Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Defending Omar Khadr

The US military may have unwittingly tripped itself up on Wednesday by offering these proclamations about a video they discovered allegedly containing boys recruited by al Qaeda in Iraq.

Here are some quotes from their news conference:

The insurgent group “wants to poison the next generation of Iraqis,” said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, an American spokesman, at a briefing about the group’s use of women and children.

Military officials say they believe that the tapes are used during sessions with children in “the process of indoctrination and training that starts early to ensure they grow up to become future terrorists when they become of age,” he said.

If I was one of Omar Khadr's lawyers, I'd definitely grab onto those words along with these spoken by Major General Geoffrey Miller (torture-loving asshole that he is) back in 2003, referring to other juveniles held in Gitmo at the time:

Miller recommended that the Defense Department send them home because he had determined that they had been "kidnapped into terrorism," posed a low risk, and had no further intelligence to provide.

Saying that children are being indoctrinated or that they've been "kidnapped into terrorism" runs contrary to what government lawyers have claimed in their case against Omar Khadr as he languishes in Gitmo. To the contrary, they are more than willing to refuse to see Khadr as one of those indoctrinated children and are attempting to hold him responsible for crimes allegedly committed when he was a child soldier - just as the boys al Qaeda has recruited in Iraq would be labeled.

The US military and the Bush administration can't have it both ways. They release videos like this to point out how ruthless al Qaeda supposedly is towards children while trying to prosecute the one child soldier (that we know of) that they have in custody.

On top of that, new evidence in Khadr's case shows just how dishonest the US military has been in its zeal to prosecute him as they try to pile on even more charges against him:

The document inadvertently handed out to the media in a military courtroom here on Monday shows that, according to the U.S. witness who was closest to the action, there was one other fighter alive inside an Afghan compound during a 2002 gun battle when a grenade was lobbed at U.S. troops entering the compound, killing Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer. It had long been assumed that Mr. Khadr was the only person alive inside the compound at the time, and thus must have thrown the grenade. Sgt. Speer's killing is the basis of the murder charge against the Canadian.
The revelation that one other person was alive inside the compound when the grenade was lobbed cast doubt on whether Mr. Khadr was the only person who could have thrown the grenade. No U.S. personnel actually saw him toss it. The witness quoted in the document also says he saw two men dead under the rubble and debris when he entered the compound. Since the two men may well have been killed by the air strikes, they could have fired on the two Afghan soldiers.

And, check out this this stunningly arrogant piece of US propaganda:

U.S. NAVAL BASE GUANTANAMO, CUBA - The chief military prosecutor in the Omar Khadr case says the fact the Canadian terror suspect survived after a U.S. operative shot him twice is a testament to the "way America fights."

That's right: Khadr should be grateful that he's in Gitmo because some "U.S. operative" couldn't shoot straight. Anyone who believes he was actually spared as some sort of twisted show of compassion is a fool.

Frankly, this is just infuriating and shows just how completely convoluted the US military spin has been in this case:

"What does it show that he is alive today?" Morris told Canwest News Service Wednesday. "It shows how America fights; that we instantly go to the aid of somebody who is out of combat, as we did there.

"But for the instant vigilant response of our military and medical personnel he would not have lived."

He was shot - twice - in the back. The reason he was treated is because the "operative" didn't manage to kill him. Does anybody think he was somehow aiming at Khadr's toes to save him from death?

The Bush administration takes pride in the fact that it will be the first country to try a child soldier.

The longer this goes on, the worse it gets. I don't give a damn about "America's reputation" in all of this. That was soiled years ago, and rightly so. What I do care about however is justice - a concept totally foreign to this sham military tribunal system.

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