Canada’s Shameful Scapegoating of Omar Khadr

28.4.12

Last week, the Canadian government received a formal request for the return of Omar Khadr from Guantánamo Bay. Julie Carmichael, an aide to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, told the Globe and Mail, “The government of Canada has just received a completed application for the transfer of prisoner Omar Ahmed Khadr. A decision will be made on this file in accordance with Canadian law.”

Khadr, who was seized at the age of 15 after a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, accepted a plea deal in his war crimes trial at Guantánamo in October 2010, on the basis that he would serve an eight-year sentence, but with only one year to be served in Guantánamo.

However, as the Globe and Mail described it, the government of Stephen Harper “has been reluctant to accept Mr. Khadr,” and “diplomatic wrangling over his transfer has persisted.” Despite this, as I noted last month, the US government has been putting pressure on the Canadian government, because US officials need other prisoners to be reassured that, if they accept plea deals in exchange for providing evidence against other prisoners, the terms of those plea deals will be honored.

Playing this down, and also playing down Canada’s own responsibility towards Khadr, a Canadian official explained, “The United States basically asked Canada for a diplomatic favor and Canada previously agreed to look at a request of this nature favorably. The US needs to get rid of this guy for their own reasons.” The source added that the Americans were “bending over backwards” to ensure Khadr’s return, and would have to “bend their way around a number of their own rules” to make that happen, and also suggested that Vic Toews had “little choice but to accept Mr. Khadr’s return, which would happen at US expense.”

All of the above was economical with the truth, because Canada’s involvement in accepting the return of Khadr was obviously discussed at the time of the plea deal, and the talk of doing favors is, therefore, designed only to make the Canadian government appear tough.

This is nothing new, as the Canadian government has persistently ignored Khadr’s rights, abandoning him at the age of 15, when officials were supposed to call for his rehabilitation as part of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which both Canada and the US are signatories. Moreover, the Canadian government has done nothing to prevent the kind of racism that has involved a regular outpouring of hostility towards Khadr. This is so out of control that numerous Canadian citizens have decided that it is appropriate to talk of not allowing Khadr to return to Canada, even though he was born in Canada and is a Canadian citizen.

Typical of this was a poll conducted last week on CBC News’s “Your Community Blog,” which asked the question, “Should Omar Khadr be allowed to return to Canada?” as though there was a legal option to prevent his return, when there is not. Fortunately, 53 percent of those who voted said yes, compared to 43 percent who said no, although that is still an alarmingly large minority of Canadian citizens who don’t understand what nationality and citizenship mean, and who also don’t seem to believe that a prison sentence — and any notion of punishment — should be finite.

These voices include journalist and Sun TV host Ezra Levant, who has written an entire hate-filled book about the alleged threat posed by Khadr, but whose approach is “so obsessional that it sometimes seems like a manifestation of clinical mental illness,” as another journalist, Jonathan Kay, recently explained.

Moreover, last Thursday, as the Toronto Sun explained in a news report, Vic Toews conceded that the government would not block Khadr’s return. Some commentators had speculated that the government “was considering using a clause in the International Transfer of Offenders Act to keep … Khadr out of Canada on national security grounds.”

Toews explained, “Under the International Transfer of Offenders Act, he is a Canadian citizen. He is also a Canadian citizen under the Charter which entitles him to come back to Canada, eventually.” He added, “The issue is when does he come back to Canada? That’s a determination I have to make and I haven’t made any decision in that respect yet.”

A decision is expected soon, but in the meantime opponents of Khadr’s return should also reflect that, under Canadian law, he will be “eligible for parole next year after completing one-third of his sentence, and statutory release after completing two-thirds.” Toews pointed out that “it would be up to the National Parole Board to decide when to integrate Khadr back into society.” The Toronto Sun also pointed out that the government was “bracing for a multimillion-dollar lawsuit,” based on the fallout from a Canadian Supreme Court ruling in 2010 — conveniently ignored by the government — which stated unambiguously that Khadr’s rights were violated in US custody.

