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Hicks pleads guilty — and another matter

28 Mar

tele0328.jpgThe Daily Telegraph here in Sydney has no doubts as you will see on the right and in its editorial today:

IMMEDIATELY after the news broke yesterday that Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks had pleaded guilty to the charge of providing material support to terrorism, his deluded supporters sprang into action.

Just because Hicks had pleaded guilty did not mean he was guilty – far from it.

He’d pleaded to the charge, they insisted, because he’d been forced to do so by his captors.

After five years in captivity, the Hicks cheer squad insisted, he would have been prepared to plead guilty to anything, just to be free of the endless torment to which he has been subjected.

All that time in close confinement could do strange things to a man.

And no less an authority than Hicks’ Camp X-Ray buddy Mamdouh Habib was called on to give corroborative verity to that version of events. And Habib, of course, was not loathe to assist. Hicks would have been forced to plead guilty, Habib insisted, to be allowed access to legal counsel. He – Habib – knew how the system worked. Hicks would have had no choice…

Many will share the views expressed there, or those views will become their views…

The Australian is a tad more circumspect and The Sydney Morning Herald even more so. See Tom Allard, Plea bargain a perfect solution for Canberra. Certainly John Howard has removed an election embarrassment, or hopes to have done so.

You will find a number of relevant transcripts on yesterday’s PM on Radio National.

The truth is that now we can never be sure, and probably some issues will never really be explored satisfactorily, at least not in the short term.

The other matter is that once much discussed but now almost forgotten Lancet/Johns Hopkins report on civilian deaths in Iraq. Jamie Stern-Weiner in the UK has an interesting entry on this: Government Ignored Its Own Chief Scientific Advisor To Rubbish Lancet Report.

According to documents recently released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act, the British government ignored its own chief scientific advisor in its dismissal of The Lancet report (.pdf)…

In fact, the Ministry of Defence’s chief scientific advisor called the methodology “robust” and “close to best practice”. Another statician agreed the method was “tried and tested”. In response to a Foreign Office email questioning the accuracy of The Lancet figures, another official responds,

“However, the survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones.”

The BBC reports that “some of the British government criticism of the Lancet report post-dated the chief scientific adviser’s report.” It appears that the British government was so desperate to downplay the massive suffering it has inflicted upon the Iraqi people that it rubbished a report certified by its own scientific advisor as credible…

Go to that entry for more, and for linked documentation.

Just for interest, I found the following YouTube on Kevin’s blog. Kevin, you may recall, has visited here from time to time, and I acknowledge, despite our almost total disagreement on many things, he has been very kind in his concern over the Lord Malcolm stories. Fred Dalton Thompson (born August 19, 1942) is an American lawyer, actor and former Republican Senator from Tennessee (now a resident of McLean, Virginia), who is reportedly considering a bid in the 2008 Presidential Election. (Wikipedia) He is Kevin’s choice.




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3 responses to “Hicks pleads guilty — and another matter

  1. marcelproust

    March 29, 2007 at 12:35 am

    I don’t place any more weight on Hicks’s guilty plea than on the statements made from time to time by hostages in videos whilst they are hoping for their release. If Hicks’s plea were a guilty plea before a lawful court, then he would be bound by it, but otherwise I predict a clash between habeas corpus and whatever obligations our government signs up to on our behalf under the foreign affairs power if Hicks ever ends up back in Australia. Probably, the foreign affairs power will win – because the present High Court won’t set Hicks free, but there could be some excitement first. I don’t think that Howard is free of the problem by a long chalk.

     
  2. ninglun

    March 29, 2007 at 8:54 am

    Meanwhile this morning Miranda Devine is positively crowing: ‘Guilty’ puts end to the Hicks myth.

    By pleading guilty to terrorism this week, David Hicks has plastered egg all over the faces of his supporters – the naive hysterics who believe he is a tortured innocent as well as those glory-seeking civil rights lawyers who have attached themselves to his case…

    You can always rely on Miranda for objectivity.

    I 1) don’t necessarily believe Hicks is a “tortured innocent” and 2) hope I am not a “naive hysteric.” But I can smell a politically convenient fix a mile off, and in this case the pong is overwhelming!

    Without suggesting too close a parallel, I can’t help feeling the mindset of The Captain in Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion has been alive and well through these proceedings.

    LAVINIA. Captain: is there no hope that this cruel persecution–

    CENTURION (shocked) Silence! Hold your tongue, there.
    Persecution, indeed!

    THE CAPTAIN (unmoved and somewhat sardonic) Persecution is not a
    term applicable to the acts of the Emperor. The Emperor is the
    Defender of the Faith. In throwing you to the lions he will be
    upholding the interests of religion in Rome. If you were to throw
    him to the lions, that would no doubt be persecution…

    THE CAPTAIN (unshaken in his official delivery) I call the
    attention of the female prisoner Lavinia to the fact that as the
    Emperor is a divine personage, her imputation of cruelty is not
    only treason, but sacrilege. I point out to her further that
    there is no foundation for the charge, as the Emperor does not
    desire that any prisoner should suffer; nor can any Christian be
    harmed save through his or her own obstinacy. All that is
    necessary is to sacrifice to the gods: a simple and convenient
    ceremony effected by dropping a pinch of incense on the altar,
    after which the prisoner is at once set free. Under such
    circumstances you have only your own perverse folly to blame if
    you suffer. I suggest to you that if you cannot burn a morsel of
    incense as a matter of conviction, you might at least do so as a
    matter of good taste, to avoid shocking the religious convictions
    of your fellow citizens. I am aware that these considerations do
    not weigh with Christians; but it is my duty to call your
    attention to them in order that you may have no ground for
    complaining of your treatment, or of accusing the Emperor of
    cruelty when he is showing you the most signal clemency.
    Looked at from this point of view, every Christian who has
    perished in the arena has really committed suicide…

    THE CAPTAIN (suddenly resuming his official tone) I call the
    attention of the female prisoner to the fact that Christians are
    not allowed to draw the Emperor’s officers into arguments and put
    questions to them for which the military regulations provide no
    answer.

     
  3. marcelproust

    March 29, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I was tempted to burst into print or at least endeavour to do so by writing to the SMH in response to Miranda’s spray, but I think it is more in Hicks’s interest to sit tight at this stage and make any application he is able to make when and if he comes back to Australia. That may also be one reason why Mr Rudd is keeping his own counsel about this at present (though doubtless there will also be political reasons).

     
 
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