Bumped and Updated: (The dismissal of charges mentioned in the headline is referenced below on June 9th)
Meanwhile, there's been some very interesting developments in this case.
Omar Khadr, who was Osama bin-Laden's chauffeur, has been held without trial in Guantanamo for five years (see below). Khadr is a Canadian citizen from a Toronto family with strong AQ ties, and was a minor (15 years old) at the time of his arrest.
A few days ago Lieutenant-Commander William Kuebler, the American lawyer assigned by the US Government to defend Omar Khadr, railed on the Canadian government for not coming to the aid of a Canadian citizen who has been subjected to what Kuebler described as intolerable treatment and grossly unfair legal procedures.
Kuebler's call has now been met by the Canadian Bar Association [CBA], which sent an immediate, urgent request to the Canadian PM.
Canada remains the only Western country with a citizen awaiting military trial at the controversial detention facility.
Mr. Khadr's alleged activities could be considered unlawful under Canada's Antiterrorism Act - although neither he nor any members of his family have ever been charged with a crime in Canada.
In his speech, LCdr. Kuebler said it is inexplicable that Canada stands by silently as a citizen whose alleged crime was committed while he was still "a child" is being systematically railroaded. He urged the CBA to condemn the federal government for leaping to oppose the use of child soldiers in countries such as Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka, yet hypocritically permitting the U.S. to have free rein over a 15-year-old boy.
Mr. MacCarthy [CBA spokesman] said, "If the Canadian government chooses to ignore an appeal for swift action from an association that has developed as much credibility over the years [the CBA], then I think the federal government will have to be accountable to the general public and explain why they can ignore such a blatant violation of the rule of law."
The five years that Khadr has been imprisoned is one year less than the maximum sentence he would have received had he been tried and convicted of murder as a minor under Canadian law.
Watch for further updates...
Bumped and Updated June 9, 2007: Pentagon Wants Guantanamo Cases Reviewed.
The Defense Department said Friday that it will ask two judges to reconsider their decisions earlier this week that stalled the military's move to put detainees at Guantanamo Bay on trial.
Update June 4, 2007: A second detainee has had his charges dismissed.
Military judges dismissed charges Monday against a Guantanamo detainee accused of chauffeuring Osama bin Laden and another who allegedly killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, throwing up roadblocks to the Bush administration's attempt to try terror suspects in military courts. In back-to-back arraignments for Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen and Canadian Omar Khadr the U.S. military's cases against the alleged al-Qaida figures dissolved because, the two judges said, the government had failed to establish jurisdiction.
Hamdan is "not subject to this commission" under legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Bush last year, said Navy Capt. Keith Allred, Hamdan's military judge, Monday evening. Hamdan is accused of chauffeuring bin Laden and being the al-Qaida chief's bodyguard.
The new Military Commissions Act, written to establish military trials after the U.S. Supreme Court last year rejected the previous system, is full of problems, defense attorneys argued.
[Original June 4, 2007 report begins here]
The Associated Press (via The Houston Chronicle)
A military judge on Monday dismissed terrorism-related charges against a prisoner charged with killing an American soldier in Afghanistan, in a stunning reversal for the Bush administration's attempts to try Guantanamo detainees in military court.
The chief of military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay, Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, said the ruling in the case of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr could spell the end of the war-crimes trial system set up last year by Congress and President Bush after the Supreme Court threw out the previous system. The ruling immediately raised questions about whether the U.S. will have to further revise procedures for prosecuting prisoners, leading to major delays.[...]
The Military Commissions Act, signed by Bush last year, specifiies that only those classified as "unlawful" enemy combatants can face war trials here, Brownback noted during the arraignment in a hilltop courtroom on this U.S. military base.
Sullivan said the dismissal of Khadr case has "huge" impact because none of the detainees held at this isolated military base in southeast Cuba has been found to be an "unlawful" enemy combatant.
"It is not just a technicality -- it's the latest demonstration that this newest system just does not work," Sullivan told journalists. "It is a system of justice that does not comport with American values."
Sullivan said that in order to reclassify Khadr -- and other detainees -- as "unlawful" enemy combatants, the whole Combatant Status Review Tribunal system would have to be overhauled, a time-consuming act.
Sullivan said the judge hearing the case of the only other Guantanamo detainee currently charged with crimes is not bound by Brownback's ruling but that he expected the judge would make the same decision.
That other detainee is Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who is accused of chauffeuring Osama bin Laden and being the al-Qaida chief's bodyguard. His arraignment was scheduled for Monday afternoon.
Brownback's ruling came just minutes into Khadr's arraignment, in which he faced charges he committed murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying.
"The charges are dismissed without prejudice," Brownback said before he adjourned the proceeding. A prosecutor, Army Capt. Keith Petty, said he had been prepared to show Khadr was an unlawful combatant because he fought for al-Qaida, and that he had videotapes showing Khadr making and planting explosives targeting American soldiers.
Why am I not surprised. Republicans can't be trusted to tie their shoes, much less secure our nation.
- Related: Pentagon charge sheet against Kadr (pdf)
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