Monday, November 19, 2007

The sterling U.S. justice system in action and our Conservatives MIA

When your system of military trials has become the laughingstock of the world and has been repeatedly undermined by the U.S. Supreme Court and military judges, I guess it's not surprising to see film footage released that is meant to poison public sentiment against a Gitmo prisoner. What a convenient way to distract the viewing public from the real issue, the international embarrassment that is Gitmo, in which a Canadian citizen sits.
CBS News has broadcast shocking new footage of a Canadian terrorism suspect allegedly building bomb timers and planting land mines while he was a 15-year-old militant hoping to take on American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The footage, some of it shot on a night-vision camera by alleged al-Qaeda fighters before it was seized by U.S. forces after a deadly raid, leaves a more sinister impression of Omar Khadr than the widely circulated photo of him as a boy benignly smiling at the camera.

That teenaged terrorism suspect's image has been reproduced the world over since he was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 and sent to the Guantanamo Bay prison experiment on allegations of killing an American soldier.

The military has long been planning to show the seized videotape during trial, but proceedings have repeatedly stalled before the evidence could be aired.
This footage is a distraction from the fact that the supposed justice being administered at Gitmo does not meet acceptable standards for leading civilized western democracies. It's a sideshow. These prisoners are not afforded basic procedural rights under military and international law, including the principle that a defendant must be permitted to see and hear the evidence against him. The Kafkaesque release of this footage after the prisoner has been sitting there for five years just underscores the morass that Gitmo is.

And our government is doing nothing about it. Khadr's lawyers are currently over in the U.K. on a mission to embarrass the Canadian government into acting:
Lieutenant-Commander Kuebler plans to interview people he would describe only as “material witnesses living in the UK”, as well as to meet MPs and human rights lawyers.

“Britain has leading experts in international law with whom I’m keen to speak. I also want to examine how the UK succeeded in getting its inmates out of Guantanamo,” he said. “Omar was snatched from Afghanistan in 2002 at only 15 years old, having been forced into war as a child. He is in this situation because Canada has failed to follow the example of the UK and every other western nation to secure the release of its nationals from the lawlessness of Guantanamo Bay.”

He said that Mr Khadr, who grew up in Canada, may have been indoctrinated by his father. “He is a Muslim, of course, and, because of his treatment, a little undeveloped socially, but he is not fanatic as far as I can tell,” he said. “He just wants to get on with his life.”

Andrew Hall, QC, who was until recentlychairman of the Criminal Bar Association in London, said yesterday: “This trip is all about putting some pressure on the Canadian Government to take responsibility for Omar.” He suggested that the Pentagon’s determination to put Mr Khadr on trial was “macho posturing”.
Canada is MIA again on a matter of significant international importance.