Omar Khadr Pleads Guilty

As you may have heard on Twitter, Omar Khadr has plead guilty to all charges against him.

Omar Khadr, the only Canadian, only child soldier and only Guantanamo Bay detainee charged with battlefield homicide in the killing a U.S. soldier, pleaded guilty to all terrorism and murder charges on Monday.

“Yes” said Mr. Khadr, when Army Col Patrick Parrish, the military judge asked him if he understood what he was doing.


“You should only do this if you truly believe it is in your best interests,” Col. Parrish told Mr. Khadr.

“ Yes,” he replied again, his voice clear and direct in the hushed courtroom.

As part of his plea, apparently, Khadr will make a public confession to the terrorism and murder charges against him.

We have now, officially, made self defense terrorism.

Update: Carol Rosenberg describes the deal: one more year in Gitmo and then 7 more in Canada.

His 9 a.m. plea spared him a risk of life in prison, had he been convicted at trial to charges ranging from murder to conspiracy.

Instead, under a deal sealed through an exchange of diplomatic notes on Saturday, according to a government official, the United States will support a plan to transfer him to Canada at age 25 to serve the last seven years of an eight-year sentence.

The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not pledged to receive Khadr even if Washington invokes the prisoner transfer treaty between the United States and Canada.

  1. skdadl says:

    I would comment, but the Lurking Mod would have to delete me.

    There are things that can be done here to reverse this eventually, and whichever way this had gone today would have been a historic outrage, and tomorrow is another day and all, but this is still a symbolic blow. I’m sure that Omar and Edney and Whitling spent the weekend absorbing that blow, and now I’m just going to cry.

    • diane1976 says:

      Me too. But, at least this way he has a chance to have a life as an adult some day. It’s still very sad for Americans and Canadians who expected better of their countries. There have been times in the past when governments didn’t live up to the ideals and beliefs upon which the countries were founded, but, in time, they were condemned. I’m convinced that will happen some day in regard to this case. A country is much more than the particular government leading it, and certainly more than the whim of the majority at any given time.

  2. klynn says:

    So if there is a clause that he will not sue the US government, could someone else sue on his behalf in the interest of human rights?

    • diane1976 says:

      I wonder about that. I’m not familiar enough about American law. His lawyers have a huge civil law suit filed against the Canadian government because the Canadian Supreme Court declared his treatment illegal, and Canada complicit. I assume the Harper Conservative minority government would have sought a promise to drop the civil suit for any cooperation on their part (they are truly hateful), but we haven’t heard if that was part of the deal. The Harper government is saying nothing. Unlike American governments they seem to feel no need to respond to questions from the public, other than their own supporters.

      I just hope he can and does sue them and I hope he wins.

  3. tjbs says:

    Obama’s and holder’s disgusting continuation of this kindergarten make believe war on feelings makes me sick.

    This is the cancerous oppressive war machine that will turn on it’s own in the end.

  4. Margaret says:

    “You should only do this if you truly believe it is in your best interests,” Col. Parrish told Mr. Khadr.

    Of course it was in his best interests! He just spent ten years languishing in prison and being tortured. I’d plead guilty too if the only other option was being held in a chain link cage for the rest of my life.

    • mattcarmody says:

      Yeah. Notice the judge didn’t say if it is absolutely the truth of what you did and intended to do.

      This is probably the end of what I was taught to believe this country stood for. Whatever else is coming down the pike cannot surprise me and believe me much worse is ahead of us.

      • Margaret says:

        Notice the judge didn’t say if it is absolutely the truth of what you did and intended to do.

        Exactly! Nothing about how he should only plea if he’s actually guilty. In fact, it could be seen as a veiled threat: “Only plead guilty if you know what’s good for you”.
        Despicable and depraved.

    • skdadl says:

      Well, it’s official now. Anyone fights a U.S. attacker, s/he’s committed a war crime. Even if s/he didn’t, even if s/he was a child.

    • diane1976 says:

      Yes. And they confirmed that position in the Ghailani case. As soon as the civilian court threw out evidence because of torture, the judge said an innocent verdict wouldn’t mean release and the government backed that up.

