Monday, December 29, 2008

David Hicks

I know who David Hicks is.

There's a part of me that really dreads researching this topic. I guess I'm afraid of what I'll find. Although I know who he is; I don't know much about the story. I don't know if he was completely innocent and wrongly accused. Maybe he was slightly guilty but the punishment didn't fit the crime. I don't know.

I'm scared to face what my own country did. I've kept myself as ignorant as possible about Guantanamo Bay. I barely know how to pronounce it.

I mean I knew it's in Cuba and that it involved torture. But that's it. I haven't read any articles about it. I've avoided the topic. I just know it was bad.

Well, I guess I'll go ahead and figure out more.

David Hicks was born on 7 August 1975 in Adelaide. He's three years younger than me.

He's a Leo and a 1 in numerology. I think he's the first 1 I've found while doing my research.

I picture this type of person being a charismatic leader. 1 is about independence and leadership.

Lord Wiki paints Hicks as a bit of a troubled child. He experimented with drugs and alcohol as a teenager. Okay...not very unusual. He did get expelled from Smithfield Plains High School at the age of 14. Now that IS a bit unusual.

Lord Wiki says, Hicks was given dispensation by his father from attending school. I'm not sure what that means. I don't think I've encountered the word dispensation before. I looked at the dictionary and that didn't really clear anything up for me.

Oh well.

Hicks had various jobs in his young adult years, including skinning kangaroos at a meat-packing factory, and working at various outback cattle stations.

In a town called Borroloola in the Northern Territory, he met his partner Jodi Sparrow. This was in 1992. He was only sixteen. And it's here that he began to study the Qu'ran. I wonder how and why he became interested in that.

Sparrow and Hicks had two children. They separated in 1996. Hicks moved to Japan and became a horse trainer.

In 1999, Hicks joined the Kosovo Liberation Army in Albania. He did this for two months and then returned to Australia. He tried to join the Australia Army, but was rejected because he didn't have enough formal education.

Hicks converted to Islam around this time. He joined a mosque in a suburb near Adelaide.

In November 1999, Hicks went to Pakistan to study Islam. He joined a terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Toiba. The guy seems very infatuated with warfare and weapons. I'm not liking him so far. I mean I don't think he deserved to be tortured. But I also don't think he's the type of person I want to have a picnic with.

In January 2001, he went to Afghanistan and joined Al Qaeda. I was a newly pregnant mom at this time.

It seems Hicks helped Osama Bin Laden by translating training materials into English.

This gets confusing now. It's all allegations and conflicting stories. I don't know who to believe. The US military paints a picture of a man who somewhat drifted away from Al Qaeda, but when he saw the September 11 stuff he was inspired to get involved again. They make him sound callous and blood thirsty. A show on ABC called Four Corners had Hicks claiming that he disapproved of the September 11 attacks, but was unable to get out of Afghanistan.

Hicks was captured by a group called The Northern Alliance in December 2001. This group is made up of people who used to fight against each other, but had put aside their differences to fight together against the Taliban. The Northern Alliance sold Hicks to the US government for $1000.

Hick's father tried to get his son back to Australia.

Hick says he was tortured by the US military.

Yikes. This goes all way over my head.

Lord Wiki has too much information here. It's making me dizzy. I'm going to go look at other websites.

This article talks about how he was detained for five years before finally getting convicted. In 2004, he was formally charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy. Hicks pleaded not guilty. The charges were dropped though because the Supreme Court ruled that the military trials were not lawful.

The US military tried again a few years later. In February 2007, Hicks was charged with providing material support for terrorism. What does that mean? This time he pleaded guilty. He also withdrew claims that he had been abused by the US military. Why did he withdraw these claims? Did someone threaten him....offer him a deal? Or had he lied previously? But why would he now want to come forward and be "honest"?

On March 30, he was formally convicted. He was the first person to be formally convicted at Guantanamo Bay prison. Wow. That would be a fun thing to put on your resume. Did he get a special fun sticker or medal?

His sentence was seven years, but he'd get to return to Australia. The article says he would have to serve only nine months. I never get that. Why do they sentence people for a long time and then give them all this time off? If it was supposed to be only nine months, why not just sentence him for nine months?

Hicks returned to Australia on May 20, 2007. He was barred from speaking to the media for twelve months. Well, that time is up. Has he spoken yet? I hope so. I'd be interested to read what he has to say.

The article says that in 2004 he wrote a letter to his family saying he was being abused by the US military. He complained of mood swings and confusion. No offense, but he didn't seem like the most mentally stable person in the first place. It's not like this was some sweet kid who was emotionally destroyed by being in prison. It's more about a damaged person becoming even more damaged.

The Australia government was accused of not doing enough to help Hicks. Daddy Hicks did a lot of campaigning to get the government to pay attention. It seems this father is a bit idealistic when it comes to his son. The article says the parents described him as a typical boy who couldn't settle down. Typical? Getting expelled from school is not typical.

I think this father is delusional. But I think if Jack turned out like David Hicks, I'd be delusional too. I think no matter what my son did, I would do everything in my power to protect him. I wouldn't want my son far away in a foreign prison. I'd want him to come home. I'd be angry, disgusted, and disappointed in him. But I'd still want to shield him from harm.

All right. More signs of ignorant parenting. The article says that Hicks called his parents to tell him he had joined the KLA. This was the Kosovo Liberation Army. His father says he thought it was an airline. Oh! Give me a break. If your child goes off to a foreign land and joins an Acronym, find out what it stands for!

I'm trying not to judge this family, but they seem really messed up.

This New York Times article says that it was this very month that Hicks became fully free. Before that he was on control order. This meant he had to be home from 6 pm to 6 am. He had to report to the police twice a week. He couldn't leave his state without police permission.

