As someone who has defended GITMO for many years, I am absolutely fuming and sincerely ask, “Why bother?”
How many times did we hear Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity,bloggers and conservative writers proclaim something like, “The terrorists at GITMO will/should stay there until the war is over.”
How many times did the Administration and it’s surrogates remind us of the dangers of the detainees at GITMO?
In June 2006, President Bush had a description for the GITMO detainees:
“I’d like to close Guantanamo,” Bush told a news conference Wednesday in the White House Rose Garden.
“But I also recognize that we’re holding some people that are darned dangerous and that we’d better have a plan to deal with them in our courts.”
In January 2006, a State Department spokesman reminded many of us:
“It keeps people who are very dangerous away from civilised society. Make no mistake about it; if these people were released, they would be right back in the fight.”
That all brings us back to soon to be released David Hicks. In 2004, what was he going to be charged with?
Australian Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks has been charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder and aiding the enemy, the US Defence Department said today.
Hicks is accused of returning to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America to fight against Australian and coalition troops.
The US also alleged Hicks trained at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, learning guerilla warfare, weapons training, including landmines, kidnapping techniques and assassination methods.
On one occasion when al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden visited an Afghan camp, Hicks questioned bin Laden about the lack of English in training material and, after accepting bin Laden’s advice, Hicks “began to translate the training camp materials from Arabic to English", the US alleged.
Pretty serious stuff, huh? In a concession to Australia, the United States promised not “seek the death penalty.” Fine, what did we figure he would get when he was finally sentenced? Life? 30 Years?
What did David have to say in letters that he wrote his father?
In the documentary Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land, Terry Hicks reads out excerpts of David Hicks’s letters,in which Hicks says that his training in Pakistan and Afghanistan is designed to ensure “the Western-Jewish domination is finished, so we live under Muslim law again". He denounces the plots of the Jews to divide Muslims and make them think poorly of Osama bin Laden and warns his father to ignore “the Jews’ propaganda war machine,”
So now you just might be thinking that “no death penalty” concession was too much of a give away.
Just two months ago Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the Camp Commander had the following to say about David Hicks:
DAVID Hicks is a dangerous terrorist who poses a threat to the US but is a co-operative detainee at Guantanamo Bay
Does David Hicks receive a trial before a Military Commission? No, because he pleads guilty and a “deal” is put in the works between the defense and the prosecution undercutting the roles of each Uniformed Commission Member.
After his pleading guilty, there was still a roll for the Commission members and that was to determine the sentence for his guilt. As anticipated, the Commission Members sentenced David Hicks to the maximum penalty allowed:
The jury went through the motions: The panel of senior military officers flew in from around the world, deliberated for two hours and sentenced Hicks — who had entered a guilty plea — to what they’d been told was the maximum term of seven years.
Guess what? These service personnel were wasting their time:
But the person overseeing the tribunals, veteran Defense Department lawyer Susan J. Crawford, had bypassed the prosecution and cut a pretrial deal directly with the defense to suspend all but nine months of any sentence rendered in exchange for the guilty plea.
Who do we get to thank for this civilian appointment of Susan J. Crawford? None other than the man who thinks GITMO should be closed:
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has designated an experienced former U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Judge, Susan J. Crawford, to the position of convening authority for military commissions. A veteran lawyer of 30 years, Crawford served as a member of the court of appeals bench from 1991-2006 and also served as general counsel of the Army, special counsel to the secretary of defense, and inspector general of the Department of Defense.
If this is the “future” for GITMO, the Administration needs to stop wasting the time of the Uniformed Service Members who have been turned into nothing more than “window dressing.” If this is “justice” at GITMO, the civilian system can hardly do worse.
UPDATE: And do not ever forget that there are two Border Agents who will sit in a Federal Prison for far longer than David Hicks because they shot a narcotics smuggler in the ass.
-- Oak Leaf