      I read the Obama task force, the part on criteria for declaring somebody dangerous, and I think Omar Khadr fits most of them. It even talks about links to Al Qaeda and specifically mentions this can be through family members. Omar Khadr, was, of course, linked to AQ through his father who knew Bin Laden. He ended up in a battle with US troops, I think the only Gtmo prisoner that did. He was dead in the water, looking at it from a US government point of view.

      He didn’t have a hope of getting out Gtmo without pleading guilty. I’m sorry he had to do that, but most sensible people understand it was his only hope for a life as an adult.

  5. Bluetoe2 says:

    This, sadly, is far below the radar of the “average” American. Even more tragic, if it were on the radar far too many American’s would support the use of torture and indefinite imprisonment.

  6. pineywoodsfats says:

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Canada once he’s transferred. Yes, I know Harper’s a loon, but he won’t be around forever, and I would expect there to be quite a bit of popular pressure on a future Canadian government to quietly release him.

    • skdadl says:

      There likely will be an election in the spring, and Harper could lose, although the Liberals are a pathetic opposition. They have supported Khadr’s repatriation for a couple of years though.

      I don’t actually doubt that Harper has agreed to a deal with Washington and that he will honour it. He and Obama get along surprisingly well, one of the first alerts we had that there is something suspect about Obama. But Harper will do Washington’s bidding anyway, as Ignatieff would if PM, so that’s not much in question.

      The Canadian people are still divided about the Khadr story — last poll I remember had about 60 per cent favouring repatriation. The courts are not divided, and that’s for future manoeuvres. But there is a vein of — forgive me — sensitivity? — to the U.S. just under the skin of most Canadians, and this move could stir up anger.

  7. harpie says:

    I know I don’t have to explain this here, but just for the record:

    Rules for Drone Wars: Six Questions for Philip Alston; Scott Horton; 6/9/10

    By Scott Horton 6/9/10

    [Alston is United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and NYU law professor]

    [Horton]The United States has charged child warrior Omar Khadr with “homicide in violation of the law of war” in military commission proceedings in Guantánamo. If the United States is correct on the proposition (and I understand that you disagree with it) that it is a war crime for an unprivileged combatant to use lethal force in wartime, does that not mean that CIA officers and civilian contractors working with them might be equally chargeable with war crimes?

    [Alston] You’re right, I do disagree with the proposition that it is a war crime for an unprivileged combatant (or “unprivileged belligerent” as the laws of war term it) to merely “participate” in armed conflict. That’s because the laws of war don’t criminalize a person based solely on his status, such as being an unprivileged belligerent. Instead, they focus on conduct—i.e., whether or not the person’s activities comply with the law of war rules.


    Of course, calling something a war crime doesn’t make it so–the question is whether it is recognized as such under international law–and your question raises a broader concern and reflects the deeply disturbing approach of the United States to the laws of war since 9/11. The U.S. has put forward the novel theory of a brand new “law of 9/11” under which it can sidestep the laws of war or re-interpret them when it suits. This approach is no doubt appealing and convenient in the short term. But it will inevitably return to bite the U.S., and will undermine the international legal framework on which the U.S. relies in so many other contexts. In this particular instance, if the U.S. were to insist that use of lethal force in an armed conflict by a civilian who is a citizen of another country is a “war crime” just because that person is a civilian, it won’t have a leg to stand on if another state prosecutes a CIA agent involved in the drone killing program on exactly the same grounds. […]

    • mattcarmody says:

      Let’s see the country with enough balls to try doing that. There are countries that recognize universal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity, such as Holland, which have not held any American leaders accountable for their crimes. The first time any country tries to charge an American drone operator with a war crime the right-wing loonies in this country will point to that and claim that the US should never enter into any international legal agreement under which American soldiers can be prosecuted. Never mind that it really wouldn’t be the soldiers who wind up in the dock.

      They used this argument before when the Rome Statute was debated and passed. The US got the exemption it wanted and then refused to ratify the agreement anyway, kind of like what the GOP does in the senate.

  8. PeasantParty says:

    Yet we can kill at will cause it’s a “WAR ZONE and in the THEATER OF WAR”.

    America has lost all credibility to the rest of the world. We are a sorry state of hypocracy!

  9. Jeff Kaye says:

    I am angry and terribly sad. Besides the injustice of it, I want to note the confessional part of it. It took the criminals in our gov’t approximately eight years to force a confession out if this child-man. The emphasis on confession is not accidental, and is a primary component of the exploitation process, the real underlying aim of the torture.

