Lawrence Cannon, Nov. 20“Mr. Khadr faces very serious charges. He is being held and it’s our government’s intention to follow and respect the process that’s in place and, of course, to respect American sovereignty on this issue.”

Deepak Obhrai, Nov. 21. “Mr. Speaker, our position remains unchanged, because unlike many prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Omar Khadr has actually been charged with serious crimes and is in a judicial legal process to determine his guilt or innocence, and we support this process continuing.”

Stephen Harper, Jan. 13. “He has been accused of very serious matters. And there is a legal process that has to be taken.”

Susan Crawford, convening authority of military commissions, Jan. 14The system she oversees probably can’t function now, she said. “Certainly in the public’s mind, or politically speaking, and certainly in the international community” it may be forever tainted. “It may be too late.”

Eric Holder, Attorney General designate, Jan. 15.“I don’t think the military commissions that we now have in place have all the due process requirements that I would like to see in them.”

Air Force Colonel Peter Masciola, chief commission defence lawyer, Jan. 16“The perception of pervasive torture now saddles the incoming administration and its efforts to set these proceedings on a just course. There is only one way to begin changing that perception, and also the reality, of fundamental injustice: Withdraw the referrals now.”



  1. The Harper regime does not care about the near uniform informed opinion on the lack of justice in the system that Khadr is encapsulated. Two features of the Harper government make this not surprising: 1) a devotion to ideology over everything, including empirical reality; and 2) disinterest in actually governing, as evidenced in the lack of policy and policy platform developed, initiated and implemented during his tenure.

    • This has nothing to do with ideology. It has to do with the pecedents that would be set by Canada interfering in the US judical process.

      • Then they should just say that and not parrot the out-of-date American talking points. One problem with this Harper government is that they are just incapable of saying nothing.

      • BS. Every other country that is an an ally of the US and Canada (e.g., Brits, Australia has repatriated prisoners from Guantanamo.

        • not to mention that it would, obviously, be done with US approval. it isn’t like we are gonna take a boat over to Cubaand spring him out when no one is looking. gawd.

  2. Could this get seriously bizarre. The spectacle of the Harper govt insisting that the show must go on while there is every likelihood that the incoming administration is going to ring down the curtain, is surreal.Perhaps Harper can set up a military commission of his very own. Sure he could even subpoena Bush and Cheney to … enough, i’m becoming almost as farcial as this whole process.
    kadhr should have been brought home a long time ago and tried in open court, if possible; or failing that those of his family who still can’t bring themselves to show at least some respect for this country invited to take up residence somewhere else. We should meet our international obligations and not just obey the law as it suits us, but that isn’t the same as becoming a bunch of patsies for those who mistake our tolerance for weakness or mere decadence.

  3. If the show were on the other foot and the USA was questioning the Canadian judical system I’ll bet a lot of Canadians would look at things differently. The bottom line is that the Canadian Government has to let the US judical process work its way out. Its up to the Obama Admin to take the first step.

    • Well, why don’t they just say that instead of this inane gasbagic nonsense that they keep spewing?

    • Leaving aside the widespread perception of bias in the tribunals, there are a number of problems with this stance:

      1) Under every definition available (except Bush and Harper’s), Khadr was a child soldier at the time of his detenion. Child soldiers, no matter how they operated in theatre, are generally considered subjects of rehabilitation, not criminal charges.

      2) Canada is the only Western country to have allowed a citizen to languish in the gulag at Guantánamo for this lone. Even the Aussies had their guy transferred ages ago.

      3) If you ignore #1, who the hell criminally prosecutes an enemy foot-soldier for doing his job? The kid was helping to defend against an attack by foreign invaders. Yes, he is accused of killing a medic (don’t forget how manipulated that “evidence” is turning out to be). It happens in war zones the world over. It’s war, remember?

  4. I find it fascinating how,

    given all of the tragic human stories abroad, people facing persecution for nothing more than speaking one’s beliefs, women who are stoned for nothing more than falling in love and caught kissing or the thousands of youg men who dissappear every year, dragged out of their homes and shot not for what they have done, but what they have thought,

    the Canadian left takes as their cause, an avowed terrorist caught in a firefight in an Afghanistanian terrorist training camp. A camp who’s members sole purpose is the destruction of our way of life and the spread of muslim rule through violent Jihad, which camps directly spawned, planned and executed the murder of 3000 innocent civilians, which camps were planning the further murder of civilians (to them- infidels who deserve to die…..that’s us by the way).

