27 October, 2007

Free David Hicks, clear his name, compensate him, give him a job

Dear friends

I am sick of the careless labelling of David Hicks as "a terrorist", "a convicted terrorism supporter" in the Australian media. He should be referred to as the man who was tortured and kept in Guantanamo Bay at the pleasure of John Howard, who hoped to benefit from David Hicks' suffering.

I have just started a new group called Free David Hicks, clear his name, compensate him, give him a job on facebook:

David Hicks appeared before a judicially bogus Military Commission in USA, following over five years of false charges with no legal standing, unwarranted experimental torture, at the political expediency of John Howard, he was found guilty of a minor and legally weak charge, he naturally preferred to be return to Australia to serve a token period in an Adelaide prison having pleaded guilty. The moves to release David Hicks from Guantanamo Bay were apparently made by US Vice President Dick Cheney to help John Howard win the 2007 election.

David Hicks could be released from prison before (rather than after) the federal election on 24 November 2007. He should not need to be restrained and further harassed by a Control Order. He should be compensated for his suffering, the ruin of his dignity and reputation. He should be given trauma counselling following the egregious torture he has endured. He should be given a job to do within his capacities and to assist with his rehabilitation.

Never has Australia had a government that cost so much to maintain as the discredited Howard government.

I have invited Kevin Rudd to join this campaign. This is my letter to Kevin Rudd:

Dear Kevin

I would like to invite you to differentiate yourself from the most odious aspects of the Howard regime. Lets have a sensible and fair way of treating David Hicks. He needs to be released from prison, he needs psychiatric treatment, counselling, rehabilitation, vocational training and compensation. He also needs a job - I hope someone will be willing to give him a go now that he has grown up and learned his lesson.

John Howard kept David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay experimental torture facility for over five years to keep his government in power - and Labor out of power.

I am inviting you to join this new group. The door is open, you are welcome.

Willy Bach
Greens candidate for Griffith

This campaign is based on expert legal opinion:

Hicks case interference
/Guantanamo military tribunals update from smh this morning.

Richard Ackland
October 26, 2007

Try as they might to bury one of the nastiest instances of political meddling in the course
of justice, sooner or later the David Hicks case was bound to resurface as an unwanted
pong for a desperate government.

The New York attorney and Columbia law lecturer Scott Horton, who has written tirelessly on Hicks's case for Harper's Magazine, reports that a military officer told him that the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, "interfered directly to get Hicks's plea bargain deal".

The timing seems to work. By the end of 2006 the Government was taking a lot of heat on Hicks and its hardline "terror boy" tactic was fraying. Cheney was in Australia in February this year, the same month that Hicks was charged after five years of nothing much happening in Guantanamo Bay. The next month the accelerator went flat to the boards - Hicks appeared before a military commission at 2pm on March 26 and by 8pm that evening returned to the courtroom, where it was announced that his lawyers had struck a deal with an official in the Pentagon. The prosecution lawyers were nowhere in the deal-making loop.

Hicks was sentenced to seven years in prison, six years and three months being
suspended. His nine months end on December 31. The election is November 24.

The Pentagon person was Susan Crawford, who had the title Convening Authority.
According to Leigh Sales, the ABC's former Washington correspondent and author of a
book about the Hicks case, Crawford has long-time ties to the Republican Party, was a
chum of Cheney and had worked for him when he was Secretary of Defence from 1989 to 1993.

Hicks pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support for terrorism, under a US
statute adopted long after he was captured. After all that time this was the best the
prosecution could muster because there was no evidence that the former kangaroo
skinner had actually done any terrorism. In any event, prosecuting an Australian caught in Afghanistan under domestic American criminal law posted all sorts of legal problems.

Needless to say the front-line men here have issued all-out denials that anything so
rancid as a political fix would have occurred.

Yet plenty of disturbing details have emerged since Hicks started his term at Adelaide's
Yatala Prison.

Moe Davis has resigned as a prosecutor, citing political interference in the process. Not
only was he sidelined by Crawford in the Hicks plea bargain, but The Washington Post
reported he resigned because senior Pentagon people sought to use classified evidence in
closed sessions of the military commissions. His authority as an independent prosecutor
had been usurped by Defence officials - indeed the military commission process had
effectively been placed under the command of the department's general counsel.

On October 20 The Washington Post also reported that political appointees at the
Pentagon "have pushed for convictions of high profile [Guantanamo] detainees ahead of
the 2008 [US] elections".

On October 5 the US law blog SCOTUS reported that an army reserve officer who sat on 49 Pentagon status review panels to decide whether detainees should remain at Guantanamo Bay swore in a statement to the DC Circuit Court that the Government repeatedly manipulated the process. If one of the combat review panels decided in favour of a detainee the people at Defence would order a "re-do" in order to ensure the prisoner was designated an "enemy combatant".

