Obama’s sucky presents

Obama’s sucky presents
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So, let’s see if can I tell the Omar Khadr story…

Sometime in the 1970s, a guy named Ahmed and a woman named Maha immigrated to Canada from their respective corners of the Arab world. By any reasonable standard they could only be described as “bad” immigrants, since they not only displayed next to no interest assimilating into broader Canadian society, but were actively and openly contemptuous of it. Instead of abandoning the most oppressively incompatible customs of their old-world existence, they fastidiously preserved them — including a particularly outspoken loyalty to a particularly violent strain of fundamentalist Islam.

The two married in 1977 and had a bunch of kids, but the old man was apparently too preoccupied with Middle Eastern politics to be much of a father, frequently visiting foreign countries to volunteer in various terrorist shenanigans. As al-Qaeda gradually emerged as the meanest dog in the fight, Papa Khadr got closer and closer to Osama Bin Laden, and in 1999 he relocated the whole family to Afghanistan — the terrorist group’s home base at the time.

After 9-11 and the subsequent U.S. invasion, Khadr volunteered his sons to assist the Taliban/al-Qaeda side in the ensuing Afghan Holy War, including 15-year-old Omar, his second-youngest. Though born in Toronto, Omar lived only very briefly in Canada, and spent the majority of his short life in other Middle Eastern hotspots, where, as would later be alleged, he was aggressively “brainwashed” into Islamism and Bin Ladenism by his fanatical father.

In 2002, U.S. forces raided the Khadr family compound in Afghanistan, and during the skirmish, young Omar threw a grenade at American army medic Christopher Speer, killing him. Omar was promptly captured and shipped to the American terrorist prison in Guantanamo Bay, where he remains to this day.

As is the case with so many Gitmo prisoners, Omar Khadr has spent much of the last decade living in a strange legal netherworld where his civil rights have been a source of endless dispute.

Post firefight, the surviving members of his family were able to return to Canada and quickly lawyered up, pressing for Omar’s immediate return to his birth country. In the many court cases that followed, it was argued that as a Canadian citizen, Omar was fully protected by the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — and nothing in that document says anything about indefinite detention in foreign prisons. The Canadian government thus had an obligation to demand their allies in Washington order his prompt release, and for several years this question bounced around in the courts, winning approval from some judges and disdain from others. The Canadian government, for its part, maintained steady opposition to the repatriation idea, agreeing with the American diagnosis that Omar, despite his age and hometown, was clearly a treasonous enemy combatant of a ongoing war in which Canada was a party, and thus not covered by the usual peacetime protections granted to loyal domestic residents.

In 2009, Barack Obama became president and embarked on a rushed (and ultimately ill-fated) effort to clear out Guantanamo through whatever means necessary. After a bunch of false starts, in 2010 Omar Khadr — now 23 — was given a military trial for the murder of Christopher Speer, and on October 25 he pled guilty as part of a plea bargain to reduce his sentence. Eight years in prison was what he ultimately got, plus the crucial rider that only the first of those eight be spent in Guantanamo. After that, he’d be sent back to Canada, and serve his remaining years in a Canuck prison where he’d finally be able to enjoy all his constitutional birthrights.

You may notice that it is now the year 2012. You may also notice that a few paragraphs back I mentioned that Omar is still in Gitmo. So what gives?

President Obama’s Gitmo-closing plan has been an enormous flop primarily because of cases like this. American courts can sentence foreign-born enemy combatants to be repatriated back to their home countries all they like, but unless the countries in question are eager to welcome them, there’s not a lot that can be done to ensure this actually happens. The Harper administration, for its part, has resorted to all manner of stall tactics to ensure Mr. Khadr stays where he is, out of the hopefully understandable political motivation that importing convicted terrorists is not exactly a pathway to public acclaim.

Under Canada’s anti-terrorism and immigration laws, the executive branch holds extraordinary powers to deny entry to anyone it considers a security risk — powers that have only been strengthened in recent months. It thus wasn’t very hard to put two-and-two together last week when it was revealed Public Safety Minister Vic Toews had requested that the Obama administration turn over key documents relating to Omar’s pre-trial psychological assessments. Toews’ pre-determined conclusion becomes even clearer when one considers that Khadr was apparently assessed by one of the most ideological psychologists in the world, whose views, clearly espoused in this CBC interview, read more like a right-wing critique of “Islamo-fascism” than a calm medical assessment. (Interestingly, Khadr also had an equally biased liberal psychologist who basically saw white where the other guy saw black — one of the many, many polarizing ambiguities of this story).

