The jurors wanted a child soldier sentenced for forty years, despite a plea bargain for eight (my bet is he'll be out of Canadian jail in two). I find it hard to disagree with this assessment of a farce of a trial after a tragedy of an imprisonment:
The trial of Omar Khadr has been called a travesty of justice, a violation of the rule of law, a kangaroo court and lots of other things beside. But what it really was, was a show trial.
On the main charge, "murder in violation of the laws of war" (a crime that doesn't appear to even exist in international law, given that combatants who kill other soldiers in combat are not violating the laws of war), the chief evidence against the then-15-year-old child soldier was his own confession. And that confession, made years ago and long since recanted, was obtained under conditions that any normal human being would describe as torture...
And so the Bush administration project of ridding the world of terrorism by means of torture comes full circle. The U.S. military and CIA, ordered to use force to extract information from detainees, something that violated not just U.S. military tradition but U.S. military law, had to come up with new interrogation techniques, and quickly. They turned to history, including copying communist coercion-based interrogation models, such as those that captured American troops had been subjected to during the Korean War.
The original communist torture techniques, which for a time inspired the standard operating procedures at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and the secret black sites, were not designed to elicit truth. They were designed to produce false confessions: That was the whole point. They were designed to force people to say what interrogators wanted to hear -- yes, I am a capitalist stooge, yes I am a Trostkyite, yes I am a terrorist. And now Guantanamo's very first military tribunal has its first guilty verdict, thanks to those methods of coercion first perfected for the Soviet Bloc show trial.
My God, what have we done?
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