High Stakes Poker at GTMO

This morning Omar Khadr pled guilty, at a Military Commission hearing held in Guantanamo Bay, to five charges: murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, providing material support to Al Qaeda, espionage and conspiracy.

Omar Khadr was only fifteen at the time of the incident out of which the charges derived. By the terms of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child he was, at worst, a child soldier. The crime of material support was not even on the statute books. The charge of espionage makes him the youngest spy outside of children’s fiction.

The action at the heart of the case – the detonation of a grenade that killed a US Army medic – has been characterized as a violation of the laws of war. Or, in plain English, a war crime. Many legal scholars are incredulous at this characterization.

International humanitarian law states that a civilian on a battlefield who picks up a weapon becomes a combatant. The penalty they pay is that they become a legitimate target for the opposing force. Khadr paid this penalty in full – he was shot twice in the chest and lost an eye to shrapnel.

The government case against Omar Khadr was a weak one. There were no eye-witnesses to the central event. Khadr’s ‘confession’ was tainted by his entirely plausible allegation that it had been elicited through coercion. The film of him assembling an IED could not be tied to an actual attack. In a real court this was far from a slam-dunk.

However, a disturbing pattern is beginning to emerge at the Military Commissions. Knowing that the odds are so heavily stacked against them and the sentences facing them so out-sized, defendants plead guilty out of desperation, grasping at the straws offered by the Prosecution.

Plea deals, while doubtless an efficient method for dispensing with cases quickly, do not always represent justice being done. They resemble more closely a high stakes game of poker – the defendant reviews his cards and then decides whether to bet on the hand he has been dealt or cut his losses by folding.

The added twist at the Military Commissions is that the house gets to make the rules and stack the deck. Khadr had already written to Judge Parrish expressing his lack of faith that he could receive a fair trial. It seems that, having studied his cards, he decided to fold after all.

AIUSA will continue to campaign against the Military Commissions system – which offer justice for neither defendents nor the victims of terrorist acts. You can take action today by going to www.amnestyusa.org/911trials and sending an email to President Obama or Attorney-General Holder calling for federal trials.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

30 thoughts on “High Stakes Poker at GTMO

  1. What a travesty — the invaders "trying" the invaded !!

    What a tragedy — the invaded making a plea bargain, a mirror image of u.s. trials which so , so often fold into plea deals where fearfixed souls are terrorized into seeking what they pray will turn out to be the lesser of two evils.

    They often are not, once at the mercy of the system.

    But by then they are in the throat of the vortex, sucked deeper in.

  2. I have a question to ask of Tom Parker:

    You make some very good legal technicalities explaining why Omar Khadr should have been recognized as a child and not tried and how the US is making up all sorts of phony laws to try him anyways.

    I understand your legal points but these are all just technicalities.

    In the interest of true “Justice” in this case, why can you not also admit theses facts about Omar to also be true:

    1) That Omar Khadr has never once renounced the ideology of Al-Qaeda which is based on the murder of innocent civilians. Is this not a human rights abuse I ask you Mr. Parker, terrorist killings of innocent civilians ?

    2) That Omar’s own father Ahmed Khadr was a senior Al-Qaeda terrorist who organized the November 19 1995 attack on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan in which 17 civilians were brutally murdered. But after his arrest "human rights" groups like Amnesty got him released and he went straight back to killing civilians for Al-Qaeda. What about the civilians murdered by these terrorists? Did they not also deserve the human right not to be slaughtered, Mr. Parker or is it only the Kahdrs that get these so-called "rights" you talk so elegantly about.

    3) That Omar's mother Maha, and Omar’s older sister Zaynab and Omar’s older brother Abdurahman gave an interview shown Feb. 22, 2004. on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, and later broadcast on the PBS network show Frontline, and

    In this interview the Khadrs expressed support for 9/11, saying “America got what it deserved.”

    Omar’s mother and sister proudly justified sending Omar as a little boy age 11 to train as a front line combat soldier with Osama Bin Laden, saying this was better for Omar than letting him grow up in Toronto because: “if he had stayed in Toronto he could have become a homosexual.”

    Omar’s older brother Abdurahman, who was also captured in Afghanistan in 2001, but now lives in Toronto with the rest of his family said:

    “I admit we are an al-Qaeda family. We have connections with al-Qaeda,” he told Canada’s CBC television.

    He said he and his brothers were sent to Afghanistan to train with al-Qaeda by their family.

