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A Presidential Pardon for David Hicks?

As the twilight of the Bush Administration falls, discussion in the US media is beginning to focus on those to whom President Dubya might grant a Presidential pardon. Much as he might like to, there's no way that he can do anything for those who may later be convicted for following his orders, such as those who have tortured specially purchased prisoners into "verifying" his War On Terror propaganda. He should, however, consider repairing his international reputation by improving the circumstances of his scapegoats. He won't, as this would only discredit both himself and Dick Cheney even further. He'll make pardons appropriate to his political necessities, and then hand that power onto Obama, a man who is quite unhappy about what's happened at Guantanamo.

David Hicks springs to mind as a fine candidate for a pardon. When he made a public appeal for complete freedom last week, the Australian Federal Police granted his request without taking any time for consideration. The fact that the decision to not extend the control order that restricted Hicks' activities was nearly simultaneous to an announcement of the handing down of the results of an inquiry into other apparently politically motivated counterterrorism activities may not be coincidental. The AFP has a lot of egg on its face because its role in imprisoning Dr Mahommed Haneef, and the opportunity to portray themselves a little more kindly would have been hard to pass up. It also gave the AFP a chance to play Pontius Pilate on the world stage, washing its hands of the dirt of further participation in activities related to the shameful practices involved in the obtaining of convictions (in the case of Hicks, personally by US Vice President Cheney) by the Guantanamo military tribunals.

In doing so, they've shown the control order as unnecessary. The idea of asking the AFP for the order was passed to the South Australian Government by our Foreign Minister, Bush sycophant Alexander Downer. There are two perceivable useful political purposes for such an order. One is that it showed the South Australian public that Hicks was a bad man that needed watching. The other is that it showed the world that another government was prepared to participate in the Guantanamo military tribunal system by honouring its findings.

The activities that Hicks pled guilty to are no longer regarded by Guantanamo as crimes within its jurisdiction. The tribunal, in handing down the verdict against Osama's driver Hamdan, made it very clear that participating in the war in Afghanistan did not mean that somebody was a terrorist attempting to destroy Western civilisation. Prisoner 002, arriving at Guantanamo as one of the Bush Administration's "worst of the worst", had been doing nothing more anti-U.S. than guarding a Taliban tank. For that he was imprisoned and interrogated for more than five years without charges being laid against him.

Before Bush's Presidency ends, Hicks will be walking the streets of Adelaide as a completely free man.

South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson by now should be becoming extremely embarrassed by his government's participation in such a shaky legal scenario. He no doubt believes he and his cabinet colleagues have been misled. They face an interesting political quandary. It looks like incoming President Obama will close Guantanamo immediately, leaving South Australia's government as the only incumbent one in the world that has participated in a legal system that will have been discredited into nonexistence. They are seeking to be re-elected for a third term. A continued condoning of Hicks' treatment, flying in the face of both U.S. and world-wide sentiment, will be something difficult to sweep under the rug of a law-and-order campaign, even in the birthplace of the Murdoch media empire. To be perceived as an implementer of true justice, Atkinson also needs to be seen as capable of recognising injustice. If he, along with SA's Premier and more importantly the Deputy Premier who vilified Hicks in the newspaper, do not publicly retract their support of Hicks' brutal treatment then they could be perceived as being too legally inept to oversee a justice system. Given that this government's lack of concern of prisoner mistreatment, embodied in Deputy Foley's now-infamous " Rack 'em, pack 'em, and stack 'em" comment, has been observed with public alacrity, continued support of an internationally notorious inappropriate imprisonment will cost crucial votes in a difficult third term re-election attempt.

The trouble is that the Government-spearheaded publicity campaign against Hicks has been successful. While there are many who believe Hicks was a dickhead who doesn't deserve the treatment he received, there are many, especially outside of Adelaide's city limits, who believe Hicks is a bastard who should rot in Hell. It's those people that who have been gullible enough to believe the misinformation who will be the quickest to mistrust the Rann Government should they reverse an opinion that was created with so much effort. Mistrust, as we know spreads easily.

So which choice does an Attorney General in such a predicament take? Does he show that he and his Government are truly trustworthy to administer law when to do so jeopardises the faith of his constituents? There is a way that he can do so and still win votes. Can you guess?

If the Rann Government, in a reversal of the chain of events that led to its support of Cheney's desperate attempt to secure a Guantanamo conviction as a precedent for future trials, raises a call for a U.S. Presidential pardon for this South Australian citizen, and that call is heard by President Obama, it will win the respect of many South Australians; not necessarily for administering true justice, but for placing this little democracy on the world stage as heroes in tune with, and with the ear of, the most powerful man in Western society. That's a lot of kudos.

