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Miranda Devine

Jun 2, 2011

Miranda pretends she doesn't know why anyone would support David Hicks

The David Hicks case was a massive embarrassment for conservatives in Australia, highlighting for more than five years how hollow was their commitment to the rule of law. Whatever he'd

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The David Hicks case was a massive embarrassment for conservatives in Australia, highlighting for more than five years how hollow was their commitment to the rule of law. Whatever he’d done, for more than half a decade the Americans could find no valid charge on which to try him. Eventually they created a new crime to apply retrospectively, and forced him to plead guilty to that, lest he spend the rest of his life in Guantanamo. And added a gag order (that would’ve been unconstitutional in the US) so that he couldn’t talk about what had happened while it could politically damage the Howard government.

There was no “fair trial”. There was just indefinite imprisonment and the threat of more unless he pleaded guilty to a crime that didn’t exist when he was alleged to have committed it.

So when people are sympathetic to him nowadays, Miranda Devine (who’s written at least three pieces in the last month on news.com.au smearing Hicks and anyone supportive of him), it’s not because he’s a “convicted war criminal”, as you disingenuously put it, or because they agree with his earlier opinions. It’s because his case highlights just how important is the rule of law, and he’s a visible reminder of how quickly some of us abandon those fundamental precepts when convenient. Those “some of us” being people like Devine – it’s no wonder they are so determined to keep the focus on Hicks’s idiotic juvenile views pre-2001 and not their deliberate, hypocritical, unrepentant support for the travesty of justice they called for after that.

See, Hicks has recanted his earlier views – Miranda Devine and other cheerleaders for indefinite detention without charge have not.

You don’t have to admire David Hicks for what he allegedly once believed, or even like him, to be outraged by what happened to him, or to have sympathy for him now. The people who applauded him weren’t celebrating the commission of war crimes! They were expressing their commitment to the rule of law, and fair trials, and their anger with those whose purported belief in justice was so clearly shown to be false in the Hicks case.

Which of course Miranda knows perfectly well, much as she’s determined to pretend otherwise.

136 comments

136 thoughts on “Miranda pretends she doesn’t know why anyone would support David Hicks

  1. jules

    “Jules: for you to even suggest that some indigenous communities in Australia would be better off under Taliban rule shows how utterly divorced from reality one needs to be in order to support the proposition that fundamentalist islamic theocracies are no better or worse than modern secular democracies.

    These comments of yours are utter lunacy.”

    At the time the Taliban were in power there was more than one indigenous community in a an appalling state and that was due to the policies of Australian govts of all jurisdictions since 1788. Things ha ven’t changed that much for some of them. So I’m not prepared to say they’d be worse off under Taliban rule.

    I know guys who were hunted in Australia Mondo, who travelled from Qld to Vic to avoid being killed for punching a station owner so you know what they’d probably think the Taliban was a better option.

    You are the one trying to turn this into a Taliban vs Australian democracy argument. My original point was there is no difference between working for companies like Blackwater Sandline or Dyncorp and following the Taliban. Tho for some people the Taliban might be acceptable cos their brutality is at least based on some twisted religious bullshit instead of brutality for profit.

    Refer to my comment @ 115 again and then tell me that being a mercenary for companies with records like the ones I mentioned is any different.

    It isn’t and you are the one who has to turn this into some argument about Australian democracy vs the Taliban rule to avoid admitting there is no difference between a bloodthirsty mercenary and a bloodthirsty religious nut.

  2. RobJ

    [Look at you guys all twisting in the wind in order to avoid admitting that Australia’s democracy is an objectively superior society to a Taliban theocracy.]

    Australia’s democracy is superior, by a country mile. I’m saying that Saudi Arabia and the Northern Alliance are not much better than the Taleban (NA aren’t better at all IMO) but we can have relations with them.

  3. mondo rock

    Look at you guys all twisting in the wind in order to avoid admitting that Australia’s democracy is an objectively superior society to a Taliban theocracy.

    I don’t understand why, given that it is such a mundane observation of the bleedingly obvious. I guess those of a post-modern bent have an issue with judging anything as being superior to anything else – it’s all a matter of “perspective” right?

    Jules: for you to even suggest that some indigenous communities in Australia would be better off under Taliban rule shows how utterly divorced from reality one needs to be in order to support the proposition that fundamentalist islamic theocracies are no better or worse than modern secular democracies.

    These comments of yours are utter lunacy.

