Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Stephen Harper, Omar Khadr, and the Con War On the Supreme Court

I wrote my first post about the case of Omar Khadr just over seven years ago. And since then I have written more than eighty others.

I have always considered the way that Canadian child soldier was treated to be one of the worst travesties of justice in the history of this country. 

And I believe Stephen Harper's cruel treatment of that young Canadian to be an absolute abomination.

So you can imagine how I felt when I saw that Khadr had finally won a measure of justice.

Convicted terrorist Omar Khadr has won a major victory over the federal government in a court ruling that says he should be treated as if he were sentenced as a youth. After a decade of incarceration stretching back to when he was 15, it is as close as the Canadian al-Qaeda recruit has come to being declared a child soldier

Only to see that the brutish Harperite cult would deny him even that.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said a youth sentence is not appropriate for Mr. Khadr. He said the government will appeal to the Supreme Court, and would also seek an order blocking the transfer while the appeal is being heard.

Would try to keep a quiet, gentle, model prisoner, in a place full of dangerous violent convicts. One of whom has already tried to stab him, for not serving him an extra helping in the prison cafeteria.

After all he has suffered...

Victimized by his ghastly family, forced by his father to join the Taliban, horribly wounded and then tortured by the Americans in a hell hole like Guantanamo, abandoned and betrayed by his own government, and then singled out for special punishment by the Con regime.

The ruling is a vindication of the view held by lawyers for Mr. Khadr that the Conservative government went out of its way to treat their client harshly – more harshly than the laws of Canada allow.

But then Stephen Harper doesn't really care about Omar Khadr, apart from the obvious pleasure he derives from inflicting pain on others. 

He just wants to use the Khadr case to pleasure his rabid base, and as more ammunition in his war on "liberal judges" and the Supreme Court. 

For why else would the Cons refer the case to the Supreme Court? When they already know which way the court will almost certainly rule, having ruled against them TWICE before. 

Why are they setting up so many cases up for failure? The latest being their flawed prostitution bill.

Except as I said last night, to try to pit the mob against the Supreme Court to help him win the next election....

Even if it turns our justice system into the law of the jungle. And our country into a police state or a mad house.

You know, over the many years of writing about Khadr I've been bombarded with hate mail from the kind of right-wing crazies who worship at the altar of people like Ezra Levant. Which as you can imagine is pretty foul stuff.

But what bothered me far more was the indifference of so many other more decent Canadians, who didn't seem to care about Omar's fate. No doubt because they hated his family, as if that should have anything to do with the way they feel about him.

And as I supported those who fought for justice and our Canadian values, and tried to keep his memory alive...

I would always tell the indifferent or the complacent the same thing: If Stephen Harper could treat a young Canadian like that and get away with it, he would treat others the same way one day. 

For in his handling of the Khadr case he had proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he is truly capable of ANYTHING.

So today I would say to them look at the monster now...

Now more depraved, desperate, and dangerous than ever. And willing to do ANYTHING to win the next election.

And repeat what I've always said.

Omar Khadr was a child soldier, who never should have been treated the way he was, and should be released as soon as possible.

Stephen Harper should never have been a Canadian Prime Minister.

And until the glorious day when him and his foul Cons are defeated.

The rule of law hangs in the balance.

And nobody in this country is truly safe...

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  1. Simon:

    I agree with you about all of this.

    I've always thought Omar Khadr got a raw deal in life, starting with the family he was born into, being a classic example of a child soldier in Afghanistan, then taken into the stain on human rights that was Gitmo in the Bush years, betrayed by the Canadian government and then used as a personal political whipping boy by the Harper CPC.

    I've heard/seen many times people say why should we be responsible for him, why should we pay for anything to do with him, and the answer for me is simple, he is still a Canadian citizen. I also recognize that he was clearly indoctrinated from an extremely young age by his family and father especially into some very dangerous and delusional beliefs and taken while still a child from Canada to Afghanistan under the Taliban where he was taught that this was the proper way for him and his to live and a way of life to protect from outsiders, turned into a child soldier, and then did what any such child soldier would have done in his shoes to an invading army.