There's already one movie about to open in the U.S. that depicts imprisonment in South Australia, Look out for me in the prisoners' orchestra. While this one is a kid-friendly "feelgood", the next one most certainly won't It will show a man that was handed over to cash in on a bounty scheme, beaten, butt-probed, psychologically tortured for years, coerced into a conviction (without evidence being presented against him) by an illegally-administered justice system and then returned to his hometown to serve his sentence, while the methodology of his conviction is renounced globally until it ceases to exist. Hardly a good image for South Australia to the world, and definitely not a holiday flick to take the kiddies to. While a Hicks pardon may not be a completely happy ending, it would show us to the world as fair-minded people who have enough sense to recognise our participation in an atrocity.

With the change in U.S administration and policies, there is only a small window of opportunity in which the S.A. Government can act. When Obama closes Guantanamo, he'll also close that window. The apologies for abuse and torture would then not include Hick's Adelaide jailers and we and our State leaders will quite rightly be perceived around the world as gullible simpletons with no sense of morality.

Where would the new Prime Minster of Australia stand on such a course of action? Here's what he said in an email a couple of years ago:

It is a national obscenity that David Hicks has remained in Guantanamo Bay for five years without a trial and furthermore, when it comes to the prospect of him obtaining the most rudimentary forms of justice, he’s not going to get those under a US military tribunal.

Guantanamo Bay should be shut, and David Hicks should be given access to a fair trial, because he’s not going to get one under the current arrangements.

It is a disgrace – an absolute human rights disgrace – that this individual, who is an Australian citizen, should be treated in this fashion. He should be given proper recourse to a fair trial.

In light of such sentiments, and given that a "fair trial" did not occur, the Government of Australia shouldn't be anything less than supportive of the injustices against David Hicks being rectified as soon as possible. It's surprising, really, that nothing has yet been done.

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Jabbar wocky!

Gee, just read SMH's David Marr's take on the Haneef mess.

There is going to a giant queue forming, as the truth about all these incidents emerges.

Hicks, Haneef, Rau, Solon Alvarez, the numerous cases involving asylum seekers bounced about discussed elsewhere, the Aboriginal "intervention'; so on and so forth. And the same miserable Dickensian curmudgeonly faces about the place for all of them. Howard, Ruddock, Andrews, Keelty,
Downer, Vanstone, Brough...

Also read the Oz , which in contrast and like certain Webdiarists, remains deep in rancorous denial.

Like the French Bourbons and Sen. Conroy, some folk never forget and never learn.

Poets for Peace

I was delighted to learn this morning that David Hicks's new girlfriend, graduate student Aloysia Brooks, is committed to promoting peace through poetry:

Brooks argues that a new level of consciousness would arise in the global community if the poetic voices of peace could be communicated through the media and schools. “Poetry educates and promotes understanding and respect …and provides a vision of a world which speaks the language of peace.

Lovely sentiment.

A peace poem for David

Have you apologised yet, under Adelaide's sky?
To those you would have maimed?  And that filthy big lie?
For the day you were caught after taking up the gun
To fight with bin Laden and the Taliban? 

Tell me David Hicks, will you ever forgive
Those who deprived you of that girl with big tits?
Those who stomped on your carefully laid plans
To start shooting Hindoos and Jooos instead of just 'roos?

Officially they've released you back into the wild
In the town you deserted a woman with child,
But don't expect handshakes and a friendly g'day
Too many remember your cowardly way.

And if that not enough you should remember  this is true
There will be plenty of people keeping an eye on you
Each move that you make the Feds will be there right on time
And don't even think about profiting from your crime. 

It's going to be warm in Adelaide today
Noticed the restaurants are better since you've been away?
But you needn't worry about getting so fat yet again
Because for the first time in memory you will have to pay your own way.

Inspired stuff, Geoff

Inspired by moi, remember?  I know it was twelve months ago (almost to the day) so you'll be fine, but the wandering reader might appreciate learning how the muse came to you.  Here again is my "peace poem" that was  the progenator of your creation:


How will it feel, under Adelaide's sky?
A free man again, six years have gone by
since they stole you and locked you away in a cell
Torture and questions, and a daily hell

Welcome home, David Hicks, and may you forgive
those who deprived you of the rights that we have
No fair trial for you, just political plans
Cheney has washed you from Johnny Howard's hands

Today they've released you back into the wild
in the town of your birth, where you grew as a child
Don't expect handshakes and a friendly G'day
Many will just turn their faces away

A fox before newshounds, you'll run to no avail
The eyes of the world are in cameras that tail
each move that you make for a picture to sell
If you tell them your story, you're back in a cell

It's going to be warm in Adelaide today
Not as hot as your prison in Guantanemo Bay.
or the hell we've sent our own souls to
for everything we've done to you.

