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Guantanamo Release
July 15, 2008 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Al Jazeera cameraman and Guantanamo detainee Sami al-Haj was released after 6.5 years. Meanwhile, an interrogation video of current Guantanamo resident, now 21 year old Canadian Omar Khadr, has also been released. Previously.
posted by gman (61 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Stephen Harper isn't helping either.
posted by gman at 8:22 AM on July 15, 2008


He's in Al Qaeda, fuck him.
posted by autodidact at 8:31 AM on July 15, 2008


Guantánamo video shows interrogation of sobbing Canadian youth (aged 16, not released)
posted by ardgedee at 8:32 AM on July 15, 2008


As I said, an interrogation video of Khadr has been released. I accidentally erased the word 'now' from before '21 year old......' My apologies.
posted by gman at 8:34 AM on July 15, 2008


Sorry, same video as the "Omar Khadr" link, different writeup.
posted by ardgedee at 8:35 AM on July 15, 2008


autodidact: Sorry, my sarcasm meter isn't showing a reading on your comment. You know that "Al Qaeda" is largely a catch all fabrication used to describe disparate local and regional militia-type groups, right?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:35 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:39 AM on July 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Burhanistan, I believe the sarcasm lies in assuming everything that starts with "Al" is a terrorist organization, in the same way that everyone named "Hussein" is an evil man.

And that's a pretty A-rab sounding name you got there yourself, by the way ...
posted by yhbc at 8:47 AM on July 15, 2008


And that's a pretty A-rab sounding name you got there yourself, by the way ...

sounds more like a Central Asian country to me.
posted by gman at 8:50 AM on July 15, 2008


I watched the video this morning and I just don't see how a 16 year old gets put in Gitmo. That is pretty fucked up. The decision making that leads to a 16 year old kid winding up in interrogation in Gitmo is just plain wrong. I don't care who's son he is, you are dealing with a child. You don't put children in adult prisons. Never mind the whole never been charged aspect of all that goes on down there.
Gitmo is the USA gulag. It is time for it to be shutdown. It is a national embarrassment.
posted by a3matrix at 8:50 AM on July 15, 2008


1. Harrrper is a wanker
2. I think Omar is the last "Westerner" left in gitmo. Yay Canada.


3. Can Canadian citizens who hold duo citizenship and live abroad vote in Canadian national elections?
posted by edgeways at 8:53 AM on July 15, 2008


Already been outed.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:53 AM on July 15, 2008


It is to say the least unfortunate that the first pubic video of a Guantanamo interregation features Canadians. Nary an electrode to be seen
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:55 AM on July 15, 2008


Gitmo is the USA gulag. It is time for it to be shutdown. It is a national embarrassment.

I think Bush has said multiple times that he wants Guantanamo to be shut down. Unfortunately his hands are tied due to his character class as a Paladin of Slaughter, thus committed to the Chaotic Evil alignment
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:03 AM on July 15, 2008 [7 favorites]


I think Bush has said multiple times that he wants Guantanamo to be shut down.

True, but I can't help but suspecting that it's simply because Gitmo is so exposed. There are plenty of other facilities that could be used to detain "enemies" that aren't so highly publicized.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:06 AM on July 15, 2008


Exactly. It's not like there aren't other prisons around the globe where American's are torturing people. Guantanamo Bay just happens to be the one most people know about.

Also, calling it Gitmo is fucking stupid.
posted by chunking express at 9:23 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think Bush has said multiple times that he wants Guantanamo to be shut down.

