I’m feeling justified in the matter of David Hicks

Last year I wrote this in The South Sydney Herald.


Click to read

In that I wrote:

…When David Hicks memorably confronted John Howard on Q&A in October he asked two questions: was I treated humanely? and was the Military Commission process fair? Howard answered neither question, applying the airbrush liberally  to what really happened to Hicks between 2001 and 2008.

After distracting us with a motherhood statement about what a great country we have to allow Hicks to bail him up like this, Howard spun first into irrelevance: “Now, having said that, can I simply say that I defend what my government did in relation to Iraq, in relation to the military commissions….” How did Iraq get into this?

He went on: “We put a lot of pressure on the Americans to accelerate the charges being brought against David Hicks and I remind the people watching this program that David Hicks did plead guilty to a series of offences and they, of course, involved him in full knowledge of what had happened on 11 September, attempting to return to Afghanistan and rejoin the people with whom he had trained. So let’s understand the reality of that David Hicks pleaded guilty to.”

TONY JONES: Mr Howard, on this question of him pleading guilty, Mr Hicks says in his own book that his military lawyer, David (sic) Mori, was told by your staff that Hicks wouldn’t be released from Guantanamo Bay unless he pleaded guilty. Was that your position?

JOHN HOWARD: Well, I’m not aware of any such exchange but, look, I mean, there been a lot of criticism of that book by sources quite unrelated to me and I’ve read some very, very severe criticisms of that book…

Howard’s late-blooming desire to see Hicks returned to Australia had everything to do with VP Cheney’s visit to Australia in February 2007, when the deal that led to Hicks’s “conviction” was stitched up, and behind that was the 2007 Election. Howard knew the issue was losing him votes.

Colonel Morris Davis, the prosecutor in the case, recalls that in January 2007 he received a call from his superior Jim Haynes asking him how quickly he could charge David Hicks. (Now an attorney for Chevron, Haynes had in 2005 told Davis: “Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. We’ve been holding these guys for years. How are we going to explain that? We’ve got to have convictions.”) David Hicks was eventually charged on 2 February 2007, even though the details about how the commissions should be conducted weren’t published until late April. (Interview Amy Goodman and Col. Morris Davis 16 July 2008.)

Davis resigned from the Military Commission after prosecuting David Hicks, stating that “what’s taking place now, I would call neither military or justice.”

Howard assured us that the US had a long tradition of Military Commissions. He failed to mention that this particular Commission had been struck down by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Hamden v Rumsfeld in June 2006 so that what David Hicks was dealing with was a reinvented version, but as much a kangaroo court, to quote a senior British judge, as the previous edition.

More  airbrushing. And there’s more.

David Hicks’s guilty plea was an odd beast, an Alford Plea, something peculiar to US law. It is the plea of guilt you make when you don’t believe you are guilty but do believe the court is likely to find in favour of the prosecution. I may also add that David Hicks was never at any stage charged with or found guilty of terrorism. Some of the charges in Gitmo seem to have been invented specifically to justify the imprisonment of people there. Mr Howard passes over such technicalities….

Today in the Sun-Herald we read US did Howard a ‘favour’.

AS HE sought re-election in 2007, John Howard called in a political ”favour” from the US government to get any charge possible laid against David Hicks, a former Guantanamo Bay chief military prosecutor has claimed.

Colonel Morris Davis’s accusation against the former prime minister, in an interview with The Sun-Herald, adds weight to an American journalist’s report which quotes leaked US government documents.

Jason Leopold, from the internet publication Truthout, says he has obtained material, including documents from the office of the former vice-president, Dick Cheney, stating that Mr Howard met Mr Cheney in Sydney on February 24, 2007, and told him the Hicks case had become a ”political threat” to his re-election campaign….

See also Truthout Exclusive: David Hicks Speaks Out on Torture, Medical Experimentation at Guantanamo and Former Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor: David Hicks’ War Crimes Charge Was a "Favor" for Australia.