    Interesting use of intellectual and emotional resources, I’d say.

    I wonder if it has anything to do with WHO is holding him, and the deep ideological hatred many on the left have for that nation and its former leader.

    • Or if it has anything to do child soldiers, international law or giving due process to anyone charged with a crime. You know, some of those small tenants we covet and hold up as an example of our moral superiority. The same tenants we are ready to throw out the window once they don’t suit us.

      We either support basic human rights for all or for none. Gitmo is an example of the US not recognizing human rights or international law. At that point, the people being held and tried there really become irrelevant as our morals become bankrupt.

      Trying a child soldier in a kangeroo court against international law is not an effective way to combat terrorism.

    • Kody,
      I couldn’t agree with you more. The left in Canada is blinded by a hatred of Bush.

      • And kody’s blinded by hatred of the left. Care to join him?

  5. Judging by the near euphoric anti-Bush, anti-Harper statements here,

    I’d say the answer to my above question is: everything.

  6. That’s because you misunderstand, Kody. While I can’t speak for anyone but myself, of course, I do not stand to defend “an avowed terrorist caught in a firefight in an Afghanistanian terrorist training camp. A camp who’s members sole purpose is the destruction of our way of life and the spread of muslim rule through violent Jihad, . . .”

    Rather, I stand to defend the rule of law. The ones that say one must not be held indefinitely without a trial, the ones that say innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, the ones that recognize the concept of child-soldier. I further stand for Canada to take responsibility for itself and not let our good neighbours to the south have to carry that on our behalf.

    You know, you can’t seriously think the U.S. LIKES to pay for this guy’s incarceration, where they can’t put him on trial, and they certainly can’t let him go. Every other Western country has taken responsibility for their own prisoners, only Canada forces the U.S. to continue this travesty.

    Obama is all but begging Harper to step up and take this mess off his hands. I suspect Harper will do so, and will (amazingly) make it look like CANADA did the US a favour in the process. Good show and all, but that kind of “favour” also breeds resentment, in my opinion.

    I don’t know why you hate the US so much, Kody, that you can fail to see this.

  7. I don’t understand what we are supposed to be comparing and contrasting here. Canadians are saying we have to let American justice work itself out and that’s what is happening now. There’s a new admin coming in and they have different ideas about the process than the previous admin. We’ll see where we are in six months.


    The difference of opinion here seems to be what you consider these guys to be. You seem to think of them as criminals, worrying about the rule of law, who can be brought to justice through the court system while many others, me included, think of them as soldiers or terrorists and the court process is kinda irrelevant.

  8. Jenn,

    my point is not about defending the “rule of law” per se,

    but on how folks determine which battles to take that defence. My examples of exponentially greater infringements on the “rule of law” against those who are inherently innocent I believe makes the point.

    I have no doubt that if Khadr did not involve the mortal enemy of today’s left (American “Imperialism/projection of power/neo-con’ism) there would be nary a story about him.

    Just ask the thousands in Cuban gulags, Middle Eastern prisons, North Korean “starving zones”, who unfortunately have leaders who are appropriately defiant to the great American power,

    and are therefore left to quietly suffer untold horrors, while the activist left in the West, march in the tens of thousands for the terrorists held in Guantanamo, by the eeeevil Americans.

    • There are Canadian citizens being starved in North Korea? You are a veritable fount of wisdom, Kody.

      • If the nationality of who’s holding Khadr has no bearing on the protesters, why aren’t there protests about Huseyincan Celil? Many seem to get worked up into a state of frenzy about Khadr, a family with connections to Bin Laden, but don’t really seem to care about Celil. Seems strange to me.

        • why aren’t there protests about Huseyincan Celil?

          Why haven’t you organized one?

        • You know, as someone who doesn’t really hold strong views on much of anything that gets discussed here(with the possible exception of climate science), I have to say that I’d be a lot more inclined to take you rightists more seriously, if you didn’t take YOURSELVES so seriously, and didn’t always seem so ANGRY about everything.

          • JK
            If you had to wear as many hairshirts as these guys do all the time you’d be angry and VERY serious about EVERTHING too! Oddly i think they must swap them from time to time with those on the yumpy left. I wish all these guys would get together in a soud proof room and stop stomping all over OUR human rights.

          • Agreed KC, wholeheartedly.

