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"Travesty at Guantanamo"
LISA HAJJAR, [currently at Guantanamo]
Hajjar is an editor of Middle East Report and an associate professor of sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara. She is covering events from Guantanamo Bay. She recently wrote the piece "Travesty in Progress: Omar Khadr and the U.S. Military Commissions."
President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Ratner said today: "Omar Khadr's so-called plea was a 'show plea.' He pleaded guilty to crimes he was never charged with and crimes about which there was almost no evidence, except a confession made under torture including threats of gang rape. So why did he do it? Here is what he was facing: life imprisonment and/or being held as an enemy combatant for the rest of his life even without a trial. He was being tried in a military commission, not a real court, where the tortured confession had been admitted. Under these circumstances his conviction was almost guaranteed.
"So why did the U.S. offer him a plea, a plea that likely includes no more than a year at Guantanamo and then he is off to Canada, where it is likely he will soon be freed? The sentencing process going on now is a similar charade; Khadr cannot get more than he agreed to. But it gives the administration a chance to parade out all the horribles -- none of which will have much to do with Khadr. The Obama administration is trying to save any 'face' they have left: this was the first trial of a child soldier by a Western power since World War II. Khadr was 15 at the time of the alleged acts. Such charges and trials of juveniles are utterly illegal. Top that off with torture. What a case to make the first trial case before a commission. So the U.S. wanted its pound of flesh from Khadr to demonstrate their uncivilized system of 'justice' works. They trumped up the charges to make it look like this 15-year-old was a really bad guy and guilty. The Khadr case is one of the most disgusting chapters in a post-9/11 detention system that should have long ago been relegated to a trash-bin."
For updates and background, see the "Guantanamo" blog by Andy Worthington