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The Back Story

“Mr. Hawash’s time in jail as a material witness wasn’t meant to secure his testimony — it was meant to hold him until the Department of Justice secured enough evidence to indict him with. This was not the intent of our founders, not the intent of Congress when it passed the Material Witness Statute and not the intent of our legal system. In our legal system people are innocent until proven guilty. In our legal system people may not be detained without probable cause and without charge. In our legal system the material witness statute is meant to compel people to testify if they are believed to be a flight risk.”

After 39 days in custody, Maher (Mike) Hawash, an Intel engineer and U.S. citizen, has been charged with conspiracy. Commentary from Warblogging.com.

More about Mike Hawash

“[T]he United States no longer wants Mr. Hicks: seeking to winnow detainees from its campaign against terrorism, the Bush administration has asked the Australian government to take custody of him and prosecute him, Australian officials say. Australia, though, does not especially want him either: senior police and intelligence officials say there is no evidence that he violated Australian law. Even so, the government has not pressed the United States for his release, Australian and American officials say.

“All of which leaves Mr. Hicks in the limbo of Guantánamo, with no rights of due process, charged with nothing, yet with no particular prospect of release. The American and Australian governments have said publicly that he will remain at Guantánamo until the war on terrorism is ended, whenever that may be.”

David Hicks, Australian citizen and wanderer, has spent 16 months in mystery at Guantánamo. From The New York Times.

“When allied troops came marching up the main highway into Kuwait City on liberation day, he was holding the hand of his son Fawzi, then just about to turn 14.

“‘He was very happy,’ the father recalled of his eldest child. ‘He was dancing, waving to them. He slipped from my hand and went down to some of the troops.’

“Now, once again his son has slipped away.

“In the weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Fawzi al Odah was captured and turned over to American authorities in Afghanistan.

“His family insists he was helping refugees fleeing into Pakistan. Nevertheless, he was flown in shackles with other captives to the detention camp at the U.S. Naval Base on Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

“Once again, he was surrounded by U.S. troops, with weapons pointed at him this time.”

The Kuwaiti government contends its 12 citizens in custody, many of them captured by bounty hunters paid by the U.S. military for their quarry, are innocent. From the L.A. Times

“If fish can feel pain, does this mean that a 13-year-old child, picked up in Afghanistan, hooded, flown several thousand miles to Cuba and kept in a chicken coop, may also experience physical sensations bordering on the uncomfortable?”

Terry Gilliam ponders the relative sentience of humans versus fish. From The Observer.


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