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The Washington Post has an excellent article demonstrating that the plea deal of Australian David Hicks was not based upon such rudimentary concerns as evidence or justice. It was a political solution handed down from on high after Australian Prime Minister John Howard had a word with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Howard is facing a tough election, and he has been getting a bit of pressure from the domestics about Mr. Hicks. In case you hadn't heard, the Howard and Bush administrations are pretty cozy with one another. So it is a bit more than coincidence that the very first case rammed through the new military commission process is the Hicks case. In fact it is hardly coincidental that part of Hicks sentence includes a gag order that is in effect until after the Australian election.

But the nakedly political component of this plea deal really is objectionable. Are we to believe that the Bush administration is willing to let someone they consider one of the most dangerous men on the face of the planet to walk free to rain death and terror on the rest of us after a year? For politics? The military prosecutors were dumbstruck by this deal. The deal was not done in consultation with them, and they were looking at a decades long sentence.

That this plea deal was political in nature is beyond question. The prosecutors were not made aware of the deal until just before lunch on the first day of the proceedings. The deal was reached with the approval of Susan Crawford. She is the political appointee who oversees the military commissions, and oddly enough has close ties with Dick Cheney. Even the Pentagon spokes toady admits the political nature of the deal by saying:

"Like it or not, the detainees at Guantanamo are from different countries, and that sometimes is a factor,"

This is the Pentagon saying, like it or not, no matter how much evidence we manufacture, no matter how many tortured victims proclaim the persons guilt... no matter how hotly the administration declares these folks to be the worst of the worst, politics will play a role.

I especially appreciate the sentiment by the prosecutor that Hicks should be punished for possible future misdeeds:

"I thought he was one of the most dangerous people out there because he was a Westerner who bought into al-Qaeda," Chenail said of Hicks. "He's the kind of person who could use that to his advantage to infiltrate and earn people's trust."

In other words, we think Hicks ought to be made an example of because he's a westerner... Not that there was any charge that he used his western connections to further the cause of terrorism. He may have done so in the future so let's make an example of him!

Don't get me wrong here. I do not believe Hicks was all that dangerous actually.  Notice I use the word "was" here, because I know if I were in his shoes I would be HIGHLY pissed about the whole situation.  I can't imagine a better way to radicalize someone against the west than what has been done to Hicks in GITMO.  I wouldn't want to wave the American flag in his face if we were the only two alone in a dark alley once he is out of jail.  But maybe I'm wrong about his current demeanor.  Who knows except for Hicks and whatever intelligence officer they have monitoring his sleep talk every night...  if he is allowed to sleep at night that is.  

Merely judging by the evidence against him, it was tenuous at best, having been attained by torture, or being shown to be manifestly false. Hicks was originally charged with reconnoitering an American Embassy that had not even been built at the time.

The fact is that far from being a negative, those western connections may be Hick's ticket out of Guantanamo and to freedom in less than a year. This type of machination ought to even further call into question the credibility of the entire military commissions system. Will suspects from Syria be given the same type of consideration shown for an Australian or British citizen. If the system is stacked based upon politics alone, how just is that? Is the military commissions system really just a way to hand out political favors, or dis's as the case may be?

The Bush administration is already having to play defense against charges that the Justice Department has been politicized. Are we now to just accept that the military commissions have been politicized as well? And the final, most important question I can think of is this: How low must this administration be to politicize international prosecutions in the war on terror?

Originally posted to bhfrik on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 07:29 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tips welcome... (29+ / 0-)

    I searched and could not find another diary on this...  If I missed something I'll delete.  This seems to me to be sort of noteworthy...

    I am the neocon nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

    by bhfrik on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 07:27:21 PM PDT

  •  That Hicks is not permitted... (11+ / 0-)

    to speak about his treatment at Gitmo for at least a year is extremely troubling for me.  The reputation of our country has been damaged, and forcing Hicks into silence only further damages our reputation...we will let you go on lesser charges only if you don't speak about your treatment.  Let's attribute the blame where it belongs, on Bush and this administration.

    I read another interesting article today on a Gitmo prisoner released to Britain...held for 5 years for having a battery charger...

    another interesting story featured the UK's cameras focusing on their population (a trend starting to catch on here in the USA)...

    •  The one-year gag order on Hicks may be a (8+ / 0-)

      hint about our own (U.S.) window. We here on Daily Kos and many who surf the web, are well aware of the specifics of the torture. One year. To me  this telegraphs a time frame within which the Cheneyites are planning to complete their coup d'état, lock, stock and barrel. They are not willing to take their chances at the ballot box in 2008.............

