Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, September 07, 2004
IT IS REASONABLE TO ASK just what David Hicks's role was when he was captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan in December 2001.

It is not reasonable to doubt that Hicks's Taliban playmates were just the kind of jihadis we have seen at work recently among Beslan's children.

It does seem highly unlikely that Hicks was a tourist and the Taliban accompanying him were tour guides. For that reason alone the US is entitled to treat him as an enemy combatant unconstrained by any government, and to hold him for as long as they have reason to believe he remains an enemy combatant.

It also seems highly likely, on the basis of Jack Roche's evidence, that Hicks was a prime candidate to follow Roche's example and lead a cell of terrorists in Australia, with al Quaeda support.

So Australia's interest in restraining Hicks is even greater than the US's.

Unfortunately, as in the case of Willy Brigitte, Australia's laws are, or were, inadequate to restrain and interrogate Hicks. We must therefore allow the US government to do our work for us.

This is too good an opportunity for vilification for the left to pass up. They can score off both the Bush and Howard governments at the same time.

Most media references I've seen to the Hicks case in recent weeks portray Hicks as a victim of his imprisonment, and his father as the emblem of that victimhood.

The main rhetorical tool employed on the left is a demand that the US apply civilian standards to Hicks's trial, although it is clear that neither the US nor Australia could meet civilian standards of disclosing evidence without putting more innocent lives at risk. This is not a problem for those who claim the threat of Islamist terror is a myth.

This is the position of Amnesty, an organisation trading on the diminishing asset of its reputation, gained when it worked for freedom of political expression.

The Hicks defence lawyer, Stephen Kenny, shows just how far he is prepared to push civilian standards of evidence when he argues he and his colleagues "need to cross-examine the al-Quaeda leader himself".

Since many of those fighting for Hicks are really fighting the Great and Lesser Satans their arguments are not limited to legalities.

According to Kenny, the role of the US in relation to Guantanamo can be compared with that of Adolf Hitler to his death camps in World War II (Canberra times on August 29, 2004).

And film propagandist Curtis Levy, speaking from the platform of his 'documentary' on Hicks, made with tax-payers' funds, proclaims "This war against terror and the aftermath of 9/11 has enabled the Western World to adopt totalitarian methods - the same methods used by the people we are fighting against... I don't know what divides us from the people we are fighting against any more."

All of this serves to remind us that to fight terrorists we need to fight the Australian left first.