          • I am sure it depends what you are politically, but it has always seemed to me that people on the left are far more angry than those on the right. I find many on the left to be earnest idealists and when things aren’t to their satisfaction they get whipped up into a frenzy of indignation and anger. I find people on the right to believe that life’s unfair, people are sinners and there’s not much to be done if everything isn’t perfect.

        • I don’t understand how everytime we have a passionate debate about a certain subject, the right’s defense is… “well *this* is happening *overthere*! why aren’t you all up in arms about that!” – jwl, mainly because that’s not the subject at hand.

    • Kody,

      A few points:

      First of all, your straw man argument about “the left” (whatever that amorphous body is supposed to be) fall through because there are indeed huge contingents of people in Canada whom you might consider “left” who protest for human rights around the world and at home, or volunteer their time to organizations such as Amnesty International. To try to claim that they don’t do this, or that by taking one position on the Khadr case they automatically neglect these other concerns is not only absurd, it is offensive.

      Second, even if I were to accept your argument per se, there is still an important difference between human rights and the rule of law. Human rights as a concept applied to humankind in general is guaranteed only by the UN Charter of Human Rights, but in the Khadr case (although his rights under the Charter ARE also being violated) the brunt of the argument is for the rule of law based on the current US judicial process, and precedent set in international law. Further, although deplorable, and clearly violations of international human rights, they are generally allowed by the laws of the resident’s countries. Hence to claim that people making an argument about the rule of law should also be protesting these events is technically inaccurate. However, all this being said, I think the distinction is irrelevant, because I said above they in fact are capable of caring about both (shocking!).

      Finally, you made a distinction above between criminals and terrorists, claiming that it was relevant to the treatment he deserves. This is absurd, because he is innocent until proven guilty, and all current evidence is circumstantial or hearsay (“he is known to believe such and such”). This is not to say that I don’t agree that he certainly seems to have done and said some offensive things, but just those facts never rob him of the fact that he is a human being and as such is afforded certain rights by both the law of a country and international law. These rights should be upheld regardless of any silly label you want to stick on him, and certainly before he is even proven guilty.

    • kody
      Kody just stop lying. Where are the protests against Cubans, N Korea, Middle east …?
      What are Amnesty , and any number of human rights organizations that protest. most are probably left leaning. Where are yr right leaning peace groups or human rights orgs? [ choke] I’m not overfond of loopy protests out on th streets, but where are yr engaged loopy RW protests? Oh, i know there aren’t any, silly me!
      As for Khadr he’s Canadian, and however distasteful it may be you shouldn’t cherry piick the laws that you intend to obey. It’s about the law stupid. [ figure of speech Kody]

      • You have translate kody’s right whingerese to English, kc, to understand what he’s truly saying. When he asks, “Where are the protests against Cubans, N. Korea, Middle east…?” what he’s really asking is why aren’t you talking about those things instead of this one that he doesn’t want anyone to talk about because it reflects poorly on Dear Leader.

        • Yeah, he’s also probably happy if we’re talking about him instead of anything wortwhile. What really bugs me is that i suspect that he doesn’t believe a word of what he says.Now that would be truly unforgiveable.

        • That explains so much. Thanks.

          • It’s much less frustrating if you just let them talk to each other.

          • Jeez there explaining things to each other

  9. The incessant protestations, here and in Western Europe, the untold blogging, articles in the leftist media, about those held in Guantanamo, including Khadre

    has all really been about the issue of soveriegnty and control over citizens?

    I mustn’t have been paying attention.

  10. The Globe and Mail, CBC, NYT etc, the groups with the placards in Toronto, Vancouver, Lisbon, the bloggers, academics opinion writers,

    aren’t members of Amnesty.

    Nor do they spend a scentilla of energy, thought or expression focused on the grotesque repression in the places I mentioned.

    They don’t for the reasons I mentioned. Which reasons are ample supported in the content of the comments herein (the anti-Bush, anti-Harper leftist prism).

    They do, however, focus a great amount of energy on a group of avowed terrorists (who aren’t bieng held in Guantanamo because the US just likes bad intenational PR but because they are an international menace and a clear and present danger to the US and the citizens it’s leaders are bound to protect – which is also why Obama’s airy rhetoric is now confronted by this cold reality).

    Those same people also casually walk past the incidences of horrific brutality and torture, occuring in those regimes by the thousands and thousands, literally every day: electric shock, dismemberment, stoning, starvation all against pure innocents,

    and focus on three incidences of “waterboarding” which is medically harmless, against admitted perpretrators of mass terror and which occured shortly after 9-11 for the sole purpose of attempting to avoid another calamity .

