Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Khadr (Omar) 'not a risk' Commons committee told.

What if he is a risk? What difference should it make? Canada can arrest him and try him if there is enough evidence to bring forward a case against him and surely there is. The point is that there is no chance of a fair trial in Guantanamo and Canada is disgracing itself in not trying to rescue Khadr from the clutches of U.S. injustice.
While the fact that Khadr was a "child soldier" is relevant I think that Khadr was certainly a willing participant in jihad. I can't go along with the idea that he is somehow just a passive product of brainwashing. Why is this so at fifteen but not at eighteen or even thirty five? The fact that his family --even the CIA snoop who loves U.S. video games?--is hated by Canadians is neither here nor there. All that it shows is that many Canadians have no clue about justice.

Khadr 'not a risk,' Commons committee told
TheStar.com - Canada - Khadr 'not a risk,' Commons committee told

Omar Khadr being persecuted because of his father and his family, U.S. military lawyer says

April 29, 2008
Michelle Shephard
National Security Reporter

OTTAWA——Omar Khadr is being tried for the sins of his father and would not pose a risk to Canada if returned home, his U.S. military lawyer told a parliamentary committee today.

"Omar's story is one of victimization by everyone who has ever had authority over him and punishment for misdeeds of others," U.S. Navy Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler told the committee members.

Kuebler argued that the Toronto-born detainee would be convicted if he goes to trial at Guantanamo Bay for war crimes — not because the evidence shows his guilt, but because the military commissions are designed to ensure convictions.

The hearing today before the subcommittee on international human rights marks the first time that Canadian politicians have held public hearings to discuss Khadr's continued detention and upcoming trial.

Now 21, Khadr has been in U.S. custody since July 27, 2002, following a firefight in Afghanistan. The Pentagon alleges that Khadr threw a grenade at the end of the battle that fatally wounded U.S. Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer.

The committee intends to call at least a dozen witnesses, including Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire and Louise Arbour, the United Nation's High Commissioner of Human Rights and former Canadian Supreme Court Justice.

The unconfirmed list of witnesses also includes Khadr's family members, who have been vilified in Canada since admitting ties to Al Qaeda and by condemning Canada's culture and foreign policy while asking for the government's help.

Kuebler spared no criticism of the family today and said they were to blame for Canada's reluctance to call for Khadr's repatriation.

An Angus Reid Strategies poll released last week showed that only 33 per cent of Canadians believed Khadr would receive a fair trial if tried at Guantanamo, but less than half of the 1,015 Canadians polled believed he should be brought home to face justice here.

Kuebler told the committee that Canadians likely worry that Khadr would pose a danger to Canada if returned.

"Such concerns are understandable — understandable in light of the deplorable and offensive behaviour of certain members of the Khadr family, understandable in light of the lies that have been told about Omar and his actions in the July 2002 firefight in Afghanistan, and understandable in light of Canadians' justifiable anger with the actions of Omar's father."

But Khadr views himself as a "victim of the decisions made for him by his family," Kuebler said, and does not have the "dreams of a dangerous jihadist" but wants to get a job and "begin living, as best he can, the ordinary and normal life of a Canadian citizen."

Outside of the hearing room, Conservative MP Jason Kenney said the federal government's position on Khadr's case has remained consistent.

"We've taken close note of the case (and) we remained in constant contact with Mr. Khadr. We've pressed the American authorities to ensure he received proper care and we've asked that they take into account his age," Kenney said.

But when asked if the government considers Khadr a "child soldier," Kenney dodged the question.

The Toronto-born detainee was 15 when he was captured and his lawyers have argued that international law protects child soldiers who are captured in armed conflict.

Prosecutors have countered that the Military Commissions Act — under which Khadr was charged after U.S. President George W. Bush signed it into law in October 2006 — does not prescribe a minimum age for prosecution.

U.S. Army Col. Peter Brownback, the military judge presiding over Khadr's case, has yet to rule on the defence's motion arguing that the case should be dismissed due to Khadr's age.

If Brownback grants the motion, it will be the third time that charges against Khadr have been thrown out.

In a landmark ruling in June 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Bush administration's first attempt at war crimes trials illegal. Then Brownback dismissed the charges against Khadr again last summer, ruling he didn't have jurisdiction to hear the case. A Washington appeals court overturned that decision.

Khadr will appear before Brownback once again next week for another pre-trial hearing.

No comments: