This is what Charles Richardson of Crikey had to say
Charles Richardson writes:
The ALP is continuing its incremental approach to taking on the government over the detention of David Hicks. Yesterday, shadow attorney-general Kelvin Thomson demanded that Hicks should be released on bail, under a control order if need be, and that Australia should "Tell the US Government that a Military Commission is not a fair trial".
The same process that has led the government to sound a note of impatience towards the Americans is having its effect on the opposition as well: fear of being "soft on terrorism" is being outweighed by a sense that community sentiment is turning in Hicks's favour, and there may even be some votes in the issue.
Meanwhile, in today's Age, the US chief military prosecutor has outlined the case against Hicks:
David Hicks attended basic training, the al-Qaeda basic training, (and) went back for repeated advance courses in terrorism ... He knew and associated with a number of al-Qaeda senior leadership. He conducted surveillance on the US embassy and other embassies.
Leave aside the fact that no evidence is offered for these allegations, and that it's taken five years to be told even this much of what Hicks is supposed to have done. What's most interesting is the fact that nothing that's alleged amounts to what would normally be regarded as a war crime.
The allegations sound serious, but fundamentally they are ordinary crimes: conspiracy, maybe attempted murder. There is no explanation for why they could not be tried in an ordinary civilian court.
We're also told that Hicks went "back to the battlefield, back to Afghanistan" after 11 September 2001, but there's no indication he did anything there to contravene the laws of war. Yet again, the Bush administration is stuck in its cleft stick: if this is a real "war", then just fighting in it can't be a crime. If it's not, then Hicks is (at worst) a common criminal, and belongs in the courts.--------------------------
And there we have it. The US prosecution, a military commission, is still trying to dress this up as something beyond ordinary crime but sub war. And as a result Hicks can be tried in their hybrid system designed fully to remove the rights of those in it to contest their being in it in the first place. Sure, Hicks may have done all those things. But did it give the US the right to hold him for five years while it gathered the evidence and fought tooth and nail to "try" him (failing) in a legally obscene manner? No, I don't think it did.