  4. jules

    Yes Angra there is that (I don’t mind Mike Ruppert, tho he’s a little nuts – I’d be paranoid too if I was him,) and this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Webb

    And cos any excuse is a good excuse:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKJHltEI788

  5. RobJ

    [Well the Taliban were pretty effective at putting a stop to the opium trade ]

    Indeed, they received $46 million from the US who at the same time were saying ‘you can’t negotiate with the Taleban Now that the Taleban have a war to fund the opium is flowing freely. Good Going Coalition of the Willing (/sarc)

    [there are some places where people might have been better off under the Taliban]

    Women, working the fields without fear of being raped by the Northern Alliance. I expect someone will pop up and say ‘women can’t work under the Taleban’, Really? When that plane was Hijacked about a dozen years ago (India – Afghanistan-Stanstead) the Taleban arrested the staff of the Afghan National Airline, from the footage saw all the staff were women????

  6. Angra

    Well the Taliban were pretty effective at putting a stop to the opium trade which immediately started up again once ‘we’ waded in. So maybe there are a few hundred thousand would-be junkies who are better off because of the Taliban.

    And course the west has form when it comes to propping up the international drug trade. Just check Opium Wars and Air America. And CIA-sponsored drug shipments from South America into the US.

    http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ciadrugs/witness_list.html

  7. Eric Sykes

    Jules @128, yes, you may well be onto something there.

  8. RobJ

    In Afghanistan the Taleban will kill you for the flimsiest oof crimes, the Northern Alliance Warlords (our allies) who ruled before the Taleban would rob you, rape you and then kill you. We’ve allied with kid fucking monsters known as the NA (I kid you not) it’s not like we really have the moral high ground, we just like to kid ourselves that we have in our nice, clean, sterile lifestyles.

  9. jules

    But on reflection … there are some places where people might have been better off under the Taliban than in some indigenous communities for example.

  10. jules

    Mondo @ 123 we are a global society.

  11. mondo rock

    And since you are so wedded to freedom and prosperity then clearly you are incensed by how badly Hicks has been treated

    I’ll quote myself from earlier in the thread Eric:

    I will defend Hicks’ right to fair and proper treatment under Australian law until the end of days, just as I will condemn Howard for his abandonment of an Australian citizen’s basic rights (in craven subservience to the US). I do not believe Hicks to be guilty of any crime for his decision to fight in Afghanistan and I think those who argue otherwise are ignorant of basic legal principle.

    So it’s fair to say that, yes, I am incenced by both the way he was treated and by the idiotic defence of that treatment emanating from half our population.

    But none of that goes to counter his utterly disgusting decision to join the Taliban as a jihadist. That decision alone marks him as a violent, fundamentalist moron more deserving of our scorn than our applause. Don’t let your admirable instinct to defend the legal principles breached by our government morph into an instinct to defend Hicks the man.

    He doesn’t deserve it. His Dad does, but Hicks doesn’t.

  12. RobJ

    [Hicks has been treated and have no problem with him trying to earn a few bucks from his book?]

    There’s no way anybody is going to stop him, I’d love for the govt to try and ping him on proceeds from crime, they’re on a hiding to nothing.

  13. Eric Sykes

    Mondo, where did I say they’d be better off under fundamentalist Islamic rule, I can’t find where I said that?

    And since you are so wedded to freedom and prosperity then clearly you are incensed by how badly Hicks has been treated and have no problem with him trying to earn a few bucks from his book?

  14. mondo rock

    We (you and I) can’t objectively assess the Taliban or our own culture – obviously.

    I disagree Jules.

    There are a myriad of objective measures that can be applied to evaluate the health of any society. Measures such as household wealth, relative freedom of minority groups, poverty statistics, children who die from preventable disease statistics (that’s one of yours Jules) separation of church and state, levels of corruption in public institutions, average life expectancies, availability of health care etc etc. On every single measure of societal health (that I can think of anyway) Australia surpasses Afghanistan – leading to the inescapable conclusion that we are an objectively more successful society.

    It’s not heresy to identify this Jules. It’s just bare faced reality.

    Eric – if you really believe that the residents of Logan, or the USA for that matter, would be better off living under fundamentalist Islamic rule then you’re an idiot.

  15. RobJ

    [As far as I’m aware Saudi Arabia has not been recruiting a jihadist army]

    No, they just pay others to fly jets into sky scrapers, they used their army (which the west pretty much supplies) to put down the ‘Arab Spring’ in their neighbours nations. It’s a terrorist nation (IMO), an oppressive women hating regime but that’s OK because they sell us their oil.

    [If, however, you are talking about people who want to pursue careers and/or business opportunities in Saud then I would put them in an entirely different category. I’m funny that way –]

    Yeah, you’re inconsistent.

