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Updated below -October 19, 2012

David Hicks Book Banned In The USA?
Has the US Banned the Autobiography of a Former Guantanamo Prisoner?

By Richard Edmondson

October 18, 2012 "Information Clearing House" -   People might remember the name David Hicks. He is an Australian who was held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 until 2007. In 2010 he published an autobiography entitled Guantanamo: My Journey. Reportedly the book details the years of torture he underwent while in the custody of the US military. Sounds like a book you might want to read. But strangely, it does not seem to be for sale in the U.S. Barnes and Noble does not list it at all. Amazon, conversely, does list it for sale— at its Kindle Store —but at the very spot on the page where we’d expect to see the “Buy Now” button, we find instead a notice reading, “This title is not available for customers from: United States.” Amazon also has a used hardcover copy for sale—only one—but it is available at the outrageous price of $105.15.

Hicks’ publisher is Random House Books-Australia. If you follow the link and click the “Buy Now” button, you are presented with a menu of retailers who offer Guantanamo: My Journey for sale on their websites at a price of $34.95 or less. All of them appear to be Australian outlets and the prices are in Australian dollars.

Why do book sellers in the US not offer the book? In addition to being unavailable from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, this bookstore in Portland, Oregon does not have it; nor this one in New York; nor this one in San Francisco. Is that not strange?

Wikipedia does have an entry for Hicks’ book. A footnote beneath the article contains a link to a review which can be found here. The review is entitled “David Hicks shows us what we became after 9/11.” Here is an excerpt:

Hicks details guards who punished him for simply studying his legal options. He often asked for medical care to help stress fractures. Little help was given. ‘‘You’re not meant to be healthy or comfortable,’’ he was told.

Faeces flooded the cage where Hicks lived and slept, ignored by the American officials. Dirty and unwashed clothes were common. Deafening loud music was pumped into cells to disorientate prisoners. Hicks writes of having to urinate on himself while being shackled during countless hours of interrogation. Detainees on hunger strikes were regularly force-fed.

Also worth mentioning is that the US Court of Appeals has just overturned Hicks’ conviction:

David Hicks Terrorism Charge Found Invalid


A US federal court has found the charge of providing material support for terrorism against David Hicks was applied retrospectively, writes Andy Park.

David Hicks’ conviction at Guantanamo Bay in 2007 has been ruled invalid by a US appeals court, paving the way for a full vindication of his innocence.

The Washington DC federal appeals court found that the charge of providing material support for terrorism against three men, including Osama bin Laden's former driver Salim Hamdan and Mr Hicks, could not be applied retrospectively.

The charge was created in 2006.

Mr Hicks was controversially detained on the charge at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 until 2007.

The chief prosecutor in the Guantanamo Bay military commissions in 2008, Col. Morris Davis (Ret.), told a US publication that the finding was “a body blow to credibility of the already beleaguered military commissions".

“I was one of the advocates for adding material support as a chargeable offense when Congress was crafting the Military Commissions Act in the summer of 2006. I personally approved the material support charges against Hamdan and Hicks in February of 2007. I realized later on that I was mistaken on both counts,” Col. Morris Davis said.

Mr Hicks’ former millitary lawyer Dan Mori told ABC24 it was vindicating “to have a US Federal court say you were right all along,”

Mr Mori said he expects the Australian government to respond given the complicity in the two government’s cooperation to convict Mr Hicks.

“The validity that these aren’t a valid offence and knowing that he was treated inappropriately, hopefully there will be some closer with the government,” he said.


Updated October 19, 2012  -

Stench of Hicks Prosecution Lingers as Court Exposes its Flimsy Basis

By Richard Ackland

October 19, 2012  "
Brisbane Times" -- -- It would have taken the skills of a first-year law clerk in the Attorney-General's department to advise that the case against David Hicks was a big no-no. It didn't need an appeals court in the United States this week to tell us this was a dodgy political prosecution.

Being fitted-up for a war crime for things he allegedly did before the crime was put on the books required some heavy-handed manipulation.

Hicks was charged in 2007 with ''material support for terrorism''. This related to ''engaging in combat against US forces'' in Afghanistan in 2001.

