Sabbath Message by Wade Cox

Sabbath 22/12/29/120

Dear Friends,

For those of us that have been watching and are concerned it is a good opportunity to review just what we as a civilised people have been going through in recent years.

We have passed laws in the USA, Britain and Australia to deal with Terrorism. They are concerned with some basic premises of human liberty.

The constitutions of the USA and Australia guarantee certain liberties that ensure that we are able to remain free from dictatorship. Britain is in a much more precarious situation as they have no written constitution and the House of Lords has no right of rejection of a bill of the House of Commons. They can do as they please and there are few checks and balances against them. Common Law is the only basis of protection. It is for that reason that the USA and Australia formed written constitutions when they federated the states.

A basic right of freedom is the writ of Habeas Corpus meaning, “Deliver up the body.” By such means we cannot be imprisoned unjustly. Under recent legislation this basic right of human freedom is being undermined.

The detainees in Guantanamo Bay are being tortured and maltreated and have been subject to imprisonment without trial for five years or more. Some of our ancestors forced King John to sign the Great Charter (Magna Carta) at Runnymede in 1215 to ensure that we could not be imprisoned without trial. We fought a civil war to establish the supremacy of Parliament and the process of justice over the power of the king. Even so we had a long way to go to establish the pattern of Common Law that ensured our rights to a fair trial by a jury of our peers and the right to be heard. The English-speaking people extended this basic process throughout the world as the established colonies or nations applied to join the Commonwealth. We have been proud of our system of democracy and we have supported and honoured the Geneva Convention whenever we have taken prisoners or are in the conduct of war. That factor has made such nations conducting themselves in that way better than our opponents and guided reasonable conduct to date.

An Australian man named David Hicks converted to Islam and became a fighter both in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Afghanistan. This was before September 11 and the subsequent hostilities against the Taliban. Most Australians do not condone what he did and have watched with silence as his case unfolded. Many Australians are getting fed up with the statements being made by radical Muslim clerics in this country and that includes Muslims as well.

The US Supreme Court had on two occasions declared the military tribunals contrary to law that were set up to try these Muslims in Guantanamo Bay and deny them the due process that any person is entitled to on US soil.

They have been declared unauthorised combatants and thus not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. In fact the Geneva Convention has been more honoured in the breach than the observance by both sides in the conflict on both Afghanistan and Iraq. Some time ago the British public put pressure on to the British Government to request the return of their detainees and they were returned.

The Australian Government knew that there was no charge that could be levelled against David Hicks in Australia and so they were content to let the US Military hold and unlawfully mistreat Hicks for five years.

Now that the Supreme Court has declared again the unlawful conduct of the President and the military of the US in these procedures the congress of the USA has passed retrospective legislation in order to try Hicks and the other detainees.

Now it is permissible under the Australian Constitution to pass retrospective legislation but it is rarely used and never for such purposes. It is, however, absolutely prohibited by the US Constitution and yet the Congress knowingly passed an unlawful instrument for the purpose of denying due process to detainees under their care.

The legal counsel for Hicks, US Army Major Michael Mori, is the only bright star in this sad and unlawful mess. According to ABC News’ articles and interviews, his condemnation of the unlawful acts of the President and the Congress in defence of Hicks has now drawn the power of the authorities down on him. The Chief Prosecutor for the detainees has now told Mori that he may be charged with an offence in breach of Article 88 of the US Code of Military Justice.

Article 88 prohibits contemptuous language against the President, the Vice President, Secretary of State and Congress.

Major Mori’s crime is to point out publicly that what is being done to his client is a contravention of the Constitution of the US and of the Geneva Convention and the UN charters. If Hicks were in the US he could not be tried. If he were in Australia he would be acquitted and released. He has been held for five years contrary to law and now the US has passed unlawful legislation in order to legitimise his unlawful detention.

What is worse is that the Australian Government has allowed his detention and knowing they can do nothing to him have allowed his detention and mistreatment for five years.

The Australian people are firm allies of the USA and have been for almost one hundred years. For that reason they were more or less silent and there was not all that much sympathy for someone portrayed as a Muslim terrorist. What was more of interest was the fact that they did not really know of the horrors and the exported torture and mistreatment undertaken by the US military in these issues.

Major Mori is a lawyer dedicated to justice. He has now disqualified himself from Hick’s case in order that it does not appear that he is subject to pressure and bias, which is an honourable course of action. These people may have made Mori the most sought-after lawyer in the USA before this is all over. He is certainly held in great respect in Australia.

What is happening in Australia is that the Howard government is now being seen as disinterested in Human Rights and the process of law and they have allowed an Australian citizen to be mistreated contrary to law by another nation when they were in a position to end it immediately.

Lawyers are banding together to take the Prime Minister and Attorney General to the Federal Court for breach of law. What are at stake are the issue of justice and the position of Australia as a free people, and people are now seeing this behaviour for what it is. There is a groundswell of public opinion rising now in this country that may well sweep this government out of office.

What makes the USA and Australia and the British Commonwealth great people is the basis of law upon which they operate.

Freedom is not the right to defame and assault people and misuse or bend the rule of law. It is the insistence on basic human rights and the dignity and equality of the individual at law and in society. It is the extension of civility and freedom to all regardless of race or creed or colour or in disability or in sex.

Freedom begins in courtesy to your neighbour and the treatment of those who disagree with you with respect and the enemies that oppose you with the proper and humane treatment under the conventions signed for that purpose. Do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you. Treat them with the courtesy at law that you yourself would wish to receive.

The nations that do not behave in this way degenerate to tribalism and barbarianism and it has always been the case. Iraq is an ungovernable mess because it is comprised of some 150 tribes and clans, thirty of whom are of major importance. The people owe allegiance to the tribe above the nation and are thus incapable of extending the rule of law to those with whom they disagree. They will never arise above that barbarism until they change that view. In the same way the actions along tribalism in the US that we are seeing in the Southwest will undermine the very fabric of US society and it must be stopped.

A free people remain free because they defend the rule of law and the rights of liberty and justice for all equally.

Wade Cox

Coordinator General


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