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A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP October 17, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Terrorism Issues.
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Australia’s close relationship with the United States predates the Second World War with, as examples, the adoption of telegraph and railways systems, but since  that time become of  close and often unquestioning support.

The costs are obvious but unaccounted. It is not as if there is an obvious economic convergence of interests, especially since the emergence of China as Australia’s major trading partner. Yet our foreign relations, including participation in the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and imperial aggression and attempted domination of the Middle East, Australia’s policy is compliant. (I notice the Prime Minister, displaying her recently acquired interest in geopolitics, noted in part that we share an ocean with India – that might be news to people who live on the Eastern Seaboard. Still in the spirit of geographic reference, we could remind ourselves that the eastern body of water is named for peace.)

This best of buddies relationship comes up in relation of the conviction of David Hicks. The ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturning of the conviction of Osama bin Laden’s driver should also apply to Hicks. John H Cushman, for The New York Times provides details of the Salim Ahmed Hamdan case:

The court found that Mr. Hamdan’s conviction by a military commission for providing material support for terrorism could not stand because, under the international law of war in effect at the time of his actions, there was no such defined war crime.

The Military Commission Act, a law passed in 2006, does not authorize such retroactive prosecutions, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled.

The case of Mr. Hamdan, once considered a dangerous terrorist by the Bush administration, forced Congress to pass that 2006 statute in the first place.

Lawyers for Mr. Hamdan, a Yemeni who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, had challenged his detention and won a landmark Supreme Court case in 2006 that found the military commission system for prosecuting war crimes unconstitutional and in violation of American military law and the Geneva Conventions. That forced Congress to rewrite the rules, leading to Mr. Hamdan’s trial and conviction in 2008. Because he had already served so long in prison, he was released later that year to Yemen, his home country.

Mr. Hamdan traveled from Yemen to Pakistan and then Afghanistan in 1996, attended a Qaeda training camp, met Bin Laden, and became a driver carrying jihadis and their weapons. Eventually he began driving Bin Laden personally, and even was told by Bin Laden several days before Sept. 11, 2001, that they would have to evacuate their compound because of an impending operation that might provoke retaliation.

His legal journey began in 2001, after his capture in Afghanistan. He was sent to Guantánamo Bay soon after it opened in early 2002, but his case proceeded slowly, in part because of legal challenges to the Bush administration’s new system of military commissions for terrorism suspects. He was granted few rights, and has claimed he was beaten and kept in isolation for months.

So as in the case of Hicks, Hamdan was subject to the techniques of torture and isolation, so one imagines that he too will have claims for compensation. One would imagine the relevant laws might be those of Afghanistan, and perhaps there are limits to limits to extra-territoriality and rendition. In regard to Hicks the Australian Government appears to have been compliant, perhaps on the basis they have little influence to defend his human rights, despite being signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The British seem to be doing a better job of securing their citizens incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay and at least in one case of preventing the extradition of citizen to the  wonders of the kangaroo courts and torture chambers that grace the American justice system. Perhaps they are more an integral participant, they can stand up to the American Imperium.  Rachel Brown at ABC News reports:

The US has expressed its “disappointment” after the British government blocked the extradition of an Asperger’s sufferer who hacked into US military computers.

Gary McKinnon, 46, had been facing extradition to the US over what American prosecutors said was the biggest military hack of all time.

But overnight Britain’s interior minister Theresa May said extradition would breach Mr McKinnon’s human rights, as his psychiatrists believed there was a high risk that he would attempt suicide if he was sent to the US.

It is the first decision of its kind in the history of the UK-US extradition treaty.

“Mr McKinnon is accused of serious crimes, but there is also no doubt that he is seriously ill,” Ms May told parliament.

“I have concluded that Mr McKinnon’s extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon’s human rights.

“I have therefore withdrawn the extradition order against Mr McKinnon.”

Ms May said she would introduce legislation to allow British judges to block the transfer of suspects to a foreign court in extradition cases.

“I have decided to introduce a forum bar. This will mean that where prosecution is possible in both the UK and in another state, the British courts will be able to bar prosecution overseas, if they believe it is in the interests of justice to do so,” she said.

The decision marked the conclusion of Mr McKinnon’s 10-year legal battle to avoid extradition.

But British prosecutors will now decide whether the hacker should face trial in Britain.

RT interviewed their British correspondent on the McKinnon case:

(Six Years ago, Gary McKinnon gave an extended interview.)

That is the same government that threatened to invade the Ecuadorian Embassy and has stationed a 24 hour police watch around it. rather than recognize the political asylum of Julian Assange. Despite the claims of the Foreign Minister to the contrary, The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed that “Canberra shared [intelligence reports] with Washington”. Philip Dorling reports:

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been the subject of intelligence exchanges between Australia and the United States for more than two years, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has revealed.
The WikiLeaks publisher was also the subject of Australian intelligence reporting from Washington shortly before he sought political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy.
In a freedom of information decision yesterday, Foreign Affairs confirmed to Fairfax Media the existence of an intelligence report concerning WikiLeaks and Mr Assange cabled to Canberra from Australia’s Washington embassy on June 1.
Mr Assange, who had been unsuccessful in his legal fight to avoid extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden to face questioning about sexual assault allegations, sought political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy 18 days later.

Foreign Affairs has also confirmed that US-Australia intelligence exchanges on WikiLeaks date back more than two years by revealing the existence of two intelligence reports sent from Washington to Canberra on August 4 and 25, 2010, in the immediate aftermath of the transparency website’s publication of secret US military reports on the war in Afghanistan.
The secret Washington embassy cables have been withheld from release because they are “intelligence agency documents” that are exempt from disclosure under freedom of information law.
All of Australia’s intelligence agencies are represented in the Washington embassy and liaise closely with their US counterparts.

The question raised is whether it would hurt the national interest, if the national government would seek to do a better job of protecting the rights of its’ citizens in relation to its “great and powerful friend”. There might be an aspiration to independence rather than a readiness to abandon autonomy at every instance.

In May, David Hicks spoke out on behalf of Julain Assange, which given current developments takes on a new significance:

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