‘Left with hopeless choice:’ Omar Khadr explains war-crimes guilty pleas

by Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

TORONTO, Cananda – Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr has explained for the first time why he pleaded guilty to five war crimes, saying it was because he had been left with a “hopeless” choice.

In a new court filing obtained by The Canadian Press, Khadr says he knew the Americans could have held him indefinitely — even in the highly unlikely case he would have been acquitted.

“I was left with a hopeless choice,” Khadr, 27, says in the affidavit sworn Friday.

“If I wanted the chance to eventually return to my home of Canada, I would have to be found guilty of crimes as determined by the U.S. government, which could then lead to me serving my sentence in Canada.”

The affidavit, filed in Federal Court, comes as part of Khadr’s $20-million lawsuit against the federal government for violation of his rights.

Without the plea agreement he signed in October 2010, Khadr says he would have faced the possibility of life-long detention and “continued abuse and torture” at Guantanamo Bay.

The entire agreement, including the agreed stipulation of facts, was put together by the American government, he says.

The Toronto-born Khadr also makes it clear that — in contrast to the agreed facts in the plea deal — he has never believed Jews or Americans should be killed or deserve to die, and says he never willingly joined an al-Qaida terrorist cell.

“Any participation in al-Qaida-related activities was at the demand of the adults around me,” his affidavit says — the first time Khadr has addressed such issues publicly.

He also says the American case against him was based in part on evidence supplied by Canadian intelligence officials, who interviewed him at the U.S. naval base after his transfer there from Afghanistan.

Documents also filed show Canadian intelligence officials, who were pursuing a case against Khadr’s father and a possible terrorism case against him, knew the Americans would only grant access to the teen if they would share information with the U.S.

“U.S. State Department would permit Canadian authorities an opportunity to interview Omar Khadr should it be established that such interviews would further any investigation within their jurisdiction,” according to one RCMP memo from September 2002.

Khadr’s lawyers are trying to get those links included as part of the civil lawsuit against Ottawa, which has denied any wrongdoing.

The Americans detained Khadr as a terribly wounded 15-year-old following a four-hour firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002 in which a U.S. special forces soldier was killed.

Khadr says he has no memories of that battle or of the grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer.

He also insists he had no plans to kill any soldiers, nor did he attack any of the U.S. forces who entered the compound after the battle was over.

Those denials, however, would have left him unable to enter the plea deal before a widely maligned military commission, which sentenced him to a further eight years behind bars.

Khadr was transferred to Canada in September 2012 to serve out the rest of his sentence, and is currently housed in an Edmonton maximum security facility.

The federal government has repeatedly denounced Khadr as an unrepentant terrorist.

Khadr is also appealing his underlying conviction in the U.S. on the basis that the offences to which he pleaded guilty — including murder in violation of the rule of law — have no validity in either international or American domestic law.

His affidavit also states that he never signed away his rights to appeal that conviction.

Khadr says his detention conditions deteriorated after he pleaded guilty, and he was interrogated for up to nine hours a day for nine or 10 days at a stretch.




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‘Left with hopeless choice:’ Omar Khadr explains war-crimes guilty pleas

  1. Only the truly witless or intentionally obtuse could fail to realize that Khadr’s conviction was nothing more then a grubby plea bargain; and one in which the GoC is implicated. Failing to defend a citizens rights, essentially treating them as situational,arbitary or even political [ we don't like this guy so we choose not to g to bat for him] is going to cost the tax payer a considerable amount of money. Much, much worse, it will have failed to have given this guy a fair shake before a fair and impartial court of law. And all because Khadr was a dream political football for a ruthless political party,[ god knows what Chretien's problem was with him?] and in consequence a fund raising bonanza.
    This whole episode now starts to come into focus, through two govts, as an exercise in craven toadying and brownie pointing by the GoC to the USA’s obsession with national security.

    • You may be right but maybe you should spend more time on the wrongdoings that are currently happening to our own Canadians who aren’t part of a family of terrorists (aka High River). But if you feel that strongly, I would suggest you open your home to him once he’s out.