      •  There is a train coming down the tracks (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bensdad, kraant

        And they can see it.  The only way at this point to stop a total rout in 08 is to entirely disrupt everything.  The question is how far will they go to stop the losses?  

        I am the neocon nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

        by bhfrik on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 07:54:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I was thinking more about the primaries... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kraant, bhfrik, means are the ends

        with many of the states advancing their primary dates...  One year from Hicks' release would be after the Republican nominee was basically selected.  Will that nominee be a strong Bush supporter? a strong supporter of continuing the war in Iraq? a strong supporter of the Military Tribunal Act?

        At this point, I don't believe the neocons have enough support for a true coup...yet in looking at a lot of the legislation that has come into law over the last 27 years....we are clearly being set up for it...

        •  Ahhh.... (0+ / 0-)

          It would be tough to pick a winner no matter what the R. candidate says they stood for.  Right now what matters is they are R.  Remember, Bush stood for compassionate conservatism, bipartisan outreach and humble foriegn policy when he ran.  

          I think our next nominee needs to make a huge deal out of not just their positions on everything... but the fact that they will be surrounded by a competent, smart, and intellectually curious administration.  I don't care who runs... as the rec'd diary made a point of earlier today...  I'll back who ever it is that will replace these partisan hacks with competent leadership.  That by definition these days is the Dem.  

          I am the neocon nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

          by bhfrik on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 08:07:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The coup is less about 2008, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eiron, Pete Rock

          and more about the 'Monica Goodlings' that have already been put in place throughout the government agencies.

          The Republicans still have their control over the voting machines and the US attorneys. They are not concerned about 'support'. They know their fascist plans will never garner a majority of public support, much less votes. Despite the bias of the MSM, the majority of the populace is already aware of the fascist, neo-feudal intentions of the Republicans, as evidenced by the 2006 midterms.

          Knowing that the true way to usurp the government is via the bureaucratc infrastructure, this is the process by which the coup has been effected, invisible to public scrutiny. The political appointments will become career appointments. Outsourcing/privatising government functions to corporate cronies ensures a lock on our government. Remember that Dick Cheney started out in government as an appointee to surreptitiously dismantle the EEOC. He learned there how to undermine and divert government agencies in service to the corporate benefactors. (Read The Rise of the Vulcans for details.)

          We need to stop thinking merely in terms of electoral politics. The coup plotters don't believe in popular will. They are playing for keeps. They only want to play out the illusion of 'democracy' as long as it permits them to emplace their infrastructure. We are already aware of the 'Karl Rove Mandate' of 50.1%. The neocon/neoliberal coup-plotters care nothing about electoral majorities and 'mandates'. They're only playing for time to complete their plot to capture control over the planet's remaining energy resources. Using the hegemony of the U.S. government is their means. They do not give one whit about the U.S. or her citizens (for we are all but 'fodder units').

          •  Well said, we need the awakening of the citizenry (0+ / 0-)

            made up of Kossacks and other decent inspired citizens to go toe to toe with these monsters.

            It isn't to explain each and every outrage that we should be concerned with, but of  fighting back and isolating them so we can turn from victims and gullible dupes into warriors . And teach those fighting skills widely, make the effective techniques well known and spread out in all the states and regions.

            "Someone has to be the first drop of rain" Taslima Nasrin

            by Pete Rock on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 09:35:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fine, but I take issue with your use of the (0+ / 0-)

              'warrior' meme, because it melds with the fear of wimpiness that leads so many of the Dems to vote for the MIC. I prefer to see our side as the stewards of good government, in service to the citizenry, for the well-being of all, and the sustainability of our planet Earth.

              Yes, we will need to hone our 'fighting skills' of rhetoric in order to neutralize the propaganda spewing from the RW. I hate the militaristic framing.

      •  It's about the Aussie election... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AggieDemocrat, ek hornbeck, bhfrik

        Howard is a huge Bushie, and is getting killed over this fiasco.

        He's up for re-election in 9 months.


        An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. (Woodrow Wilson)

        by Alter Ego Manifesto on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 08:12:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think it's about Australian elections (0+ / 0-)

        IIRC, one year means that Australian elections are over. After that, they'll deal with any consequences (kinda like the Libby ordeal).

    •  Yeah... that Brit that was released (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Really didn't have much to say about his treatment.  He talks about extreme isolation and his nightmare being over.  But the statement seems to be carefully couched so as to not go into  the darkside Cheney unleashed on those people.   Then again maybe that poor soul wants to put it all as far behind him as possible, and making him tell us would just add one more day of him having to remember, rather than trying to forget.

