Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

14 May 2008

Romeo, Romeo, Where the Heck Have You Been, Romeo?

Retired General Romeo Dallaire takes a stand on Omar Khadr.
"You're either with the law or not with the law. My position is that the minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against the fundamentals of those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all."
Now this isn't just some retired sinecure politician talkin' atcha here. This is the author of Shake Hands With the Devil, Canada's hero in Rwanda and a witness to genocide, torture, and the corruption and conscription of child soldiers. If anyone knows these topics, it's Romeo Dallaire.

Khadr, surviving scion of Canada's most famous (but not only, nor first) terrorist family, was fifteen when he became the sole survivor of a compound raid in which Seargant Christopher Speer was killed. Khadr is accused of throwing the grenade that killed him. However, there are many, many problems with the prosecution. For starters, Khadr had been shot at least twice before throwing the grenade. Not that it's impossible, but members of the raiding party testified that they could see his internal organs through his wounds, which suggests he might have had a hard time pulling a pin and tossing the weapon. Also, Khadr was initially charged with the murder when it appeared as though he was the only living being in the compound, which has since been called into question.

That, of course, is to argue the case on the facts. On the legalities, the US case looks like an even worse sham. Khadr was fifteen. That makes him a child in all civilized jurisdictions, and under the UN conventions on the rights of the child and child soldiers (to which Canada is signatory), he is a child soldier. Had he been killing Somalis or Rwandans, he'd be in rehabilitation right now. Instead, he was held and possibly tortured at Gitmo. He's 21 now, and I suspect he's so degraded and institutionalized that he'll never be normal. Thanks to Gitmo "justice".

Canada has thus far sat on its hands with regard to Khadr. But our legal obligations under the United Nations, and under our own Criminal Code, not to mention military law, are clear.

From a justice standpoint, Gitmo is a kangaroo court. The few trials that will be held are as rigged as Nelson's fleet. Even people who are part of the apparatus are beginning to revolt in prostest:
The Supreme Court, then, is hardly the only thing standing between the president and kangaroo convictions at Guantanamo. The truth is that the best thing the commissions have going for them right now are the lawyers and judges in uniform who have, albeit reluctantly, refused to play along. If they'd been out on the battlefield, they'd have killed any detainee they met as an enemy. But they're not willing to see them killed in the wake of a sham trial. That's not because they value the lives of terrorists over the lives of Americans or because they value legal formalism over the exigencies of war. It's because they come out of a long military tradition of legal integrity and independence. And much as it must pain them, this precludes them from being yes men for the Bush administration at the expense of the rule of law.
From Slate.

Ironically, the same illegal torture the Bushies have so fervently embraced is making it impossible to put actual terrorists (note "terrorists", not "enemy combatants"--merely fighting the US doesn't make you a terrorist, even if you come from a long line of them) on trial.

Why don't they just shut Gitmo and the black prison network down, already? They could house the eighty people that they intend to charge (out of 775 initially confined in Gitmo and an unknown number in the black prison system) in any of the Supermax prisons (considered cruel and unusual punishment just about everywhere else) that they've built to house their own people.

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