Don’t push your luck, Hicks

Has enough time passed since David Hicks was bullied into pleading into whatever they demanded because otherwise they were going to hold him in Guantanamo Bay making up charges until they found a judge who’d accept them, that we’ll accept his plea as actual evidence of having committed a real crime so we can punish him further? The Liberals seem to think so:

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Guy Barnett has questioned whether convicted terrorism supporter David Hicks’s memoir will breach the Proceeds of Crime Act.

In unrelated news, both the President who abandoned the rule of law to use Guantanamo as a special extra-legal imprisonment system for people he accused of offences that didn’t actually exist when they were alleged to have committed them, and the Prime Minister who was happy to leave an Australian languishing in it (whilst unconstitutionally keeping people off the electoral roll for his own political advantage), have written their own memoirs since the incident. Neither of these breach the Proceeds of Crime Act, because nobody placed those men in legal limbo with no prospect of a fair trial unless they pleaded guilty to something.

So that’s good.

It’s a bit strange that Hicks hasn’t been completely bullied into silence by the terms of his release, though. Doesn’t he realise we can lock him back up again if he says something we don’t like? As we’ve demonstrated previously, it’s not like it even has to be against the law – and this time, we made him agree to shut his big pie hole before we let him out. How could he betray us like this?

Meanwhile, of course the new “please don’t be angry with us Mr Liberal Party” ABC, armed with two differing responses to the David Hicks book, naturally chooses to lead with the one claiming his book is “deceptive”.

Can anyone imagine the “leftist” ABC daring to say that about Winston’s upcoming collection of self-justifying half-truths and evasions?

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20 responses to “Don’t push your luck, Hicks

  1. jordanrastrick

    Call me crazy (or perhaps just insufficiently “leftist”?) but surely its possible to both deplore the travesty of justice in the treatment of David Hicks, AND believe his autobiography is deceptive and disappointing? Can’t I be both against Hicks’ morally appalling decisions to associate with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and his lies about when, where and who he trained and fought with, whilst still being entirely for his right not to be locked away in a hellhole for actions that weren’t crimes when he committed them? I kinda thought that was the whole point, really.

    Or do I have to buy into the “with us or against us” mentality of the Bush administration and co, the partisan political division of the world up into precisely two opposing views about everything, and the media’s tired determination to portray every possible story as a conflict between the opinions of two people?

  2. A rep from the publishing company that released the book was interviewed on ABC 891 yesterday morning and certainly the focus of that interview was on payment rather than content.

    Personally, I’m torn over Hicks. As a father, I have the utmost respect for Terry Hicks and believe he was well deserving of his nomination as Father of the Year. Sure David did some dumb arse things but I think all prisoners should be treated with basic respect.

  3. Yes, jordan – exactly how I feel. I don’t think Hicks can claim that he was entirely innocent but do the Geneva Conventions not apply today?

  4. Combattants who do not belong to a State’s armed forces, who are captured not wearing a uniform do not qualify for Prisoner of War status under the Geneva Convention — so I suppose the question with Hicks is was he a member of the Taliban military, (which was the armed forces of a recognised State), or was he a member of Al_Quaeda ?

    I believe his status as a prisoner of war would be dependent upon which of those organisations he was a member of at the time of his capture.

  5. Jordan – I have no idea whether Hicks’ book is “deceptive” or not (I haven’t read it), and I make no representations as to his character – but I deplore what happened to him, and I refuse to accept the result of that process as any kind of evidence of the allegations that were put against him. And I’m unimpressed by attempts to recast that result as if it were.

  6. weewillywinkee

    I don’t think that Hicks has been legitimately found guilty of anything because the entire process was a complete sham. Secondly, I think it is in the public interest to hear his story (if he wishes for it to be told and obviously he does) because we need to hear what has been going on in that detention centre not only from US officials and the media. I think his voice will certainly add to the information that is currently in the public domain. Considering his situation why not allow him to benefit financially from his book. He has certainly paid a very high price for the knowledge that he has on this topic.