Further, the affidavit said that evidence discovered by the Government, often accidentally, was not provided to detainees where it might be favourable to their cases.

Colonel Stephen Abrahams, another army reserve officer and lawyer, also complained of
the Pentagon ordering "re-do" hearings so that the status review panels could arrive at the
"right" result.

In fact, the corruption infecting what is supposed to be an independent military justice
system has become so apparent that it was a factor in the US Supreme Court changing its
mind in June and deciding to have a broad review of the legal rights of detainees. This is
scheduled for the current sittings of the court.

We have also seen the dismissal of two military commission cases after the military judges pointed to a flaw in the Military Commissions Act. The effect of that legal shortcoming means David Hicks pleaded guilty to an offence that did not exist at the time he committed it, before a commission whose legal status was a nullity, and whose regulations for its proper functioning hadn't been issued.

Now there's this allegation of a political stitch-up. You wouldn't believe it.


18 October, 2007

War is the issue in this 2007 Australian federal election

Shrine near Sang Khom, West of Nongkhai, Mekong River, North East Thailand

What follows is a very frank disclosure on my part:

As you will see from my candidate profile on http://qld.greens.org.au/election2007/HouseofReps/griffith/ I was in the British Army and regard myself as a reluctant veteran of the CIA's Secret War in Laos. I have been damaged by war although I never faced the 'opponents' in battle nor was I called upon to fire a shot in anger. Credentials are important and I make that clear. I was a sapper, 20 years old, and helped build an airfield for Air America and for a Commonwealth invasion of Laos that was called off. Laos was a low-technology peasant society, no threat to anyone and neutral. I am currently researching the part that was played in this conflict by Britain, Australia and New Zealand. I understand how difficult it is for enlisted people to say no to illegal orders. I tried several times. I was never promoted and spent some of my time under suspicion.

I have thought for a long time that the anti-war movement needs to have at its core people who understand why war is unconscionable and a travesty against human security and human rights. See 'Winter Soldier', a film about American soldiers coming out and telling one another what they had done in Vietnam - John Kerry was part of that movement. They threw their medals over the fence of the Whitehouse.

As well as being concerned for the civilians of Indochina who were needlessly slaughtered, I am concerned for the well being of the people who went, often in good faith, often with misplaced trust in the political leadership, and returned as damaged and rejected people who could not put their case. Their lives are very painful now forty years later. I will be talking with one of these people very soon.

If we can find such a group of veterans who are prepared to step forward I want to join with them. I am not afraid of ASIO nor will I hold back in criticising the shabby and unprofessional role some members of the 'intelligence' community have played in allowing John Howard to politicise them and make them go along with his illegal wars of aggression and plunder against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and several other places where ADF personnel have secretly been sent without the knowledge of the Australian people.

I deplore the way these people have colluded with the Howard government to erode the civil liberties of this country and have infiltrated academia undermining scholarly integrity. I deplore the way these people have undermined Australia's absolute position against torture and capital punishment and how their 'war on terror' is allowed to instil fear in our population for the political purpose of maintaining John Howard in power.

If this group conducts itself in a manner that could gain the respect of a large body of Australians it will need to invite people like Colonel Mike Kelly (ALP candidate for Eden Monaro), Rod Barton, the weapons inspector, Lt Col Lance Collins, Andrew Wilkie (2004 Greens candidate for Bennelong), Warren Reed, Tony Kevin and others - all whistleblowers who have demonstrated that the Howard government have lied to us and threatened the very fabric of democratic institutions.

It is now time to tell our major parties that they have nowhere to hide when the question is asked: will you support the Bush administration if/when they bomb Iran? Will you allow further war crimes to sully this country's history? Mr Howard, Mr Rudd, only straight answers will be acceptable. You were both silent when Israel destroyed a large swathe of Lebanon and killed over 1,000 people. You hastened slowly to assist 20,000 Australians who were living in Lebanon at the time. You don't have that privilege now.

Willy Bach

Greens candidate for Griffith

10 October, 2007

Abandon hope as Kevin Rudd joins the Liberals on the death penalty

The debate in Australia on the death penalty reveals that both Liberal and Labor governments offer little comfort for human rights in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. Both will do nothing effective on the death penalty and a string of other issues.

The usual story is that 'megaphone diplomacy is ineffective. But 'back-channel diplomacy' is done in secret and we, as concerned citizens have no guarantee that anything at all is happening. Click here for the letters sent to Kevin Rudd:

06 October, 2007

Racist Minister is a disgrace to Australia


Racist Minister is a disgrace to Australia

Around the world people are reading about Australia’s sudden retreat from a successful African resettlement programme:


"Australia's decision to freeze its African refugee intake is a sign race issues may taint looming elections, a political analyst said, as the country's rights watchdog called the ruling 'un-Australian'."

