HICKS AND RETROSPECTIVE JUSTICE September 9, 2012Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
Nothing much should be expected on the current, and prospective future alternative, Australian Governments except subscribing to the long history of subservience to the imperial dictat. This they assume, rightly or not, is in accordance with the segments of public opinion that decides marginal seats.
Where is Oliver Cromwell – Lord Protector of the Commonwealth – when we need him to make the appropriate thundering admonition of democratic wrath? Still there are little Olivers who vent their spleen – to mix the metaphor. I guess it may be a question as to whether those who presume to be our leaders had the heart and stomach for duty they have undertaken. Since anatomical anomalies cannot be presumed, there must be another explanation.
The Sydney Morning Herald has been running some Olivers of late. There was Mike Carlton on Afghanistan. Would we have had we have anything to do with the place, if it were not the design of the American miltiary-industrial complex, who need wars and murder and destruction to sustain themselves? Recounting the Australian history of noble causes and imperial obeisance, he notes the purported purpose (in):
Afghanistan was to go after al-Qaeda yet again. When Osama bin Laden was caught not there but, magically, a stone’s throw down the road from the Pakistan Military Academy, the war somehow morphed into a fight against the Taliban, a murderous bunch of Islamic fanatics to be sure, but of no conceivable security threat to Australia. So far it’s 38 Australians killed and counting – dying not for their country, as our mealy-mouthed leaders would have us believe, but in defence of the venal and thuggish Karzai regime.
The cant and the hypocrisy keep coming. We are there to get the job done, to see the mission through. But we learn nothing from history. When we eventually quit Afghanistan, as the British did in the 19th century and the Soviet Union in the 20th, the place will revert to what it always was , a violent wasteland of warlords growing opium poppies. What fools we are.
Mike’s heart is in the right place. Perhaps this is not a full rendering of the facts, but never mind. It might be appropriate to mention something of the civil war that David Hicks found himself in, and found himself in the opposition to the Northern Alliance, supported by the violent Imperialists, who in turn set up the Karzai Government. In this context it is: “Don’t mention the election”. Everybody – especially in Afghanistan – knows the cover story is not the real story.
Ben Saul looks at the legal aftermath of the Hicks experience, including torture with incarceration. While the prosecution against Hicks has been dropped, his case has not closed. He writes:
The charge on which Hicks was convicted, providing material support for terrorism, is still being challenged in the US courts by other Guantanamo detainees. It is alleged that the offence was retrospective since it was unknown to the law of war or US law before 9/11. A decision is expected at any time.
Freedom from retrospective punishment is a sacred US constitutional right, and a human right under international law. It safeguards against arbitrary state power by preventing governments from designating their opponents as criminals after the fact.
If the offence is knocked over in the US courts, the basis of Hicks’ conviction will collapse. There are also unanswered questions of accountability facing the Australian government.
Extreme doubt has to be cast over suggestion that any part of the US Constitution or the Bill of Rights will be regarded as scared, since they are routinely either transgressed or ignored. We may live in hope that it might be otherwise.
Ben Saul further observes:
Australian politicians have a convenient habit of looking forward, not backwards. But justice requires accounting for the past, including for people we may dislike, and even if it makes governments squirm.
Fortunately, the United Nations can provide back-up where national political and legal systems fail to do justice to their own people.
He is better placed than I to have this view, but for War Party, to which both of Canberra principle partisans are aligned , international law has the same status as domestic law. Witness the murdering by Drones of alleged combatants and accompanying non-combatants in Yemen and other locations of undeclared war, and the murder in custody of bin Ladin.
Hicks having found his voice and an audience, speaks out for Julian Assange and suggests torture awaits him pm his incarceration:
But who was his speech writer? Nor should the record breaking pre-trial processing incarceration of Bradley Manning be left out of the picture. This shock and awing record of international violence and judicial propriety is destined to remain immune to electoral discretion of those US voters who get to, or are allowed to, cast their sacred and anemic ballot options.