And so here we are today. I am of course, glossing over many important details of this labyrinthine legal tale — particularly the degree to which this story has sparked one of the greatest civil rights debates in Canadian history, featuring an endless feud between civil libertarians and the tough-on-terror crowd — but the basic shape of the story is hopefully clear enough. If not, the Canadian press has offered no shortage of guidestimelines, and documentaries to help fill in any lingering gaps.

At the end of the day, in any case, there’s only one question that really matters: did Omar Khadr receive justice?

What’s your take?


  1. SES

    "Under Canada’s anti-terrorism and immigration laws, the executive branch holds extraordinary powers to deny entry to anyone it considers a security risk"

    It has the power to deny entry to FOREIGNERS, but the Charter withholds that power when it applies to Canadian citizens. ("Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.")

  2. Grimes

    What if Canada revokes his citizenship?

  3. @Kisai

    I'm not sure you can revoke the citizenship of someone born in your country, no matter what your citizenship laws are, as it would render the person stateless, and… a burden on the country they're currently in anyway. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Canada has signed kinda says we won't do this anyway.

  4. J.J. McCullough

    If I'm at the Canadian border strapped with guns, the border people can deny me entry. Maybe not forever, but forever is a long time. As we've learned so far, the Charter also allows "reasonable limits" to be placed on its own rights, and it seems those limits can get pretty creative if security risks are involved.

    I admit I'm a bit unclear on this side of the story, though. But it certainly does seem that a case is being built to deny Omar entry on some grounds. Our anti-terrorism laws are pretty broad and give a lot of powers of interpretation to the feds. If Obama can kill American citizens on the pretext of fighting terror I'm sure the Harper government's lawyers can come up with some pretext to deny a Canadian citizen entry to the country.

  5. Taylor

    That's exactly it. Khadr's rights were already found to be violated.

    The problem is the remedy: Khadr isn't allowed in the country because of Cabinet's policy decision to keep him out. The decision is Royal peroga…er, sorry J.J., an executive power under foreign policy, and the Courts can't intervene.

    Which, really, amen.

  6. Jason Studer

    If Khadr was born in Canada, can his citizenship be stripped?

  7. vonPeterhof

    Dunno about Canadian law, but according to Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

    It will be hard to pull off without pissing off the UN, especially if Canadian is the guy's one and only nationality. From what I know about Canada's polititians, they aren't as eager to stand up to the UN as, say, American or Russian ones.

  8. ThePsudo

    It wouldn't be hard to argue that he adopted one of the Muslim countries he lived in, and thus exercised his right to change his nationality.

  9. virgil

    I like your solution!

  10. Hentgen

    Shouldn't the key word in point (2) be "arbitrarily"? Stripping him of citizenship wouldn't be arbitrary, it would be the result of his actions in killing a soldier of an allied nation.

  11. vonPeterhof

    "Shouldn't the key word in point (2) be "arbitrarily"?"

    Exactly. The legal battle, if it ever happens, will be about what constitutes arbitrary revocation of citizenship. I recall hearing the argument that depriving a person of their only (legally recognized) nationality and/or their birthright citizenship is always arbitrary, regardless of the person's offence. The only case that I know of where a citizen of a Western nation was deprived of citizenship is the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who lost her Dutch citizenship for having given false information on her asylum application. But then, I haven't really studied the issue that thoroughly, so there might be some provisions for "enemy combatants" or something.

  12. Jake_Ackers

    Aren't some minorities in Japan denied citizenship by birth? So they become stateless people. Although the parents know it ahead of time because it's the law. I guess arbitrarily means I can't take away your citizenship because I feel like it.

  13. Etc.

    No, the Ainu and co already have Japanese citizenship, but I'm pretty sure that there's something about foreigners in Japan not having their children granted citizenship automatically. An American baby born in Japan would be an American citizen, but not a Japanese one, unless there was a Japanese parent or something, I think.

