Khadr trial will be a window into America's war on terror

Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 09:42 am
August 7, 2010
Khadr trial will be a window into America's war on terror
By Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — Across his eight years in U.S. custody, Americans have seen Canadian Omar Khadr grow from a child found near dead in a war zone in Afghanistan to a brooding, weeping teenager and more recently a defiant young man spurning a guilty plea deal at Guantanamo.

They've seen him cast as, alternately, a child of jihad who hurled a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in battle in Afghanistan in 2002 or a 15-year-old captured far from his native Toronto and then tortured into confessing to a crime he now denies.

Prosecutors say Khadr, now 23, was an "unprivileged enemy belligerent'' when he joined elders on a night mission in Afghanistan, planting mines. They call it a war crime.

Defense lawyers see a "child soldier'' whose father introduced him to al Qaida at age 10 and deserved the protections of an innocent offered up to war.

While his coming trial must tackle those competing tales, the first full war crimes prosecution of the Obama administration may reveal much more:

Some key questions:

How did the U.S. wage war on al Qaida and the Taliban?

Testimony should take the jurors back to the summer of 2002 and the U.S. military's major combat operations in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a time when Guantanamo's prison camps were months old and the Taliban was on the run.

After nearly a decade, many Americans have soured on the Afghanistan mission. Back then, however, before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. forces were still exploring their turf after the battles of Tora Bora, hunting Osama bin Laden and other al Qaida leaders.

U.S. Special Forces found Khadr inside a compound while chasing a tip that someone inside was using a satellite phone.

Can the Pentagon mount a transparent trial? In years of pretrial hearings, the Pentagon has had witnesses testify anonymously or with their identities shielded in court — in one instance an Army colonel who ran the prison, had done named interviews with reporters and wore his name on his uniform still testified as Col. B.

Earlier this year, court security officers cleared the tribunal chamber of spectators while those with security clearances watched a Khadr interrogation video already posted on YouTube. Pentagon officials, however, have said they're eager to keep the proceedings transparent.

Did the U.S. lawfully interrogate captives? Khadr was held at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan from July 2002 until after his 16th birthday, then taken to Guantanamo — two interrogation and detention spots 8,000 miles apart that have seen their share of abuse complaints.

Pre-trial testimony has shown that interrogators scared him with a tale of rape into cooperating with his captors, shackled him hooded and crying inside a Bagram cell and questioned him while he was still chained to a stretcher, probably sedated. So before the trial even begins, the judge, Army Col. Patrick Parrish, has to decide first which, if any, of Khadr's incriminating statements can be brought to trial.

Did he do it? Next week's session opens with mental health experts testimony. Khadr's lawyers argue he was tortured into confessing to a crime he doesn't remember after his capture, near dead on July 27, 2002, in a firefight near Khost, Afghanistan. He'd been shot twice in the back, blinded in one eye and was buried in the rubble of two 500-pound bombs.

A former Army psychiatrist, retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, spent time with an adult Khadr and argues he suffered so much shock in the blasts that he only was telling his captors what they wanted to hear. The Pentagon hired Dr. Michael Welner, a high-profile forensic psychiatrist who may be best known for his use of a "Depravity Scale'' to evaluate evil. Welner has testified for the government in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping trial and in the Andrea Yates child drowning case.

Can justice be swift? On the calendar, at least, the Pentagon has carved out until Sept. 15 for the case of the Canadian who's spent a third of his life in custody of the U.S. military and has been charged in every version of military commissions since President George W. Bush ordered their creation.

Judge Parrish must finish up next week's pre-trial hearings to decide how much evidence, how many witnesses will be heard at the trial even before he seats a jury of U.S. military officers brought to Guantanamo from bases around the world.

Absent a guilty plea — Khadr said in July that he spurned an offer — it could go on for weeks. It could be worse. As the lone Western captive still at Guantanamo, Khadr is fluent in English (and three other languages) and needs no simultaneous translation.

How much will we hear from his Canadian family? Khadr's father, Ahmed Said, was allegedly an al Qaida financier until Pakistani security forces shot him to death in 2003. One of his brothers, Abdullah, was just freed last week from more than four years in Canadian prison while the courts examined then rebuffed a U.S. request for extradition to Boston as a suspected terrorist.

Don't expect the family at the trial, however. The Pentagon controls travel to and from the remote base and Canada grounded Khadr's mother, sisters and brothers after the 9/11 attacks, ending years living between Toronto, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Still, his brother Abdurahman, now 29 and free, may testify by video feed from Canada. Abdurahman also was held at Guantanamo for a time, and said he was a CIA informant. If Omar is convicted, his attorneys have him listed as a character witness — to describe their extremist father's influence in a Sins of the Father plea for leniency.