Now that's over.

Oh....the end of the article says Hicks is not yet ready to speak to the media. Well, that article was published eight days ago. Maybe he's changed his mind since then.

A man named Brett Solomon campaigned against the earlier control order. He said No reasonable person could believe that David Hicks is a threat to national security. 

Well, Mr. Solomon. I guess I'm unreasonable then. I don't like the Bush administration. Link I think they're evil. They scare me. But just because they did wrong when it comes to Hicks....well, I don't think that means Hicks is good and innocent. He seems like a scary character to me. Maybe I'm missing information here. I'll keep digging.

The Australian has excerpts from David Hicks' letters.

I spent around three months in a muslim military training camp in the mountains.I learnt about weapons such as ballistic missiles, surface to surface and shoulder fired missiles, anti aircraft and anti-tank rockets, rapid fire heavy and light machine guns, pistols, AK47s, mines and explosives.

I would NOT be happy if we got a letter from Jack that said that. I would be a bit disturbed.

Real jihad is possible just like before in the Prophets day where martyrs die with a smile on their faces and their bodies stay smelling of beautiful perfume for weeks after death.

Oh! Well, here we go. I have been worrying about smelling bad after I die. I guess I'll be a martyr so I can smell like perfume. Do we get to pick out which perfume we smell like?

It seems Hicks has a new girlfriend. Aloysia Brooks. She's a post-graduate student who defended Hicks on a newspaper website. She says, David Hicks is someone's brother, son, and father. He gets scared, bleeds and feels pain just like you or I ... He is someone who deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion no matter what he has done.

How much respect and compassion? We don't want prisoners being tortured, right? But do they deserve complete freedom? To me, Hicks sounds like a dangerous asshole. I guess the issue is did he really convict a crime? Is being involved with terrorists enough reason for conviction? Is this just a matter of guilt by association?

Hicks has renounced Islam. Why?

The Amnesty International USA site has an open letter to John Howard from Irene Khan. She's the secretary general of Amnesty International. She says, The camp in Guantánamo Bay is a legal black hole designed to put detainees outside the rule of law and the US Administration beyond the rule of law. It must be shut down. The detainees held there should either be released or, if they are suspected of having committed a recognizably criminal offense, they should be charged immediately and tried in fair proceedings.

I do agree with this. It's scary. Bush has used September 11 as an excuse to do really scary and unfair things. I'm actually reading a novel about such stuff right now. It's Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital. Have any of you read it? I haven't read much of it yet, but it really makes me paranoid. It's like there's scary things on both sides. We have to worry about the terrorists. They could strike and kill us at any time. Yet, we also have to fear the people who fight the terrorists. They do NOT play fair.

This all reminds me of the whole Scientology thing. I don't like psychiatry. We could say I'm fairly anti-psychiatry. The Scientologists don't like Psychiatry either. I wish I could find comfort and support from them. But those people scare me as well. Now there's a group that fights Scientologists. They call themselves Anonymous. These people disturb me as much as the Scientologists and the Psychiatrists. I don't really like ANY of the groups.

I think the Scientology issue is kind of giving me an analogy here. If Scientology is a creepy unethical group and they hate Psychiatry does that make Psychiatry a good thing? No, I don't think so. Hitler was a mass murderer and was a vegetarian. Does that mean eating meat is a good thing?

The Bush administration is corrupt and does very bad things. But does that make David Hicks innocent? Does that make him a hero? No, I don't think so.

Amnesty International Australia has a story on Hicks. It's funny how people report things. Hicks has had many jobs. He was a drifter. It seems a lot of the mainstream news articles put emphasis on the fact that Hicks skinned kangaroos. That doesn't give the reader a very pleasant image. I think we begin to associate such a profession with serial killers torturing animals. Amnesty International skips the dead kangaroo stuff and describes Hicks as being a former horse trainer. It makes him seem very innocent. This guy is like Claire McLeod. He's a gentle man who trains animals. Who would want to imprison such a man?

Their David Hicks seems like a man who simply wanted to learn more about Islam. They talk little about his military involvement--his love for weapons. Instead they say he wanted to study ancient Arabic. David Hicks is an intellectual who trains gentle animals. They make him seem quite lovable. Let's get him out of prison and cuddle him!

The Australian Democrats speak out against what happened to Hicks. I'm going to read this now. It says because of his horrific treatment, Hicks will need counseling. I agree with this, but I think the guy already needed some counseling. Did he receive any when he was young? Did his parents get him any help when he was expelled from school?

The Australian Democrats say that Hicks was forbidden to speak about his experience at Guantanamo for 3 months after he finished his sentence. They say this is not keeping with Australian Democratic principles. Why three months? Is that like a magic number? Why did the US government want him quiet for that length of time?

 It's so mysterious.

An organization called The Justice Project has written about Hicks. I like what this organization says about their values. We believe that border protection and protection of our community from acts of terrorism are legitimate objectives, but that these must be balanced against humanitarian considerations. We believe we can protect our community without eroding our traditional Australian values.

I think that's a nice moderate approach.

Anyway, they talked about how Hicks was denied an unfair trial. He was denied a fair go. I guess the issue is that even though I don't like Hicks, he still deserves to be treated fairly. But I don't think this means he should be treated as hero or as an innocent victim. I think it just means that the government should have given him a fair trial. They shouldn't have locked him up the way they did. That's scary. You know why? What if the same treatment happened to someone else who WAS completely innocent? What if a good man got himself involved with a bad misunderstanding? What if a good man just had the "wrong" skin color? What if he simply practiced the "wrong" religion?

