David Hicks, the Australian national who inexplicably became a convert to Jihad-centered Islam, is the first person to be found guilty of terrorism-related charges under the terms of the Military Commissions Act (MCA).
Two aspects of Hicks's case are genuinely remarkable:
First, although he pleaded guilty – following five years of detention and the dismissal of most of his legal counsel by the presiding judge -- to the charge of “providing material support for terrorism,” Hicks wasn't accused of plotting to attack the United States or any American citizen.
Second, Hicks began his career as a Jihadi working with the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which may be the only Islamist terror group accurately described as “Islamo-Fascist.” The pedigree of that organization, as New York Times foreign correspondent Christopher Hedges pointed out in the late 1990s, is traced on one side to the worst elements of Stalinist Marxism, and on the other side to the Skanderbeg militias organized by the SS in the Balkans during World War II.
So it does no violence to the facts to call the KLA “Islamo-Fascist,” although “Islamo-Leninist” would still be a better description.
And it should not be forgotten that at the time Hicks was working with the KLA, the group was likewise receiving material assistance not only from Osama bin-What's-His-Name (you know, the Guy Bush Doesn't Worry About), but also from Washington and London.
It has been said that the crime of terrorism consists of privatizing the official violence routinely practiced by governments. And most terrorist groups of any consequence work as subcontractors for national governments, or international alliances of some kind. This was very much the case with the KLA, which was used by Washington and London as the spearhead in an attack on the former Yugoslavia.
After being thrust into power by the 1999 NATO terror-bombing of Serbia, the KLA proceeded to terrorize Kosovo's Christian Serbs, as well as the peaceful Albanian Muslims living in that Serbian province. The group is now entrenched as the UN-installed government of Kosovo.
David Hicks reportedly went to Kosovo to train with the KLA in 1999 – which means that he was giving material support to a terrorist group that was an ally of Washington (and that he may in fact have been working with CIA operatives who were providing training and assistance to the KLA at the time).
Hicks was working as a horse trainer in Japan when he learned about the KLA. In a letter to his parents he explained that he had joined the group (“I thought it was an airline,” his father later explained) to fight the Serbs. Since fighting the Serbs – who had been routinely demonized in the western media as the Nazis reborn -- had been official U.S. policy for several years, it's reasonable to say that it was Washington that recruited Hicks into the ranks of Jihad.
After converting to Islam, Hicks went to Pakistan where he joined a Kashmiri Islamic separatist group called Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET, or “Army of the Pure”).The LET aspires to convert India into a Sharia-ruled Islamic state, and it has provided support to Islamic rebels in Chechnya, but it displays no documented interest in attacking the US. While fighting with the LET, Hicks reportedly got off a few rounds in the direction of Indian forces in Kashmir, but did nothing to molest any American citizen in any way.
Hicks migrated to Afghanistan in 2000 and became a convert to Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalism. Following the 9-11 attacks, he telephoned his father to tell him that he was going to be fighting on behalf of the Taliban against the Northern Alliance. He was captured by the Northern Alliance outside Kandahar in December 2001, and turned over to US custody.
The dossier on Hicks claims that he was at some point trained by al-Qaeda, and that he helped conduct surveillance on US and British embassies in Kabul. If true, this suggests that Hicks was well on his way to becoming a full-fledged anti-Western Jihadist by the time he was captured by the Northern Alliance. But it shouldn't be forgotten that he was sucked into an Islamist pipeline that was created primarily by Washington – which sponsored the KLA, and also created the Mujahadeen network from which both the Taliban and al-Qaeda sprang.
Should David Hicks have been prosecuted? Definitely – by the Serbs, or by the Indian government, both of which have jurisdiction over any terrorist of insurrectionist acts in which Hicks was implicated. Perhaps he should have been turned over to Australia for trial.
But unless we are to assume that Washington has universal jurisdiction, it had no business detaining and trying Hicks – a foreign national – for alleged offenses committed in the Balkans and Central Asia.
And if Hicks is to be regarded as a terrorist for lending material aid to the KLA, then he should have enjoyed the august company of some celebrity co-defendants in the dock – Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, William Cohen, Tony Blair, George Robertson, Javier Solana.... The list would be quite impressive, and the resulting spectacle most satisfying.
Cardassian "Court TV": Residents of Cardassia Prime watch a show trial intended to make vivid the infallible wisdom of the State.
The military commission that “tried” Hicks is a “prerogative court” akin to the notorious Star Chamber – a burlesque of a judicial body, one that exists only to ratify the executive's will, rather than to determine facts and do justice. It is the lineal descendant of the Soviet “justice” system, a real-life analogue of fictional Cardassian tribunals, in which the objective is to demonstrate the State's infallibility – and the “defense” counsel's role is to help the defendant understand and accept the State's wisdom.
This was made clear by the treatment of Hicks's legal counsel, two of whom were dismissed by the presiding military judge for arcane and whimsical reasons. In fact, Hicks's chief counsel, Joshua Dretel, was dismissed because he refused to sign a document agreeing to abide by court regulations that have not yet been written.
I've pointed this out before, but it bears repeating:
About a decade ago, I co-produced a documentary entitled “Injustice For All: The International Criminal Court” that set out the reasons for opposing the UN's trial court. The UN's trial court claims universal jurisdiction and the right to prosecute citizens of countries that did not ratify the ICC Statute. The ICC does not recognize the due process rights and guarantees integral to Anglo-Saxon law; its standards of evidence and operating guidelines are being invented on the fly; hearsay, double-hearsay, and other grievously flawed testimony can be used as evidence at the ICC. The ad hoc UN tribunals that provided the model for the ICC often “extradited” defendants through kidnapping, or what we now call “extraordinary rendition.”
Every single element of the indictment against the ICC applies to the legal system being created by the Bush Regime in the name of fighting terrorism. Many of the same people who denounced the ICC are volubly applauding the version of the same pseudo-judicial abomination created through the Military Commissions Act.
The ICC could be considered a threat to Americans, albeit one that's a cloud on the horizon the size of a man's hand.
The MCA, however, is an immediate threat to Americans, or anyone else, who attracts the malign attention of Washington.
People who ignore or fail to understand this, I suspect, have been osculating the Dear Leader's posterior for so long they've simply become inured to the pungent odor of totalitarianism.