Saturday, March 31, 2007

David Hicks Silenced as Price for His Freedom (w/Update)

David Hicks, the Australian who was held by the U.S. as an "enemy combatant" for five years, pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain that exchanged a reduced nine month sentence for his agreements on silence on his case and an admission that he "has never been illegally treated", i.e. tortured. The case was "adjudicated" as the first of the secret trials to be held via military tribunal under the notorious Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Even the New York Times writer on the story found this "an extraordinary series of concessions." Describing the plea bargain, William Glaberson at the Times wrote:
It also included a promise not to pursue suits over the treatment he received while in detention and “not to communicate in any way with the media” for a year.
Extraordinary, surely, but very similar to the conditions of John Walker Lindh's conviction, which, according to Wikipedia, included:
... a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his twenty-year sentence, and he would have to drop claims that he had been mistreated or tortured by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and aboard two military ships during December 2001 and January 2002. In return, all the other charges would be dropped. [Note: That left two remaining charges, for which he received a 20 year sentence.]
For his part, Hicks was able to wrangle out a non-admission of his charges, confessing only that prosecutors seemed to have sufficient evidence to convict, not that he actually did any of the things the government alleged (aiding Al Queda, etc.)

The significance of the Hicks decision lies in the fact that the secrecy of the national security state and their torture apparatus merits primary emphasis in the dispostion of these "enemy combatant" cases.
I certainly don't blame Hicks for taking the deal. As Jesselyn Radack pointed out in a diary at Daily Kos, he (ultimately) gets his life back, albeit a shattered life that will be haunted by torture and forced recantation.

The last piece of torture inflicted upon Hicks is the insistence that he must cover up the truth of his treatment. If he were telling the truth that he weren't abused, why the gag order?

Bush, Gonzales, Gates, Rice, Cheney... these are the able successors to Stalin, Beria, Vishinsky, who bargained with each of their "enemy" accused to close their "confessions" with the following:
I deserve no mercy, I ask no mercy, I deserve to be shot as a mad Fascist dog.
UPDATE: (4/4/07)
Bhfrik over at Daily Kos has written a great diary breaking down a Washington Post piece on the political machinations behind the Hicks plea.
...the plea deal of Australian David Hicks was not based upon such rudimentary concerns as evidence or justice. It was a political solution handed down from on high after Australian Prime Minister John Howard had a word with Vice President Dick Cheney.
Check out bhfrik's diary or read the original Washington Post article.

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