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Gitmo and Gulag

March 4th, 2008

My namesake, Canadian terrorism expert Tom Quiggin, takes a look at the Guantanamo Bay trials, and notes their adherence to the principles laid down by Stalin’s chief prosecutor, Andrey Vyshinsky.

Quiggin notes that

According to Col. Morris Davis, who is a former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, it appears that the plan was made ahead of time to have no acquittals, no matter what the evidence was to reveal. General counsel William Haynes is quoted as saying (according to Col. Davis) “We can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? … We’ve got to have convictions.”

As Australian readers will recall, Davis resigned his position in disgust after the only trial to reach court, that of David Hicks, was shut down after the Australian government intervened to secure a plea bargain, with Hicks pleading guilty in return for a sentence that saw him returned to Australia then kept in prison just long enough to ensure his silence for the election.

Hicks’ guilty plea led to his being described by the Howard government’s fan club as a “self-confessed terrorist”. Of course, the same description applies to many of those convicted in Stalin’s show trials, where charges of sabotage and terrorism were a routine part of the rap sheet (as with all show trials, some may even have been guilty, but their confessions prove nothing).

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  1. Ikonoclast
    March 4th, 2008 at 21:57 | #1

    What amazes me is the strange kind of naivete and egotism which afflicts people as disparate as Col. Morris Davis and Hans Blix (to give two examples) when they run to do the bidding of the plutocrats.

    You have a machiavellian in Col. Morris Davis who is apparently surprised and outraged when other machiavellian machinations thwart the particular machinations he approves of. Is this not odd? Should he not expect precisely this kind of thing to happen since he has entered whole heartedly into the lawless machiavellian realm?

    And then we saw an idealist like Blix playing the U.S pretence game for them by inspecting Iraq when the intellectual and realist in him (one assumes he is a man of the world) should have seen the blatantly obvious signs that the US was going to ignore all evidence and go to war anyway.

  2. March 5th, 2008 at 07:02 | #2

    be kind to blix, he seems to have done his duty even while knowing it was futile. his name won’t last as long leonidas’, but perhaps it should.

    on a vaguely associated matter, see: “in the valley of elah.” technically a good movie, fine acting, reasonable plot. but poliblogistas should see this description of what happens to very ordinary people when the nation goes to war as a hobby, and the people follow out of duty.

  3. jack strocchi
    March 5th, 2008 at 10:26 | #3

    Pr Q says:

    Canadian terrorism expert Tom Quiggin, takes a look at the Guantanamo Bay trials, and notes their adherence to the principles laid down by Stalin’s chief prosecutor, Andrey Vyshinsky.

    Hayne’s alleged remarks were made OTR by a prosecutor to a fellow prosecutor. They are not the stated policy of the US executive or judiciary. This is not quite the same thing as the show trials where Stalin and the judges were publicly piling onto the accused,along with Vyshinsky.

    Also, Haynes is now a former prosecutor. The opinions of the current prosecutor are unknown.

    Also, on the evidence to date, the tribunals “adherence to the principles laid down by Stalin’s chief prosecutor, Andrey Vyshinsky” has not been very conscientious. Two out of the three cases so far presented have been dismissed>, without prejudice to the defendants.

    Of the first three war crimes cases brought against Guantanamo Bay detainees under the MCA, one resulted in a plea bargain and the two others were dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.

    On June 4, 2007, in two separate cases, military tribunals dismissed charges against detainees who had been designated as “enemy combatants” but not as “unlawful enemy combatants”. He dismissed without prejudice all charges against Khadr.[42] Also on June 4, Captain Keith J. Allred reached the same conclusion in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan.[43]

    But all right-thinking people can agree with Pr Q that there is no difference, none whatsover, between the Bush Military Commissions and Stalin Show Trials. Apart from the fact that the allegedly prejudicial prosecutor no longer prosecutes let alone ajdudicates and that the actual tribunals have dismissed 2/3 of the cases so far without prejudice and that in the one case that was concluded the Commmission meted out a very lenient verdict to a terrorist-traitor-deadbeat.