In defense of Khadr — and providing some necessary humility — the Toronto Star ran an editorial last Thursday, pointing out that “the abuse he has suffered with the complicity of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government and that of its Liberal predecessors has shamed Canada,” adding, “His expected return from Guantánamo Bay, while welcome, does us no great credit either.”

Seeing through the official line about Canada doing the US a favour, the Star noted, “Such is the shabby close to an infamous case in which Ottawa refused to go to bat for one of our own,” and delivered the following verdict on Khadr’s US ordeal:

US President Barack Obama once declared Gitmo a “legal black hole” predicated on a “dangerously flawed legal approach” that “compromised our core values.” Khadr finally buckled to that ugly system in 2010 and surrendered the guilty plea to murder and war crimes that it was designed to elicit. His plea bargain was a “hellish decision” to preclude trial in a sham court and the risk of a life sentence.

The Star also reminded readers that Khadr “was pushed to fight in Afghanistan by his al-Qaida-linked father,” and that US officials “threatened him with gang rape, denied him counsel, deprived him of sleep, and set a precedent by charging him with war crimes as a juvenile.” Also noting that he had “spent far more time behind bars than he would have in Canada, had he been convicted here in a credible court of murder as a young offender,” the Star concluded its pertinent editorial by stating:

[A]s Canada’s allies successfully lobbied to free their nationals from Gitmo, the Harper government wilfully neglected Khadr. It never forcefully protested his mistreatment, criticized his prosecution, or asked for leniency. It took the obtuse view that justice was taking its course. It washed its hands of a young Canadian, leaving him to his fate. It failed a citizen, and disgraced itself.

It is rare, at Guantánamo, for another government to have behaved as appallingly as the US, but in Khadr’s case it has long been clear, to anyone capable of viewing it objectively, that the Canadian government has matched America’s abuse towards Khadr every step of the way, and it is time for this disgraceful situation to be brought to an end.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation, as “Canada’s Shameful Treatment of Omar Khadr.”

33 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, MJ Tallon wrote:

    It is depressing, yes. That said, there’s a teeny tiny bit of hope in that the poll numbers show nearly half the respondents continue to resist the propaganda and hate-mongering. We may be struggling to maintain integrity as a independent nation, but the struggle is at least not lost… yet. Thanks for keeping this story known internationally, Andy.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, MJ, and yes, it could be much worse. It was reassuring that, in the CBC News poll, of the 7,971 who responded, 4,247 of them (53.28% of them) voted for his return, with 3,465 votes (43.47%) voting against. However, I do believe, as I mentioned, that far too many people believe that being born in Canada and being a Canadian citizen should count for nothing. We hear the same here in the UK, when people talk about “sending home” people who were born here. It’s vile, racist and stupid, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from openly venting their dirty knee-jerk prejudices.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Hawa Bint Yusuf wrote:

    that is so sad.. :(

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Jo Ann Ryan wrote:

    Wtf ?????

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Nello Bucciero wrote:

    What a shame!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Hawa, Jo Ann and Nello. Hopefully the voices of reason will prevail. As is clear, there’s no conceivable legal obstacle to Khadr’s return, and he will also, hopefully, be freed soon after his return, given that the Supreme Court concluded that his rights had been violated during his long ordeal in Guantanamo.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Tony Gosling wrote:

    Muslims are being scapegoated like the Jews were in the 1930s and 1940s by the Nazis. And the BBC are at the forefront of turning this unfortunate Muslim into the latest ‘nebbish’
    http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17820810

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Willy Bach wrote:

    Thanks Andy. What can you say that is good about the Canadian government of Stephen Harper? In the case of young Canadian Guantanamo abductee Omar Khadr, absolutely nothing. They don’t even apply the law as they are required to do, let alone standards of international law.

