Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fifteen-year-old Child Soldier Pleads "Guilty"

Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was the lone survivor pulled from the rubble of an Afghan compound that housed al Qaeda operatives, pleaded guilty to various crimes in a military trial. He has already been held for seven years at Bagram and Gitmo, where he was brutally tortured. Andrew Sullivan has compiled a harrowing and graphic account of Khadr's treatment at the hands of U.S. torturers/interrogators (warning: graphic photos).

He was sentenced to eight years in prison, one of which will be at Guantanamo. After that he will be repatriated to Canada, where the Canadian government will decide what to do with him.

This boy was not innocent of involvement in al Qaeda. And in America, 15-year-olds can be tried as adults for particularly heinous crimes. But he was a boy, for God's sake. And all of his so-called "confessions" were made while being tortured. This is where the similarities to the U.S. criminal justice system ends. Exactly how many of those "confessions" could be called legitimate? The U.S. government has a lot to be ashamed about in the handling of this boy's case. Sullivan puts it best:
I don't know how anyone who cares about the integrity and moral standing of the United States can absorb the full details of this case and not be profoundly ashamed. To prosecute a child soldier, already nearly killed in battle, tortured and abused in custody, and to imprison him for this length of time and even now, convict him of charges for which there is next to no proof but his own coerced confessions ... well, words fail.


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