2011-12-03 On January 7, demand Justice

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As we take December 10 to remember the human rights and freedoms we are entitled to, it is impossible to not feel how far we have fallen from our ideals of 63 years ago.

The 11th of January 2012 is the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay black hole, a place that has incarcerated 22 children, the centrepiece for the Bush regime’s reinstatement of torture, and an anti-judicial experiment that has culminated this month in a bill before the US senate which proposes that US citizens should be subjected to trial by army and indefinite preventive detainment; in other words, a bill which proposes that the US military be permitted to treat US citizens as it treats the rest of the world.

Thanks to Wikileaks’ release of the US state cables, we have seen the complicity of almost every country in the world in the human rights abuses of which Guantanamo has become a symbol. We have seen Canada refuse its obligation to demand the release of a Canadian child from Bagram and Guantanamo, refuse to demand that his torture and ill treatment end, and even participate in violating his human rights. We have seen Australia refuse to make an inquiry on behalf of an Australian citizen and torture victim. We have seen Ireland allowing secret rendition flights to use its airport, and we have seen Poland, Lithuania and Romania host“black site” CIA prisons. We have seen Yemen imprison truthful journalists on order from Obama, Armenian officials enable sex trafficers, and Bulgarian PM Borisov linked to oil-siphoning scandals, illegal deals involving LUKoil and major traffic in methamphetamines. We have seen known thugs as ruling politicians and citizens imprisoned for political speech. We have seen humanitarian organizations conceal human rights abuses and corporations that kill their workers.

Throughout this momentous year we have seen almost every country in the world expose themselves as military industrial regimes in which freedom of speech and assembly are met with armed violence by security forces employed to provide protection from the people, not to the people. We have seen court systems which assist banks and other corporations to violate our rights and freedoms and do not work to defend individuals. We have seen a global industry of prisons which work on a system of profit and expansion, not justice. We have seen governments which create laws in response to the needs of corporations, not individuals. This week, we have seen the vast industry of spying on individuals by corporations, in violation of our right to privacy. Throughout this year of mass arrests, we have yet to see the arrest of any of the individuals responsible for these attacks on our human rights.

On January 7, 2012, we demand the return of our justice systems to the people. We demand the release of all untried or unjustly tried prisoners and an end to the abuses of our prison systems. We join London Guantánamo Campaign, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, and CND in calling for an immediate end to the illegal detention of people in Guantánamo. And we demand the arrest and trial of all those responsible for violating our human rights.

 

2011-11-23 Omar Khadr Part 4 of 4: “Punitive post-conviction confinement”

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This article is in lieu of the long delayed fourth part of the Omar Khadr series written on WL Central last May. The original fourth part consisted of hours of interviews regarding the astoundingly corrupt and illegal military process which culminated in a verdict which allows the Canadian press to refer to Omar Khadr as a ‘convicted terrorist’. One day the information in those interviews will be widely known, but today we are still prevented from publishing any of it for fear of retribution to those we do not wish to harm.

Today, Omar should be at home in Canada, as promised by the Canadian government as a term of his acceptance of a plea deal. Today, he is still in Guantanamo Bay serving what the US military terms “punitive post-conviction confinement.”. A little known fact regarding the Guantanamo sentences is that time served before sentencing is not considered ‘punitive’ and therefore does not count as time served towards his sentence. Omar’s sentence is to be carried out in a solitary confinement ‘enhanced interrogation’ environment, and at the end of his sentence he can be placed back in ‘Prisoner Of War’ status in the Guantanamo cells he has spent his life in since he was 15 years old. Without repatriation to Canada, his eight year plea deal is just an eight year sentence to solitary confinement in the middle of a lifetime sentence in Guantanamo.

Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg writes, But Bahlul and Qosi, Khadr and Noor are segregated because they are “serving punitive sentences,” says Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a Guantánamo spokeswoman. Under the 1949 Third Geneva Conventions, she said, the other captives are “detained under the Law of War only as a security measure” and “should not be subjected to a penal environment or comingled with prisoners punitively incarcerated as a consequence of a criminal conviction.” Once their sentences are over, under Pentagon doctrine, they become ordinary detainees again — put back with the others in a penitentiary away called Camp 6, the closest thing at Guantánamo today to POW-style barracks housing.