    The US model of rotting democracy away from the inside is contagious. Canada behaves similarly to other client states of the US Empire, Britain and Australia.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    That´s what we´ll see as long as the mainstream media decides who´s worth to be respected as a human being. The damage is done, it´s gonna take a lot of work to make people realize what´s causing their behaviour.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tony, Willy and Toia. Great to hear from you all. Tony, thanks for pointing that out. I’d missed it. It does, however, seem to be part of an increasingly reliance on cooperative witnesses, after the coerced and tortured interrogations of the Bush days, which is not actually any better, because we’re seeing people cooperating by telling the authorities what they want to hear, rather than the truth, just as happened in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq and torture dungeons around the world.
    And Willy, yes, that US-UK-Canada-Australia axis of influence remains deeply troubling, and Toia, I agree — there’s a lot of work required to return us to a point where we understand what humanity means.

  11. arcticredriver says...

    Andy, you are absolutely correct that the lack of support for Omar Khadr’s legal rights is a huge embarrassment. Stephen Harper’s Conservative government merits the greater share of the shame. The Liberals were in power during the first years of his incarceration, and were in power when the videos of his interviews with Canadian security officials that formed the core of the excellent document “You don’t like the truth” were made.

    Harper kept claiming the Canadian government should not try to intercede on Omar’s behalf as he “faced serious charges”. Of course the seriousness of the charges are not relevant when a country’s diplomats are considering whether diplomatic pressure is appropriate when one of their citizens faces charges in another country.

    If dipliomatic officials meet with a citizen who faces charges and have no reasons to doubt their citizen will receive a fair trial there are no grounds to intervene. But if their citizen has been beaten, humilated, tortured, pressured for a bribe, or has triggered a local prejudice based on race, or gender preference, religion, etc. then diplomatic pressure is appropriate — without regard to whether they are charged with murder, or shoplifting.

    It is a huge embarrassment.

    Another aspect of Harper’s government that is embarrassing is that his caucus does not include enough individuals who are competent to serve as Ministers. He has been criticized for running some ministries and not allowing the Ministers to do their jobs. Other incompetent ministers need babysitting, and have screwed up because there weren’t enough competent people to do that babysitting.

    I think Vic Toews is one of the incompetent ministers. He recently tried to introduce a draconian bill that would allow warrantless wiretaps. Comments he made showed he didn’t understand his own bill.

    One surprising element of this week’s reporting was a recent article by Peter Worthington — no relation I presume. Worthington is a kind of elder statesman of conservative journalists here. He is a former publisher of a conseravitve paper, he is the mentor and father in law to David Frum. The two of them went on a couple of press junkets to Guantanamo, and returned to publish some really exceptionally bad stories on Guantanamo. I have disagreed with practically everything in every column he published on Khard or Guantanamo — except for the one he published a few days ago.

    In that column he said Omar wasn’t a traitor, and hadn’t done anything for which he could be charged in Canada.

    Over the years I have been unable to resist the temptation to weigh in on the comments section of articles where readers are allowed to comment.

    A large fraction of those commenting on articles in US papers are surprsinging poorly informed. When commenting on Guantanamo in general I think Canadian commentators are better informed than American readers. But when it comes to articles about Omar Khadr there are more uninformed commentators. I’d like to think it has grown slightly better over the years.

    But I still see a lot of respondents who think that Khadr’s treatment was consistent with the Geneva Conventions. I still see respondents who cite Canada’s attempts to strip citizenship from European immigrants accused of lying when they applied for citizenhship about their role in Nazi atrocities, who can’t explain why Omar can’t have his citizenship stripped from him, and why he can’t be “sent back where he came from”. Of course Omar was born in Canada. He didn’t have to apply for citizenship, so he couldn’t have his citizenship stripped from his due to lying. And there is no original birth country he could be deported to.

    It is depressing.

    There are a respondents like me, who have gone on record that they would have no objection to having Omar move in next door to them. But there are others who predict he will be lionized by muslim extremists.

    I suspect that Omar would like to fade from sight and make a life for himself as just another normal Canadian. I’d like to see him achieve that. I suspect this won’t be possible however.

    If he does have an ongoing public profile I would love to have him shock the naysayers who predicted he would be lionized by muslim extemists, who predicted they would embrace him, and that he would in turn embrace them. I would love to see him go on record and show he embraced multiculturalism, and tolerance for others and rejected radicalism and violence.

