Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Death penalty for Omar?

Canadian Omar Khadr, 19, has been charged with murder and conspiracy. He has been detained at Guantanamo for over 3 years.
Khadr was the only survivor of a strike on a suspected al-Qaeda compound. He is charged with killing U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer on July 7, 2002, when he allegedly threw a grenade at him. Omar is the son of the late Ahmed Khadr, an Egyptian-born Canadian who was close to Osama bin Laden. Ahmed Khadr died in a shootout with the Pakistani military in 2003.
Here's the rub: Khadr will not get a proper trial--not here, nor in the U.S., nor in the black-hole they call GITMO. He will get a "military commission." As the TorStar's Thomas Walkom explains:
In a Bush-style military commission, the judges are also the prosecutors. They can consider hearsay and other evidence that simply wouldn't cut it in a civilian court — or even a U.S. military court hearing a standard court martial. The prosecution can listen in on all conversations between a defendant and his lawyer. The defendant cannot see all the evidence against him. Nor does he have the right to see all the evidence that can exonerate him. Information that the prosecution has gleaned from beatings and torture is considered admissible. [...] [Earlier this year,] The pair [of former military prosecutors from Guantanamo] claimed fellow prosecutors were ignoring evidence indicating confessions had been extracted by torture. The pair also said superiors had assured them judges on the commissions would be hand-picked to assure convictions.
So what has Canada done for Omar? His mother, Maha Elsamnah had this to say:

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]
“The Americans can do anything. They make the law. Nobody can tell them anything. Nobody can disagree with them. The Canadians have not been trying anything,” said Elsamnah. “Ottawa is allied to the Americans, so what do you expect?” One of Khadr’s Canadian lawyers, Dennis Edney, accused the federal government of abandoning the teenage and hiding behind a veil of “silent diplomacy.” That sends a loud message to the Americans that Ottawa won’t stand up for Canadian citizens, Edney said Tuesday from Edmonton. Canadian consular officials have never been allowed to visit the teen. The Americans have refused to rule out the death penalty if Khadr is convicted as they have done for British and Australian suspects. “The Canadian government has not been able to extract the most meagre concessions regarding this Canadian youth - there’s not one single thing,” said Edney, who’s never been able to visit his client.
Thomas Walkom picks up on Canada's complicity in these bogus "commissions":
The Khadrs are not popular in this country. So the government has felt no particular political need to advocate on this particular Canadian's behalf. About the only thing it did was send security agents to Guantanamo to interrogate Khadr (and presumably pass the information back to the United States). Or to put it another way, Ottawa's role so far has been has been to aid the prosecution in this legal travesty.
Of course, Walkom's right: the Khadrs aren't "popular" here, as anyone who saw last spring's "Al Qaeda Family" doc on The National would attest. The mother, late-father & sister (Zaynab) come across as particularly unsympathetic figures. Still, you have to ask yourself how much the Khadr boys were acting of their own "free will." All of the boys were sent off to 'train' in jihadi camps run by Bin Laden and each was groomed for future martyrdom. This is straight from the "black sheep" son, Abdurahman Khadr:
The rebellious behavior of Abdurahman in the bin Laden training camps became increasingly embarrassing for his father. There were intense arguments between father and son. "Why do you not act like the rest of the kids, so Osama can, you know, can you know, always mention you and you could be a commander of a training camp or you can be something, you know. Why are you different, you know? And I would tell him, you know what, being Osama is not going to heaven, okay, and being Osama is not being, you know, like a movie star, you know. It's not the top of the world." Abdurahman's refusal to be like the other al-Qaeda boys severely tested his relationship with his own father. Many young men in al-Qaeda were in training for what was considered the highest form of mission, to become a suicide bomber. Part of the training included religious instruction from radical Islamic scholars who told the boys that suicide bombing was sanctioned by Islam.
The father--who died during the Waziristan firefight with U.S. forces, was a member of Bin Laden's inner circle. But Omar was 15 when this shit went down in 2002. 15. Personally, I find the story of how the Khadr kids were cycled through Al Qaeda training camps very reminiscent of how "cult" families use their children to carry-on 'the cause.' I'm not saying that Omar didn't kill the U.S. serviceman; his own family says that he probably did. I'm just suggesting that Omar was probably brain-washed from birth to do exactly what he did. And even if I'm wrong about the brain-washing, and they can prove that Omar was "conspiring" to kill Americans of his own free-will, it's time to fucking prove it in a proper court of law. American, Canadian, whatever. And no-fair admitting "evidence" gathered after he was used as a human-mop for his own urine. In the meantime, here's what Omar's sister, Zaynab, had to say about her little brother's actions in the 2002 Waziristan firefight:
If you were in that situation what would you have done? I must ask everybody that. [...] He'd been bombarded for hours. Three of his friends who were with him had been killed. He was the only sole survivor. What do you expect him to do, come up with his hands in the air? I mean it's a war. They're shooting at him. Why can't he shoot at you? If you killed three, why can't he kill one? Why is it, why does nobody say you killed three of his friends? Why does everybody say you killed an American soldier? Big deal.
Which brings us to today: the US Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the legality of the Bush's bogus "military commissions" for accused terrorists. A decision on the legality of these commissions is due by July.

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