    Confession is supposedly good for the soul, but forced confessions are fatal to the legitimacy of the ruling power

    • Bluetoe2 says:

      Any nation that promotes or condones torture is hardly deserving of calling itself a “democracy” but has shown itself as needing liberation.

    • reader says:

      Confession is supposedly good for the soul, but forced confessions are fatal to the legitimacy of the ruling power.

      Very nice point, Jeff.

      I am dismayed and disappointed of course.

      Still, it’s just more of the same. The US is trying desperately to get out from under the horrible optics of this with as little possible political damage as possible. IT WILL BACKFIRE, as commenters here are ably demonstrating.

      I steeled myself for this: I kept one little fact in my mind, and here it is. Edney said one day, somewhere, that the problem was everything was at a stalemate (I never believed the trial would end) pending a verdict of some sort. Now that there is even this bad resolution, all kinds of other actions can come into play. I believe the Canadian lawyers plan to continue to fight and they have been hamstrung waiting for the military trial’s resolution.

      So, now everyone can comment on this outcome and fight the obvious outrage. The Canadian courts are still in play in spite of Harper’s pr machine.

      I do not believe Harper will EVER repatriate Khadr. Could be a sticking point the US has not bargained for. I believe that is why there is a year’s delay: I see no other reason for it. What happens when the year is over? The other plea deals have not had any ‘waiting’ period.

      I *do* hope the US military are proud of their justice built on revenge, paved with lies, and delivered via torture and US war crimes.

  10. skdadl says:

    The most chilling detail Rosenberg has tweeted this a.m. is that Khadr has been forced to agree to further “interviews” (which R herself equates to interrogations) by U.S. agents. So there are more U.S. military brutes in the kid’s future. What the hell do they think they’re going to get out of him now, after eight years?

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      They intend to own him. They will make him their asset or they will try to destroy him.

      Coerced confessions are themselves a form of psychological torture, a kind Stalin perfected in modern times. The U.S. rulers deserve the fate of their former Stalinist opponents, and it can’t come too soon.

    • Mary says:

      They keep trying to clean team all their old torture. Khadr’s torture is partly how Arar ended up being kidnapped to torture with the Dept of Jusitice’s (Larry Thompson’s) DIRECT participation. Now they will re-interview him, get him to say what they want said, and then say it isn’t coerced at all, bc his deal was done.

      It’s not just disgusting from Obama and Clinton, it’s stupid as well. The Juan Williams Democrats are still going to be horrified that someone who “committed war crimes” and “murderd” a soldier, will only get one year. They’ll be just as rabid as if charges were dropped. The independents who thought there should be accountability for torture and recognition of child soldier issues and of the cover ups of evidence and the coerced extractions of evidence, like the Arar situation, will continue to be confirmed in their belief that Obama is a disaster and Republicans such a frightening boogeyman by comparison.

    • davidasposted says:

      Every thoughtful article I have read about Khadr indicates that he has become permanently psychologically damaged as a consequence of his torture. There is no credible indication that Khadr was an intelligence asset; he was a boy who ended up as high-profile collateral damage in a war that is almost universally regarded as a complete disaster/failure. Like #11 and #20, I suspect that once Khadr is transferred to Canada he will be released from prison before the end of his sentence by the first post-Harper government. But then what?

      Khadr is a 21st century Hibakusha. He is a living reminder of the banal evil (ht Hannah Arendt) perpetrated by representatives of the American government at every level, and tacitly accepted by a majority of American citizens. But a reminder to whom?

      Most Americans have brief memories, and when they do remember they invoke simple revisionist histories. Most American politicians of sufficient power to end these sort of abuses are either so deluded into thinking that history will exonerate their plainly inhuman behavior (eg George W. Bush, or Barack Obama) or just do not care about their legacy (eg Donald Rumsfeld). Neither group feels shame or regret, and there are no consequences for their actions, which incidentally seems to me to be the defining feature of late-American society. So Kadhr is not a living reminder for most Americans or their leaders. He is a reminder to the more humane citizenry around the world and their leaders not only of American inhumanity but also their own reluctance or refusal to do anything about it.

      We live in a mean fucking world.