The SBS has an article from this November. They say he's broken his silence. Hey, I'm getting conflicting information here. The New York Times article says he hasn't broken his silence yet. Maybe what they really meant is Hicks isn't ready to speak to them specifically. I don't know.

Hicks complains about being on control. He says it will interfere with him getting on with his life. It doesn't sound like such a huge deal to me. He was sentenced to seven years and had to serve only nine months. Well, I guess we could say he served enough time before being sentenced. Maybe that's the deal here. I think I would have more respect for Hicks if he broke his silence by showing his remorse for being involved with Al Qaeda, or at least showing some embarrassment/shame for it. Instead, he worries about having to report to the police twice a week. Is it that much of a burden? Would it really make it impossible for him to get on with his life as he claims. Now the ban is lifted. David Hicks, you're a free man now. What are you going to do with that freedom?

ABC has the video of Hicks complaining about the control order. In my opinion, he sounds like a man who constantly blames others for his problems, and takes no responsibility for his own actions. I'm betting this is partly because of the way his father stuck up for him and made excuses. Yes, he's just a typical child who got expelled from school. Don't all kids do that? In letters to his parents, he puts a lot of blame on the Jews. We do make very good scapegoats. Now Hicks complains about the control order messing up his ability to get on with his life. Yes, it would be more challenging to live life if you were under police control. It does suck that you can't go traveling around the country, and you can't run off to Thailand and sip drinks by the beach. But I think you CAN do SOMETHING productive while under police watch? Right? He could have gotten therapy. He could have read books. He could have taken ballroom dancing. There were still opportunities for him to improve his life. Did Hicks try to do that, or did he just sit there complaining about how unfairly he was being treated?

I like with this blog says. Certainly travelling overseas, changing your religion and even agreeing with another’s ideology is okay, but joining a camp where they train to blow up airliners, is a bit over the line.

Yes! Thank you. Is it a crime to join a dangerous terrorist organization? Is that illegal? I really don't know actually. But even if it's not technically a crime, I think it's....well, I think it's bad. I don't have sympathy for a person who does this. I mean maybe I would if it involved some guy who joined because he saw his younger sister eaten by ravage cannibals. What if it was a horrific case of a bad thing happening to a good person? He goes nuts and joins a terrorist group. Yes, then I would have loads of sympathy. But David Hicks just sounds like a bad kid to me. I mean maybe something in his early childhood messed him up. And maybe I should have sympathy for that.

I don't know.

We interrupt this blog post for an important message: I have hurt my toe very badly. I'm in a lot of pain. Please give me sympathy. Thank you. We now return to the scheduled program.

The World Socialist Website
has some interesting information. If it's true, it's pretty disturbing in regard to the US government. The Socialist group say Hicks was compelled to declare that he was not treated illegally during his detainment. They said this was part of the plea deal. He was also required to promise not to sue the US government.

Hicks was also forced to apologize to the US and Australia governments.

This is all very disturbing to me. It's bribery. That's what it is. We'll let you get out of this awful place if you keep your mouth shut.

I hope he doesn't keep his mouth shut.

But this does NOT mean I like David Hicks. I still haven't changed my mind about that.

I'm just a little more scared of the Bush government. I'm sighing with relief that Bush will be out of there in a few weeks. Please let things get better! I include my two little baby toes in this plea.

This blog has a video done by Daddy Hicks. It's a plea to get his son released from Guantanamo. His technique is to use a picture of his son at age 9. He looks sweet and innocent. What child doesn't look sweet and innocent at nine years old? The Bush campaign could play the same game with a picture of George W. at nine-years-old. Yes, he has destroyed our economy and put us in a horrible war. Yes, he really has no morals. But he's my son. He was nine-years-old once. Let's be nice to him.


I do give credit to what Daddy Hicks SAYS in the video. He says he thinks his son should face the consequences of his actions, but he wants his son to have a fair trial.


The writers of this article decided to track down David Hick's long lost children. He has a daughter that's fourteen and a son that's twelve. They live near Adelaide. Their maternal grandfather says the kids want nothing to do with their father. She says he never cared about the kids, but now he wants to see them. She thinks it's all just a ploy to make him look good. The grandpa says, He didn't care about them enough to stay around so I don't want to hear all this crap about him missing them now.


David Hicks, I am really not liking you. Maybe your ex father-in-law isn't telling the truth. But if he is....how dare you use your children as pawns like that?

The mother of the children doesn't have much love for Hicks either. She refuses to have anything to do with him.

Oh. Well, I guess they changed their mind. This article, published four months later, says the kids are willing to give him a second chance.

The son, Terry said he was disappointed in his father, but he did defend his father's honor in a fight. Aren't most of us like that with our family? We can think bad things about them.  But if someone else says something bad we defend them.

Bonnie, the daughter, has not forgiven her father for abandoning her. But she does think he's been in prison long enough.

The mother of the children visited her ex. She reported back that he seemed fairly normal. What's her definition of normal?

Okay. This softens my cold heart a bit. She says he wrote to her while in prison. He said, Dear Jodie, thank you for for doing a great job of bringing them up. You've always been an excellent mother. As soon as I stop writing this I'm going to write to the children. It's going to be the hardest thing I've done my whole life. What do I do? What do I say.

That's really sweet. It's the first thing I've read about David Hicks that didn't disgust me. He actually seems fairly decent in that letter.

This SMH article talks about how Hicks has been adjusting. It makes him sound like a fairly decent person--or at least someone who's TRYING to be decent. I'm trying not to be skeptical.

He's been doing volunteer work at a nursery and other environmental agencies. Okay. So, that would mean he wasn't just sitting on his butt complaining about the control order. That's good to know.