  14. vonPeterhof

    Not all countries have birthright citizenship; in most of the countries that don't the children born to foreign parents simply become citizens of their parents' home country, unless the parents are stateless themselves. The UDHR endorses neither jus soli (citizenship by birth) nor jus sanguinis (citizenship by descent), the important thing is to have _a_ nationality. As for Japan, I assume you are talking about the Zainichi Koreans. They aren't stateless, but citizens of either North or South Korea, despite being born and having lived most of their lives in Japan. They have a right to naturalize in Japan (tens of thousands of them, including Japan's second richest man Masayoshi Son, have done just that), but a lot of them choose not to.

  15. Cicero

    This is going to touch on two things that I generally feel:
    1) A person should be generally free to disclaim citizenship in a given country, regardless of the wishes of that country, if he/she no longer wishes to be part of that society; and
    2) A country should be able to revoke citizenship based on the actions of a person, regardless of that person's wishes.

    In general, I find it compelling that certain actions should have the potential to cause you to lose your citizenship whether you want them to or not, particularly if combined with other circumstances. For example, in Omar's case, the grounds would be that he (to all appearances willingly) fought against an ally of Canada (i.e. treason). Aggravating factors would be that he had lived in Canada for very little of his life. The issue of his age is a mixed bag…on the one hand, he was probably never quite of a state of mind to accept his citizenship in any meaningful way prior to leaving the country (and indeed had he not used his citizenship in the legal proceedings, I think you would have an argument against treason charges on the grounds that "Well, he technically had citizenship…but not of his own volition"; on the other hand, he also wasn't in a position to /disclaim/ it, either.

    The other angle that should be available to a country would be some method to essentially say "While you're still on the citizenship rolls, we're disclaiming you for anything related to X", or indeed to make a policy of not interfering in certain very narrow sets of charges upon the presentation of evidence. A similar trick would be to not bother with treason charges…unless you pull your citizenship out in the process, in which case treason automatically attaches.

    One of the biggest hangups with treason in a situation like this, at least to my mind, is that I'm not wholly unsympathetic to an argument that "I didn't want your citizenship anymore but you wouldn't let me disclaim it". Mind you, most such claims are badly undermined by the fact that once charges were pressed, that citizenship became /very/ convenient…but I do think there should be an effort to encourage folks who /really/ want to bail on a country to drop their citizenship and be done with it rather than engaging a farce like this.

  16. Reverend Catharsis

    While nobody may have asked my opinion.. Frankly I think that this is kind of a BS predicament for either the US or Canadian government to be put into. Enough evidence exists to suggest that they planned this sort of thing out to some extent- commit international terrorism, flee back to Canada. Everyone knows Canada is the best and safest place ever! So scream until your brainwashed baby gets sent back home.

    Maybe I'm being a bit cruel minded about it.. But I don't think he should be let out of Gitmo. I think he should stay there, maybe forever. Not because I don't care about his civil rights, but because he's a brainwashed killer whose been raised since childhood to hate everyone who doesn't follow his precise brand of extremist fundamentalism, and because of this there can never be any justice for him.

    The only way he can ever get justice is if we can develop some kind of.. …I really don't want to say "re-education camp" but that'll have to suffice, some kind of facility where child soldiers can get the necessary psychological care to maybe turn them into real human beings. The issue with THAT of course would be recognition of child soldiers, which God knows nobody wants to do because then they might actually have some "responsibility" to "help them", and that any such facility would effectively be re-brainwashing them to act like modernized people who can fit into a society that exists for more than butchering the unbelievers.

    As it stands now? The safest and most merciful place Khadr and many other people like him can be is in prison. In such an institution they can be guaranteed food, security, and shelter. Even if subjected to torture, prison rape, and the lurking threat of being shanked for some fresh bed sheets, he has a better chance of living a healthy life in the prison system than he does out in the world with his adoring family (and I say those words in the loosest sense possible.)

  17. Billiam Smith

    A couple of observations that are probably worth mentioning (and that a lot of people don't get):

    (1) The Canadian government is reluctant to allow Khadr to return to Canada to serve his sentence because he would be free on the streets within days of his arrival. While Canada has an agreement with the US respecting the sentencing of each other's courts for this purpose, it wouldn't be hard to convince a lower Canadian court that this doesn't apply to military tribunals, especially under the Guantanamo system.