      • Nell says:

        I suspect that once Khadr is transferred to Canada he will be released from prison before the end of his sentence by the first post-Harper government.

        Not if it’s run by that torture and war crime apologist Michael Ignatieff.

        • davidasposted says:

          Ignatieff would govern Canada in the same manner he administers the Liberal Party; by the polls, not principles. For what it’s worth, it seems unlikely that he will ever have the chance to become Prime Minister. Harper looks set to win another, even smaller minority government in the spring, which would basically initiate a leadership change in the Liberal Party, just as in late 2008 when Stephane Dion was unceremoniously relieved of his position.

        • diane1976 says:

          I don’t think so, Neil. When the Canadian courts started declaring that Khadr’s treatment at Gtmo was illegal, the former Liberal Prime Minister, Paul Martin, expressed his regret that they had not requested repatriation which had a lot to do with Bush/Canadian politics, and he recommended it, as did the majority in Parliament including the Liberals lead by Ignatieff.

          But I don’t see any advantage for Omar Khadr coming to Canada as long as the Harper minority government is in power. He might as well be at Gtmo and I think he’s better off there than in a US jail too. I’m under the impression they improved it over the years. I think he’d be in danger from other prisoners in a US or Canadian jail and they’d have to keep him in isolation.

    • reader says:

      Geez louise! That has got to further violate Khadr’s human rights that HAVE been supported (in principle) by the Canadian courts.

      • skdadl says:

        Michelle Shephard of the TStar has tweeted (RTd by EW) that the diplomatic memos exchanged between Cannon and Clinton will be made public after the jury has sentenced Khadr, so I’m pretty sure there is a deal in place. Harper is cosier with Obama than Canadians think.

        IANAL, but I believe that when the Supremes ruled that Omar’s Charter rights had been violated, that was specifically re the behaviour of Canadian agents and reps (from CSIS and DFAIT). It seems to me implicit in their two decisions so far that they are further bothered by Omar’s detention at GTMO, but they haven’t quite taken that last step, although I sit to be corrected on that point. At least one Federal Court judge (two steps down) has been tougher, but we’ll see.

        About Iggy: Yes, he’s an apologist for war crimes and torture, but the party officially supports Khadr’s repatriation. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that Iggy wouldn’t be all in favour of continuing the Clockwork Orange nonsense on Omar once he’s back here.

        • reader says:

          Thanks, skdadl! Always appreciate your info and comments!

          I keep wondering when Iggy will be done and they give Rae his shot. Probably that’ll take an election that further entrenches Harper. *sigh*

          We can see this in any event: today’s “decision” does kill the stalemate and open up the playing field.

          For Omar, I hope he can sleep a little better knowing this will end eventually, in some way, for him. He can start counting the days now, at least. And we shall see what develops, otherwise.

          Given Edney’s public statements this weekend that there was NO deal in the offing, I do really wonder what hard negotiating they were doing and what was taken off the table to get Omar to agree to this deal?

  11. ottogrendel says:

    Remember when we used to measure the oppressiveness of other nations by how many people they had in prison? The US now has more people incarcerated, both in total numbers and as a percentage of the population, than any other country on the planet. Here we see a case of a child sent to the Gulag whose only recourse is a public confession in a kangaroo court that he is an enemy of the state, while his prosecutors insist, despite his utter powerlessness, that he has control over his own best interests thus relieving themselves of the moral culpability of having destroyed a human being after first rendering him a non-person.

    “I wish you’d stop being so good to me, Boss.” –Cool Hand Luke

  12. odin007 says:

    Let’s see: Spend just one more year in Gitmo, tortured daily, knowing that there is the chance that you will see the light of day in Cancada, OR spend forever in Gitmo, tortured daily, with no end in sight, no day in court, never to see the light of day. Not really a tough choice here, people.

    Bush III (Obama) really knows how to put the screws to people, doesn’t he?

  13. NoniMausa says:

    The Canadian Supreme Court decided in January 2010 that Khadr’s human rights under our charter had been violated by our federal government. Lots of details here:

    I think what will happen if he is returned to Canada, and if he survives the rest of his sojourn in government care, will be that his human rights case will be taken to our courts whether or not our neo-cons are still in power, and the findings will be in his favour, and he will be released and almost certainly be awarded damages of some sort.

