Monday, February 09, 2009

Video: Romeo Dallaire on Omar Khadr

According to Liberal senator and former general, Romeo Dallaire, the US military lawyer for Omar Khadr was in Ottawa today. Lt. Commander Bill Kuebler was here to press the case of his client, a Canadian interned at Guantanamo Bay, ahead of the visit of U.S. President Barrack Obama to Ottawa, in hopes the Canadian government will make the case for Khadr's repatriation to Canada with Obama.

While Kuebler met with opposition representatives, including Dallaire and Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, it's not surprising that, according to Dallaire, the Conservatives would not meet with Kuebler.

It's also keeping in line with the response Macleans blogger Aaron Wherry received from the PMO on a Khadr-related query:

“For the sake of clarity, specifically on what statement, aspect or precedent of international law is the Prime Minister basing his judgment that Omar Khadr was not a child soldier?”

Two weeks later, after some further prodding, the Prime Minister’s spokesman sent along a response this afternoon, reprinted as follows, in its entirety.

“I have no comment.”

Maybe they don't care about international law. Or maybe they're just burying their heads in the sand. In the mean time, while Harper ducks, the world is noticing. As Wherry notes, the French foreign affairs minister raised Khadr in his first meeting with the new US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
During their first official meeting, U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Bernard Kouchner had a wide-ranging discussion of the major global challenges, and most particularly, important international issues such as the Mideast, on which they issued a joint call for the opening of crossing points. They also discussed Afghanistan, Iran, certain African subjects such as Darfur, and the closing of Guantanamo.

Mr. Kouchner also drew Ms. Clinton’s attention to the case of Omar Khadr, the Canadian child who, as you know, was enrolled by al-Qaeda as a pre-teen. We wanted to draw the attention of the American and Canadian authorities to his case.

Even CNN is asking whether Khadr is a “teenage terrorist or confused kid” and note Canada's lack of leadership on the issue.

Yes, say Khadr's advocates, including the Canadian Bar Association. Its president wrote a letter last month to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling for the detainee's repatriation, saying the U.S. government has flouted his due process rights.

Harper has not taken a position on the case, and has deferred to the Obama administration.

As Dallaire notes in this interview, at some point Harper and the Conservatives are going to have to do something on the Khadr file before the Americans just drop him off on our border with bus fare and run away. Hiding behind the Americans' shirtails isn't leadership.

Here's the video:

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skdadl said...

Thanks very much for this, BCer.

mountain valley said...

Kdahr is a product of his family who found it expedient to train their mild-mannered son in the ways of terrorism. Nevertheless, he killed my son, 1st Sgt. Chris Speer, only 2 days after Chris had single-handedly saved the lives of 2 Afghani children. Kdahr deserves a fair trial and so does my son.
Betty Speer

skdadl said...

There is considerable evidence -- some of it a mistaken leak from the DoD themselves -- that Khadr did not throw the grenade that killed Chris Speer, so it shocks the conscience that anyone should be claiming outright that he is guilty.

Further, he was a child soldier, and any prosecution threatens to undermine the whole body of international law that has been built up to address that horror -- and which has proved to work very well in places like Liberia where it has been applied.

It's true that, for Omar's sake especially, we need a full public accounting of facts, but a conventional trial isn't the way to do it, and the so-called military commissions at GTMO, which are kangaroo courts that shame the whole of Western civilization, are definitely not the place to do it.