Monday, March 05, 2007

My American Marine Corps Hero

My American Marine Corps Hero

My life has been very short of heroes, and, when I scratch around for the names of people who have performed the hero function in my life, the only one I can come up with is George Orwell, my literary hero, the one who confronts the truth. Apart from that, I've gone through the first fifty years of my life without having any heroes whatsoever, and without feeling a need for them.

Much to surprise, however, I suddenly do have a hero, a new one, and what is most surprising is that he is American. For a long time now I have not been expecting anything good to come out of America.

At work, here in Japan, I have American colleagues, male and female, who I meet on a regular basis, so my vision of the United States is formed on the basis of flesh and blood relationships, not on demonic cartoon distortions of American realities. That said, my vision of America has grown progressively darker as the Bush regime has launched deeper and deeper into the realms of repression.

In the International Herald Tribune, as published in Japan on Monday 5 March 2007, there is an editorial summing up what should be done to remedy the wrongs that Bush is responsible, these including the suspension of habeas corpus and the authorization of torture.

Anyway, with that preamble, let me get to my hero, who I encountered for the first time ever in an article in that same issue of the IHT, and immediately liked.

He is Major Michael Mori, an officer in the United States Marine Corps, and is now the lawyer defending the Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks, whom the Americans have been holding for five years, and who they now plan to put on trial for war crimes.

Given that Major Mori is a military lawyer, presumably he was ordered to take on Hicks's defense, and it would not be unreasonable to suppose that his superiors would have been perfectly happy if he had contented himself with just going through the motions.

But apparently Major Mori has decided he is going to do the full court press on this one, and, if possible, to gung ho his way to victory, and the hell with anyone who gets in his way.

On account of this, the guy in charge of the military tribunal which is going to try Hicks has indicated that maybe the military should charge Major Mori under Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which makes it an offence to disrespect a whole bunch of people, one of them being the President of the United States. If you're a military officer, that is.

Judging from accounts, Major Mori has been very loudly disrespecting a whole bunch of people. He has been stomping around Australia trying to stir up a firestorm on behalf of his client, and apparently he has had quite a bit of success, personally speaking to key Australians and persuading them to commit to Hicks's cause.

I Googled David Hicks on Google News on Monday evening and found that the Australian press is full of stuff about Hicks, with one headline saying that the Australian Prime Minister should go to the defense of Major Mori.

I think this will make a very good book for someone, one day, a kind of classic defense lawyer non-fiction book. Maybe Truman Capote, if he were still with us, would be the man to take this on. A good book and, maybe, a good movie, as well.

Here's something I found online attributed to someone called Takver of something called Melbourne Indymedia:

Start quote:-

""David Hicks is an Australian detainee in the USA Military administered concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who has been held in custody without trial for more than five years. A campaign in Australia to 'Bring David Home' is growing in intensity and public support. On Friday March 2nd, Hicks was formally charged with 'providing material support of terrorism', a charge his military defence council says is made-up to sound really impressive, "but it never existed in the law of war, in any of the US law of war manuals, or in any Australian law of war manual" ""

-:end quote.

Note that, in Australian eyes, America has now become a nation which has concentration camps. Not exactly a public relations coup, I think.

I've been wondering what the actual charges will look like. I mean, what is the substance of them going to be? If America were to go to war with France, for example, would any Australian who had signed up with the French Foreign Legion automatically become a war criminal? If so, then the bar for becoming a war criminal has been set absurdly low. Is it going to be the case that anyone who soldiers in a force which is at war with the Americans is going to be deemed a war criminal? If so, then maybe it will become necessary to convert the entire state of Texas into one big concentration camp.

The Indymedia article quoted above provides the following quote from David Hicks's father as saying "we have a Government that is right up the backside of that bloody Bush Administration."

According to www.theage.com.au, Major Mori says he may get yanked from the case, which could cause delays in bringing Hicks to trial. If that were to happen, that would be sad news for the book/movie prospects.

The Age notes the following:

"The chief US prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis, has accused Major Mori of breaching Article 88 of the US military code by actively inserting himself into the political process.

"That section relates to using contemptuous language towards the US president, vice-president, and secretary of defence"
Obviously this is a story that will run and run. Given that Major Mori chose to be a military lawyer rather than, say, a public defender, I don't imagine that he ever entertained romantic dreams of being the hero of justice standing up in the face of the unlawful repression of the state. But, now that he has, on the evidence, committed to that role, I wish him luck, and hope that he is permitted to take the defense of this care to wherever it will go.

Of all the billions of subjects you can find on the Internet, a lot just leaves me cold, but this is a case that has seized my imagination, and I will follow it from here on.

I note that, while Major Mori has obviously been making headlines in Australia for some time, he has only just, at least as far as I've noticed, cropped up in the IHT. But, saying this, I have to confess that I generally only buy two or three newspapers a week, as it takes me that long to get through them, reading on the train to and from work. So maybe there has been more coverage.

But Australia, and New Zealand, too, are pretty far down the list of reporting priorities of the IHT. This fact came home to me recently when my parents sent me a couple of press clippings and, on the back of one, I found an article about the resignation of the leader of the opposition, Don Brash. This would have been an enormously big story in New Zealand, I imagine, but, as far as I know, it never came to the attention of the IHT.

According to the article, Don is currently in the United States of America. Presumably not in Guantanamo.

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