    And of course Gitmo is exactly like the Gulag in every respect. Especially the forced labour, starvation diets and executions. You can see this by the emaciated condition of its inmates.

    Ohh wait, it turns out that Gitmo prisoners are actually gaining weight under their Gulag-like diet.

    Meals totaling a whopping 4,200 calories per day are brought to their cells, well above the 2,000 to 3,000 calories recommended for weight maintenance by U.S. government dietary guidelines. And some inmates are eating everything on the menu.

    What kind of fiendish new punishment is this? They should all be packed off to AUS’s version of the GULAG – the Biggest Loser – where they will quickly learn the true meaning of hard time.

  4. Ken
    March 5th, 2008 at 11:57 | #4

    Being incarcerated, even with plenty to eat is still incarceration and I suspect most of the people who think it’s a doddle would be climbing the walls within the first week. Saying yes sir without hint of being sarky to people who treat you like scum – and you as yet convicted of nothing – no fun with the kids, no privacy, no sharing your bed with your lover, no going out drinking, lots of being ordered about, often with no more reason than to make abundantly clear that you have no rights and no power, must do as told any time and get ordered to do humiliating stuff to deliberately get you to lose your temper with the self-righteous arsehole guards who then have grounds to make you life even worse.

    Whilst there are worse prison regimes than Gitmo there’s not much doubt being locked up there is hell. Enough that inmates might well plead guilty to anything if it gets them out. Actually I suspect part of the why of the place is that home grown US criminals often endure appalling conditions – having alleged terrorists (with a president assuring the public of their guilt) being treated with Geneva convention rights as POW’s isn’t seen to be causing the alleged enemies of America to suffer enough.

  5. David
    March 5th, 2008 at 12:09 | #5

    Jack, you’re being disingenuous. I doubt that anyone would say that the Military Commisions are exactly like the show trials, or that Gitmo is exactly like a gulag, it’s just that the parallels are obvious and disturbing.

  6. jquiggin
    March 5th, 2008 at 12:18 | #6

    And of course, Jack, following their acquittals, the prisoners were released, as in any standard system of justice. Right?

  7. jack strocchi
    March 5th, 2008 at 14:04 | #7

    6. jquiggin Says: March 5th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    And of course, Jack, following their acquittals, the prisoners were released, as in any standard system of justice. Right?

    Please read what I wrote. I said the cases had been dismissed (emphasis again added for emphasis). Not that they were acquitted. Or do you think that these two have no case to answer for? THis seems to be the standard liberal line on the sainted Hicks.

    Right now the Mil-Co prisoners are in legal limbo whilst the entire US government is bogged down trying to figure out who should try them. TO play fair with his readers Pr Q should at least point out that the fundamental cause of the great hullabaloo surrounding Gitmo and the Mil-Cos is the intrinsically contentious status of the prisoners. Reasonable persons profoundly disagree on whether they are prisoners of war, war-criminals or just plain criminals.

    I dont recall this sort of jurisdictional squabble happening under Stalin. The attempt to portray the Mil-Cos as crypto-Stalinist seems insulting to Stalin, whose idea of justice was much more summary. His motto in legal action was always “justice delayed is justice denied”.

    No doubt Pr Q’s tacit assumption – that the militia-men and terror-symps picked up as part of GWOT should have been released with a stern warning on the spot or treated as common criminals and had their cases swiftly expedited by the civilian justice system – would have saved us all alot of grief, embarassment and ball-busting legal hassle.

    Personally I now think that most of our martial and penal action against irregular soldiers and terrorists found operating in second party countries is a waste of time. Clinton’s method of raining down cruise missiles on suspicious looking installations whenever anyone steps out of line seems the most humane and cost-effective method of dealing with the problem.