      • High River? Seriously?
        how many have been shot, tortured, illegally detained, imprisoned and testified against via lieing by their own government?
        Last I looked, they were victims of a natural disaster and even I cannot blame Harper for not being Moses and making the water part and go around their houses.

        • I am not sure but I think justsaysno might be talking about those people in High River who lived in a community that wasn’t in the flood area UNTIL the municipality re-rerouted the over-flowing river into their community in an effort to save other neighborhoods in the town of High River. If what those people are claiming is true, they did get the shaft from the municipal government as most of those homes are completely destroyed and they probably won’t receive full compensation even though it was a conscious act by a govt and they weren’t even in a flood zone.

          • I think he’s from the looney toons brigade that thinks the RCMP was out to steal their guns.

          • So none were shot, tortured or illegally detained then
            But they are annoyed that they weren’t the only ones who lost everything… Misery certainly loves company doesn’t it.

          • They were illegally detained from entering back into their unflooded homes. You certainly know nothing about it. I thought MacLeans is supposed to bring you the facts? Hey how about the fact that muslims treat their women like second class citizens?

          • Dozy and incoherent rant from a PMO talking point hack.

            Fact: If it was illegal then there are avenues available for them to take, that is what the law is for.
            Fact: leaving a firearm in an unsecured position is against the law.

            Fact: the weapons were put into safe storage and no charges have been laid against the owners for incorrect storage.

            And wtf have muslims got to do with any of this? Unless it was a special detachment of the Saudi RCMP that were active in High River?

          • But you are okay with the police kicking down doors to private citizens homes and taking secured firearms and ammunition and not charging anyone simply because their search and seizure was illegal to start with? They have already stated their order was not from the Alberta government, so who was it from? Yes I am proud of the fact that the PMO ordered the cops to give back those guns.

          • Because it was in no way a PR stunt to try and dupe the gullible and deflect from their own problems in the Senate and HoC right?
            Weapons lying on beds with no locks are not really secured are they?

          • No ones weapons were just lying on the bed, you told you that BS? They dug around in the closets, through drawers. And in case you didn’t realize it, Harper does not control the RCMP. There is a contract between the province and the RCMP so the province is their boss. But the police have already stated this breaking into 1900 homes, some of them not even flooded, that this order did not come from the provincial government. So who gave them the order?

          • Oh so that directive form the CPoC government that the RCMP were not allowed to talk to anyone other than Harper Gov reps, that was evidence that Harper has no control over the RCMP.
            Harper hand picking the top RCMP commander means that there is no influence either I guess?
            Seriously how do you you dress yourself in the morning?

          • Apparently you were not at the town hall meeting in High River where the RCMP tried to defend themselves against angry private citizens. Pathetic explanations and wouldn’t you know the 2 RCMP officers who live there, how come their homes were not broken into? Even an RCMP video showing them going through private homes, like they were proud of that. The RCMP ARE talking and said they did not get their orders from the province but refuse to say where they got them from. If you have evidence that the federal government gave them the order, please bring it forward.

          • So you are saying that there was no directive from the PMO with respect to contacting anyone not in the government and the government doesn’t appoint the top guy?
            http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/11/20/government_puts_tighter_leash_on_rcmp_public_statements.html
            http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2012/01/22/federal_government_has_no_business_micromanaging_rcmp_commissioner.html
            Okay then.

            You keep moving goal posts and claiming the last answer I gave to your last point doesn’t answer the new post. I can only answer what you asked, not what you intend to ask.

            No I wasn’t at the meeting and that’s no too odd really is it? But it seems as though things are being looked at to learn from fro the future.
            http://www.highrivertimes.com/2013/12/12/investigation-into-rcmp-flood-response-ongoing
            I’ve been involved in evacuations and have moved folk from their houses. Sometimes forced entry is required and that is hardly surprising either.

