Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hicks charge ruled invalid by US court

Interesting. I remember a series of posts I did in 2007 about bringing Hicks home. Seems like forever ago. I know he's been 'home' for a while now but it's only today it seems he is validated in calling himself innocent. Others will have other opinions, no doubt. Interesting to read his lawyer, ex-Marine, Dan Mori is now living in Melbourne and practising law.


suze2000 said...

He might be innocent of the charges he copped to, but there's no denying the facts. He trained with terrorists and the Taliban BY CHOICE. He's not some child recruit, forced against his will to participate in evil. I don't know if he should be locked up, but he sure is guilty of SOMEthing.

Melba said...

Hi Suze, I think what you're talking about is a moral thing, or ethical, rather than a legal thing. Some people might not care that he trained with the Taliban, or they might say 'well, the Americans allied with the Taliban at one stage so who can point fingers?' Some people might also call terrorists freedom fighters; it can depend which side a person is on. Some people might call David Hicks naive and stupid to have done such things. All these, to me, are matters of moral or ethical decisions not legal. So what you call facts aren't as hard and fast as they might appear because of differences in interpretation. I also would question - after what happened after he was arrested - whether those facts are indeed facts anyway. I tend to believe absolutely only what I know, not what I'm told.

So if you were asking me what I thought I'd probably say that it's more notable that he was held illegally than did those immoral things; when you weigh up the supposed 'right' of the US as world police against idiotic things an individual might have done. There's a difference and I don't think anything's served by continuing to blame him, rather than question - and demand - transparency and accountability from governments.


Oh, and I'm always uncomfortable when people use the word 'evil' - it just doesn't sit with me. There's always something so loaded about it... but thanks for commenting! How are things?

Alex said...

I tend to believe absolutely only what I know, not what I'm told.

It's a hard thing when you can look at five different sources on a subject and get five completely different sets of facts. I don't consider myself an expert on this at all, but I'll have a go.

From what I have read, the Americans helped lay the groundwork for what became the Taliban and they were giving them money pretty much right up until 9/11. They were still brutal "evil" bastards who opposed education and women's rights, but that wasn't so important as long as they were keeping the opium flow under control. Terms like good, evil, terrorist, freedom-fighter, reformer, dictator, liberator and oppressor seem to depend a lot on perspective.

As I understand, the Americans are currently flying drones into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and (probably) other locations to hit targets in countries where they have no authority and have not declared war. These drone attacks have reportedly killed anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of civilians. Sometimes they do "signature strikes", which means they don't know what they're hitting, just that things seem "suspicious". This is how weddings and funerals get attacked. Sometimes they do a "double tap", which means they bomb a target, wait for rescuers to arrive, and then bomb the rescuers. I seem to remember that when terrorists used these tactics in Israel, they were condemned as the lowest form of scum. Obviously, there are now many many people in the middle east and north Africa who live their lives in constant fear of an American missile falling on them. America also uses torture and indefinite detention without charge.

It could probably therefore be argued that the American government is a terrorist organisation. At the very least, you could argue that many of the things they do are evil. Is anyone who wilfully supports or associates with them therefore guilty of SOMEthing? Including the troops? What about our government and our troops?

Having said that, I think that David Hicks is probably a cunt, or he was at that time. And if he partook in the violation of human rites in Afghanistan, he should be tried for it; just as allied troops (and security contractors) who partake in the violation of human rites in Afghanistan and Iraq now should be tried. But the rest of it, I suspect, is probably bullshit.

I'm not completely opposed to using the word "evil"; so long as it's established that, just because something opposes evil, it doesn't mean that something is "good". I think most often in life, it's a case of evil vs other evil.

By the way, Melbs; did you email me a link to an image on a Polish language website today? I couldn't get it to load and thought it was unusual enough to follow up.

Alex said...

Yep, human rites. Jesus Christ.

Melba said...

Hmm, but what is evil Alex? And is your definition of evil the same as mine, and if so, do we agree with the person next door? No, not possible and this is my point also about the interpretation of events, especially historical when the reporting can be so one-sided (as in the Hicks case, along with everything else funnelled through our mainstream media).

I also think the word evil is so connected to religion AND also to people who bandy it about with some sort of moral high-ground and sanctimoniousness - to me it's like the verbal equivalent of casting that first stone, and it always seems to have the tone of shrill hysteria attached to it as well.

And no I didn't send you a Polish link, not that I remember.

Also human [sacrificial] rites?

Alex said...

Hopefully I will have time to post proper replies tomorrow night; but in the meantime -- if you didn't send an email with just a link in it to me, Lewd Bob, Squib, and a few other people on Oct 16, I would suggest you change the password on your Yahoo account; because it looks like someone else may have been in there.

Melba said...

Hmmm annoying, thanks for letting me know.

Melba said...

