Saturday, March 31, 2007

Smart kid

Last night on the way to a Lenten fish fry at the church, NPR aired a story about Australian Guatanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks. When the reporter pointed out that Hicks is barred by his plea agreement from claiming he was mistreated, my 13-year-old son said, "Nice. 'Oh no, sir, everything was just fine down there. No problems at all.' Sounds like we beat him up then blackmailed him."

Does kind of sound like that, doesn't it?

After all, as Atrios points out, a nine month sentence seems awful light for someone who's "darn dangerous."

6 Comments:

Anonymous Shane said...

The whole David Hicks issue has become a political nightmare for the current Australian government. Our Prime Minister (a massive fan of the invasion of Iraq and cheerleader for Bush)is already looking pretty sickly in the polls after the replacement of the existing opposition leader (a worthless sack who should have quit years ago)with someone who looks to actually have a chance of winning the next election. The timeframes around this whole thing tie in nicely with the next Australian federal election - Hicks has to keep quiet for a year, by which time the election will most likely be over, however he should be out of prison by the time the election rolls around. It seems most likely that these times were determined to provide maximum benefit to the current government.

What a great day for justice :)

4:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of any component of how the war on terror has been prosecuted , but Hicks did train with al Qaeda and sought out action in at least 3 warzones fighting for these extremists.

It's a bit dishonest to pretend he was an innocent. The groups he's pledged allegiance to and fought with are cunts of the highest degree.

You can get 7 years for a lot of things which don't involve violence. You can also do a lot of time just for associating with violent cunts. ie Drive a car for someone who drops a couple of people at an armed hold up.

If you think this is unfair for someone who's done what he has say so. But don't be mocking "darn dangerous" as though this guy doesn't rate.
-cae

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Marmoset said...

Now, I know people get all worked up when someone compares anything to the Nazi's, but in the pre-war Third Reich, anyone released form a concentration camp had to sign a statement promising not to reveal what went on during their stay in the camp.

And just for the record... the Nazi's were all about war, worship of the military, torture, concentration camps, the death penalty, the infallibility of the leader, and a surveillance state. They also outlawed abortion. So who does that sound like?

9:44 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

I think that anonymous raises an important point -- Hicks may in fact be a significant danger to the public safety, and Hicks may very well deserve punishment at least as severe as he has received/will receive.

However, I don't see anyone here claiming that Hicks "was an innocent". I see Terry (and others, like myself) asserting that Hicks's culpability cannot justify his torture.

I also see Terry (and others, like myself) asserting that requiring Hicks to remain silent about his treatment is tantamount to an admission that the US tortured Hicks.

Finally, the "darned dangerous" comment is not minimizing the danger Hicks poses. It is a sarcastic assessment of the massive flip-flop by Mr. Bush and his administration.

It is Mr. Bush who has decided that this man -- who was so dangerous that he was denied rights dating back to 1215 -- will be no threat at all in 7 months.

I urge anonymous to let his/her concerns be known to the White House.

(Please see my subsequent post and the link therein for more on the matter.)

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that anonymous raises an important point -- Hicks may in fact be a significant danger to the public safety, and Hicks may very well deserve punishment at least as severe as he has received/will receive.

I'm an Australian, not an American and I can tell you from what I've read (search '4corners') I don't consider him a threat either in my neighbourhood nor on the battlefield.

I can tell you also that a friend of mine did 4 years for an armed robbery where nobody was harmed.
She didn't join a death cult that had already carried out a number of mass casualty bombings, nor when presented with the ability to travel, seek out opportunity to kill people wherever that option existed.

However, I don't see anyone here claiming that Hicks "was an innocent".

Sorry, I didn't mean to write 'innocent' I just thought that it was implied that he was given a small sentence because that is what he deserved.
There has been plenty of ridicule in the past of the "worst of the worst" claim.

I see Terry (and others, like myself) asserting that Hicks's culpability cannot justify his torture.

Well I find that a dubious statement. Based on precedent couldn't you justify flat out killing him ? Him and his neighbourhood ? Him and a percentage of his population because of it's economic policy ?

The US has justified a lot of human rights violations of far more consequence with far less cause that this rates.

The torture you refer to wouldn't have been regarded as anything more serious that prisoner abuse before 9/11. That time being before everyone on both sides changed their perceptions of what torture is, and it wasn't something you could find in most police stations.

He was beaten and subjected to physical and environmental stress. The Taliban he was captured with used to skin Russians alive and leave them in the desert.
Little perspective please. Especially when there are governments who boil their prisoners alive. I think it belittles the term to call cold rooms torture the same as it would if you called a car bombing a holocaust.

