Omar who?


Carleton’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs has released a “blueprint” for Canadian-American relations under a new administration to the south. It is supported by 17 background papers.

A quick search of all those thousands of words finds not a single mention of the word “Khadr.”

James H. “Si” Taylor, Canada’s undersecretary of state for external affairs from 1985 to 1989 and currently the chancellor emeritus at McMaster, perhaps comes closest to the subject matter with this.

The country may need better police and intelligence work, but it does not need to warp domestic law, defy international law, create legal regimes of exception or threaten the nation’s civil liberties in order to protect itself against terrorism. The new president could perform a useful service were he to say some of these things at the outset of his term. Perhaps the promised closing of Guantanamo is the harbinger of a more far-reaching re-appraisal of terrorism that may be in the wind. 

In other news, “Si” is a fantastic nickname.


Omar who?

  1. And your point is?

    • If he expressed what his point is he’d be accused of bias. You conservatards can`t even recognize objective reporting when you see it, can you.

      • Wherry’s bias is (or should be) utterly present to every reader, regardless of partisan stripe.

  2. Pronounced See, or Si(gh)?

    • Si is a friend of mine. It’s pronounced “Sigh”

  3. That`s not surprising. The end result is that Khadr will be unceremoniously dumped on our doorstep and the government will have no choice but to accept it; especially when you consider they won`t have a legitimate reason not to.

  4. Si we can! Si we can! (heh.)

    This is just another example of how low the bar is for the incoming president, and how even if he does almost nothing he will be a vast improvement over what Americans had to deal with for the last 8 years.

  5. I love the UE’s stance .. as ever bellicose and loud as the last few years – close gitmo now now now! – until the latest news – EU saying wait a sec that doesn’t mean we want any of them (except for Albania of all places) maybe we should leave it all to Obama (and then blame it on him if his numbers go in the toilet). In a way Khadr actually might come in usefull if Harper plays the Kadr card right maybe we could get something out of the deal before he comes back here on our dime as he will sooner or later as this is a foregone conclusion.

    • Really! I would have thought Obama’s got the high ground here. If he basically declares the process as null and void and an embarrassment to the US and international law, wont that leave Steve looking a little silly? He can hardly insist that the americans try khadr. If we continue to refuse to take him back it just get worse. This is what happens when you make yr foreign policy on the back of an envelope and cherry pick the laws you’re going to obey. Steves only defence is his usual default position: ” the liberals are to blame” Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!

      • I’m sure a single national securities regulator will solve this problem.

    • Why should the EU nations agree to accept non-European terror suspects from the Americans? I understand why they might help out the Americans in this way, but I fail to see any moral obligation to do so. The Europeans want Gitmo closed, they don’t want to operate Gitmo franchises.

      I can insist that the disco next door to me be closed “now, now, now” without also agreeing to let the dancers come party at my house every night.

      Also, I don’t disagree that Khadr is eventually coming back here on our dime, after all, every other Western national was repatriated to their country of citizenship LONG ago. Having become the Americans’ last ally to insist that they keep our citizen locked up, how is it to our advantage to CONTINUE to drag out his repatriation? I’ll tell you one thing, we’d better not wait too long. Once the Albanians start accepting Syrian terror suspects how will the Americans feel THEN about our refusal to take a Canadian suspect?

  6. KC if you honestly believe what you posted – well anyways – I am sure you are a lot smarter than that. The very last thing Obie is going to do is move unilaterally on this issue as he has just stated go check out exactly what he is saying about this very issue – and this time pay attention. I think that part of our stance here is exactly as I posted above we are going to use this and hopefully play our Khadr card when it will be very helpful to the Yanks so that we might get something out of the deal – make no misstake about it. Unlike the EU’s stance (a subtle little ginzo knife thrown at target Obama). No way Harper comes out of this looking at silly as he is just following process so if he waits until the process stalls or better yet fails then he comes out and says Canada compassionate bla bla bla and always helping the Americans bla bla bla – etc ad infinitum,. In turn gets political cookies – gotta love it when a plan works out!

    • The EU angle is totally different. The EU nations aren’t refusing to repatriate their own nationals, that happened long ago (Canada is alone in refusing to ask for it’s own citizens to be repatriated) the EU (well, not the EU but several EU countries) are refusing to take OTHER nations’ citizens off the Americans’ hands. So what’s this “Khadr card” exactly? Khadr’s already the only citizen of a Western nation still in Gitmo. Do we plan to wait until he’s the only PERSON left in Gitmo and then act? Once the Americans start shipping non-European terror suspects to Albania and other European countries, how do you think they’ll feel about us continuing to refuse to take responsibility for our own citizen?

