Thursday, October 21, 2010

Khadr negotiation rumours

The Star today expands on CNN reporting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now involved in plea negotiations over Omar Khadr's case. She was reportedly to speak with Lawrence "Loose" Cannon last night while he is in China but Cannon's spokesperson is loudly denying it.

Whatever the case, the reports seem detailed, suggesting a plea deal with an eight year sentence, seven of which would be served in Canada. Whether Khadr would agree to plead guilty is a key unknown. As is this:
It is likely Ottawa would not formally become involved in the case until there is a guilty plea and sentence, and Khadr applied for a transfer here. But sources said behind the scenes there has been a flurry of diplomatic notes and discussions between the countries, seeking assurances that Canada would not block the transfer.
The Harper government acquiescing to Khadr serving his sentence in Canada has been, throughout, a question mark and speculation even as recently as the weekend was that Harper would be inclined to say no unless there was a specific plea made by the U.S.. As always with this government, we shall see. Their denials that anything is taking place behind the scenes may be domestic posturing. After all the intransigence, a deal for Khadr's return might be tough to sell to the Conservative faithful.

In the backdrop of any dealings with the U.S., that debacle of a situation with our having to get out of Camp Mirage, our military base in the UAE by early November. Here was some perspective on the UAE situation from a column by Scott Taylor yesterday:
While Canadian officials may now be attempting to diminish the importance of the loss of Camp Mirage, the fact is that, without this staging area in the Persian Gulf, there is no way we could have maintained our successive battle groups in Afghanistan.
What will be a difficult challenge for the Canadian Forces to overcome will be carrying on business as usual in terms of supporting the troops in Kandahar, processing soldiers through their leave cycles and beginning preparations for the planned withdrawal in July 2011—all while breaking down, packing, shipping and re-establishing another regional staging area.

This would be like a hospital at maximum capacity having to continue treating all its patients—including surgery—while preparing the entire facility to be transported to an undisclosed country, somewhere in the vicinity.
The enormity of Harper's blunder will soon become apparent as the men and women of the Canadian Forces attempt to deal with the fallout from the Mirage closure. Stay tuned.
If we are seeking American help to dig out of this hole, possibly using a base in Kyrgyzstan or one of theirs in Germany, might be time to stop playing stubborn on the Khadr case. But, then again, we have principles and lose Security Council seats, so who really knows.