Friday, November 13, 2009

Khadr case developments

Updated (10:30 p.m.) below.

Michelle Sheppard of the Toronto Star with what seems to be the crucial fact to note about the new American position on Omar Khadr:
In a milestone decision marking a crucial step in the winding down of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Holder also revealed that Canadian detainee Omar Khadr will be prosecuted before a U.S. military tribunal – but the attorney general indicated the U.S. government will remain open to the possibility of returning detainee Omar Khadr to Canada, depending on the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing underway today in Ottawa.
In other words, the U.S. is prepared to act in response to Canada's initiative, whether that would theoretically come from the Supreme Court here or the Canadian government. But faced with the Harper government's recalcitrance in acting, despite American efforts to close down Guantanamo, they opted for the military commission. And there's some hedging language from American officials on that too:
A senior U.S. defence department official told the Star that the military trial against Khadr is "a ways off" but declined to comment on the process that led to the decision, or whether the Canadian detainee's age and nationality were factors.

"There is a way to go in this case and I'm sure - and this is really up to the prosecutors - they will be considering all of their options with regard to how to handle the (Khadr) case," the official said.
Is that some kind of signal regarding the vigour with which the Obama administration will now prosecute a child soldier? Might there be delay to account for the Supreme Court of Canada's eventual judgment?

It looks like status quo, for lack of a better term, for Khadr with the door having been opened to his repatriation by the U.S. That seems to be quite the development today. All eyes on our Supreme Court now. Whether their tough questions today reflected a reluctance to order repatriation in their eventual decision or just the typical rigorous questioning expected in such a hearing, we'll have to wait to see.

Regarding Poilievre's small statement today, it's hardly worth much time. It's just one more affirmation that the Khadr issue, with all its legal complexities, is all about politics for the Harper government.

Update (10:30 p.m.): Transcript excerpt of what Holder said earlier today:
QUESTION: Attorney General Holder, coincidentally the Canadian Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the transfer of Omar Khadr to Canada. The lawyer for Khadr suggested today that Khadr will be transferred to the United States to be tried. Will Khadr be transferred here for trial, and if the Canadian courts direct the government of Canada to request Khadr to be transferred to Canada, would you consider that request or would the commission trials here trump that?

ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER: Well, we’ll look at the Khadr matter. At this point it is one of — I believe one of the cases that’s designated for commission, a commission proceeding. And we will, as that case proceeds, see how it should be ultimately treated.