I spoke last summer to Omar’s former defense attorney Dennis Edney about his current condition. “Omar is doing his post sentencing time back in Camp 5 which as the Pentagon states is “designed for enhanced interrogation techniques”. He is back in solitary confinement where he has spent so much of his life. Prior to trial, we were able to have him removed to the cages where he was able to socialize with others which made him happy. He is not happy and has been subject to interrogations by the FBI.”

In this isolated and unsupported environment, “He is never allowed mail from other than family which rarely arrives.” As part of his ‘plea deal’ he is not allowed to have legal counsel present during his interrogations.

Thanks to Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s appeals, all levels of court in Canada have agreed, in 2008 and again in 2010, that the Canadian government has violated Omar’s rights under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by interrogating him at the Guantanamo Bay facility in 2003 and 2004 and by sharing information from those interviews with U.S. authorities despite knowing that in 2004 U.S. authorities had subjected him to illegal interrogation methods, including sleep deprivation. It further found that his status as a minor, his detention without counsel, and his interrogators’ awareness that he had been subjected to sleep deprivation were“not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Omar was sentenced in October of last year. In a diplomatic exchange with the United States which formed part of Omar’s plea deal, the Canadian government wrote “The Government of Canada therefore wishes to convey that, as requested by the United States, the Government of Canada is inclined to favourably consider Mr. Khadr’s application to be transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence, or such portion of the remainder of his sentence as the National Parole Board determines” after his first year of post-trial incarceration.

Omar’s defense counsel filed the paperwork for his return in October. Now we are told:Corrections officials have received the request for transfer and now have to determine if Khadr is eligible to return to Canada to finish out his sentence. Once Canadian officials determine that, they send an official request to American officials. If U.S. officials agree, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has the final say. He has the option of refusing the transfer if he decides Khadr is a risk to public safety. The process is expected to take about 18 months. A spokesman for Toews said he doesn’t comment on individual cases.

In addition to this, the United States now must certify Canada as a fit place to send a convicted terrorist, a nation not likely to permit him to attack the United States, and one that has control of its prisons. That certification must be delivered to Congress signed by U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta with “the concurrence of” U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton.

It is well documented in the US State cables released by Wikileaks that Canadian indifference and hostility have had everything to do with the torture and unlawful confinement of a child and the continuing suffering of the only western citizen left in Guantanamo Bay. “There would be virtually no political blowback domestically for the Conservative Party if the government chooses to pursue an appeal, making this a strong likelihood.” reports one cable.

December 10 is World Human Rights Day, the day the world celebrates the 63rd birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written first by Canadian John Humphrey. If Canadians are ever again to hold their heads up on this day, we must remove this human rights blight from our actions by finally repatriating the man we have victimized since he was a child.

WL Central calls for immediate action to defend the rights of this Canadian citizen.

Previous WL Central coverage on Omar Khadr here.

Omar Khadr Part 1 of 4: “Omar Khadr is a lovely young man”
Omar Khadr Part 2 of 4: Canada, the entire world is still watching
Omar Khadr Part 3 of 4: “The world doesn’t get it”

 

2011-07-29 Canadian government determined to send Abdullah Khadr to the US

In a completely predictable move, the Canadian government has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to fight their earlier two losses in a bid to extradite Abdullah Khadr to the US. Abdullah Khadr was captured and tortured by Pakistani forces who were paid $500,000 by the US for their efforts. He was held for fourteen months in a Pakistan prison without charges, and arrested again within a week of his return to Canada. He was then held without bail, pending extradition to the US, from December 2005 until his release last August 2010. In response to the application brought by Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney, arguing that the US government’s evidence against Khadr was inadmissible because it relied on information gathered under torture in Pakistan, the Ontario Superior Court’s presiding judge called his treatment “both shocking and unjustifiable.”

Canada’s government predictably appealed and in May, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the verdict unanimously. The 33 page decision stated that to allow the extradition would amount to the Canadian courts being complacent with the torture.

