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Australian David Hicks and other detainees still held at Guant�namo have been victims of their own legal rights. That was the message of U.S. Ambassador to Australia Robert McCallum to reporters at a Valentine’s Day press conference in the Australian capital of Canberra. McCallum, who previously served as the Justice Department’s No. 3 official before being sent Down Under, said Australians were “understandably angry” at how long it’s taken to bring Hicks to trial, according to The Australian newspaper. (Hicks, who allegedly trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, has been at Guant�namo more than five years.) “The U.S. understands and shares this dismay at the lengthy delay. But the U.S. has not sought the delay,” McCallum was quoted as saying. Al Qaeda had trained its recruits in what McCallum called “lawfare,” or the use of American laws and judicial systems to their advantage, according to The Australian. The result, according to McCallum: lengthy appeals brought by “imaginative and talented attorneys” challenging the detainees’ designation as enemy combatants. Joshua Dratel, a lawyer for Hicks, took issue with McCallum’s remarks when informed of them by Legal Times. “That is worthy of a sequel to 1984,” Dratel said. He notes that his client didn’t see a glimpse of a courtroom for the first 2 1/2 years of his detention, and that more than 7 1/2 months after the Supreme Court ruled the Defense Department’s military-commission system illegal, the government has failed to bring any of the 300-odd detainees to trial. Dratel says the statements call to mind those made by a recently departed Pentagon official who urged corporations to cut ties with firms that defend detainees. “It demonstrates that the remarks by [ex-deputy assistant secretary] Cully Stimson were not isolated but part of a broader strategy,” he says.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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