The administration has now begun setting up military tribunals to try some of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. One of the prisoners now facing charges is Australian David Hicks. Aside for being a poster boy for the case against racial profiling, Hicks' case seems to race the question of what exactly constitutes a war crime in the context of al-Qaida . Are all individuals involved with al-Qaida by their mere involvement war criminals, or do they have actually had to participate in a specific act that constitutes a crime.
Acoording to the article th U.S. government contends that:
The U.S. military paints a more sinister picture. Authorities accuse Hicks of attending al-Qaida terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, where he learned advanced surveillance techniques that he allegedly used on U.S. and British embassies in Kabul.
After watching television news coverage in Pakistan of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States, Hicks returned to Afghanistan to rejoin his al-Qaida associates to fight Americans and other members of the coalition forces, the military alleges.
"It is alleged Hicks armed himself with an AK-47 automatic rifle, ammunition, and grenades to fight against coalition forces," the military said in a statement.
Other than the allegation of the surveillance of the embassy, the allegations appear to be that he fought against coalition forces. The surveillance as far as I can recall did not lead to any sort of attack.
Earlier in the article, perhaps based on Hicks' story(though it is not clear) it states that Hicks was fighting with the Taliban:
From Pakistan, he headed to Afghanistan where he allegedly was serving with the Taliban when he was captured in late 2001 by the Northern Alliance and handed over to U.S. forces.
Its hard to see how fighting with the Taliban unto itself is a war crime (He is not John Walker who might have been guilty of treason for fighting against the U.S.)
Hmm Another article says he has been charged with:
Hicks has been charged with conspiracy to attack civilians, attempted murder and aiding the enemy by fighting with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Okay I get the conspiracy to attack civilians charge, but I still don't see how aiding and abetting the enemy is a war crime.
In looking around about this came across this interesting first person account of the hearing for Hicks from an ACLU observer (obviously there is something of a slant but more detailed than most news accounts I have found)