    [I draw a distinction between violent global jihad and most other ordinary activities.]

    I bet the Saudi Govt/Royal family have more innocent blood on their hands than Hicks.

  16. Eric Sykes

    jules…well said. Context is everything, for all its so called prosperity Australia still has an underclass, this for example is where I live:

    On average, 30 young people are expelled or excluded from school each week in Logan.

    Kingston and Woodridge have some of the highest youth unemployment levels in Australia.

    Logan experiences higher than average levels of public housing, welfare dependency, and rental accommodation.

    31.2% of families in Logan live below the poverty line.

    Logan’s recorded crime rates vary between suburbs, but are on average up to double the Queensland average for many categories of crime including youth crime.

    Over 60 percent of Logan’s suburbs recorded higher than average national levels of disadvantage, in particular the regions of Kingston, Woodridge and Waterford West.

    Logan has a significantly higher than state average rate of single parent families, with just under one in four families (23.3%) headed by a sole parent.

    Low income earners (those earning less than $200 a week) account for 28.4 percent of Logan’s population.

    Freedom to be poor…? Logan is in no way unique, so I would politely suggest Mondo that it is not I who is the fool here. Capitalism has delivered pain. Christianity has delivered guilt. The Taliban deals out death and in the USA there were 43.6 million people in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million in 2008 — the third consecutive annual increase. So it’s all relative and it all stinks.

  17. jules

    “If you can’t see the objective superiority of our society over those governed by fundamentalist Islamists then you’ve obviously lost your way.”

    Thats right – its fundie Muslims that are responsible for 30 000 children (well more by now) dying every day from preventable disease and poverty that is avoidable. Not to mention the 6th (or is it 5th by now) “greatest” extinction event since life on Earth started (That includes things like AGW which must be the fundie mussies fault cos oil comes from the middle east after all.)

    If anything it is resistance to the extremes of capitalism and resistance to the extremes of Christianity that have gifted us our allegedly free and fair democracy.

    Its simply that our culture has a space to resist fundamentalism in any form, thats the only difference and possibly the only “objective” assessment of it.

    Fundamentalist worldviews of any type have a tendency to cause more harm than good. Is someone like Anne Coulter, who called for the forcible conversion of Iraqis to Christianity and the shooting of any who refused really that different to an Islamic Jihadist?

    Our society is better for most people most of the time, but I dunno if its objectively superior, or if you (or I) can you can actually make an objective assessment of our society, given we are inside it and can’t make an actual objective comparison.

    I might prefer living in Australia, and totally reject the ideology of the Taliban, but thats me. Its not some Gods Eye view of the world (if there is one). Only such a view could objectively make that judgment.

    Sure its obvious to all right thinking people that the Taliban are a pack of arseholes – to the point where you could define right thinking people as ones who think the Taliban suck. Even I accept that. But I can also see the strange loop there.

    We (you and I) can’t objectively assess the Taliban or our own culture – obviously. Cos we disagree on stuff as fundamental as whether one pack of fundies is different to another. You might think you’re being objevtive about it, but you ain’t.

  18. mondo rock

    I bet many Australians are working for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Would you class those the same as Hicks?

    As far as I’m aware Saudi Arabia has not been recruiting a jihadist army. If they did, and Australians flew out to join it, then yes I would class them as the same as Hicks. It’s fair to say that they would rank fairly low on my personal list of “humans who deserve my respect.”

    If, however, you are talking about people who want to pursue careers and/or business opportunities in Saud then I would put them in an entirely different category. I’m funny that way – I draw a distinction between violent global jihad and most other ordinary activities.

    “Fundamentalist Islam is an objectively apalling ideology”..but so are capitalism and christianity…

    Eric – don’t be a fool. A mixture of capitalism and moderate Christianity has gifted you the free, prosperous and (mostly) fair democracy in which you live. Fundamentalist Islam is a barbaric and primitive ideology that both offers, and has achieved, nothing for its adherents or those unfortunate enough to live near them.

    You’re lucky you grew up in Australia and not Afghanistan. If you can’t see the objective superiority of our society over those governed by fundamentalist Islamists then you’ve obviously lost your way.

  19. Eric Sykes

    Mondo @ 112 says “Fundamentalist Islam is an objectively apalling ideology”..but so are capitalism and christianity…so Hicks is nothing special in my view.

  20. Captain Col

    Mano derecho, it is interesting that you can quote High Court decisions which place the obvious obligation on soldiers to obey lawful orders and to disobey unlawful orders. You seem to ignore the rarity of illegal orders eg from my own extensive experience and from others here. And you sort of prove my case in that something had to go all the way through the legal process to the High Court for a decision to be final.