“We must adhere to our democratic and legal values, even if that adherence serves in the short term to benefit those who oppose and seek to destroy those values, for if we do not, in the longer term, the enemies of democracy and the rule of law will have succeeded. They will have demonstrated that our faith in our legal order is unable to withstand their threats. … It surely can come as no surprise that in a country like Pakistan with a constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, it is illegal to accept a bounty or bribe from a foreign government, to abduct a foreign national from the street, to beat that individual until he agrees to co-operate, to deny him consular access, to hold him in a secret detention centre for eight months while his utility as an intelligence source is exhausted, and then to continue to hold him in secret detention for six more months at the request of a foreign power,” said the decision. They also pointed out that refusing the extradition does not prevent the Attorney General from bringing the case before Canadian courts.

The government disagrees, stating in their appeal application that the decision will “inevitably lengthen” extradition hearings and make it more difficult for Canada to comply with its international legal obligations. The US has, since the 1999 Extradition Act, enjoyed anunequal extradition treaty with Canada: “The new Act effectively reduces extradition in Canada from a traditionally judicial process (as it remains in the United States) to an essentially administrative process.”

Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney earlier stated that the decision shows the US, “When they come to the court, they are supposed to come with clean hands, meaning that the evidence they are relying on to extradite that person is legal, it’s not evidence that has been relied on through torture and abuse.” The Canadian government argues that the torture used to obtain evidence was not directly relevant to the extradition decision.

Edney expressed no surprise at the appeal, telling Postmedia News “The government has been consistent in appealing each and every strong ruling by the federal courts in both the Abdullah Khadr and Omar Khadr cases, only to be overruled once again at the Supreme Court level, and all at the expense of the public purse.”

The role of public apathy and encouragement of the US in these appeals has been well revealed in the US State cables released by Wikileaks. Regarding Abdullah’s brother Omar the cables said “There would be virtually no political blowback domestically for the Conservative Party if the government chooses to pursue an appeal, making this a strong likelihood.”

Previous WL Central coverage of Abdullah Khadr and his brother Omar Khadr.

2011-06-06 Omar Deghayes on Omar Khadr

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Omar Deghayes is a UK citizen who was imprisoned in Guantánamo in January 2002 and freed from there on December 18, 2007. Details of his treatment in Guantánamo can be read here. He speaks to PressTV about his experiences here.

Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen who was captured at fifteen after the compound he was living in in Afghanistan was bombed by US military. He was tortured at Bagram prison and Guantánamo, and has spent the last nine years of his life imprisoned by the US. WL Central coverage on Omar Khadr is here.

Omar Deghayes spoke to WL Central on June 5. The following is an excerpt from that interview.

Did you have any contact with Omar Khadr?

OD: Yes definitely. I know him very well. He was locked up in Camp 5 for a long time, and I saw him in the other camp also before for a short period of time. But in Camp 5 I was locked up with him for a long time.

Do you think that Omar Khadr would be a threat to society if and when he is released to Canada?

OD: No. Definitely not. Even the guard and the interrogators in Guantanamo I think used to like him a lot … for his personality. He is an open, kind person. I don’t think he would be a threat to society. No.

What do you think the effects of nine years of being detained at Guantanamo and in other places, including black sites, starting at age fifteen would have on someone like Omar?

OD: Definitely gross destruction to his psychology and personality as a child.

He was a child when he was brought. I remember him when he was brought first to the prisons. And I saw him afterwards in Camp 5 where he had grown in prison, and where he started to have a beard and a moustache. Before he didn’t.

To grow inside prison, and inside very abnormal circumstances like those, where people threaten, physically beaten, sometimes … He was very ill, because I think he had lots of injuries and wounds. And he wasn’t treated for those wounds … and they were used against him by interrogators and doctors.

And to grow in an environment like that … I am sure it will have a devastating effect on him in the future.

I remember him receiving letters from his family. Some of them…you were able to see that some of them were censored. And even the letters were even more disturbing for him … because I think some of his family were describing problems that they were facing outside in Canada.

I remember talking to him about some of those … a few times in the showers. They were very very disturbing … imagine a child growing up with adult men in a lock up like that.

Even he is not on the same level of … you do not find the same level of companionship … it must be very difficult for him. I am sure it will have lasting effect on him.

The whole condition … isolation. Even because of his age, he wasn’t spared the isolation and lock ups. I mean they treated him like just another … like anyone else. Even … if not worse sometimes.

