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Hicks case dropped

July 25th, 2012

After nearly 10 years, military trials at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp have produced a total of six convictions. One of those was David Hicks, who agreed to a plea bargain under which he would be sent back to Australia to serve out his sentence. On his release, he wrote a book about his experiences. Under “proceeds of crime” laws, the earnings from books about a criminal career are liable to confiscation, and the Australian government accordingly froze the proceeds and took action to have them forfeited.

The news today is that the Director of Public Prosecutions has abandoned the actions and paid Hicks’ legal costs[1]. Although no rationale was given, the general presumption is that the US conviction would not stand up in an Australian court, either because (as Hicks alleged) Hicks’ guilty plea was extracted by torture, or because the whole system failed to meet basic standards of due process.

Most simple of all is the fact that, unlike the usual case of plea bargaining (which is problematic enough), the options aren’t pleading guilty or going to trial. Rather those who plead guilty get a definite (and usually relatively short) sentence on top of their detention, while those who do not are held indefinitely without trial. All of this is relevant now that the Obama Administration is trying to “normalise” the plea bargaining process, by getting those who have pleaded guilty to testify against others accused of more serious crimes. Evidence extracted under this kind of duress is obviously worthless.

None of this proves that Hicks was innocent, either morally or legally. But that’s an inherent problem in a corrupted legal process. Since the trials are rigged in such a way that they can never produce an acquittal (those who might be acquitted are simply kept in detention without charge), a conviction doesn’t prove anything[2]. Morally, Hicks’ eagerness to go to war in any cause that would take him (he applied to join the Australian Army after returning from Kosovo) is pretty repugnant, but those who gave us Gitmo and the Iraq War are in no position to throw stones.

fn1. The only other Australian detainee, Mamdouh Habib, was threatened with similar action, but this did not proceed. He eventually received a substantial (but secret) settlement in return for dropping claims against the Australian government for its alleged involvement in his torture.

fn2. This is a problem even in the standard plea-bargaining system and has given rise to something called the Alford plea, apparently used by Hicks. The accused pleads guilty for legal purposes, while maintaining their innocence of the alleged crime.

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  1. Alan
    August 3rd, 2012 at 15:17 | #1

    I couldn’t possible say on the evidence of your comments. I’ll have to suspend judgment.

  2. Jim Rose
    August 3rd, 2012 at 18:48 | #2

    The renegade Left is highly selective in its recall of international humanitarian law.

    On torture, perfect recall, strict construction and may the heavens fall:

    • Of course, William Levi in the Yale Law Journal in 2009 argued that except for water-boarding, every interrogation technique authorized by the Bush Administration had been authorized before 9/11 and considered to fall within the legal constraints of the Geneva Conventions.

    • Techniques such as sleep deprivation, and standing as a stress position that were understood at times before 9/11 to be lawful for use on prisoners of war.

    When it comes to the reason for being for international humanitarian law, a stout ignorance infects the renegade Left and may innocent civilians be massacred.

    The purpose of international humanitarian law is to ensure strict differentiation between civilians and combatants and to provide for the detention and treatment of those captured.

    Humane detention to the end of the armed conflict increases both the incentive to give quarter and to surrender when the position in hopeless.

    The requirement to carry weapons openly, dress in some sort of uniform etc. is to ensure that the enemy is easy to distinguish from afar so that troops do not get trigger happy around civilians and refugees. This is the fundamental purpose of international humanitarian law: trying to save civilians from the fighting.

    The most severe punishments was allowed for spies, saboteurs, infiltrators, francs-tireurs and guerrillas so that not carrying their weapons openly and not dressing in some sort of recognisable uniform etc., was a self-inflected death sentence upon capture.

    In the Battle of the Bulge, the Nazi infiltrators in American uniforms lost all interest in their missions once the first few who were captured were court-martialled and shot.

    HT: http://www.lawfareblog.com/

  3. rog
    August 4th, 2012 at 07:48 | #3

    Not only does this commentator confuse/conflate US law with all law he then recommends breaking the law to rectify an alleged act of treason.


  4. Alan
    August 4th, 2012 at 14:17 | #4

    Nor does he explain his habit of editing the texts he claims to be quoting in order to support his renegade right positions. The new habit of hat-tipping to an entire site has the effect of enabling his distortions and fabrications. It is pious to deny this.

    HT: Aristotle’s Rhetoric, The Bible, Boswell’s Tour of the Western Isles, The Wife of Bath’s Tale

  5. Alan
    August 4th, 2012 at 17:56 | #5

    Unfortunately I forgot to say that my hat-tip to Aristotle is, of course, to the Greek text and not a translation. Ditto the Bible. And of course the Chaucer text must be read in Middle English.

  6. Jim Rose
    August 4th, 2012 at 19:01 | #6

    Rog, you selected the ramblings of a life-long democrat who ran mondale’s 1984 race.

    I am sure never an ill-tempered word has been said about Bush or Chaney? Bush derangement syndrome is but an urban myth. Bush derangement syndrome is an election driven mutation of the Clinton derangement syndrome popular on the right in the 1990s and on.

    I do not know what Assange is reluctant to go back to Sweden. Their record on convicting sex offenders is so bad that amnesty international issued a report.
    See http://www.thelocal.se/19124/20090428/ “Swedish rapists ‘enjoy impunity’: Amnesty International”

    Sweden seems to be a letch’s paradise.

    Why is it that the renegade Left wants to conduct citizen’s arrests of Bush, Chaney and Kissinger, but not Assange?

  7. rog
    August 5th, 2012 at 08:11 | #7

    @Jim Rose Funny you should select Bush derangement syndrome as a topic on which to ponder.

    Just quickly, in light of events which if any item attributed to BDS do you feel to be untrue/less true?

  8. Jim Rose
    August 5th, 2012 at 17:43 | #8

    1. Bringing Osama bin Laden “to Justice” Was Never the Objective of the War on Terror.
    2. Catching Osama was not really the goal, but selling the pre-planned war in Iraq was.
    2. George Bush is a Front Man for the Military Industrial Complex.
    3. Candidate G. W. Bush Promised to Tear Down the Wall Between Church and State.
    4. G.W. Bush Conspired with Others to Steal the 2000 and 2004 Elections.
    5. The Bush Administration Manipulated the Media to Disseminate Propaganda6. President Bush Knew 9/11 Was Going to Happen
    7. The Bush Administration Conspired with Britain and Used Deliberate Deception to Make its Case for War with Iraq
    8. President Bush Planned to Go to War with Iraq before 9/11
    9. President Bush is Trampling the Constitution and Turning America into a Dictatorship
    10. A Second Terror Attack Will Allow the Bush Administration to Complete the “Coup” that Began on Sept. 11, 2001

    the all to frequent mainstream media sources are at http://www.buzzflash.com/farrell/06/02/far06002.html and the change the last digit from 2 to 1 for the other link to sources.

    some of the conspiracy claims against bill clinton were so crazy that even anne coulter denounced them!

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