    I have not read the book so cannot determine whether he is being deceptive or not but in addition having never been to this place and not having the knowledge that a fair and justice driven trial can deliver I am certainly not one who can make any type of educated guess as to the books contents.

  7. Sure David did some dumb arse things but I think all prisoners should be treated with basic respect.

    It’s also worth notingthat the dumb-ass things that Hicks did (and I agree that they were dumb) were not actually illegal under Australian or Afghani law at the time he did them. It’s highly doubtful that they were even illegal under US law , which is why the US and Aussie governments had to blackmail Hicks into pleading guilty.

    The Government wouldn’t dare try to confiscate Hicks’ money since they’d actually have to defend his confession in court, which they won’t do because his confession was clearly extracted under duress.

  8. jordanrastrick

    The Government wouldn’t dare try to confiscate Hicks’ money since they’d actually have to defend his confession in court, which they won’t do because his confession was clearly extracted under duress.

    Which is why it’s a no-name Opposition senator and not a frontbencher, let alone member of the Government, who is making this suggestion.

    Jordan – I have no idea whether Hicks’ book is “deceptive” or not (I haven’t read it)
    [....]
    I have not read the book so cannot determine whether he is being deceptive

    Third time is a charm – I haven’t read the book either. I am merely defending the claims of deceptiveness (and somewhat more vaguely, “disappointingness”) in the article, on the assumption that its factual description of the book’s contents are reliable. Here is an abridged quote of Sally Neighbour’s main complaint about the book, whichJeremy seemed to find objectionable to use as the lead in the story:

    “The problem with Hicks’s book is that out of the 456 pages he spends less than one page talking about his training with Al Qaeda, [....] he did very extensive training over a number of weeks or months [....] And the fact that he skates over this and provides virtually no detail of it and claims he never did any terrorist training [...] is just beyond belief because there are now enough reliable sources so that we know that this is simply not true.”

    The sources she is talking about such as Jack Thomas are on the public record. Now these sources were never tested in an open court, because as I think we’re all violently agreeing, Hicks’ alledged actions were not in fact crimes and so there was no basis on which to try him. However, that doesn’t mean a journalist is not entitled to question the reliability or value of a book by an al Qaeda associate who simply refuses to address the serious accusations that made him a figure of public controversy.

    I refuse to accept the result of that process as any kind of evidence of the allegations that were put against him.

    I don’t give much credence to Hicks’ coerced plea bargain, but I certainly accept the eye witness testimonies as evidence of the allegations. Of course having not been rigorously tested, they do not constitute proof by the standards of a criminal trial. But they do constitute evidence, evidence which David Hicks chooses to ignore for reasons of his own. As a person not charged with breaking any law, that is his certainly his right. However it is the certainly the ABC’s right to publish articles that are unsympathetic to a self-serving autobiography.

    Secondly, I think it is in the public interest to hear his story (if he wishes for it to be told and obviously he does) because we need to hear what has been going on in that detention centre not only from US officials and the media.

    Agreed; there is a clear public interest case in finding out the truth about the treatment of prisoners at Camp X-Ray, as well as one in finding out the truth about the accusations made against it’s inmates. The fact that the book fails to address the latter does not negate its value with respect to the former. However, it does, unfortunately, mean that the claims concerning maltreatment in Guantanamo are a lot less credible, because Hicks’ clearly wants to avoid any critical examination of his story. Hence, his refusal to give interviews, or to use the opportunity of this book to respond to any of the acccusations made against him.

  9. Combattants who do not belong to a State’s armed forces, who are captured not wearing a uniform do not qualify for Prisoner of War status…

    Captured doing what, GavinM?
    What was Hicks doing that led to his arrest?
    Who arrested Hicks and under what authority?
    Who issued the warrant for his arrest and for what offence?

    Cheers.

  10. The whole national security scare campaign and laws raise a lot of who-s(?) and they aren’t answered readily. Journalists/bloggers can’t answer them readily either(without the fear of disappearing) because in Australia free speech isn’t enshrined in law and freedom of the press can’t be taken seriously when most news is from crappy UK style tabloids. At the moment we even have to contend with sedition still I think – it hasn’t been scrapped yet has it, Lefty?