  8. mugwump
    March 5th, 2008 at 14:16 | #8

    Personally I now think that most of our martial and penal action against irregular soldiers and terrorists found operating in second party countries is a waste of time. Clinton’s method of raining down cruise missiles on suspicious looking installations whenever anyone steps out of line seems the most humane and cost-effective method of dealing with the problem.

    Exactly. And they should have just shot Hicks on the battlefield. Would have saved us all a lot of headaches, including having to listen to the moronic Australian left spout their tortured analogies with former commie dictatorships.

  9. March 5th, 2008 at 14:45 | #9

    Sorry Jack & mugwump, but you are completely wrong here. The cause of the “contentious” status of the detainees is not intrinsic is it perpetuated by the US Government. The Geneva Conventions are quite clear on their status.
    The wilful obfuscation of and blatant attempts to invent new excuses about their status by the US government is the primary cause of the problem. Nothing else. International law is quite clear on this or the USG would not have to argue that the USSC has no jurisdiction.

  10. jack strocchi
    March 5th, 2008 at 14:47 | #10

    5. David Says: March 5th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Jack, you’re being disingenuous. I doubt that anyone would say that the Military Commisions are exactly like the show trials, or that Gitmo is exactly like a gulag, it’s just that the parallels are obvious and disturbing.

    David, you are being ridiculous. Pr Q stated, and you seem to concur, that these institutions are being run in “adherence to [Stalinist] principles”. Whilst this is not, strictly speaking, hysterically OTT it will do until the real thing comes along.

    Liberals have developed a knee-jerk paranoid reaction to the inherently difficult problem of authority dealing with troublesome non-citizens. Eg the unfortunate situation of unauthorised aliens being subject to mandatory detentions was routinely compared to, you guessed it, the resurrection of the Third Reich under Herr Howard.

    In fact, Cultural Leftist “make us like them” policy bears some measure of blame for the growing terrorist threat and curly legal problems in the first place. Lax visa administration and mad settlement policies tend to cultivate fifth columnists with terrorist sympathies, both at home and abroad. The New York and London bombings prove this conclusively. (Although most Coalition govt. errors in relation to difficult foreigners are the fault of the Martial Right’s equally bizarre “make them like us” policy.)

    But these inconvenient facts are glossed over by liberals in the desperate rush to frame authoritative governments as lurching towards totalitarianism.

    There are precious few parallels to the Gitmo/Mil-Co and Stalinist situations. That is because the problem of administering justice for terrorist suspects has precious few parallels with any kind of legal situation.

    Jurisdictional squabble is the root cause of the problem. The major political parties cannot agree on how to determine the legal status of the prisoners.

    So the prisoners remain in limbo whilst every avenue of appeal is exhausted. Meanwhile prosecutors get fed up and just want something to show for all this effort. Especially to the families of the people murdered or monstered by these “soldiers”. No one seems to give a fig about them.

  11. March 5th, 2008 at 14:53 | #11

    jack,
    If your last paragraph were true they could resolve this immediately by moving the detainees to mainland USA and trying them under conventional laws. The simple fact the the USG is arguing that the USSC has no jurisdiction shows that they have no interest in bringing this to a speedy conclusion.
    If I were a prisoner there I would be using every possible avenue to ensure I got a trial under international norms – something they will not get otherwise.

  12. jquiggin
    March 5th, 2008 at 15:14 | #12

    #10 So, the “dismissal” is merely an indication that the Administration’s determination to secure convictions regardless is meeting resistance from those in the military justice system who still adhere to American values. All such obstacles have been met, as you would expect, with reconstituted trials.

    As regards actual resolutions, we have only “offer you can’t refuse” deal for Hicks.

    I won’t respond to your attempts to blame the left for Bush, except to observe that you are improving the parallel with previous apologetics for show trials.

  13. jack strocchi
    March 5th, 2008 at 17:05 | #13

    9. Andrew Reynolds Says: March 5th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Sorry Jack & mugwump, but you are completely wrong here. The cause of the “contentious� status of the detainees is not intrinsic is it perpetuated by the US Government. The Geneva Conventions are quite clear on their status.