It sounds like he's trying to clear his name. He wants to be a normal boring member of society. But what's going on in his head? I want to know MORE. Why did he join such a hateful and violent group in the first place? Why did he hate Jews and Americans? Why was he willing to become a martyr? I mean I understand he wants his corpse to smell good, but there has to be more to it. Right? And has he changed his views on these things? Does he have regrets about joining the Taliban, or does he just regret being imprisoned for his involvement?

This Adelaide paper has an interesting article. It says Daddy Hicks used to call his son Indiana Jones. Yeah. The thing is Indiana Jones fought the Nazis who hated Jews. David Hicks hated Jews. In the letters to his family he said, Jews and Americans in the western world are determined to prevent it to come back again. Jihad is still valid today and will be for all time. The West is full of poison. The western society is controlled by the Jews with music, TV, houses, cars, free sex takes Muslims away from the true Islam keeps Islam week and in the third world.

That sure doesn't sound like Indiana Jones to me.

The article talks about his high school years. They say he was expelled, but the school record contains no negative remarks. If there's nothing negative, why was he expelled? Or are they not legally allowed to talk about it.

He dabbled in Satanism. What kind? The Christian mythological type, or the Atheist one?

Anyway, I'm going to stop researching now.

I hope this all has a happy ending.

I hope Obama shuts down Guantanamo Bay. I hope America stops using the excuse of national security to wrongly detain and torture people.

I don't think David Hicks is a hero. I think he's a selfish delusional asshole. But I always have hope that people can become better. He's not a hero now, but he could BECOME a hero. I hope he does that. I hope he finds a spiritual and/or ethical system that brings him peace.

I hope we all have peace.

27 comments:

M+B said...

I feel the full bottle on David Hicks now. I only knew the abridged version. That was really very interesting. I hope he talks soon, too.

Dina said...

M+B,

I never heard that before "I feel the full bottle on...."

I like it : )

Yeah, I hope Hicks does talk soon. I'm really curious to hear what he says. Unfortunately, I fear the initial interview will be stilted/forced. I look forward to a time when he'll truly open-up. Who knows if that will ever happen.

louise said...

hi dina :) great post again! I hope Obama shuts it down too.

how long now til you arrive in Aus?

Dina said...

Louise,

Thank you : )

We're coming to Australia in about a month. We're arriving on February 3.

magikquilter said...

Dina this really says what i feel about Hicks...you know it is not easy to be expelled from high school here so that was interesting...and if your child is then you get access to Distance Education to finish or they go to Tafe where they can complete their education or go so far that they get an apprenticeship or something. The father is interesting but I do not like parents who make excuses for their children's bad behaviour and do not get them help ...early. The KLA was a scary force and am thinking there were atrocities committed there too...the thing is that these armies and hate groups offer individuals who may be a little under par intellectually, as he appears to be to me....a place to feel accepted and are then brainwashed with the dogma of the group.

He appears really spooky on camera...robotic with no affect....seems to me it is always about what was done to him not really about his part in it at all and I hate it when people do not take responsibility for their actions.

Retarius said...

If you read the discussion page behind the Wikipedia article about David Hicks you'll see an enormous debate between contributors over several years. They cover all the ground of conflicting opinion that you've outlined. It's worth a read if you have time; you have to dig into the archive files icon to read from the start.

I think that Hicks is a very unremarkable person who has become a gaming token in the intensely passionate disputes of the War on Terror. Plenty of young people have gone into wild places and made fools of themselves; some to a worse degree than Hicks.

Nobody cares how their familial relations are conducted or bothers with an intense study of their work history. Broken families and itinerant workers are as common as flies in this land. Hicks' kids would have mixed feelings about him if he'd gone to work for the Red Cross or Amnesty International and never made the papers. Because of the very public and touchy nature of his predicament all that stuff is dragged into it as if it's relevant.

Another thing that jacks me off about it is that when Hicks went to Kosovo his actions were perfectly in conformity with the Australian government's policy. And that of the United States government.

Remember that the US was bombing Serbia to back them off the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovar Albanians. The Aust. govt made an exceptional effort to bring Kosovar refugees from Macedonia and other places and added its voice to the attacks on Serbia in the UN. Of course, it enthusiastically supported the bombing of Beograd and other places where civilians were incidentally killed.

It's vexing, to say the least, to see that the photo of Hicks with the RPG launcher in the KLA training camp was published with the headline "TRAITOR" and used as "evidence" of his anti-Australian behaviour.

As for "terrorist training", I've received it myself - under the tutelage of a seargent-major of the SAS! (No kidding. I wasn't in the armed forces but I had occasion to learn the basics from an expert.) Everybody who has ever learned to do basic martial arts or studied fieldcraft such as rappelling, climbing, map-reading, compass navigation, etc. could put it to unlawful use.

Opinionators on this keep saying that Hicks "wasn't hanging around with Boy Scouts". If they study the history and original purpose of the Boy Scouts, they'll discover that's not a very significant distinction.

As for "helping bin Laden"; there's never been any persuasive evidence that Hicks was doing more than naively buying into an Afghan civil war and engaging in war dilettantism. Ernest Hemingway did similar things. I don't see "terrorist" listed as one of his occupations.

The allegation that Hicks was prepared to actually commit terrorist attacks on civilians in Australia or elsewhere is a fantasy of the security spooks who want to believe that they caught a big fish. If it could be proven, he'd have gone away for a thousand years. In six years of flogging him they found nothing worth a damn that would stick.

Andrew said...

Hicks was/is an idiot, but an Australian one and should have been sent back here, as were many from European countries. I am not quite sure either whether the fairly extreme detention was appropriate for the crime. He won't say anything until he gets an offer of a lot of money for an interview or a book.

