Omar Khadr Hearing Shows Lack of Reliability of Statements Obtained Coercively
The military commission proceedings against Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr continued this week. At issue is the voluntariness of the statements the then 15 year old made after being found in a pile of rubble, shot three times and blinded in one eye.
CIA agent, Robert Fuller, testified that he treated Khadr very well, brought him water and snacks, and that Khadr "appeared happy - as happy as he could be." Khadr never complained to him of abuse, Fuller says.
The information Khadr provided turned out to be false. And to have grave consequences. Remember Maher Arar, grabbed at JFK airport and shipped to Syria where he was tortured for a year? [More...]
[T]his same CIA agent elicited from Khadr the identification of another Canadian, Maher Arar, who Khadr during interviews by Fuller claimed was training with al Qaeda operatives at a training camp at a time that, it later turned out, Arar was actually at home in Canada.
In other words, Khadr's statements have zero reliability. Statements obtained coercively are bunk.
The import of all this for Khadr's purposes is simply that the information Khadr provided to Fuller about Arar turned out to be completely false. That doesn't bode well for the government's claim that Khadr's statements to Fuller were credible. Fuller this morning testified that Khadr admitted to him that he threw a grenade in the direction of U.S. forces while they were storming a compound in Afghanistan that Khadr was hiding in.
After all, if Khadr lied about Arar, what else might he have lied about?
There is even doubt that Khadr was the one who threw the grenade that killed the U.S. soldier:
The defense also claims it has forensic evidence that will show that Khadr was lying under a pile of rubble, the victim of a U.S. airstrike on the compound, at the time that prosecutors say he threw the grenade.
Omar's affidavit is here.
I was severely wounded in the battle where I was captured. I was shot at least twice in the back, at least once through my left shoulder exiting through my left breast, and once under my right shoulder, exiting out of my upper right side. I was also struck with shrapnel in my left eye, and was wounded in my left thigh, knee, ankle and foot.
... I was unconscious for about one week after being captured. When I began to regain consciousness I asked what the date was and knew that I had been unconscious for a week since being captured. I was awake, but I was not right and was out of my wits for about three days. I was in extreme pain and my pain was all I could focus on. I was in a tent hospital on a stretcher.
....During the first three days I was conscious in the tent hospital, the first soldier would come and sit next to my stretcher and ask me questions. He had paper and took notes. During the first three days, they would shackle my feet and hands out to my sides with handcuffs when they did not like the answers I was giving to the questions. Due to my injuries, this caused me great pain. At least two of the interrogations during these first three days occurred when I was shackled by my hands and feet and in pain. I was unable to even stand at this time, so I was not a threat, and I could tell that this treatment was for punishment and to make me answer questions and give them the answers they wanted.
....There were no doctors or nurses present when I was interrogated. During the interrogations, the pain was taking my thoughts away. After I regained consciousness after being unconscious for a week, the first soldier told me that I had killed an American with a hand grenade. They would only give me pain medication at nighttime but the interrogations occurred during the daytime.
... During this first interrogation, the young blonde man would often scream at me if I did not give him the answers he wanted. Several times, he forced me to sit up on my stretcher, which caused me great pain due to my injuries. He did this several times to get me to answer his questions and give him the answers he wanted. It was clear that he was making me sit up because he knew that it hurt and he wanted me to answer questions. I cried several times during the interrogation as a result of this treatment and pain.
During this interrogation, the more I answered the questions and the more I gave him the answers he wanted, the less pain was inflicted on me. I figured out right away that I would simply tell them whatever I thought they wanted to hear in order to keep them from causing me such pain.
Khadr was a child whose father gave him away to a militant group. From a defense motion:
Mr. Khadr was raised in an austere religious environment, was forced by his family to travel frequently between his native Canada and the developing world, was withdrawn from public school no later than the age of ten and ultimately transported to live in a secluded religious community in the rural regions of Afghanistan during a civil-war in that country....
At the age of fifteen, he was separated from his family after his father gave him away to a known Islamic militant, Abu Laith al-Libi, who maintained an independent militia, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (“LIFG”), in Afghanistan during the U.S. invasion in 2001-2002. .... Mr. Khadr was abandoned by Abu Laith to the company of a group of unknown fighters, presumably members of Abu Laith’s LIFG, who were preparing to engage in combat.
Some more details about his coercive treatment:
In the early spring of 2003, Khadr was told “Your life is in my hands” by a military interrogator, who spat on him, tore out some of his hair and threatened to send him to a country like Jordon, Syria or Egypt, where he would be tortured. He was then again threatened with homosexual rape. The interrogator shackled Mr. Khadr’s hands and ankles together and made him sit on the floor. The interrogator ordered him to stand up, which was difficult to do because of the shackles.
After Mr. Khadr managed to stand, the interrogator ordered him to sit down again and then get back to his feet. When Mr. Khadr could not stand, the interrogator called in two military police officers who lifted him up and then dropped him to the floor. They did this five times at the instruction of the interrogator. At the end of the meeting, the interrogator told Mr. Khadr that the Americans would throw his case in a safe and that he would never leave Guantanamo.
The "human mop" details:
During one interrogation in November 2003, Mr. Khadr was taken to an interrogation room between midnight and 0100. The interrogator there told him that his brother was at Guantanamo and that he should “get ready for a miserable life.” When Mr. Khadr asked to see his brother, the interrogator became angry and called in the military police. The police cuffed Mr. Khadr to the floor with his arms in front of his legs for a half hour, behind his legs for another half hour, and then forced him onto his knees and cuffed his hands behind his legs. Later still, the police forced him onto his stomach, bent his knees, and cuffed his hands and feet together.
At some point, Mr. Khadr urinated on himself and the floor. The police poured pine oil on him and the floor, and then dragged Mr. Khadr through the mixture of oil and urine while he was lying on his stomach with his hands and feet cuffed together. Later, he was returned to his cell and was not given a change of clothes for two days.
Our Government should be so ashamed. Instead it is trying to continue punishing Khadr.
Spencer Ackerman has been at Gitmo this week covering the hearings for the Washington Independent.
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