    The wilful obfuscation of and blatant attempts to invent new excuses about their status by the US government is the primary cause of the problem. Nothing else. International law is quite clear on this or the USG would not have to argue that the USSC has no jurisdiction.

    Sorry Andrew but you will need more than bluster and bluff to make your case. Try to understand what I mean when I use words like “legal status” and “contention” before you jump off the deep end. They do not mean the same as “I wholeheartedly support the USG’s establishment of military commissions”. They all get over-lawyered and then become cause celebres.

    Also, Gitmo looks like a bad idea. Although I think that putting terror-suspects in ordinary civilian jails would be asking for trouble. They would most likely wind up with an Aryan Brotherhood shiv sticking out of their back.

    But that obvious implication only highlights the legal minefield we wandered into when this whole thing blew up in our faces.

    That does not change the fact that the status of non-citizen terrorist suspects remains inherently contentious, liberal bluster and howls of outrage notwithstanding. Even the USSC does not deny this fact, which is why its judgement did not make a definitive positive stipulation as to how justice should be administered in these cases.

    Also, anyone who thinks that the GC provides “clear” guidance on how to legally administer terrorists is having you on. The GC emerged from the 19th C jurisprudence and was primarily designed to regulate the treatment of prisoners in state-on-state warfare. Its a long way from Al Quaeda and 911.

    Heavy-hitting jurists are divided on the matter. The USSC’s handed down a split decision, 5-3 against the Mil-Cos interpretation of the GC. There is plenty of room for debate, especially for those who do not blindly accept the dogmas of post-modern liberalism.

  14. Hal9000
    March 5th, 2008 at 17:20 | #14

    Jack – “is not quite the same thing as the show trials where Stalin and the judges were publicly piling onto the accused,along with Vyshinsky.”

    Is calling them all (including the 200 or so who have been quietly released since) ‘the worst of the worst’ isn’t ‘publicly piling in’, then?

    Mugwump “And they should have just shot Hicks on the battlefield.” He wasn’t captured on the battlefield, but at a bus stop. On the other hand the American Lindh was however captured on a battlefield, but then he wasn’t sent to Gitmo or a military commission, but instead to a regular US court. He also was offered a plea bargain, although almost certainly guilty of treason (having borne arms against US forces). The only plausible reason for this was to keep Lindh from introducing evidence of torture in his defence to the capital charge. Yet again, the ‘hard line’ you’d no doubt support in fact lets the bad guys off the hook.

  15. jack strocchi
    March 5th, 2008 at 17:40 | #15

    12. jquiggin Says: March 5th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    So, the “dismissal� is merely an indication that the Administration’s determination to secure convictions regardless is meeting resistance from those in the military justice system who still adhere to American values. All such obstacles have been met, as you would expect, with reconstituted trials.

    The Administration actually set up and staffed this “military justice system” so presumably they should probably get some of the credit for its “adherence to American values”. Prosecutors can hardly be blamed for being dogged in pursuit of their prey. After all, why bother to over-lawyer a country to death if the prosecution cannot get into the act?

    “Reconstituted trials” sound a far cry from a stint in Lubyanka. It is reassuring to see how far Pr Q has back-tracked from the silly Stalinist Show Trial analogy.

    Pr Q says:

    As regards actual resolutions, we have only “offer you can’t refuse� deal for Hicks.

    He got off lightly and has no cause for complaint. THere is sufficient evidence that he helped the mass-murdering Al Quaeda even as ADF troops were in the field on the opposing side. Terrorist and traitor. Also dead-beat dad. Hicks for President!

    Pr Q says:

    I won’t respond to your attempts to blame the left for Bush, except to observe that you are improving the parallel with previous apologetics for show trials.

    Its a relief that you “wont respond to my attempts to blame the Left for Bush” because you would be sparring at a self-created phantom, which does seem a waste of your martial arts skills. It helps to avoid such red-herrings by supplying quotes.

    Contrary to your puzzling claim, I blame Bush and the Martial Right for sticking our country’s nose in other peoples messes. I do blame the Cultural Left for rubbing other people’s messes into our country’s nose.

    The Broad Left, to its credit, has consistently opposed reckless foreign adventurism.

    Many Northern hemispheric nations have suffered civil unrest and other terrorist-related problems as a direct result of nutso liberal-Left cultural policies for settling ethnics.

    The unpleasant results of these cultural policies gone wrong are evident to anyone brave enough to wander certain streets of London or Paris. Or have we forgotten the 7/7 bombings already?

    Signs of the same malaise were emerging in AUS until Howard re-stored adult supervision of cultural policy.

  16. jack strocchi
    March 5th, 2008 at 17:46 | #16

    14. Hal9000 Says: March 5th, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Is calling them all (including the 200 or so who have been quietly released since) ‘the worst of the worst’ isn’t ‘publicly piling in’, then?

    Uhhm, Howard is the PM of AUS. Last time I checked he does not have executive powers over USA jurisdiction.

    But I take your point. Trial by media, whether exoneration* by the Left or excoriation by the Right, is a bad look. Howard should have zipped it.

    * Which has now evolved into shameless adulation, according to well-known principles of moral inversion.

  17. March 5th, 2008 at 17:49 | #17

    jack,
    With respect, I do not think I can be called one who does “blindly accept the dogmas of post-modern liberalism.” I have read the GCs on this and other topics. The conventions clearly set up several categories for people found on the battlefield in possession of weapons – not one of which is a “terrorist” or “illegal combatant” – but whatever it does it certainly does not create the sorts of gaps that the USG have been trying to fly their “rendition” flights through. Those found off the battlefield with weapons also have clear categories – also, none of them “terrorist” or “illegal combatant”.
    To me at least, any reading of the law here is clear – you are either a POW, with the attendant rights thereof or you are a criminal, also with certain rights.
    There simply is no third category without any rights and subject to any treatment that the executive branch of the detaining power gets to choose for you.
    .
    To me, this is the scary part of all this. The executive of a foreign power gets to kidnap who they want from wherever they happen to be, slap a designation of their own invention on them, take them wherever they choose to take them, subject them to treatment almost any sane person would call torture and then claim no-one has any jurisdiction to stop them doing it. It then takes up to six or seven years before there is any truly effective oversight – which there is not, even now.
    .
    To put it bluntly if international law allows this then international law is truly an ass. Fortunately, I do not believe international law is wrong here. It is the USG and a few of the judges on the USSC, who have, unfortunately, got this clearly wrong. Fortunately they are in a minority.

  18. March 5th, 2008 at 17:55 | #18

    And before you accuse me of any further moral relativism, I believe Hicks was a bl**dy idiot. However, as conceded by the government, he broke no Australian law. If there is a fault, then, it is with Australian law, not Hicks. That is hardly a reason to condemn Hicks.

  19. jack strocchi
    March 5th, 2008 at 18:21 | #19

    17. Andrew Reynolds Says: March 5th, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    I have read the GCs on this and other topics. The conventions clearly set up several categories for people found on the battlefield in possession of weapons – not one of which is a “terroristâ€? or “illegal combatantâ€? –

    Lets grant that you, and the majority of the USSC are right, and that the GC is a straightforward guide to the legal administration of non-citizen members of irregular militias suspected of committing war-crimes arrested in second party countries lacking basic legal institutions. (Piece of cake!!!)

    Perhaps its time for the Geneva Convention to be revised, to take into account developments in military conduct since WWI and WWII? This would seem to be a more useful deployment of legal skills than this mind-numbing debate.

    Of course liberals and legalists have their hands full drawing far-fetched analogies of Coalition govts with Stalin and Hitler. So perhaps I should not raise any hopes on this score.

