14 January 2005

and the other Hickup

Excuses, excuses from a regime too ready to throw away the key
So what now for Hicks? According to the US Department of Defence website, he is one of four Guantanamo enemy combatants who have been charged. There are more than 500 detainees at the US base in Cuba. Most have been there almost three years, since the invasion of Afghanistan. The US military says a quarter are of 'intelligence value' and all remaining detainees are being 'reviewed' to see how dangerous a threat they really pose to the US. We know that close to 200 soon are to be released to their home countries.

The charges against Hicks are quite a way off from being 'tried' by a military commission. Hundreds of writs of habeas corpus are flying around the US court system. The US Supreme Court in June said the detainees do have access to the civil courts and now all eyes are on the case of Osama bin Laden's alleged chauffeur, Samil Ahmed Hamdan. The Bush Administration is appealing a decision of the US District Court last November that the prisoner was entitled to a hearing to determine whether he was a prisoner of war and therefore subject to the Geneva Convention, rather than the Gonzales/Bush convention.

Hicks's lawyers have made an identical application to that of Hamdan's. It is all heading to the US Supreme Court but it may take years to get there.

The Gonzales/Bush plan for the quick railroading of anyone rounded-up by their forces is coming unstuck, and like most else with that spooky regime, there is no fall-back plan.

Major Mori, Hicks' US military lawyer, has made the point that Hicks faces charges much less than anything alleged against Habib. Why then does he remain at Guantánamo facing a military commission? And how long before the Hicks case reaches a court and it, like Habib's, comes unstuck?

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