Has the US Banned the Autobiography of a Former Guantanamo Prisoner?
People might remember the name David Hicks. He is an Australian who was held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 until 2007. In 2010 he published an autobiography entitled Guantanamo: My Journey. Reportedly the book details the years of torture he underwent while in the custody of the US military. Sounds like a book you might want to read. But strangely, it does not seem to be for sale in the U.S. Barnes and Noble does not list it at all. Amazon, conversely, does list it for sale— at its Kindle Store —but at the very spot on the page where we’d expect to see the “Buy Now” button, we find instead a notice reading, “This title is not available for customers from: United States.” Amazon also has a used hardcover copy for sale—only one—but it is available at the outrageous price of $105.15.
Hicks’ publisher is Random House Books-Australia. If you follow the link and click the “Buy Now” button, you are presented with a menu of retailers who offer Guantanamo: My Journey for sale on their websites at a price of $34.95 or less. All of them appear to be Australian outlets and the prices are in Australian dollars.
Why do book sellers in the US not offer the book? In addition to being unavailable from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, this bookstore in Portland, Oregon does not have it; nor this one in New York; nor this one in San Francisco. Is that not strange?
Wikipedia does have an entry for Hicks’ book. A footnote beneath the article contains a link to a review which can be found here. The review is entitled “David Hicks shows us what we became after 9/11.” Here is an excerpt:
Hicks details guards who punished him for simply studying his legal options. He often asked for medical care to help stress fractures. Little help was given. ‘‘You’re not meant to be healthy or comfortable,’’ he was told.
Faeces flooded the cage where Hicks lived and slept, ignored by the American officials. Dirty and unwashed clothes were common. Deafening loud music was pumped into cells to disorientate prisoners. Hicks writes of having to urinate on himself while being shackled during countless hours of interrogation. Detainees on hunger strikes were regularly force-fed.
Also worth mentioning is that the US Court of Appeals has just overturned Hicks’ conviction:
David Hicks Terrorism Charge Found Invalid
A US federal court has found the charge of providing material support for terrorism against David Hicks was applied retrospectively, writes Andy Park.
David Hicks’ conviction at Guantanamo Bay in 2007 has been ruled invalid by a US appeals court, paving the way for a full vindication of his innocence.
The Washington DC federal appeals court found that the charge of providing material support for terrorism against three men, including Osama bin Laden's former driver Salim Hamdan and Mr Hicks, could not be applied retrospectively.
The charge was created in 2006.
Mr Hicks was controversially detained on the charge at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 until 2007.
The chief prosecutor in the Guantanamo Bay military commissions in 2008, Col. Morris Davis (Ret.), told a US publication that the finding was “a body blow to credibility of the already beleaguered military commissions".
“I was one of the advocates for adding material support as a chargeable offense when Congress was crafting the Military Commissions Act in the summer of 2006. I personally approved the material support charges against Hamdan and Hicks in February of 2007. I realized later on that I was mistaken on both counts,” Col. Morris Davis said.
Mr Hicks’ former millitary lawyer Dan Mori told ABC24 it was vindicating “to have a US Federal court say you were right all along,”
Mr Mori said he expects the Australian government to respond given the complicity in the two government’s cooperation to convict Mr Hicks.
“The validity that these aren’t a valid offence and knowing that he was treated inappropriately, hopefully there will be some closer with the government,” he said.