    (2) The international treaty concerning the ban on child soldiers is not some kind of international "young offender's act"; it do not mean that child soldiers are not criminally responsible for the war crimes they commit, they simply forbid the recruitment and training of child soldiers. As such, the fact that Khadr was a child soldier (or child terrorist) does not automatically abscond him from the crimes he committed in the manner that so many people seem to believe.

  18. Taylor

    Of course he's not immune from war crimes, but really, he hasn't committed any. He killed an American medic with a grenade he threw during a firefight. Not heroic, but all part of it.

    If you want to try him for high treason, for fighting NATO forces, go ahead. If not, he was a combatant in a war zone.

    Again, I don't want the guy back, and those that actively do and make Khadr out to be a victim strike me as a little bizarre. But he's not a war criminal.

  19. Taylor

    And yes, of course, he pleaded guilty in an American tribunal, but (my opinion, of course) it wouldn't fly anywhere neutral on the matter.

  20. Bacardiologist

    I can think of no moral justification for continuing to incarcerate him.

    However, if his victim's widow wants to blow his fucking head off with a shotgun the moment he steps off that plane, I can think of no moral justification for trying to stop her.

  21. Zulu

    You can think of no moral justification for continuing to incarcerate someone who killed a man?

  22. Monte

    Well if i recall this case, there are actually a number of reason to believe that Omar never threw the grenade. There are a number of conflicting reports and testimonials including one early report which claimed that no one had witnessed omar throw the grenade and another early report which claimed the one who threw the grenade was killed (the report was later changed)… furtharmore he was 15 at the time and i think international law essentially requires sympathy for minors since they are often forced into action and do not fully comprehend what's going on. Not to mention that he has already spent 10 years in a terrible prison despite being a minor

  23. Taylor

    How about that whole "rule of law" thing on your second point? That's usually a pretty good moral ground.

  24. Zulu

    I'm referring to the sentence itself; 8 years for killing a man.

  25. Zulu

    The world could do with less of that sarcasm, too.

  26. Taylor

    Was referring to the post above yours, apologies for not being clearer.

  27. Zulu

    Oh, sorry!

  28. daniel murphy

    can't we just trade ezra for omar?

  29. Bllll

    this gives me so many ideas…

  30. @thesamreynolds

    He should remain locked up. This supposed Canadian has only lived here for a handful of years, contributing nothing to this society. Why should we rush to bring him back?

  31. @AshburnerX

    I really don't see what anyone can do about Guantanamo at this point. No nation is willing to accept someone from there (even if they are legally obligated to) and there is no way the US is going to shelter them on it's soil as it's simply too much of a security risk (not to mention a PR disaster). This really only leaves two options for closing the prison:

    – Refuse to admit new inmates and simply letting the current population die off from old age and illness. This requires future administrations to refuse the allure of off coast indefinite detention, something that is unlikely to happen if another "war" is started.
    – Execute them all and accept the shame of violating the very principles that the United States was founded on.

    There is no good solution for the Guantanamo problem and it's entirely likely that we'll be debating what do right up until the last inmate dies of old age or the Cubans make us leave.

  32. Etc.

    Maybe we could establish an Islamic Emirate of Antarctica?

  33. @Cristiona

    There's no good solution, yes. Which is probably why campaigning on "I'm gonna close Gitmo in X months of being elected!" isn't a particularly intelligent move.

  34. Cicero

    I'm not sure that executing the majority /would/ be a violation of the principles that the US was founded on. All, probably, but those caught in combat without a uniform (or anything even trying to pass as a uniform) could qualify as spies/saboteurs, and not even the Geneva Conventions protect those folks. I don't seem to recall there being too many scruples about executing these sorts of folks during the Civil War, nor to sending most of the German saboteurs caught in the US during WW2 to the chair. The main thing would be to give them due process of some sort (i.e. a chance to make a, likely horridly doomed, argument that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and weren't actually involved in the combat, just caught in the middle)…give them that, give them an appeal/review of the process, and indeed even review the appeal…but once that's done the US would be in the clear to execute them.

  35. Jake_Ackers

    SImple. Ask him if he wants to stay in GItmo or get released in Afghanistan. Wasn't he caught in Afghanistan? So isn't he suppose to be returned to a pre-incarceration scenario? IE: Doesn't the government just give you a bus ticket or simply push you out the door of prison? So release him back in Afghanistan.

  36. Etc.

    The Afghan government doesn't want him back, see.

