After 5 years in detention, solitary confinement, no charges, and limited access to legal representation, the best that the Pentagon could come up with is a plea deal from David Hicks resulting in 7 months imprisonment, only 9 months of which he has yet to serve.
The case of Hicks offers us a glimpse into the Kafkaesque netherworld of detentions, kidnappings, torture and show trials that is now, internationally, the shameful signature of the Bush administration. Hicks’ passage through this sham process affords us all an opportunity to demand the closure of Guantanamo and an end to these heinous policies. Conditions may soon exist to shutter the prison, with George Bush’s lame-duck status, the Democratic takeover of Congress, the possible departure of Guantanamo’s arch-defender and architect, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and, if recent reports are true, a desire to close the prison on the part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. These bogus military commission trials amplify global contempt for the Guantanamo prison.
This Stalinist theater has probably done more to illustrate how baseless the charges were against Hicks, than any trial ever could. As part of the plea deal, Hicks would withdraw the claim that had been:
“Repeatedly Beaten, sodomized and forced into painful positions during interrogations”
and that he would not sue the US government.
The case against him must have been a real whopper. Luckily for Hicks, the Pentagon showed mercy and and compassion by agreeing not to present the evidence they had against him to the tribunal.
Oh, and by the way, Hicks also had to withdraw the claim that he was sedated while he agreed to these terms. Again, I’m sure the Pentagon did this to alleviate any stress Hicks may have been going through as he fessed up to his crimes.
Here’s what Hicks admitted to :
- He heard a talk given by Osama Bin Laden, in Arabic, while at a training camp, and he told Bin Laden that there was a lack of “materials” written in English.
- He attended at least three Al Qaeda training camps in January, April and late 2001.
- He saw the September 11, 2001, attacks on a television while staying with a friend in Pakistan, and he had approved of the attacks.
- He had returned to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, but he did not admit to having had “advanced knowledge” that terrorists were going to hit New York City and Washington, DC..
- When the US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan in October, 2001, he volunteered to fight with Al Qeada to support the Taliban. Hicks guarded a tank near Kabul Airport and spent a total of two hours on the front lines of the war, near Konduz.
- After two hours on the front line, Hicks then fled to Pakistan after selling his gun for the taxi fare.
Impressive hah? Five years in Guantanamo to come to a set of charges that Hicks pretty much confessed to through his letters home to his family.
So after 5 years, that’s one down and 499 to go for the wonderful tribunals at Guantanamo. Is it any wonder that Robert Gates says “the tribunals may lack credibility”?
Is it any wonder the plea agreement included a ban on Hitch speaking to the media for 1 year?