Of course Harper has so far adamantly refused to ask for Khadr's repatriation and has shown complete confidence in the military tribunal process. Now Harper may be forced to do something. The trial that Bush and Harper seem to devoutly desire will no doubt be halted as part of the order to close Guantanamo and a process set up such as Kuebler describes in this article.
To redeem his credentials among the leftists who gave him strong support Obama needs a gesture such as this. It will also help restore some degree of credibility internationally. Obama needs liberal left support to pursue his idealistic imperialism evident in his posture on Afghanistan. Bush used the same thread of supporting freedom, democracy, human rights etc. but Guantanamo tended to undermine that ideological thread among many.
CTV.ca News Staff Updated: Tue. Jan. 13 2009 7:59 AM ET
Omar Khadr's lawyers are calling on Canada to do the right thing by seeking the repatriation of the Canadian citizen who has spent much of his youth in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has said he plans to close the controversial jail in Cuba, some time after his inauguration next week.
Khadr, 22, is the only Western prisoner still remaining in Guantanamo. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has steadfastly refused to request that Khadr, who was arrested in Afghanistan when he was just 15, be sent back to Canada to face trial here.
"It is time I think finally for the prime minister to really pay attention to the situation and do something responsible here," Khadr's Pentagon lawyer, Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.
The Toronto-born Khadr is charged with killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan when he was 15 -- a child soldier, according to Kuebler.
He said he expects Obama to issue an executive order on the first or second day of his presidency, to close Guantanamo within a set timeframe.
That would likely trigger a case-by-case review of the remaining detainees to determine whether they should stand trial in the U.S. or be sent to their home countries, Kuebler said.
He called on Canada to take an active role, now.
"I think this latest news really puts the ball in the court of the Canadian government to finally step up and be part of the solution to this problem," Kuebler said.
"I think its very clear this process is going to come to an end and now its time to figure out the right thing to do both for Omar Khadr and Canada, and make sure Omar comes back subject to some sort of arrangement that is both good for him and makes Canadians comfortable bringing him back."
Khadr's Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney said Khadr is holding up well considering the circumstances.
Edney said his client has been tortured and abused, denied a psychological assessment until just recently, and has now spent a third of his life in prison.
He also said the evidence against Khadr is weak.
"With all those factors in place the Obama administration may just look at this case, say it's a bad deal, and let him go home," Edney told Canada AM.
If Khadr's case is dismissed and he is released by U.S. authorities, he could simply return home on his own and Canada would be powerless to stop him, Edney suggested.
On Monday, however, Harper said Khadr's return to Canada is far from guaranteed.
Harper said his understanding is that Obama promised to close the facility due to the widespread objection that many of the detainees there haven't been charged with a crime.
Khadr, however, has been charged and his trial is set to begin on Jan. 26 at Gitmo -- just six days after Obama's inauguration on Jan. 20.
"I don't think you can necessarily leap to the conclusion that it will affect people who have in fact been charged, and who are facing a legal process. We don't know the answer to that question," Harper said.
Kuebler, however, said it would be inconsistent for Obama to close the prison at Guantanamo, but continue the legal proceedings against the detainees.
It's believed around 250 al Qaeda members are being held at Guantanamo. That includes 15 "high value detainees," considered by U.S. official to be extremely dangerous. If the prison is closed, it's unclear where these inmates would be placed, or what sort of legal process they would enter.
Also, detainees held on U.S. soil have certain legal rights that Guantanamo's inmates lack.
Those problems suggest it will take up to 100 days, or perhaps longer, to carry out the order.
Obama acknowledged the potential difficulties Sunday during an interview with ABC's "This Week."
"I think it's going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do.
"But I don't want to be ambiguous about this," he said. "We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our constitution."
© 2008 All Rights Reserved.