    I agree completely that, like Maher Arar, Omar deserves a settlement from the Canadian government, to compensate for its failure to intervene to protect him from injustice, and its failure to make sure he received the protections that were his right as a minor. Unfortunately, from my reading of his plea bargain, it may explicitly bar him from receiving a settlement.

    I am afraid the Harper goverment may make sure he is kept in a maximum security facility.

    In the Canadian justice system convicts who manifest good behaviour are usualy paroled after serving a third of their sentence. That would be July 2013 for Omar.

    There are suggestions that Khadr should continue to be in some kind of exceptional parole like supervision, even when his eight year sentence is over. That seems so unfair, given that I doubt mortally wounding Sergeant Speer would have been considered a war crime, if he had faced a fair trial. And I have doubts that he committed the acts he was charged with.

  12. arcticredriver says...

    I have wondered whether I should make the effort to plough through Ezra Levant’s book on Khadr. If I leave a report here, would I be saving you and your other readers from making this effort?

  13. arcticredriver says...

    Among the other aspects of the coverage of Omar Khadr that has bugged me is how often critics mischaracterize how his father came to be released from close to a year in extrajudicial detention in brutal Pakistani custody. It was 1995, Jean Chretien was Canadian PM. Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan’s leader.

    Chretien was on a state visit to Pakistan, when he was unexpectedly buttonholed by Khadr’s mother, with their half a dozen young children in tow, in front of the Canadian press contingent. Canadian cameras recorded a Canadian citizen telling the Canadian PM how her husband, another Canadian citizen, had spent that year in brutal extrajudicial detention. Chretien promised to raise the issue of the father’s detention with Bhutto.

    Khadr senior was released soon after the Chretien’s visit. Chetien’s account of his meeting with Bhutto was that he requested that Pakistan either charge Khadr’s father, and give him a fair trial, or that Pakistan release him. That seems entirely appropriate.

    But accounts of Ahmed Khadr’s release almost always say Chretien asked Bhutto to release him.

    If there was meaningful evidence that would stand up in court that Khadr senior was guilty of a crime Pakistan should have given him a fair trial.

    I really admire Chretien, because he resisted US pressure to join in the invasion of Iraq. He was clear that he didn’t accept that the USA had proven that Iraq possessed the Weapons of Mass Destruction the US offered as its justification for invasion. I am sure if Harper was in power we would have contributed troops to that disastrous invasion.

  14. Canada’s Shameful Scapegoating of Omar Khadr by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk April 28, [...]

  15. Sara says...

    Excellent article, thank you for it. The poll results, albeit leaning towards “Yes” that Omar should be allowed back to Canada, were deeply disconcerting nonetheless for over 40% believe he should remain in Guantanamo. As I’d pointed out earlier to a number of people, there are only three kinds of people (that I can think of) who would vote “No”: 1) Islamophobics and the gullible lot that subscribe — without thought — to anything their government and mainstream media dishes their way 2) Simply cruel people who either don’t know very much or vaguely little about Guantanamo yet are willing to shun a child to life in one of earth’s most wretched places 3) Government officials that realize the effect the media coverage on Omar has on his case and would like Canada to stay against welcoming him back.

    There is very little one can argue against Omar considering the entire mess begins with one sharp fact: he was only fifteen and a child and human rights were taken from him; anything else the US or Canadian govt argue doesn’t count because they committed a crime (still are) from the moment they shifted Omar to Bagram. Thus, if we are to remain so polarized regarding a very obvious case, then those in favor of Omar and justice must stay informed and make sure that when he returns home, God willing, he finds himself surrounded with many people still advocating for him publicly.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi arcticredriver,
    Thank you for the excellent comments, which you could easily turn into an article making a great case for Omar from a legal and moral point of view — and a Canadian one! I was also interested to see you mention that Peter Worthington (who is no relation) had written a good article for a change, as his opinions about Guantanamo appalled me when I first began researching it six years ago, and I was ashamed to share the same surname as him — and also for him to have the same name as my now deceased father.
    As for Ezra Levant, I’d be delighted to publish a review of his book if you’re interested in doing so. It would be good to have his racism and prejudices and lies and distortions publicly refuted.
    And thanks also for the corrections to the popular misconceptions about Jean Chretien’s respect for the rule of law, back in the old days when respect for the rule of law wasn’t something that was considered flexible or disposable.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks a lot, Sara, for the supportive words. I am sure there are many of us who will call for Omar to be allowed his anonymity when the opportunity arouses (as early as next July, hopefully), and a handful of people close to him who will help him to become who he wants to become. See this article for more on that: “A Child’s Soul is Sacred”: Omar Khadr’s Touching Exchange of Letters with Canadian Professor.