That's a bit excessive, Geoff. Really.

Geoff Pahoff, I am deeply shocked by the tone, misleading content and the implicit suggestion contained in your poem. Adelaide's restaurants have never been below par. Ever.

Is that clear?

Agree agree

Marilyn we agree entirely on David Hicks, after all he is Australian and just an adventurer in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet those who imposed these barbarities upon him are followers of God, so how do we address the glaring anomaly of god followers, being the most despotic and vindictively suppressive people on the planet when they attain just a smidgeon of power.

I'd love to see Ruddock, Howard, Rudd and all their ilk face the reality of their despotic actions and outcomes as the social, economic and ecological criminals they are. The problem we have in this country is, there is no legal accountability for bureaucrats, politicians and their pathetic lackeys actions and outcomes.

Wrong place. Wrong time. Just having fun.

Alga Kavanagh: "Marilyn we agree entirely on David Hicks, after all he is Australian and just an adventurer in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Yeah, in the Taliban. In 2001. After having been adventuring in Laskar e Toiba.

Wrong places. Wrong times.

It would as if he was in Jemaah Islamiah in Bali in 2002.

Wrong place. Wrong time. Having an adventure.

Same stuff. Different day. Yawn.

Hicks' participation in Lashkar activities was legal, as it was not yet declared a terrorist organisation.  Hicks' participation in a sovereign army (given that the Taliban government was recognised by the CIA in 2001 as the government of the Islamic Free State of Afghanistan) was legal, and his activities now can be, citing the Hamdan verdict, considered uncriminal.

I can keep repeating as often as you do, Eliot.  Bear in mind, though, those facts I reiterate are actual facts.  Please have a go at remembering them this time.  Please?

Pro-American extremism

Remember, Richard said it first.

All it takes for a foreign gang to be regarded as a legal government  of a sovereign state is to be recognised by the CIA.

And I thought I was pro-US. I'm not even in the same ballpark as Richard. I would insist the State department should have a say as well. You know. Checks and balances ...


So you still have that American flag hanging on the wall above your comp,Geoff?

These days I figure that a CIA assessment is as good as any.

Jeez...  it wasn't that long ago I was being called anti-U.S.!

Fine figure of a man...

Richard Tonkin: "Hicks' participation in Lashkar activities was legal..."

I love it when you do repeat it, Richard. I love it whenever any of his apologists bring it up. They should get a T-shirt made....

That the fact of the matter remains, Eliot...

.. that no matter how many times that you bring up Lashkar, Eliot, belonging to the organisation was not regarded as participation in terrorism at the time that Hicks participated in their activities.

Ah well.. Cheney says there's a hundred days to go to find Osama. How he's going to do that without invading Pakistan to attack Lashkar I've no idea.


David Hicks has not committed any crime in any country at any time.

Which part of that don't you get?   As for LET, after the earthquake they were the only ones who got off their backsides to help over 1 million homeless people in Pakistan while Mushareff sat on his corrupt hands.


Here is the thing, Alga, that is admirable.  You fall short when you claim that only a citizen has rights.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says we are all born equal and should be treated with equal dignity.

What is disturbing is that you are prepared to admit that our authorities were atrocious with Hicks but that the same mongrels who abused refugees shouldn't be punished.

It's a paradox because refugees seeking our protection under our law are entitled to be treated the same as David Hicks.   Now one could argue strongly that Hicks was treated about as well as Akram Al Masri but that would not make either of the situations right.

Hicks, now free, questions Guantanamo legality

 From the Age:

Mr Hicks' pastor, Reverend Graham Long of Sydney's Wayside Chapel, said that Mr Hicks knew about US President-elect Barack Obama's promise to shut down the US military facility at Guantanamo Bay, where he was held for 5½ years.

"He's asked whether the closure of Guantanamo Bay might mean that the instrument that convicted him will be disbanded, and whether this might raise questions about the legality of the process that held and convicted him."

It's a question that's going to take years of arguing in the courts to sort out.  With a U.S. ruling in his favour, for how much might he claim from the South Australian Government for wrongful incarceration?

Shoe flies

The bloke's life is never going to be the same, unless he grows a beard or something.  Some will come up to him and shake his hand. Some deluded folk might to try to throw abuse or worse at him.  A victim of a current sort of McCarthyism, he truly symbolises the media stimulated hysteria that some deny can exist.

Well, he's finally free

As of today Hicks is a totally free man after being nearly killed trying to leave Afghanistan, kidnapped, sold, tortured, demonised, locked in isolation and finally "charged" with a crime invented 5 years later.