      I am the neocon nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

      by bhfrik on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 07:48:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the gagging order is bullshit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's clearly a tip o' the hat to John Howard; so is the sentence itself. He's going to serve it in an Australian prison - so Howard can take credit for 'bringin him home' and 'getting justice done'.

      Sad thing is, Howard didn't do shit for Hicks - it was only after the public drumbeat got so loud that he finally removed his lips from Bush's ass long enough to say something about it. People down here were like, Why the fuck did Tony Blair get his people out so quickly, while this guy is rotting in Gitmo?

      Blog this! Visit me at Sydneysided, formerly K Street Blues, my view of the world from Down Under.

      by AggieDemocrat on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 08:29:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I read that two of Hicks's lawyers (6+ / 0-)

    were not allowed to enter his military "trial." No evidence; no witnesses. That's Bush league justice.

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 07:51:40 PM PDT

  •  here's a link... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bhfrik, willb48

    from andrew sullivan, but it's actually one of his Australian reader's thoughts.  It makes me ill.

    An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. (Woodrow Wilson)

    by Alter Ego Manifesto on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 08:06:23 PM PDT

    •  more from sullivan (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bhfrik, willb48

      An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. (Woodrow Wilson)

      by Alter Ego Manifesto on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 08:10:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I hate to admit this... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But I find myself drawn more often than I'd be willing to admit in a roomful of lefties, to Sullivans site.  

      We may not agree on a lot like the proper role of government... taxes, and we sure as heck didn't see eye to eye on Iraq when Bush started that ball rolling.  But he's come around nicely, and it's good to see a sane conservative with a bit of principle decide to do the right thing in the face of obviously failed policy by President Bush.  

      Sullivan reminds me of what to me were the old days, pre Bush I.  When conservatives and liberals debated real issues, and then could talk about sports or have a drink together and still be friendly... You just cant do that if one side of the equation is accusing the other of being traitorous.  I can not imagine having an actual debate about the goodness of torture back in those days.  But here we are, and it is the Republican party that has carried us here.

      I am the neocon nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

      by bhfrik on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 08:19:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Down here in Australia (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bhfrik, eyesoars

    There's the same type of outrage that was linked to Sullivan's site (above) by Alter Ego. And most Aussies I talk to seem to think: Yeah, Hicks is probably guilty as fuck, but that's beside the point. The real outrage is the treatment he has received by the Americans.

    And they're right. And the Aussie commentor on Sullivan's blog is right - the ONE THING we have is our  upholding of human rights, and the US doesn't have that any more. In trying to defeat the terrorists, Bush has made America a terrorist state.

    There's also a large group down here who are sick to death of hearing about Hicks and couldn't give two shits - it's all Hicks all the time on the news, so there is a bit of Hicks fatigue. (I myself have experienced this)

    Blog this! Visit me at Sydneysided, formerly K Street Blues, my view of the world from Down Under.

    by AggieDemocrat on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 08:25:15 PM PDT

  •  The LA Times had it more starkly drawn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LithiumCola, bhfrik

    Yesterday, the LATimes reported this latest Bush Administration PERVERSION OF THE RULE OF LAW in favor of political expediency in bolder terms.  Their second graph pointed out that,

    Australian detainee David Hicks, whom prosecutors cast as a highly trained and dangerous Al Qaeda operative, will be out of prison before the year ends because of a secret deal cut by the Bush administration appointee overseeing the military commissions.

    Payoff of one of the last, flagging supporters of BushCo's failed war came at a high cost to the perceived legitimacy of the Military Tribunal process:

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard is one of Washington's closest allies in the war on terrorism, and his Liberal Party had been flagging in this election year because of public resentment of Hicks' being held without charges at Guantanamo for more than five years.

    Bringing his case to the war-crimes tribunal first, and before all the procedural guidance was ready, left the impression with many legal analysts that Crawford stepped in to do Howard a favor — at the expense of the commissions' credibility.

    The comparisons already being heard abroad are telling:

    Melbourne lawyer Robert Richter wrote in a commentary for Sunday's The Age newspaper of Melbourne that the Hicks trial was a sham that has wholly discredited the Pentagon's war-crimes process.

    "The charade that took place at Guantanamo Bay would have done Stalin's show trials proud," Richter said. "First there was indefinite detention without charge. Then there was the torture, however the Bush lawyers, including his attorney general, might choose to describe it. Then there was the extorted confession of guilt."

