Monday, February 12, 2007

Australian war crimes?

Some prominent lawyers in Australia are warning members of the federal government that they could face war crimes charges over Guantanamo bay.

To add to John Howard’s miseries, it seems he has made a quick enemy of Barack Obama, who has his own version of war crimes charges against the PM.

In a new found understanding of the issues, Howard says he's very unhappy about the US handling of the case against Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks.
"I am very unhappy. We are unhappy, frustrated, at the amount of time it's taken. I don't think the Americans have handled that part of it well."

That turn around, the boot rather than the nose up Bush’s rear, comes after some serious warnings that the government could be charged under their own laws if detainee David Hicks is tried under retrospective laws.

Peter Vickery, QC, said members of the Government were at risk of breaching the Australian criminal code as well as Australia's international treaty obligations by urging the US to proceed with the present draft charges against Hicks.

Mr Vickery, an International Commission of Jurists special "rapporteur" on Hicks, said the charge of "material support for terrorism" against Hicks was a classic retrospective law which did not exist in 2001.

"It was created by the Americans to apply to David Hicks and others on 17 October 2006 when President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law in the United States," he said. "However, Hicks is alleged to have committed the offence in Afghanistan in 2001."

The part of the code that could put the Government at risk of committing a war crime was a section relating to the actions of a party who might "counsel" or "urge" another party to conduct a trial that does not meet the mandated standards of fairness.

"By pressing the United States to proceed with this charge, members of the Australian Government are at serious risk of committing a war crime under the Australian Criminal Code," he said. "If that occurs, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court could initiate charges, or provided the Federal Attorney-General consents, charges could be laid before an Australian criminal court.

Obama got stuck into Howard over what he called "empty rhetoric", an attack on Obama’s plans to bring US troops home from Iraq.

"I think it's flattering that one of George Bush's allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced," Mr Obama told reporters in the mid-western US state of Iowa.

"I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1,400, so if he is ... to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.

John Howard is starting to look jittery as his opposition opponent rockets ahead in the polls. I guess elections always make incumbents jittery, though Howard rarely shows it. I’m not sure why he is now, polls aside the economic indicators are still favouring the government.

The country might actually see Howard now for the slimy toad he is, but that in itself does not translate to a potential election loss. True the key economic indicators are bumping along the danger line, with the governments biggest problem being to keep the eye on the ball while the diversions hammer in at them.

We know there will be an election sometime in the final three months this year. That still leaves lots of room for both economic perceptions and reality to turn in favour of the opposition.

A few serious war crimes charges wouldn’t go astray either.


Sidebar

Howard has risked a rift with a future US government after attacking Obama's policy to pull US troops out of Iraq according to the opposition.

Labelling a victory for the high-profile Democratic Party senator in next year's US presidential election a triumph for terrorists, the Prime Minister said the strategy to pull troops from Iraq would embolden Southeast Asian terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiah.

"If I were running al-Qa'ida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama but also for the Democrats," Howard said.

Kevin Rudd (opposition leader) accused Howard of risking the strength of the US alliance, branding his attack on Senator Obama as "short-sighted and irresponsible". The Opposition Leader called on Howard to immediately withdraw his comments, saying he must not allow his personal relationship with President Bush to affect Australia's long-term alliance with the US.

"The Prime Minister's partisan attack on Obama and the Democratic Party risks the strength of the US alliance," Rudd said.

Howard said the Labor Party had no right to attack him because it often criticised US President George Bush over the Iraq war and no one accused Labor of putting the US alliance in jeopardy.

The US/Australia alliance has been a political piƱata since my earliest days as a political activist. I’m old enough to have been a spectator of the LBJ storm here in Australia. Funny think is the alliance sticks with the same tenacity of shit to a blanket. Indeed, what alliance of any value won’t exist through political/social turmoil?

But the fact remains that Howard would be isolated under a Democrat president just as much as Labor would be under a Republican one; and the world would keep spinning and the bullshit would continue to fly.

3 comments:

Lew Scannon said...

If Howard is so damn afraid of terrorists, why doesn't he send more Australian troops? Why does the US have to fight everyone else's battles?

Cartledge said...

Lew, I hope you don't expect an argument from me?
Except to say those who want this war should be the ones to fight it, the rest of us can do without it.

reality-based educator said...

I thought Obama's retort to Howard about sending more troops was really apt. What a wanker Howard is. Sad, really, that he felt the need to attack a dem candidate this far out from the election.