He also said that the United States does not torture, but he just joshin' about that.
posted by chillmost at 9:38 AM on July 15, 2008


Calling it Gitmo is quicker to type.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:40 AM on July 15, 2008


Does this mean we have to sympathize with the Germans in all those old history books now?
posted by digaman at 9:47 AM on July 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


If Bush/Cheney/Perle/Rove/Fife/Rumsfeld gets shot tomorrow, do I have to pretend to be outraged, or can I continue drinking my coffee with the forced indifference I've used to endure all of this stuff?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:52 AM on July 15, 2008


Cuba should bomb Guantanamo (or throw coconuts at it).
posted by mattbucher at 9:56 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


I believe the sarcasm lies in assuming everything that starts with "Al" is a terrorist organization,

Get between me and my Al cohol and I'll show you a terrorist organisation.
posted by three blind mice at 10:01 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Get between me and my Al cohol and I'll show you a terrorist organisation.

You probably already knew this, but just for the record.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:03 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Exactly. It's not like there aren't other prisons around the globe where American's are torturing people.

And we have apparently used things like strappado (in 2003). The idea that people are being illegally held and having shit like this done to them in my name infuriates me beyond words.
posted by quin at 10:03 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately his hands are tied due to his character class as a Paladin of Slaughter, thus committed to the Chaotic Evil alignment

Wait, is this 4th edition?
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on July 15, 2008


I'm (still) reading The Name of the Rose. Disturbing off-scene mentions of torture that is specifically not done by the Church, but by the "secular arm". The Church naturally does not condone such a practice! (Guards, take him away and "show him" the devices.)
posted by DU at 10:42 AM on July 15, 2008


It's worth noting that Omar Khadr is on trial for the war crime of being a child soldier.

He is accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier during an assault on himself and four other militants in a collection of mud huts that involved over 100 US soldiers and allied militiamen, two Apache helicopters, two F/A-18 Hornets, and two A-10 Warthogs. After the aerial bombardment, only Khadr and one other militant was alive. Khadr was seriously wounded, losing sight in one eye from shrapnel, and was shot twice in the back. He was 15 at the time. He is being "tried" as an adult at Guantanamo because he turned 16 before being moved there from Bagram Air Base.

If we are serious about treating the use of child soldiers as a war crime, we can't very well torture child soldiers and detain them indefinitely simply because they were fighting for a sectarian militia, yet that is exactly what the US is doing, and what Harper has acquiesced to.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:51 AM on July 15, 2008 [9 favorites]


The fact that Canada hasn't brought Khadr home is an embarrassment to all Canadians. Check out the comments on this CBC story. Here are some gems:

"Boo hoo."

"I can't believe that anybody thinks this terrorist should be allowed back into Canada. The best outcome for him should be expulsion from Canada, along with his family. Even that would be far too soft."

"Looks like the hero of the neo-libs has grown up to be a cry baby."

Ugh, such hateful people.
posted by cdmckay at 10:53 AM on July 15, 2008


The saddest thing about the US's descent into officially sanctioned torture is how easy it has been to keep the broader public from engaging with the question. When the Abu Ghraib photos first came out the official line was entirely "we would never condone torture--this is the work of a few rogue soldiers." The right-wing commentariat's line was "well, what was done here isn't really torture, it's just frat-house hi-jinks." What was interesting about that is that it suggests that everyone agreed that it would be simply wrong--flat wrong--for the US to be engaging in a deliberate policy of torturing its detainees.

And yet somehow, as each revelation about the extent of the US policy of deliberately committing the most appalling tortures surfaced and the public showed, again and again, that it really didn't want to know, the public discourse shifted from "of course we don't torture" to "well, you know, we've all watched that fine documentary 24, and if there's one thing we learn from that its that when the terrorists have a bomb circling Los Angeles and one of them has a big remote control device for it and you don't know if you have to cut the blue wire or the red wire, then torture is not just a duty but a pleasure!; and therefore we obviously have to torture teenagers if somebody fingered them as members of al Qaeda, because, you know, they might know about something terror-y...somewhere."

It's such a horribly dispiriting lesson in how easy it is for a nation to lose any sense of its ideals. It certainly completely robbed me of any last vestiges of that "it can't happen here" feeling.
posted by yoink at 10:53 AM on July 15, 2008 [10 favorites]



I think Bush has said multiple times that he wants Guantanamo to be shut down, moved to the basement of AT&T, cause they are protected by immunity now right?