    “I was raised to become a suicide bomber.” he admitted.

    “The first time I went to training, I was 11-and-a-half years old. I was 11-and-a-half. I remember that. My brother was 12. And we went to Khalden. Since ‘92 until 2003, I’ve been to Khalden, like, five times. I took assault rifle course, explosive-making course, snipers, pistols and Pet CC, which is a course that includes all of these. “

    Mr. Parker, do we not as a society and a democracy have any collective human right at all to be protected from this awful family of psychopaths or is it only they, the Khadrs who deserve to get every smarty pants lawyer in the world volunteering to figure out sneaky tricks to repeatedly spring them from prisons around the world so they can just go on doing what ?

    doing what ?

    Maybe going right back to continuing to murder like Omar's own father did after "human rights" groups got him freed in 1995 ?

    How is this "Justice" for the rest of us?

  3. What a travesty — the invaders “trying” the invaded !!

    What a tragedy — the invaded making a plea bargain, a mirror image of u.s. trials which so , so often fold into plea deals where fearfixed souls are terrorized into seeking what they pray will turn out to be the lesser of two evils.

    They often are not, once at the mercy of the system.

    But by then they are in the throat of the vortex, sucked deeper in.

  4. I have a question to ask of Tom Parker:

    You make some very good legal technicalities explaining why Omar Khadr should have been recognized as a child and not tried and how the US is making up all sorts of phony laws to try him anyways.

    I understand your legal points but these are all just technicalities.

    In the interest of true “Justice” in this case, why can you not also admit theses facts about Omar to also be true:

    1) That Omar Khadr has never once renounced the ideology of Al-Qaeda which is based on the murder of innocent civilians. Is this not a human rights abuse I ask you Mr. Parker, terrorist killings of innocent civilians ?

    2) That Omar’s own father Ahmed Khadr was a senior Al-Qaeda terrorist who organized the November 19 1995 attack on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan in which 17 civilians were brutally murdered. But after his arrest “human rights” groups like Amnesty got him released and he went straight back to killing civilians for Al-Qaeda. What about the civilians murdered by these terrorists? Did they not also deserve the human right not to be slaughtered, Mr. Parker or is it only the Kahdrs that get these so-called “rights” you talk so elegantly about.

    3) That Omar’s mother Maha, and Omar’s older sister Zaynab and Omar’s older brother Abdurahman gave an interview shown Feb. 22, 2004. on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, and later broadcast on the PBS network show Frontline, and

    In this interview the Khadrs expressed support for 9/11, saying “America got what it deserved.”

    Omar’s mother and sister proudly justified sending Omar as a little boy age 11 to train as a front line combat soldier with Osama Bin Laden, saying this was better for Omar than letting him grow up in Toronto because: “if he had stayed in Toronto he could have become a homosexual.”

    Omar’s older brother Abdurahman, who was also captured in Afghanistan in 2001, but now lives in Toronto with the rest of his family said:

    “I admit we are an al-Qaeda family. We have connections with al-Qaeda,” he told Canada’s CBC television.

    He said he and his brothers were sent to Afghanistan to train with al-Qaeda by their family.

    “I was raised to become a suicide bomber.” he admitted.

    “The first time I went to training, I was 11-and-a-half years old. I was 11-and-a-half. I remember that. My brother was 12. And we went to Khalden. Since ‘92 until 2003, I’ve been to Khalden, like, five times. I took assault rifle course, explosive-making course, snipers, pistols and Pet CC, which is a course that includes all of these. “

    Mr. Parker, do we not as a society and a democracy have any collective human right at all to be protected from this awful family of psychopaths or is it only they, the Khadrs who deserve to get every smarty pants lawyer in the world volunteering to figure out sneaky tricks to repeatedly spring them from prisons around the world so they can just go on doing what ?

    doing what ?

    Maybe going right back to continuing to murder like Omar’s own father did after “human rights” groups got him freed in 1995 ?

    How is this “Justice” for the rest of us?

  5. G-U-I-L-T-Y

    "Invaders"… LOL After 9-11 I guess we should have buried our heads in the sand, force everyone to convert, adopt Sharia Law, and pray for forgiveness for being infidels and bringing on the attack.

    Instead, we choose to destroy training camps and hunt al-qaeda hiding in Afghanistan and being harbored by the Taliban.

    I'm sure your version of history is different.

    Bottom line Omar ain't going anywhere anytime soon. Amen to that.