Ariane said...

I saw the doco that was made when Terry Hicks went to Afghanistan to try to get his head around what David did. I think trying to untangle this mess from online reports is pretty tricky, but there are a couple of things I'd like to say. I campaigned to bring him back, I care a lot about his story but I'll try to keep my emotions (and typing!) in check.

There are two critical elements in the David Hicks story. One is that if he had been accepted into the Australian army, he could have expressed all the feelings he has, and it would be completely acceptable.

The other is that the Taliban, no matter how unsavoury, were the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan at the time David went there. Al Quaeda was contracted by them to be their army. David Hicks was working for the legitimate (and US backed) army of that country at the time. The fact that the US changed sides after September 11 isn't his fault.

I can't see David Hicks being my best mate, but that is because he never really fitted in anywhere. Helping the Kosovan moslems was the first time he had really been accepted by anyone. No surprise he was attracted to Islam. There is reasonable evidence that he was going to come home from Pakistan, and then he suddenly stopped writing to his parents and ended up in Afghanistan. Who knows why?

David Hicks plead guilty and agreed to revoke his accusations of maltreatment to be allowed to come home. There was absolutely no semblance of justice, and if he did commit any acts of terrorism (and I don't believe he did over and above any other member of any other country's army who have been in places they had no business being), it very definitely has not been shown.

Was David Hicks a bit broken before he went to Pakistan? Probably. Do I like his love of weaponry? No, but it's pretty common, and not necessarily related to violence - my other half would be a perfect example. Did he go to the sub continent to join a terrorist group? Definitely not. Did he know Al Quaeda was a terrorist group when he got involved and did he have a choice? If anyone knows the answer, it's David Hicks, and maybe he doesn't either anymore, after everything that was done to him.

And I won't start on Terry Hicks, suffice to say that I supported his nomination for father of the year. I saw him speak and I have a great deal of respect for him.

This whole thing was a low point in Australian political history, and something for which I hold John Howard personally accountable.

traceyleigh said...

Great post.

I thought of you the other day when I was reading a Leunig cartoon and thought he would be a brilliant addition to your list :-) I think you would like his humour.

xxxx

Ali said...

Hi Dina, I haven't heard from you from a long time, hope you are enjoying the holidays. Ofcourse you have herad about the atrocities in Gaza and all the bloodshed from both sides. I thought you might be interested to particiapte in putting an end to this, check my post
http://alidahmash.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-can-you-end-atrocities-in-gaza.html

Fe said...

Great post, Dina. Of course!

I don't think there is a hope in hell of Hicks becoming a hero. I do, however, believe that his "human rights" were removed for 5 long years in Guantanamo Bay because of his ignorance. He loved Islam. So do many people. He wanted to be in the Armed Forces. So do many people. He tried to combine the two.

And remember, before 9/11 nobody outside the security services knew who Al Queda were. Or what they did. I think that he was a victim. He wasn't a man who's opinions you or I could ever agree with, but he committed no crime. No crime. Just stupidity. And the thing about leaving school (the dispensation) used to happen when someone had a learning disorder. Perhaps he was dyslexic? Whatever, he certainly wasn't well educated. It's easy to believe that he was told what he wanted to hear by the Afghanistan organisations. He wasn't arrested or "caught" doing anything illegal. He was SOLD to the US for money.

I truly think that if we suspend judgement... he fits into the paragraph that you wrote:

"What if the same treatment happened to someone else who WAS completely innocent? What if a good man got himself involved with a bad misunderstanding? What if a good man just had the "wrong" skin color? What if he simply practiced the "wrong" religion?"

I don't agree with him, but I think that his treatment was inexcusable. Much much worse than any crime that he was even remotely suspected of commiting.

Sheesh I love the way your posts make me think.

And I couldn't agree more about the Scientologists and Psychiatry. There seems to be very little exposed middle ground, although I believe that in actuality there is.... counselling... alternative therapies etc.

Thank God for free speech.

xoxo

Dina said...

Magikquilter: Yeah. I think we see eye to eye on this one. I agree about him appearing robotic on camera.

Retarius: I think many young people do make fools of themselves. But I don't think that makes it excusable. And I think it depends on what you do. It's like there's a difference between experimenting with drugs and selling drugs. There's a difference between selling drugs and getting involved with drug warfare. There are levels to youth stupidity. I think some are tolerable and some are not.

As for his family...yeah, I don't think it's remarkable that he abandoned his children. Sadly, that's very common. But I think the issue is that once he was in trouble he reached out to his family again. Did the torture and abuse make him miss them? Or was he just desperate for help and sympathy? Was he using them, or did he really care? Did he ever try to contact his kids while in Japan?

I don't think it matters if Hicks was in conformity with the US and Australian governments. With that line of thinking, the people who tortured him were innocent. They were in line with the US government. Weren't they?

What about all the Nazis? They were in line with their government.

As for terrorist training, I think it depends on the purpose of the training. In Hick's letters home to his family, he had very strong feelings. He talks about being a martyr. He talks about having anti-Western Values. He's anti-Jewish. He supported Jihads. Then September 11 happened. He might not have had anything to do with it. I don't know. But this doesn't seem like an innocent guy who happened to have an interest in military stuff and got caught up in the wrong crowd. I think he DID know what this crowd was about. He might not have known about the exact plans for September 11, but it seems to me (from his letters) that he would have supported actions like this.

Andrew: He should have definitely been sent back to Australia. And no I don't think the punishment fit the crime. To me, the people doing the torture are the same as Hicks. They get off on hurting people. That's how they feel powerful. And how lovely when you have a government backing you up.

Ariane: We definitely don't see eye to eye on this!