/snark.
posted by edgeways at 10:53 AM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


It certainly completely robbed me of any last vestiges of that "it can't happen here" feeling.

But it can't happen here! That's why we do it over there.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:50 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


So he's being tried for war crimes because he was a child soldier? That is the most fucked up thing I've heard all week, and I work in advertising. Next they'll tell us that because he was a child soldier he cannot be considered an official combatant under the Geneva Conventions.

Is Harper aware that he is complicit in undermining the very foundations of international law that Canadians and Americans (and citizens of a number of other countries) worked very hard to establish in the last two centuries?

Oh right, Maher Arar. Precedent.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:51 AM on July 15, 2008


Wow, reading the comments on the CBC article is depressing. I am having a hard time trying to recall times when I've been more disgusted by the opinions of other Canadians.
Let's get one fact straight.

There is NOTHING that the Canadian Government can charge Khadr with in Canada. His advocates know that, even when they lie and demand that he be returned to Canada for trial. Therefore, the very second Khadr lands feet dry in Canada he will be free to walk.

He will have to be under surveillence 24 hours x 365. that's roughly 3 agents per shift, 3 shifts a day at $70,000 annual per agent. Add admin costs and we will be paying a million a year to shadow Khadr for years if not forever.

And, even that shadowing will not keep him from going on a gun or knife rage and killing a group of people before the agents following can take him down. There would be no way of preventing him from having the free contacts at home where he could be slipped a gun, or an explosive device for the "allahakbar rampage". If he survives he gets a lifetime of free meals and cable tv at Millhaven.

I see and hear lots of emotional comments that keep repeating "but, he's just a boy!".

No, he's not. Maybe long long ago he once was...... but he's not now. And never will be again.

He is a very disturbed adult. He is an enemy of our country, and our culture. An enemy with weapons training, combat experience, and a whole lot to be enraged about. And, he is from a culture that taught him to care nothing about his own life as long he can take the maximum of infidels into death with him.

Every day he is in US custody is another safer day we all live here.
Or this gem:
As I've said before and will repeat...."THANK-YOU STEPHAN HARPER"!!
Finally someone has grown a pair and put a foot down.
Leave this terrorist behind bars where he belongs.
If he finds it a bit lonely, ship the rest of his family to Cuba as well.
Get Out of Canada, Khadr Family.
At least this one wants to see Khadr freed:
He moved out of Canada in 1996... He was raised mostly in Pakistan...
His home is with the Taliban... release him already so he can strap a bomb to his chest and finish his life mission.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:16 PM on July 15, 2008


My gut says Alberta's weighing in on this one.
posted by Shepherd at 1:07 PM on July 15, 2008


I'm amazed at the damn-close-to-zero traction the video has in US media.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:29 PM on July 15, 2008


Really? I'm not.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on July 15, 2008


Thank you, unknown CBC commenter, for forcing the mental image of Harper's dropping testicles upon me so soon after eating.
posted by CKmtl at 2:44 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


The saddest thing about the US's descent into officially sanctioned torture is how easy it has been to keep the broader public from engaging with the questio....


Moot Point. Every country tortures if it feels a need, some just like doing it for want.
that scares me. umm...the US's descent into officially sanctioned torture
this is the point of contention.
"offical Sanction" is covered under "plausable deniability"
it may be semantics but I feel these things are important.
posted by clavdivs at 3:07 PM on July 15, 2008


like spelling
posted by clavdivs at 3:07 PM on July 15, 2008


[expletive deleted], don't feel so glum. The blog comments for most major news sites seem to be a nesting ground for right wing nutjobs. The Courier Mail website, which is the web presence for the major newspaper that services my home city of Brisbane, is a prime example.

