1. Take a disenfranchised loner who may have committed illegal acts during a war.
2. Lock him in a box for five years.
3. Now (without looking in the box) tell me what is his mental state?
Australia's foreign minister can do this, he has assured me (via SBS News) the there is no evidence that David Hick is suffering from any mental illness, despite claims by his defence lawyer.
See, you can not prove he is depressed or suicidal, so he exists in a mentally ill free state (unless you open the box) and can you prove that he was ill before? Hah, perhaps it's your fault, you caused his stress by opening his box. But because he is aware that we can't just take his word for it, Mr Downer has proof. He tells us that 'someone' visited Hicks and Hicks is fine. Downer however informs us he is unable to divulge any information about the visitor other than to say they are a foreign national. Well, that's all settled then. If an unnamed foreign national tells us he's fine then that's got to be good enough for any court of law.
Although, aren't Americans foreigners (you know technically speaking, either that or we are. There are some fools in the world who think we both are). And Hicks is in Guantanamo Bay, so really all we are being told is that the person isn't Cuban. So, we know he's coping fine because a non-Cuban who may or may not have any psychological training told us. Hell it could have been John Travolta flying in Tom Cruise with an e-meter, after all neither of them are Cuban.
Now, I'm no fan of Hicks. He was undoubtedly involved in nasty stuff because even if you assume him innocent of belonging to al-Qaeda (he is yet to be proven guilty), he has admitted to being involved with the Taliban and they were a nasty group of fundamentalist bastards. The treatment of women under that regime was appalling at best and bestial at most likely. Their treatment of giant stone Buddas was also markedly different from that of sane people and I'm not a fan of execution at the best of times but doing it in stadiums for public entertainment. Well that sort of stuff should have gone out of fashion at about the same time we realised that a witch does not weigh the same as a duck.
So, charge the bastard. Get him out of the box. Prove that he is NOT mentally ill and find some evidence of a crime he has committed. Evidence of a crime being substantially different from providing evidence that he's been a twat. Because as I see it three weeks without charge in a foreign goal is too fucking long and no one should be sitting in a cell waiting for a country to make up its mind about what the law actually is. When did being sane become a justification for locking someone away, was that about the same time we started letting the inmates run the asylum?
Besides which, as I see the law (disclaimer – I am about to do a Business Law subject at uni and that is the extent of my legal training).
As I see the law, an Australian in Afghanistan can be charged with crimes against Australian Law, crimes against Afghani Law, crimes against international law and war crimes. Crimes against American law are bullshit in this situation.
We didn't lock up every German or Japanese soldier, sailor or airman who had served during WWII on the off-chance they were planning a Fourth Reich. Most got sent home when the war was declared over. So if Hicks was with the Taliban, that war is officially over, all is forgiven, get on with your life and here have a shit load of money to rebuild your economy so that you can make our cars, TVs and robots for us.
Anyone remember the fuss the Americans made about POWs being held in Vietnam after the war ended? Nor do I, because I was just a bitty baby. But if I paid attention in history then I know they were pissed off about it and shouted about international law and then they got so fed up they just sent Sylvester Stallone in there to negotiate with Ho Chi Minh (or something like that). And if B.J. Honeycutt taught me anything (other than how to make a martini) it was that dehumanising prisoners was not acceptable.
Anyway, another deadline (for Hicks to be charged) has passed and America has failed to charge the man. So what does the Australian government think the word deadline means? If it is a deadline, and it has been crossed, then there are consequences. Show me a fucking consequence! Can the American Administration just do whatever the hell they please? If our government wasn't going to do anything, if the American government wasn't going to do anything, then why the hell set up deadlines?
For the love of etymology people if these dates are suggestions, call them suggestions or proposals or random numbers we pulled out of our arse.
And for those of you who enjoy both etymology and irony try this out for size. The word deadline derives from a line in American Civil War prisons which prisoners could not cross.
Seventeen feet from the inner stockade was the 'dead-line,' over which no man could pass and live.(Lossing, Benson J. (1868). Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.)
So when the US and Australian governments set a deadline, they were in fact telling us that it'd really be much easier for them if he'd be shot in an escape attempt?