April 25, 2007
Serious stuff now.
The military has formally charged only the second of the detainees currently awaiting military commission (doesn't quite have the same ring as "awaiting trial"), a 20-year-old Canadian named Omar Khadr. (Remember that the vast majority of the detainees will not
be charged under the military commission scheme; some will remain locked up indefinitely as combatants in the GWOT).
Note that because Khadr has been detained for close to five years without charge, he was 15 when the alleged offense occurred. Apparently, conviction will not carry the death penalty, given his age at the time.
The charge against Khadr falls after the first charged detainee, David Hicks, received a nine-month plea bargained sentence, considered a travesty in many quarters as it seemed pregnant with diplomatic quid pro quos between the States and Australia, a key ally.
From the LA Times
One of Khadr's civilian lawyers, American University law professor Muneer Ahmad, said the government was proceeding against his client "in an attempt to rehabilitate the military commissions, which Hicks' plea demonstrated is a tainted process."
Ahmad noted that Crawford had removed several references to Khadr's father from the charge sheet, which Ahmad saw as an attempt to prevent potential jurors from learning of Khadr's early exposure to radical Islam.
"What they are trying to do is punish Omar for the perceived sins of the father," Ahmad said.
Khadr must be arraigned within 30 days, and his trial must begin within four months.
The chief prosecutor for the commissions, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, has said he expects to bring charges against about 75 Guantanamo detainees. The rest are being held as so-called enemy combatants to prevent them from imperiling U.S. citizens or their allies during the global war on terrorism, according to Pentagon officials.
Also, the Globe & Mail
, Canada's finest national daily.