So, I think it must be very devastating for somebody at a tender young age like his. If other people like myself and other men … more grown ups … we might have had some experience in life … and we might have been able to cope and be patient with some things … and try to make sense of things. For a child of his age … I think it must be very destructive.

Do you have a sense of what kind of support Omar would need if he were to be released?

OD: I am sure he would need support. Yes.

Like something like what I had. We had family to understand…and family contacts … and then we had lots of friends who were here working, who were very sympathetic to conditions…and we were always surrounded by those friends…and they tried to help and sometimes explain … even in normal things in life.

Like we needed some help in going to medical assistance, and they might have be able to contact people or they knew other friends that might help … and things like that.

Even normal things like that … and try to adjust to normal life again.

He will definitely need lots of help from people. Maybe even medical doctors. Family and friends and sympathetic society.

If society … I don’t know how things are in Canada. If they are hostile … it might just cause more damage and more resentment and fear and he would lock himself inside in isolation…like I have seen with other people who have sensed that society are hostile against them.

But I think with freedom and family support I am sure … he is a very intelligent young boy … young man.

And I think he is a very sociable, and very talented, and very intelligent.

I think if he was to be free, I think he would make a good future I am sure, and turn his experiences into positive experience.

I told him when he gets released … I asked him to contact me that I can help him with marriage, or something like that. Cause I know his father died when he was in prison, and it must have affected him.

The Canadian government, under the last three prime ministers, two Liberal and one Conservative, have done nothing about the plight of a tortured fifteen year old Canadian boy imprisoned with no trial in the world’s most notorious torture camps. They have contributed nothing to his education, nor to his emotional or psychological welfare. They have expressed no concern for his well being. They have not requested his repatriation, nor have they requested that the illegal and amoral conditions of his confinement be improved. They have fought against co-operating with or helping him at all levels of Canada’s judicial system, in both 2008 and 2010, and both years the Canadian government was found, in every court, to have violated Omar Khadr’s rights as a Canadian citizen. The Federal Court of Canada has also ruled that the activities of the Canadian government in this case constituted a breach of the UN Convention against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.

Omar Khadr signed a plea bargain last fall that would see him home to Canada in November 2011, if the Canadian government upholds its promise to him. Recently, the Canadian High Commission refused board on an Air Canada direct flight to internationally acclaimed human rights activist Moazzem Begg. Begg was invited by Omar Khadr’s defense lawyer to speak in Canada about Islamophobia, Guantanamo, and, of course, his former cell mate Omar Khadr.

2011-05-24 Dennis Edney, Lawyer For Omar Khadr speaks on Fear, Injustice and his Guantanamo visits

“The only crime in my view, equal to willful inhumanity is the crime of indifference, silence and forgetting.”

Dennis Edney, Lawyer For Omar Khadr speaks on Fear, Injustice and his Guantanamo visits in a Conference on Islamophobia and The Politics of Fear at Islamic Society of York Region, Toronto Canada, May 21, 2011. This is the conference that Moazzam Begg was  deniedpermission to board a direct Air Canada flight from London to Toronto to speak at “because of US policy” and the extremely unlikely possibility that the flight may be diverted into US air space.

The following are transcribed excerpts from Dennis Edney’s speech.

What we are witnessing is the constant drip of sanity slipping from our grasp as our apathy has allowed whispers of anti-Muslim sentiment to become part of the mainstream on conversation.

On Guantanamo protecting us: We want to protect ourselves from the voice of people like Moazzam Begg.

And we’re just simply to accept that the government knows what’s best for us. And should be left to get on with the job. That’s the same language we use here in Canada. It’s the same language I meet every day when I fight my way up to get disclosure. I’m not entitled to get disclosure because I and the Canadian public, you know, we just can’t be trusted with secret information. So I have to go in a secret court, and fight in a secret court. And then what do I find. I find that the information isn’t that secret after all. It covers up egregious misconduct by our government.

