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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Who's the criminal here?

In the news again is the story of a young Canadian, Omar Khadr, captured and tortured in Afghanistan and Guantanamo by the U.S. The news is about a video which shows his interrogation, and about the sleep deprivation technique involving moving him from cell to cell every three hours. But once again, as when his story was in the news in March, what caught my eye wasn't the specifics of his torture, but the circumstances of his capture, so let me just repeat what I wrote back then:
But what catches my eye is the underlying "crime" for which this young man was imprisoned and apparently now, years later, even charged:
Omar Khadr, 21, ...is charged in the Guantanamo war court with murdering a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan when Khadr was 15.
OK, let's back up for a minute. Omar Khadr was in Afghanistan legally. U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Speer, who Khadr allegedly killed, was in Afghanistan illegally, part of an illegal invasion of that country. But instead of Speer's cohorts, and their masters, being charged with a war crime, it's Khadr, who was doing nothing more than defending a country (whether his native country or not) against an illegal foreign invasion, and killing someone who would have killed him first had events run a different course.
George Bush (and Barack Obama and the Congress and the media and etc.) insist the U.S. is at "war" in Afghanistan, and they don't mean that metaphorically as in the "war on drugs," they mean it literally. Well, if the U.S. is at "war," then Omar Khadr is a prisoner of war and has to be treated as such. If every single person captured by the U.S. in such a "war" is an "illegal combatant" and not a prisoner of war, then the U.S. can't possibly be at war, since there is no opponent in this war. You can't have it both ways.

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