Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama brings justice, where Harper pathetically failed to act

Judge grants Obama request to adjourn war-crimes case against Omar Khadr
Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 | 10:10 AM ET
Canadian Press

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - The military judge presiding over Omar Khadr's war-crimes case granted an adjournment of 120 days on Wednesday at the request of U.S. President Barack Obama and the defence immediately called on the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to seek to repatriate the young Canadian.

The freshly minted president said he needed the hiatus while he reviews the case of Khadr and 244 other detainees held at this infamous prison, according to prosecution documents.

The defence, which had earlier pushed hard for the charges to be stayed, did not oppose the motion.

"The practical effect of this ruling is to pronounce this military process dead," Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, Khadr's lawyer, said minutes after the judge, Col. Patrick Parrish, granted the continuance in a single-line ruling.

The options now open to Obama, who during his election campaign promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay, is to attempt to try the detainees in a U.S. federal or military court.

He could also establish a special terrorist court, although most observers consider that unlikely, in part because Democrats in Congress oppose such a move.

Detainees not considered dangerous could be sent back home, or to third countries, including Canada.

The Toronto-born Khadr, 22, is charged under an internationally condemned military commissions process with killing an American soldier in violation of the rules of war.

He is alleged to have thrown a hand grenade following a four-hour firefight near Khost, Afghanistan, in July 2002, when he was just 15.

Khadr is the lone westerner still held at Guantanamo, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to get involved, saying the proceedings here had to run their course.

Kuebler said Harper can no longer "hide behind" that argument.

"There is now no excuse, no reason whatsoever, for the prime minister not to do what really in our view has always been the right thing and intervene and get Omar Khadr, this Canadian citizen, back to Canada for the help and support that he needs."

The defence had originally wanted all charges stayed against Khadr and the other detainees, who include the accused conspirators in the horrendous 9-11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Kuebler said the suspension decision until May 20, 2009, is good enough, saying he hoped serious negotiations would now start with the Harper government about getting Khadr home.

"He is anxious, he is nervous, he doesn't quite know what is going to happen - none of us does," Kuebler said of his client.

"He's hopeful, as we are, that this is finally going to create the conditions under which the Canadian government can do the responsible thing."


CAITI said...

Subject: The rule of law
From; Barack Obama
To: Stephen Harper


Did you catch the part of my inaugural address yesterday where I said: "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals"

Are you not concerned about the welfare of Canadian citizens incarcerated by foreign nations?

Please advise.

Barack Obama

Dr Mike said...

Harper believes in two rules of law & these two only , "My way or the Highway" & "you are Guilty till proven innocent".

Good luck to Khadr--he is going to need it if he is brought back here for trial.

Dr Mike.

Anonymous said...

Could this be a bit of payback from Obama to Harper...a bit of embarrassment? It sure makes Harper look pathetic and powerless


Anonymous said...

Hopefully this is just the start of Obama manipulating Harper. Harper has it coming to him for what he did to Obama with regard to NAFTA. Having tossed the neo-cons in the US I am sure Obama would have no qualms about getting ours tossed as well. A liberal government would be much better for Obama than a neo-con harperite one. You actually have to believe what you are agreeing on and its Obvious that the current government has a record of being against progressiveness and policies that actually work (liberal ones)