It is claimed in leaked documents not yet seen by the public that John Howard in a meeting with then VP Dick Cheney asked for David Hicks to be charged with War Crimes.
It was February 24, 2007 and the majority of the Australian public was demanding David Hicks be brought home from Guantanamo Bay. What started out as a small group of family supporters, lawyers and activists had grown to be one of the largest human rights campaigns for an individual in Australian history. For years the Howard Government had tried everything to make it go away, but on the issue of him coming home a free man they would not budge.
With an election certain for some time late in the year and new Opposition ALP leader Kevin Rudd surging in the polls Howard would look to his friends in high places. He couldn’t go to another election with the Hicks issue still unresolved and with Hicks in US hands, he would need their help. So in a meeting at his Sydney office on that February day John Howard told Dick Cheney Hicks, or more accurately his cause, had become a ”political threat” to his re-election.
As then Vice President of the United States Cheney was a man known to get things done. He had been seen the entire time of George W. Bush’s presidency as the man who pulled the strings. But more importantly he had been Secretary of Defense under Bush Snr and knew the right people to call at the pentagon. Howard was seen as a key ally for the Bush administration, he’d sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq and followed the entire War on Terror in step with the US. This was a favour Cheney could do and wanted to do for a friend.
A week later on 1 March 2007, David Hicks was formally charged with material support for terrorism, and referred to trial by the special military commission.
He would be prosecuted by Chief Prosecutor, Guantanamo Military commissions, Colonel Morris D. Davis. With his high rank, four medals, a Juris doctorate, two Masters of law degrees and distinguished career in military law he was seen by the Bush administration as the right man to prosecute the “worst of the worst” in Gitmo. But in a recent interview with an Australian newspaper Colonel Davis has maintained there was political interference in the charge against Hicks, which he says any reasonable person would see as a ”favour for an ally”.
“Colonel Davis said Hicks had been a good candidate to be transferred back to his home country – without charge – like dozens of others held in Cuba. He came to the conclusion that there was political interference in the case soon after he received an urgent phone call from the Pentagon General Counsel, William ‘Jim’ Haynes, who had asked him: ”How quickly can you charge David Hicks?”
”I knew for John Howard it was becoming a political liability with an election coming up,” Colonel Davis said. That was the first and only time Mr Haynes had ever called him about a specific case and he found it to be ”odd”. The eventual plea bargain was negotiated behind his back, Colonel Davis said.”
With internet publication Truthout claiming to hold the official documents that would back up these claims it is time John Howard answered some very serious questions. Did he ask the US Administration to charge Hicks to help his own re-election bid and why, when it is stated Australian Government policy not to interfere in legal cases involving Australian’s did he do exactly that?
Political trials, under laws that no International or US legal body, including the Supreme Court accepted are not how Australia or any other democracy should conduct itself on the International stage. To ask for a political favour for re-election at the expense of your own national interest and the interest of your citizen is disgraceful. Many prominent International law experts have stated clearly it is worse than that. And with the UN set to investigate and proceedings to determine if Hicks can keep his books profits, Howard may find his friend’s in high places are no more.