Password changed, how annoying for others. Hadn't used my yahoo thingy for quite a while.

suze2000 said...

I once took a taxi ride with a Somali who sounded sane enough (and I certainly enjoyed his attitude to calamity - that it will befall you or not, so why worry in the meantime?), until he started raving about how the Somali pirates are needed to prevent America invading Somalia and to defend their land. Because he was driving me home I didn't question him about why they attack and board ships that have nothing to do with America and loot and kill.

My point is: people believe what they choose to believe, sometimes facts hardly enter into it.

I don't associate the word evil with religion, as I don't believe in god or the devil. I think evil comes straight from the human heart, like love, hate, xenophobia and all the other wonderful and horrible emotions of the human experience. A JW I work with blames the devil for such things - I often wish there was such an external force to blame for the awful things people do sometimes.

Also, I don't know what other word to use for a movement or force of men that oppresses women with such vehemence. We're not talking about something relatively benign like a glass ceiling, which many of us still endure in Western society, but something far beyond that. Shooting a 14 year old girl just because she wants an education? What other word is there for that but evil? Wrong, oppressive, sexist doesn't cut it. I clearly need to get out my thesaurus.

I also don't care who's responsible for the existence of the Taliban. Their very existence is a symbol of all that's wrong with the world. The fact they do it in the name of religion doesn't make it any better. And makes the use of the word evil completely appropriate.

For myself, we got broken in to recently, which has shaken us up a little bit. But most of the stuff is replaced. Just our peace of mind has taken a bit of a hit. I did get my carpet clean following your advice though, so thanks. I want another, and I want a huge big lounge room to display it in! :)

Melba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melba said...

Hi Suze

First, great your carpet got clean, that's good news. You want another? I got heaps but you're west aren't you? I make good price for you.

About the word 'evil' - it makes me uncomfortable because it is so loaded - it's like there's nowhere to go from there, and usually it's employed as some sort of full stop in either an argument or critique of something or someone. People somehow seem to think it doesn't need further definition, ie what is evil, what is it compared to what isn't (where's the line) and most importantly, HOW does it occur or come to be in a person, say.

With the Taliban, it is ideology (fucked and misguided and wrong ideology, yes, no argument from me there) that is making them act as they do. It's not *evilness*, not some free-floating inherent badness - do you see the difference? It comes from somewhere and I don't believe evil is the origin; sure,'evil' can be used as an adjective but I don't think it can or should be used as a noun because then it's a cop out on the part of the person who uses it. Effectively they are saying 'oh the Taliban are evil, that's why they're doing that stuff'. This is simplistic and misguided. This is the clearest I can get on this.

Um I don't know that your story about the taxi driver illustrates or proves anything about what you were saying. Not sure why you chose that example either. I can see how he might have reason behind what he said. Indulge me: for example let's acccept that Somali pirates ARE needed to protect the coastline against the Americans (in the minds of the Somali people, maybe America IS seen as a threat, how can we possibly know this is not the case), then let's say that those Somali pirates, while waiting for the invasion like to do a little pirating on the side, attacking vessels that aren't to do with America...) It's possible this taxi driver was NOT insane as you imply.

So while I'm certainly no sympathiser of the Taliban, and while I would argue with a person's right to call them whatever they want, I never use the word evil; not because it's too strong or too critical but because the word has such loading meanings and is used by certain types of people so much that make me think when I hear it, that the other person won't listen to reason.

Melba said...

Sorry double comment above so deleted. Hate the double comment...

Alex said...

With the Taliban, it is ideology ...[etc]... sure,'evil' can be used as an adjective but I don't think it can or should be used as a noun because then it's a cop out on the part of the person who uses it ...[etc]... This is simplistic and misguided.

I was going to type a response that was basically this, but you've essentially covered it. I don't mind evil as a description of behaviour (like terrible, awful, vicious, contemptible, dastardly, diabolical, etc), but not as an idea of something that causes behaviour. Most human behaviour stems from something, and there's nothing mystical or otherworldly about it. Which is why I think this kind of thinking -- I also don't care who's responsible for the existence of the Taliban -- is problematic.

As for the Somali pirates. I wonder if what he meant was that the lawlessness is keeping US companies from exploiting the country in the same way they do other African nations? Then again, if US drones are dropping bombs, I can understand why some people might be anticipating a proper military invasion. On a more philosophical level, I don't think that a group doing many bad things is evidence that they don't also do good things. As an example, police officers in this country use their authority to commit crimes every day -- from drug trafficking to extortion to random brutality -- but that isn't really an argument that the police do no good whatsoever and we would be better off without them. And of course, everyone's circumstances and perceptions are different. In parts of Afghanistan that are now completely lawless and/or war-torn, there are probably many people, including women, who would rather have the "evil" (but stable) Taliban back in power.