How much will we hear from the victims? Expect Michigan native Tabitha Speer. Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, 28, died of the grenade wounds he suffered in the firefight that ended with Khadr's capture, and Pentagon officials have said they'll bring his 40-year-old widow to watch the trial.

Unclear is whether Speer, who was working in a North Carolina beauty salon when her husband was killed, will bring the couple's children, an 11-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy who was 9 months old when his father went to war. Including Speer, five 82nd Airborne and Special Forces soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C., received Purple Hearts within two days of the firefight, two at Bagram air base in Afghanistan and three in Germany.

Will Khadr show up? If he refuses to come to court, the judge and prison camps commander will have to decide whether to use a tackle-and-shackle technique to force him out of the prison camps and into the court.

Khadr has called the war court a political sham. Parrish, the judge, never got a clear answer from Khadr on whether he'll come to his trial voluntarily. Stay tuned.

(Rosenberg reports for the Miami Herald.)

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/08/07/98800/khadr-trial-will-be-a-window-into.html#ixzz0w1tBpGYj
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Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2010 09:46 am
August 12, 2010
Guantanamo jury gives al Qaida cook 14-year sentence
Commentary By Carol Rosenberg | The Miami Herald

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — A military jury handed down a 14-year war crimes sentence against an al Qaida cook and driver Wednesday, unaware that prosecutors made a secret deal that will reportedly send him home much earlier.

The military commission of 10 U.S. military officers deliberated just over an hour at the $12 million maximum-security courtroom at Camp Justice to issue the for-the-record sentence against Ibrahim al Qosi, 50, of Sudan.

Earlier, Qosi's military judge Air Force Lt. Col. Nancy Paul instructed them that they could sentence him to anywhere between 12 and 15 years at Guantanamo because he pleaded guilty to conspiring with and supporting al Qaida on July 7.

Volunteer defense attorney Paul Reichler of Washington, D.C., who made no mention of the deal he sealed with the Pentagon, urged the jury to return the minimum.

"We wouldn't send Al Capone's cook to jail for cooking for Al Capone," he said. "Here the law does make it a crime to cook. We accept that."

This week's three-day sentencing hearing capped the first plea deal of the Obama administration and sought to close the book on one of the first captives brought here when the prison camps opened in January 2002. Qosi was also among the first captives charged in August 2004 when the Bush administration unveiled its first attempt at a war court, which the Roberts Supreme Court rule unconstitutional.

The al Arabiya satellite channel reported last month that Qosi was secretly promised he'd return to his native Sudan after two more years here. War court spokesmen refuse to confirm it.

But, under the formula for the first war crimes tribunals since World War II, a jury of junior-to field-grade American officers gets to decide his for-the-record sentence.

Human Rights Watch observer Andrew Prasow, a former war court defense attorney, called the proceedings "a farce."

"The fact that the actual plea agreement is secret calls into question how open and transparent these proceedings really are."

To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/08/12/99049/guantanamo-jury-gives-al-qaida.html#ixzz0wPIN7WMy
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Reply Tue 19 Oct, 2010 10:53 pm
Prosecutors say Khadr, now 23, was an "unprivileged enemy belligerent'' when he joined elders on a night mission in Afghanistan, planting mines. They call it a war crime.

Surely, not with a straight face. Then again, hypocrisy has been known to exist among Americans.
Reply Tue 19 Oct, 2010 10:54 pm
Khadr trial will be a window into America's war on terror

should read,

Khadr trial will be a window into America's terrorist invasions
0 Replies
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 09:42 am
JTT wrote:
Prosecutors say Khadr, now 23, was an "unprivileged enemy belligerent'' when he joined elders on a night mission in Afghanistan, planting mines. They call it a war crime.

Surely, not with a straight face. Then again, hypocrisy has been known to exist among Americans.

A very straight face. And no hypocrisy whatsoever.

Whether you call them an "unlawful combatant" or an "unprivileged belligerent" the result is the same.

If they engage in combat against American soldiers, they are guilty of attempted murder, even if that combat complies with the norms of civilized warfare.

If that combat kills an American soldier it's first-degree murder.
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 07:37 pm
Wipe that semen off your chin, Oralboy, and tell Uncle Sam that you aren't going to lie for him any more.
Reply Wed 1 Feb, 2012 12:57 am
JTT wrote:
Wipe that semen off your chin, Oralboy,

Stop being gross. (And namecalling is silly.)

JTT wrote:
and tell Uncle Sam that you aren't going to lie for him any more.

I never lie.
0 Replies

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