  • Read the letter from David Hicks pdf
  • Submission to UN Human Rights Commission pdf

    Read more: The letter that never arrived.

    Time Mr Howard revised that chapter in his autobiography and time that self-satisfied goon Downer ate some crow.

  • 17 thoughts on “I’m feeling justified in the matter of David Hicks

    1. In my article, following Lasry, I note 2 February 2007 as the date Hicks was charged. I see that today’s Sun-Herald article dates the conversation between Howard and Cheney on 24 February. I wondered about what I’d written, but found A chronology of the detention of Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks dated May 2007 on the Australian Parliamentary Library site. According to that 2 Feb 2007 were draft charges. The final charge sheet is dated 1 March 2007.


    2. The important thing to remember here is… John Howard is awesome. There’s only one thing that could have made him even cooler – If he answered every one of Hicks’ complaints with, “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have supported terrorism.”

      That would have put him in the rarified air of Reagan and Thatcher. He’s already close to those heights though.

    3. Quoting myself:

      Guantanamo: My Journey is a book we need to read. I am glad it has been published. Like Sally Neighbour, there are some things I would like clarified, but I now believe it to be mostly truthful. Hicks was a bit of a fool, you know, even if a desire to aid oppressed people is quite commendable in itself. He was after all a 20-something at the time, and “under-researched” as he now says. He hasn’t killed anyone or engaged in any act of terrorism; everyone admits that.”

    4. I think that’s where you and I part ways, ideologically. You say, “…a desire to aid oppressed people is quite commendable in itself.” I disagree with vigor.

      Desires are not even slightly commendable. Only actions can be commendable. And as we see in Hicks’ case, actions can be contemptible as well. He didn’t engage in terrorism. He only supported those who engaged in terrorism. That’s sleazy enough. People die because of supporters of terrorism like Hicks.

      To quote Goethe*, “If desires were horses, everyone would have tons of horses.”

      * – He probably didn’t actually say that. But it was before the time of recording devices, and he is known to have said some pretty weird stuff, so you never know.

    5. Hey, what’s the deal with this “Craig Thomson” character? I’ve only heard the right-wing side of the story. Is the fact that he used his credit card at a brothel a big deal in Australia? Or is the right just blowing smoke?

    6. The Craig Thomson thing is really unimportant except that it could bring down the government. It’s all just politics — the least useful part of politics in my opinion. I only know what we can all see on TV or read in the paper.

      The end of Gaddafi is much more interesting,

    7. Thanks for the head’s up. I kind of thought it might just be politics. The right is going wild with it. It would be quite beneficial to you if it toppled the government though. Me too, since I bought BHP (Billiton) last week. That tax on energy that Jules is planning on imposing will destroy your economy.

    8. Also, and this is a comment for ALL Australians, that continent to your west is not called ‘ifrica’. It’s Africa. A. Can you say that letter? Hint: It doesn’t sound like a soft i, or even an ‘eh’.

      While I agree that Americans, Australians, and Zealanders (at what point do they admit it’s no longer ‘new’?) that we’ve made English better, this is an example of the opposite 😦

      • Thanks, sioux7.

        When I wrote my own story last year I didn’t find it too hard to find the information I needed, however. Most people might not have bothered, though,

    9. I don’t think it’s just male genitals as you’ve stated. It’s a new form of taxing. A new way to take more money from the people who’ve earned it and give it to Julia and her cronies to spend on things that they want. But sadly, it’s even worse than that. This particular tax taxes PRODUCTION.

      I’m not going to bore you with data that shows that 100% of taxes on production result in national decline. No doubt you already know that. Perhaps Australia will be an outlier! I doubt it though. I’m an engineer. This tax is clearly a job killer to me. Maybe non-engineers see it differently?

      IMO, you should hope for that brothel guy to resign so you can get rid of that lying lady who’s currently your nation’s spokesperson. She’s made Australia laughing stock. That’s not ok with me. Oz is my second favorite country. Resign, brothel guy, so Australia can fix itself!

