Montana Politics

These are Crimes Now?

So apparently among the “worst of the worst” being held at Guantanamo is Osama bin Laden’s driver. Now, can see the law enforcement rationale behind arresting this guy- he probably had some information on where to find bin Laden. Seven years ago. Best of all, he is being charged for providing material support for terrorism, a crime that didn’t exist where he committed it, when he committed it. But the larger issue at hand is the right of a people to defend themselves from aggression.

Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he “throwing a grenade that killed a U/S/ Special Forces soldier during a 2002 firefight.” He is being prosecuted for war crimes, according to the AP.

Really? Why? Because he is Canadian fighting in Afghanistan? That sounds like Canada’s problem to me; potentially he could be charged with Treason I suppose. But since when is it a criminal offense to throw a grenade during a firefight? From militants in Afghanistan to Insurgents in Iraq, people fighting without uniforms because their armed forces have been destroyed are being labeled criminals and, in the case of Afghanistan, facing criminal trials.

The treatment of prisoners of war is a serious issue, as is their treatment as prisoners of war. By expanding our ability to charge as criminals those who challenge our authority to install governments in foreign countries, we are effectively saying that as soon as we destroy the formal branches of a nations’ government, easy enough to do with our air power, no one has a right to resist us, and if they try they will not be treated as POWs but as criminals.

John McCain suffered immoral treatment in Vietnam, and he should be admired for building a successful life after his release and not being destroyed by the experience. However, he is also lucky that he was from the United States, the nation that defines when tactics in war are legal and which are not. Despite being part of an organization responsible for thousands of innocent deaths (an inevitable consequence of mass bombing), he was still considered a POW. If the Vietnamese had applied our logic regarding war crimes, he would have probably faced trial and execution.

On of the guiding principles of a professional military is the ability to recognize that your enemies have rights even when they are on the wrong side of a war. We need to make a distinction between those who are fighting our soldiers, who when captured should be treated as POWs, and those who under the guise of fighting occupation in fact kill innocent civilians, who are terrorists and should be treated as such.

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  • That fact is that he is a Canadian and should be charged as a Canadian. Obviously, his age at the time of capture should be taken into account, but he does not qualify as a typical enemy combatant.

    The case of John Walker Lindh, in part, illustrates a precedent for this case.

  • Canada should absolutely charge him with treason, but I think the fundamental fact is that he has committed no crime against the United States. One cannot consider a war zone to be the same as if he had thrown a grenade at US soldiers in New York; were that the case he would obviously not be able to stand trial because his arrest and processing were far out of line from criminal standards.

    Lindh seems obvious; however, that too it questionable. Just going off what my passport says, if you join the military of another nation, you renounce your citizenship. If I were in charge of this sort of thing, I would read that clause as negating both his criminal rights as a citizen and his obligations to the United States, making him a soldier of what was effectively the Afghan government at the time, and thus giving him rights as a POW. I agree with right wing opinions that taking up arms against the US in a foreign nation robs you of your right to a civilian trial as a US citizen; however, I would say it also gives you rights as a soldier. (If you take up arms as a terrorist planning to kill civilians, you are still a soldier, but one committing war crimes and subject to treatment as such.)

  • Qualifying militant members of the Taliban as members of a “military” is a bit of a stretch and questionable.
    He should have been charged by Canada immediately. Why? Because he’s a citizen.

    Please note, I realize I’m sounding a bit neoconish right now… I haven’t been sleeping a lot.

  • The Taliban was, at the time of the invasion, the closest thing Afghanistan had to a government. They enforced laws and administered the majority of Afghanistan. Their crackdown on Opium, for example, showed that they had control of most of the country.

    Therefore, it seems to me that if they had that much authority, then those who fought for them seem to be a military. Obviously you could argue the opposite, and the situation is more complicated now. But in the first years of the war, the Taliban were much more like an official military than they are now (even now, though, they are about as legit as the Northern Alliance was in 2001, which is not to say they are not much more horrible.)

  • Hypocrisy of the “Repatriate Omar Khadr to Canada” Movement

    As soon as the Gitmo interrogation tape of Omar Khadr hit the Internet, the blogosphere was flooded with demands to repatriate him to Canada. This wave is reminiscent of a Soviet campaign to free Luis Corvalán from the “fascist regime” of Augusto Pinochet thirty five years ago. The scenario is strikingly similar. A “victim” held by “fascist regimes” this time run by Bush and Harper, and a public outcry for justice. Except for the fact that Luis Corvalán didn’t kill anyone and didn’t fight for a terrorist group that wants to impose Sharia.

    The “repatriate Khadr” crowd describes him as “a child”, “a kid”, “a boy”, and even “a torture victim”, with no facts to substantiate the torture claims notwithstanding. They complain about Khadr being mistreated, again, without anything to back up their claims. Some of them are outraged about “child abuse.” And they all scream for justice.

    They want justice? OK, let’s talk about JUSTICE. What about justice for Sgt. First Class Christopher J. Speer, who was (according to an eyewitness) murdered by this “child”? What about justice for Tabitha Speer, who is a widow because of this “kid”? What about justice for Taryn and Tanner Speer, who are left without a father by this “a boy”? And what about all those Afghani civilians and NATO troops who are a little bit safer because this “torture victim” is behind bars? How many of these “repatriate Khadr” hypocrites concern themselves with justice for real victims? In literally hundreds of posts, we couldn’t find a single one.

    One would ask, what is the reason for this idiocy? The answer is simple. Ignorance. Complete and utter ignorance. Let’s forget for a second that Omar Khadr killed Christopher Speer. Let’s forget that Khadr’s father was an al Qaeda financier. Let’s forget that Khadr’s family is known for it being al Qaeda sympathizers. Let’s just remember what this “child” was fighting for in Afghanistan.

    This is what Taliban-imposed Sharia looks like in real life:

    Why don’t all of you, bleeding heart demagogues go to Afghanistan and spend a day in a Taliban-controlled territory? And let’s talk about Khadr when you get back. If you get back.

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