I think you're right about him being accepted into the Australian army. Well, maybe. In America, a lot of people don't respect what the Vietnam veterans did. The world has changed. Going off to war to fight for your country no longer guarantees that you're a hero. Nor is it always even accepted.

There are GOOD and heroic people in the army (Australian, American, etc.). They joined because they wanted to help their country. I respect that even if I disagree with their politics. There are other people who join because they like violence. They're full of hate, anger, and prejudice. I don't care if they're fighting against their government or for it. I think these people have a lot of bad in them.

As for liking weapons. I think it's fine to like them--to read about them. Watch documentaries about them. Maybe even learn how to use them. But there's a difference between having an interest and going off to join armies that encourage you to be a martyr to fight Jews, Americans, Australians, and western society.

I used to love slasher films. I know people who love true crime stories. I think most of us have some violent interests. But there are lines that shouldn't be crossed.

Oh! There's this great book I love. It's called "Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Super Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make Believe Violence". It's one of my favorite parenting books. What it argues basically is that we've become too paranoid about our love for violence. The author argues that we shouldn't worry about kids who play violent video games, like to read about weapons, watch slasher films, or build guns with their legos. All this is healthy and natural. It's part of who we are. But what we DO need to worry about are people who take it way too far. If my son becomes obsessed with the weapons of the civil war--good on him. That's fine. He can read books, watch movies about it. Maybe he can build replica weapons. Maybe he'll write his own book about it. I'd be proud of him. That's different than going off to a distant country and sending me emails. "Hey Mom. I want to be a martyr. I think black people (or whatever people) are destroying our world." Now THAT would scare me.

There's a difference between loving slasher films--collecting posters of horror movie villains, and kidnapping cats in the neighborhood so you can mutilate them.

The Taliban: Just because the US supported it, doesn't mean it was a group of people worth supporting.
What I remember about the Taliban is that before September 11, there WERE people trying to get other people to fight them. I remember something in some celebrity magazine. Maybe with Gillian Anderson? They were talking about the awful way women were being treated. They were saying "Hey! Let's do something." Of course the American government did nothing. Well, as far as I know.

You probably know more about Terry Hicks than me. Maybe if I knew more, I'd have more respect for him. I DO respect that he fought for his son. I feel he's misguided though.

I do completely agree that he did nothing worse than some people who are in the Australian and US army. There's a lot of those people I wouldn't like either--for example, the ones who tortured Hicks and the ones who allowed him to be tortured.

Dina said...

Tracey: Hi! How are you feeling? Thanks for the suggestion. I added him to my list!!

Ali: I'm posting your comment because I like you and I don't want you to think I'm ignoring you. But in the future, please do not use my blog to advertise your blog. I don't appreciate that. I don't think it's good blogging etiquette. If you're interested in what I'm writing about and you want to discuss the subject of my posts, I'm happy to have you here. If you're not interested in my posts and you just want to send me a message about your blog, please just send an email then. Thank you.

Fe: I think it's fine to love Islam. It can be a very beautiful religion. I think it's fine to want to join the military. But that's not the same as joining a terrorist group. We could argue that Hicks didn't know it was a terrorist group, but I think his letters home show that he supported the ideal of anti-Jewish/anti-western terrorists. He wanted to be a martyr.

I guess the big huge question is...are these letters authentic? Could they have been forged? I don't know. That could be true and that adds a huge scary dimension to the story.

I agree that he didn't commit an actual crime. But I don't think that matters. In American factory farms and slaughtering houses, human individuals do horribly abusive things to animals. It's horrific. But the sad thing is they're not breaking any laws. Farm animals in most states are not covered by animal cruelty laws. Does that mean that it's okay that these people are abusing animals? No, I don't think so.

To me, it doesn't matter if what Hicks did was criminal or not. My morals say he was wrong.

Should he have been detained for all those years without a fair trial? Should he have been tortured and abused? No! I definitely don't think so. But even if he HAD been convicted of crimes, I still don't think he should have experienced what he experienced. No one should...no matter if they're guilty or not.

About psychiatry...Yeah, I think there are therapies that are good! Psychologists, social workers, etc. I definitely think there are very good therapists out there. There might even be a few good psychiatrists.

Most of the articles I read said he was expelled. Well, every thing I read about him leaving school said he was expelled. Maybe the definition here is different than there. Here (as far as I know) being expelled means you're kicked out of school. Would someone be kicked out of school for a learning disability? I can imagine them being ignored, picked on, abandoned, etc. I can't imagine them being kicked out--at least in a direct manner. But when I think of "expelled" I think of someone doing something bad enough that the school feels they don't want him there anymore. Now it could have been a matter of him doing something typical and he was just unlucky enough to get caught. I wish I knew why he was expelled. I mean what if he was just smoking in the bathroom? That would be much different than hitting a teacher or molesting a younger student.

magikquilter said...

Well this has been an eye opener Dian and you followed it up with Mamdouh Habib...are you fond of debate and possible hate mail?

my respect for you has gone up a thousand fold and it was pretty high already...Jack's future is in very safe hands with you. And speaking of expulsion...I know for a fact that they will not expel a student for a learning disorder...it is more their fashion to ignore the said disorder unless parents are influential in the school or business community...yes I am a tad bitter.. the way they handle children with special needs of any description has caused me to be so. Of course students who have had a learning disorder which is ignored often lash out and hurt a teacher or a student and then they are expelled. Yes the victim becomes the attacker and ...big surprise.

Dina said...

Magikquilter,

Thank you for saying such nice things.

I actually do not like debate or hate mail. It makes me really anxious and upset. The problem is I tend to have very controversial opinions and I don't like to keep quiet. I struggle with this a lot. I feel very conflicted. Keep my mouth shut and avoid conflict...or speak up.

