Monday, January 19, 2009

Suspicious

There are good reasons to be deeply suspicious of this eleventh hour revelation in Khadr's Guantanamo proceedings today: "Omar Khadr ID'd Maher Arar as visitor at al-Qaida facilities, agent testifies." The then 15 year old Khadr apparently identified Arar when shown a photograph while Khadr was being interrogated over a two week period at a U.S. base in Afghanistan a few months after his capture in 2002. One of the main reasons to doubt this testimony, however, is the allegation of torture that haunts all of these prosecutions:
...Khadr's lawyers claim any statements the Toronto teenager made in Bagram were gleaned under torture. Two Afghan captives died as a result of injuries sustained during their interrogations at Bagram in the months following Khadr's transfer there.
...
Fuller was one of the Pentagon's first witnesses to testify at Khadr's hearing and disputed claims that the injured Khadr was physically abused, threatened with rape, exposed to extreme temperatures and subjected to a sleep deprivation program at Guantanamo known as the "frequent flyer program."
One also has to question the timing of this revelation. It's entirely possible that today is the last day we'll hear anything having to do with a Khadr trial if it's halted by the incoming Obama administration. The re-jigging of the charges and the scheduling of today's hearing can be seen therefore as one last kick at the can to publicize whatever information the prosecution saw as opportune to release. The linkage of Arar to Khadr allows the U.S. government to attempt to justify Arar's rendition to Syria.  And there may not be a chance to fully examine this new information.  Without that opportunity to test it, it's inherently suspect.

Our government, missing in action, as always, has nothing to say:
Kory Teneycke, communications director for Prime Minister Harper, said only: "We have seen the story and we have no comment at this time."

Stockwell Day, the former public safety minister, was travelling in India and unavailable for comment, his office said.
There are a number of lawyers who were involved in the Arar case who are quoted in the Star report who question the sudden release of this new information.

One last broadside of one-sided allegations here, a tilted playing field.  Par for the course at Bush's Gitmo.

Update (11:50 p.m.): Tribe makes a good point about whether this information was known to the Harper government or not given Stockwell Day's having reviewed the U.S. file on Arar and what this says about their lack of action on Guantanamo Bay.