The Military Commission and the offence itself came into existence in 2006, by an Act of Congress after the 2001 version of the Military Commissions was struck down by the US Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

So on an elementary level the timing in all this was way out, and the stitch-up required high-level intervention.

Don't take my word for that. Take the word of the man who prosecuted David Hicks at Guantanamo, Colonel Morris Davis.

In a 2008 interview that Davis gave to the independent investigatory media organisation Truthout, he said that when he was appointed a prosecutor he made it clear to his superiors in the Pentagon that ''the one case I did not want to start with was David Hicks''.

He explained: ''We told the world these guys are 'the worst of the worst'. David Hicks was a knucklehead. He was just a foot-soldier, not a war criminal.''

Colonel Davis (retired) said that in January 2007 he received an urgent phone call from the top lawyer at the Pentagon, William ''Jim'' Haynes, who asked him: ''How quickly can you charge David Hicks?''

It was the first time that the general counsel at the Pentagon had ever called him about a specific case and he felt it was decidedly ''odd''.

At this point, the Manual for Military Commissions had not even been produced by the Defence Department. The manual implements the law and spells out the elements of the crimes charged under the Military Commission Act.

It did not exist at the time Haynes (who Bush was trying to shoehorn onto a US appeals court) was pressuring Davis to charge Hicks, who at this stage had already been in Guantanamo for more than five years. Davis said it would probably take two weeks to charge Hicks after the manual saw the light of day.

''Two weeks,'' Haynes replied. ''Two weeks is too long.''

The rush was on for the reason that John Howard had an election that year and his government had nominated David Hicks as Australia's terrorism poster-boy.

There was mounting distrust in the electorate that an Australian had been held in cruel circumstances in Cuba, without charge, for an extended time.

After years of insouciance by the electorate, Hicks has become a hot political potato and the menacing rhetoric of the attorney-general, Philip Ruddock, and Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, was wearing thin.

Hicks was charged in February 2007 with material support for terrorism, or MST. The next month he had entered into a plea deal and by April he was out of Guantanamo and into the Yatala Labour Prison in South Australia to do a further nine months and not to be released until after the November election, subject to further restrictions.

Davis said that Haynes and vice-president Dick Cheney's adviser, David Addington, had negotiated the plea deal without his involvement.

He felt the whole thing was designed to bolster John Howard's electoral prospects by making the Hicks case go away.

Well, it did not go away.

In July this year the Commonwealth prosecutors had to drop a proceeds-of-crime case against Hicks over the publication of his memoir, Guantanamo: My Journey.

This ill-conceived prosecution had been egged on by the shadow attorney-general, Senator George Brandis, and some bone-headed editorialising in the Murdoch papers.

The common law and the Evidence Act both say that an admission of guilt cannot be put to a court if it was provoked by ''violent, oppressive, inhumane or degrading conduct''.

Even a cursory look at Hicks's book showed that he was subjected to ill-treatment and the prospect of indefinite detention if he didn't sign up for the charge.

Yet on Wednesday we have relics of the Howard era drilling into us the old theme song that Hicks was an associate of the Taliban, which beheads people who don't agree with them.

Now we have the decision from the DC Circuit court in the Hamdan case, by three conservative Republican-appointed judges.

Hamdan had his MST conviction overturned. Unlike Hicks, he had not taken the plea deal, but was convicted and did time - convicted after the Pentagon rejigged the panel hearing his case so as to get the right result. He's now back in Yemen driving taxis.

Just think about the implications of what the US was trying to do with people like David Hicks.

It is saying that anyone in the world, who has suitable radical connections and who is in a war zone fighting against Americans, is guilty of a war crime.

This is a significant departure from the Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, quite apart from the US constitution. And yet we signed up to this shameful fix.

See also - Grounds for new appeal by David Hicks: As Hamish Fitzsimmons reports, Australia's former foreign minister has scorned Hicks's attempt to clear his name, five years after his release from Guantanamo Bay.

See also - US court throws into doubt David Hicks' conviction: - A US Court of Appeals has ruled that the law under which David Hicks was convicted in the military commission system was not a war crime and could not be applied after the fact. Lawyers for David Hicks say they don't yet know whether he will now appeal his own conviction.

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