To their everlasting shame the Australian and South Australian governments played their parts in the torture and false imprisonment to appease that moron Bush and his crony Dick.

And now we know that Bush and Cheney ordered the torture we have not heard a word of apology from any of them and their associates.

First twit off the rank...

And here we go...

It will be some time before anyone knows for sure who was responsible for yesterday's calculated lunacy. But we can be almost sure among them will be young men left out of the prosperity a growing minority of Indians have experienced.

Professor Robin Jeffrey, professor of politics at the ANU

The murderers were in fact Pakistani.

Well Eliot, we know who the lunatics were in Iraq

US, UK and Australia. 

So Hicks was working for TWO sovereign governments?

Eliot, you've given me food for thought  I hadn't considered the possibility of Hicks being on an informal form of secondment from Lashkar to the Taliban.  That would infer that he was acting as a soldier on behalf of two sovereign states.   And before we action-replay a prior do-si-do might I remind you that Lashkar wasn't branded as a terrorist org by the U.S. until 2002, when Hicks was in Guantanamo?  

Do I need to go and dredge up that 2001 CIA assessment of the Islamic Free State of Afghanistan being an independent country, or will your memory suffice?

Now that you've admitted that Lashkar is Pakistans' Intel operatives, is it still possible to vilify Hicks?

"Operation Northwood, Operation Northwood."  There's that bloody voice again.

Takes one to know one - so I'm told

"These facts will make no difference to the academics."

Sounds like something a shunned academic would say, Eliot.

My tip

I'll make a prediction with two parts, namely: academics will say that the murders are due to:

  • poverty
  • US foreign policy.

It will unfold that the killers were

  • affluent.
  •  And the actual target, apart from Jews of course, was India.

These facts will make no difference to the academics.

Wrong, Eliot

Jews were not the target, just one of many targets.  Get a grip on yourself.

I find it amusing and quite sickening that as soon as a few westerners are killed we maunder on with our outrage without ever once considering the hundreds of thousands we have slaughtered just this century alone.

Not quiet, just busy

Also there's the fact, Eliot, that you've just turned this thread into an off-topic baiting exercise, and this has made me feel not bothered to respond to you. Looks like everybody else feels the same.

As I said, start a thread on Mumbai. I'm not going near you on this one.

People have gone strangely quiet on this thread all of a sudden

People have gone strangely quiet on this thread all of a sudden, haven't they?

Is it due to the sudden upsurge in adventurous activity by yet more young men travelling in central Asia?

Helps put the meaning of the adventure into proper focus, doesn't it?

Still, I'm sure the rationalisations and contextualisations will start to flow soon.

I thought a nice touch from yesterday's 'adventure' were the 'selections' prior to execution.

Must have brought back memories for a lot of folk.

Match box experience

Eliot, I understand your irreverent use of the term dialectics, it's called mirror looking. I also understand your inability to see anything outside your ideological programming, being an ideologist, you probably find it difficult to see outside the minuscule box of experience and understanding you may reside in. However there are those in the world who don't see everything through any set parameters or definitions, or rose coloured bifocals and just use rational logic, not ideologically constrained illogic.

Open logic doesn't form conclusions, it determines realities, very different to conclusions. Even though you may not understand it, democracy doesn't exist in reality and Australia is far from being a democracy. The power in this country and most other supposed democracies is held by political corporate slaves, the inept discriminatory bureaucracy and union empty heads, all ideologists.

Democracy doesn't mean controlled preferential voting, or being elected for office only if you have money, are a member of the enslaved elite, a corporate or union clone. David Hicks, was an adventurer, I joined the Navy along with many others for the adventure. Some of the things I was involved in would not classed as adventure, but outright terrorism. Looking back at it, who knows, maybe things would have been better if the commo's had taken Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Looking at it now, all we fought for was the current suppressive muslim basket cases and suppressive elitists. As long as we have ideology, we'll have problems. Without controlling primitive ideologies, we could become a mature race. Then the David Hicks of the world would have available progressive ways to express their adventurism.

The real terrorists are Rudd/Howard and Co, they are the ones terrorising the Australian people to maintain their corporate and religious power base. David Hicks was just a naive adventurer and has suffered enough. Although I add one proviso, he must still remain a free person of interest until it is determined he no longer is ideologically involved. But from my meagre understanding, he hasn't been near a mosque, or muslim. So as incorrect as I may be, I think he took on islam to gain access to the adventure, just as those who used to join the foreign legion and become mercenaries. After my experiences, I quickly lost the ideological viewpoint I joined the navy with.

As for Mumbai, it's all about god and we have the historical facts to know what god represents. You only have to read the old testament and in particular Exodus, as well as the Q'uran to know the god of war, eloquently presented world wide in every religiously controlled country.

