Ezra Levant in an op-ed in a Wall Street Journal, “Out of Guantanamo and Into a Canadian Prison,” raises some unanswered questions about who and why a deal was cut between the Obama Administration and the Harper Government in Ottawa.
Two years ago this month, a Guantanamo Bay military jury sentenced a Canadian-born al Qaeda terrorist to 40 years in prison. Omar Khadr was convicted of war crimes in Afghanistan, including the killing, during an ambush, of a 28-year-old U.S. Special Forces medic named Christopher Speer, the father of two young children.
But what the jury didn't know was that, even as they were deliberating the charges of "murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying," Pentagon prosecutors had already struck a plea-bargain deal with Khadr, at the direction of Obama administration officials.
No public explanation for the deal has ever been given.
In an Iconoclast blog post on the US flight that delivered Khadr to a Federal Canadian prison last Saturday, we noted Canadian counterterrorism expert David B. Harris’ comments on the reasons behind Khadr’s release by the Obama administration in an August New English Review interview:
However, one of the disturbing considerations in this particular situation, especially given the animus reserved by a great many Canadians for the currently imprisoned Omar Khadr, is the suggestion that the Canadian government may be bowing to pressure from the Obama White House to repatriate Khadr. According to various reports, the White House is desperately interested in reducing the number of people currently being held at Guantanamo. It is supposed that this pressure from the Obama Administration is politically motivated and stems from Mr. Obama’s preoccupation with the approaching November elections. It remains to be seen what the details of any transfer agreement might amount to.
We noted at the conclusion of Iconoclast post:
Harris’s comments about President Obama’s desire to close the GITMO detention facility are prescient, given the recently published list of 55 detainees, many of whom will likely return to terrorist activities, 31 others would be sent to third countries, leaving 167 detainees.
All of which brings us back to what happened during the GITMO military tribunal during the summer and fall of 2010.
Many forget that Khadr's trial was underway in August 2010, at a time that he and his advocates were claiming his innocence. Prosecutors, contrary to Levant's WSJ article, had no interest in pleading the case, and were most confident in their case.
At the opening of proceedings, the defense made the dramatic gesture of putting up a photo of an allegedly grievously wounded Khadr to make the point that Khadr was too wounded to have killed Sgt. Christopher Speer. Minutes later, the Special Forces soldier who wounded Khadr after he killed Speer, pointed out in precise and irrefutable detail how that seemingly compelling photo represented not Khadr, but killed al-Qaeda fighters on the scene. It was a decisive moment as the air was literally sucked out of the room of Omar Khadr's defense. Yet this was virtually unreported by Khadr apologist Canadian media such as the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, CBC, Al Jazeera, The New York Times and Miami Herald. That testimony effectively crushed the Khadr defense. Just as Military Tribunal Judge Parrish's earlier ruling that Khadr's confessions to interrogators would be admitted.
Minutes later, while the Special Forces soldier witness was still on the witness stand, defense counsel, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson literally collapsed in the middle of the courtroom. (In a bizarre scene, an emergency tech refused to administer to the stricken Lt. Col. Jackson because he was under specific orders to be at the courtroom only if something were to happen to Mr. Khadr). Jackson, an otherwise picture of strapping health who had been vigorous all day up to the point of his apparent collapse, then underwent "tests." In the meantime, Judge Parrish suspended the proceedings until Jackson "returned to full health." Over a month later, Jackson was still undergoing "tests’ for what turned out to be a ‘gall bladder’ operation.
In the interim, a confident prosecution, determined to prosecute Khadr for the murder of an American soldier, astonishingly agreed to a plea agreement with the Khadr defense team. This happenstance came from nowhere, and considering the escalating momentum of the Khadr prosecution, in a trial underway, it was, as Levant wrote, as if the United States had thrown the fight.
After all of the spin and misinformation about Khadr being brainwashed by his terrorist father, and allegedly tortured by the Americans (who had saved his life and restored his health), Khadr pleaded guilty in great detail to being far more than a killer but an active adherent of al-Qaeda.
Dr. Michael Welner’s, detailed and comprehensive forensic psychiatric expert testimony was fully transparent and his video interview of Khadr supplemented an array of numerous collateral sources. That materially rebutted Khadr’s defense and press apologists’ efforts to rebrand him, as a child warrior victim.
The same sentencing proceeding also featured a Khadr "apology" from the stand that was so unconvincing that defense counsel Jackson was compelled the next day, in court, to read another "apology," in the Lt. Col's own words. The jury‘s verdict of a 40 year sentence was a rebuke of the defense effort and confirmation of Khadr’s admission of guilt as a jihadist terrorist.
Which returns us to the question: with a runaway verdict, why did the talented United States military prosecutors basically quit on a trial for Khadr - only to show the same determination at a sentencing proceeding? The answer is, because they answer to higher authorities in the Pentagon.
Clearly, someone in the Pentagon or in the Obama Administration intervened during the August suspension of the Khadr GITMO tribunal to force the shocking plea that included Khadr's return to Canada.
So the mystery remains as to whom in the Pentagon hierarchy or Oval Office overrode the Military Tribunal and prosecution of the killer of an American soldier. Was it President Obama? Secretary Gates? Whoever it was, Sgt. Christopher Speer's family as was Layne Morris, who had been wounded in a firefight, was denied justice.
Was the U.S. State Department so invested in forcing Canada to take Khadr back, knowing Canadian courts will likely parole him? All of this was agreed before anyone learned of the renowned Dr. Welner's findings, which prompted Canada to react like any buyer of an erroneous bargain.
Was the intrusion into the military proceedings an abuse of executive powers aiding and abetting release of confirmed Jihadist terrorists, and contravening authorized military justice?
Given the answers to these and other fundamental questions, it would seem that this is grist for a Congressional oversight investigation and hearing.
Levant revealed the writings of one of Canadian Foreign Ministry staff who shed tears of joy for the arrival in Canada of this former al Qaeda Jihadist. This was eerily similar to accounts of the U.S. State Department "observers" of the Khadr proceedings who essentially acted as Khadr defense cheerleaders. The Khadr legacy has been now trumped, perhaps fittingly. The divide apparently remains between our military that defends this country against foreign Jihadis, and diplomatic and other government officials that all too frequently give aid and comfort to our enemies.
Our thoughts are with the Speer and Morris families, because the thoughts of Khadr and his benefactors in the Obama Administration are not.
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