On Monday, the SMH reported that Brigadier Lyn McDade, recently appointed as Australia's chief military prosecutor, had described the US government's treatment of David Hicks as "abominable":
Asked about the treatment of Mr Hicks, who has been held at Guantanamo Bay for more than five years and is not currently charged with any offences, she did not hesitate. "Abominable," she said. "Quite frankly, I think it's wrong. I don't care what he's done or alleged to have done. I think he's entitled to a trial and a fair one and he is entitled to be charged and dealt with as quickly as is possible. As is anybody."
Yesterday a few of the News limited dailies reported that Attorney-General Phil Ruddock believes that the brigadiers' views agreed with the government's position:
Mr Ruddock said comments by the director of military prosecutions Brigadier Lyn McDade about the treatment of Hicks echoed the Government's views. "We believe the delay (in the start of the trial) is very unreasonable and inappropriate," he said. (The Oz)
According to the News party line,
our Rupert's government is putting pressure on the US to get on with bringing Hicks to trial, now that it seems that the Bush Administration has finally managed to jury-rig a system of show trials that can deliver the required verdict without being overruled on appeal:
Mr Ruddock said his US counterpart, Alberto Gonzales, said the final regulations that would put the US military commission in place were due this month.
"That is expected by the 17th of January and what the US Attorney has said to me is that he expected charges to be laid against Hicks as soon after as possible," Mr Ruddock said.
"We will continue to monitor their performance in relation to the assurances they have given to us." (The Hun)
In other words, the Australian government is going to urge the US government to go ahead and do what it's been planning to do anyway, regardless of whether the Australian government objects. Which, of course, it doesn't - in five years the Howard government hasn't wavered in its resolute acquiescence in the US efforts to get Hicks convicted of whatever they can make stick. Preferably an offence for which he will be sentenced to a fair bit more than time already served and definitely no less than that.
Phil Ruddock is an abominable hypocrite. Equally abominable are the efforts of the News limited scribes to spin this latest announcement as a firm stand on principle. The Government remains very floppily supine on this issue.
(Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo)