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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Retired BC zoologist leaves Omar Khadr $700 in his will


Jack Hallam, an 84 year old retired zoologist, has left Khadr $700 dollars to help pay for his education and because he thought that Khadr had been treated badly both by the U.S. and Canadian government.
Hallam told the Canadian Press:
"I think the young man has been treated abominably.His story just moved me. He was tortured, he was kept in solitary confinement, he had light deprivation."
Hallam said that he had been in contact with Khadr's tutor from Alberta who had helped Khadr while he was imprisoned in Guantanamo. In a plea bargain, Khadr pleaded guilty in October 2010 before a military tribunal to five war crimes including murder in violation of the rules of war. In return, he was sentenced to 8 years but was allowed to return to Canada to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Canada did less than nothing for Khadr while he was in Guantanamo, unlike other countries such as the UK who tried to get their citizens in Guantanamo repatriated.
The Khadr family is very unpopular in Canada since they are all associated with Al Qaeda. Abdurahman Khadr, who was also at Guantanamo Bay, worked as a CIA spy for some time. An older brother, Abduallah, who returned to Canada in 2005, was arrested at the request of the U.S. He was kept jailed for five years while an extradition request was reviewed. However, in 2010 the Ontario Supreme Court ordered his release citing "shocking and unjustifiable" human rights violations. Stephen Harper and the Conservative government probably gained politically by their strong endorsement of letting the U.S. legal process take its course.
American military lawyers began educating Khadr in November of 2008. John Norris, one of Khadr's Canadian lawyers said:
"His American military defence lawyers deserve tremendous credit. And one of them, who I think had visited Canada once or twice, had to learn Canadian geography so he could sit down with Omar and teach him Canadian geography."
The aim was to provide courses equivalent to high school. He is currently about half way through a program of Canadian geography and history. He has been helped by a tutor in Edmonton. Norris said of Khadr's educational goals:
"He has said in the past that he's very interested in some kind of a medical career, a paramedic or something of that nature, and he remains committed to that idea. But I think as he continues to learn and is exposed to different things he may get other ideas."
Norris said of Canada's role :
"There was an abysmal failure on Canada's part to come to his aid and to defend him as a child, which obviously he was and which Canada, on many different fronts, was obliged to do.Instead of doing that, they really threw up their hands and said, `We're going to let the American process run its course.
On the American side, they threw him into a place where no one belongs, an utterly illegal and illegitimate detention facility. But Omar particularly did not belong there because of the clear international consensus that children should not be prosecuted with anything in connection with a war or a war crime."
Khadr was fifteen at the time of his capture. However as Norris mentions neither the U.S. nor Canada took any note of their obligations to Khadr as a child soldier.
The murder charge against Khadr was possible only under the weird legal doctrines that the U.S. uses. Khadr was in a firefight and the compound he was in had been bombed and he himself badly wounded. He threw the grenade after the U.S..attackers moved in after the bombing--assuming he did throw the grenade since another person was alive at the time. The other person who was alive was shot dead but Khadr was spared, as an intelligence officer thought he might have useful intelligence.
If Khadr had belonged to a regular armed forces unit of a recognized state he would not be charged with murder. Killing enemy soldiers when they attack or even before they attack is what you do in warfare.
However, Khadr is an unlawful combatant and so if he kills his attacker this is murder. A much meatier discussion of the issue can be found here. The conflict between jihadists and regular armed forces is not only asymmetrical warfare, there are also asymmetrical legal rights. The U.S. and other armed forces have the right to kill them but the jihadists are unlawful combatants and have no rights to attack their military foes. If they kill any it is murder. This could be called legal asinine asymmetry.
Many legal theorists have pointed out that CIA agents and contractors who operate drone programs are unlawful combatants and hence are murderers committing crimes in violation of the laws of war, just like Khadr. Here is a sample of the asinine asymmetrical legal reasoning clearly set out in a Washington Post article. .
Every day, CIA agents and CIA contractors arm and pilot armed unmanned drones over combat zones in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including Pakistani tribal areas, to search out and kill Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. In terms of international armed conflict, those CIA agents are, unlike their military counterparts but like the fighters they target, unlawful combatants. No less than their insurgent targets, they are fighters without uniforms or insignia, directly participating in hostilities, employing armed force contrary to the laws and customs of war. Even if they are sitting in Langley, the CIA pilots are civilians violating the requirement of distinction, a core concept of armed conflict, as they directly participate in hostilities.
So when will these murderers be brought to court to be punished for their murders?


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