Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Omar Khadr Denounces Military Commissions as a Sham

Marcy Wheeler has provided all of us a service and transcribed the written statement of former child soldier Omar Khadr, read aloud in the military commission "court" on July 12, describing why he will not participate in the proceedings surrounding his so-called trial. Omar Khadr fired his American attorneys recently, something he has done before. In his statement, he describes his reasons for doing so. Khadr is the first case to be adjudicated in President Obama's new, supposedly improved military commissions. The latter remain a confused jumble of procedures, and allow wide latitude for the introduction of torture-tainted evidence via hearsay into trial proceedings.
Your honor, I’m boycotting this military commission because:

* Firstly, the unfairness and unjustice of it. I say this because not one of the lawyers I’ve had, or human right organization or any person say that the commission is fair, or looking for justice, but on the contrary they say it is unfair and unjust and that it has been constructed solely to convict detainees and not to find the truth (so how can I ask for justice from a process that does not have it or offer it?) [new color ink--apparently added later] and to accomplish political and public goal and what I mean is when I was offered a plea bargain it was up to 30 years which I was going to spend only 5 years so I asked why the 30 years? I was told it make the US government look good in the public eyes and other political causes.

* Secondly, the unfairness of the rules that will make a person so depressed that he will admit to alligations or take a plea offer that will satisfy the US government and get him the least sentence possible and ligitimize the show process. Therefore I will not willingly let the US gov use me to fullfil its goal. I have been used to many times when I was a child and that’s why I’m here taking blame and paying for thing I didn’t have a choice in doing but was told to do by elders.

* Lastly I will not take any plea offer or [several words redacted] because it will give excuse for the gov for torturing and abusing me when I was a child.
Here is the statement itself, in an image cleared by the military for public release, credit to Carol Rosenberg/The Miami Herald

More from Carol Rosenberg's article:
Alleged ex-teen terrorist Omar Khadr on Monday denounced his coming war-crimes trial as a sham, saying he'd been offered a secret plea deal for release after five years served at Guantánamo.

Instead, the Canadian fired all his attorneys and said he would offer no defense....

The Canadian's family attorney, Dennis Edney, later said that the offer, made about a month ago, was for release from detention here in 2015 -- and continuation of the sentence in his native Canada.

``Mr. Khadr could not admit to guilt to something he did not do,'' Edney said....

Now-fired defense attorneys Barry Coburn and Kobie Flowers sought to show that Khadr as a 15-year-old old captive was coerced into confessing from the start when his first interrogator described scaring him with an American prison gang-rape scenario.
The military commissions are a farce, except for those involved, it is an injustice, and at times, for those abused and tortured, it is re-traumatizing, as it was for Omar Khadr. The Toronto Globe and Mail reported recently that Khadr's attorneys are very worried about their former client:
Omar has lost all hope of a fair trial in Guantanamo, he can see that the trial is rigged,” said Nate Whitling, one of his Canadian lawyers, explaining Mr. Khadr’s decision to dismiss his legal team.

“We tried desperately to talk him out of it,” Mr. Whitling said, adding the Mr. Khadr, 23, was so upset by the pre-trial appearances of interrogators who tortured and abused him after he was captured in 2002 that he chose to cease participating in the tribunals.
“Guantanamo Bay is like a despair factory, it manufactures hopelessness.”— Barry Coburn, American lawyer dismissed by Omar Khadr
I'd add that Omar's response to the appearance of this tormentors in court is indicative of someone with a post-traumatic syndrome. President Obama could order the release of Khadr. The Canadian government could act more strenuously for the return of the former child prisoner. But neither acts for humanitarian reasons, or on behalf of justice. In Canada, however, a federal court recently ruled that the Harper government had failed to intervene appropriately on Mr. Khadr's behalf.

Military judge, Army Col. Patrick Parrish, has ruled that Khadr's military attorney, Pentagon appointed counsel, Army Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, is to represent Khadr, whether the latter approves or not. According to the Miami Herald story, the judge said, "I want to make sure the proceedings are fair to Mr. Khadr -- whether he boycotts or not."

These kangaroo court hearings are also, in part, the legacy of a complicit Congress, led by a Democratic Party majority, which last year re-approved the Bush-era Military Commissions Act, offering up a new, supposedly improved version of the military commissions court. Last March, no less a person than Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice was quoted in the Washington Post, in a prescient critique foreshadowing Omar Khadr's own, more personal, experientially-derived denunciation:
"Military commissions are antithetical to the administration of justice," Fidell said. "They're slow, they're opaque, the rules are currently unknown."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Judge Parrish and the military commission have more in common with the Spanish Inquisition and the trials of the witches of Salem than a court process that seeks justice and fairness.

The courage of Omar Khadr to speak truth to power needs to be matched by President Obama who must also find the courage to stop this kangaroo court.

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