    Soldiers in war don’t have the luxury of endless lawyerly discourse and reflection on precedents in making on-the-spot decisions about whether an order is lawful or unlawful. My advice to them is to obey the order unless it is plainly obvious otherwise eg to kill unarmed civilian non-combatants.

    In RobJ’s example of the “villiage” he assumes it is full of non-combatants whereas I assumed it contained combatants (after all his example was when in the heat of combat – so someone’s shooting). It is here the difficulty arises. Combatants must be killed or captured and harm to non-combatants must be minimised (but the law accepts it is impossible to eliminate). So what one soldier might perceive as firing on a legitimtate target – the villiage – another could perceive as murder … and there isn’t time to resolve this to everyone’s satisfaction. That’s why we make a huge effort to train and give experience to those who give the orders and they ultimately bear the responsibility for their decisions. This is as it should be.

  21. GavinM

    Oops, sorry Mano — having one of those Mondays. didn’t read your moniker properly 😛

  22. jules

    “I’m a bit gobsmacked that there are people here who can’t perceive a significant difference between what Hicks did and general ‘security contracting’? Surely, at some stage, one has to admit that Fundamentalist Islam is an objectively apalling ideology.”

    Dyncorp and child trafficking.

    Blackwater and murder and rape.

    Aegis and shooting at unarmed vehicles.

    The Taliban and all the shit they did.

    Whats the difference?

  23. Mano derecho

    “Mancho” – I like it! I should’ve thought harder about my moniker. : )

    Sorry, Gavin. I didn’t get that meaning on my initial reading, but I get it now. We’re in furious agreement about a soldier’s duty then (not sure about Col, though).

  24. RobJ

    [I’m a bit gobsmacked that there are people here who can’t perceive a significant difference between what Hicks did and general ‘security contracting’? Surely, at some stage, one has to admit that Fundamentalist Islam is an objectively apalling ideology.]

    I bet many Australians are working for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Would you class those the same as Hicks? Or worse because they’re doing it for financial gain as opposed to Hicks who was doing it for misguided beliefs?

  25. mondo rock

    Hicks is no better or worse than someone working for a private security contractor in a war zone.

    Except that he sided with fundamentalist Islamic terrorists who were brutalising a country with the most repressive form of Sharia Law seen in centuries.

    I’m a bit gobsmacked that there are people here who can’t perceive a significant difference between what Hicks did and general ‘security contracting’? Surely, at some stage, one has to admit that Fundamentalist Islam is an objectively apalling ideology.

  26. GavinM

    Mancho,

    “Wrong. See High Court decision A v Hayden (1984) where Justice Murphy J states that “military and civilians have a duty to obey lawful orders, and a duty to disobey unlawful orders.”

    You misinterpreted what I wrote Mancho, perhaps I was a little unclear — by normal circumstances, I meant lawful orders, Rob’s example, for instance, would be an unlawful order and not normal circumstances.

    I’m not sure what you are trying to infer by Governments in democracies observing the law of the land — when such a government decides to go to war, provided that decision has been ratified by the relevant bodies within that country, it is a legal decision as far as its soldiers are concerned — the UN may or may not claim a war is illegal, but it cannot prosecute individual soldiers for participating in it on the orders of their government.

    As to Hicks, he joined the official army of a recognised national goverment, he did so well before we found ourselves at war with them — so I don’t think he should be considered as either a mercenary or a terrorist for his service with them.

    Just my opinion, but I reckon his joining the Taleban military at the time he did was little different to joining the Foreign Legion.

    His membership – or not – of Lashkar-e-Toiba may be of interest, but thats probably up to the Indian government to investigate if they think there’s any worth in it.

  27. twobob

    Having read Hicks’ book I formed the conclusion that Hicks was no more than an immature young man seeking to find an adventure. His antics in Afghanistan pale into in consequence when compared with the actions of the US and Australian governments in his incarceration. That any human being can defend the actions of those government is a clear example of how they lack an ability to empathise with either Hicks or his father.

    It is the inability of individuals in this crucial area that leads to most of the misery, torture and inhumane actions that mankind visits upon individuals, races and nations.
    It is pathetic, contemptible and ugly. It belittles us all whenever it happens and to defend such inhumanities marks an individual as lacking. It is sad. They are sad and hollow imitations of complete people and I am sure they know it inside.

  28. jules

    Hicks is no better or worse than someone working for a private security contractor in a war zone.