            As you know where the RCMP got their orders from, enlighten us Obi Wan

          • That article is from 2 years ago and the fact remains that the RCMP held an open house in September 2013 in High River. So whatever that article claims about the RCMP being gagged is simply not true because that was proven at the High River open house. You obviously don’t have all the facts. 1900 homes broken into only means the RCMP were having some fun. And don’t tell me you don’t think it’s fun kicking in doors. But the fact remains that no one knows where they got their orders and if you have proof that the PMO gave the order…please bring it forward…otherwise STFU as I see you are part of the problem of the police overstepping their boundaries.

          • So you are conflating the sources I gave you.
            The first two just illustrated how the PMO micromanages the RCMP.
            The last source came from the 12th December 2013, so is pretty recent. It is also a local source of record.

            You’re the one making claims, you put the evidence up

            You just don’t like the fact that I don’t think your bluster is enough to support your accusations and you have nothing but inference. It’s odd how the law means nothing to you both in this case and in Black’s and Khadr’s cases. It doesn’t surprise me, but it’s still odd.

            As for STFU, I don’t think I will as that would leave the talking to people like you.

          • Watch Sunnewsmedia as they are the ONLY ones bringing the facts forward.

          • ah I think I see the problem now

          • Yes I also watch CBC, CTV, Global, CNN and Fox. How else does one get to the truth? And not one mention of the reality of the situation from any other source than Sun news. How pathetic is that?

          • “Watch Sunnewsmedia as they are the ONLY ones…”
            Why are you watching all the others if SNN are the ONLY ones bringing the facts forward?

            ONLY means nobody else.

          • Only does mean nobody else. Is it my fault that sun news is the only one out of all of them that is bringing forward the facts from High River?

          • your kind of going around in circles.
            My dog used to do that… but then… he was a dog

          • 1900 homes illegally searched and locked doors kicked in by RCMP. Over 700 guns seized, over a half million rounds of ammunition destroyed. Is MacLeans Canadian? Isn’t it up to the media to bring you the facts? Apparently MacLeans dropped the ball on this one.

      • Yeah yeah, heard that tired old line before. My point is our govt shouldn’t be complicit in what amounts to a rigged verdict – regardless of who it is.
        And yes he can live in my basement if he has to. But why would he want to once he picks up that 7 figure cheque that’ll be coming out of your taxes?

        • Wow are you blaming the gov’t for every single rigged verdicts in this country? Rigged verdicts happen in every single court room in this country, where have you been? How come you aren’t speaking out against that? You only care about Kadir whose culture doesn’t give a crap about women and when he and his “friends” rape your wife or daughters while he’s living in your basement, who are you going to turn to? You will get no help from the muslim community. They will probably send a muslim cop so he can tell you that it’s perfectly normal.

          • Wow!! Thanks for the demonstration of how NOT to comprehend a point.
            Take your mindless hatred elsewhwere, i’m not interested.

          • You obviously missed the point that there has been rigging of a verdict in every single courthouse in this country. It’s not my problem you haven’t figured that out yet.
            Does the truth hurt? I was told by a young muslim lady the reason they wear the head gear is because if some muslim man thinks she’s pretty and rapes or worse murders her, it’s her own fault. Are you trying to tell me this isn’t true?

  2. This poor, poor soul, just happened to be walking by, getting groceries for his mom and dad from a local Afghan grocery store (the good stuff couldn’t be found in Toronto, so he had to take a quick totally innocent flight to the region), when he stumbled upon a terrorist camp created to kill Westerners. He thought he was holding a pineapple when in fact it was a fragment grenade. In the other hand he though he was picking out a long English cucumber, when by sheer bad luck it happened to be an AK 47. How dare the families and children of the Americans killed that day at that “accident scene” complain about this “boy”.
    It was all a misunderstanding.
    How he was forced to plead guilty in such clear circumstances of innocence (nay benevolence) will perplex us for a long time to come.
    One of society’s great injustices really.

    • Great story, except that there’s no evidence he had either a grenade or a rifle in his hands, nor is it perplexing why he plead guilty.

      But then, facts aren’t really your strong suit, are they charles?

    • Yours is an excellent post….but

      You forgot to mention his little hobby in regard to electronics. As he was video taped smiling happily .

      Those were NOT triggers for roadside bombs……they were for gifts for the little girls he would escort safely to their schools.