    Maybe he will even run for high office, hey? Confessing to war crimes isn’t necessarily a barrier to high office.


  14. bluewombat says:

    It still baffles me that shooting at an invading soldier is terrorism. If we invade other countries, people are going to shoot at our soldiers. If we’re upset about people shooting at our soldiers, then we shouldn’t invade other countries.

    Plus, shooting at/killing/terrorizing civilians is terrorism. Doing the same to soldiers is war, even if you don’t have a big uniform budget.

    What a creepy, Kafka-esque country we’re turning into.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Since April, soldiers in the “Collateral Murder” battalion have been reporting they were given a “360-degree rotational fire” order; that is, if an IED went off, they were to immediately shoot everyone all around, 360 degrees, whether innocent or not, civilians, women, children. The deliberate killing of civilians is a war crime that has been prosecuted before, including by us. Have you seen any war crimes investigation on that?


  15. harpie says:

    From Carol Rosenberg:

    *Khadr lawyer Dennis Edney, on Canadian’s guilty plea: “Omar Khadr is a victim. He’s a victim of Canadian politics … and U.S. politics.” about 1 hour ago via HootSuite

    *Human Rights Watch counter-terror counsel Andrea Prasow on #Guantanamo military commissions: “This is a plea bargain machine.” about 1 hour ago via HootSuite

    *Ex Army Sgt. Layne Morris, blinded in one eye in #Khadr raid, on plea deal: “We’ve put him on a track to freedom in the prime of his life.” about 1 hour ago via HootSuite

    *Pentagon chief war court prosecutor John Murphy: “Omar #Khadr is not a victim. He’s not a child soldier. He’s convicted on his own words.” about 1 hour ago via HootSuite

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      *Pentagon chief war court prosecutor John Murphy: “Omar #Khadr is not a victim. He’s not a child soldier. He’s convicted on his own words.” about 1 hour ago via HootSuite

      The importance of getting the coerced confession, because this is what most in America will hear.

      I can promise you, we have something quite big in store on the question of getting coerced confessions, something that will link to the U.S. torture story. I’m working on getting this out ASAP.

      Torture… it’s not about the getting the damn intel, but about forging “assets”, just like the Stalinists used it… for star chamber confessions and propaganda, the better to justify the regime and its wars. That was its conscious use… exploitation… yes, some interrogation, sadistic shows of control, experimentation on some, torture for false confessions, torture to induce the recruitment of double agents. That’s the whole program. And it’s even more evil than torture just to get intel, which is stupid. Torture as terrorism, as “counter-terrorism”, is the official, if unwritten, doctrine of the United States of America.

  16. davidasposted says:

    For Omar, I hope he can sleep a little better knowing this will end eventually, in some way, for him. He can start counting the days now, at least.

    I don’t think he will ever have a good night’s sleep for the rest of his life.

    • reader says:

      I hear you. I agree. He has a smidgin of hope he didn’t have last week though. I think it can make a difference even in such dire circumstances. He will be dealing with all of this for the rest of his life, unfortunately. But he’s not facing life in prison, in limbo, forever.

      • davidasposted says:

        You are right; I would hope that the knowledge that he could return home to his own country counted for something. I guess it’s impossible to know what matters or doesn’t matter to someone who has been dehumanized and damaged in that way. Khadr is still a person (I don’t intend my description of him to imply otherwise), but a person whose trauma must drastically affect his mental state. It’s pretty audacious — and inexcusable — that someone could treat another human being, a child, in that way.

  17. dick c says:

    In trying to find some rational, that makes sense to me, for our treatment of Khadr I’m left wondering if we’re simply trying to make an example of him more than we’re looking for justice.

  18. odin007 says:

    If the below deal was offered (take it or leave it) I would confess to the Kennedy assassination to avoid being in Gitmo forever………….

    Let’s see: Spend just one more year in Gitmo, tortured daily, knowing that there is the chance that you will see the light of day in Cancada, OR spend forever in Gitmo, tortured daily, with no end in sight, no day in court, never to see the light of day. Not really a tough choice here, people.

    Bush III (Obama) really knows how to put the screws to people, doesn’t he?

  19. Mary says:

    Couple of things.

    1. The Executive dispensable “jury” and Executive dispensable “sentence” are still to come tomorrow. Another round of politicking still to come.

