US Guantanamo military commissions – what a joke

Interesting piece in the Sydney Morning Hearld on Hick’s trial. The US Guantanamo legal ‘system’ is just dumbfounding.

Check this out:

“In what is now a cringing embarrassment for Australia, we have John Howard, Philip Ruddock and Alexander Downer insisting the US military commissions couldn’t be fairer. George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales are the remaining few people in the world who agree.

Ruddock says he supports this process as part of his responsibility to ‘protect the Australian community’. Even though it might be hard to appreciate precisely what David Hicks, as a modest foot soldier for the Taliban, might possess in terms of insightful intelligence, the Attorney-General insists there are so many security issues at stake that the only appropriate way he can be tried is by a US military commission.

Howard is confident that all is well because the complaints by those military officers have been investigated and everything has been fixed. Asked on the ABC who investigated the allegations, Howard said, without missing a beat: ‘By the people against whom the allegations were made.’ Furthermore, our new ambassador in Washington, Dennis Richardson, the former head of ASIO, has asked the US authorities about this and been told: ‘All is well. Please don’t listen to people from the military saying your man Hicks won’t receive a fair trial.’

Everyone but the most gormless knows that Hicks won’t receive a fair trial. That’s the entire point of the military commissions as opposed to the civil courts of the US, where, it should not be forgotten, enemy combatants who are US citizens get to be tried.

Back in March last year when the crucial emails by the military officers were being composed, we were being assured by our Government that everything was going to be all right with the trial process. Now that the lie has been put to the scheme, the Government is not changing its tune.

The US has given a lot of assurances over the past four years about the sanctity of the system, and all of them have been quite groundless. Still Howard insists the Bush Administration is credible.

For instance, the Administration has said the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply to these prisoners, nor does habeas corpus, that these prisoners do not have access to the US civil courts, that due process did not apply to them and that Guantanamo Bay is not under the ‘control’ of the US.

The US courts have struck down each of those assertions. The US has even fiddled with the definition of ‘torture’ to allow the use of a certain amount of abuse on prisoners so as to extract information. Confessions made during this new form of legalised torture will be admissible against the alien combatants at their trials. It was decided that there was no obligation to warn of the way their admissions could be used against them.

In other words the usual ‘Miranda’ doctrine has been suspended. Confessions extracted under ‘interrogation techniques’ from other prisoners can be used against Hicks. The fact that those prisoners have now been released and are unlikely to return to assist the prosecution means that their evidence is in the form of pieces of paper that can’t be cross-examined.”

No justice as Hicks thrown to the wolves – Opinion – smh.com.au:

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