Bannerman isn’t feeling all that charitable at the moment, so the reader will need to excuse him if he seems less then his usual ebullient self. Reason? Well, there are undoubtedly many, but for the sake of this post, let’s assume it’s to do with David Hicks.
The reader will be aware, Bannerman presumes, of the rather hurried formal charging of David Hicks, as reported in today’s news broadcasts. Bannerman describes this process as hurried because of the very recent appointment of former U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Judge, Susan J. Crawford, to the position of convening authority for military commissions. She, and only she can approve the charges recently presented to Hicks after his legal representatives had vacated Guantanamo Bay. That took place on the very same day Hicks was presented with his charge sheet. The unapproved version, of course. Perhaps the US hadn’t snubbed our L.J.Howler after all?
That aside, Bannerman decided to do as ’Dolly’ Downer suggested, and set out in search of the formal charge sheet. Apparently it’s available from the U.S. Department of Defence website. Bannerman has a question of ’Dolly’. Which fucking website??!!!!! Bannerman has just spent the last 45 minutes trawling through glad-handed news releases about the benefits of a resort-like stay at Gitmo, and just how safe this legal limbo is these days for the poor suckers in the US Marine Corp who have to staff it. He has yet to come across any news release, piece of propaganda, announcement, detail on detainees, or even photo which in any way refers to the Hicks charge sheet dated today (or even yesterday!). The closest Bannerman has been able to come is this document, which is the informal charges presented to Hicks after his legal counsel had exited his private and personal hell. A read through will show the reader just how close this document is to the previous set of charges lodged in 2004. Certainly, Bannerman notes much more enticing and dramatic text with which to cloud the receptive mind. More detail on the type of weapon Hicks carried, how much ammo he had, and even suppositions as to what he intended to do. The question is, how much of this is fact and how much is hearsay?
This, however, is NOT the sworn charge sheet approved by the convening authority. ’Dolly’ Downer urges all Australians to read the charge sheet, but where is it?! It’s just a tad difficult to get all het up over something when you can’t find the particular something to get het up over! A search of the U.S. Department of Defence website, using the simplistic one word query ’hicks’ returns a 404 page. Just how thorough is the U.S. Department of Defence in this matter? Perhaps this matter is much the same as the planning consent Arthur Dent sought to uncover:
"on display in a locked filing cabinet, in a disused lavatory with a sign outside the door saying ’Beware of the Leopard’!"
Bannerman has tonight shot off a terse email to the Department for Foreign Affairs with a view to that department making available the very document it’s Minister promotes every Australian view. He doesn’t expect a reply, not does he expect compliance. This is, after all, a Howardian government compliant federal public service.
Bannerman hasn’t heard the full text of the speech given by Malcolm Fraser to a Human Rights Conference at the University of Melbourne, but finds the reported accusation of betrayal to be infinitely accurate.