  18. helensadowski says...

    As always, thanks so much for writing about Omar Khadr. It’s a situation that makes me feel contempt for my government.

    Recently the Charter of Rights and Freedoms reached its 30 year “birthday”. This event was overwhelmingly ignored by the Harper government. One of the decisions made by the Supreme Court of Canada was of course based on the Charter and Khadr’s rights as a citizen to be returned home. The Harper government ignored that decision.

    The Harper government chose not to recognize this important date and the significance of the Charter in establishing our values, rights and freedoms. Harper’s political base either doesn’t like the Charter or they are generally ignorant of the Charter, rule of law, due process and other important aspects of our legal framework. His government isn’t interested in educating people either about the Charter or the rule of law. In fact by excluding Khadr from his Charter rights they set a dangerous precedent that rights could be denied to some citizens and therefore a government could act outside the law. And most Canadians wouldn’t even understand it and how that might affect them as citizens. The government just doesn’t care. “Ignorance is bliss”. Not surprising that so many Canadians are against Khadr.

    So Khadr just became a political “football” tossed about to support Harper’s ideology and to appeal to Canadians who think its okay to act outside the law. The Harper government by its actions rewarded those elements in our society who chose to be ignorant of our legal institutions.

    Thats what I always found so depressing about this whole situation…our government went to the dark side and rewarded those people there by supporting their anti-democratic and totalitarian views.

    Your views and support for the rule of law, human decency and transparency are just so important now. Thanks again.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Helen, for your very clear explanation of the shameful situation whereby the Harper government decided to cross over to the “dark side” and to ignore the importance of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You are absolutely correct to point out how, following the lead of the US, and along with other countries like the UK, 9/11 was used as an excuse to start behaving as though the rights of citizens are nor rights after all, but are optional, depending on who is in government.

  20. arcticredriver says...

    Andy, there is an excellent Canadian journalist named Nazim Baksh. He was one of the producers for “Son of al Qaeda” and “The USA vs Omar Khadr”.

    He was acquainted with the Khadr family from the periods in the 1990s when they lived in Toronto.

    In 2008 he wrote a letter to Omar which included 6 questions he thought Canadians would like Omar to answer.

    Unfortunately I can’t find the original CBC article, with the original questions, on the CBC’s website. But I found Omar’s reply at the following site:
    http://www.findthatfile.com/fileinfo.php?R=2&i=590997&t=hPDF&q=&m=

    I take Omar’s answers at face value.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s excellent, arcticredriver. I hadn’t seen that before. I found the article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2008/06/23/khadr-letter.html
    And Omar’s replies are here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/pdf/khadr0002.pdf
    I’m also posting the questions and answers below, and I agree — I also take Omar’s answers at face value, and remind readers who want to know more about who Omar Khadr is to read “A Child’s Soul is Sacred”: Omar Khadr’s Touching Exchange of Letters with Canadian Professor.

    Here’s the Q&A:

    Q: What do you want out of life?

    I just want to be as normal as any normal unknown Canadian

    Q: When you think of Canada, what comes to your mind?

    My most joyful memories of my life were in Canada … like school and going to the zoo and seeing the auto show which, until my last day, I had car posters and magazines

    Q: What do you say to Canadians who may have fear of you?

    First thing I tell them is not to fear me. I’m a peaceful person and to give me a chance in life and don’t believe what you’ve heard and believe what you see with your eyes.

