Saturday, August 19, 2006

A US Major wins Aussie hearts

PIC from the Melbourne Age
It’s funny the people who rally make a big splash downunder, but I can’t recall a US military Major ever making the big-time before.

Major Michael Mori has been building up to it, with his spirited defence of Australia’s Guantanamo detainee, David Hicks.

He’s been in Australia to talk to the Federal Government who don’t want to talk to him. But he’s also doing the rounds of public speeches.

The vice-president of the NSW Law Society, Hugh Macken, summed up the general consensus saying Major Mori had done "what is right, regardless of the conduct of others."

But Mori has also been urged to run for the presidency of the United States by supporters in Canberra, compared with Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird fame in internet chat rooms, but also one in which his client has been compared to a gang rapist by the Attorney-General.

If Australians are taking Mori to heart the same can’t be said for the government.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer explaining why he is not meeting the major: “I don't see other defence counsel for other Australians incarcerated around the world.”

Aforementioned Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is not scheduled to meet the lawyer either.

“He's meeting government officials (from the Attorney-General's Department),” we were told.

Mori had been campaigning for a fair trial, now he's campaigning simply to bring Hicks home. Telling his story is part of that campaign.

"It's important because it's important to get David Hicks home to Australia. And it's important that people get the full story about David Hicks, that they understand the facts," he says.

As with any war, Major Mori says the facts have been the first casualty in his long and bitter dispute with the Australian and US governments over how Hicks should be handled and whether he can be brought before a US military commission.

The problem for Hicks, and by extension Mori, is that he’s not a war prisoner, but a political prisoner. The WoT coalition governments have politicized the whole terrorism from the outset.

Many of their actions, which are increasingly being revealed as illegal, contributed to the fear which ensured election wins for Bush, Blair and Howard.

But the strategy is wearing thin and David Hicks, among others, is becoming a major liability, imprisoned illegally or free.

But like so many actions of these bankrupt administrations, it is easier to leave things as they are rather than risk creating a new set of problems. In short, they have painted themselves into a corner and are hanging onto the brush - David Hicks.

Australia country still admires a champion of the underdog, and Howard’s hardball terror line is staring to wear as thin as the country’s economy.

I suspect, if he could also talk economics, Mori could stand for leader of the Labour opposition and win the next election by a landslide.

More importantly, the goodwill felt towards him could further undermine the Howard government’s intransigence and force them to repatriate Hicks.

Good on you Mori, and thanks. I’d probably vote for you myself, except that there are already too many lawyers in government.


abi said...

There are always a few who do "what is right," no matter what the odds or the costs are. Not nearly enough of these brave souls, tho.

Cartledge said...

Yes, there are. Mori deserves a lot more recognition.