Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's the rule of law, stupid

(And the stupid, in this case, is Jason Kenney. See below.)

Hooray, a Liberal Senator spoke blunt, harsh truth today. Romeo Dallaire gave testimony to a Commons Committee on why Omar Khadr should be repatriated to face justice in Canada. And predictably, like Republicans to the south, the Conservatives tried to challenge him with their best 24 scenario. Here's what Dallaire said:
"The United States is ignoring its own laws in prosecuting Khadr and Canada is betraying itself by not fighting for Khadr's return home, he said.

He said the Americans were acting out of panic after 9/11 and Canada was playing politics and that left them no better than the terrorists.

'The minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all,' he said.

'We are slipping down the slope of going down that same route.'" (emphasis added)
Now isn't that controversial? Following the law and international conventions, where does Mr. Dallaire get off in raising such radical notions at a Commons Committee? For this he is mocked by Conservatives. Jason Kenney came up with his best effort to distill the issue into its most extreme form in order to come up with justification for abandoning a Canadian citizen in Gitmo.
Tory MP Jason Kenney asked if Dallaire really believes that. He pointed to a number of al-Qaida outrages, including an incident in which the terror group reportedly outfitted mentally challenged young girls with explosive belts and sent them to their deaths in a Baghdad animal market.

"Is it your testimony that al-Qaida strapping up a 14-year-old girl with Down syndrome and sending her into a pet market to be remotely detonated is the moral equivalent to Canada's not making extraordinary political efforts for a transfer of Omar Khadr to this country?" he asked.
Nice try to deflect, inflame the situation and excuse government inaction. The best that Kenney can come up with is because Al Qaeda is pulling such acts apparently means we should abandon a citizen to be subjected to whatever torture and interrogations that the U.S. is applying to prisoners at Gitmo. Kenney misses the point entirely that what we do is not about what Al Qaeda does. We're civilized, we follow the rule of law. That's what distinguishes us from them. If we choose to ignore the law and abandon citizens to whatever nations seek to do to them, in contravention of international law, Dallaire's right. You either are on the side of the rule of law or you aren't. It's an historic blight on Canada's reputation that's being perpetrated.

There was also word today that the U.S. has decided to start the trials of 5 held at Gitmo who are linked to 9/11. A sixth will not be tried, it's thought, given the public record of abuse inflicted upon him:
According to a leaked copy of his November-December 2002 interrogation log, U.S. interrogators used sleep deprivation, left him naked or strapped to an intravenous drip without bathroom breaks to get him to confess. They also told him to bark like a dog.
That's what we're condoning by not opposing Gitmo. Dallaire's right, we should not be supporting such institutionalized barbarism.