- Jun 25, 2004
- Reaction score
- USS Abraham Lincoln
(to save PM Howard in Australia?):
Australian's Plea Deal Was Negotiated Without Prosecutors
By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 1, 2007; A07
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, March 31 -- The plea deal that allows Australian David M. Hicks to leave the detention facility here with a nine-month sentence was negotiated between defense attorneys and the convening authority for military commissions without the knowledge of prosecutors, lawyers from both sides said.
The deal shows that the politically appointed authority has the power to personally decide the fate of America's most notorious terrorism suspects.
Marine Maj. Michael "Dan" Mori, representing Hicks, took his plea negotiations to Susan J. Crawford, the top military commission official, rather than dealing with prosecutors who were seeking a lengthy penalty, according to both sides in the case. In what became a highly politicized situation involving the Australian government, Crawford allowed Hicks a short sentence in exchange for a year-long gag order, a guarantee that he will not allege illegal treatment at the hands of his U.S. captors, and a waiver of any right to appeal or sue.
Though Australian officials have said they were not directly involved in plea negotiations, Mori declined to answer questions about what, if any, influence they had. Australian Prime Minister John Howard, up for reelection this year, has been under public pressure to bring Hicks home. He turned to Vice President Cheney to implore that the case be resolved. Crawford was the Defense Department's inspector general from 1989 to 1991, when Cheney was defense secretary.
"What an amazing coincidence that, with an election in Australia by the end of the year, he gets nine months and he is gagged for 12 months from talking about it," said Australian lawyer Lex Lasry, who was in Cuba to monitor the case over the past week.