And it's not that I actually mind intelligent debate. I don't have this idea that everyone should agree with me. I like to have friends with a variety of viewpoints. I guess I'm more scared of being attacked...or worse losing a friend.

I lost a friend a few months ago because of things I wrote in my blog. It was a painful experience. But looking at the bright side, I've said many controversial things and most people haven't abandoned me because of it.

I have a feeling that you and I are a lot alike. I think we rock the boat a bit. And it brings conflict to our lives. We're not smooth-sailing. But maybe that's not what our life is supposed to be about.

Although there ARE times where I delete paragraphs before posting because I'm afraid of the conflict it will cause. Hard to believe, but it does happen. I ended up doing a lot of editing on the post I'm researching today. In a way, I feel like a coward for doing that--not being completely open. But another part of me just does not want to open myself up to a huge debate about that particular topic.

Sometimes, I'm a chicken.

I agree with what you said about learning disorders. They're too often ignored. And I think you're right. Then they act out and THIS action might be what causes them to be expelled.

Ali said...

Dina, I don't know what gave you an idea that I want to promote my Blog. I want to share with you what is happening to my people that you are always interested to learn about.

Dina said...

Ali,

If I want to read about Palestine/Israel, I will go to your blog. And I do go there sometimes.

Australia is my main obsession, but yeah. I do have other interests. And I do care about what's going on in Israel/Palestine. It's not the center of my interests though as it is for you. It's really sad that horrible things are happening over there. But there are horrible things happening all over the world. We all have our passions. And all causes need individuals to be passionate about them. I'm grateful that you have taken up the Palestinian cause. You're a beautiful, peaceful, and caring person. The Palestinians are fortunate to have you standing up/with them. But you can't expect everyone to share your amount of passion for that particular issue.

If you want to comment on my blog, I expect it to be about what I'm writing about. Did you even read the post about David Hicks that I wrote? How do you feel about what I said about him?

How would you feel if I came onto your blog and said nothing about the topic you had written--if it had seemed I hadn't even read it. What if I just said "Hey Ali. Come see my blog. I wrote about Penny Wong. You might be interested."

Fe said...

I was stuck on the "dispensation" from his father thing. Who knows what really happened?

I guess I'm feeling that it's irrelevant as to whether we like him or hate him. He committed no actual crime. He's an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And he's paid a huge price for it.

And, like most of your posters on this topic, I'm sensitive about it. And it comes down to Guantanamo Bay, the US and the treatment they dished out there to people who "might" be danger to securities. No human rights. No right of reply. Torture.

And, like you, I am disgusted with the Bush administration and am thrileed that they're on the way out. I'm also PISSED that they won't be held accountable for their abuses of human rights before they go.

And hugely angry that they can behave like terrorists (oh... legalised terror) without consequence.

I believe (and you probably won't like this) that 9/11 was a "reply" rather than an instigation. Inexcusable, but not surprising. US foreign policy.... pre 9/11... now THAT'd be worth a post. And I think that the reciprocal war has killed many more innocent people (are American lives worth more than middle-eastern lives?) and is beyond reason.

I think this is a really really sensitive subject.

And I have tears rolling down my cheeks as I type this because I truly believe that with the election of Obama, there is hope. There is light.

Dina said...

Fe,

I'm not sure how/why I'd imagine that 9/11 was an instigation and not a reply. And yes I don't think it's excusable because it involved innocent people. These were just people going to work. These were people on an airplane. So no matter how angry people are at American government, it doesn't mean innocent Americans should die.

The Bush Administration is really scary. I feel like I keep repeating myself with that type of statement.

There are very suspicious things about 9/11. I don't know if you've read the details. And I'm not sure I even remember the exact details. I'm trying to remember. But anyway, if you haven't yet...a really good book to read is "The Assault on Reason" by Al Gore.

I'm not going to say the US government caused 9/11. I don't want to sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist. I'll just say the Republicans greatly benefited from 9/11.

There was a lot of anger towards Bush in 2000-2001. Many of us believed he had not won the election--that Gore should have been elected. Then 9/11 happened and we were brainwashed. I think it's true what people say...we saw Bush as our cowboy hero.

The Republicans used our fear of Terrorism to get Bush elected again in 2004. They also used terrorism as an excuse for a war in Iraq. It was total bullshit. Al-Qaeda had nothing to do with Iraq.

There are chilling "scenes" in the book. I don't remember the exact details, but something along the lines of Bush ignoring intelligence that said the attacks having nothing to do with Iraq.

And also, did you know there was substantial evidence before 9/11 that could have stopped the attacks. People didn't take them seriously. It's almost as if they were allowed to happen.

I don't know. Maybe I AM a crazy conspiracy person. I think I share Fox Mulder's motto. "Trust no one."

Retarius said...

I'm surprised by the weight you give to Hicks'expressed opinions in assessing him. I've never paid much attention to them as I just wrote it all off as immature blathering.

The point I was trying to make about Kosovo etc. was that Hicks was playing with guns and talking malarkey long before the authorities took exception to him. It's the gross hypocrisy of the Howard government on this matter that I'm referring to.

Funny thing about Ali and his blog; I've got a post about Israel in my edit file that I've been tinkering with for weeks, starting well before the current furore. I've been wondering whether to post it because it may not be worth the flak it could generate. I'd like more visitors to my blog but not if it's ten thousand people calling me a dog and making death threats. Any opinion expressed on the subject can cause that because of the hair-triggers many people have on the subject.

Ali said...