  6. Brian, you do not understand the deal if you think Omar is going away for a long time.

    Under this deal Omar will be handed over to Canada in one year. The Canadian Supreme court has already ruled Omar's interrogation was supposedly unconstitutional under Canadian law so therefore you can assume from this they will almost for sure refuse to enforce the plea agreement once Omar is on Canadian soil and so Omar will certainly be freed the moment he sets foot in Canadian next year.

    Omar will be walking around free in Toronto by this time next year.

    Not even Omar claims to have been physically tortured in any way in Gitmo, only supposedly "psychologically pressured" for several weeks of interrogation 8 years ago which seem to have amounted to someone yelling at Omar and saying a few mean words to Omar. Since Omar by age 15 had at that point undergone 4 years of Al-Qaeda combat training and had as he now admits, personally participated in numerous violent actions for Al-Qaeda like laying IEDs, a few nasty scary words from an interrogator could hardly have scared Omar all that much.

    But never the less, Omar currently has a 10 million dollar law suit on against the Canadian government for supposedly cooperating with the US in this interrogation. Omar will probably win this case given the Canadian court rulings so far, and will get all this money and on top of that, since Canada has no US style "Son of Sam" laws preventing criminals from profiting from their crimes with book and movie deals, Omar and his greedy lawyers probably think they have struck the jackpot and they will all be soon rolling in millions.

    The only good news is that Sargent Speer's family has already won a 100 million dollar wrongful death suit against Omar in American court, and this judgment is also binding in Canada so hopeful the widow and orphans of Omar's victim may be able to take all this blood money from Omar and leave him and especially Omar's dozens of lawyers penniless, although I understand Omar's lawyers in Canada are of course gearing up to try to throw the judgment for Sargent Speer's poverty stricken widow and orphans out of Canadian court, so I would not count on this either.

    Who knew that all you had to do to become fabulously wealthy for life ( and make your lawyers wealthy for life too of course) was to use your Canadian passport to travel to a foreign country, happily join an murderous illegal criminal terrorist group whose ideology you have never to this day renounced, savagely murder a medical officer allied to Canada and engaged in a legal UN mandated mission,while he was treating the wounded and then be exposed to some mean nasty words, i.e. "psychologically pressure" during a few weeks of interrogation ?

  7. G-U-I-L-T-Y

    “Invaders”… LOL After 9-11 I guess we should have buried our heads in the sand, force everyone to convert, adopt Sharia Law, and pray for forgiveness for being infidels and bringing on the attack.

    Instead, we choose to destroy training camps and hunt al-qaeda hiding in Afghanistan and being harbored by the Taliban.

    I’m sure your version of history is different.

    Bottom line Omar ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. Amen to that.

  8. Brian, you do not understand the deal if you think Omar is going away for a long time.

    Under this deal Omar will be handed over to Canada in one year. The Canadian Supreme court has already ruled Omar’s interrogation was supposedly unconstitutional under Canadian law so therefore you can assume from this they will almost for sure refuse to enforce the plea agreement once Omar is on Canadian soil and so Omar will certainly be freed the moment he sets foot in Canadian next year.

    Omar will be walking around free in Toronto by this time next year.

    Not even Omar claims to have been physically tortured in any way in Gitmo, only supposedly “psychologically pressured” for several weeks of interrogation 8 years ago which seem to have amounted to someone yelling at Omar and saying a few mean words to Omar. Since Omar by age 15 had at that point undergone 4 years of Al-Qaeda combat training and had as he now admits, personally participated in numerous violent actions for Al-Qaeda like laying IEDs, a few nasty scary words from an interrogator could hardly have scared Omar all that much.

    But never the less, Omar currently has a 10 million dollar law suit on against the Canadian government for supposedly cooperating with the US in this interrogation. Omar will probably win this case given the Canadian court rulings so far, and will get all this money and on top of that, since Canada has no US style “Son of Sam” laws preventing criminals from profiting from their crimes with book and movie deals, Omar and his greedy lawyers probably think they have struck the jackpot and they will all be soon rolling in millions.

    The only good news is that Sargent Speer’s family has already won a 100 million dollar wrongful death suit against Omar in American court, and this judgment is also binding in Canada so hopeful the widow and orphans of Omar’s victim may be able to take all this blood money from Omar and leave him and especially Omar’s dozens of lawyers penniless, although I understand Omar’s lawyers in Canada are of course gearing up to try to throw the judgment for Sargent Speer’s poverty stricken widow and orphans out of Canadian court, so I would not count on this either.

