Friday, June 15, 2007

Pentagon appeal's dismissal of Khadr charges.

I find it astounding that Khadr was classified as just an enemy combatant. Not that the classification is inappropriate but that the whole idea of the classification system was to classify many of the prisoners as unlawful (unprotected, illegal) enemy combatants. The legal team must think that the whole process is such a charade that it will just be taken for granted that all those brought up on trial are unlawful enemy combatants. If they are enemy combatants they should have prisoner of war status but they have not been given that.
I am doubtful that the Canadian government will ask for Khadr's return to Canada. The Harper government is the running poodle of the USA.

Thursday » June 14 » 2007

Pentagon to appeal dismissal of Khadr charges

Sheldon Alberts
CanWest News Service

Saturday, June 09, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon announced Friday it will challenge a military judge's decision to dismiss all terrorism charges against Canadian Omar Khadr, even as the Bush administration scrambles to assemble an appellate court to hear a formal appeal of the ruling.

Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said military prosecutors will file a motion asking army Col. Peter Brownback to reconsider his decision earlier this week to throw out the U.S. government's case against the 20-year-old Canadian detainee.

"It's the first route you take. It's standard procedure," Gordon said. "If you don't agree with the judge's findings, you file a motion to reconsider. That way, when you go to the appeals court, you will have exhausted every possible way to get your case resolved."

During a court hearing Monday at the American military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Brownback ruled U.S. military commissions lacked jurisdiction to put Khadr on trial because the Pentagon had failed to show he was an "unlawful enemy combatant" as required by law.

Khadr, accused of throwing a grenade that killed U.S. army Sgt. Christopher Speer in a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan, had previously been designated an "enemy combatant," leaving open the possibility he was lawfully waging war against American troops. The distinction is potentially important for Khadr because he would be entitled to full prisoner-of-war rights if deemed to be a lawful combatant.

While the Pentagon claims the charges against Khadr were dismissed on a "semantic" technicality, human rights groups argue the ruling could lead to the collapse of the Bush administration's controversial war crimes tribunals.

The Pentagon will file a similar motion for reconsideration with a military judge who dismissed all charges in a second case -- against Yemeni detainee Salim Hamdan -- for the same reasons as in the Khadr ruling.

The Khadr ruling initially caught the Pentagon off guard, with no avenue to appeal the decision because the Court of Military of Commission Review had not yet been assembled.

As of Friday, the appeals court "has been established, judges have been appointed, and the court is prepared to receive appeals," Gordon said.

The Pentagon acknowledged, however, the fledgling court was not yet ready to hear appeals.

Khadr's defence attorneys said the Pentagon's decision amounts to a delaying tactic as the Bush administration plots its next move.

"I think, strategically, the prosecution's gambit is to use the motion for reconsideration to buy time to get this appeals court up and running in some form and fashion," said Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler, the military defence attorney detailed to Khadr's case.

"I don't think it exists in the sense that we would think a court exists. They have a clerk, so theoretically they have a warm body you could send an appeal to."

Khadr, who has been detained at Guantanamo since late 2002, had been charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, spying and providing material aid to terrorists.

In the wake of the legal developments at Guantanamo this week, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said they are considering legislation to amend the Military Commissions Act to clarify the law establishing the war crimes tribunals.

In five years, the U.S. has yet to bring a single Guantanamo detainee to trial. The system produced one conviction when Australian David Hicks pleaded guilty and was returned to his home country after political pressure from Prime Minister John Howard.

Human rights groups on Friday said the Bush administration should use the Khadr ruling as a chance to consider moving all war crimes trials to U.S. federal courts or normal military courts martial.

"I really do think there is a growing consensus in the United States that these tribunals are a failure," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national security project.

"The government really does have multiple options at this point. I think they are buying time."

© CanWest News Service 2007

Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

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