Herald Tribune

"The hard line taken on immigration by Prime Minister John Howard has been credited with helping him win the past four elections, and some assume Andrews' comments were aimed at influencing voters by again raising the spectre of Australia being overrun."


"Certainly, there is a nativistic streak in parts of the Australian electorate. In previous campaigns the Prime Minister John Howard government has benefited from concerns over immigration — especially in regional seats.

Liberal quits over mill

October 6, 2007 - 3:37PM


Liberal candidate for Lyons, Ben Quin has resigned from the Liberal Party because he disagrees with the federal government's approval of Tasmania's $1.7 billion pulp mill. He has resigned as a Liberal candidate because he profoundly disagrees with his party.

So, I postulate that Minister for Immigration, Kevin Andrews should be sacked because his racist statements profoundly offend his colleagues. Perhaps he should join Pauline Hanson. If John Howard does not sack Kevin Andrews, then he is effectively endorsing his errant Minister for Immigration – and we can assume from this that the election campaign has begun – and it will be a very ugly business from which this country’s social cohesion will emerge as ‘damaged goods’.

Kevin Rudd now has an urgent duty to establish his intention to conduct an election campaign that is inclusive and cohesive in character. He should call on John Howard to sack his unfit Minister!

Unfortunately for the bigoted Minister ...

Waiting to register at the Iridimi Transit Center in eastern Chad. This woman’s husband and 6-year-old child died amid the violence in Sudan. She fled with her remaining children and first arrived at the Chadian border town, Tine. She then walked 60 km to the transit center for assistance (some generous Chadian villagers helped her along the way). She now waits under a plastic sheet to register - the next day, she hopes - for shelter, food and water for her family.

© Women’s Commission/Megan McKenna

How could Australia find room for people as resilient as these, Kevin Andrews?

The Sudanese and other African refugees in Australia are proud, assertive, articulate people who feel profoundly offended at Kevin Andrews' references to illiteracy and Grade 3 education levels.

They don't need anyone to speak for them:

"A race issue on the eve of a John Howard election, we thought it might’ve just been the Aboriginal Intervention strategy or the Citizenship test or the Haneef debacle and leave it at that. Well, the polls just aren’t bouncing for the Coalition are they?

There aren’t any Tampa boats on the horizon either, so we’ll just invent one about these Africans that just can’t seem to integrate dog gone it. Boom, No Africans Allowed".


Have a good look at this man ... unfit for a position in public life

We must never think that our politicians are stupid, nor can we assume that they make mistakes. Every gesture is a performance for the camera, every word, measured for its impact, a sound byte for the electronic media. Look at the cosmetically enhanced face, the gelled hair, the tailored suit, the poised document and the Australian flag (with not too much Union Jack showing in the picture) This is a skillfully confected image. Everything has a meaning. Everything has the potential to send messages to the targeted audience. He is the very model of a Liberal Member of Parliament, Howard Minister and the man is 87% Rottweiler.

This is Kevin Andrews, former Minister for Workplace Relations, architect of the notorious Work Choices legislation, now Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. He will, no doubt, be remembered as one of the 'hard men' of the government of John Howard. Kevin Andrews has ruined the lives of so man low paid, young, old, female, migrant and disabled workers by increasing the insecurity of their employment.

As Minister for Immigration and Citizenship he has abused his office by denying a visa to Dr Mohammed Haneef and destroyed the Gold Coast doctor's reputation around the world. Dr Mohammed Haneef would now be unable to obtain a fair trial, even if he was a terrorist (which was the accusation).

So, now time is running out for trickster politicians to pull out a 'bastard act' that will resonate with the very basest fears among the least informed members of the community. It is time for 'dog whistle' politics. Kevin Andrews plays the race card with the tacit approval of his mentor and 'handler' John Winston Howard.

It will be time to launch a cowardly and despicable attack on the most vulnerable and newest refugee community in Australia ... Africans, specifically Sudanese. Oh, yes, Pauline Hanson is waiting in the wings, first to hear the ultra-sonic tones of Kevin's call to his kindred spirits.

Interview with Lindy Burns

Tuesday, 2 October 2007


Lindy Burns, ABC Melbourne

Australia closes door to African refugees


Africans unwelcome: Hanson

Article from: The Courier-Mail

Lachlan Heywood, Martin Philip and Michael Wray

... and the Kelpies and blue heelers are eagerly leaping on board:

Deport Sudanese troublemakers, businessman says


02 October, 2007

Burma, democracy and being consistently ‘on-message’