The air up there....

Alga Kavanagh, thank heavens you are here to help us poor souls overcome our "inability to see anything outside [our] ideological programming".

What's the air like up there?

Tunnel vision

“I don't have a problem with anyone going on an adventure to follow their faith; however I think you've crossed a line when you start training to kill people in the pursuit of your 'adventure “

Veronica, are you saying all the men of Aus and the rest of the world who joined the armed services for a bit of adventure have over stepped the line, if that's what you call independent thought, you can keep it. To me it sounds like tunnel vision and a lack of knowledge of the real world.

“How it is for example that a 'fascist dictatorship' like the United States could conduct a massive, two-year long electoral process involving millions of voters and hundreds of candidates and one result of which was the nomination and then election of the son of a first generation African immigrant as its President. “

Goodness me Eliot, you need to study a bit of history and check out how a few of the other fascist dictatorships came about, wasn't Hitler elected by the people along with many more. Being black doesn't separate you from dictatorship, just look at Africa and they are all right wing christians or muslims. Millionaires get elected to high office, not real people, just look at our own leaders, both brain dead millionaires.

Boys own adventure

Why do young men (boys) fight old men's wars?


Having spoken with and listened to many old diggers from WW1 it was interesting, but not unexpected,  that they stated they bought in for the adventure - a once in a lifetime chance to travel and see the world, and a chance to prove their manhood. From memory I have only heard one old digger declare he joined up for King and country.

Hicks as I have stated previously was a galoot and from his point of view it was unfortunate that his playmates ended up targets of the West, otherwise his adventures would have been his own. 

Hicks's crimes pale into insignificance when compared to the crimes of his captors. However, he has become the convenient whipping boy of the right to deflect citicism for the crimes of their criminals of preference.

In the years ahead David Hicks and his benign "crimes" will be long forgotten but the crimes of his captors will make bewildering case studies on the stupidity, dishonesty, greed, callousness and incompetence of the now dying Bush (and neocon) administration.

Hicks is a non event and always was. I reckon we would be hard pressed finding anyone in this country who feels personally threatened by him - except Dolly Downer of course.

And if anyone out there does feel  threatened by David Hicks then all I have to say is - boo!

Sorry Dolly, didn't mean to scare ya - ah yes I did.

'reductio ad absurdum'

Alga, the underlying 'logic' of your standoint on history will compell you to conclusions such as insisting that democracy leads to 'fascist dictatorships'. That's because exactly the same 'logic' permits dictatorships like Cuba and North Korea to style themselves as 'democracies'.

This is not a personal criticism. The process at work there is 'dialectical' reasoning. It defines its 'conclusions' according to its premises, and will resist any facts that get in the way. That's how it works. Once hooked in with the 'logic' of the process, you have no choice but to form conclusions that anyone esle would dismiss as 'reductio ad absurdum'.

You're in fine company, though. Most of the West's liberal arts academics have been burbling on in exactly the same way since the founding of the Communist Internationale and even today mostly cannot shake themselves free from that sort of thinking. But slowly, people are waking up. Finally.

Hicks' letters

Richard - yes I was aware of the age of Hicks' letters, but in the absence of any more recent evidence they could not be completely ignored.

Alga - I am quite capable of independent thought, thank you, and am not captive to any ideologues, unlike you who seems to think it's all  a Christian conspiracy. I don't have a problem with anyone going on an adventure to follow their faith; however I think you've crossed a line when you start training to kill people in the pursuit of your 'adventure'. None of this changes the fact that Hicks should not have been imprisoned without charge for such a long period of time.

adventure to follow their faith

There'a a bit of a similar "adventure to follow their faith" underway in Mumbai right now, it seems.

Command influence

Firsttly, for  Veronica, here's a bit of media frrom when Hicks' court order was imposed.  The order was imposed because of Eliot's favourite letters.

[Adelaidenow extract]

Mr Donald said that while he noted a submission from Hicks's lawyers that the letters were "aged", he had not heard evidence from Hicks himself.

"When the expressed views of the respondent (Hicks) are coupled with the capacity to engage in such activities, I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there is a risk of the respondent either participating in a terrorist act or training others for that purpose," he said.

The readers of this report, it should be noted, would think the letters less "aged" than they were being led to believe.   It says that the letters were written "in 2002 while in Pakistan and Afghanistan receiving terrorist training."  Hicks, as we know, was in Guantanamo at this time.

Eliot, while we're talking about Habib; he arrived at the prison over a year after Hicks, and was being fed anti-psychotic drugs partially due to his claims of having undergone torture.  Mick Keelty and Downer blocked an Australian inquiry.   As for your citing of Habib regarding Hicks' jail conditions, I'll wait till I've read the book to check the context.  There seems to be plenty of credibly documented support for the cages, wouldn't you say?

