During his eight years in a Guantánamo Bay jail cell, Omar Khadr hasn’t received a whole lot of help from his Canadian government. When he was 16, CSIS agents made him cry. When he was 17, a visiting bureaucrat tried to bribe him with chocolate bars. And last year, when a judge ordered the Prime Minister to demand his release, the feds did the opposite: they appealed the ruling, and convinced the Supreme Court that Khadr’s fate should be left in America’s hands.
But in all fairness, Ottawa hasn’t completely abandoned the only Western citizen still locked inside the notorious Gitmo prison. While the Justice Department has spent millions of taxpayer dollars fighting Khadr’s lawyers at every turn, the Foreign Affairs Department has run up its own tab—more than $2,100—buying various “comfort items” for the accused terrorist, who was famously captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan at the age of 15 and charged with murdering a U.S. soldier. According to internal government documents obtained by Maclean’s under the Access to Information Act, the “essential” purchases included a shipment of moisturizer.
What else have the feds bought for Omar Khadr? Those details are blacked out—for privacy reasons. “It is information that is considered personal,” says Monique McCulloch, the Access to Information director at Foreign Affairs. “They could be very basic everyday items, but I’m not going to give any more detail.”
At least one thing is clear: not every item made it to Khadr’s cell. In October 2007, Nancy Collins, a case management officer, spent $113.94 preparing a “care package” for the Toronto native. She photographed the contents, emailed them to U.S. officials for approval, and shipped the parcel with a tracking number. For the next four months, it was lost in transit. When the box finally arrived in Cuba in February, “the contents were covered in green mould, stank up the [staff judge advocate] office, and had to be tossed.”
Tuesday, May 25, 2010