    The whole point about treating child soldiers differently that we were so strongly pushing in the pre-Harper days internationally was because they are as much victims as anyone they harm while acting as such, and Omar Khadr clearly fit that description from what I saw. Khadr's confession came after many years of extreme incarceration and unknown levels of torture at Gitmo, which by definition makes it untrustworthy, and after 8 years being treated like a non-entity in every legal sense, who could be disappeared down the rabbit hole forever if the USA wanted, he chose to "confess" his crimes to finally escape such a nightmare situation, where jail in the mainstream system was a step up for him, who could blame him regardless of the actual merits if any where the actual facts of the case were concerned.

    I have been quite disappointed as well by the failure of so many of my fellow Canadians to recognize just how raw a deal this man has had from our government. We have the law and rule of law in place to prevent such abuses based on whether someone is likeable or not to us, it is there to make sure true/real justice is done and seen to be done, and in this case neither standard has been seen at all, at least not until this most recent ruling perhaps.

    Kahdr may not be the ideal Canadian citizen, may not be someone any of us want living next to us, but that does not excuse us as Canadians for failing to hold our government to account for failing to act in his best interests as a Canadian citizen, because when you stomp on the rights of one citizen you stomp on all of ours, regardless of how much the stompee may be an ugly and/or unwanted example of a Canadian citizen. Kahdr deserved better from us, not so much perhaps because he himself deserved it (although given his early indoctrination in life I would suggest that there is more there than some are willing to acknowledge) but because we are supposed to believe in and require it from ourselves and our nation/government because we are proud Canadians with the long history of standing for the human rights and the rule of law.

    This has been one of our national shames I would submit, one of many under the Harper regime perhaps but still a serious one.

    1. hi Scotian...I consider the story of Omar Khadr to be our Dreyfus case, a story of ignorance and prejudice, and a hideous stain on this country's reputation. For what else can you say about a country that was the FIRST to sign the U.N. Protocol of Child Soldiers, only to be the first to ignore it?
      And what makes it even worse, if that possible, is that despite everything that was done to him, Omar remains by the accounts of all who have known him in this country and Guantanamo, a really nice guy. Who blames his family for getting him into trouble, is not a jihadist, and wants to be a healthcare worker so he can help heal the wounds of others. Even though he is blind in one eye and still riddled with shrapnel.
      And I said in my post, the day this country forgot what it used to stand for, was the day it began its slow descent into darkness...

    2. Simon:

      I'll take your word on what the man is like, I haven't followed in as great a detail s you clearly have, but what I do know is more than enough for me to feel as I wrote. I don't trust anything that comes out of the so called courts at Gitmo, I never have. I am a big rule of law kind of guy, I also know more than enough history including military history to know that torture is almost always a failure as an intelligence gathering tool (and even in the rare times it is not how can you tell the difference) on the practical level which should have been more than enough without the obvious moral/ethical issues to have kept it from ever being used.

      However, those that chose to use the 9/11/01 attack to whip up fear and retribution to advance their political agendas in the US leadership clearly weren't interested in what worked, but what they saw as politically expedient (I've often wondered if the reason they went so big on torture from the outset was to stain the hands of their at that time subordinated opposition with that evil so as to weaken them for down the road as well as to protect themselves from being prosecuted by them once they fell from power, I mean lets remember the atmosphere in the USA in the months immediately after that attack, to be even slightly oppositional to the Bush/Cheney regime was totally political suicide).

      What they did while claiming to be fighting their enemies abroad was in reality fight their political enemies at home, they abused the trust Americans traditionally give to their leaders/Presidents when a major national crisis happens and got closer to be truly equatable with the Nazis/Soviets than they had ever been in my lifetime. There were not and are not the words to adequately describe my sense of horror, sickness, disgust, ad fury as I watched this unfold as it happened, I was raised by those who saw first hand the horrors of WWI and WWII (including someone very high up in the Canadian Intelligence establishment as well as combatants) and knew far too much of the realities of war and of the soul damage that comes to both individuals and societies when they fail to adhere to rule of law even/especially in such horrific times.

