Even the most rusted on Howard lovers must finally get the point that the whole Hicks saga has been a political charade - 'I'll scratch your Iraq itch if you stroke my 'tough on terrorism' plumage'!
In the US there is uproar over the 9 month sentence. So, if you are detained as one of the 'worst of the worst', denied habeas corpus for five years, subjected to a military style kangaroo court that disbarred key members of your legal team and allowed evidence obtained under 'coercion', you can expect a sentence of nine months that sees you out of circulation for the Australian Federal Election, and a gag order that prevents you from talking to the media.
Hmmm...not a good look fellas. But keep telling us about how the Australian Government is modeling good governance and the rule of law for our Pacific neighbours.
Downer has identified three categories of voter response to Hicks, ergo:
""First of all, there have been people who have felt very badly about Hicks and have been very down on him. They say to me when they run into me: 'That bloke should just be strung up'," he said.
"Secondly, there are people who are the mainly anti-American Left who see him as a poster boy, somebody who's been sticking it up the Americans.
"Thirdly, I think - and this is a lot people - they think, well, he doesn't sound as though he's too good but he does deserve his day in court. And I really fall into that third category."
My polemical take on these categories is:
The First category are rusted on Howard lovers, prepared to swallow every propaganda line his government spins because it plays to their political predilections, insecurities, fears and loathings.
The Second category distrusts everything Howard says because of their political leanings and/or an awareness of serial and deliberate disinformation by Howard and his Ministers from Tampa and 'children overboard' to the Iraq war and beyond - all managed as political projects.
The third category are people who believe in fairness and due process, whatever the political implication, and who expect their politicians and the institutions of justice to be transparent, accountable and to act for the common good.
Despite his protestations that he is just a 'balanced guy' in the 3rd category, Downer is a card carrying leader of the First category pack. He had a lead role in demonizing and prejudging Hicks as one of the 'worst of the worst', based on unsafe 'evidence' and political spin.
Methinks, even members of the first category must start to see that the Hicks case has been a corrupt process to achieve political outcomes for Bush and Howard. The apologists who claim the guilty plea puts the lie to concerns about this farcical travesty are either suffering from selective amnesia and/or permanent credulity.