    Who knew that all you had to do to become fabulously wealthy for life ( and make your lawyers wealthy for life too of course) was to use your Canadian passport to travel to a foreign country, happily join an murderous illegal criminal terrorist group whose ideology you have never to this day renounced, savagely murder a medical officer allied to Canada and engaged in a legal UN mandated mission,while he was treating the wounded and then be exposed to some mean nasty words, i.e. “psychologically pressure” during a few weeks of interrogation ?

  9. Judo, How do you know so much about this case? You have some very good information. Thank you for sharing what you know about Omar which I think puts a different perspective on this case.

  10. @Judo:
    Are you honestly making an argument that an individual can be guilty of murder based on the fact that the individual's parents espouse murder? That the fact that he admitted being sent to Afghanistan by his parents makes him guilty of a war crime? That the law is mere technicality?

    Needless to say, Mr. Khadr's parents have disgusting, misguided and possibly criminal views. Mr. Khadr is however not responsible for his parents' conduct. He is responsible for his own conduct. Throwing a hand grenade at a soldier is not a war crime. If it were, all soldiers doing their duty would be war criminals, rendering the category meaningless.

    That's why the category is defined. All the countries of the world got together and agreed what is allowed in war and what is not. Those agreements are called the Geneva Conventions. Their content is not technicality any more than the rights enshrined in the US Constitution are technicalities. They are an essential minimum standard of humanity.

    In fact, they are what make decent societies better than the terrorists you want to be protected from. They don't care about the law. They don't care who they kill, whether they are combatants or non-combatants, or children.

    Mr. Khadr has been convicted of espionage and conspiracy for being sent by his parents to training camps in Afghanistan, conduct of others committed when he was a child. He has been convicted of material support, which was not a crime at the time he supposedly committed it. And he has been convicted of murder – read that again, murder – for throwing a grenade at a soldier, which in war is not a crime, and puts him on a par with such despicable specimens as concentration camp guards.

    This is a despicable travesty.

  11. Judo,

    You asked some interesting questions that deserve a response. You characterize my points as legal technicalities but here's the thing about the law – it only works when it is applied properly. Constitutional protections matter, treaties matter, and evidence matters. We have played fast and loose with all three at GTMO.

    The only relevant issues in Khadr's case should be whether or not we can prove that he committed the crimes he is accused of and whether or not he receives a fair trial. It matters not one jot who his father was nor what his mother tells a reporter – they are not on trial. It matters rather more if we have created a legal system so biased that those that come before it take plea deals because they think they have no chance of receiving a fair hearing. Why? Because this is as much about us as it is about Omar Khadr. Once we start bending the rules we turn our backs on what makes the United States the country it is, we undermine the legitimacy of our cause and give succor to those who would do us harm.

    Of course we have the right to be protected from terrorists, just as we have the right to be protected from other criminals. But liberal democracies strike a balance between protecting the rights of society and the rights of the individual. The bumper sticker gets it absolutely right: Freedom isn't free. If we want to live in a free society we have to assume a little risk. I don't say that lightly. I have survived two terrorist attacks (in London and Baghdad) and served as a counterterrorist officer in the UK. But I also served in Bosnia and Iraq as a war crimes investigator and I know all too well what happens to societies that adopt the position that the end justifies the means and that might is right.

  12. Judo, How do you know so much about this case? You have some very good information. Thank you for sharing what you know about Omar which I think puts a different perspective on this case.

  13. @Judo:
    Are you honestly making an argument that an individual can be guilty of murder based on the fact that the individual’s parents espouse murder? That the fact that he admitted being sent to Afghanistan by his parents makes him guilty of a war crime? That the law is mere technicality?

    Needless to say, Mr. Khadr’s parents have disgusting, misguided and possibly criminal views. Mr. Khadr is however not responsible for his parents’ conduct. He is responsible for his own conduct. Throwing a hand grenade at a soldier is not a war crime. If it were, all soldiers doing their duty would be war criminals, rendering the category meaningless.

    That’s why the category is defined. All the countries of the world got together and agreed what is allowed in war and what is not. Those agreements are called the Geneva Conventions. Their content is not technicality any more than the rights enshrined in the US Constitution are technicalities. They are an essential minimum standard of humanity.

    In fact, they are what make decent societies better than the terrorists you want to be protected from. They don’t care about the law. They don’t care who they kill, whether they are combatants or non-combatants, or children.

