supersoft target: Salusinszky refuted
I've heard various acquaintances slag off at Imre Salusinszky, a media pundit I'd never really encountered in his political manifestation until the other day. All I'd heard was his not particularly interesting but innocuous views on Bob Dylan, the Stones and such.
The other day, though, he was on the radio semi-debating the David Hicks issue with Major Michael Mori, the military lawyer who's attained heroic status here in
Salusinszky's line was that Hicks is a racist, a member of al-quaeda and a traitor [these are his own words] and that, considering all the more serious injustices that need to be righted in the world, the plight of Hicks is not something worth losing too much sleep over. He also claimed that the defenders of Hicks were largely driven by anti-Americanism.
Mori in response focused on the legal issues, including the fact that the US administration doesn't allow its own citizens to face these tribunals but considers them good enough to try foreign citizens [what was I saying about British foreign policy arrogance in the time of Palmerston?]. He didn't deign to answer Salusinszky's claims, but the clear implication was that those supporting Hicks were doing so on the basis of rights and justice rather than on the basis of personal sympathies.
I want to answer Salusinszky's claims more directly – again because it's a soft job. First, the question of Hicks' alleged beliefs about Jews and or other ethnic groups is of course irrelevant to the issue of whether or not he should be held in solitary confinement for a number of years without trial. Neither are these alleged beliefs relevant to the charges brought against him, which include attempted murder as I recall.
Much more seriously, Salusinszky alleged that Hicks is a member of al-quaida. Now, as far as I know, al-quaida members aren't issued with a gold membership card and they don't pay subscriptions or membership fees. Membership of al-quaida is presumably determined by examining contacts, movements, conversations. I would imagine such membership isn't easily established. Hicks of course has been in close imprisonment for five years, so it's his activities before this that are in question, and surely the best way to determine whether those activities constitute or might conceivably constitute membership of al-quaida is through thorough examination in a court of law.
All sorts of allegations have been made against Hicks, though the specific charges are conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder and aiding the enemy. It should be noted that these are vague charges – the enemy isn't specified, and could conceivably be anyone who isn't 'with' the current
I can only assume that, in claiming that Hicks is a member of al-quaida, Salusinszky is engaging in media speculation, even though he's stating it as fact. If it's speculation, it strikes me as irresponsible, as he's assuming something that has yet to be proven. If it's fact, he needs to contact the appropriate authorities, tout de suite, and present himself as a key witness in the case, or at the very least, to provide the contact details of his informants.
Finally Salusinszky accused Hicks of being a traitor. Not many people are charged with treason these days, not in western democracies at least, and the reasons are pretty obvious – it's a highly subjective and easily politicized term. The Vietnam war saw divisions, here and in the
Hicks is generally described as a traitor because, as this indignant writer to The Australian argues, he was "a footloose adventurer, willing to betray his antecedents by embracing Islam and hot-footing it to