    2. Do you Canadians really think Canada will take him back in a year? As I read it, there’s no binding agreement for them to take him and they haven’t agreed to take him – and now he is a self admitted war criminal, who is going to have another year’s worth of (probably unrepresented)interrogation sessions that will likely more closely resemble psych experiments to see how he can be molded. If Canada does take him, how can it stay away from an investigation into the circumstances of his detention and “confessions” and given the fallout from that, why would they take him? If Canada hasn’t taken him by the time Obama is on his way out (likely 2012), there’s not really even any obligation on the US, under the theories Obama and Bush have pursued, to abide by the deal – he’s not protected by military law according to them, nor by civilian law, and a military commission is pretty much a lawless entity, subject to being overruled at any time by the CIC.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      1. The Executive dispensable “jury” and Executive dispensable “sentence” are still to come tomorrow


    • skdadl says:

      Mary, we’re told that diplomatic memos betw Ottawa and Washington will be released after the sentencing is done, so I take that to mean that yes, Ottawa has accepted what Obama/Clinton/Cass Sunstein wanted.

      To this part of your question:

      If Canada does take him, how can it stay away from an investigation into the circumstances of his detention and “confessions” and given the fallout from that, why would they take him?

      I sure hope that some smart lawyers here can figure out to get those questions in front of our (pretty good) courts rather than our craven politicians. At the moment, that’s the scenario I’m keeping the faith in/for. Let’s think positive, eh?

      • Mary says:


        The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not pledged to receive Khadr even if Washington invokes the prisoner transfer treaty between the United States and Canada

        made me wonder.

  20. thatvisionthing says:

    The more the government “wins,” the more they lose. They erode their legitimacy away. They do not speak or act for me, and I see it clearly. The state isn’t withering away, it’s rotting away.

    Same for money.

    I see it as an illusion dissolving. Things fall apart, the sun goes down. Ok.


    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

    –Wendell Berry, Openings

    I guess I’m waiting for the stars to come out. Crickets? When my nephew was small and we heard crickets at dusk he said, “Oh! I hear the stars coming.”

  21. thatvisionthing says:

    Sad comment on morality gap, frontpaged at Michael Moore now.

    ‘Self-Proclaimed Human Rights Champion’
    “… the U.S. refuses to either clarify or rectify its own human rights violations
    as recorded by the WikiLeaks documents. … The U.S. will lose credibility
    if it cannot face its own human rights violations squarely.”
    – China Daily

  22. thatvisionthing says:

    Oh, hell, look at the front page of Huffington Post right now: “S.O.S.” with HUGE UPSIDE DOWN AMERICAN FLAG. About how I feel. It’s about wages, but Omar Khadr is down about four stories from the top.

  23. harpie says:

    No Justice for Omar Khadr at Guantánamo; Andy Worthington; 10/25/10

    […] Although the exact details of the deal have not yet been revealed, it seems clear that one thing they will involve is Khadr’s agreement that he will not appeal the terms of his confession, leaving unchallenged a number of otherwise legally questionable charges.

    As the Globe and Mail explained, these included his acceptance of the charge that “he was an ‘alien, unprivileged, enemy belligerent,’ unqualified therefore to shoot back or engage in combat hostilities with US or other coalition forces,” and that he was guilty of “murder in violation of the laws of war,” both of which are charges that should shame the United States. […]

    Worthington links to David Frakt’s Damning Verdict on the New Military Commissions Manual; 5/3/10

    [Frakt:] It is gratifying that DoD has finally acknowledged officially that status as an unprivileged belligerent – “merely failing to meet the requirements of privileged belligerency” — does not equate to a violation of the law of war, an argument that I made repeatedly before the commissions [PDF] and in my congressional testimony. But it is deeply troubling that DoD has nevertheless opined that a non-law of war violation can still constitute murder in violation of the law of war. The commentary also directly contradicts the elements of the offense which specifically include a requirement that the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was in violation of the law of war. Although comments in a regulation do not have the force of law, the inclusion of this commentary is clearly intended to send a message to the military commission judges that they are not to let the law of war get in the way of a conviction.

