Following the tradition established by Ottawa Citizen Deputy Editorial Pages Editor Kate Heartfield on Dec 29, 2013 - the Ottawa branch of Post Media allowed Omar Khadr’s his own whitewash OpEd on Oct 29, 2014. The Ottawa Citizen made no challenges to the various wonderous claims that repeat former conflations of moral and cultural equivalence and attempt to confuse the readers by mixing-up national and international law. (Further adding to the insult is that it seems likely the whole piece was ghost written for him by his complicit legal counsel).
To summarize his claims specifically;
- he was a hapless “child soldier”
- he was subject to brutal “torture” at Gitmo.
- the Courts have validated all his challenges – revealing the uncalled animus of the Harper Conservatives.
1) Khadr was 6 weeks short of his 16th birthday when he actively participated in that fatal firefight which lead to the death of 2 coalition soldiers, serious injury of others – including his own likely death had he not been saved by the extraordinary emergency medical care provided by U.S Army Medics despite one of their team just being killed in the fight. He – along with his fellow belligerents – were given multiple opportunities to surrender but instead brought hellfire on themselves when they shot at point-blank range two Afgan translators offering terms of surrender.
Invocation of “child soldier” status for Khadr stretches the typical definition far past the accepted 8-12yrs old age range used by the UN in past African conflicts. It also runs over the Canadian definition of “young/juvenile offender” that allows adult charges for very serious offenses committed by 14-18yr olds ONLY when special conditions exist that indicate the young offender was able to understand the consequences of his actions and should have or could have made a mitigating choice but did not. Those conditions would likely have been met with Khadr.
Lastly, are we ascribing North American cultural standards for the primitive, poverty stricken, third world that Khadr inhabited and where 16-18yr olds are beginning to form families and are considered adults. Also, as we have detailed in past posts the “normal” early indoctrination of children occurring in many Islamic countries which would be considered psychological “child abuse” in most Western nations as a mitigating cultural factor. Should we do Khadr the disservice of dishonouring his normative cultural tradition of Jihad and instead apply our own Canadian cultural standards and treat him like a normal juvenile delinquent teen from Scarborough?
Clearly, according to these standard definitions – Khadr was never a “child solider” unless one is prepared to push new standards or claim Khadr was NCR (Not Criminally Responsible).
2) While at Bagram AFB following capture and possibly Gitmo under American Military security Khadr maintains he was “tortured” by the “Frequent Flyer” treatment where one is shaken awake every hour while in a brightly lit cell – yet has not detailed what other mistreatment he alleges he received. Even though the “Frequent Flyer” practice is quite common in many Canadian detention facilities – ostensibly to prevent adverse medical outcomes for recovering alcoholics or where self-harm is a risk – I have no doubt it is very discomfiting BUT it does NOT meet the definition of “torture”. To really understand “torture” we must look to the atrocity’s committed in the name of Islam.
Apart from this “Frequent Flyer” claim there is nothing else to substantiate Khadr’s claims of torture. Much ink has been spilt in accusing the American Military of such acts – but most seem to have been the result of Hollywood scriptwriters. Further, perhaps no other Military than the U.S has studied the intricate uses and abuses of torture in order to ensure they do not fall afoul of their own constitution. A constraint not hindering many Islamic nations.
Taken in this cultural context the “torture” claimed by Khadr is akin to asserting that only being offered milk instead of lemon with his tea constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment”.
3) It is true that Canadian Courts ahve been kind to Khadr – but most of these decisions do not prove any government “conspiracy”. The merely serve to clarify valuable legal points that have arisen from legislation that has been rolled out since 9/11.
When comparing Khadr to the case of Maher Arar - it is worth remembering that Arar was returned to his former county of origin – Syria – via extraordinary rendition. This early case reinforced the importance for our Security Services not to expose new Canadians – even those suspected of allegedly treasonous actions – to greater harm when extradited. In Khadr’s Supreme Court of Canada challenge – it was determined that Canada’s Foreign Affairs bureaucrats can not advocate for a Canadian facing a legal issue in a foreign country and then betray that confidence – regardless of the national security outcomes. It is a simple situation of preventing a conflict of interest – not a new restriction on international diplomacy.
And one can hardly equate Syria to America (or in Khadr’s case its stand-in, Gitmo).
The self-serving propaganda piece in teh Ottawa Citizen repeats the same arguments that have been made by Khadr’s Legal advisers ad nausium for the past 4 years – there is nothing new. It merely shows us how deep the deception of our mainstream media has become that NO ONE apart from Sun Media was sensate enough to bother with a cogent deconstruction of the moral confusion, half-truths and hatred of our own Canadian values and U.S allies misrepresented by Khadr and his counsel.
And the final indignity was to post the OpEd on the same day that we morn the cruel and needless death of a decent young Canadian – instead of shining a light on a POS.