  37. Cicero

    The question of "justice" in a case like this is always…interesting. There are a couple of points to be had here, for context:
    -In a conflict such as WW1 or WW2, where he (presumably lacking anything /resembling/ a military uniform while in the fight) did what he did, there is a decent chance that you'd have simply had a court martial on charges of being a spy/saboteur followed shortly by a firing squad. So compared to any substantially retrospective historical metric, there's not much room for him to complain.
    -A treason charge might be hard to make stick as such, but a number of countries will strip citizens of their citizenship if they enlist in another country's armed forces without permission. There are presumably some exceptions, and I'm not sure if Canada has such a law.
    -The "Canadians of convenience" situation has come up before. I can't recall if it was Lebanon or Cyprus, but there was a conflict somewhere that resulted in a huge number of people suddenly "discovering" claims to citizenship in Canada and therefore being entitled to an "escape route". So it isn't like this isn't Canada's first brush with a hassle like this.
    -And of course, there's the fact that he was a minor at the time. Now, I'm honestly of the opinion that there needs to be a bit more of a sliding scale in both directions around the age-of-majority line to deal with the fact that there are 15/16-year-olds who have their act more together than some 21-year-olds, but age does play a factor here.

    If he'd been a year or two older at the time, my answer would probably be "firing squad" (I'm fudging on the hard-and-fast border of 18, but I'm also a bit less forgiving in situations like this), with the main "cruel and unusual" punishment aspect being how long he was kept in limbo on this. However, he was just a /hair/ too young for me to be comfortable jumping to that option.

    Without being able to get a decently-impartial shrink in the room with him (as stated, it sounds like you got two guys at opposite ends of the spectrum in there), and also lacking all the facts, I'm inclined to say that limbo is probably the best place for him at the moment. For what it's worth, I'd be inclined against "treason" as a charge here…if just on the grounds that however nominally he had Canadian citizenship, it's hard to consider someone a traitor when that citizenship was more or less dumped on him and he never seems to have really acted as a Canadian.

    Actually, "institutionalization" is probably the right word for what I'm thinking of…though I define that broadly. I don't necessarily mean jail, but putting him in a position where he is at as much liberty as is possible without allowing him to be a harm to society (and trying to get him to be productive in some fashion) is probably your best bet. He does seem to have been bred to be an Islamo-nut, and I'll admit that I feel sorry for him, but that quite reasonably also makes him a danger to society.

    This might, in so many words, mean sticking him at the funny farm until he's found to be competent to enter civilized society somewhere (if that happens). Honestly, with a lot of these guys, the sad truth is that a number of them will probably settle out when they get into their 30s or 40s.

    Now, as to his parents, that's entirely another story, and I think you have a clear-cut case against them for (as referred to in the story) "brainwashing" him. If anything, his parents are clearly brazen traitors…honestly, I'm more inclined to strip his parents of /their/ citizenship and put them away for life.

    tl;dr: Based on what you've said, Omar to the funny farm until he gets over this islamo-silliness and his parents to jail for life at the very least for encouraging this as well as fighting in that war (likely as un-uniformed combatants).

  38. drs

    “All, probably, but those caught in combat without a uniform (or anything even trying to pass as a uniform) could qualify as spies/saboteurs”

    Except for the innocent ones falsely turned in by their neighbors for bounty money and the ability to take their land. We could try to tell them from the real terrorists with public and fair trials following due process, but maybe that’s too radical an idea for the 21st century.

  39. Cicero

    Please note "caught in combat" in the line you quoted. The exceptions that you listed don't apply if the guy is detained in the course of mopping up a shoot-out (for example), which pretty much voids the text of your sarcastic response.

    Yes, there are people who are named at other times who are more or less arrested by the military over there on intelligence where you could have a hazy case, but my impression is that this (and many other) cases are pretty cut-and-dried "X was involved in this combat, fired at us, and surrendered thereafter when it became clear that he and his buddies in the Taliban were outnumbered, outgunned, and not going to win this fight and/or they ran out of ammo and threw up their hands" type situations.

    I could be wrong here, but the distinct impression I'm under is that the "illegal combatant" legal morass started because these guys didn't qualify as POWs due to the extremely blatant Geneva convention violations going on with the Taliban side of things (or the Bush administration didn't want to count them as such) but they were those in all but name.