      Omar Kadhr was clearly caught up in that wave and was just another casualty of the Bush/Cheney war on the Democratic Party (which is how I've always really seen the actions of then post 9/11/01), the true "war on terror" was the war of terror they waged on their own people to whip them into a blind frenzy so as to maintain political control and to try and create a long term power block that they would be aligned with in the long term. That is what Omar Kadhr was sacrificed for in my books, and Harper was just following in the footsteps of those whose feet he so clearly learned from, which given both he and Cheney are Straussians is hardly surprising.

      I've tended to watch the Kadhr case from the political aspect more than the personal, but that does not change the fact that I recognize his humanity and the way it has been diminished by those against him politically, and even by those who fail to recognize that we owe him the same consideration we do all of our citizens, even those we may not personally care for. Otherwise what good is the concept of citizen to begin with?

      Anyway, good job with this issue Simon.

  2. What a travesty. I know this is stupid, but one would think that there must be a way to sue Stevie and his orcs for these clear violations of Omar's civil rights. While criminal charges might not be possible, a 'full court press' with a civil suit with a claim for millions in damages might go a long way to do the same thing in the court of public opinion.

    1. hi is a travesty, but the good news is that Khadr and his heroic legal team is planning to sue the Cons regime, and judging by the court record so far, I think he has a very good chance of collecting. In fact, although I didn't mention it in my post, it may also be a reason Stephen Harper wants to keep him locked up. But luckily for him our courts are finally making their presence felt, so after so many years I am hopeful that he will soon be free, and that Harper's day of justice is coming...

  3. Anonymous9:08 AM

    With all due respect, Simon, Khadr is in harpie's oubliette and will stay there ad infinitum, or at least as long as he's in power. By the by, how many Canadian soldiers did Khadr kill? None? Do you think harpie wanted to use him as a test case so the 'murkans would see what kind of ruff-n-ready kind of cowboy he is and give him a free pass for the XL so he could run his tarsands oil through the u.s.?
    Most of the right-wingnut base has never been in the military or fired a gun or even pointed one at somebody else in anger. They tend to be the old, fat, WHITE, used-to-be- middle class here in Canada or the u.s. or most other countries these days, that feel like they have become obsolete and so they take out their rage because of their lost youth and importance on the weakest, easiest targets as long as somebody else or somebody else's kids are in harm's way or doing the "wet work". It's easy to talk tough when you don't have to face the bad guys one-on-one and harpie's base, for the huge majority part, don't do well mano e mano so they "elect" pseudo tough guys like harpie and vic tweeze and mckay to be "tough on crime and/or terror" for them. They feel like hard guys once again but they don't get bloody or have to listen to the screams. Nice arrangement, eh?
    I feel sorry for Khadr but not as much as you do. Child soldiers are still killers, Simon, with no mercy for you as their target, regardless of how they got there. What has happened to him is all too common in today's world of the "P.W.O.T." (borrowed from Ranger Against War) and will continue into the unforeseeable future because "we" will always need a new bad guy to be terrorized by and, if there isn't one available, "they" will invent a new one. "They" kept Bin Laden alive for almost 10 years after his real death and look how well that's still working for them.
    God Bless Us, Every One.

    Salaam and Shalom,
    Mahmoud Steinmannberg

    1. hi Mahmoud...I have studied the Khadr case closely, and I am almost sure he didn't kill anyone. Since at the time he is accused of throwing the grenade he had been riddled with shrapnel from a ferocious air attack, blinded in both eyes, and was kneeling facing away from the action, when he was shot twice in the back, and there was another Taliban guerrilla who had survived the aerial bombardment firing away at the Americans. The Pentagon however tried to cover that up, and what I also strongly suspect is that the American soldier was killed by his own men when a grenade thrown from the rear fell short. Finally I should say is that it doesn't matter what you or I think about child soldiers, the fact is that the laws that govern us consider them victims, and dictate that they should be rescued and reformed rather than punished. A young offender is a young offender. And if child soldiers in Africa who have committed the most frightful atrocities can be rehabilitated why can't Omar Khadr. Especially since he was just a cook or a tea boy, and the idea that he should be the only soldier in Afghanistan to be accused of murder in a war zone is absolutely outrageous....

