(9AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
I was jerked awake (off my cloud!) today by recent developments with the military commissions scenario with Guantanamo prisoner, Canadian Omar Khadr. Here’s a brief analysis from Michelle Sheppard, the Canadian journalist who literally wrote the book on Omar Khadr.
Khadr told his lawyers he has lost hope and doesn’t believe in the system.
“How can I ask for justice from a process that does not have it,” he told the court this week, reading from a statement he wrote.
Kinda nails it right there, doesn’t he?
Wonder if he’s ever been allowed to see War Games, with its the classic quote: “The only winning move is not to play.”
Omar’s statement… his own handwritten version here… is rather chilling in its simplicity.
[Y]our honor I’m boycotting this Military Commission because:
* Firstly the unfairness and unjustice of it. I say this because not one of the lawyers I’ve had, or human rights organizations, or any person, ever say that this commission is fair or looking for justice, but on the contrary they say it’s unfair and unjust and that it has been constructed to convict detainees, not to find the truth (so how can I ask for justice from a process that does not have it or offer it) and to accomplish political and public goals. And what I mean is when I was offered a plea bargain it was up to 30 years which I was going to spend only five years so I asked why the 30 years. I was told it makes the US government look good in the public’s eyes and other political causes.
* Secondly: The unfairness of the rules that will make a person so depressed that he will admit to all[e]gations made upon him or take a plea offer that will satisfy the US government and get him the least sentence possible and l[e]gitimize this sham process. Therefore, I will not willingly let the U.S. gov use me to [fulfill] its goal. I have been used [too] many times when I was a child and that’s [why] I’m here taking blame and paying for things I didn’t have a choice in doing but was told to do by elders.
* Lastly I will not take any plea offer because it will give excuse for the gov for torturing and abusing me when I was a child.
Andy Worthington has an excellent piece on this at his blog, which was also published at commondreams.org and elsewhere, he entitled Defiance in Isolation: The Last Stand of Omar Khadr.
Khadr’s actions may seem counter-intuitive, and in some ways may be nothing more than a frustrated child in a man’s body lashing out in a manner that reveals the anguish beneath his generally calm exterior. Looked at another way, however, it is easy to understand why Khadr has just sacked his US lawyers (again), and why he believes that the Commissions are rigged and that the US government is incapable of delivering justice in his case.
It’s all there: Torture and abuse by the US when he was a child; the refusal by the US authorities to recognize that he was manipulated by those older than him; and a refusal to accept a plea deal that would make the US look good, that would appear to validate an unjust process, and that would involve him confessing to a crime he didn’t commit.
I don’t doubt that Khadr’s defiance is mixed with confusion, but it just may be that boycotting his pending trial will force both the American and the Canadian governments to think long and hard about what to do now.
For Barack Obama, the boycott threatens to turn a situation that is already problematical into one that is beyond contemplation. When Ali Hamza al-Bahlul refused to mount a defense and was convicted in the dying days of the Bush administration, no one cared, but in Khadr’s case it is different. As Michelle Shephard explained on Wednesday, his status as a child soldier “has already made many in Washington uncomfortable,” and a decision to boycott his trial may make it “politically untenable.” Jennifer Turner, a researcher who was observing Khadr’s hearing for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Shephard by email, “Politically, it’s a nightmare. Instead of restoring the rule of law, Obama would be presiding over the one-sided prosecution of a child, taken to a conflict zone by his family and mistreated for years in US detention.”
Even more pertinently, Khadr’s boycott may finally provoke action from the Canadian government, which, throughout this whole sordid story, has behaved appallingly. Despite signing the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict on July 7, 2000, and advocating on the world stage for the rights of child soldiers from other countries, the government has persistently refused to call for the return of Khadr to Canada, and has, over the years, faced mounting condemnation in the courts.
Man…. this is deep. As I was just saying (hinting at) in my essay yesterday, re: David vs. Goliath… just pull the damn plug. It seems to me that Omar has made some kind of determination… to find a center of power in himself, in this effort to have some say in his own fate, his only choice is this apparent ‘surrender’ of simply saying “No”. I could be completely wrong, but that’s how it hits me.
In another reality, this case would be an All Eyes news cliffhanger…. a lot of notable “firsts” and challenges. However, as Michelle Sheppard says in her piece…
In any regular trial, refusing to mount a defence when a conviction carries a life sentence would be considered legal suicide. And that could prove so in Khadr’s trial, too. An accused Yemeni propagandist for Al Qaeda who was tried under the Bush administration and boycotted his trial was convicted and sentenced to life.
But some argue that Khadr’s boycott may have actually helped – rather than hindered his defence – since the fate of Guantanamo detainees has always been influenced by politics, as well as the law.
That is especially true of the divisive Khadr case, since the Toronto-born captive is not only the last Western detainee and the prison camp’s youngest, but he is the only one accused of killing a U.S. soldier.
And Khadr’s trial will be the first held since U.S. President Barack Obama was elected.
Shephard, who writes for Toronto’s thestar.com, adds:
But the real political concern for the Obama administration is not the Khadr case – which barely registers in the U.S. – but rather the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Outcry erupted over the announcement last year to try the self-professed 9/11 mastermind and his alleged accomplices in a civilian court in New York, forcing the administration to look back to Guantanamo.
“I think the question is really what (Khadr’s case) will mean for the U.S. administration to make its trial run for (Mohammed) a trial of a juvenile without legal representation,” said University of Toronto law professor Audrey Macklin, who has advocated on behalf of Khadr.
“It can’t look good, or bode well – I think it will ultimately damage the credibility of the commission.”
This may be where Canada is forced to step in.
But… Goliath has command of the remote control, I doubt the programming guide on your MSM will reflect much of this story as it plays out. The … whatever the hell it is, not a trial… is scheduled to begin August 10th. Ramadan begins on August 11th this year. Sure seems ironic.
As a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-sacrifice, Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking.
Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits — essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for “fasting” (sawm) literally means “to refrain” – and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words.
During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.
Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person’s body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one’s self on the worship of God.
Praying for Omar and all of us…