      It occurs to me that perhaps Harper really does have Khadr’s own best interests at heart. The Tories are going to drive a hard bargain with the Americans, refusing to repatriate Khadr until finally, in frustration, the U.S. simply throws up their hands, drops all charges, and tells him he’s free to go. Even worse (depending upon your point of view) what if we refuse to take him, and Obama says “Fine” and then ships him off to the apparently willing Albanians? Worse still, what if the Albanians then start asking us to take him?

      I can see very few possible ends to the Khadr story.

      1) He’s repatriated to Canada with the cooperation of the Harper government after Gitmo closes.
      2) He’s sent SOMEWHERE ELSE after Gitmo closes, possibly Albania.
      3) Obama is forced to keep Gitmo open for Khadr, and only for Khadr, for the rest of his natural life.
      4) The Americans decide that if Canada won’t take him it’s less of a headache to just set him free and pretend none of this ever happened.

      None of these is good for Harper, but I think only #1 could even be spun in a way that didn’t make the Tories look terrible.

      I for one will love the irony if, after all of this, rather than being repatriated to Canadian authorities somewhere, Khadr ends up just returning on a commercial flight into Pearson one day direct from Havana. I hope we at least reimburse the Americans for the price of his ticket.

      • Whatever Harper is thinking – it is nothing to do with Khadr’s well-being.

      • LKO, I am willing to bet any amount of money that he will not be on a one-way from Havana.

        • Maybe Obama’ll give him a lift home on Air Force 1 when he comes for his visit.

        • No, I tend to agree, that’s certainly the least likely, most crazy scenario (the only way it happens is if the Obama administration is really worried about some sort of war crimes charge for their treatment of what some would call a “child soldier”, but I don’t think that’s really a worry of the American administration at all).

          However, once the Americans close Gitmo, would Harper refuse a request from the American government to take Khadr off their hands? What’s more, once the Americans start shipping Gitmo suspects to other allies, just how long can we continue to refuse to take Khadr? If countries like Albania start to take non-Albanian detainees off the Americans hands, how does the Harper government refuse to take Khadr?

          Your totally correct though that there is little, if any, chance of the Americans simply letting Khadr go at this point. I added it mostly because A) it’d be HILARIOUS after all that (in a dark sorta way) and B) while extremely unlikely it’s not “impossible”.

          What also interests me is what we’re gonna do with him if (when?) we take him back though. Will we just hold him indefinitely without trial? ‘Cause it seems clear that the Americans have decided they can’t try him in any way that would pass the smell test (and it seems to me they could never convict him of anything, even under the military commissions that seem about to go the way of the dodo). So, if the Americans can’t/won’t try him, surely we can’t try him (well, we could try him, but he’d get off). So do we somehow keep him locked up indefinitely without trial? And if so, how?

          I have a feeling the Harper government may soon wish they’d gotten this whole thing behind them years ago.

          • This analysis is probably the best in the thread. Harper will have to take him if America looks like it can send him somewhere else.

            And he certainly can’t be held without trial. In fact, trying to do so could result in having the entire process against him dropped – and that would be egg on Harper’s face indeed.

          • Well, actually, all diplomatic niceties between Canada and the USA aside, my reasoning was based on this pretty imposing valla between Gitmo and the resto de Cuba, y’see…

    • Wayne
      It’s always possible, nay even likely i have’nt followed closely enough. My understanding was that the US has been sending not too subtle signals that it wants out but with some shred of its honour intact. That the process was not going to be honoured and that this would naturally leave Steve looking like the guy who still wants the hanging to go on, even when someone’s buggered off with the rope. Has Obama said the trial must go on? because if he hasn’t then i stand by my post. How silly steve looks will largely depend on whether Obamas’ feeling generous and forgiving that day. Did i miss something really important here?