    Mr. Khadr has been convicted of espionage and conspiracy for being sent by his parents to training camps in Afghanistan, conduct of others committed when he was a child. He has been convicted of material support, which was not a crime at the time he supposedly committed it. And he has been convicted of murder – read that again, murder – for throwing a grenade at a soldier, which in war is not a crime, and puts him on a par with such despicable specimens as concentration camp guards.

    This is a despicable travesty.

  14. I don't think he'll be loose anytime soon. Just like I predicted two years ago Obamas executive order to close gitmo wouldn't be worth the paper written on. Once out he will return to the jihad and I'm predicting a suicide vest in his future. He pled GUILTY people. Even in the commission the judge will ask the right questions and enough explanation to remove all doubt. Omar / terrorist supporters lose.

  15. Judo,

    You asked some interesting questions that deserve a response. You characterize my points as legal technicalities but here’s the thing about the law – it only works when it is applied properly. Constitutional protections matter, treaties matter, and evidence matters. We have played fast and loose with all three at GTMO.

    The only relevant issues in Khadr’s case should be whether or not we can prove that he committed the crimes he is accused of and whether or not he receives a fair trial. It matters not one jot who his father was nor what his mother tells a reporter – they are not on trial. It matters rather more if we have created a legal system so biased that those that come before it take plea deals because they think they have no chance of receiving a fair hearing. Why? Because this is as much about us as it is about Omar Khadr. Once we start bending the rules we turn our backs on what makes the United States the country it is, we undermine the legitimacy of our cause and give succor to those who would do us harm.

    Of course we have the right to be protected from terrorists, just as we have the right to be protected from other criminals. But liberal democracies strike a balance between protecting the rights of society and the rights of the individual. The bumper sticker gets it absolutely right: Freedom isn’t free. If we want to live in a free society we have to assume a little risk. I don’t say that lightly. I have survived two terrorist attacks (in London and Baghdad) and served as a counterterrorist officer in the UK. But I also served in Bosnia and Iraq as a war crimes investigator and I know all too well what happens to societies that adopt the position that the end justifies the means and that might is right.

  16. I don’t think he’ll be loose anytime soon. Just like I predicted two years ago Obamas executive order to close gitmo wouldn’t be worth the paper written on. Once out he will return to the jihad and I’m predicting a suicide vest in his future. He pled GUILTY people. Even in the commission the judge will ask the right questions and enough explanation to remove all doubt. Omar / terrorist supporters lose.

  17. The Geneva Convention of 1949 was written long before anyone ever heard of illegal criminal groups like al-Qaeda.
    It was never written or intended to apply to such groups.

    Just because the victim of Omar's illegal murder happened to be an American soldier on a legal UN mandated mission does not suddenly transform Omar from a criminal into a soldier protected under the Geneva Convention, any more than the Geneva Convention applies to the Mexican drug mafias who have killed 30,000 Mexican police and Mexican Army soldiers over the last 10 years, or it applies to the Somali pirates who clash with navy warships of various nations.

    All these, al-Qaeda, Mexican drug mafias, Somali pirates etc. are all illegal criminal groups. Every single killing they do, against soldier or civilian, is an illegal murder and never an act of war. The only rights due them once captured are the bare minimal universal human rights against such practices as torture and summary execution without trial etc.

    Canadian Omar, a full fledged member of this terrible mass-murdering criminal organization, in a foreign country he had no connection to and no right to be in in the first place, caught while illegally murdering people, US soldiers or who ever his victims were, has no right to be treated as a POW under the Geneva Convention and has no right to protections under the US constitution.

  18. The Geneva Convention of 1949 was written long before anyone ever heard of illegal criminal groups like al-Qaeda.
    It was never written or intended to apply to such groups.

    Just because the victim of Omar’s illegal murder happened to be an American soldier on a legal UN mandated mission does not suddenly transform Omar from a criminal into a soldier protected under the Geneva Convention, any more than the Geneva Convention applies to the Mexican drug mafias who have killed 30,000 Mexican police and Mexican Army soldiers over the last 10 years, or it applies to the Somali pirates who clash with navy warships of various nations.

    All these, al-Qaeda, Mexican drug mafias, Somali pirates etc. are all illegal criminal groups. Every single killing they do, against soldier or civilian, is an illegal murder and never an act of war. The only rights due them once captured are the bare minimal universal human rights against such practices as torture and summary execution without trial etc.