And you are not allowed, when you are in Guantanamo Bay, to mention Camp 7 or ask any questions. Because the prisoners in Camp 7, they’re just nobody. They were brought over last year, from some of the prisons in Europe and other countries. And I remember saying to a lieutenant colonel, who is the head of all the lawyers and military lawyers for the eastern seaboard. I said “How do you get lawyers for these guys in Camp 7?” He said “Forget it, Mr. Edney. They’re toast.” And all the rest of these well educated, Harvard educated lawyers all nodded their heads in approval. So one can only imagine what goes on in Camp 7.

On visiting Unit C in Camp 5: Unit C is 32 single cells. And each one of those detainees who had been chosen to be a hunger striker was moved into these solitary cells. And that was over five years ago. And no one ever asked these detainees, as rotations changed, as military personnel moved on, knocked on the door of these cells and said to any one of the detainees “Do you still wish to be a hunger striker?” Assuming they ever were in the first place. No one asked that question. And in the review of the documents there was nothing to determine what criteria was being used to determine whether someone was a hunger striker or whether he was simply on a fast.

But outside of each cell is a restraining chair, or what I call a feeding chair. So those individuals are now into their sixth year in Guantanamo in these solitary cells because they were deemed to be on a hunger strike. But the story gets better. Because outside each cell is a feeding chair, and three times a day they are force fed, they are strapped into those chairs by the feet, by the waist, by the neck, put into these chairs with tubes inserted into their nose, and force fed. Three times a day. And after that they are left sitting in the chair for hours. And amongst those is my friend Mohammed.

He describes a Yemeni prisoner who was fed with an extra large feeding tube (causing permanent damage to his nose and throat) and deliberately left in his chair until he urinated and defecated on himself. Mohammed was down to 100 pounds and less. The federal court judge’s response to Edney regarding this treatment was that the court could not touch that, it was up to the correctional facility.

Omar Khadr has problems with arthritis in his knees. So they sit him on a stool so he has to bend his knees. “Anything that makes you uncomfortable, Guantanamo Bay will come up with it. … They keep the place freezing.” Omar Khadr “reminded me of a broken little bird. … When I see Omar on July 3, he will be on a chair. Things have become much more humanitarian at Guantanamo, he gets a chair. And he is always, always chained from the waist to the floor. I have never seen him walk other than the few occasions that we’ve been in court. In all those years, I have never seen him walk.” He has fought for close to eight years to get a pair of protective glasses to preserve the amount of sight remaining in Omar’s one eye with vision. He received them in November of last year. That is the extent of the help Omar has received from the Canadian government, they can’t even get him a pair of glasses.

I have never met anyone like Omar. Who I believe can give so much to the world, but has been so abandoned by so many that should know better. And all the times I’ve been with him I have never heard him say an angry word about anyone. … What he is, is he is a good man.

2011-05-23 UPDATE: Omar Khadr Supreme Court review denied, request for clemency still to be heard #cdnpoli

Updated information from Khadr’s legal counsel states that the Supreme Court dismissalthis morning related to a years old appeal from Khadr that was actually disallowed last fall by the terms of his plea deal, which ordered “he must dismiss all presently pending action.”

“As part of his pre-trial agreement, he had to dismiss his claim against the government,” said his US military defense attorney Lt.-Col. Jackson. “Once the claim was dismissed, and the government accepted the dismissal, they still keep the caption (or heading) of the case as Khadr vs. Obama (as a way to keep the process) consistent, but he’s no longer a plaintiff on that.” Khadr’s request for review was bundled with several other requests from other Guantanamo prisoners.

The request for clemency still stands and may be heard this week.


The US Supreme Court denied Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr’s request for clemencytoday. While a majority voted against granting the petition, Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor “indicated that they wanted to review the case.” Courthouse Newsopines “Monday’s contribution affirms the appearance that the court will defer to the mostly conservative D.C. Circuit on Guantanamo detention matters. The justices have not decided a detainee case in nearly three years.”

Omar is currently serving the first year of eight further years he was sentenced to, in Guantanamo Bay, in what the pentagon terms “punitive post-conviction confinement.” He had already served eight years, including solitary confinement and torture, in two of the world’s most notorious torture camps at the time of his trial. He was captured at fifteen, and he is now 24 years old. He agreed to a plea deal last fall which sentenced him to eight years for killing a US Special Forces soldier, after one of the most highly controversial and dubioustrials in recent history.