      • Look let’s be honest if the Yanks had seriously asked us to take him we would have him here by now. The only reason that they haven’t is that they wanted to try him – no matter how you shuffle this deck the only thing outstanding is the quid pro quo and nothing else. Obama wants gitmo shutdown however he will not disadvantage his position nor place the USA in a position that is detrimental to their goals (in other words it is going to take quite awhile to shutdown gitmo) and dollars will get you timbits they know full well the political milieu (like I used that word in a sentence) here with respect to this issue and how it may play out with Harper. Check out a very good article at Newsweek on 4 reasons that gitmo will not be shutting down quickly = Obama will also have to think through where the U.S. can put detainees it captures in the future. The detention center at Bagram air base in Afghanistan is currently being expanded. But Bagram shares Guantanamo’s dark record of abuse, secrecy, and detention without trial. Human rights groups describe it as Gitmo with a different zip code. To really change course, the new administration will have to formulate a new policy for holding terrorist suspects that allows them some form of quick and fair adjudication. “In my mind, Guantanamo is a symptom of a larger problem,” says Matthew Waxman, a law professor at Columbia University who has held senior positions in the State Department and the Pentagon. “We’re going to continue capturing and detaining Al Qaeda members. We need a durable system for handling them.” Ideas abound. Choosing one and building a new structure around it will require strong leadership—and time.

        • True, I think, that if the Yanks had asked he’d be here by now. The question is, what will our government do when the Yanks ask, which could come VERY soon?

          You seem to think we’ll use Khadr as some sort of bargaining chip (the “Khadr card”) in some sort of quid pro quo. My question is, why would the Americans give us something for repatriating our own citizen? Every other Western nation seemed to feel it was their DUTY to repatriate their citizens from Gitmo long ago, but Canada’s gonna hold out for something in exchange??? If that’s true, it’s appauling on any number of levels.

          It’s very true that Gitmo won’t be shut down quickly, but that’s because the Americans are looking for people who’ll take all the Syrians, and Jordanians and Egyptians, and etc… off their hands (as you mention, Albania may be taking some of them). Khadr, being the citizen of an ALLY, ought to be easy peasy to get rid of, no?

          As I’ve said elsewhere, I fear that if Harper follows some sort of crazy “Khadr card” quid pro quo status that Omar Khadr may be the last person left in Gitmo.

          If (when) the American administration asks us to take Khadr off their hands, I don’t see how our answer can be anything other than “how fast can you get him here?”. As I said, once the Americans start sending non-Albanian suspects to their new digs in Albania, I fail to see how they’re going to stomach any continued refusal on our part to repatriate Khadr (if they so desire).

          • You are quite right – I am sure that Harper would like nothing better than to take this card out of play why else take the heat. However you are mistaken when you don’t think that quid pro quo is what everything is about. All international realtionships are abound in it – it is the grease that lubricates they very nature of foreign relationships. Rarely though is it explicit as diplomatic language is quite wonderful in this aspect. The conversation will go like this. Obie’s guy talks to Stevies guy = hey we’re thinking about gitmo Kahdr etc. Stevies guy = Tell you what say the word he’s back here in canada. Obie’s guy = wow thanks a lot. So how’s things going? Stevies guy = well you know we have this northern passageway and law of the sea thing hanging over us and we would like to tell the voters we have been working on this file etc. Obie’s guy = etc etc etc. Note # 01: nothing is ever clearly laid out or clearly asked for : as this would break the cardinal rule of plausible deniability and a clear request is an anathema to a diplomat all will be vague and defined later as the summit approaches. Then at the summit signatures on paper, photo ops for one and all and everyone hapy.

          • The quid pro quo doesn’t work. Even if Harper and Obama were to engage in something so base (I like to think they are both above it) Canada can’t embarass the U.S. by refusing to take him back when the US can embarass Canada more by shipping him somewhere worse.

            To think otherwise is simply foolish.

          • wayne
            you make a gd arguement but i’m with Mike.T on this one. First of all it’s highly distasteful and the last thing Obama wants is a story like this leaking. ” Obama trades suspect for arctic trade off, will be a mild hl.” Obama owes Steve nothing, he may still harbour a grudge over the leaked memo fiasco; even if he keeps Khadr locked up he, it will be easy to assign blame. I hope SH pays a price for playing to the cheap seats over the rights of an admittedly less then ideal Canadian Citizen.

  7. Um, guys?

    I’m distressed to see that while many of you have made the point in passing, it certainly hasn’t gotten through to Wayne, and I highly doubt its on Harper’s radar either.

    Using a Canadian citizen who is held without trial in a foreign country to gain some political advantage is unethical. It is wrong.

    I don’t care what the specifics of the case are, what the advantage gained would be–none of that matters to the point that this is an extremely easy ethical choice.

    Wayne, can you not see this?

    • Held without trial? Whatzat? Last I checked, the judge would not allow the trial to stop…