  3. And this comments section will soon be full of people who will defend Conrad Black as a victim of the “corrupt” US judicial system with spittle-flecked vehemence, even though he had access to the best defence out, in a real courtroom after due process and an appeal; but will accept that Khadr is terrorist because he said so to a US military tribunal after torture and illegal incarceration without access to the evidence to defend himself.
    And out of the two Khadr is the only Canadian.
    Weird.

    • Connie never killed anyone.

      • As far as has been proven after due process, neither has Khadr.
        That’s the point, Speer’s family have not received justice for the death of their loved one. What they got was an expedient decision that railroaded someone who was in the area at the time and held him up as the soldier’s killer. There was no cross examination, there was no inspection of any evidence just a verdict.
        I feel for Speer’s family as they have been let down by the whole process and abused by those who employed the Sergeant. They have no closure on this because it wasn’t done right. It’s the modern day equivalent to a sheriff’s posse lynching a rustler on the spot without a trial.

        • No one cares about the US judicial system.

          • You do if it’s holding you illegally and torturing you until you admit something, anything so they can let you go and claim you are guilty.

          • Yes I am sick and tired of the US military pulling their shenanigans on Canadian soil with full approval of the Gov’t of Canada…it started in 1946 and hasn’t stopped.

          • In the early ’50s Project St. Jo used Winnipeg as the testing ground for US military simulated anthrax. Fact.

          • marvelous

            any other random, unrelated factoids you wish to share?

  4. Notice because Harper wasn’t involved that it is described as the Government of Canada – not the Martin Liberals.

    • Nice call.

    • CSIS does what it does and it really doesn’t matter who is in charge. That’s why all those who are in office are culpable for their illegal behaviour – hence Gov of Canada.

      Nothing has changed since Martin went and Harper took over.

      • You know darn well if Harper had been in charge of this mess it would be all over the paper that it was the Harper Conservatives. This is a long standing journalistic practice to protect the Liberals. I’ve seen it used many, many times.

        • I think it’s time for a new acronym – MDS (Media Derangement Syndrome.)
          It’s different from the lie that was Liberal Media Syndrome in that its proponents actually believe the myth of the so-called Liberal Media that Rove invented in the US and was imported into Canada and have just skipped to loathing the media for pointing out reality to them.

          • The fact you had to call up Rove tells me you are just a paid troll. You had to do a little research on what talking point to bring up. Correct? I told you I have noticed this little trick going on forever. During the Afghan detainee scandal, it was always Harper that was mentioned when in actual fact most of it was under the Martin Liberals. How do you think Iggy knew to bring it up? When you know where the bodies are buried, you can inflict them on your successors. Except when it came to that period before Harper, the media immediately reverted to calling it the Government of Canada. It works like this. If something bad happened while Mulroney was in power, the media mention that it happened under the Mulroney government. The interregnum between Mulroney and Harper is known as the Government of Canada.

          • more hand waving, denial and name calling with out any substance – Rob Ford, Stephen Harper play book 101.

            But I’ll bite.

            How does bringing up Rove indicate I’m a troll? You yourself said I must have done some research so that does sound like the opposite of trolling unless of course supporting your argumentation with research is trolling. But given your rightward lean I guess that you find education and research threatening as it tends to clash with your dreams of what reality should be.

            The fact that Rove had to invent something to attack the fact based reporting in the US media so that reality could be what the neo-Cons said it was is incontrovertible.

            The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” He continued “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

            The right are the ultimate in relativist beliefs and treat reality as the enemy. Their water carriers and useful idiots are left to try and cover for them and pout and sulk when reality is pointed out to them.
            If you don’t wish your words to be cited back to you, don’t say them in the first place.

            Oh and if you want to be called the Government of Canada, how about you don’t insist that your government be referred to as the Harper Government initially and then get all pissy when the media does just that?
            Just a thought troll.

          • harebell, I have some indicators when somebody is trolling. They talk about Rove, they bring up the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers. Whenever I see those three names alarms go off.

