Isn't it fitting that the first person convicted in one of Cheney's kangaroo courts is an Australian.
Terror suspect gets 9 months in plea deal
AUSTRALIAN WILL SERVE HIS SENTENCE IN HOMELAND, CAN'T ALLEGE ABUSE
Australian David Hicks pleaded guilty at the Guantanamo Bay Navy Base yesterday to supporting terrorism in exchange for a nine-month prison sentence under a plea deal that forbids him from claiming he was abused in U.S. custody.That's right, "one of the world's worst terrorists" got less time than Martha Stewart if he would promise not to tell anyone he was tortured for five years to get the confession. If you are an American and not embarrassed you should be.
In return, Hicks, 31, will be allowed to leave Guantanamo within 60 days to serve out the sentence in his native Australia. He will be free by New Year's Eve.
"They told us this was one of the world's worst terrorists, and he got the sentence of a drunken driver," said Ben Wizner, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Bush administration originally had sought life in prison for Hicks. But the presiding officer, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, disclosed that a Pentagon official had cut the deal.
Under the deal, Hicks agreed not to talk to reporters for a year, to forever waive any profit from telling his story, to renounce any claims of mistreatment or unlawful detention and to submit voluntarily to U.S. interrogation and testify at future U.S. trials or international tribunals.
Even my own local Bush supporting paper, The Oregonian, is offended.
Guantanamo's kangaroo court
As an Australian terror suspect gets sentenced, even Rumsfeld's successor admits the trials lack credibility
D avid Hicks said he was tortured while a war prisoner of the United States. Based on the Bush administration's policies toward foreign detainees, Hicks' allegations were all too easy to believe.
The Australian terror suspect changed his tune, however, as part of a plea agreement reached in Guantanamo this week. Hicks now says he was "never illegally mistreated" while in U.S. custody, and he promised not to talk to the media for one year. The gag order and his sunnier spin on prison conditions were part of Hicks' ticket home to Australia, necessary for his escape from indefinite U.S. detention.
This guilty plea deal is billed as the first conviction at a U.S. war-crimes trial since World War II. But it's no victory for American judicial ideals or for the legitimacy of the president's latest stab at military tribunals.
In fact, it's more proof that Guantanamo is irreparably tainted, both as a detention facility and as a war-crimes venue. Even Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the successor to Donald Rumsfeld, acknowledges how hard it will be to create a legitimate system for trying the nearly 400 detainees at Guantanamo -- both in terms of actual justice and the appearance of it.
"My own view is that because of things that happened earlier at Guantanamo, there is a taint about it," Gates told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday. He favors closing Guantanamo and moving the trials of suspected terrorists to courts inside the United States.
"I felt that no matter how transparent, no matter how open the trials," he added, "if they took place in Guantanamo, in the international community they would lack credibility."
The trials already lack credibility here at home.
The Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration's first attempt to design a war tribunal, calling it an example of unchecked executive power. The Republican-controlled Congress then lent a hand to Bush by passing most of the president's wish list into law, including the power to deny prisoners the habeas corpus right to meaningfully challenge their detentions.
Some senators, including some Republicans, now hope the justices will strike down this ill-conceived law. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., has proposed a bill that would restore habeas corpus rights to detainees and bar evidence obtained through torture.
In six long years the Bush/Cheney administration has managed to turn the United States into something that looks more like Banana Republic than an example of Democracy and all that is right. George Bush's legacy will be that it will take a generation or more to undo all of the damage he has done to this once proud country.