  24. diane1976 says:

    Canadian papers are reporting that he confessed to attacking civilians. That wasn’t part of the official charges, last time I looked at the Defense Department web site – Omar Khadr – charges. Did they add that on to make it seem more like a real crime, as opposed to a Bush invented war crime? Does anybody know?

    • bmaz says:

      From what I have gathered (and I have been away most of the day, so I am not positive on this) yes there does appear to be new “facts” that actually either are or should be entire new charges. Maybe Marcy can lodge in on this better…..

      • diane1976 says:

        Thanks for that. That admission of killing civilians surprised me because the charges were all about targetting the American military. They even said that land mines were placed where the American military were expected to travel. It’s just not consistent with anything in the trial documents, and I’ve read them all, unless they posted something new, or I missed something. But I don’t think so because I looked for anything like that, or anything that would justify the war crimes charge.

        It makes me think they threw it in to justify a war crimes charge.

        • thatvisionthing says:

          I wish they would get charged with war crimes themselves. Collateral Murder is just plain murder. Blackwater is murder. The CIA is murder. War is murder. It’s been nothing but a crime and a shame from the start.

  25. harpie says:

    The Betrayal of Omar Khadr-and of American Justice; Andy Worthington; 10/25/20

    […] According to an article in the Miami Herald, drawing on comments made by “two legal sources with direct knowledge” of the deal, Khadr said he “eagerly took part in a July 28, 2002 firefight with US Special Forces in Afghanistan that mortally wounded Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer.” This was the crux of the case against him, and a charge that he had always previously denied. He also apparently said that he had “aspired as a teen to kill Americans and Jews,” and described his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, who had been responsible for taking him on numerous visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan as a child, leading to the events on the day of his capture, as “a part of Bin Laden’s inner circle, a trusted confidant and fundraiser.”


    As the Globe and Mail described it, Khadr “assented to knowing that he was attacking civilians, that he wanted to kill US troops, that he planted mines and that he received one-on-one terrorist training from an al-Qaeda operative.” He also agreed that he was a member of al-Qaeda, and was an “alien, unprivileged, enemy belligerent,” who was “unqualified therefore to shoot back or engage in combat hostilities with US or other coalition forces,” and also said that he understood that he was guilty of “murder in violation of the laws of war.”


    With Khadr’s plea deal, the uncomfortable truth about the Commissions — that they are attempting to try non-existent war crimes — has been swept aside as thoroughly as it was in the case of Ibrahim al-Qosi, who accepted a plea deal in July. As a result, Omar Khadr may have taken the only realistic route open to him, but the price has been the apparent validation of a fundamentally lawless process, which could have been legally challenged had he been subjected to a full trial.

  26. harpie says:

    A Court Without Jurisdiction; A Critical Assessment of the Military Commission Charges Against Omar Khadr; Prof. David Glazier; 8/31/10

    Khadr is said to have received weapons training from al Qaeda, to have spied on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, participated in the fabrication and planting of improvised explosive devices, and to have killed an attacking U.S. soldier with a hand grenade. **

    **See Office of Military Commissions, Referred Charges, Apr. 24, 2007 available at

    Charges [4/24/2007]

    *Murder in Violation of the Law of War

    *Attempted Murder in Violation of the Law of War


    *Providing Material Support for Terrorism


    No charge of “attacking citizens”.

    Press Release: Omar Khadr plea not indicative of actual guilt; Cage Prisoners; 10/25/10

    Offering a plea-bargain under the rules of the much discredited military commissions is an exercise in face-saving by the US administration – especially since the President Obama resurrected them instead of closing down the prison as he’d promised.

    Cageprisoners Director, [and former detainee] Moazzam Begg, said:

    “Under the circumstances, Omar Khadr accepting a deal should not be seen as an admission of guilt, rather it is one of the few but paradoxical ways of finding a way out of Guantanamo. Shamefully, the Canadian government was unwilling to do what almost all other western nations did: take back its own citizen and treat him with some level of dignity. Instead, even though he‘ll be repatriated he will now have to learn to live in a new prison environment all over again. This child who became an adult in the world‘s most infamous prison. At least though his family will be able to visit him and, his ordeal finally has an end date.”

  27. harpie says:

    High Stakes Poker at GTMO; Tom ParkerAmnesty International USA; 10/25/10

    […] However, a disturbing pattern is beginning to emerge at the Military Commissions. Knowing that the odds are so heavily stacked against them and the sentences facing them so out-sized, defendants plead guilty out of desperation, grasping at the straws offered by the Prosecution.