On the contrary Dina, I will go ahead and check what you wrote, especialy if you think I might be interested. And no I never heard of David Hicks until I read it on your blog, and his case doesn't interest me, if he is a criminal who killed innocent people then she should be in Prison, I'm interested as well in closing down Guantanamo Bay, because the US government can do whatever it wants outside US territories and away from any constitutional rights!

Dina said...

Retarius,

I think it's the combination of three things.

1. Hick's "Immature blathering"
2. Hick's being involved with terrorist groups
3. September 11

The first one by itself is fairly meaningless. I'm not sure if I'd call it "immature blathering". I guess that could be an appropriate term. Anyway, if that was enough to damn us, there'd be tons of bloggers getting in trouble. There's a lot of people who say anti-Jewish and Anti-Western things.

If it was just #2, not that big of a deal either. He could have been a nice bloke who thought he was in with a good group. He might have been completely ignorant about their hatred.

But we don't have these two things isolated. We have a guy full of hatred who joins a group full of people that have the same hatred. And this group does violent things.

It seems to me (from Hick's letters) that he was NOT ignorant about this violence. He talked about wanting to be a martyr.

He might not have known the exact plans for September 11, but I did think he KNEW there were plans for terrorist attacks, and I think he wanted to be a part of them.

Now this is all going by his letters, and I'm going with the idea that the letters were actually written by him.

I would not be surprised if he HADN'T written the letters and it was all some kind of crazy plot by the American government.

I think we all have our prejudices--some of us more than others. Some of us might not like Jews. Some might not like Arabs. Some might not like Americans. Some might not like people from Greenland. Some of us keep our prejudices quiet. Some of us might be more vocal about it. It's sad we have these prejudices, but I think it's kind of part of life.

But I think there's a difference between being secretly (or slightly openly) prejudice and joining a hate group.

There's a difference between being quietly scared of black people and joining the KKK.

Anyway....about your Israel post. It's a tough call. I've said controversial things on my blog and I haven't gotten any hate mail or death threats. I did lose a friend, but you have to wonder....is that type of friend really worth it in the first place?

Dina said...

Ali,

David Hicks DIDN'T kill anyone.

I guess the question is...is it a crime to be part of a terrorist group if you don't actually kill anyone?

I agree about Guantanamo Bay!

Ariane said...

I think there are only two things we don't see eye to eye in a big way. One is that I don't much care what I think of David Hicks personally, I haven't paid much attention to it, but I think you try to get an idea of what people are like personally through your research. Not a bad thing at all, but I just doubt that you will get anything resembling a fair picture of this guy, because every single report has a vested interest, either anti- or pro-. It's just too hard to know who he is as a person.

The other is your belief that he was genuinely in favour of terrorism. I understand why you say that, based on the letters you saw. But I saw other letters that suggested otherwise, so I just don't know how... umm... coerced and brain washed he was. I'm not saying you're position is wrong, just that I don't know for sure that it's right.

I agree completely that the Taliban were horrific, and that joining them is morally wrong irrespective of what governments support whom. However, it is relevant to the concept of whether he did anything illegal. That's why I brought it up, not to go to his character.

My support for David Hicks is about what he represents - the horror of Guantanamo Bay, the insanity of doing all this to someone who, even if he was committed in a knowing and fully comprehending way, was a nobody, the disgusting abandonment of the Australian government - not for who he is personally. It's like throwing the book at a drug mule. It achieves nothing. It's wrong at fundamental level.

Try not to be afraid of debate, it's great. Every time I get into one, I learn something or see something from a new point of view. And I never think less of the people I'm debating with. I have far more respect for a person with whom I disagree, than a person who is not even engaged. It's sad to hear you lost a friend over a difference of opinion. We can't possibly all agree, since none of us is 100% right, if we all agreed we'd have no hope of approaching rightness! :)

Dina said...

Ariane,

I think we agree on the most important thing--Guantanamo Bay is evil and wrong.

I think you're also right about not being able to get a true picture of what someone is like.

That's the thing about doing all this biographical research. It can never be 100% accurate.

You're right about debate. I think maybe I don't like it because it forces me to educate myself. Sometimes it's easier to just hide your head in the sand. I think that's why I avoided learning about G. Bay (I'm sick of trying to spell it) until now.

It's the same with the Israel stuff. I just kind of ignored it...but now because of your post (And Ali's posts) I've been looking into it more. It's a lot of information to sift through though. And it's SO hard to know who to believe. That's why I usually ignore/avoid it.

Stephen Moore said...

Wow! I've missed a lot in my time away. Trying to catch up reading various blogs posts now.

Anyhow, my opinion of Hicks is that he is basically no longer a threat, if he ever really was one in the first place. A deluded young man looking for a sense of purpose and belonging is my assessment of him.

Joining the KLA wasn't such an awful thing. They were part of the good guys, after all. Joining al-Qaida was a stupid thing, though. No excusing that dumb arse choice.

The photo of Hicks with the RPG from his time in the KLA was a photo edit. Do the same thing with a photo of me after a rabbit hunt and I'd probably look sinister too posing with a rifle.

It is illegal to be a member of a terrorist organisation even if you don't kill anyone, but only if the group is listed as a terrorist organisation by the Government. They do maintain lists of proscribed groups.

Andrew writes:
He won't say anything until he gets an offer of a lot of money for an interview or a book.

I'm not so sure on this one. Given his conviction by US Military Tribunal still stands as being legal wouldn't any such money be considered a proceed of crime under Australian law, and therefore be seized? Dunno.

I'll leave my commentary at that and move onto other posts.

Dina said...

Stephen,

It's so nice to see you back!

I have no idea about the money-from-a -book thing. I'm not sure how that works.

Yeah. I think you can make anyone look bad with a photo.

As for the KLA....good or bad, I think his dad should have tried to figure out what it stands for.