Rat in the Ranks: David Hicks and the Representations of Justice and Threat in the 'War on Terror'
After his capture by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in December 2001, the alleged ‘Taliban fighter’ David Hicks was handed over to the US military. The Australian Islam-convert was sent to Guantanamo Bay where he has remained for almost five years awaiting a military commission trial that has been roundly condemned for its partisan approach to justice.
While Hicks remains unable to speak for himself, the Federal government, the media and Hicks’ lawyers and family have fought to maintain a particular representation of Hicks in the public arena.
In the post-September 11 context, governmental authorities have represented Hicks as the embodiment of the ubiquitous terrorist threat. However various critics have used Hicks’ plight as an example of the way human rights are jettisoned in identifying and punishing potential adversaries to the ‘war on terror’.
By analysing various representations of Hicks by governmental spokespeople, his family and lawyers, and journalists in the media, this paper attempts to examine the discourse of ‘terrorist threats’ and how this discourse incorporates certain understandings of justice in an age of insecurity.
Keywords: David Hicks, War on terror, Governmental communication, Media
Postgraduate student, Applied Communication, RMIT University