The commenter’s there are rabidly right wing, anti-immigration, anti-common sense, anti-Labor commentators and yet on the street I don't hear their views repeated and Labor is in power in every state and territory of my country, including at a federal level. They are definitely in the minority, and they post at places like this because it's about the only place where both left and right wing readers will read their comments; no one else will listen to them anywhere else because they're irrelevant and probably on the fringes of even their own political side of the fence. I used to get quite depressed reading comments there until I realised this. Now I just ignore them. It's better for my health.

Also, the fact that a 16 year old kid can be locked up and tortured (and don't tell me he wasn't... where else did he get those multitude of wounds?) without regard for due process and the Geneva Convention is hugely depressing. Sure he fought for 'the other side' and allegedly killed a US soldier. That's sad and depressing too. But this is a war and people killing people is going to happen on both sides. That'll get you locked up while the war is on, and that is arguably all well and good. But when you move into the realm of just assuming he's guilty because he looks like an Arab, and start torturing your POWs, that's where you enter a realm of disgust and wrong that I can't even begin to describe.

Bush apparently worries about how his Presidency will be remembered. This video and all the other stories that are similar to this one that we never heard about (but will in years to come) are how his Presidency will be remembered. I can't think of a worse punishment for such an obviously vain, self righteous asshole*.

* Actually I can think of many but I won’t stoop to his level.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:39 PM on July 15, 2008


Burhanistan: autodidact: Sorry, my sarcasm meter isn't showing a reading on your comment. You know that "Al Qaeda" is largely a catch all fabrication used to describe disparate local and regional militia-type groups, right?

Not in this case. Omar's brother Abdurahman Khadr:
Okay, the first time I went to training I was 11-and-a-half years old. … My brother was 12 and we went to Khalden. We took the first course, which is the assault rifles course. We stayed in the course for two months and then we went back to Pakistan.

And then since like, I could say since '92 until 2003 I've been to Khalden like five times. I took an assault rifle course, explosive-making course, snipers, pistols, and … a course that includes all of these.

[What is your memory of the night President Clinton sent cruise missiles to attack the training camp after the African embassy bombings?]

I noticed something in the sky. There was something that was like lightning and you know, flashing. So I just watched it and there was like, there was like three, four camps around the area. I was in Al Farooq, which was like second to the Americans, to hit it second. Jihad Wel was the one they thought Osama was in, so they started bombing it. They started bombing it, right away I ducked and I stayed on the floor, on the ground. And then they just started, you know, hitting all the camps and they hit our camp too. And you know, there were just explosives going around everywhere. After everything was done, I was the one that drove the injured people because there was like almost five, six injured people. I drove back to Khost. …

[When you were going to these camps, was there ever a time that you kind of believed in bin Laden and believed in the Al Qaeda organization?]

The day I really believed in it was the day we were bombed in the training camp. All these people were killed and we were up on the mountain with guns, and we were just waiting for American soldiers to come down the mountain. I was like just waiting for them, "we're going to shoot as much of them as we can," you know? We've been bombed and we felt that, you know, we wanted them to come. We wanted a fight, you know.
Also see this CBC story. Abdurahman Khadr eventually ran away from his family, left al-Qaeda, and worked for the CIA.

The Khadrs were fighting against the US and its allies (including Canada) in Afghanistan. When Maha Khadr returned to Canada in 2004 with her son Abdul Karim (paralyzed from the waist down), seeking medical treatment, there was a great deal of public outrage: Shouldn't Canada be more than a convenient mailing address? How can you transfer your loyalty to a foreign state--or in this case, to al-Qaeda--and then claim that Canada is still obligated to help you? Don't the minimum requirements for being a Canadian citizen include not taking up arms against Canada?