    Canadian Omar, a full fledged member of this terrible mass-murdering criminal organization, in a foreign country he had no connection to and no right to be in in the first place, caught while illegally murdering people, US soldiers or who ever his victims were, has no right to be treated as a POW under the Geneva Convention and has no right to protections under the US constitution.

  19. 8 more years and at least 1 of those at club gitmo.

    He won't be returning to the JIHAD until his early to mid 30s.

  20. I completely agree with all the points about the absolute necessity of the rule of law, with support for the Geneva Convention and the prevention of torture or other cruel and degrading treatment. That is why I am a member of Amnesty International and have been for over 20 years. However, I am troubled by the use of Omar Khadr as a kind of "poster child" for the unlawful imprisonment and abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay after he has pled guilty to planting IED's and tossing a grenade at an American Medic. In fact, he has apparently expressed great satisfaction with his success at killing.

  21. 8 more years and at least 1 of those at club gitmo.

    He won’t be returning to the JIHAD until his early to mid 30s.

  22. I completely agree with all the points about the absolute necessity of the rule of law, with support for the Geneva Convention and the prevention of torture or other cruel and degrading treatment. That is why I am a member of Amnesty International and have been for over 20 years. However, I am troubled by the use of Omar Khadr as a kind of “poster child” for the unlawful imprisonment and abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay after he has pled guilty to planting IED’s and tossing a grenade at an American Medic. In fact, he has apparently expressed great satisfaction with his success at killing.

  23. Dear Dorothy,

    Omar Khadr is the only one of two cases to receive a hearing at Guantanamo in the past year. His age – 15 years old – at the time of capture entitled him to a treatment regime delineated by an international convention that the United States signed but reneged on. For these two reasons his case has received a great deal of attention from Amnesty International. We do not consider him the poster child for anything – he is simply the man on the spot.

    Human rights groups are very concerned that with the Military Commissions process the US government has created a system that you can only guarantee escape from by pleading guilty. Omar Khadr's sentencing statement was inevitable part of the plea deal and as his attorney noted "[he] would have confessed to anything, including to killing John F. Kennedy, just to get out of this hell hole."

    Khadr's statements in custody may or may not have been accurately reported – but it is not difficult to imagine circumstances in which a teenager might try to get under the skin of his captors by saying something hurtful and perhaps untrue. The manner in which the prosecution tried to misrepresent Khadr's reading choices in detention gives us an insight in how selective the government has been in releasing information to the public.

    The real point here is that by compromising the judicial process question marks will remain over Omar Khadr's guilt or innocence, and that is a poor outcome for all concerned.

    The Amnesty movement believes in inalienable rights for every man. woman and child on the planet. Sometimes we take up the cases of unsympathetic individuals because the real test of our moral fiber and the strength of our society is how resilient our values are when we are under threat. There are bad people out there in all walks of life who do bad things but in a liberal democracy if want to deprive them of liberty you have prove your case for doing so in a real court of law. Khadr should have been tried in federal court.

  24. Dear Dorothy,

    Omar Khadr is the only one of two cases to receive a hearing at Guantanamo in the past year. His age – 15 years old – at the time of capture entitled him to a treatment regime delineated by an international convention that the United States signed but reneged on. For these two reasons his case has received a great deal of attention from Amnesty International. We do not consider him the poster child for anything – he is simply the man on the spot.

    Human rights groups are very concerned that with the Military Commissions process the US government has created a system that you can only guarantee escape from by pleading guilty. Omar Khadr’s sentencing statement was inevitable part of the plea deal and as his attorney noted “[he] would have confessed to anything, including to killing John F. Kennedy, just to get out of this hell hole.”

    Khadr’s statements in custody may or may not have been accurately reported – but it is not difficult to imagine circumstances in which a teenager might try to get under the skin of his captors by saying something hurtful and perhaps untrue. The manner in which the prosecution tried to misrepresent Khadr’s reading choices in detention gives us an insight in how selective the government has been in releasing information to the public.

    The real point here is that by compromising the judicial process question marks will remain over Omar Khadr’s guilt or innocence, and that is a poor outcome for all concerned.

    The Amnesty movement believes in inalienable rights for every man. woman and child on the planet. Sometimes we take up the cases of unsympathetic individuals because the real test of our moral fiber and the strength of our society is how resilient our values are when we are under threat. There are bad people out there in all walks of life who do bad things but in a liberal democracy if want to deprive them of liberty you have prove your case for doing so in a real court of law. Khadr should have been tried in federal court.