  20. Ikonoclast
    March 5th, 2008 at 19:40 | #20

    “Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgement. Not even the wise can see all ends.” – Gandalf the Grey.

  21. mugwump
    March 6th, 2008 at 00:25 | #21

    He wasn’t captured on the battlefield, but at a bus stop.

    Ah yes, the world-famous Afghanistani public transport network. I suppose he was just commuting to his job as an elementary school teacher at the local missionary school? Grow a brain, man.

    On the other hand the American Lindh was however captured on a battlefield, but then he wasn’t sent to Gitmo or a military commission, but instead to a regular US court.

    Gee, maybe that’s because he is a US citizen?

  22. Ian Gould
    March 6th, 2008 at 05:20 | #22

    Approximately 90% of the Guantanamo inmates weren’t captured by US forces “on the battlefield” or anywhere else – they were handed over to the US by Afghani militia (mostly ex-Taliban themselves) in exchange for cash.

    I’m sure Mugwump and Jack share complete confidence in the fairness and impartiality of those militia and don’t for a second buy the stories of them grabbing people off the streets at random; extorting people for protection money and turning them over if they couldn’t pay or targetting members of rival clans.

    Besides, in the words of one US officer stationed at Gitmo “Even if they weren’t anti-American to begin with they probably are by now.”

  23. gandhi
    March 6th, 2008 at 07:59 | #23

    People like Jack and Mugwump have already made up their minds to accept without reservation every word of the GWOT claptrap.

    They have now invested so much ego into the game that they do not dare to take one step back, whatever the evidence, for fear of being exposed as fools.

    And so they battle on in the comments threads, just as US forces battle on in Iraq, just as the military hardliners battle on in Gitmo…

  24. Hal9000
    March 6th, 2008 at 10:48 | #24

    Jack: ‘Uhhm, Howard is the PM of AUS.’ Yes, sadly, he was. But George W Bush is still President of the US and it was he who called the Gitmo detainees ‘the worst of the worst’, not Howard. Uhhm. Over to you.

    mugwump: ‘Gee, maybe that’s because he is a US citizen?’

    Glad to see you’re living up to expectations in failing to engage with the point I made, mugwump. So much easier to argue the point you’d rather I made. The point I actually made was that the Lindh case, where the evidence of guilt in relation to a crime (one already on the statute books – a first for George W jurisprudence) was open-and-shut, resulted in a relatively light sentence. Why? Because Lindh was tortured, and US courts don’t like that kind of stuff happening to defendants. If Lindh had been treated correctly, he could well have been hanged, or shot, or whatever other mediaeval barbarity is used as punishment for treason in the US these days. Torture and rule of law don’t mix. Geddit?

    Your misdirected response does however highlight the degree to which the words of the Declaration of Independence have been mangled beyond all recognition by the current gang holed up in the White House. The ‘self-evident’ truth that ‘all men are created equal’ has clearly been amended to create two classes of humanity under US law – US citizens and others. The efforts of Bush and co to create little black holes of legal limbo such as Gitmo, the behaviour of mercenary forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rendition program etc etc actually tear at the fabric of society much more radically than the actions of a few fanatics bent on martyrdom. In the GWOT, the hairy chest camouflages a diseased heart.

  25. mugwump
    March 6th, 2008 at 10:50 | #25

    People like Jack and Mugwump have already made up their minds to accept without reservation every word of the GWOT claptrap.

    No gandhi, I just don’t accept the unthinking, knee-jerk anti-Americanism so characteristic of the Australian left.

  26. mugwump
    March 6th, 2008 at 11:06 | #26

    The point I actually made was that the Lindh case … resulted in a relatively light sentence. Why? Because Lindh was tortured, and US courts don’t like that kind of stuff happening to defendants.

    Utter rot.

    He copped a plea bargain for 20 years without parole. He was sentenced without trial.