  40. Jake_Ackers

    By public trials do you mean like put them on trial in civilian criminal court? Trials can't be public per say. But with military tribunals. The US tried that with the ' 93 WTC bombings and the like. When the terrorists got all the evidence the state had against them, including the list of other terrorists being watched, they just leaked it to their buddies and their buddies ran.

    Military tribunals correct me if I'm wrong but they limit the evidence to only evidence that is truly relevant. Hence why many didn't want to put KSM on trial in NYC. Plus traffic violation = traffic court, civil problems = civil court, murder = criminal court, terrorism = military tribunal. And each court handles cases a little bit different. So it's fine to have a military tribunal as long as it's fair. But Cicero did make a good point. This isn't a suspect. He was caught red handed, with gun in hand and the like.

    Simply if this keeps up the soldiers will simply shoot the terrorists or get ordered to do so in the field of battle. Or rendition.

  41. Cicero

    The concern you raised was raised by a friend of mine and fellow poster here (Virgil) when we had a similar debate some years ago. It was sometime in the 2004-6 range; suffice it to say that at the time, I was a bit more inclined towards allowing civilian trials and the like than I am now, and he raised the very concerns that you did (about soldiers deciding not to risk letting the "other side" just get released). Mind you, from the friends I've got in the military, it wouldn't be "actual" orders…it would be "non-order orders" and commanders using their discretion not to investigate too closely/asking questions in such a way as to allow technically truthful answers that dead-end any inquiries.

    As to the trial leak problem, the answer there would be (I suspect, at least) to restrict the access to the outside that the terrorists have and require the attorneys in question to get security clearances. You might need to do a partial rework on some rules, but it should be possible to set things up whereby leaks are traceable and/or have to come through some agent other than the suspect themselves who can be held liable for the leak.

    And yes, I do think there needs to be a clear difference between someone caught "red handed" (i.e. captured in or around combat, etc.) versus someone caught via intelligence that enabled a later arrest/detention. With the former, things are pretty cut-and-dried as far as I can tell (even if the person in question didn't successfully shoot anyone on our side and you're dead set on a trial, there's always "felony murder", accessory to murder, piles of attempted murder charges, etc.). The only valid questions that come to mind are those of unwilling participation, and with such a claim I would put the burden pretty squarely on the defense.

    With the latter, yes, I agree that you need some sort of process to sort things out. The nature of that process is worth considering in depth, but I agree that something needs to be done there.

    By the way, I /am/ wondering…why did the US bother letting him plead out at such a low level of punishment? I can get that this is technically "sixteen years less time served", but I will say that as someone who has friends in the military (including at least one who went over to Afghanistan for a tour in the last two years), I'm a bit incensed that Omar got off with such a light punishment and not something containing at least a proviso for extended detention if he was still a risk.

    Likewise, if it was the Canadian citizenship angle, I cannot help but wonder, considering the situation, why Harper didn't just put in a "paper protest" while signaling "Look, we get that he has Canadian papers, but under the extraordinary situation here…yeah, we don't actually care, we're just doing our job" behind the scenes. Not that such a hint wasn't dropped and Obama just didn't take it…

  42. Jake_Ackers

    Yah I was wondering the same thing. He is a terrorist caught red handed. Why even bargain with him? Did he know something they needed and in turn they knew that realistically he would never be let go?

  43. Jake_Ackers

    Why doesn't Canada put him on trial for treason? He plead guilty to killing the US soldier right? What about the treason against Canada? Attack on one NATO country is an attack on all. So he attacked Canada. He wants to be Canadian so bad? Give it to him. Put him on trial for treason and lock him up forever. I'm sure Canada has good enough prison. Heck even leave him in Gitmo as long as he gets the treason trial. His guilty plea along is enough to put him in prison for life.

  44. Cicero

    I'll drop this here even though I handled it in another post: I can't help but wonder why Harper didn't basically "pretend protest" Omar's situation (to fulfill Canada's obligations to its "citizens"…quotes here because of the rather extremely loose connections) while initiating the treason charges or otherwise tendering a law to create, with a reasonable judicial process, a process to "cut loose" anyone caught red-handed in a situation like this?

