Prime Minister John Howard told Southern Cross radio the presiding legal officer of the US military commission system has appointed himself as chairman of the commission that will hear the charge against Hicks.Howard thereby admits that, if not for his personal intervention, Hick and other Gitmo detainees would still be rotting to hell without hope of a trial. He furthermore implies that the legal Gitmo process is entirely at the whim of Bush and Cheney's personal agendas.
"It does mean that they're serious about getting on with it, I do think this is a result of the representations I've made to both the President and the Vice-President," he said.
"I did have two telephone conversations with President Bush during January - one in January one in early February."
Howard has also rejected claims the Government should have intervened earlier:
"It was very difficult to intervene while there were proceedings underway in the American courts challenging the whole military commission system," he said.Funny how the UK and other nations were able to get their people out of Gitmo in the same time-frame, isn't it?
"We lost up to two years."
The challenge led to the previous military commission process being ruled invalid by the US Supreme Court.
New laws then had to pass Congress to set up the new commission.
And of course we are supposed to be reassured by the fact that the presiding Gitmo legal officer will personally be fulfilling the roles of judge, jury and (hopefully non-capital) executioner. Well, that's reassuring isn't it? Given this man's previous announcements, I think the first thing Major Mori should do is challenge his right to sit in judgement. And if he doesn't walk out, Mori should.
But I still doubt it will get to that. My gut says Hicks will go the plea deal. More's the pity, but it's his call. For the moment, Hick's lawyers are saying he will plead not guilty. I hope the boy still has some fight left in him.