The Talking Dog

May 31, 2007, Trial by Firing

The mirth and merriment coming to us from the Super-Max Pleasure Palace we have created to satisfy our paranoia (and throw a few bucks to Kellog, Brown & Root) down Guantanamo-way continues... with this story that Canadian detainee Omar Khadr has decided to fire his American lawyers. While the story mentions Lt. Col. Colby Vokey (USMC) by name, we suspect the firing also includes Rick Wilson, who we interviewed here. There may be an issue that Khadr wants a Canadian lawyer... though who really knows?

Our friend Candace also brings our attention to this piece (also in the Globe and Mail), observing the somewhat unique Alice in Wonderland vagaries of life at GTMO, especially for those lucky enough to be charged by the military commissions:

Mr. [John] Bellinger [State Department Legal Adviser-- what the agency's general counsel is called] acknowledged the odd reality that Mr. Khadr may face a fixed term in prison if convicted and an in-definite, perhaps longer, incarceration if acquitted.

"Acquittal after trial raises a certain expectation [of release]," he
said at a briefing. For instance, high-ranking Nazis acquitted of war
crimes charges walked free. But the Nuremburg Tribunal was held after
the Second World War ended. The Guantanamo military commissions are
being conducted while the war on international terrorism continues,
hence Mr. Bellinger's confirmation that even those acquitted might face
continued detention for the duration of the open-ended war.
Mr. Bellinger also confirmed that no talks are under way with the
Harper government about bringing Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, home to
serve any sentence. "We've not had negotiations or conversations with
the Canadian government about him serving time, if convicted, in

Yesterday, Mr. Bellinger seemed to signal that a plea bargain of the
kind that sent Australian David Hicks home might be arranged for Mr.
Khadr. Mr. Hicks is now home, serving out a few months in an Australian
jail and is expected to be free within a year.

While Khadr's case may not be the kind of political albatross to the Harper government in Canada the way that Hicks's case was for the Howard government in Australia, there are enough aspects of Khadr's case that, if they were more widely known, would make it a political albatross to the American government. For one, the United States (alone with only Somalia in this regard) has refused to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of the Child... which is why we can "legally" charge someone we arrested when he was only fifteen years old with capital murder as an adult. Oh-- that "murder" was committed after American forces bombed the house Khadr was staying in, and then sent in forces that Khadr may have believed were there to execute any survivors (Khadr evidently faked being dead, and then threw a grenade that killed an American soldier and wounded others). Traditionally, that was a combat situation... until now, of course. And while at GTMO, Omar was used as a kind of "human mop" at times, was held for years in solitary confinement with no human contact save his interrogators... you know: the usual.

Just some of the charming details that can best be handled by Omar pleading to something conveniently nebulous in exchange for a nice, determinate sentence, preferably to be served in his home country, with, say, no public statements for the next, oh, 600 days or so...

Just saying...