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.



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