    Q: What are your fondest moments of your life in Canada?

    In a normal person there is a connection between him and the place where he was born even if he didn’t always live in the country, but he will always want to return to it, and feels his soul connected to it, and that’s how I feel.

    Q: What are you looking forward to the most?

    I always feel I’m in this world to help people and the best way to do that is to be a doctor to help anybody anywhere and anytime, and that’s my future dream.

    Q: What steps would you take to distance yourself from your past?

    First I never had a choice in my past life, but I will build my future with the right bricks, and that Islam is a peaceful, multicultural and anti-racism religion for all.

  22. John says...

    He is a hardcore terrorist. Search “73 reasons Omahr Kader is dangerous”.
    Try to read with an open mind, if possible. Case closed. Canada does not want this guy back. I suspect that if he does come back to Canada, Omahr and his family will be for ever harassed.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Spelling his name wrong isn’t a good start, John, and by the way the Canadian government doesn’t have any choice about accepting him back. He’s a Canadian citizen. He was born in Canada.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Doreen wrote:

    Andy,
    I am a Canadian resident and have been following Omar’s story for some time. I have a thing about children and war … They don’t belong in them fighting as soldiers!
    It should be obvious to everyone, but apparently it is not.
    I would like to write to Omar Khadr. Time is approaching close to the point where Omar Khadr will be coming home to Canada. He should be made to feel welcome. It is so important. There are however a great many people in Canada who will do anything but make him feel welcome here.
    I am sorry to say that I never wrote to Omar before. Instead I wasted my time posting commentary in various online articles of Canadian and American news publications. In 2008 I also wrote the newly elected President Obama and further in January 2009 Prime Minister Harper’s office.
    I never heard back from Obama, but Prime Ministe Harper’s office responded rapidly and informed me that they forwarded my email on to Lawrence Cannon’s office (Minister of Foreign Affairs). Suprisingly Lawrence Cannon’s office actually wrote back and amongst other things wrote:

    “Canada has consistently sought to ensure that Mr. Khadr receives the benefits of due process, including the access to Canadian counsel of his choice.”

    Cannon’s office actually provided me with quite a few details regarding their activities. So that was an interesting experience for me.
    But since the issue for me is heartfelt and not about political games and with the words of UNICEF:

    ‘Children become involved in armed conflict when there isn’t a governmental infrastructure in place to protect them.
    Children become involved in armed conflict because they are physically and mentally easy to control.
    Child Soldiers are both victims and victimizers.’

    That is what moves me to see in Omar’s plight a unique opportunity for various layers of Canadian society to learn a whole lot about a whole host of issues. I sincerely believe that Omar’s story will transform Canadian society. We are are a country that prides itself in tackling the challenges and promises of multiculturalism and yet we failed Omar Khadr. And regarding politics … most certainly all parties failed Omar Khadr at one time or another.
    I very much hope that he returns to us and I hope sincerely that he will get his opportunity to enter postsecondary studies as a mature student at King’s University College.
    Reading some of the Arlette Zinck – Omar Khadr correspondence leaves me with a kind of dawning that Omar Khadr is going to leave an impression in Canadian history in a way that nobody quite expects. I think that he has a very important, innovative future ahead of him.
    I have no idea if correspondence will reach him. I am guessing I will start of with oversized postcards – they are easy to security screen and therefore will hopefully be perceived as “troublefree” by the censors …
    Any tips?

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Doreen. It’s very good to hear from you, and I’m sure that Omar will be delighted to know that you are one of the many Canadians who do not exult in punishing a child for having been placed in a warzone by his father.
    I am glad you came across Omar’s correspondence, as I found it to be one of the most important stories of Omar’s humanity to have emerged from his whole horrendous ordeal: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2010/11/01/a-childs-soul-is-sacred-omar-khadrs-touching-exchange-of-letters-with-canadian-professor/
    As for writing to Omar, I guess that the best approach is to send him a letter directly, and the general advice given is to avoid anything that might be construed by military officials as at all contentious:

    Omar Khadr
    ISN 766
    Camp Delta
    P.O. Box 160
    Washington D.C. 20053
    USA

    You could, however, also try and locate his lawyers in Canada.
    Hope this helps!

