Guantanamo Lawyers Squabble: An Embarrassment for All

Omar Khadr's lawyers continued their bickering in court today. The military judge scolded them and praised Canadian detainee Omar Khadr for his good behavior. Khadr has been detained since he was captured in Afghanistan at age 15. He's now 22. (Background here.)

A visibly angry Parrish lashed out at Khadr's lawyers and encouraged the Toronto-born captive to meet with them again during today's session. He commended Khadr for being "well spoken" and warned the lawyers to act in a "professional and dignified" manner. Khadr said it wasn't possible. "They just had a fight this morning," he told Parrish.

Today's hearing was considered an embarrassment for Guantanamo's defence office and the Obama administration, which has asked to have the cases suspended until the fall and pledged to close this prison by January.

But, the Judge made Omar pick between the dueling military lawyers. He wants his own Canadian lawyers, but under the misguided, inadequate military tribunal rules, he can't have them, except in an advisory capacity.[More...]

"Omar is entirely justified in dismissing his American attorneys," said Edmonton-based lawyer Nathan Whitling. "Given the terrible accusations that they have all made against one another, he doesn't know who he can trust, and who can blame him?"

After the judge told him he must choose,

"(But) I don't want neither of them," Khadr said. He eventually settled on Kuebler, who will stay on the case until the July hearing, giving Khadr time to seek guidance from his Canadian lawyers.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Even though it is a blot on the profession (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by scribe on Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 08:31:37 PM EST
    of a sort, it also succeeded in further delaying any proceedings in Khadr's case.

    Which should work to some benefit, given the "intent" to "close" Gitmo.

    Hmmmmmmm makes me wonder (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 08:10:51 PM EST
    if the consistent quality of military doctors
    perhaps resembles the consistent quality of military lawyers?  There are some terrific military doctors but there seems to be a lot of room and tolerance for mediocrity and perhaps even outright incompetence, and the military seldom fires slaves.  In the civilian world if you are a poor doctor or lawyer it probably affects your client base too, you could have a lot of free time on your hands or not make excellent wages.  In the military though your client base is assigned to you and not earned, everybody makes the money their rank makes, excellence can lead to promotion and eventual increase in pay but doesn't seem to encourage a daily striving for excellence in some folks.

    this will soon become (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 10:05:10 PM EST
    obama's clusterf*ck. exactly what is it about these guys that makes it impossible to try them in civilian criminal courts? do they possess superhuman powers, never before seen on planet earth? how could this then 15 year-old be more dangerous than some MS-13 gang member in LA?

    shut it down, try them or release them.

    Did you read the post (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 11:17:58 PM EST
    and/or the article?  Or am I misunderstanding your point?  This is one of the proceedings Obama tried to suspend, but for reasons I still don't understand, the military judge has insisted on continuing it.

    This proceeding appears to be a total disgrace.  How can you have any kind of justice, military or civilian -- or even kangaroo, for God's sake -- when your defense attorneys are going after each other hammer and tong?

    The judge's kind words about Khadr (he's 22 now, btw, not 15) are total crap. He should stop the proceeding NOW.


    And, the debate in Canada (none / 0) (#5)
    by Lacey on Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 09:21:53 AM EST
    Is that shouldn't a 15-year-old, taken to a war zone by his family and forced to fight, be considered a child soldier? Or, when it comes terrorism do we suddenly consider 15-year-olds suddenly mature enough to think and behave like adults?

    From Jeralyn's original post (none / 0) (#6)
    by lambert on Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 01:00:12 PM EST
    She writes:
    Unlike closing Guantanamo, which could take Obama months or a year -- even if he enters an executive order commanding the closure upon taking office -- stopping the military commissions trials can be done immediately.

    Why are we even having these trials? I'd be a lot more willing to cut Obama some slack on this if he hadn't been successfully marketed as a transformative figure. So maybe we could get some transformation on this, instead of letting a 15-year-old Canadian's case get wrapped around the axle when his lawyers are squabbling? Put the whole regime under the criminal justice system, and none of this nonsense happens. So the evidence gained under torture and other illegal methods gets thrown out. So what?