I've been beaten unconscious by police for swearing at them. Was that torture or really just what you'd expect ?

This guy wanted to pick a fight with a superpower. I think not getting vapourised as a result is the most notable apect of his treatment so far.

It is Mr. Bush who has decided that this man -- who was so dangerous that he was denied rights dating back to 1215 -- will be no threat at all in 7 months.

Wll no, Bush didn't decide that, just like the decider has decided nothing else of consequence in the last 7 years. If you can't recognise this guy as a puppet figurehead then clearly you'd believe no such thing exists.

And no he didn't have those rights. Since when have foreign, non-state, non-enlisted terrorists fighting in foreign countries subject to such rights ?
Historically they get shot through the head without deliberation or consequence. This whole detain, interrogate and release really is a big step forward if you hadn't realised.

And what legal system would have dealt with him if the US didn't pull something out of it's arse to do so ? He didn't break any Australian laws and in Afghanistan this shit was a sport. It wasn't the US's responsibility to handle him yet because there is no legitimate international court it was left to them.

Sure they fucked up every possible aspect of everything they've attempted post-9/11 re- the war on terror, but there was nobody other than the Bush administration who was going to attempt any of it.

Finally, the "darned dangerous" comment is not minimizing the danger Hicks poses. It is a sarcastic assessment of the massive flip-flop by Mr. Bush and his administration.

Right. Well, point well scored. I wasn't even aware there was room for a flip-flop column in Bush's ledger but there you go.

(Please see my subsequent post and the link therein for more on the matter.)

Yeah I read that earlier. Again, it is important to realise these torture problems only exist because the US is attempting to bring these people to trial.

Think of who you want to capture. Would we be claiming legitimate process for SF to violate a sovereign country's borders, laws, rights of citizens and extradition treaties in even before they were in custody ?

You have no terrorists in custody unless you've broken the law a dozen ways to get them. Legitimate legal channels are not an option. Cooperation of foreign governments is not an option. Shit even human assets probably violate espionage laws.

Is there no sense that if bringing people before juries who have gone through the hands of SF, CIA and detention becomes too much of a political hassle that they just won't go through that anymore ?

KSM us someone the public wants. His transcripts are redacted as hell. Why bother with the unredacted passages for someone, say, who provided surveillence for the Cole bombing ?

You won't know his name, won't care about his bio. You won't even know he exists until someone tells you he does. So where's the incentive for him to exist ?

-cae

5:18 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Anonymous (cae) posted a lot here, and I have little time to reply right now.

Some general responses:
Torture and prisoner abuse happens, as cae points out. This does not make it right.

cae writes:
I've been beaten unconscious by police for swearing at them. Was that torture or really just what you'd expect?

Was that torture? Or just "prisoner abuse"? It was wrong, regardless of what it is called. It may have been "what you'd expect" and it was still wrong.

I expect police to have the maturity to keep cool when sworn at by prisoners. I see no justification for holding a lower standard -- certainly the fact that some/many/most police don't live up to this standard doesn't justify beating prisoners for swearing at police.

The scale from reasonable interrogation practices to prisoner abuse to torture does not have clear demarcations, as cae points out. However, "mild" torture is not justified by the existence of more "severe" torture.

cae writes:
You have no terrorists in custody unless you've broken the law a dozen ways to get them. Legitimate legal channels are not an option.

At least one counter-example exists. The terrorists who conducted the first attack on the WTC were tracked down, arrested, tried, and convicted, without (AFAIK) our government breaking its own laws. This did not (IIRC) require capturing suspects who were abroad, I grant you.

Cooperation of foreign governments is not an option.
FWIW, I see no violation of international law in having US Special Forces entering Afghanistan to capture al Quada members, as there was essentially no functioning government in Afghanistan that the US recognized as legitimate.

cae adds:
Is there no sense that if bringing people before juries who have gone through the hands of SF, CIA and detention becomes too much of a political hassle that they just won't go through that anymore ?

This is a very real concern, that a parallel government can be created which is not answerable to the people of the United States. This is what the Iran-Contra conspirators set up, on a small scale. The fact that (to some degree) such rogue killings will happen does not justify abandoning our core beliefs.

For example:
In combat, our troops are trained to capture enemy soldiers trying to surrender. History is replete with examples of our troops killing them instead. I insist that our training is in the right, and that we should continue to train our troops to accept surrender, knowing full well that they will sometimes kill instead.

7:09 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home