DAVID HICKS : UNCONVICTED, TORTURED, BROKEN
THE LONGEST SERVING PRISONER OF GUANTANAMO BAY IS STILL WAITING FOR JUSTICE
This weekend, Australian citizen David Hicks will have spent five years in the torture hellhole that is Guantanamo Bay. Five years, and he still hasn't faced a court to answer the charges levelled against him. Nor is he likely to in the next twelve months.
He remains entombed in a room so small you could barely extend your arms without touching the walls. The lights are never turned off, there is constant surveillance and standing in direct sunlight is all but a memory.
Five years this has gone on for now.
Five years during which the name David Hicks has become recognisable to just about every Australian who reads newspapers or listens to the news.
He is one of the most famous Australians in recent decades, but not for being a terrorist, or even an enemy of America.
He is notorious for being the man John Howard wants to pretend doesn't actually exist. The man whose name makes the Attorney General visibly bristle and blink quickly.
This fiasco has dragged on for so long that even children not born when he was locked away inside Guantanamo Bay know his name and ask their parents why he can't come home.
But most Australians no longer even remember what he is supposed to have done in Afghanistan back in late 2001.
They only know, like their children know, that David Hicks is George W. Bush's prisoner, and because he is the president's prisoner, Hicks is tortured, beaten and broken. Over and over again.
If the Australian government thinks it can breeze through yet another anniversary of David Hicks imprisonment in an American military hellhole, they are going to brutally surprised.
Australian bishops, leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities, former prime ministers, law experts, television hosts, major media players, nuns, charity workers, musicians, actors, priests, scores of Opposition ministers and MPs and even key figures in Howard's own government are preparing to put the prime minister and his attorney general in the line of fire as never before over why this Australian citizen remains an unconvicted prisoner of George W. Bush.
They will demand only one thing : Bring Him Home.
Prime Minister John Howard likes to portray the case of David Hicks as being something the Americans are responsible for finishing up, and cleaning up, but the US government offered Hicks back to Australia years ago.
Howard refused to allow Hicks back into Australia because there are no laws under which Hicks can be charged. The prime minister is clearly scared of what will happen when Hicks is back in Australia and tells his story, of what he did and what has been done to him.
There was no legally sanctioned 'War On Terror' when David Hicks was sold as a bounty to American soldiers by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in late 2001. He was never classified as a prisoner-of-war because Bush Co. made sure that Geneva Convention-sanctioned status would not apply to those they deemed to be 'enemy combatants'.
This allowed prisoners like Hicks to be tossed into a legal Twilight Zone, left to rot away in Guantanamo Bay until their birth country decided to take them back.
Both the President and the former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld branded Hicks (and every other prisoner of Gitmo) "the worst of the worst", "terrorists" and smeared them with the Bush classic braindead line "they're killers who kill".
The New York Times ran a detailed story yesterday of the shameful, sickening torture of American citizen Jose Padilla, another so-called 'enemy combatant' who has been held in military prisons for years, and in conditions very similar to David Hicks.
Like Hicks, Padilla has endured hundreds of hours of Rumsfeld-approved toture-interrogations.
Recently, Padilla was finally charged, but not with any offenses related to terrorism.
'Your New Reality' blog has more on Hicks, what these ghastly Guantanamo Bay imprisonments have done to America's reputation for freedom and justice around the world, and details from the New York Times feature on the savage torture of Jose Padilla.
When you read the story, remember that what has been done to Jose Padilla, has also been done to David Hicks, all in the name, supposedly, of fighting the 'War On Terror'.
The war that was supposed to stop our enemies from taking away our freedoms, but has instead poisoned the very meaning of the word for generations to come.
Go Here For The Full Story
Go Here For Two Explanations - one unhinged, one rational - as to why Australians and Americans detained by the US military, under the orders of President Bush, are forced to wear blackout goggles during transportation.