CP story on reaction to the video in Canada.
posted by russilwvong at 4:05 PM on July 15, 2008


That isn't to say that Canada shouldn't seek to have him extradited. But in this case, yes, the Khadrs were definitely fighting for al-Qaeda.
posted by russilwvong at 4:12 PM on July 15, 2008


Was he in Afghanistan before or after Canada invaded?
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on July 15, 2008


Before. Here's the CBC timeline:
Oct. 2, 2003
After reports that senior members of al-Qaeda are hiding in Waziristan, Pakistan, armed forces in Pakistan stage an attack on their hideout. After a firefight lasting several hours, the Pakistan army takes 18 prisoners and pulls eight bodies, including that of patriarch Ahmed Said Khadr, from the safehouse.

At the time, his 14-year-old son Abdul Karim is also believed dead. It is later confirmed that Abdul survived but was badly hurt.

2002
Omar Khadr is shot three times in a battle with American troops in Afghanistan. He loses the sight of one eye. He is sent to Guantanamo, Cuba, accused of killing an American soldier with a grenade.

Nov. 10, 2001
Abdurahman is arrested as a suspected member of al-Qaeda one day before the Taliban falls to the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance.

Sept. 11, 2001
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden and other members of Al-Qaeda leave Jalalabad, Afghanistan for the Pakistan-Afghan border. The U.S. government compiles and releases a list of suspected terrorists. Ahmed Said Khadr is on the list

2001
The Khadr family attends the wedding of Osama bin Laden's son, Muhammed.

2000
Abdurahman says Canadian spies question him during a visit to Toronto. After a few months in Canada, he rejoins the rest of the Khadr family in Kabul.

September 9, 1999
Bin Laden attends the wedding of Zaynab Khadr, one of two Khadr daughters.

Aug. 21, 1998
The U.S. government retaliates by launching three missiles from naval destroyers in the Arabian Sea. One of them is aimed at a training camp led by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda and where Abdurahman was training. He says he was with a Canadian friend when a missile hits the camp.

Aug. 7, 1998
Al-Qaeda bombs the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Abdurahman says he was in an Afghan training camp at the time.

January 1996
After having been detained in Pakistan on suspicion of funding the bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, Ahmed Said launches a hunger strike. He gathers his six children, contacts Canadian journalists and asks Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to intervene. Chrétien later raises the issue with the Pakistani government during a trade mission.

Khadr is released. He then encourages his four boys to attend training camps in Afghanistan.
posted by russilwvong at 4:22 PM on July 15, 2008


So basically Canadians shouldn't be from countries that Canada is about to invade?
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on July 15, 2008


Answering terror with terror: In "The Dark Side," Jane Mayer chronicles the terrible, destructive decisions the Bush administration made in the name of fighting terrorism.
posted by homunculus at 4:58 PM on July 15, 2008


Artw: So basically Canadians shouldn't be from countries that Canada is about to invade?

Not sure I'm seeing your point. He and his brothers were trained al-Qaeda soldiers, they weren't bystanders. (Did you mean "from", or "in"? Omar Khadr and his siblings were all born in Canada, they weren't "from" Afghanistan. His father immigrated from Egypt, his mother was Palestinian.)

To quote his mother and sister:
Maha is proud of Omar. "Of course. He defended himself," she says. "He just did not give any – you know, I thought they were very simple kids."

"If you were in that situation what would you have done? I must ask everybody that," Zaynab says.

"I hope you don't say, 'I would bow down.' No, no, no," Maha says. "Wouldn't you like your Canadian son to be so brave to stand up and fight for his right?"

"He'd been bombarded for hours. Three of his friends who were with him had been killed. He was the only sole survivor," Zaynab says. "What do you expect him to do, come up with his hands in the air? I mean it's a war. They're shooting at him. Why can't he shoot at you? If you killed three, why can't he kill one? Why is it, why does nobody say you killed three of his friends? Why does everybody say you killed an American soldier? Big deal."
I see their point: in a war, since when is it a war crime to kill an enemy soldier in battle?