  11. Not sure what your point is in asking what are really pretty silly questions Marek — but to play along with you…
    Captured doing what, GavinM?

    According to those who captured him he was fighting with the Taliban army.
    In the absence of any other evidence I see no reason to dispute this.

    What was Hicks doing that led to his arrest?
    See above.

    Who arrested Hicks and under what authority?

    The Northern Alliance and they didn’t arrest him, they captured him along with a number of enemy combattants — some Taliban and some Al-Quaieda.
    Their “authority” was that which is given to any army to capture enemy soldiers — or would you have preferred it if they hadn’t taken taken prisoners ?

    Who issued the warrant for his arrest and for what offence?

    See above again.

  12. “In the absence of any other evidence I see no reason to dispute this.”

    I do (surprise surprise ;) ), the US paid money to the captors for handing over the prisoners, there’s an incentive there. Unless you can personally vouch for the integrity of people who handed him over you ought to be sceptical.

    “The Northern Alliance”

    LOL!

    “Who issued the warrant for his arrest and for what offence?”

    I’m a bit ignorant here but was there a warrant with Hicks’s name on it?

  13. Are you disputing that he was with the Taliban forces Rob — because if so you would be disputing what Hicks himself has said (in correspondence prior to his incarceration).

    The fact that the Americans paid $1000 for the Northern Alliance to hand over prisoners is irrelevant — of course the positive to that arrangement was that it gave the NA a reason not to just shoot them out of hand.

    “The Northern Alliance”

    LOL!”

    Not sure what you’re getting at here — the fact is that the Northern Alliance were our allies — wether we like them or not is irrelevant.

    I’m a bit ignorant here but was there a warrant with Hicks’s name on it?”

    I doubt it — once again its irrelevant, he was captured with enemy forces in a warzone, why would a warrant be required ?

  14. “Are you disputing that he was with the Taliban forces Rob —”

    No, I”m disputing that it was a crime and I’m right.

    “Not sure what you’re getting at here — the fact is that the Northern Alliance were our allies — wether we like them or not is irrelevant.”

    What I’m getting at is that we’ve allied with scum that are arguably worse than the scum we went to oust. Now you can come back at me and say we allied with Stalin in WWII, so? So what? WWII was not a war of choice, a neo con adventure, it was total war, the West’s survival depended on it. If there was ever a time to make a pact with the devil then that was it.

    “The fact that the Americans paid $1000 for the Northern Alliance to hand over prisoners is irrelevant”

    It’s highly relevant unless you can vouch for their integrity, they are corrupt, what a great way to settle old scores, hand over people to the US and they’ll even pay us.

    So, they filled Guantanamo Bay up with loads and loads of the ‘worst of the worst’, so they say, it turns out that in Afghanistan at least they were paying warlords for prisoners.. How many have been charged?

    “I doubt it — once again its irrelevant, he was captured with enemy forces in a warzone, why would a warrant be required ?”

    Warzone? (there’s been no declaration of war, by this standard the entire planet can be called a ‘warzone’) then apply the Geneva conventions otherwise, if he’s a terrorist it becomes a problem for the police and the criminal justice system.

  15. Sorry for being late at getting back to you, GavinM, it’s been a busy week.

    You might think the questions are silly, but I assure you they are anything but.

    Hicks was captured, unarmed, travelling in a bus/mini-van. He was nowhere near a military operation, battefield or anything of the sort.
    He was just going from point A to point B.
    Thousands of people all over Afghanistan do that everyday.
    Should they be ‘captured’ too?

    Furthermore, he was ‘captured’ by a Northern Alliance warlord and sold to the U.S. for a thousand bucks.
    I find it odd that you recognise the moral authority of a viscious heroin trading warlord over that of international law.

    This idea that he was an unlawful enemy combatant is a charge that never existed until after he was captured and, even then, was only conjured up by the Yanks in 2006 so that they can pin something on him.