 Anyway, last night  I was sitting on the dunny rereading Leigh Sales' April 2007 Australian piece Inside the Hicks deal, reprinted in The Best Australian Political Writing 08 when this (p 207) caught my eye: 

The Australians' friends were limited on how hard they could press the Pentagon on the Hicks case because of something known as command influence.  If a senior Pentagon official leaned on the prosecution to press charges against Hicks, then the defence lawyers could later argue that the charges were laid not on their merits but because of political pressure.  It meant the case could be thown out if the judge accepted that the President or somebody representing him had interfered with the case.

Because of fears of command influence, White House lawyers prevented [White House senior director for Asian Affairs] Green from speaking to the Pentagon on the subject of Hicks.   The State Department operated under similar circumstances.

In a report by ABC's Nance Haxton in October last year.  Downer's denial of the possibility of a Cheney plea bargain was incorrect:


Well no, you can only do a plea bargain, of course, with the accused. You can't … and Dick Cheney couldn't do a plea bargain, or I do a plea bargain with Defence Secretary Gates or whatever. No, that's not how it works. It has to be done by the prosecution with the defendants, and that was what happened.

Prime Minister Howard said much the same thing: "“We didn’t impose the sentence, the sentence was imposed by the military commission and the plea bargain was worked out between the military prosecution and Mr Hicks’ lawyers.”

"What happened" is quickly encapsulated in this Washington Post extract from April Fool's Day of last year:

Marine Maj. Michael "Dan" Mori, representing Hicks, took his plea negotiations to Susan J. Crawford, the top military commission official, rather than dealing with prosecutors who were seeking a lengthy penalty, according to both sides in the case

The next day, Scott Horton explained in Harpers:

Crawford is a protégé of Vice President Dick Cheney, a fact of considerable interest considering that Australian Prime Minister John Howard is known to have turned to Cheney in an effort to speed up the process and relieve pressure on him coming from the Hicks case in view of rapidly approaching elections.

Horton rephrased the situation this way, in February of this year:

Australian Prime Minister John Howard was facing a difficult election campaign. The imprisonment of David Hicks was figuring as a terrible issue for him and his Liberal Party. Public opinion has swung against his government, as people, led by the legal community, questioned how an Australian citizen could be abandoned to the perils of Guantánamo — when the U.K. and other nations had fetched their nationals home. Vice President Dick Cheney visited Howard, discussed the Hicks case, and returned home. Within a short period, a Cheney protégée, particularly close to Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington, Susan J. Crawford, was installed as the convening authority for the Military Commissions, and Ms. Crawford’s legal advisor quickly negotiated a plea bargain with Hicks’s attorneys. Later it was learned that Jim Haynes, known for his tight connections with the Vice President’s office, had played a key role as intermediary in the affair.

The most important revelation comes in another of Horton's pieces, from October of last year, in which Horton quotes an unnamed Guantanamo officer as saying:

One of our staffers was present when Vice President Cheney interfered directly to get Hicks’s plea bargain deal. He did it, apparently, as part of a deal cut with [Australian Prime Minister] Howard. I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America. And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade. It’s demoralizing for all of us.

Looking around for information regarding command interference, I came across this explanation by retired USA Colonel Daniel Smith:

Examples of undue command influence include: directing or suggesting a particular punishment be imposed or even that a subordinate commander initiate legal proceedings against someone in the command; complaining of "inappropriate" sentences (not severe enough) by courts-martial panels within hearing of future potential panel members; discouraging or impeding in any way the appearance or testimony of witnesses.

A question that should be asked is whether Cheney's arrangement, eliminating the possibility of Hicks testifying, constitutes the words I've underlined.  The major one, however, is whether the Howard-requested Cheney pressure on the pre-Australian-election haste of the Hicks deal constitutes "command influence".

If so, isn't the Guantanamo verdict illegal?

Reading matter

Richard Tonkin: "As for your citing of Habib regarding Hicks' jail conditions, I'll wait till I've read the book to check the context."

It is an extract from the book. Are you suggesting it is untrue?

The truth, the whole truth.. ummm

Veronica, it sounded to me that the letters were less something not completely ignorable, more a major factor.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it.  

I wish I'd spotted that Murdoch date error at the time.. would've written them a correction. 

Eliot, no I'm not saying that Habib's words aren't true, only that they might have been true from a certain point in time.  

Are you saying that those who say that Guantanamo inmates were held in cages are liars?

Weight gain

Richard Tonkin: "Are you saying that those who say that Guantanamo inmates were held in cages are liars?"

