Monday, November 16, 2009

Gitmo and Kahdr

I originally wrote this back in January of 2009 after reading a Bob Rae piece in the National Post about Omar Kahdr. This was before I launched my blog, but I fished out my old piece because the topic seems to be relevant again. In Rae's rant, he was presenting the thesis that under the Geneva Conventions, Kahdr should be released into Canadian custody or freed all together. I vehemently disagree.

I had sent the submission below to the National Post as a rebuttal to Rae, but they did not publish it. We are now a year into Obama's Presidency, and Gitmo is still operational.


I read Bob Rae’s article on the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility in the Issues and Ideas section of the Thursday edition of the National Post. He conveniently neglected to mention how Mr. Kahdr found himself in Gitmo in the first place. He was captured on the field of battle having just killed a NATO soldier, the American soldiers who apprehended him were nice enough not to kill him in the engagement. I believe Mr. Harper’s recent comments, while perhaps ill-advised, were in reference to the Geneva Conventions protecting the rights of “uniformed soldiers”. It is only when a soldier distinguishes himself from the civilian population that he is protected by the treaty. There is a very important reason why that distinction is made. When a “soldier” attacks while blending in to a civilian population he puts those innocents at greater risk and thus forfeits his rights to regular POW treatment.

In the case of Omar Kahdr, we are not talking about a teenager kidnapped from his home, drugged, and forced out onto the field of battle. His father was a well known terrorist and an extremely dangerous individual. Omar was born, bred, and raised in that environment. Given how often children follow in their father’s footsteps, it is not a stretch to assume that the hand grenade didn’t fall far from the tree. I would say given his age that he should not be condemned to a life sentence, but neither should we hasten to have him released into a riding near you!

Mr. Rae certainly seems smitten with the brave new world being ushered in by Obamania, and I agree that there is an abundance of enthusiasm the world over for the new President. I think it is fantastic that his victory has improved Global public opinion of our top ally, and I believe most pragmatic people see no need for the United States to maintain a permanent naval base in Cuba. And while I’m sure that not every single inmate is an imminent threat to society, make no mistake that the bulk of the prisoners at Gitmo constitute some of the most lethal and dangerous madmen on the Planet Earth. I absolutely do not subscribe to the idea that it is better to set 100 violent terrorists free than to put one innocent goat herder in a tropical prison cell. Now that Obama is privy to the dossiers that contain all the intel, he will face some very difficult choices about what to do with these lunatics. I hear that they have re-opened Abu Graib...or we could send them to Alcatraz? But to release them all together when a proportion of them will inevitably return to Afghanistan to resume firing bullets at Canadian soldiers is morally unconscionable.

There is a fantastic book by Kyndra Rotunda titled “Honor Bound: Inside the Guantanamo Trials” that I strongly recommend reading. In the meantime I would remind you that at its peak there were approximately 800 detainees at Gitmo. The day George Bush left office there were 245. Many of the over 550 released were freed after their annual reviews by the so called “unfair tribunals”. Prisoners who had their files reviewed and were deemed free to go, something not required by the Geneva Conventions which states that POWs are to be released at the cessation of hostilities (news flash Mr. Foreign Affairs Critic, the war in Afghanistan is still being fought). Of those released, 61 were known for certain to have returned to the battle field because they were either killed or re-captured on the battle field! And those are just the ones re-caught or killed. How many Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters are operating in the theatre of war as we speak?

This is an enemy that does not abide by international law. I would ask you to juxtapose the ethical relativism of pouring water down someone’s nose to extract information versus hacking off limbs to accomplish the same objective? Cranking Britney Spears on the loud speaker and turning down the thermostat versus ritual televised beheadings? Are these the “changing circumstances of foreign affairs” of which you speak? Perhaps Boob Rae lives in a world where we are all just shinny happy people holding hands around a camp fire singing koombaya; but the rest of us are living in a world where there are vicious, evil monsters that make Hell’s Angels look like choir boys by comparison.

Listen Bob, I thank heavens that you remain in opposition, because I shudder to think of the folly you would heap upon the Canadian Armed Forces if you were somehow able to manipulate your way to Peter MacKay’s current post. Of course I suppose this is all coming from the same politician who had the Gaul to cite the devastation that his scorched earth policies reaped upon the province of Ontario as justification for his requesting Canadians give him a mandate to run the country. That’s like the Chief Engineer of Chernobyl applying for a new job at a nuclear plant. What could possibly go wrong?

1 comment:

  1. There is a fairly good precedent for war criminals to be held until after a conflict concludes before being tried as war criminals. This started in Nuremburg, but the same process was followed in UN actions since.