Yesterday, the Obama administration proudly kicked off the “first major hearing of a military tribunal on (their) watch”.
The poster child for the Obama military tribunals is a mere child. Or, at least, that’s what he was when he was captured, before being bunged into Guantanamo Bay. He has now spent a third of his life in U.S. custody. Omar Khadr was 15 when we captured him, and started subjecting him to the full-fledged enemy combatant treatment (including, but not limited to, sleep deprivation, beatings, the use of stress positions and the threat of rape, ha ha!). He is now 23.
U.N. officials and human rights activists are appalled at our treatment of Omar Khadr, from the time he was captured right until now:
Khadr is the son of al-Qaeda supporters who took him to Pakistan and Afghanistan when he was 10. At one time, he lived in one of Osama bin Laden’s compounds. U.N. officials and human rights activists argue that he is an indoctrinated child soldier who should be rehabilitated and repatriated to Canada, not prosecuted. They have also expressed astonishment that the Obama administration would revive military tribunals with the prosecution of an alleged juvenile offender.
Here’s what I wrote about Khadr back in September 2007:
Omar Khadr is no innocent trapped in Guantanamo Bay because someone turned him in for the bounty. By all accounts, he is a genuine terrorist. But he was also just 15 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan (in a raid in which he killed Special Forces Sgt. Christopher Speer with a grenade), and he had apparently been brainwashed from childhood into fervently subscribing to jihadism.
We took him from the battlefield as it were, wounded so badly that it was unbelievable he was still alive, and we plunged him straight into our terrorist torture chambers, even before his wounds were healed. (Rolling Stone has a chilling account of his capture and the treatment we subsequently unleashed on this child, in gross violation of the Geneva conventions. Just charging an adolescent with war crimes violates the Geneva conventions. The torture and everything else was presumably thrown in just so that nobody could say we hadn’t thoroughly violated the namby-pamby Geneva conventions.)
At the time, I didn’t know that the accounts of him being a genuine terrorist were suspect:
A U.S. military commander altered a report on a firefight in Afghanistan to cast blame for the death of a Delta Force commando on a Canadian youth who was captured after the shooting stopped, a defence lawyer said today.
The attorney, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, made the allegation at a pretrial hearing as he argued for access to the officer, identified only as Col. W., as well as details about interrogations that he said might help clear his client of war-crimes charges.
The U.S. military has charged Omar Khadr of Toronto with murder for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer during a U.S. military raid on July 27, 2002, on an Al Qaeda compound in eastern Afghanistan.
The military commander’s official report the day after the raid originally said the assailant who threw the grenade was killed, which would rule out Khadr as the suspect.
The report was revised months later, under the same date, to say a U.S. fighter had only “engaged” the assailant, according to Kuebler, who said the later version was presented to him by prosecutors as an “updated” document.
Kuebler told reporters after the hearing that it appears “the government manufactured evidence to make it look like Omar was guilty.”
The Obama administration presumably wouldn’t make this their first military tribunal trial if it wasn’t sure of securing a conviction. This would mean that the script calls for the tribunal judge to reject defense motions that “self-incriminating statements he made were the result of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and should be excluded as evidence.” And to ignore any and all inconvenient facts, such as evidence of ex-post doctoring of evidence.
Stay tuned to find out if the trial proceeds according to script.