His defense attorney Dennis Edney told WL Central, “Omar is doing his post sentencing time back in Camp 5 which, as the Pentagon states, is ‘designed for enhanced interrogation techniques’. He is back in solitary confinement where he has spent so much of his life. Prior to trial, we were able to have him removed to the cages where he was able to socialize with others which made him happy. He is not happy and has been subject to interrogations by the FBI. He is never allowed mail from other than family which rarely arrives.”

“Punitive post-conviction confinement” is described by Carol Rosenberg in the Miami Herald. Bahlul and Qosi, Khadr and Noor are segregated because they are “serving punitive sentences,” says Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a Guantánamo spokeswoman. Under the 1949 Third Geneva Conventions, she said, the other captives are “detained under the Law of War only as a security measure” and “should not be subjected to a penal environment or comingled with prisoners punitively incarcerated as a consequence of a criminal conviction.” Once their sentences are over, under Pentagon doctrine, they become ordinary detainees again — put back with the others in a penitentiary away called Camp 6, the closest thing at Guantánamo today to POW-style barracks housing.”

According to the rationale above, what Omar has endured since he was fifteen years old was not punitive, and now that he is sentenced, he needs to be punished. Thanks to endless court appeals by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, all levels of court in Canada have now agreed, in 2008 and again in 2010, that the Canadian government has violated Omar’s rights under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They further found that his treatment was “not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” His sentencing has been condemned by the United Nations Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, by Amnesty, UNICEF, and Lawyers Rights Watch Canada as well as numerous other NGO’s and countries, but not by Canada, the country he was born in and is a citizen of.

2011-05-21 Omar Khadr Part 3 of 4: “The world doesn’t get it”

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Dennis you always say that I have an obligation to show the world what is going on down here and it seems that we’ve done every thing but the world doesn’t get it, so it might work if the world sees the US sentencing a child to life in prison, it might show the world how unfair and sham this process is, and if the world doesn’t see all this, to what world am I being released to? A world of hate, unjust and discrimination! I really don’t want to live in a life like this. – Omar Khadr in a letter to defense attorney Dennis Edney.

Omar Khadr was the first child soldier to be charged with a war crime since world war two. The non-existent crime that he was charged with, “murder in violation of the law of war” can be summed up as: It is legal for US soldiers to kill children. It is a war crime for children to kill US soldiers.

After eight years of delays while the US government searched for a possible crime and changed courts and judge, Omar found himself in front of a military tribunal with seven military officers who decided his fate ought to be another forty years of imprisonment. (For a sentence of ten years or more, six of the seven jurors had to agree.) Human Rights Watch said of the fifteen officers selected as potential jurors, All of the 15 indicated that Khadr’s age held no significance for the case. … An Air Force Captain said that in his opinion, a child would need to be as young as five or six to avoid adult courts if accused of a homicide.

The plea deal

The entire trial process was filled with irregularities. The killed US Special Forces fighter became a “medic” for the duration of the trial. Jurors attended church and Sunday brunch with prosecution witnesses and the widow of the Special Forces fighter. The plea deal revealed a completely rigged trial with some horrific implications for post trial:

    • The defense was not allowed to test physical evidence (including DNA) brought by the prosecution, or bring any physical evidence of their own, and the prosecution was granted permission to destroy such evidence upon sentencing
    • He is never allowed to “initiate or support” any action against the United States or any official with regards to his “capture, detention, prosecution to include discovery practice, post conviction confinement and/or detainee combatant status,” and he must dismiss all presently pending action.
    • While in custody he must submit to “interviews” “whenever and wherever requested by United States law enforcement officials, intelligence authorities, and prosecutors”, without legal counsel present, and “appear, cooperate, and testify truly, before any grand jury, any court, military court or hearing, military commission or any other proceeding requested by the United States Government.”
    • He agrees that if he is not “truthful” in his testimony, he “may be prosecuted for perjury, false statement or other similar offense before any court or Military Commission having jurisdiction over me.”

