Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Terrorist from Oz

OK, our frequent visitor, Spotted Handfish, pointed out that there has been little attention paid the first conviction of any of the Guantanamo detainees. David Hicks, an Australian who fought with the Taliban against US and allied forces in Afghanistan, was convicted of providing material support to terrorists in a plea bargain. This after spending 5 years in prison subject to a legal limbo under military authority which the US Supreme Court have said was unconstitutional. You can see a BBC story about him here.

Hicks was also a volunteer/mercenary for the Kosovo Liberation Army (see wikipedia link here). After returning to Australia he converted to Islam and went to Pakistan to "study" before going to join the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan. This guy was a disturbed and violent individual who travelled the world to join in combat with some pretty unsavory folks. What's more he was fairly open about it - calling his parents on the phone to tell them he was about to go into battle for example. That he fought for the Taliban does not seem to be in dispute. His treatment in Guantanamo however is.

He claims to have been tortured and beaten repeatedly while in US custody. Regardless of what he did in Afghanistan his case should be investigated and the facts brought forward. Given what we know about US military practices under the Bush regime, I believe him. Unfortunately part of his plea deal is a year long gag order. Why a year? Well, when you add a year to the 9 months he's going to spend in prison you have him talking the press after our elections are over in 2008. Convenient, no? Perhaps LTG can comment on how unusual it is that a convicted criminal be required to be silent about his treatment in prison prior to conviction.


The Law Talking Guy said...

It is an unusual provision, but I have no data on how unusual. Certainly, the only US laws of general application are those that forbid felons profiting from books, etc., (the "Son of Sam" laws) not ones depriving them of all First Amendment rights.

David Hicks just wanted to get out of Gitmo. Any prison in Australia will be better than that hellhole. It is up to the Australian government to see if it wants him to talk. They have the power to effectively void any deal with the USA.

Don't look for John Howard to do the right thing, though.

By the way, the Kosovo Liberation Army? The KLA? Jeez, does anyone else remember that we supported those guys in 1999? I sure hope that won't turn out to be as wrongheaded as our blind support for the Mujahedeen (precursors of Taliban) in 1980-1988 in Afghanistan. My instinct says it is not so. The Kosovo campaign lasted a scant 3 months and is unlikely to have had the such a lasting cultural impact on the participants.

USwest said...

This guy has an odd profile. He had to have had a chemical imbalance that made him love adrenaline rushes: Shark fisherman, kangaroo skinner (didn’t know such a thing existed), horse trainer in Japan, KLA, Taliban? I’m surprised he didn’t join the Chechens as well. It would have been better for us all if he had joined the French Foreign Legion. Some people join the circus for adventure. This guy was the circus.

That aside, as LTG pointed out, that doesn't justify denying someone their legal rights.

Anonymous said...

Certainly Hicks is a lost soul. It is interesting to see your perspective on him. I think the list of jobs presented is more because it makes him sound like a loony. Shark fisherman sounds better than just fisherman which is probably what he was, and sharks in Australia do come in small sizes (1-2 foot). Kangaroo skinner? Wow, that's high intensity. (By the way, the job probably comes up because kangaroos develop in plague proportions requiring culling in various areas due to crop irrigation, the meat is often not fit for sale simply due to state regulations, and hence the skin is the most valuable bit. The Italians think it's great as a leather. It's probably harder to skin a cow.) And a really high proportion of Australians move overseas for a while and get odd jobs. I'm not saying his militant nature is not contemptible, but it is interesting that his list of jobs is more important than the fact that he is a father of two.

John Howard has been ignoring the whole thing saying that he wants to see the US commission do it's job and hence it is not our problem. Kind of like him shipping illegal immigrants to other countries for processing. This strategy has backfired on him in the polls. The Brits have their citizens back and have had so for years; Hicks even applied for UK citizenship to try and get out.

I guess the thing that stunned me was the way the Commission met and dealt with the whole situation. Hick's civilian lawyers were excluded, his military lawyer Major Mori has been threatened over his comments saying the Commission is a kangaroo court -- how apt -- and the final deal was struck by the commission without the prosecution knowing. They wanted a ten-plus year sentence. In the end we have a guy -- the first tried by a US military commission since WWII from what I've read -- who we've been told is very dangerous and who will be out of gaol in nine months.

He will serve nine months in Australia, he is gagged from talking to the media about his experience for a year after that -- how that is going to be enforced I'll be interested to know -- and the conditions prohibit him from speaking of torture. This is comedy.

Anonymous said...

PS Third comment was me. Still why I'm saying that about a pseudonym I don't know...

Spotted Handfish.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Spotted Handfish is right: why was Hicks kept in Gitmo for five years if he can be released on what is basically a misdemeanor sentence? The answer is obvious: he was a political prisoner, imprisoned not for his beliefs but because the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld junta could not admit that their War on Terror had netted a bunch of nobodies.

Raised By Republicans said...

Kangaroo skinner, shark fisherman, etc. I don't think these jobs make him sound dangerous. And his estranged relationship with his wife and kids sounds like it's all part of the pattern. I think they make him sound like he's a little mentally ill and a bit of a loser who got into this mercenary lifestyle for the rush and then got politicized and or brain washed to some extent in Kosovo or Afghanistan.

Like LTG said, this is hardly an Al Qaeda big wig. Bush et al would have us see people like Hicks or John Walker Lindh as the CEO of Al Qaeda's Australian or US subsidiary. But "nobody" is a better lable.

The latest tragedy in the long string of tragedies in these guys' lives is that they would probably respond better to psycho-therapy than 5 years in the Black Hole of Guantanamo.

The KLA thing is another embarassment for the Bushies. These guys are a nasty bunch. In the areas they controlled they killed political rivals and generally ruled through the barrel of a gun. The Clinton Administration had them on the terrorist group list. And after the NATO phase of the Kosovo war, worked to have them disarmed and coopted into more civilian activities. However since 2000, the KLA has reemerged in some districts of Kosovo and has even spread into The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (surreally known in many EU documents I've seen as "FYROM" - you know your country's being isolated when your name sounds like a UN accronym).

Raised By Republicans said...

As for the military commissions, I think LTG has posted several times about how these things are an affront to the US Constitution. Perhaps the subject is worth a revisit.