Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Howard's Betrayal

Given that David Hicks was a former kangaroo skinner, perhaps the Howard Government thinks it is a kind of poetic justice that he should be tried by a kangaroo court. As it happens, the kangaroos were pressing for nothing less than a two-digit sentence, but many observers argue that political intervention got Hicks out and home early enough to neutralise an increasingly embarrassing issue for the Howard Government. A twelve month gag has been placed on Hicks. What possible point is there to that apart from concern about the upcoming election later this year?

In previous testimony when he tried to obtain British citizenship in the hope that Blair would show more backbone than Howard (how humiliating for Howard - to be more spineless than the proven liar, conman and poodle Blair), Hicks alleged that he was badly tortured including beatings and sodomisation. Now as part of the plea deal he must not make any such allegations or sue for damages. How convenient. The whole process is a farce.

Howard has made a direct denial that political pressure produced this convenient result in the case, but how much credibility does he have? It could just be an example of barefaced lying on TV at the highest level. That's how its done, kids.

For the rest of the civilised world, Guantanamo bay is a disgrace and a betrayal of the most basic values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. It is disturbing how many people in parliament, the media and elsewhere are apparently entirely willing to accept or even embrace this. I am reminded that in the Weimar republic, nearly a full third of the German population freely voted for an outright fascist. The mentality of such voters is that we need a strong leader, fix the economy, get the trains to run on time, restore pride in the nation, eliminate enemies. At the best of times all too many people wouldnt know whether habeas corpus was Latin or Greek, and would agree 'terrorists' should be tortured or executed. It is therefore breathtaking folly and irresponsibility to encourage the latent authoritarian tendencies. Democracy and the rule of law, as ever, hang by a thread. All the more responsibility, therefore, that we all have to oppose encroaching authoritarianism and defend the rule of law.

Habeas corpus and trial by jury are the most basic protections against tyrannical government. In fact, tyranny could be defined as the ability of the state security apparatus to seize a person at will, to be detained, tortured or executed without appeal or accountability. And the purpose of such seizure, torture, detention and execution, of course, is not to obtain information, but to terrorise the population, thereby suppressing dissent or rebellion against the current regime.

The enemies of freedom are not Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, but our own governments. Bin Laden simply has no capability to end freedom in Australia, the United States, or any country (with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia, assuming Bin Laden overthrew the Saudis and he was less free than the current regime). All Bin Laden can do is murder people, and he should be treated like the criminal and murderer that he is. But our own treacherous governments have every capacity to threaten freedom and have been proceeding forthwith.

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