Australian voters kicked Prime Minister John Howard out of office yesterday. Howard was even more of a groveler to Bush than Tony Blair.
One step Bush took to try to help Howard win reelection was to release Australian David Hicks from Guantanamo earlier this year. As part of the deal for his release, Hicks had to promise to keep his mouth shut about how he was tortured until after the Australian election – and to sign a statement swearing he was not abused while at Gitmo. The release deal stunk to high heaven, but it was typical of the candor & ethics of the Global War on Terror.
Here’s the segment on Hicks’s case from a story I wrote in July for the American Conservative:
The torture of David Hicks, an Australian seized in Afghanistan and sent to Gitmo in early 2002, became an international cause célèbre. Hicks, who joined the Kosovo Liberation Army, a terrorist organization supported by the U.S. government, before fighting alongside the Taliban, was sexually assaulted, beaten with a rifle butt, kept in isolation in the dark for 244 days, prohibited from sleeping for long periods, threatened with firearms during interrogations, and psychologically tormented.
He was one of the first people tried by the Gitmo military tribunals. Though former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once called him one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world, after Hicks agreed to plead guilty to material support of terrorism, he was sentenced to nine months confinement—a typical sentence for a misdemeanor in most states. As part of his plea agreement, Hicks was obliged to declare that he “had never been illegally treated by any person or persons while in the custody and control of the United States” and to swear that his guilty plea was made voluntarily, despite all the beatings he had received.