  4. Simon there is so much more horror yet to be revealed. Like Harpers cynical picks that would never pass for the Supreme court. If he was a real world leader offer him a choice.

    1. hi Steve...I haven't written anything yet about the latest horror in the Middle East because I find the story so depressing and I blame both sides. They really are like two scorpions in a bottle, trapped in a never ending cycle of violence, and they both need to be pressured into ending that madness...

  5. The house where Omar was shot in the back and then taken into custody had been under severe attack from the air (with multiple large bombs dropped on it) and ground for hours. How a person, be they a child soldier or civilian can be charged with and convicted of murder when their house is under attack is beyond me. By the time Khadr was shot in the back and captured he was the only surviving inhabitant of the house.

    According to some accounts the US medic was killed by an American made grenade not available to Khadr and his compadres. Of course miltary tribunals held in Gitmo have nothing to do with justice or facts and if Khadr hadn't pled guilty (whether guilty or not) he would still be in Gitmo. I believe that in the future Omar will successfully sue the government of Canada for more than Maher Arar, as the crimes committed against Omar were far greater than those inflicted on Arar!

    1. hi kootcoot...yes as I mentioned above I am familiar with every detail of what happened the day Omar Khadr was wounded and captured. The reason I believe that he had nothing to do with the killing of that American soldier was because before the fatal grenade exploded he had been badly wounded in those air attacks. And a slightly built kid with shrapnel in his eyes and all over his body would not be in condition to do anything. And although the Pentagon tried to conceal the fact, there was another Taliban fighter in the compound, who was able to fire at the Americans until he was also killed. Although I also believe that the American soldier might also have been killed by a grenade thrown by his own men, and that in the Special Forces world, would also explain the obvious cover-up. But even if he had thrown the grenade he was a child soldier, the only reason he pleaded guilty before that kangaroo court was because he was facing a forty year sentence, and had you or I been in his position we would have done the same. The case is an absolute travesty of justice and Omar Khadr has been punished enough...

  6. Anonymous1:34 PM

    There are child soldiers in Africa and this is cruel situation for the children to be in. They have to kill to save the lives of their families and/or for their own lives.

    Canada has their own home grown terrorists. They go over and fight with the other terrorists. We have countries here, that believe in honor killing. Harper rips into Russia for annexing the Crimea. Harper says nothing about China doing the same exact thing. China menaces and provokes other countries, trying to take their territories from them too.

    There were child soldiers in WW2 as well. Our soldiers were shocked, they were firing on kids. However, those kids were vicious and extremely dangerous.

    However, wars are not started by kids. They just have to fight in wars, whether they want to or not. It is as they say? Old men start wars and young men die fighting them.

    1. hi anon...there are thousands of child soldiers in the world, and although they are responsible for horrible atrocities, the people who recruit them usually by force, are the ones who should be punished. As you point out our troops had the misfortune to come up against the Hitler Youth in the aftermath of Normandy, and they were savage fanatics. But they at least were volunteers, and Omar Khadr never had that choice. He would never have left Canada, or joined the Taliban unless his terrorist and extremely domineering father hadn't forced him. All child soldiers are victims of adults, and Omar is a victim as well...

  7. Anonymous5:21 PM

    Thank you for speaking up for Omar for so many years. You are a very moral person and an inspiration.

    1. hi anon...well thank you for that. I am proud to say that my parents taught me to try to do the right thing, however unpopular that might be. Although I do have to add, that although I try to do the right thing, my halo is slightly dented, and as all my friends would be only too happy to tell you, I am no saint... ;)