    It's amazing that the Administration would make Hicks, and Cheney's buddy, Howard's, politically embarrassing short circuit of "transparent Justice" and legitimate due process their FIRST TRY out of the gate, with their new and improved Military Tribunals.

    I'm pretty sure that Cheney's the real incompetent in the White House.

  •  Alice in Wonderland, and the only solution. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bhfrik, willb48

    I have heard the term "kabuki theatre" "Orwellian" and others that describe the media orchestrated PR events run thru the cable TV/broadcast RW talk shows that define American life.

     This travesty of a "parallel" court system known as the Military Commissions was conceived of as a PR stunt to show America how tough GW Bush was and how dangerous all those strangers were hidden in Guantanamo.

      Those purchased from bounty hunters at 5,000 dollars apiece.

      Those who survived storage in steel shipping containers, the ones that didn't suffocate or get murdered by Afghan militias and warlords.

      Those picked up by chance or bad luck, like the English resident sent home this week.

      The US Army basically hates these things. The gratuitous sadism and torture techniques from the CIA black book isn't what the Army would want to see inflicted on soldiers. It degrades the guards as well as the captives.

     The PR stunt of "700 dangerous detainees" has crumbled, as hundreds of them were just unlucky to be scooped into the dragnet and couldn't be even placed anywhere near al Queda. So they have been released after complete dead ends in interrogations.

      If the rule of law had been followed, the vast majority of these people would have been sent back to Afghanistan or to other countries where they belonged. Back in the year they were captured.

    But no, that could not and would not be allowed.

      This process has been a political pornographic theatre for the BushCheyney team and it has a dreadful ending.

     It started out pretending to be heroic.

     It created hundreds of martyrs, some suicides and many mental breakdowns.

     It is turning from farce to tragedy because America
    and its soul are on trial in world opinion.

     Everyone outraged and defiled personally by this process and their families and countries has nothing but dismay, contempt and anger for the United States.

     The longer this goes on, the worse it gets.

    The real heroes now are the survivors, and the military and civilian defense lawyers who are standing on principle and pushing back and exposing the bizarre and skewed way that decisions are arrived at.

     Even now, Bush refuses to close the camp because it would admit to his gang's failure and perversion of justice. The biggest irony as more and more individuals leave for lack of evidence or lack of cause to hold and torture any longer is the 14 "high value " detainees connected to 9/11.  Why, if this was the case were all these others held there?  

    Short and brutal answer: to make good news up for Bush and Cheney and their "leadership".

     To make it seem as if Bush was actually succeeding at something.

     What a complete and collosal mess.  The President and his crew is like superglue for cesspools-it all flows and sticks to him.  And he will refuse to accept any responsibility or admission ofcriminal conduct until the day he is impeached and charged and tried and finally dethroned.

     I want to see a bill in the HR or and/or Senate to defund this camp,like the one even the Republicans refused to pass to build a fancier bigger Gitmo. Defund it. Close it. It is a huge stain on the honor of the United States.

    "Someone has to be the first drop of rain" Taslima Nasrin

    by Pete Rock on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 09:23:22 PM PDT

  •  Great diary, thanks. (0+ / 0-)

    I would just offer one comment:

    How low must this administration be to politicize international prosecutions in the war on terror?

    Bush and co. is winning that particular limbo contest in more ways than one.

    LONDON Apr 1, 2007 (AP)— A British resident released from Guantanamo Bay after nearly five years in captivity said Sunday his detention at the U.S. prison camp was "profoundly difficult" to endure, his first comments since his release.

    Bisher al-Rawi, a 37-year-old Iraqi national, had been held at the U.S. base in Cuba since it opened in 2002, but was reunited with his family in south London this weekend.

    British officials have long refused to represent resident foreigners held at Guantanamo, but took up al-Rawi's case after it was disclosed he had provided assistance before his detention to MI5 Britain's domestic spy agency.

    "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

    by LithiumCola on Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 09:35:43 PM PDT

  •  Leaving aside the "political" angle (0+ / 0-)

    It's appalling that the prosecutors were bypassed - they expected Hicks to get at least 10 years.  What does this say about the prosecutors????

    Hicks was a 9th-grade dropout.  The Australian military wouldn't take him, but he really wanted to be a fighter.  He tried to run away when the shooting started in Afghanistan, but he was caught.

    Why didn't we just send him back to Australia in the first place?  By now, he might have finished trade school, or be a part of the wildfire-fighting forces.

    The back-and-forth about domestic political politics in Australia, and Dick Cheney, ignores the gross inhumanity of confining an apparently rather stupid and deluded young man in a prison beyond the reach of any court system.

    Now, let's talk about John Walker Lindh.

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