  26. George Miller says...

    Worthington you left wing piece of crap.Right wing politics rule Canada with a very comfortable majority Parliament.Say good night to your Al Quaida linked piece of shit Khadr.Ready to give up?.He is never coming back to our beautiful free Country.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Dear me. Such language. Of course, he’s coming back, George, you silly hate-filled man. He’s a Canadian citizen, born in Canada. You really think the US will hold him forever, just to please your criminally negligent politicians and people like you?

  28. George Miller says...

    If he is considered to be a threat to Canada he can be stripped of his citizenship and deported to Afghanistan as well as his family.Legislation is in the works as we speak.You think we’re afraid of terrorists?.For someone who likes shooting off his mouth you don’t know Canadian politics too well.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s not going to happen, George. Canada is already reviled internationally for not adhering to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and internally the government is on perilously thin ice for ignoring the Canadian Supreme Court ruling that Omar’s rights as a Canadian citizen had been violated.

  30. George Miller says...

    When you don’t have political opposition in Parliament they will easily pass the legislation.We are the true north strong and free.We never consider any U.N.ruling about us.Never under estimate the will of Canada.We’ll see about that.

  31. arcticredriver says...

    I searched for John’s “73 reasons”. It appears to be an excerpt from Michael Welner’s infamous assessment — in other words worthless.

    With regard to George Miller’s assertions that Omar and his family be stripped of their Canadian citizenship, and deported to Afghanistan — George, and I wrote above, I don’t think there is any legal mechanism for this. We did consider stripping the citizenship of immigrants who claimed to be innocent displaced persons, but were actually former Nazis. We were able to do that because lying on your citizenship application is grounds for stripping citizenship. Omar and all but one of his siblings were born in Canada.

    Even if, for the sake of argument, it was possible to strip them of citizenship, what makes you think the Karzai government would give them a visa?

    George, John, what makes you believe Omar would be a threat to Canada? His older brothers are law-abiding taxpayers. Andy quoted from his letter to the CBC. I believe him when he says his fondest memories are of Canada.

  32. arcticredriver says...

    Andy, I bought a copy of Ezra Levant’s dreadful book. It is not the ideas it contains alone that make it a dreadful book. While he may be a columnist popular in certain circles he doesn’t have a clue how to write a book.

    It desperately needs an index. He didn’t provide one. While it does contain a long list of superscripted references, there are many wild assertions that should be backed up by a reference that are not backed up at all.

    I will have to get out my copy of Michelle Shephard’s book, Guantanamo’s Child, as she is the most referenced source he claims he relies on — but I am highly skeptical that her book does back up all the assertions he attributes to it.

    I may have mentioned an article I came across, some years ago, that was about a press briefing a US official gave to muslim reporters. I can’t remember if it was Bellinger, or a DASD-DA. In the briefing he made some assertions that the reporters there accepted at face value, but which I knew were untrue. In particular, he asserted that Khadr was just one of three minors who had been held in Guantanamo, and that Khadr and the other two had been held in Camp Iguana, where they were held in more humane conditions, suitable for minors. I think he mentioned the school lessons, and the big screen TV and video games they were allowed to use when their lessons were over.

    Camp Iguana was more humane. Khadr should have been held in those kinds of conditions. But he wasn’t.

    One of Levant’s wild unsubstantiated assertions is that Khadr did have access to video games and a big screen TV.

    Anyhow, I will try and plow through the entire book, and give a fuller report.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver. Very useful information, as ever. The problem with those who desperately don’t want Omar to come back to the place of his birth, and who want him assigned somewhere else, is not only that it’s a slippery slope to something terrible and fascistic, but also that it’s so impractical. What they really mean is, “why can’t this Khadr kid just be held in prison until he dies – him and any other Muslims we don’t like?” It’s disgraceful racism and Islamophobia.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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