          • You only saw one of them with me and it was in context with the discussion on media bias. His ideas on disparaging the media via myth has been adopted wholesale by the right in Canada and in other Western countries like the UK.
            There is no substance to the myth as Rove himself admitted and it allows the right to be in persistent persecution mode.

          • And you have to admit that the downtown Toronto media is an incestuous little community with links between the Star, the G&M and the Post. There really needs to be an investigation into those links because they stink. When you consider Conrad Black has declared the editor of the Star as his protege and that John Tory’s dad was the head of Woodbridge, the Thompson Family Trust and best buds with the Atkinsons of the Star. Rove’s theories don’t apply up here. We don’t have the numbers.

          • I think the whole of the Ottawa bubble is rather incestuous. I also think that is why the politicians howl so vociferously when a story challenging them is printed; it’s like they’ve been betrayed by a friend.
            I do not think that is the fault of the media, I think that is illustrative of the naivete of the politicians and also their double standards.
            An example is Harper bashing Martin and being the media’s blue eyed boy when he was in opposition. They printed and screened his every condemning sentence and word and attacked Martin remorselessly. (It’s a shame they didn’t attack the real miscreant, but neither did the opposition then either.)
            Now fast forward to today. All they are doing is the same but in reverse. Yet there are howls of indignation. Harper’s words then are just as valid now but he is hanging on like Martin did, except he doesn’t have his predecessor to blame for dumping him in it.
            I think the media is doing their job and did so back when Adscam happened and I didn’t notice too many complaints of media bias then.

            The problem is the politicians have not worked out the media are not their friends, no matter how friendly they appear.

        • You don’t think it might have something to do with the fact that the Conservatives themselves refer to it as the Stephen Harper Government? Check out the party website, for starters.

          • No, because they also refer to the Mulroney government and if it was something good, the media refer to the Martin Liberals.

  5. What about Khadr`s little hobby that he obviously enjoyed..Smiling broadly as he manufacture triggers for roadside bombs (VIDEOED DOING SO)
    How many innocent men,women and children did they kill or permanently maim? (blind..limb loss ,horrific injuries)
    Interesting how Khadr`s supporters conveniently IGNORE this FACT.

    • If he had been tried in court for that and found guilty after due process, then I’d be fine with that. But he wasn’t. He was tortured and denied due process for a crime that there is doubt he was involved with.
      Upholding the law is what separates us form the Taliban and the terrorists and having access to due process id part of that.

      Once we abandon that we become more like them and they win.

      • Khadr is a Canadian citizen..Why was he there? in a war zone ?
        Do not forget there were Canadian troops involved there as well. His roadside bombs could easily be responsible for some Canadian casualties as well.
        Upholding the Law?……you are more concerned about “technical details” in allowing this killer to go free than “justice “. He should have been shot on the spot.

        • And only someone with no respect for the law and due process would dismiss it thusly.
          Your last sentence illustrates only too well your view of the law.
          You are no different than the Taliban with that view.

          • I can only feel sorry for our society and the damage done to it. (resulting in MANY innocent victims ) from those who SEE THE WORLD AS THEY WOULD LIKE IT TO BE………..
            And NOT THE REALITY THAT EXISTS.
            I am happy with my view…and you, of course, are entitled to yours.

          • Another interesting fact the media never reports – 95% of roadside bombers are children.

  6. There is LOTS of room for better understanding of this very
    complex case. If you are at all sincere in your desire to understand, consider
    the following presentations recently given to Canadian audiences:

    Dr. Stephen Xenakis – retired US Brigadier General -
    psychiatrist who spent hundreds of hours with Omar Khadr in Guantanamo – spoke
    to University of Alberta on a recent trip to Edmonton to meet with Khadr for
    the first time since his return to Canada (search: YouTube-Khadr-Xenakis)

    Pentagon Attorney Sam Morrison who is assigned by the US
    government to spearhead appeal of Khadr’s Military Commission conviction – he
    gave a detailed presentation in Edmonton of the serious legal problems with Military
    Commissions in general and Khadr’s conviction in particular (search:
    YouTube-Khadr-Morison)

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