“A MAN WHO CAN LOOK AFTER HIMSELF”

The Age’s Penelope Debelle tells of her fascination with a certain Hicks, D.:

Part of the enduring fascination with David Hicks, apart from his extraordinary combination of religious fanaticism, military adventurism and juvenile stupidity, was never having seen his face.

That face, according to a 2003 piece co-authored by fascinated Penelope, was “the human face of the fight for individual justice in this murky era of terrorism.” I wonder if the Indian soldiers Hicks tried to kill saw him the same way.

One photograph that made father Terry and stepmother Bev Hicks bristle every time it appeared was a posed shot of Hicks in Kosovo with a rocket launcher on his shoulder.

Count your blessings, Terry and Bev. That shot wouldn’t have appeared half as often if there were any pics of Dave meeting Osama bin Laden.

The other photos, faded snaps of a youth in a fair isle jumper or blue T-shirt, became increasingly meaningless over time as reports began to emerge of the physical toll Hicks’ incarceration was having on him …

It was only after he was shifted to solitary confinement that the real deterioration began. After two years, reports filtered out of Hicks’ decline. Unable to exercise, he was putting on weight …

Whoa! Lady Penelope is rewriting history. The earliest (and subsequent) reports indicated that Hicks had lost weight, not that he was being stuffed with pies and locked out of the gym. From Hicks’s 2004 affidavit: “At one point during 2003 alone, my weight dropped by 30 pounds (and I was not overweight to start).” In November 2003, the ABC reported: “Terry Hicks says after receiving the letter [from David], and news that his son’s weight has fallen to less than 60 kilograms, his family are increasingly concerned for their son’s welfare.” (Interestingly, one month later Terry Hicks told the ABC his son’s mental condition was “absolutely brilliant”, he’d had a hernia operation, he was “very fit” … and that he’d received “chocolates and vegemite.” There’s your weight-gain root cause, Penelope.)

The myth of scrawny Dave persisted for years, boosted by claims from his lawyers: “This identikit of an aged and emaciated David Hicks has shocked the accused terrorist’s supporters, who now fear for his health. The image is based on a description by Hicks’s lawyer [David McLeod], who met the detainee a week ago.” Another Hicks lawyer, Major Michael Mori, said in 2006 that Hicks had “lost a lot of weight. I think the weight loss is part of his loss of appetite, just coming on from his … depression manifesting itself in that way.” It made Ray Martin ashamed. Back to Penelope:

Just before he was due to appear before the US military commissions early this year, he was all but a broken man: unshaven, unsociable, untrusting of anyone but his lawyers, and so dehumanised he had grown his hair long so he could pull it over his eyes at night to shield them from the lights.

“Just before he was due to appear”? Penelope avoids Hicks’s actual commission appearance, at which reporters were present. One account: “He’s put on a considerable amount of weight, he’s almost verging on chubby. Now he was always a stockier build, he’s only five foot two, but he was looking distinctly beefy …” And another: “He did not look unhealthy and certainly not ‘gaunt’ or ‘hollowed cheeked’ as his legal team have described him in recent months.” Ignoring these reports, Penelope feigns surprise when fat ’n’ sleek Dave walks out of Yatala prison:

To finally see David Hicks in the flesh was a relief. His face was smooth and broad, his hair — possibly dyed to make him less recognisable down the track — was long and brushed back. His face looked broad and a bit puffy, but overall he seemed not in bad shape.

What did she expect – a Belsen survivor? You’d imagine someone so invested in a story that they felt “relief” when the subject emerged without having gnawed off his own fingers for nourishment might have noticed the occasional item placing his mass somewhere above that of an Olsen twin. Quickly adapting to the New Dave, Penelope finds virtue:

What was most striking was how much he looked like the man Australia has come to know well: his father, Terry. They share the same piercing eyes, the same stocky stature and slight swagger that suggests here is a man who may be short but who, when pushed, can look after himself.

Remarkable. She’s talking about someone who trained to kill opponents of Islam, and who once wrote: “The western society is controlled by the Jews with music, TV, houses, cars, free sex … the Jews have complete financial and media control many of them are in the Australian government.” And the love don’t end there:

Given the fearlessness Terry Hicks has shown in the past six years, including protesting on a New York pavement in a mock-up of a Guantanamo cell, perhaps those similarities should have been no surprise.

Those Hicks genes are strong. Odd, though, that Dave is now frightened of Islamic extremists. Maybe he thinks they’ll feed him too much.

Posted by Tim B. on 12/30/2007 at 11:01 AM
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