Natalie O’Brien for the Sydney Morning Herald:
David Hicks was desperate, lonely and scared he would never get out of Guantanamo Bay unless he confessed to crimes he did not commit. The Americans were playing mind games with him. He was forced to make decisions about his future while chained to the floor of a cell. He was coerced into signing a ”plea guilty” form with ”al Qaida written all over it” in the belief it would be his ticket home.
I think O’Brien’s line of argument reflects the increasingly bizarre and quite frightening perspective of the Australian media to, years after the fact, reflect on the capture, arrest, charging, and detention of convicted terrorist David Hicks as some kind of unfortunate incident of victimisation, or even electoral plugging:
As he sought re-election in 2007, John Howard called in a political ”favour” from the US government to get any charge possible laid against David Hicks, a former Guantanamo Bay chief military prosecutor has claimed.
I think journalists who try to reason with the Hicks and the small pockets of left-wing, anti-American activists who support him need to step back and remember that the man was caught red-handed training with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and made no secret of the fact of what he was doing there (see this AP report):
Adelaide-born Mr Hicks was 26 when he was captured by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in late 2001. It believed he was fighting for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.
Mr Hicks was held in the US-run jail in Cuba until 2007, when he pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism and was sent to Adelaide’s Yatala Prison to serve the rest of his seven-year sentence.
Hicks is of the opinion now that yes, he was supporting terrorism against the United States and her Western allies, and yes, he was committed to Osama bin Laden’s organisation to bring terror, violence and death to people just like us—ordinary Australians—but somehow he is entitled to ‘compensation’ and pity for being held with other terrorists in Gitmo and then was even transferred to an Australian prison to ride out his deserved sentence.
The man even wants the royalty revenue from his book Guantanamo: My Journey, which has incredulously been listed in Queensland’s Premier’s Literary Prize today. He wants to be paid out for a description about how he was caught and punished for supporting the very cause that wanted to wipe us all out.
I’m of the opinion that Ted Lapkin at the National Times brought some much-needed perspective to the issue in May of this year:
For those who have an interest in the facts rather than a self-serving rewrite of history, a quick reprise of Hicks’s past is in order.
His latter day effort to portray himself as some sort of harmless, hapless dilettante is belied by letters written in his own hand. In these missives he talks of undergoing weapons training that included “anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets, rapid-fire heavy and light machineguns, pistols, AK47s, mines and explosives”. His words, not mine.
This man is the worst of the worst. The media has every right to champion the cause of true justice and welfare for David Hicks but any assertion among journalists like O’Brien that he is some sort of victim, or that we have him all wrong, is disgraceful.