    Plea deals, while doubtless an efficient method for dispensing with cases quickly, do not always represent justice being done. They resemble more closely a high stakes game of poker – the defendant reviews his cards and then decides whether to bet on the hand he has been dealt or cut his losses by folding.

    The added twist at the Military Commissions is that the house gets to make the rules and stack the deck. Khadr had already written to Judge Parrish expressing his lack of faith that he could receive a fair trial. It seems that, having studied his cards, he decided to fold after all.

    According to Nina Bernstein [NYT], Judge Marjorie O. Rendell said the following [about an immigration litigation case]

    [powwow wrote about it here.]

    “Instead, the government sought to characterize the facts in such a way so as to distract the court from the dire nature of Kang’s plight. While our adversarial system may permit such advocacy by private parties, when the United States appears before us, it is duty-bound to ‘cut square corners’ and seek justice rather than victory. We are distressed that it failed to do so.”-Judge Marjorie O. Rendell

    Me too.

  28. harpie says:

    * Prosecutor Jeffrey Groharing just finished reading 50 paragraph guilty plea, signed by #Omar Khadr. Now: FBI explosives expert testifying. 16 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * In plea: #Khadr, 15, affirmatively chose not to flee 02 firefight with women and children, surrender. Rather he thought he’d die fighting. 18 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * #Khadr’s got his head down, his hand over his mouth, throughout this entire presentation. He’s got a serious expression on his face. 20 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * More guilty plea: #Khadr threw the Russian F-1 grenade that killed Sgt. 1st Class Chris Speer over a wall in direction of US troops voices. 21 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * Also from #Guantanamo plea, Omar #Khadr told his American captors he considered himself a “terrorist trained by al Qaeda.” 26 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * Groharing just told the jury that the mines Omar #Khadr’s team planted were disarmed by US forces. Nobody was hurt by them, prosecutor said. 29 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * Plea: At 15 Omar #Khadr trained on weapons, urban warfare with al Qaeda. He then joined a terror cell adn they planted 10 anti-tank mines. 31 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * In guilty plea: Omar #Khadr at 14 learned this from a sheik. If you capture a spy, “hang him.” If you capture an enemy soldier, “kill him.” 35 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * @ceut This does not include credit for time served. 40 minutes ago via HootSuite in reply to ceut

    * Omar #Khadr is hunched over narrative as it’s being read, his hand over his mouth. The guilty plea includes his early childhood education. 41 minutes ago via HootSuite

    * Prosecutor Groharing is reading #Khadr’s “stipulation,” written narrative guilty plea. Widow of soldier he killed in firefight is in court. about 1 hour ago via HootSuite

    * Judge Parrish just told jury of 7 US officers that #Khadr pled guilty to all charges. Now it’s their “grave responsibility” to sentence him. about 1 hour ago via HootSuite

  29. harpie says:

    Mentions of “civilian” in connection with Khadr personally:

    23 Prior to attending training, Khadr had intimate knowledge ofthe al Qaeda organization and its goals. Omar Khadr, voluntarily and of his own free will, chose to conspire and agree with various members ofal Qaeda to train and ultimately conduct operations to kill United States and coalition forces. Omar Khadr’s efforts in attending training were all in support of al Qaeda and furthered the aims of the organization. After Omar Khadr successfully completed his training, Khadr considered himself to be anactive member of al Qaeda and he shared the same goals as the organization which are to target and kill all Americans, whether civilian or military, anywhere they can be found and to “plunder their money.”


    31 Omar Khadr provided information to US personnel regarding the ten IEDs that were planted by his cell. The IEDs were successfully and safely removed. No US personnel, coalition forces, or civilians were injured or killed by any of the IEDs planted by Omar Khadr or this cell.


    32 While working with the explosives cell, one of Omar Khadr’s duties was to collect information on U.S. forces in order to determine where to plant lEDs to maximize the opportunity for death and destruction. On at least one occasion, Omar Khadr clandestinely spied upon U.S. troop movements near the airport in Khowst, Afghanistan. Omar Khadr did not wear a uniform and attempted to blend in with the civilian population in order to gain as much actionable intelligence as possible.