Bush Administration’s Kangaroo Court Prosecution of Australian David Hicks

Brian Zick

David Kurtz at TPM calls attention to the latest attempt by the Bush administration to rig prosecutions to guarantee convictions in its military tribunals. David Hicks is the first detainee from the American base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to be charged under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. He was captured and ransomed to US troops by Afghani tribesmen, for being a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an organization not declared a terrorist organization by the United States or Australia until the last week of 2001. He was initially charged with conspiracy to commit murder and engage in acts of terrorism, attempted murder and aiding the enemy. Those charges were later reduced to attempted murder and “providing material support for terrorism.” And he has been held for five years without trial. But Thursday, all charges were dropped except the single charge of providing “material support for terrorism,” which wasn't even a law until 2006. And the Constitution expressly forbids ex post facto prosecutions. Aussie Prime Minister John Howard has been receiving big political heat, and despite being in bed with Bush/Cheney, he has demanded a quick return of Hicks to Australia. He'd be happy with Hicks pleading guilty to the one charge, and being sentenced to time served. But now Hick's military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, has been threatened by chief US prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis, with charges of violating Article 88 of the US military code, which relates to using contemptuous language towards the president, vice-president, and secretary of defence. It's a charge which could mean jail time. American Embassy officials had already tried unsuccessfully to have the Pentagon prevent Major Mori from coming to Australia, after he had become a bit of a folk hero in service to his client. Mori has said he may need to recuse himself, because the charges against him could taint his client. But any new attorney would need a great deal of time to become acquainted with case particulars. The obvious goal is to remove absolutely all proper defense for the accused, to compel him to accept the quickly resolved but guilty plea (to an unconstitutional charge), so the Bush administration can claim a prosecution win, and avoid further embarrassment for it's egregious disregard of the justice system.

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