In a traditional war, if he were an adult, he'd be put in a prisoner-of-war camp until the end of hostilities; he wouldn't be put on trial.
posted by russilwvong at 5:09 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fair point on the “from” bit – somehow I got the idea they had family ties with Afghanistan.
posted by Artw at 5:21 PM on July 15, 2008


Unfortunately his hands are tied due to his character class as a Paladin of Slaughter, thus committed to the Chaotic Evil alignment

Roll a terrorist check difficulty 21 to be released.
posted by Talez at 5:24 PM on July 15, 2008


It's worth noting that Omar Khadr is on trial for the war crime of being a child soldier.

What the fucking fuck? I'd say the use of child soldiers is a war crime, but being a child soldier? Are they going to declare him a war criminal for being tortured, too?



I think the big, big question nobody asks about American's torture policy is why. Do the Bush administration really believe it's supplying valuable military information? I sincerely doubt it. Rather, torture (and the whole war on terrorism) is continued in the hopes of provoking another terrorist attack, ensuring another step towards totalitarianism.

And then they're also just getting soldiers to accept the idea of torture. That way when the right individuals are found, they can help install dictators for us.
And of course so that eventually they can be used on dissenting Americans.
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:29 PM on July 15, 2008


I believe the sarcasm lies in assuming everything that starts with "Al" is a terrorist organization,

Al Gore!
posted by matteo at 6:32 PM on July 15, 2008


russilvwong: true enough, but that Al Qaeda has been pretty much killed off since 2002 with the leaders in hiding or otherwise irrelevant. What's referred to as Al Qaeda now is mostly a phantom.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 PM on July 15, 2008


It's worth noting that Omar Khadr is on trial for the war crime of being a child soldier.

Actually, he's been charged with murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying. (Via the long Wikipedia article on Omar Khadr.)

Citizen Premier: I think the big, big question nobody asks about American's torture policy is why.

Vindictiveness, would be my guess.

Rosa Brooks on torture as a conservative litmus test. Previous comment on how torture undermines American power.
posted by russilwvong at 9:33 PM on July 15, 2008


Actually, he's been charged with murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying.

The only charge I have read about in the last few days is murder, and the US is claiming that he is a war criminal based on his alleged murder of a US soldier during a firefight that left everyone he was with dead, and himself critically wounded and permanently disabled. If the US insists that this is a war crime, then I see no reason why it's unfair to say that the US considers Omar Khadr a war criminal for the simple fact that he was a child soldier fighting for the wrong side.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:55 PM on July 15, 2008


My gut says Alberta's weighing in on this one.

My gut says your gut needs to grow up.
And odds are mine's bigger, so...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:33 PM on July 15, 2008


[expletive deleted]: ... the US is claiming that he is a war criminal based on his alleged murder of a US soldier during a firefight--

Right. They're claiming it was murder, not an act of war, which doesn't make sense.

But I think Citizen Premier was getting a bit confused by the phrase "the war crime of being a child soldier"--I just wanted to clear that up, they're not actually charging him with being a child soldier. Rather, he was a child soldier; he may have killed an American soldier in battle (apparently nobody actually saw him throw the grenade); and the US government is trying to charge him with murder.

As I said earlier, it's not a war crime to kill an enemy soldier in battle.
posted by russilwvong at 12:30 AM on July 16, 2008


a3matrix writes "I don't care who's son he is, you are dealing with a child. You don't put children in adult prisons."

American states routinely execute juvenile offenders. Texas not surprisingly is a world leader.
posted by Mitheral at 7:31 AM on July 16, 2008


In other news: Canada deports US army deserter
posted by homunculus at 9:18 AM on July 16, 2008


Omar's mom comments on the tapes.
posted by cdmckay at 10:15 AM on July 16, 2008


Judge nixes some evidence in bin Laden driver case
posted by homunculus at 9:33 AM on July 22, 2008


Bin Laden Driver Faces Life Behind Bars Even if Acquitted
posted by homunculus at 2:57 PM on July 22, 2008


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