plain wrong, half the population don’t, hecne the point i was trying to make that you so cavalierly dismissed as mischief. You see, your right is someone eles wrong and someone elses wrong is your right – there aint no universal truism on this sort of matter these days.

    Your lucky you are so clear on the only true path, almost zealotry ,the path of good and evil. Mankinds been fighting that battle for cneturies.

  34. [GEOFF]: “As for Ray’s diatribe re Ken’s more reasoned argument… Ray, you claim to know all re Hicks etc… which is why you dismiss the facts presented by others… yet it is you who seem to know not all that much at all.”

    [RAY]: If you have any contradictory evidence, present it in words – not links.
    ——–

    [KEN]: You see, your right is someone eles wrong and someone elses wrong is your right – there aint no universal truism on this sort of matter these days.

    [RAY]: I’m all for a bit of political correctness where everything is warm and fuzzy, but that’s a bit like saying that some people think that rape is right and others think that it’s wrong and there is no correct answer.

    Hell, even my cat knows when it’s play-fighting with the dog that it’s WRONG to take a swipe at the dog’s nose without retracting it’s claws first.

    In Hicks’ case we were relying on law and established legal conventions – not fuzzy opinions.

  35. Well gee Ray if you follow the links you’ll find the words.
    We are restricted here Ray, you need to read more than a sentence or two.

  36. [GEOFF]: Well gee Ray if you follow the links you’ll find the words.
    We are restricted here Ray, you need to read more than a sentence or two.

    [RAY]: If you’ve got a point to make, you’ve got up to 2,000 characters to make it. So what are you trying to debate?

  37. If you were serious and not just a troll you’d follow the links and learn something Ray.

    Sometimes things are a little more complicated than 2000 characters.

  38. Ray, rape is a criminal violation of one person by another(s) – to try to compare “support” for that and the hicks situation is a fatuous effort – I’m surprised you didn’t throw in paedophilia for good measure.

    Don’t distinguish right wrong and stupid, your cat might be stupid but it neither right nor wrong if it attempts to engage in activities likely to place in it in a dangerous position (this PC talk is great). Back in the good old days everyone seems to want to return to, when gentlemen duelled at 15 paces and all was civilised, Hicks probably would have been unfortunately listed as MIA.

    Anyway now that I’m officially a PC person – I’ll be framing that page.

  39. Geoff let me suggest a bit of light reading for you – it is a book by Joseph Margulies, one of the first lawyers allowed into Gitmo Bay and you will see that it was designed totally to avoid all laws everywhere.

  40. [GEOFF]: (To Ray) If you were serious and not just a troll you’d follow the links and learn something Ray.

    [RAY]: I’ve already learned, and would have one of the largest collections of links in existence regarding David Hicks, so I say again, if you have a point to make, then you have 2,000 characters to make it (including links).
    ——————

    [KEN]: Ray, rape is a criminal violation of one person by another(s) – to try to compare “support” for that and the hicks
    situation is a fatuous effort – I’m surprised you didn’t throw in paedophilia for good measure.

    [RAY]: There’s nothing tenuous happening. I said that rape is wrong; and so is bashing, torture and creating back-dated laws – all
    wrong, and no amount of wordsmithing alters it.

    [KEN]: Back in the good old days everyone seems to want to return to, when gentlemen duelled at 15 paces and all was civilised, Hicks probably would have been unfortunately listed as MIA.

    [RAY]: Hicks wasn’t in action when captured, so he couldn’t go MIA. His “war” ended on 9th Nov. Kabul was taken on 16th Nov and he was captured on 9th Dec at a taxi depot while travelling to Pakistan, and he was sold for $1,000 on 17th Dec. All U.S. bombing stopped hours later and by that time, a dozen coalition military people from Western countries had been killed in the invasion.

  41. well the coalition wanted to be seen as transparent .i have not talked to anyone yet who has not seen through them .
    regarding the hicks case.

  42. It’s pretty obvious you don’t know much regardless of your claims Ray.

    I provided the links… remain in denial and ignorance if you wish.

  43. There maybe no absolute forms of good and evil from a perspective of a distant observer.There are bound to be opinions that are as common as the day involved in the unravelling, that, victims observers, felt and cogitated upon, as evil,because they saw evidence of what was unacceptable to them, and,by virtue of communication… found it unacceptable amongst others.The guiding hand of that which didnt want to decide but experiences a evil, renders the sensibilities to uptake the processes of reason so.. that experience, for others may not be experienced by others.The good can slaughter there is no doubt about that,accept to say the good may already know it has been judged and found wanting,but slaughtered under strict engagement rules.Evil doesnt know the consequences of its actions,and participates with a howling certitude,even whilst dressed as strict rules of engagement participators.Be wary of your heart and mind,your being, if, you decide as a merit of reason that reference pre-excludes the diabolical as evidence for the sake of the almost water diviners right of good and evil as same, but poles apart.Language as a function of communication cannot rest until the experimental or the experience finds the guiding hand.Where is Hicks in the above dialogues,where the practical individuals have been at work on his behalf?He has seen and experienced a form of evil,there is no uncertainty about that.Why !?Observations of a practical type involving place and time and activities and limitations have been noted and are identifiable.This is the fact whole processes of practical law have been changed and Habeus Corpus ruled with both as assertion,outside its domain, with the gun in hand, as the new guiding hand.Power without the processes of consent haved ruled Hicks,but what ruled over Power?The weapon is now Habeus Corpus.

  44. This is the level of contempt shown by the US in Gitmo Bay.

    A Yemeni man says “I have seen Bin Laden three times on Al Jazeera and 2 times on BBC’. His official report says “knows Bin Laden.”

    I really do suggest people get hold of the book I recommended and find out what the US has been doing to people as young as 10 and as old as 105 whom they kidnapped from all over the world.

    Only 5% of them were captured on the “front” so to speak and so far innocent people have been left vegetables, beaten to death and murdered.

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