His own defense was determined by the prosecution:

      • I will not seek to offer any testimony, in any form, from any detainee presently held at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay:
      • I will not seek to obtain any depositions to be offered at the presentencing hearing, nor will I offer any depositions at the presentencing hearing;
      • I will not seek to offer the testimony, either in court or via VTC of any witness, other than: (I) Dr. Katherine Porterfield: (2) Dr. Steven Xenakis. (3) Captain McCarthy; and (4) Dr. Arlette Zinck, all of whom the Government has agreed to produce at U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for sentencing. (understand that sentencing proceedings will not be delayed to if these witnesses are unavailable.)

His transfer to Canada is “contingent upon the consent of the Government of Canada,” which is still open to refusal, diplomatic notes notwithstanding.

The petition for clemency

Earlier on WL Central we reported that Khadr’s defense was petitioning for clemency and asking that his sentence be reduced from eight years to four (he had already served eight by the time of his trial). His US defense counsel have written that a few days before trial, they first learned that the prosecutors’ witness, Dr. Welner, proposed to testify that Omar was at high risk to recidivate as a violent extremist. The defense obtained expert testimony from Dr. Marc Sageman, a far more qualified expert, which completely refuted Dr. Welner’s credentials and testimony.

The prosecutors informed the defense that they had consulted with the Convening Authority and, if the defense filed to have Welner’s testimony withdrawn, the prosecutors had the Convening Authority’s permission to withdraw from the pretrial agreement. The defense then agreed to only object orally. The prosecutors countered that if they objected orally, they would still withdraw. The defense attempted to negotiate further, the prosecutors refused. “Faced with the immediate prospect of the Government withdrawing from the pretrial agreement and with no time to make any further record” the defense agreed to it all. The defense now maintains that the government relied on witness Dr. Welner’s testimony to “intimidate the sentencing panel” and “wrongly shielded Dr. Welner’s testimony from the standards of admissibility clearly defined by the Supreme Court and the Military Commission Rules of Evidence.”

In an initial phone call, Dr. Sageman told Omar’s defense, “Dr. Welner’s proposed testimony and conclusions are not valid; Dr. Welner does not have a baseline to make anything more than a guess; and Dr. Welner’s sample size is Omar Khadr.” In a following letter, provided pro bono, Sageman writes, “… as an internationally recognized expert in terrorism and counter-terrorism, I know of no published study that addresses the issue of dangerousness in terrorists. This piqued my curiousity about the basis of Dr. Welner’s “professional” opinion at testimony. … His c.v. mentioned that he took a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1991-1992. I was at the University of Pennsylvania at the time and the university did not have a forensic psychiatry fellowship at the time. … he did not do a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania as he testified under oath … Indeed, his c.v. shows that at the time, 1991-1992, he engaged in a full time residency in psychiatry at Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York City.

Regarding Welner’s testimony, Sageman writes, “the interview lacks the usual ethical warning to a defendant that the defendant has the right to not answer questions and that there is no confidentiality between the expert for the prosecution and the defendant. The interview did not ask for any past psychiatric history and did not review potential psychiatric symptoms to assess the mental health of the defendant that could have a bearing in the assessment. Later, Dr. Welner claims that religiosity is correlated to dangerousness – a claim that is in fact without foundation – but he never probed the defendant’s level of religious understanding, beliefs and piety.”

Dr. Sageman then goes on for pages, devastating the credibility of the background sources Dr. Welner relied upon for his authorities. In Dr. Sageman’s opinion, Dr. Welner is very articulate and quite persuasive on the stand, mostly because he conveys very positive and forceful opinions to a jury. He concluded that Dr. Welner displayed this trait in this case. If the jury was indeed swayed by Dr. Welner, which seems unavoidable since he was the star witness, Dr. Sageman’s testimony should have made a very significant difference. It is hopefully unlikely that a judge would have allowed testimony from a witness who falsified their background and relied on completely unscientific methods and misunderstood or unreliable authorities. If he had, surely the jury would have agreed, given the proper rebuttal from the defense, with judge Colonel Parrish who the defense quote as stating, “Dr. Welner would have been as likely to be accurate if he used a Ouija board.”

 

 

Omar Khadr’s Lawyer Dennis Edney Speech at FNC from Ezra Winton on Vimeo.

Omar Khadr Part 1 of 4: “Omar Khadr is a lovely young man”
Omar Khadr Part 2 of 4: Canada, the entire world is still watching
Omar Khadr Part 4 of 4: “Punitive post-conviction confinement”