Omar Khadr’s two Canadian lawyers – John Norris and Brydie Bethell – have stepped down as his counsel. In a notice of motion to Federal Court, where Khadr is suing the federal government for breaching his constitutional rights, Norris said they are withdrawing as his counsel “for reasons they are not at liberty to disclose to the court.”
Norris and Bethell took over the file in August 2011, when Khadr abruptly fired two lawyers from Edmonton, Dennis Edney and Nate Whitling.
Khadr is eligible for day parole in March 2013, but his recent classification as maximum security makes any parole highly unlikely for at least another two years.
In an interview, Norris denied Khadr had axed the duo, saying they “withdrew.”
“We regret very much having to take this step,” Norris said. “We wish him well.”
Edney has long been fiercely critical of the legal representation Khadr has had, both in striking the Gitmo plea deal and since the conviction.
Hopes for overturning Khadr’s conviction based on the success of a recent appeal to the U.S Supreme Court (Oct 16, 2012: Hamdan v. USA, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, No. 11-1257.) seem remote. The crux of Hamdan’s Appeal was based on an illegitimate charge – providing material assistance to the enemy – not existing in law when committed (ie it was retroactively brought into law and then applied). In Khadr’s case there is no doubt he was engaged in belligerent activity in the July 2002 fire-fight.
I listened to this short clip (7:30 mm:ss) dated Jan 14, 2013 from NPR entitled “Guantanamo Bay Still Unresolved” recapping Obama’s 2008 election promises to “Shut Down Gitmo” and that “America doesn’t Torture” and why he failed to execute on those bold claims after taking office January 20, 2009.
Guests include NPR’s Counter Terrorism expert Dina Temple-Rastman and Karen Greenberg – Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University‘s School of Law. Ms Greenberg wrote “The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days” (Oxford University Press, 2009) selected one of the best books in 2009 by the Washington Post and SLATE.com.
Among some points made:
- Obama had said” Shutdown of Gitmo and stopping torture are part of my efforts to regain America’s moral stature in the world.”
- Ms. Temple-Rastman said that this month marks the 11th Anniversary* of Gitmo and it may be even further from closing than it was 4 years ago. Congress has “effectively tied the Presidents hands on this” by making it almost impossible to transfer detainees out of the facility, the Military Commission procedures for trying detainees is a “glacial process” and 46 detainees remain under “indefinite detention” meaning that the Obama Administration “doesn’t think that they can be released but they also think that they can not try them.”
- Ms. Greenberg suggests concerns remain by the Legal Community about the Civil Liberties of detainees subject to “unlimited detention” and who else might be subject to this kind of treatment?
- Are any remaining Constitutional issues about Gitmo? No. Various Task Forces effectively accepted that fact that we need to put these people somewhere and not establishing a permanent structure to deal with them.
- Temple-Rastman believes that Gitmo remains a high priority of AG Eric Holder and as the Drone Strategy so successfully employed by the Obama Administration draws to a close as all Al Queada operatives have been killed/eliminated – the “War on Terror” is over – then the closure of Gitmo will have to addressed and how remaining detainees are dealt with.
- When the “War on Terror” is declared over – there will no longer be an argument to hold this facility open.
* The exact date was Jan 11, 2002. Interestingly a Canadian who in Sept 2002 was improperly deported to Syria (he had dual Syrian/Canadian citizenship) and eventually received $10.3 million compensation for this treatment – Maher Arar – was featured in this “Raging Granny” Protest Event along side Amnesty International in Palo Alto CA.
A good use of the old Herbal Essence ad – from Radio-Canada’s New Years show, Bye-Bye.
h/t Brigitte Pellerin
Reporter Deputy Editorial Pages Editor Kate Heartfield wrote a year-end filler piece Dec 29, 2012 bemoaning how long it had taken for Omar Khadr to be returned under the ITOA (International Transfer of Offenders Act). She had just received the result of her April 2012 Access to Information Request (8mths is not bad as I believe the standard is 6mths and this involved a 518p document involving multiple departments.) She was upset most of it was redacted. Duh! This is a sensitive national Terrorist issue involving our major military partner! Anyways – to cut to the chase – it took 2 months longer than normal (10 mths) as the request was made in Oct 2012 and Khadr arrived in Canada on Sept 29, 2012. That’s it.
However, my colleague SM wrote a excellent response that did not get published in the Letters to the Editor – so here it is:
Re: Arguments; Khadr transfer delays remain inexplicable; 2012/12/29; Kate Heartfield
Here we are with an admitted and unrepentant killer sitting in our backyard, one whose crimes should be paid for in a 40 year jail term in an American jail not here in Canada at all, and a respected leading “national” newspaper is wasting column space asking meaningless questions about why his transfer was “delayed” instead of helping us find answers to important and meaningful questions.
The first question still is why this government made this questionable and strangely unique repatriation decision in the first place? After all, we allow dozens of far less hardened and threatening killers to languish and die in foreign jails all the time. Why is it that a self-admitted killer who never disavowed his actions, continues to declare his pride in his violent acts, who has been finely tuned to a program of terrorism by an evil father and family, whose own defenders admit remains a radicalized jihadist, is so coddled by our Justice Minister? Why was Toews still misleading the public and giving interviews with journalists, talking tough, stating that the decision had not been made, and wouldn’t be made until “I get good answers to some important questions”, in the summer of 2012 when, in fact, “obviously we will approve the transfer to Canada” was a fact at least in March of 2012? Why was he playing out this phony political game and misleading Canadians?
Why did this Canadian government agree to accept such a drastically reduced sentence for Khadr’s crimes which they knew would have him wandering freely among us in a few months when we were told by several legal and medical experts that he remained radical and dangerous? Purely from a political point of view this decision is baffling. Every even remotely objective poll in this country told them most Canadians didn’t want him here and certainly a huge majority of their conservative constituency most certainly did not.
These are the important questions of this Khadr repatriation issue that the public wants and needs answered. We are forced to accept this killer in our midst and we want to know when and why and which of our political leaders should be held responsible for this cowardly decision. Instead of our media asking these pivotal and important questions people like Heartfield are given news column space so she can continue to try to milk this misguided security decision by our government for some liberal/progressive point scores on why a bad decision wasn’t made more hastily!
SM – StopKhadrEdmonton
To all the bleeding hearts “Human Rights” Lawyers who suggested that Omar Khadr was “tortured” at Gitmo because he was subjected to “frequent flyer” treatment (sleep deprivation where he had to sleep in a cell with light on 24hrs and checked to see if he was sensate by being shaken awake every hr) or the un-proven allegations that enemy combatants were subjected to “water-boarding” by Americans in Afghanistan – this is what torture is.
A “Death of a Thousand Cuts”, literally.
Assad Supporters Torture Captives To Death
The fundraising for the Speers Kid’s Fund ended on Dec 30 and $42,921 was raised – just $7,200 short of it’s $50,000 target. You can continue to send $US postal orders or cheques payable to:
“Winder and Counsel in Trust for Tabitha Speer”
and mail to:
Winder and Counsel
460 South 400 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111