Omar Khadr's Trial By Military Commission




Back in January of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada  ruled that the constitutional rights of the young man from Toronto, protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, had been violated, but the same court turned down orders from lower Canadian courts to have the Conservative government of Stephen Harper request the return of Khadr to face justice in a Canadian court system. The Harper government was effusive in its' praise of the ruling: Canadian justice minister Rob Nicholson hailed the Supreme Court's ruling, reiterating his government's line that "Omar Khadr faces very serious charges including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism, and spying."

There are international laws concerning child soldiers and there are good reasons for them to exist. Obama's administration is engaging in the first prosecutions for war-crimes by a minor since WWII.

Glenn Greenwald asks the question that has never been fully explored in the Canadian news media: how can it possibly be that the U.S. invades a foreign country, and then when people in that country -- such as Khadr -- fight back against the invading army, by attacking purely military targets via a purely military act (throwing a grenade at a solider, who was part of a unit ironically using an abandoned Soviet runway as its outpost), they become "war criminals," or even Terrorists, who must be shipped halfway around the world, systematically abused, repeatedly declared to be one of "the worst of the worst," and then held in a cage for almost a full decade (one third of his life and counting)?

The facts of the case, the circumstances of his capture, how he came to be there and what has been done to him during, what must be for him, eight very long years. Khadr, then 15 years old, was taken to Bagram near death, after being shot twice in the back, blinded by shrapnel, and buried in rubble from a bomb blast. He was interrogated within hours, while sedated and handcuffed to a stretcher. He was threatened with gang rape and death if he didn't cooperate with interrogators. He was hooded and chained with his arms suspended in a cage-like cell, and his primary interrogator was later court-martialed for detainee abuse leading to the death of a detainee. On top of everything else, he was also subjected to severe sleep deprivation for a period of three weeks.

Maher Arar who was held and tortured by the Americans for nine months, says that the express purpose of the military commission: to convict.

Stephen Harper and his government have fought any and all attempts to repatriate this Canadian citizen.

The trial has been suspended temporarily while defence lawyer Lt.-Col. Jon Jackson convalesces. Jackson, who had gall bladder surgery six weeks ago, was to be airlifted to a U.S. medical facility after collapsing in court.


The military judge presiding over Omar Khadr's war-crimes case has ruled today that there is no credible evidence that he was tortured by his American captors or interrogators.

The testimony given by Khadr’s primary interrogator nicknamed "the monster" for the three months the teenager was detained at Bagram, before his transfer to Guantánamo in October 2002 is at odds with the judge's ruling: Referred to only as “Interrogator One,” he said he interrogated Khadr about 20-25 times, more than anyone else, totaling about 50-100 hours of interrogation. He added that he first interrogated Khadr when the 15-year-old was sedated and lying handcuffed on a stretcher, about two weeks after he was brought to Bagram with multiple gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

In 2005, Interrogator One pled guilty to prisoner abuse at Bagram, in connection with the death of a detainee two months after Khadr was transferred to Guantánamo. He was convicted of forcing a detainee to roll around on the ground and kiss interrogators' boots. He also pled guilty to twisting the bottom of a hood around another prisoner’s neck and forcing him to drink a bottle of water, causing him to gag and choke. He was sentenced to five months' imprisonment.

At the hearing for Khadr, ...Interrogator One replied, “I don’t specifically recall” to most of the defense’s questions about abuse he may have inflicted on Khadr.

Jennifer Turner of the ACLU, an observer to the testimony says of what she saw, ...that his (Interrogator number one) evasiveness and fading memory probably thwarted a full accounting of Khadr’s treatment at Bagram. The chances of Omar Khadr receiving a fair trial see diminished.