    If his treatment was so abhorrent to the US courts (and by implication US jurors), why did he agree to such a heavy sentence?

  27. March 6th, 2008 at 11:16 | #27

    mugwump,
    As many regular readers of this blog may know, I certainly cannot be accused of “unthinking, knee-jerk anti-Americanism” nor, I trust, can I be admitted to that group known as “the Australian left.”
    Guantanamo, and the legal limbo it attempts to create, though, are an abomination. The idea that you can kidnap (or even legally capture) anyone and simply by flying them to somewhere else you can remove them from judicial oversight of their detention and effectively deny them the coverage of international law is simply and utterly beyond the pale. This was the argument of the USG.
    The idea that anyone supports such an exercise of arbitrary power by a government, for whatever reason, makes me worried about their belief in the role of the rule of law in our society.

  28. mugwump
    March 6th, 2008 at 11:30 | #28

    test

  29. mugwump
    March 6th, 2008 at 11:46 | #29

    I have a comment in the mod queue. Not sure why. test: treatment

  30. mugwump
    March 6th, 2008 at 11:46 | #30

    oh well, not caused by that.

  31. gandhi
    March 6th, 2008 at 13:23 | #31

    Mugwump,

    Wedge politics is messing with your brain.

    You can be against what you see as “the unthinking, knee-jerk anti-Americanism so characteristic of the Australian left” without necessarily supporting the unthinking, knee-jerk pro-Americanism so characteristic of the Australian right.

  32. Enemy Combatant
    March 6th, 2008 at 13:40 | #32

    “gandhi Says:
    March 6th, 2008 at 7:59 am
    People like Jack and Mugwump have already made up their minds to accept without reservation every word of the GWOT claptrap.”

    Perfectly true, gandhi. If David Hicks did not exist it would be necessary for the GWOT-swots to invent him. The wages of trying to justify Gitmo uber alles and dismiss the relevance of the Geneva Convention seems to be an Enegizer Bunny-style doubleplusgood blogspeak.

  33. March 6th, 2008 at 13:57 | #33

    Nonsense EC. As far as I can follow that (short) tirade I disagree with it. David Hicks would not need to be invented by anyone. He was a bl**dy idiot and one of the real problems was that Australian (or any other applicable) law did not allow for his prosecution for (allegedly) assisting what was (allegedly) a terrorist organisation.
    The fact it did not allow for his prosecution means that he should have been immediately released or accorded PoW status. The fact he (and everyone else at Gitmo) was not so released, prosecuted under the norms of international law for any alleged offences or accorded PoW status was the other problem.
    No need for anyone to invent him. He was all out there on his own.

  34. Ian Gould
    March 6th, 2008 at 15:08 | #34

    The hilarious thing about people who complain about “unthinking, knee-jerk anti-Americanism” is the unthinking knee-jerk way they toss around the accusation.

    The not at all hilarious thing about them is the way in which they fail to understand that the policies of the Bush administration which they so mindlessly applaud have done such enormous harm to American interests.

    Remember folks, criticising a pointless war that’s killed 3,000 Americans (not counting civilians or “contractors) and cost well over $1 trillion and counting is anti-American.

    Becaase in their minds, they ARE America. (The especially sad thing about Mugwyump of course is that no matter how he loathes and despises Australia and hates himself for his base shameful birth here and no matter how much pathetic sycophancy he directs at the American far right, he will always remain in their eyes a dirty foreigner.)

  35. Enemy Combatant
    March 6th, 2008 at 15:11 | #35

    Andrew, your thoughts are nicely nuanced and a deftly argued rendition in support of international justice. Sure, Hicks was a young fool, but as you suggest he didn’t deserve five and a half years in an offshore hell-hole as a political prisoner.
    No doubt those who were content to leave him to rot in Gitmo for political expediency, eg. JWH, Ruddock, Minchin and Downer et al., only changed their minds,(too late to save their bacon), when the likes of Crosby-Textor said it was damaging their Party in the lead up to our last election.

