RANGER AGAINST WAR: Abu Muslim Australia <

Friday, March 30, 2007

Abu Muslim Australia

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway

But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared

and they turned all their faces away
--And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, The Pogues

Listen to the Pogues' Waltzing Matilda for another view of war, this one, of the Gallipoli campaign. Different, but the same.

The title and lead in to this article say it is a military trial, but the first sentence calls it "
the first session of the new military commission system set up by Congress," of which the first participant was David Hicks (aka Abu Muslim Australia), an Australian al Qaeda trainee ("Result of Military Trial is Familiar to Civilians," NYT.)

The process being conducted and discussed needs clarification--is this a trial, a military commission, or a military tribunal? It has variously been referred to as all of these in major news coverage. But these terms define different legal entities, and are not interchangeable.

The article tried to make it seem that what goes on in
the commissions--"(t)he first war crimes trials conducted by the United States since World War II"--is not unlike not unlike the procedures in a "garden-variety" legal case.

We are told that Hicks, "pleaded guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization. It was the military equivalent of a plea bargain, the rubber-meets-the-road moment that makes it possible for courts all over America to cope with caseloads that would choke them if every defendant insisted on a trial."

This description makes it seem as though the situation were a run-of-mill case of legal expediency, much as happens any day of the week in America, with most of the cases on any court docket. Mr. Hicks will soon be returning to Australia, and another one has been dispensed with.

But this situation is extraordinary, and has not been dispensed with all due process, and we must not gloss over the loss of liberty which the U.S. is imposing and has imposed upon these people.

My sorrow does not go out to Gitmo prisoners, but rather to an America that does not seem to care that this Australian is facing a kangaroo court.


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