Khadr ends hearing boycott

Omar Khadr attends hearing after refusing to show up for earlier sittings; plea-bargain talks continu

Paul Koring

Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Station, Cuba — Globe and Mail Update

Omar Khadr - ending days of boycott - showed up today for hearing preceding his war crimes trial on murder and terrorism charges in the killing of a U.S. special forces soldiers during a firefight in Afghanistan nearly eight years ago, according to court officials.

Mr. Khadr, the only Canadian and sole westerner left in Guantanamo’s prison camps where the Obama administration continues to hold nearly 200 terrorist suspects, had refused to attend since last Wednesday afternoon, including weekend sessions of the military tribunal.

This morning, a U.S. army medic who treated Mr. Khadr daily while he was at Bagram prison in Afghanistan confirmed that he had seen the 15-year-old shackled, hooded and chained inside a two-metre-square cage. That was apparently a routine punishment for detainees. However, the medic - identified only as Mr. M. - said he saw no evidence of wounds that would suggest Mr. Khadr had been tortured.

Meanwhile, but behind the scenes, talks on a plea-bargain deal that could end the war crimes case and return him to Canada continue.

“It would be entirely foolhardy of us not to follow up and see if this case can’t be disposed of in an acceptable manner,” said Barry Coburn, one of Mr. Khadr’s lawyers. For any deal to work, the Obama administration will need the Harper government to accept Mr. Khadr’s return after nearly eight years in prisons in Bagram, Afghanistan and the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“There have been plea negotiations,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell confirmed. “They have not arrived at an agreement, but they will likely continue,” Mr. Morrell told The Washington Post. “I won’t discuss the details of any offers.”

Mr. Coburn said any deal won’t involve Mr. Khadr admitting he killed U.S. Sergeant Christopher Speer with a grenade, the act that U.S. military prosecutors say warrants a charge of murder.

Mr. Khadr missed Saturday’s hearings, the third straight day he has refused to attend. His lawyers will try to persuade him to return to court Monday.

Mr. Khadr missed a video-link session with the senior U.S. special forces officer who directed the assault on the Afghan compound where he was captured in July, 2002.

Col. W. (the rules of the military tribunals ban further identification) acknowledged he had altered a report on the firefight.

The original, written in the hours after the attack, said the grenade thrower that killed Sgt. Speer was in turn killed by a special forces soldier who shot him twice. That version would seem to exculpate Mr. Khadr.

Col. W. testified that years later – he couldn’t remember exactly when but after prosecutors came to visit him – he checked his copy of the document on his laptop and realized that Mr. Khadr had survived.

“The copy that was changed, was for me, for historical purposes,” Col W. acknowledged under cross-examination.

Two years ago, when the altered versions first surfaced, Mr. Khadr’s defence lawyer at the time said the change was a deliberate attempt to implicate Mr. Khadr, who was the only survivor among al-Qaeda fighters in the compound bombed by U.S. warplanes. The “government manufactured evidence to make it look like Omar was guilty.”’ said Lieutenant-Commander William Kuebler, who is no longer on the defence team.

Col. W’s account provided an alternative explanation – that he was only fixing his personal copy for historical accuracy – but it left unanswered several questions. Among them, why a still-serving officer apparently has a highly classified report of assaults on a suspected al-Qaeda hideout on his personal laptop.



Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre


Harper obviously knew a plea bargain was in the works and its equally obvious that Washington called up Harper and said, just don't take him back yet, we need to extract a guilty plea and then he is all yours and you can gain some credit for it from the far right at the end of the day.

Harper, in his selfish mind, justifies this flagrant abuse and contempt for the principles of justice all in the name of "national security", "the war on terror" that uses torture, violates the Geneva convention, and creates intense hatred from those who don't like Christian crusades in their holy lands.

So now, the US government wants us to swallow that a confession obtained by torture is fine for them and they believe the rest of the world should think that the guide to torture and interrogation written in Washington should be accepted by the rest of the world including Canada.

Its our misfortune to have a prime minister who has utter contempt for the fundamental principles of justice not to mention a prime war crimes suspect.

