'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mori Hicks Article 88 

Spent the morning drinking too much coffee and reading the Australian press, mostly the articles Google News returns given the search string "Mori Hicks Article 88".

I don't know how familiar Americans are with David Hicks. Briefly, he's the Australian John Walker Lindh. He was a convert to Islam who trained in Taliban camps to fight in Afghanistan's perpetual civil war, was captured by bounty hunters after the American invasion, sold to the US, and thrown in Gitmo. Hicks was originally charged with conspiracy, aiding the enemy, and attempted murder by an unprivileged belligerent (whatever that means ... if you're interested, there's an interesting discussion of this charge here). All of these charges were dropped and, as of last week, he is now charged with providing material support for terrorism, a crime which, as pointed out here, didn't even exist when Hicks was first imprisoned.

Australians have rallied around Hicks -- from op-eds and blog posts, one gathers that general Australian opinion is something like Hicks may be a ratbag but he's our ratbag (... or "I think the bloke's a ratbag, but I think he needs to get his day in court").

Perhaps more surprisingly, from op-eds and blog posts, one also notices Australians have rallied around Hicks' outspoken military lawyer, Maj. Michael Mori, who has become something of a minor celebrity down under, e.g. here's a gossip column about Mori hobnobbing with Russel Crowe, engagingly titled "Mori watches footy as gays honour Hicks". When Michael Mori spoke before a gathering of lawyers in Sydney the vice-president of the organization that sponsored the event expressed surprise that women had not thrown panties on to the stage:

The vice-president of the NSW Law Society, Hugh Macken, summed up the warm feeling in the room with his opening comment: "I expected this lectern to be awash with underwear."

Mr Macken said Major Mori had done "what is right, regardless of the conduct of others."

"What you have done for David Hicks is above and beyond the call of duty even for a Marine. You have walked the tightrope of remaining true to your legal professional obligations and mindful of your national interests."

The session ended with a standing ovation and Major Mori being mobbed from all sides by his lawyer fans.

All of which perhaps sheds light on the bizarre turn of events in which the chief Guantanamo prosecutor threatened Mori with a court martial, basically for sedition, Article 88 of the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice:

"Certainly in the U.S. it would not be tolerated having a U.S. marine in uniform actively inserting himself into the political process," [Colonel Morris] Davis said. "It is very disappointing to see that happening in Australia, and if that was any of my prosecutors, they would be held accountable."

He added that it would be up to the Marine Corps to decide whether Mori had violated Article 88 of the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, which makes it a crime for a military officer to use "contemptuous words" about the president, vice president, secretary of defense and other high-ranking officials.

This is all pretty amazing -- and dare I say, heartening: here's a military lawyer tasked with the pointless chore of defending an innocent man in a kangaroo court who is nonetheless raising such a ruckus that the military is threatening to arrest him. Anyway, someone at Guantanamo must have realized the PR implications of threatening to throw Mori in the stockade: a few days ago Col. Morris Davis stated, "I know of no one with any plans to investigate, discipline, or prosecute Major Mori for anything Hicks related or otherwise."

Labels: , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?