    Even if we accept this notion of enemy combatant status, he is known to have fired a gun in battle only twice.
    The first time when he was with the British and American supported Kosovo Liberation Army and, the second time, when he was a guest of the Pakistani Army.
    In both situations he was either a member of, or operating under the auspices of, a sanctioned military force.

    While he was in Afghanistan, he certainly trained with al-Qaeda and wanted to engage in battle with the coalition forces or The Northern Alliance, but never did.
    You’ll note that not even the Americans are trying to make that claim.

    David Hicks a religious dimwit with a taste for violence.
    He, like those who join American militias, is the kind of person I despise the most.
    Nevertheless, we demean ourselves by accepting that what happened to him was just and in accordance with international law.
    And for that reason, I’ll continue to ask ‘silly’ questions.

    Cheers.

  16. IF it’s good enough for Chopper Read, to write a book, and numerous TV appearances, why not David Hicks—-anyway it’s the lying rodent, the one who has more front then a rat with a gold tooth, John Howard, who should be charged with war crimes for plunging Australia into the Iraq war, a war based on lies, just to please his buddy George Bush. Regards Richard Ryan.

  17. Marek,

    Thats an interesting re-write of history there — a guest of the Pakistani army !! I had no idea that Lashkar-e-Toiba were one of the Pakistan army’s units, I also didn’t know that India and Pakistan were at war at the time Hicks was over there — perhaps we could hand him over to Indian authorities and let them decide if he did anything illegal or not ?

    The fact he was captured travelling in a mini van is also irrelevant — as a member of an army that we were at war with, and assuming he was wearing a uniform, he was correctly detained as a prisoner of war.

    It might interest you to note that PoW’s are often captured without weapons — it’s what usually prevents them from being shot.

    You might note that I never claimed he was an unlawful enemy combatant, all i said is that combatants not in uniform captured on a battlefield don’t qualify as PoW’s under the Geneva Convention, which was a comment in answer to an earlier question.

    As to Hicks’ own standing as a PoW, as I said earlier it would depend on wether he was officially a member of the Taliban army or wether he was there as a member of Al-Quaeda.

    Rob,

    ““Are you disputing that he was with the Taliban forces Rob —”

    No, I”m disputing that it was a crime and I’m right.”

    If you’d taken the time to actually read what I wrote you would see that I never claimed otherwise.

    “What I’m getting at is that we’ve allied with scum that are arguably worse than the scum we went to oust.”

    Once again — irrelevant — read what I said, the Northern Alliance were our allies, doesn’t matter what you and I think of them.

    I’m pretty sure Afghanistan was, and still is, recognised as a warzone Rob.

    I’m fascinated to know what makes both of you think that a warrant would be required to detain enemy combatants — please do enlighten me.

  18. I’m fascinated to know what makes both of you think that a warrant would be required to detain enemy combatants — please do enlighten me.

    I really don’t think that’s what they’re trying to do Gav. I think their questsions have been designed solely to highlight that the evidence suggesting that Hicks fought against the Coalition, or otherwise engaged in any acts that are ‘criminal’ under law, is slender at best.

    When you say that he was captured while “fighting with the Taliban army” you convey a very different picture to the reality that he was picked up unarmed, by a Nothern Alliance Warlord, while travelling somewhere on a bus.

  19. Hello Mondo,

    I didn’t say he was fighting with the Taliban army — I said the forces that captured him made that claim, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary I’m willing to believe them..The fact is we still don’t know what he did in Afghanistan and we never will because whatever evidence there is will never be tested in court. (As I pointed out earlier, if he was just a member of the Taliban’s armed forces he has committed no crime, on the other hand, if he was a member of Al-Quaeda he has at the least committed the crime of belonging to a terrorist organisation).

    The fact that he was on a bus at the time of his capture doesn’t mean he wasn’t an enemy combattant — who was on the bus with him, where was it going, where was it travelling from, was it a bus being used as a military transport ?
    Their questions have been utterley irrelevant to the reasons Hicks ended up in prison.

  20. HA-HA! David Hicks and Howard onQ&A tonight—-the war-monger looked flabber-gassed.

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