Oh, no.  Perhaps Mumdouh was a bit mixed up. All the excitement. You know.

He gets excited. And confused about facts. That's a matter of public record, actually.

Justice McClelland of the NSW Supreme Court found that publication of the article was in "the public interest'' and that several allegations to the effect that Habib knowingly made false claims had been true.

Or perhaps David was a bit stressed. From the torture. Cannot quite remember things straight.

The weight gain he experienced might have been caused by stress. Often does that.

David seemed only to remember going to Serbia, for example, after the picture of him with the RPG  training there with the SLA came to light.

Then he remembered. A few things like that. You know.

Strictly Ballroom

There's more waltzing going on here than at an Andre Rieu concert.

Ok Eliot, I'll take your word, and His Honour's, that some of Habib's words are questionable. For some strange reason I'd a feeling that you were wearing such a spur on your heel.

I know where you're going with the business abouut Hicks' weight. Have watched you do that pirouette already. I suggest you remember, while you're spinning on your toes, that the cage accounts don't just come from the Hicks family. Might I remind you that when David arrived in Guantanamo Camp Delta did not exist? Or are you going to say that the Amnesty observers were seeing mirages in the heat?

Latest round of Pres. pardons

The latest round of Presidential Pardons has been handed down by President Bush:

The new round of White House pardons announced Monday are Bush's first since March and come less than two months before he will end his presidency. The crimes committed by those on the list also include offenses involving hazardous waste, food stamps, and the theft of government property.

Bush has been stingy during his time in office about granting clemency, but more grants are expected.

Including these actions, he has granted a total of 171 pardons and eight commutations. That's less than half as many as Presidents Clinton or Reagan issued during their time in office. Both were two-term presidents, like Bush.

The link (from AP) has the list of all the persons pardoned and brief summaries of each of the cases.

Hicks, lib/lab cannon fodder

"Odd way to talk about Barack Obama. At least it's not the Jooooz for once."

Failed again Eliot. Obama is a right wing christian, no different to any other ideologist. Ideologists never see the real world until it runs over them, they just revolve around their programmed dogma and never get of the merry go round.

Veronica, I believe you have the wrong slant on this situation. That could be lack of knowledge and experience. Most people just follow the propaganda fed to them by the controlling ideologists, instead of actually learning the facts and circumstances surroundings many cases and happenings in life. If you've never been to jail, or been at war, then you have no idea how it affects people. Hicks’ experience would be top of the list in mental torture, particularly when restrained in isolation and degradation for so many years. It will be a long time before he comes to terms with it and the government should be helping as much as they can, otherwise by treating him worse than murderers, rapists and paedophiles, will probably destroy his mind. But I doubt he will hurt anyone, just himself as he's so fragile, which will make many rightists smile with glee.

Hypocrisy is the middle name of the ruling lib/lab junta, they preach support for everyone, yet only support themselves and their ideological ilk. Hicks isn't a member of the elite, so is just fodder for their fear mongering agenda.

adjustment to incongruous outcomes

Alga Kavanagh: "Obama is a right wing christian, no different to any other ideologist.. "

I'd like to personally congratulate Alga on being the first in my personal experience to call Barack Obama "right wing".

But I have been expecting it.

I have long been interested in the psycho-sociological processes by which people adjust their ideological pre-conceptions to accommodate seeming incongruous or otherwise 'inexplicable' outcomes inconsistent with their doctrinal beliefs.

How it is for example that a 'fascist dictatorship' like the United States could conduct a massive, two-year long electoral process involving millions of voters and hundreds of candidates and one result of which was the nomination and then election of the son of a first generation African immigrant as its President.

Simple. Despite all the evidence, he's a really "right wing Christian".

Someone had to say it.

In fact, there was no choice.

Hamdan to go home


Salim Hamdan, the worst of the worst of the worst.   Got less "time" than Hicks for driving for Bin Laden and now is to go home within days. Seven years in hell for not very much at all and yet Australian's still want to crucify David Hicks.

I mean, look at Gerard Henderson's increasingly brutal nonsense in the SMH today.

And the prosecutors are still trying to keep the Uigars locked up even though they were declared for release four years ago.

Pardons all round, I would have thought.

Tour of duty in Afghanistan

Marilyn Shepherd: "Pardons all round, I would have thought."

If David Hicks asked for my pardon I might consider it, so long as he renounced the racist, jihadist statements he made in his letters home to his father.

Well, if Terry renounced them, too. Then perhaps I'd consider it.

But not until then.

We used to have a former Wehmacht guy living in our street when we were kids. I think he eventually apologised to my next door neighbour's dad over a beer one day.

People opened up to him a bit more then.

Maybe David should try something like that.