  45. Colin Minich

    Another fine piece of the reality check that Obama got immediately after he tried to make moves to shut down Gitmo. For what it's worth I expected Republican obstruction to the point of executive impotence but this is a whole can of worms itself. For Omar, I'm not going to join the far left and scream for the rights since the man killed a US soldier. But yeah, what to do with prisoners who are unwanted by their own host nations? Eventually Gitmo's going to get shut down and we'll have to create a holding place for them…that or try to completely re-educate them without having to go Clockwork Orange on their asses.

  46. Jake_Ackers

    But why would Gitmo close down? These kind of prisoners will forever remain a problem. Gitmo will forever be needed. With the increase of terrorism Gitmo I wouldn't be surprised more countries open up Gitmos. Nobody wants to house terrorists. The problem the left should have is not Gitmo but with how prisoners are being treated (I highly doubt it's that bad considering they are terrorists, probably better than most prisons in the US).

  47. JonasB

    Strictly speaking, Khadr did recieve "justice" in the sense that all legal proceedings were followed properly (Gitmo netherworld aside, considering how wonky that is). It's the fault of the prosecutor who offered the plea deal for not checking to make sure its terms could actually be carried out. Now, if Canada had agreed to let Khadr serve the rest of his sentence on our soil at the time of the plea, and is now backing out of it, then yes something improper is going on and should be rectified. However, as far as I'm aware that isn't what happened, so it's perfectly within the Canadian gov'ts rights to refuse him entry.

    It's an annoying situation from an outside view, but so are most international legal wranglings.

  48. PTBO

    I didn't think he was involved in a raid on the family compound- I thought he was in another place altogether- his father volunteered him for a non-combat position as a translator but his new unit got him making bombs instead. Whether he actually threw the grenade is in doubt with some American military officers saying that the actual grenade thrower was summarily executed soon after the skirmish. Khadr barely escaped a summary execution himself. Either way- he can easily be considered a child soldier and is thus non-culapable when it comes to criminal responsibility (Canada has signed international treaties to this effect).

    Khadr grew up in one of the worst prisions/torture chambers in the world for essentially being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So I think asking if justice has been done to him is a bit silly.

  49. Jake_Ackers

    1) He isn't a soldier. 2) He can be tried as an adult. 3) In Afghanistan he is considered an adult. 4) Put him on trial for treason.

    If his defense is that he was a translator then he wasn't anywhere near being a child soldier. Thus it makes it look like worst that he killed a soldier. Plus he did receive weapons training. Either way he can still be viewed as a terrorist at the very least a traitor.

    Moreover, he did get justice. He served his time. 8 years is nothing for what he was involved in. The problem is he can't safely be released anywhere.

  50. Yannick

    The problem is also that it's questionable that someone who is indoctrinated from birth and put to work in a paramilitary organization by his own father has much choice in his actions.

  51. Virgil

    Here are my views:

    From the recounting of his story, I understand that he was caught red handed….red handed and killing a soldier for the United States. Therefore questions as to innocence of individuals turned in as "terrorists" would not be appropriate to the case.

    It also appears that he was working with and for terrorist organizations. A terrorist, in my opinion, at international law should be at the same legal status as a pirate…an enemy of all nations. Terrorism, like piracy and genocide, should be considered a jus cogens. It is not currently the United Nations policy to consider terrorism a jus cogens but the United States and, so far as I can tell, the rest of NATO, do treat it as such.

    Terrorists, therefore, from my view, do not and should not have any rights based upon citizenship. Therefore, the United States should proceed with matters as the United States sees fit. A terrorist or pirate, I feel at international law has voided the protections of nationality.

    This would be a simple solution, and would in my mind make international law more workable. However, Obama does not share my analysis and prefers to view terrorism as a criminal matter rather than a jus cogens. Therefore, they view it as a crime punishable by the home country. Therefore, I believe that work needs to be done within the international community to determine what a terrorist is at law. Anticipating the ever present argument of "freedom fighters" I suggest that there are some lines that "freedom fighters" must not cross. Like….destroying a massive civilian structure dedicated to business in the center of one of the most commercially prominent cities of the world for instance….

  52. Virgil

    Also, I should clarify: the general practice of the United States does seem to be to treat terrorism as a jus cogens. It is only in the relatively isolated cases of the detainees at Guantameno that the Obama administration appears to take the criminal action approach. This certainly was not the approach taken to Bin Laden himself, for instance.