The military judge in the Omar Khadr trial in Guantanamo Bay has been relieved of his duties, a move that Mr. Khadr's defence counsel claims is a direct result of the judge siding with the defence on a number of evidence disclosure issues in the controversial military tribunal case.
In a brief e-mail message circulated Thursday afternoon, Military Commissions chief judge, Colonel Ralph Kohlmann, announced that Colonel Peter Brownback, who has served until now as the judge in the Khadr case, is to be replaced by another colonel, Patrick Parrish.
There may come a time when Americans regain their collective national sanity. The dishonour and crimes being heaped on the American character will be a dark burden to overcome. The dual perspectives of time and regime change will reveal the depths to which America's leaders have plunged in exploiting the trauma of 9/11 for their own advantage and sick agendas. America will have to come to terms with the decimation of her reputation overseas. It will be a long road for the trust and respect that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the PNAC neocon maniacs have squandered to be rebuilt.
Civilized nations will not soon forget that in the wake of an attack, the great might of America abandoned ethics, morals and honesty to seek bloody vengeance. America, once the beacon of freedom, is now the head office of franchised torture in black site concentration camps. America has turned her back on the noblest of tradition, doing away with habeas corpus, disappearing people without trial or evidence via extraordinary rendition. America is holding an unknown number of people around the world without charge, without representation and without a shred of what might pass for justice.
To our own lasting shame, Canada's government has done nothing to dissuade our great and dear friends from this self destructive path. In fact we have enabled and permitted and turned a blind eye to this dangerous and destructive course. Our leaders have aided and abetted these ongoing crimes against humanity and against our own citizens. Neither Mr Martin nor Mr Harper have so much as lifted a pencil to protest the illegal imprisonment of Khadr, a Canadian citizen, taken as a child from the battlefield. International law is clear about the treatment of child soldiers and we are in violation of those laws. We are guilty of standing by and permitting an ongoing crime against Omar Khadr to proceed. We have our own failure and shame to deal with.
Mr. Khadr's U.S. military defence lawyer, Lieutenant Commander Bill Kuebler, said the sudden change of judge comes after a recent commission hearing in which Col. Brownback “threatened to suspend proceedings in the case of Omar Khadr if prosecutors continued to withhold key evidence from Omar's lawyers.”
Canada's government has actively participated in withholding documents pertinent to the Khadr defence.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ordered the federal government to hand over thousands of pages of information to terrorism suspect Omar Khadr that it gleaned from interrogation sessions Canadian agents held with him in 2003.
In a 9-0 ruling that has broad implications for cases involving Canadians abroad, the court said Mr. Khadr is entitled to any records of the interrogations, as well as any information that Canadian authorities gave to their U.S. counterparts as a direct consequence.
The court reasoned that Mr. Khadr would have been entitled to the material were his trial set to take place in Canada – and he should have no less because he is in foreign hands.
Before the new material can be handed over to his lawyers, it must first be vetted by a judge to ensure it does not threaten national security.
The court firmly hitched its ruling to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that found that detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison have suffered serious violations of legal and human rights.
With a hypocrisy of unfathomable depth, the Canadian government has stood idly by as the illegal and immoral trial of Omar Khadr proceeds. We like to think of ourselves as the noble sort, the good guys. We hold ourselves out as democratic do-gooders on the world stage and yet when nations like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia protest and win repatriation of their own citizens held in America's illegal prisons, we do nothing. Our government has failed us and failed Omar Khadr. We do not need to like this young man or his family. We do not need to agree with or support his beliefs or ideology but we damn well do need to support and fight for his rights as a Canadian citizen and for his basic human rights.