    But it WAS “committed” by the left’s greatest political enemy and that makes all the difference in the world.

    It’s sad was partisan political hatred can do to people.

  11. “he doesn’t believe a word” of what [I’m] saying?”

    Like what, prey tell.

    I’m making up the fact of horrific repression in the regimes I mentioned?

    I’m imagining the incredible amount of energy focused on Guantanamo, and the “torture” issue there?

    There really are equal amounts of articles, protests, academic discussion about that real repression, in those regimes i mentioned and I’m just willfully blind?

    There are other posts on this blog for instance, and other left leaning blogs, and other sites, just around the corner, discussing….say, North Korean starvation, that I’m refusing to look at?

    Sorry, but the selective outrage at the waterboarding of three avowed terrorists, to the exclusion of mass torture going on right now, by the thousands,

    will, I suspect, be judged by history quite harshly.

    And it will be viewed harshly precisely because, recognizing such horror, occuring at the hands of the enemies of the US (or at least not attributable to the US) would force some to confront the relative evil of others, and the correpsonding relative goodness of the US.

    And so, those suffering real torture, must do so silently, away from the selective prying eyes of the activist left, and the activist media.

    • Kody where were you when an estimated 30,000 people disappeared in Argentina. Carter, a US president did try and do something, good for him and the good ole USA, except of course for some pentagon generals who thought it unfortunate but necessary to defeat the godless commies. Well kody were you cheering from the sideline, protesting or merely watching inappalled silence like most of us. Actually i’m ashamed to say i did nothing.

      • Playing with my lego, or bothering my sister, I suspect.

      • As for the here and now?

        I attempt to spend a fair bit of time discussing and advocating against those true horrors. However in the wrong polite company I envariably get the “are you siding with the US or something?????” scowel, followed by a lecture on the real horrors of the Bush administration/big oil/”neocons” accompanied by a look like I just came from Mars.

        In other words, like the discourse going on in leftist acadamia/media.

  12. I’d like to get back to the concept of terrorist vs. criminal. Thanks, jwl, for getting to the crux of the thing so reasonably.

    I take your point that the criminal justice system is for criminals. I even agree that terrorists are some other thing. If an armed Omar Kdahr had been killed in the battle in which he was captured, no, I wouldn’t have shed a tear. Killing the enemy on the field of battle (even if that ‘field’ is the back alleys of a busy city) is a lot of what war is all about. It isn’t pretty.

    The reality is, he wasn’t. Nor were the people that bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. Or Timothy whatsit who bombed an Oklahama City building. Those people were terrorists also, surely?

    Yet they were tried in a court of law. Why? Because its all we have.

    In the good old days, the armies of two (or more) nations would square off. Each soldier would wear clearly identifiable uniforms to distinguish him from innocent civilians. Those captured soldiers had something called the Geneva Convention which was a (more or less) universally accepted authority for their detention. Sort of like a law for this situation.

    I deplore the end of those days as much as the next person, but I remind you that before THAT there were honourable tactics of the battlefield where the two sides would, literally “square off” in front of each other, and just blast away at each other until one side or the other, again literally, ran away. The American Revolution proved that this type of warfare only worked with two evenly matched armies. If you were of an inferior army, different tactics needed to be employed. How dishonourable! was the cry from Britain as Americans HID BEHIND TREES for heavens sake, and didn’t come out and take it like a man.

    You can’t seriously think today’s terrorists groups (and there are so many of them) could fight a conventional battle any more than the Americans did way back when. The rules of the game have changed once again, and again, not for the better. But until we have some mechanism to deal with this new breed of enemy, this enemy who doesn’t even have the honour to ADMIT to being the enemy, we have nothing other than the justice system.

    Or, we can ignore our own honour, and just lock people up for looking like they might have wished us ill. I don’t mean Omar Khadr simply looked at someone the wrong way, at least I believe the evidence against him is stronger than THAT, but what about the next guy, or the next? Without any rules governing the thing, who’s to say?

    • Good try Jenn, but these guys seem to think concepts like judging each person or organization according to its merits, context or heaven forbid actually prove someone guilty in front of a jury of his peers, or failing that a qualified judge is just to much to ask. They just don’t get it, we do these things for our good, because we are a moral society, and not because we’re weak relativists.