    10. I am totally in favour of putting a price on carbon. Your country should do it too. Most economists agree. http://theconversation.edu.au/economists-back-carbon-tax-package-2313

      It will happen.

      I greatly admire Malcolm Turnbull, probably the best person the Liberal Party has who is, sadly, not the leader at the moment.

      Mr Turnbull lost the Liberal Party leadership in late 2009 over his decision to support the Rudd government’s carbon pricing scheme and his successor Tony Abbott once described the climate change science as “crap”.

      Speaking to a predominantly Liberal audience, Mr Turnbull said taking action to curb emissions was not a cry from ultra-radical socialists, telling his audience even Margaret Thatcher advocated cutting greenhouse gases.

      “The question of whether or to what extent human activities are causing global warming is not a matter of ideology, let alone of belief,” he said.

      “The issue is simply one of risk management.

      “If Margaret Thatcher took climate change seriously and believed that we should take action to reduce global greenhouse emissions, then taking action and supporting and accepting the science can hardly be the mark of incipient Bolshevism.”

      Mr Turnbull said those parties currently attacking the Labor Party for its carbon tax would also attack the Coalition if it tried to implement its plan to reduce emissions.

      “If we form a government and then seek to meet that 5 per cent target [by 2020] through purchases of carbon offsets from farmers and payments to polluting industry to cut their emissions, the opponents of the science of climate change will be criticising that expenditure as pointless and wasteful with as much vehemence as they are currently denouncing Julia Gillard’s carbon tax,” he said.

      ‘Don’t abandon the science’

      Mr Turnbull said parties with vested interests were trying to muddy the waters on climate science to prolong the export of coal, comparing their actions to tobacco companies discrediting the connection between smoking and lung cancer.

      “It is undoubtedly correct that there has been a very effective campaign against the science of climate change by those opposed to taking action to cut emissions, many because it does not suit their own financial interests, and this has played into the carbon tax debate,” he said.

      “Normally, in our consideration of scientific issues, we rely on expert advice [and] agencies like CSIRO or the Australian Academy of Science, are listened to with respect.

      “Yet on this issue there appears to be a licence to reject our best scientists both here and abroad and rely instead on much less reliable views.

      “So in the storm of this debate about carbon tax, direct action and what the right approach to climate change should be, do not fall into the trap of abandoning the science.”

      Yes, Julia has screwed up. See also https://neil2decade.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/uglier-far-than-julia-gillards-lie-on-the-carbon-tax/

      So did The Greens when they opposed Rudd’s carbon scheme, out of their oh so annoying holier-than-thou perfectionism.

      But none of this has anything to do with this post, so note what I’ve said but don’t bother replying. I know you have your views, and I know I reject them.

    11. “I am totally in favour [sic] of putting a price on carbon.”

      There already is one. Carbon’s not free… at least when it’s bound to other elements in a way that freeing it can produce energy. You know this if you purchase gasoline or diesel. Or pay your electric bill. Energy is already expensive, but it’s the driving force of technology. There is no need to tax (what you call ‘price’) it any more. It’s taxed enough.

      Your country should do it too.

      Them’s fighting’ words, Neil! Heh. You should know that our state of West Virginia will be quite happy to pick up all of the coal sales that his law will price Oz out of the market. That foolish tax will no doubt benefit all other producers of energy. It will harm Australia greatly, though. Harm Oz, help no one. It’s pointless. BUT!!!… it’s your country to do with what you will.

    12. In any event, is there somewhere that I can donate to to get you to stop throwing the letter ‘u’ where it doesn’t belong? ‘Favor’ and ‘color’ come immediately to mind, but I’ll bet there are others. Let’s fix that.

      And once we fix Australians’ spelling, let’s work on the letter ‘z’ (Hint: It’s pronounced ‘zee’. While not as useful as an S, it has its place. Australians need to learn that)

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