06 June 2006

More on Hicks

Today the Australian opinion section prints a feeble response to the recent concerns about David Hicks. The author, Neil James, Executive Director of the Australian Defence Association, harrumphs :

The Law Council of Australia has unfortunately lapsed into domestic legal terminology in describing David Hicks as having languished powerless in custody for a period of 30 months before he was even charged with any offence.

Such a mix of fact, supposition and error is the latest version of the common but simplistic claim that it is merely a matter of trying Hicks or releasing him.

The law council appears to misunderstand that the legitimacy and duration of Hicks's continued detention as a captured combatant under the laws of armed conflict is a fundamentally separate issue to whether he can or should be tried on terrorism or other war crimes charges, and if so, how and by whom.

James mentions "laws" and "legitimacy" without explaining whose laws and whose (perception of) legitimacy he is talking about. He appears to be simply endorsing President Bush's executive decisions whose legal validity is currently (as he conceded) being challenged in the US Supreme Court on the grounds outlined in the ICJ paper .

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