    Possibly less worse than someone who goes to work for Reflex Responses actually.

  29. Mano derecho

    “But Captain Col is correct — under normal circumstances soldiers cannot legally disobey orders and they certainly can’t legally refuse deployment to any conflict their country’s government chooses to send them to.”

    Wrong. See High Court decision A v Hayden (1984) where Justice Murphy J states that “military and civilians have a duty to obey lawful orders, and a duty to disobey unlawful orders.”

    So, while I agree it may be impractical, it is, in fact, a soldier’s duty to disobey an unlawful order. It’s not a choice. Everyone is subject to the laws of the land, even Governments (especially Governments in democracies) including the military. A Government (including the military) cannot order someone to break the law. And that someone can’t legally obey that order. If they do, both are subject to prosecution.

    WRT Eric’s poor family, Captain, I would assume that Eric would, as I would, take appropriate action and defend his family, despite his moral and ethical misgivings, and be fully prepared for any subsequent consequences.

    Mondo, I agree Hicks isn’t worthy of praise. But he is worthy of applause for surviving under circumstances that may have broken others completely.

  30. Eric Sykes

    Gav, re: “those who want more than they have and will do whatever it takes to get it”, yes of course, but I think it may well be possible to minimise this and the effects of this, through a shift in what overall society accepts as “normal”. Foucault criticised Marcuse for being too much of a “Utopian socialist”, but at the same time he also recognised the need for utopian models in imagining long term strategies for social justice.

    Mondo….I don’t know I wasn’t there but I don’t think anyone was giving him a standing ovation for being a terrorist you see? Since he hasn’t actually been convicted of being one that would be tuff to do anyway. I think they were applauding his resilience in putting up with the barbarism of a state operating outside the law once he was captured, yes. The difference is subtle but important in my view. As for terrorism in all its forms, including the Taliban and that of failed states such as Australia and the USA, I agree, it must be condemned.

  31. mondo rock

    Eric – at the very least it appears that we can agree that Hicks is undeserving of praise or applause.

    Since you are opposed to killing under any circumstances I would assume you take a relaitively dim view of someone joining the Taliban in order to participate in a holy war.

  32. GavinM

    Your pursuit is a noble one Eric, but sadly I feel greed, aggression and competitiveness is in the nature of human beings and I can’t imagine it will ever change. (I’d be more than happy to be wrong).

    I think there will always be those who want more than they have and will do whatever it takes to get it, wether that be on a personal, national or international stage.

  33. GavinM

    Rob,

    I can’t be certain of the outcome of a hypothetical court martial — which is why I used the terms ‘could’, ‘reasonable’ and ‘unlikely’.

    Such a hearing would also require testimony from witnesses.

    Your example is hardly what could be described as a normal circumstance.

  34. RobJ

    [But Captain Col is correct — under normal circumstances soldiers cannot legally disobey orders and they certainly can’t legally refuse deployment to any conflict their country’s government chooses to send them to.]

    This ought to be a massive disincentive to join up. I understand the bit about not being able to refuse a deployment but not being able to refuse an order which may be criminal….

    [disobeying his immediate CO could present a reasonable defence at his court martial ]

    Look, if your CO is asking you to commit an obvious war crime (like what I described) I would hope that it would provide a bit more than a reasonable defence at Court Martial if a soldier does the right thing and disobeys.

  35. Eric Sykes

    and I should learn to type slower and avoid atroshus spelin’ 😉

  36. Eric Sykes

    “Marcuse believed that until aggression and violence within human beings was diminished, there would necessarily be continued destruction of nature, as well as violence against other human beings. Consequently, Marcuse stressed the importance of radical psychology and transforming inner nature, both to preserve external nature and to diminish violence in society.”

    http://gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/Illumina%20Folder/kell11.htm

    Mondo…you may well consider this kinda stuff from Herbert Marcuse and Dougals Kellner to be childish fundamentalist nonsense, such is your right. I would not expect anything less from smeone so married to reactionary rationalism as your good self.

    I for one think that it may be possible to avoid violence in the long term, and that by taking individual and collective responsibility for “transforming inner nature” society might shift towards a less babaric norm, not with the help of religion and imaginary gods and “morals”, but through a human ethics that progressively, over time, rejects the conditioning of power. Certianly not in our lifetime Mondo, but probably worth chasing anyway.

https://www.crikey.com.au/2011/06/02/miranda-pretends-she-doesnt-know-why-anyone-would-support-david-hicks/ == https://www.crikey.com.au/free-trial/==https://www.crikey.com.au/subscribe/

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