What Has Happened to America?
An Australian writes:
As you might imagine, I am a very pissed off Australian. David Hicks might be one stupid Australian supporter of Al Qaida, I grant that. I also grant that he was likely a very minor and irrelevant part of that organization, a stupid man caught up in something much greater than himself (and something the facts cannot say he was really involved in).
As an Australian I am an instinctive friend of America, and like my fellow Australians I admire what America is. But, America's abrogation of the rights and privileges we expect among free peoples and America's expectation that we will go along with this is hateful. Our PM, John Howard, is I hope going to lose the next election because he would not fight for his fellow Australian and because he followed President Bush where no Australian was inclined to go.
There are two main issues of concern and indignation:
(1) The extent to which America ignores or rewrites the fundamental tenets of western civilization concerning the rule of law, due process, the admissibility of evidence, habeas corpus, the right to face the accuser, etc, i.e. your heretofore moral high ground.
(2) The manner in which you, America, conduct your investigations. Your record is replete with failed indictments and vengeance after the fact new charges of doubtful legality, may I mention Chaplain Yee, designed to punish someone who had in fact done nothing wrong. Remember the charges Hicks was supposed to have faced, e.g. reconnaisance of the US embassy, withdrawn after it was clear that the embassy was not even existing at the time (and thus did not pass the basic laugh test). The coerced plea bargain of Hicks to achieve some form of immunity from transparency and follow up suit is just so par for the course.
As a civilization, our greatest weapon against terrorism and hate is to adhere to the greatest and most effective values and laws that define us. To do otherwise is to make us into the image of what we fight.
I am not sure Americans quite realise the full extent of what happens in the world of ideas and law. Nations Adhering to the western ideal use the best practice and precedent to order their own affairs. When a major power in such affairs, America, carries much weight and its effect is mirrored to one extent or another in changes elsewhere, the draconian changes to laws and civil rights is apparent elsewhere.
No one, these days has much to thank America for.
The Hicks judgement is a travesty on so many levels it is hard to quantify. It is a dismal display of American justice and you should be ashamed, very ashamed.
As for me? To the extent I can I will work for his immediate release. Not because I think he is innocent but simply because no one has adequately demonstrated that he is anything more than absolute gullible, stupid wannabe who does not know what or who he is. He has already paid whatever dues he was supposed to have paid in Guantanomo Bay, an illegal prison.
As to Major Mori, Hicks' defence counsel, he has become a media hero in Australia and God bless him. He is the only person in this affair who might be described as shining and a credit to his uniform. I do not know what penalties he will in due course pay for his defence of the luckless Hicks but I wish him well and all honour. Mori is a true American.
I still don't think most Americans realize what this president has done to the reputation, honor, influence and power of the United States. It will take a generation to recover.