Omar Khadr vs. the Military Commissions

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Carol Rosenberg, the dean of the Guantanamo Bay reporters, has returned to the prison to cover the military commission hearings of Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen and alleged former child soldier who is charged with the killing of an American soldier in Afghanistan in 2002. (Rosenberg had previously been banned for re-reporting the previously-published name of a commission witness.) There have been rumors of a plea bargain in the case for months, but Khadr fired his lawyers last week. On Monday, he submitted a hand-written filing explaining to the judge why he wouldn’t agree to a deal and why he plans to boycott the proceedings. Rosenberg acquired an image of the filing; Marcy Wheeler has a transcription:

Your honor, I’m boycotting this military commission because:

Firstly, the unfairness and unjustice of it. I say this because not one of the lawyers I’ve had, or human right organization or any person say that the commission is fair, or looking for justice, but on the contrary they say it is unfair and unjust and that it has been constructed solely to convict detainees and not to find the truth (so how can I ask for justice from a process that does not have it or offer it?) 

“[T]he unfairness of the rules that will make a person so depressed that he will admit to alligations or take a plea offer that will satisfy the US government and get him the least sentence possible and ligitimize the show process. “

[new color ink—apparently added later] and to accomplish political and public goal and what I mean is when I was offered a plea bargain it was up to 30 years which I was going to spend only 5 years so I asked why the 30 years? I was told it make the US government look good in the public eyes and other political causes.

Secondly, the unfairness of the rules that will make a person so depressed that he will admit to alligations or take a plea offer that will satisfy the US government and get him the least sentence possible and ligitimize the show process. Therefore I will not willingly let the US gov use me to fullfil its goal. I have been used to many times when I was a child and that’s why I’m here taking blame and paying for thing I didn’t have a choice in doing but was told to do by elders.

Lastly I will not take any plea offer or [several words redacted] because it will give excuse for the gov for torturing and abusing me when I was a child.

UPDATE: Jennifer Turner, a human rights researcher with the ACLU, is at Guantánamo observing the proceedings. She issued a statement on the case on Monday afternoon:

The Obama administration should shut down the illegitimate military commissions system that has become a stain on our nation’s reputation and prosecute terrorism suspects in the time-tested federal criminal courts. The commissions system is unfit to try any Guantánamo detainee, especially an alleged child soldier who has been held in U.S. custody for over a third of his life and subjected to years of abuse. Omar Khadr, like all Guantánamo terrorism suspects, should be tried in federal courts that guarantee due process. If that isn’t possible, the U.S. must send him home to Canada.

 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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