Being a racist is not a crime, Eliot.   There are millions of them.  That is no excuse for locking people up for years on end and torturing them.

I bet if he said bad things about muslims the idiots would give him a medal.

Strapping young men in the service of their nation

Marilyn Shepherd: "Being a racist is not a crime, Eliot. There are millions of them."

Inciting racial hatred is a crime. And even if it wasn't, I find the fawning over David Hicks and his now former mate Mumdouh Habib quite sickening.

Hicks is merely pathetic, I grant you. But Mumdouh Habib, now there's something really special....

Strapping young man?

Are you, or have you ever been, a strapping young man in the service of your nation, Eliot?

Just a thought...

Fiona Reynolds: "Are you, or have you ever been, a strapping young man in the service of your nation, Eliot?"

Well, not in the same way as David Hicks, no. But then, my nation was the enemy to him.

Say, wonder if any of the strapping young men hard at work in Mumbai today trained with David?

Richard:  Sorry about the delay, Eliot, was wondering if this was too off-topic.  Want to write us a threadstarter on Mumbai ?

Just another misguided adventurer

I believe you would have to understand the mind of those who seek adventure and those who have been incarcerated in maximum security, and not just spent your life babbling in a coffee shop, to make judgement on David Hicks. Whilst it is true he trained for war in the support of Muslims being suppressed and slaughtered, he took no action against the USA or Australian troops. From what I have read, he was trying to get out because of 9/11 and knowing Australian troops were coming into Afghanistan. To me that doesn't sound like a terrorist, but an adventurer who was supporting a religion, just as Christians do; and they do it just as despotically, in fact, much worse.

David Hicks should never have been locked up in Aus. Not only does he deserve a pardon, but also an apology from the Australian government and compensation for their cowardly approach to his illegal and tortuous incarceration. Three exercise periods a week of one hour, if they felt like it. Constant light, sleep deprivation, loud music, no visitors, no connection with the outside world, no charges, except trumped up ones with made up hearsay and violently forced evidence. Yes Eliot, I'm sure you'd handle that easily.

As for him benefiting financially from telling his story, he should be allowed and encouraged to. He has not committed any crime in this country, so is not subject to the profit from crime laws. Naturally the right wing hypocrites will disagree, but they are always wrong, as their track record shows. The Rudd government has done nothing because they are also lackeys to the USA corporate Christian monolith, and no different from the Libs, just another label and different deceptive ploys.

The USA corporate Christian monolith

Alga Kavanagh: "The Rudd government has done nothing because they are also lackeys to the USA corporate Christian monolith, and no different from the Libs, just another label and different deceptive ploys."

Odd way to talk about Barack Obama. At least it's not the Jooooz for once.

Halliburton didn't build the camp for years

When Terry campaigned in 2003, Hicks was not yet in Camp Delta. Halliburton hadn't constructed it yet

This from The Age in 2006:

In the cell in which David Hicks lives, the lights are never off, and the window — a thin slit of frosted glass — never opens. His "library", as Attorney-General Philip Ruddock refers to it, appears to be a bookless room.

These photos of Guantanamo Bay were sent yesterday by the states' attorneys-general to Mr Ruddock to dispute his claims about Hicks' treatment at the detention camp.

A letter by the attorneys identifies the photos — provided by an unnamed source — as Hicks' cell and "reading room".

 Try this, Eliot:

[Motherjones.com extract]

Prisoners first arrived here two years ago, after being caught up in security sweeps following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Blindfolded, bound, shorn of facial hair, wearing surgical masks and earmuffs, they were brought to an all-but-forgotten Cold War outpost that was, in the words of base commander Captain Leslie McCoy, "just keeping the lights on." Initially, detainees were penned in Camp X-Ray, a collection of chain-link cages built a decade earlier to contain Haitian boat people. But after human-rights groups protested—Amnesty International said the cages fell "below minimum standards for humane treatment"—the somewhat more hospitable Camp Delta was erected.

Built by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) for an estimated $9.7 million, Camp Delta now has gun towers, a working hospital, and the telltale sign of military permanency..

Washington Post, 2008:

We were taken to Camp X-Ray, which consists of cages of the sort that would normally hold animals. Imprisoned in these cages, we were forbidden to move and sometimes forbidden to pray. Later, the guards allowed us to pray and even to turn around, but whenever new detainees arrived, we were again prohibited from doing anything but sitting still.

Nice try, Sunshine.  Try checking your facts next time.

Mumdouh Habib wouldn't be fibbing.

Richard Tonkin: "Nice try, Sunshine.  Try checking your facts next time. "

Mumdouh Habib wouldn't be fibbing. They're his 'facts'. Not mine.

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