Check out these incredible posts by johschaper

Here's a good summary of the marines' account: "Unaware that Khadr and a militant had survived the bombing, the ground forces sent a team consisting of OC-1, Silver, Speer and three Delta Force soldiers through a hole in the south side of the wall, while at least two other American troops continued throwing grenades into the compound. The team began picking their way over the bodies of dead animals and three fighters. According to Silver's 2007 telling of the story, he then heard a sound "like a gunshot", and saw the three Delta Force soldiers duck – as a grenade flew past them and exploded near Speer, who was at the rear of the group and not wearing his helmet. OC-1 reported that he didn't hear any gunfire, but the dust being blown from an alley on the northside of the complex led him to believe the team was under fire from a shooter between the house and barn. He reported that a grenade was also "lobbed" over the wall that led to the alley and landed 30–50 metres from the alley opening. Running towards the alley to escape the grenade which he also didn't hear detonate, OC-1 fired a dozen M4 Carbine rounds into the alley as he ran past, although he couldn't see anything due to the rising dust clouds. Crouching at the southeast entrance to the alleyway, OC-1 could see a man with a holstered pistol moving on the ground next to an AK-47, with two chest wounds. From his position, OC-1 fired a single shot into the man's head, killing him. When the dust cleared, OC-1 saw Khadr crouched on his knees facing away from the action and wounded by shrapnel that had just permanently blinded his left eye, and shot him twice in the back. OC-1 estimated that all the events since entering the wall had taken less than a minute up until this point, and that he had been the only American to fire his weapon, although an American grenade had also been thrown into the living quarters after initially entering the complex. (cont)


5/2/2010 11:48:40 PM
The Marines' bizarre accounts, part 2: "Silver initially claimed that two Delta Force troops had opened fire, shooting all three of the shots into Khadr's chest, after the youth was seen to be holding a pistol and facing the troops. These claims all directly contradict OC-1's version of events as the only eyewitness. OC-1 did agree however, that something was lying in the dust near Khadr's end of the alley, although he couldn't remember if it were a pistol or grenade. Entering the alleyway, OC-1 saw two dead men with a damaged AK-47 buried in rubble who he believed had been killed in the airstrikes, and confirmed that the man he had shot was dead. Moving back to Khadr, OC-1 tapped the motionless youth's eye, confirming that he was still alive. Turning him over onto his back, for entering troops to secure, he began exiting the alleyway to find Speer, who he was unaware had been wounded. While leaving the alleyway, he saw a third AK-47 and several grenades. Contradicting Morris' report of five well-dressed men, OC-1 maintained that a search of the rubble determined that there had only been four occupants, all found in the same alleyway."


There's many more suspicious things about their testimony, like this account from before their "encounter" with Khadr: "Morris and Silver had now taken up positions outside the stone wall, with Silver "over Morris's left shoulder explaining where he should try to position his next shot", when Morris fell back into Silver, with a cut above his right eye and shrapnel embedded in his nose. Both Silver and Morris initially believed the wound was due to Morris' rifle malfunctioning, though it was later attributed to an unseen grenade. In an alternate account of the injury, Morris has also claimed that he was inside the compound and hiding behind the granary preparing to fire a rocket-propelled grenade into a wall of the house when he was shot." There's something wrong when you can't even keep straight an account of where you were when you were injured or how. I would think that would be memorable, even in the fog of war.


5/2/2010 11:17:35 PM
PS, I can't wait to see if W can explain how someone can get shot in the back by the people he is charging, let alone how someone who has just been severely injured and lost an eye in a blast managed to do the charging in the first place. It should make for some creative report writing.

W's original report, which he later falsified, confirms the physical evidence, which has always contradicted the "Omar Khadr as super-powered magical soldier" scenario, so it sure doen't look good for the case about the grenade throwing.




jonschaper - Thanks for the post.

Its rather interesting that Marine OC-1 Shot a wounded blind Khadr TWICE in the back and its Khadr who got charged not OC-1

So much for American confessions not being used by the prosecution but a confession obtained by torture that sanitizes American War Crimes is perfectly ok.

The hypocrisy is sickening, not to mention, the world's view of the United States. You would think that Obama would consider the long term interests of the United States.