Hearing in Canada on Fate of Child Soldier Omar Khadr

(Omar Khadr when captured and today, via the Toronto Star)

The Supreme Court in Canada held oral arguments today in the case of Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr. According to Attorney General Eric Holder's statements today, Khadr will be among those tried by military commission.

Holder also revealed that Canadian detainee Omar Khadr will be prosecuted before a U.S. military tribunal – but the attorney general indicated the U.S. government will remain open to the possibility returning detainee Omar Khadr to Canada, depending on the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing underway today in Ottawa.


Why is Khadr being kept in a military proceeding? Probably to keep evidence of his torture from the public, and to have a greater chance of using his coerced statements at his trial. In other words, a lack of confidence it could obtain a conviction against Khadr in federal court. As to the Canadian proceeding:

In a 2-1 judgment in August, the Federal Appeal Court agreed with a Federal Court judge's ruling that Khadr's rights under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — the rights to life, liberty and security of person — had been breached when Canadian officials interviewed him at the prison in Guantanamo in 2003 and shared the resulting information with U.S. authorities.

In early September, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the federal government's appeal.

AG Holder today, responding to a media question about Khadr:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was asked during a news conference whether a Supreme Court of Canada directive to the Canadian government to request Khadr's transfer back to Canada would trump the military commission process.

"We'll look at that matter," Holder said. "At this point, it's one of the cases designated for commission proceeding. "We will, as that case proceeds, see how it should be ultimately treated."

The case is the Prime Minister of Canada v. Khadr, 33289, Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa.) Our past coverage of the case is accessible here.

< Reconciliation Solves The Stupak Problem | NYC Mayor Bloomberg Approves Terror Trial >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    The United States doen't have an issue (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by Radix on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:42:15 PM EST
    with throwing it's own 13 and 14 year old citizen into prison for life. Why would anyone believe we, as a nation, would care about anybody else's children?

    Because ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by nyrias on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:20:07 PM EST
    the notion that the nation is a homogeneous entity with one single preference is flawed.

    It is as if saying that we, as a nation, do not care about racial discrimination, just because the government tolerated some white supremacy groups.

    Plus, why do "we" need to ask others to believe that "we" care about their children? It is not like "we" are applying for a nanny job.


    True, still though, I'm not sure how (none / 0) (#7)
    by Radix on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 04:43:20 PM EST
    this changes reality our nation, and it is our nation, allows these things to continue. That there are those that don't approve of these actions probably offers little comfort to those that suffer them.

    Glenn has an excellent post today (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Anne on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:33:50 PM EST
    on the "State-always-Wins" form of justice we've adopted for detainees: if we think we have enough evidence to win, we use the US courts; if not, it's commissions.

    The problem is that this decision does not stand alone. Instead, it is accompanied by this:

    Holder will also announce that a major suspect in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, will face justice before a military commission, as will a handful of other detainees to be identified at the same announcement, the official said.

    It was not immediately clear where commission-bound detainees like al-Nashiri might be sent, but a military brig in South Carolina has been high on the list of considered sites.

    So what we have here is not an announcement that all terrorism suspects are entitled to real trials in a real American court.  Instead, what we have is a multi-tiered justice system, where only certain individuals are entitled to real trials:  namely, those whom the Government is convinced ahead of time it can convict.  Others for whom conviction is less certain will be accorded lesser due process:  put in military commissions, to which most leading Democrats vehemently objected when created under Bush.  Presumably, others still -- those who the Government believes cannot be convicted in either forum, will simply be held indefinitely with no charges, a power the administration recently announced it intends to preserve based on the same theories used by Bush/Cheney to claim that power.

    A system of justice which accords you varying levels of due process based on the certainty that you'll get just enough to be convicted isn't a justice system at all.  It's a rigged game of show trials.  This is a point I've been emphasizing since May, when Obama gave his speech in front of the Constitution at the National Archives and explained how there were five different "categories" of terrorism suspects who would be treated differently based on the category into which they fell.

    Really disturbing to me.

    Really disturbing (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 04:22:08 PM EST
    to me, too, Anne.  As far as I can tell, the main reason that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is being tried in US courts is because he confessed to his role before he was water-boarded, so they can use his confession in a civilian trial.  This whole Gitmo/torture/extraordinary rendition, etc scenario has my head spinning, if not exploding.  I cannot help but think that our founding fathers would have found the whole thing absolutely disgusting.

    ah, (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:00:10 PM EST
    there's more of that hopeychangey thing! what he actually meant was: you hope to god i change!

    guess not.

    Well (none / 0) (#3)
    by Watermark on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:02:17 PM EST
    If he's tried in Canada he'll be treated a lot lighter, because he'll be tried as a juvenile and he'd have parole a lot sooner.

    I assume anything he would be charged with in America would carry mandatory life without parole, unless the supreme court decides to abolish juvenile LWOP.  He'd spend a lot more time in prison regardless, but it would be the difference between around 30 and 70 years.

    dangerous precedent (none / 0) (#8)
    by diogenes on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 08:38:25 PM EST
    Is it legit for civilian courts to try people for being captured enemy combatants?  
    I never heard of FDR having civilian trials for enemy soldiers caught on the battlefield in WWII.