Once again, the case of Omar Khadr is causing a firestorm. The Conservatives are up in arms. But Jamie Carroll reviews the facts of the case:
Notwithstanding his sins — or the sins of his family — Omar Khadr was a 15-year-old boy with Canadian citizenship when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight at a suspected al Qaida compound in Afghanistan in 2002 that resulted in the death of American army medic Sgt. Christopher Speer. His country didn’t give a rat’s ass about whether he lived or died for more than a decade.
Brought from Mississauga to the tribal regions of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border by his jihadist father when he was 14, Omar Khadr was taken from the scene of that firefight unconscious and very seriously wounded. When medics discovered him under the rubble left behind by A-10 Warthogs and other heavy ordinance, he repeatedly begged them to kill him. He was given initial medical treatment at Bagram AFB by United States military personnel. The extent and quality of that (and subsequent) treatment has never been clear.
For the next ten years — from the age of 16 to 26 – Omar Khadr was a prisoner of the United States government in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Housed with adult prisoners, he was subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ for months on end (following the death of another inmate, Khadr’s principle interrogator, Joshua Claus, was convicted of maltreatment and assault). Khadr eventually confessed to his captors.
During those same ten years, the Canadian government did almost nothing to secure Khadr’s removal to a non-military jurisdiction in the U.S., or to repatriate him home for trial in Canada. Oh, the usual paperwork was filled and letters sent, and a series of ministers (and prime ministers) expressed concern before the cameras when asked from time to time about “that Canadian kid in Gitmo.” But that was it.
The Supreme Court has decreed that Khadr's fundamental rights were violated and has directed the government to initiate a remedy. There is a price to be paid when justice is delayed. You can bet that almost no one wanted to pay that price. But you can also bet that price comes with good legal advice.
The money should be paid -- and we should get over it.
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