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Important Gitmo Ruling Leaves Future of Military Commissions Uncertain, Say Attorneys

Court Conclusively Finds Material Support Not a War Crime

Center for Constitutional Rights | July 14, 2014

Washington, D.C. – In response to today’s en banc ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals in Al-Bahlul v. United States, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

Today’s Court of Appeals ruling defers resolving important questions — Can conspiracy charges be tried by military commission? Is domestic law relevant to that decision? — to a future case. But the five separate opinions, totaling 150 pages, are entirely clear on one point: all seven judges agreed that material support for terrorism is not a war crime triable by military commission, even for a defendant who forfeited his defenses at trial. That decision mandates that our client David Hicks’s conviction for material support, pending on appeal before the Court of Military Commission Review, be vacated. Today’s ruling is a reminder that a military commission prosecution or conviction can unravel at any time.

The court merely deferred the inevitable by failing to recognize that conspiracy is no more appropriately tried in a military commission than material support. We urge the Supreme Court to review today’s ruling regarding conspiracy and dispense with all fabricated war crimes charges once and for all.

The Center for Constitutional Rights represents Australian David Hicks, convicted of a sole count of material support by a military commission at Guantanamo, whose appeal seeking to have his conviction overturned has been stayed pending today’s D.C. Circuit decision.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for more than 12 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that nearly all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.

press@ccrjustice.org

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Gitmo a black hole where no laws apply’ – former detainee David Hicks

RT | November 7, 2013

Australian citizen David Hicks suffered torture and brutal beatings at the hands of guards at Guantanamo prison. Breaking the gag order that was a condition of his release, Hicks spoke to RT about his ordeal and how he was coerced into pleading guilty.

38-year-old David Hicks spent over five years in Guantanamo Prison accused of aiding terrorists. He was eventually convicted under the 2006 Military Commissions Act for “providing material support to terrorism” and released in 2007 after pleading guilty. Hicks has filed to have the convictions overturned, alleging his plea was made under duress and he had no other choice but to confess.

During his six years at Guantanamo, Hicks says he was subjected to both mental and psychological torture, forced to take injections and brought to the brink of suicide by the prison staff.

“Myself and everyone else were tortured on a daily basis,” Hicks said. “That ranges from typical physical beatings to a whole range of psychological ploys. There was medical experimentation that was very scary to be subjected to.”

The staff at Guantanamo forced inmates to take pills and injections, and they would face beatings if they resisted, Hicks said. The prisoners were never informed as to the nature of the drugs they were made to take.

Hicks said that being white and Australian gave him a privileged position in the prison, allowing him to avoid some of the physical abuse that went on.

“Being white and, more importantly, English being my first language, that allowed me to communicate with the guards and probably talk my way out of being beaten and tortured more – this is the guards, so it’s separate to interrogation – versus some of the Arabs and Afghans, who couldn’t speak English at all.”

He described the guards as having “no patience” and when they were frustrated they would beat the inmates until their “bones were broken.”

“Once the detainee was beaten and removed, they’d have to use hoses and scrubbing brushes to remove the blood from the cement floor,” Hicks said.

After almost five years of imprisonment in Guantanamo, Hicks said he had lost the ability “to fight, to have hope, to believe that justice would prevail” and was contemplating suicide.

“Guantanamo is sort of this black hole where supposedly no laws apply except what they decide.”

Setting the record straight

When he was finally offered the chance to leave the prison it came with a price. Australian Prime Minister John Howard sent a message to Hicks’ lawyer, saying that “under no circumstances” would the Australian government allow him to return without entering into some sort of plea.

Hicks was subsequently given the opportunity to sign an Alford Plea – a piece of US legislation that allows a defendant to plead guilty, but without admitting guilt to a particular crime. Upon agreeing to the plea, Hicks was told he would be freed in 60 days.

“I ended up taking that deal, knowing that I could get out in 60 days and back to Australia and deal with it,” said Hicks, who still maintains his innocence.

When he returned to Australia he was put into isolation in an Adelaide prison and had a gagging order placed on him, forbidding him from talk about his experience in Guantanamo.

Six years on, however, Hicks is moving to set the record straight and clear his name of the charges that he claims are legally invalid.

Hicks referred to the case of Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni national also charged with providing material support to terrorists who had the charges overturned after an appeal in a federal court. The court ruled in his favor on the basis that the 2006 Military Commissions Act, under which the charges were made, was flawed and unconstitutional.

“Material support for terrorism is not a recognized crime and if it was, it was applied retroactively anyway,” said Hicks, describing his appeal as a “formality.”

The Northern Alliance in Afghanistan captured David Hicks in 2001 and handed him over to American jurisdiction for a $1,000 bounty. Hicks, a convert to Islam, admitted that he had trained in an al-Qaeda paramilitary camp during his time in Afghanistan, but maintains he never participated in terrorist activities.

November 7, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Has the US Banned the Autobiography of a Former Guantanamo Prisoner?

By Richard Edmondson | War and Politics | October 17, 2012

People might remember the name David Hicks. He is an Australian who was held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 until 2007. In 2010 he published an autobiography entitled Guantanamo: My Journey. Reportedly the book details the years of torture he underwent while in the custody of the US military. Sounds like a book you might want to read. But strangely, it does not seem to be for sale in the U.S. Barnes and Noble does not list it at all. Amazon, conversely, does list it for sale— at its Kindle Store —but at the very spot on the page where we’d expect to see the “Buy Now” button, we find instead a notice reading, “This title is not available for customers from: United States.” Amazon also has a used hardcover copy for sale—only one—but it is available at the outrageous price of $105.15.

Hicks’ publisher is Random House Books-Australia. If you follow the link and click the “Buy Now” button, you are presented with a menu of retailers who offer Guantanamo: My Journey for sale on their websites at a price of $34.95 or less. All of them appear to be Australian outlets and the prices are in Australian dollars.

Why do book sellers in the US not offer the book? In addition to being unavailable from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, this bookstore in Portland, Oregon does not have it; nor this one in New York; nor this one in San Francisco. Is that not strange?

Wikipedia does have an entry for Hicks’ book. A footnote beneath the article contains a link to a review which can be found here. The review is entitled “David Hicks shows us what we became after 9/11.” Here is an excerpt:
Hicks details guards who punished him for simply studying his legal options. He often asked for medical care to help stress fractures. Little help was given. ‘‘You’re not meant to be healthy or comfortable,’’ he was told.

Faeces flooded the cage where Hicks lived and slept, ignored by the American officials. Dirty and unwashed clothes were common. Deafening loud music was pumped into cells to disorientate prisoners. Hicks writes of having to urinate on himself while being shackled during countless hours of interrogation. Detainees on hunger strikes were regularly force-fed.
Also worth mentioning is that the US Court of Appeals has just overturned Hicks’ conviction:

David Hicks Terrorism Charge Found Invalid

World News Australia | October 17, 2012

David Hicks’ conviction at Guantanamo Bay in 2007 has been ruled invalid by a US appeals court, paving the way for a full vindication of his innocence.

The Washington DC federal appeals court found that the charge of providing material support for terrorism against three men, including Osama bin Laden’s former driver Salim Hamdan and Mr Hicks, could not be applied retrospectively.

The charge was created in 2006.

Mr Hicks was controversially detained on the charge at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 until 2007. … continue

October 17, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 4 Comments