    However, when a country joins a coalition that wages war upon an abstact noun, it’s always necessary to have “the other” to focus the citizens’ venom upon. Therefore, I don’t think my “(short) tirade” is quite as nonsensical as you state.

  36. mugwump
    March 6th, 2008 at 15:51 | #36

    The especially sad thing about Mugwyump of course is that no matter how he loathes and despises Australia and hates himself for his base shameful birth here and no matter how much pathetic sycophancy he directs at the American far right, he will always remain in their eyes a dirty foreigner.

    Whoa there Ian old chap! You’ve managed to exceed even your usually large falsehood density by quite a wide margin.

    - I was not born in Australia.

    - Self-hatred is not my forte; I quite enjoy my own company.

    - I am not a sycophant for the American far right (they’re generally odious and rather bad for business)

    - In hindsight I think the Iraq war was a *bad* idea.

    - Australians are very well regarded by Americans (note to fellow Australian males: American chicks dig the accent)

  37. March 6th, 2008 at 16:06 | #37

    EC,
    We will just have to disagree on some of that. I have little doubt that JWH thought (wrongly IMHO) that he was doing the right thing – but I would agree that the deal over Hicks was an expedient.
    The focus on “the other” was never going to work when “the other” was one of us – even if “a young fool”. Abu Hamza, or another “other” would have been much better – which is why I feel the press focussed on Sheik Hilali as much as they did.
    A war on an abstract noun is no war at all. Difficult to target a missile at.

  38. Hal9000
    March 10th, 2008 at 15:05 | #38

    “If his treatment was so abhorrent to the US courts (and by implication US jurors), why did he agree to such a heavy sentence?”

    I don’t know, but I’d guess a) to avoid more of the same and b) worse. Why would anyone cop a plea bargain for 20 years? The question is not why he accepted, but why was the deal on offer? This is clearly a difficult conceptual framework for you, so let’s try it analogous terms – what would you say about a deal whereby Martin Bryant was offered a plea to, say, unlawful killing or aggravated manslaughter with a maximum head sentence of 15 years. Would you be asking why Bryant took the deal, or would you instead be asking what motivated those offering it, given the open-and-shut evidence?

    Of course, the Tasmanian prosecutors quite rightly took the view that a public trial for the maximum charge was a necessary step in justice being seen to be done, and that the Tasmanian community was entitled, as far as was possible, to see and comprehend the evidence on what had happened. Justice being done at all, let alone being seen to be done, isn’t part of the Team Bush lexicon.

    But back to the central point I keep on making and you keep on avoiding: torture is counterproductive, even in the severely circumscribed terms of the GWOT. (It’s also obscene and barbaric, but I understand that’s not cutting any ice with hard-heads like you) Logically, then, either Team Bush knows this and does it anyway, in which case they’ve shown that the war on terror is just a decoy for another agenda, or in spite of all the evidence they don’t know, in which case they’ve shown themselves to be crazed zealots.

    Since the whole Gitmo and rendition thing was set up precisely and consciously to permit torture, which is it, mugwump: evildoers, fools or madmen?

  39. mugwump
    March 11th, 2008 at 04:22 | #39

    “If his treatment was so abhorrent to the US courts (and by implication US jurors), why did he agree to such a heavy sentence?�

    I don’t know, but I’d guess a) to avoid more of the same and b) worse.

    But he wasn’t getting more of the same (whatever that was), he was in custody in the US at the time.

    Since the whole Gitmo and rendition thing was set up precisely and consciously to permit torture, which is it, mugwump: evildoers, fools or madmen?

    Actually, the whole Gitmo and rendition thing was set up under Clinton so the US could pull terrorists off the streets without judicial oversight. The torture thing came later.

    My question to you is: how many terrorists attacks have been thwarted and how many lives saved using information gained under torture that wouldn’t have been obtainable via other means?

    I am not saying torture is right, but that seems like the relevant question.

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