I know, y’all must think I’m the angriest chick on the planet. But I read this shit and get so mad and then I come here and unleash it all on y’all. I truly, truly hope that it makes you angry, too, and that you then share your anger with someone who shares their anger and on and on. Maybe then something will change.
So you know we’ve talked about Guantanamo Bay and, specifically, the cases of Omar Khadr and Mohamed Jawad. As a refresher, remember that in June the Supreme Court ruled in the Boumediene v. Bush case that Guantanamo Bay detainees do have a right to habeas corpus. While hailed as a victory for the detainees, realists understood that the Bush administration would continue to use every possible option to keep these cases out of court. An article in the New York Times this morning bears this out.
According to Vijay Padmanabhan, a former State Department lawyer with responsibility for detainee issues who left in July to teach at Cardozo Law School:
The legal issues that are being raised by the administration are going to take longer than the remaining time of the administration. It is part of a broader strategy which is not to make difficult decisions about Guantánamo and leave it to the next president.
So let’s see, the Bush administration has screwed the next administration into a massive national debt, an $800b+ economic rescue plan for a sinking economy, some sort of agreement on our long term presence in Iraq (details tba), and Gitmo. And in the meantime, these detainees, many of whom have been there for five years or more (Khadr has been there for seven), are stuck in legal limbo, even after the Supreme Court restored their rights. It’s pure insanity and not what we are about … or should be about … as Americans.
Remember Omar Khadr? He’s the Canadian citizen held at Guantanamo Bay, captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15 after allegedly throwing a grenade at American troops. Only by all accounts, he’s innocent. He has never been offered the protections of the international agreements set up for child soldiers.
Yesterday brought us some major news in the case of another child soldier, Mahamed Jawad. Jawad was captured in Afghanistan when he was 16 or 17 for allegedly throwing a grenade and wounding two US soldiers and an Afghani interpreter. On September 24, the prosecutor assigned to Jawad’s case, Lt Col Darrel Vandeveld resigned from the case. An article in the Washington Post quotes from Lt Col Vandeveld’s filing with the military court:
My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery. I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain ‘procedure’ for affording defense counsel discovery.
As in Khadr’s case, there are significant questions surrounding Jawad’s guilt and, as mentioned, the US did not take any steps to protect Jawad as a child soldier. Vandeveld was trying to ensure that the questions in Jawad’s case, including whether or not Jawad was drugged before the attack and the alleged confession of two other Afghanis, were investigated. He was also trying to ensure that Jawad was offered rehabilitation, as guaranteed under international agreements on the treatment of child soldiers.
Both of these young men have been at Guantanamo Bay for startling long times: Khadr for 7 years and Jawad for 5. Both have been held without legitimate trials. For histories and updates on both these cases, visit Andy Worthington’s outstanding work.