Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Khadr CSIS Interrogation -- Inside Guantanamo Bay

Before I get into my posting, I'd like to preface it by saying that I believe the Khadr family ought to be charged with treason, that they ought to have their citizenships revoked, and they ought to be kicked out of the country. The fact that the RCMP, CSIS, and the federal government haven't said boo about the treasonous behaviour of the patriarch (doesn't matter that he was killed), of the treasonous statements made by the matriarch, while at the same time refusing to repatriate from Guantanamo Bay their teenage son, the only country not to do so, says everything we need to know about how the Liberal and Conservative governments view justice. I take everything they say about this case -- the government ministers and the Liberal opposition critics -- with a sackload of salt.

On to my post.

I just watched 3 minutes and 29 seconds of (not continuous) tape on CBC Today, the noon news broadcast, of CSIS' interrogation of 16-year-old Omar Khadr. I didn't particularly want to watch it because I, like so many, didn't want to view upsetting images. (The full 7.5 hours will be released in Edmonton at 1:00 pm EST. Click here for a preview.) The images themselves weren't that upsetting if you didn't think about it too much, but during the segment with Susan Ormiston when they reran the tape in the background as she commented on Khadr and the fact that this is the first time anyone has ever seen an interrogation inside Guantanamo Bay, I started to notice his environment more and started thinking about what that would do to me. I ended up watching it because it came on as I was in the middle of exercising. Why I chose to exercise at this point in time could either be considered serendipitous or bad timing, depending on your point of view.

Watching it I was reminded of Jesus' exhortation to "love your enemies."
MAT 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
I thought of that because I realised I could have two responses to this video: view Omar with empathy as a fellow human being -- which is what I think Jesus was fundamentally talking about -- or stick a filter on my humanity and assess him as the enemy and thus unworthy of any compassion or empathy. I refuse to dehumanize myself.

Listening to him, it struck me how many times I've heard the same words uttered by a child or a teen: "you don't love me!" Yet he wasn't uttering these words to a parent, as teens usually do, but to a stranger whose only bond with him was their common citizenship. Makes you think, eh? The next thing I noticed was his Canadian accent. Clearly, this was a boy who had been brought up in Canada long enough to have an accent native to this country. This brings up all sorts of questions about his parenting and about the multicultural notion of belonging more to the "home" country than to one's place of birth when that birth is in Canada and where that can lead to, and it ain't just cheering for Italy during the soccer matches.

The next thing that struck me was the CSIS agent saying he wanted to talk to yesterday's Omar. Now isn't that just typical of a teen. One moment the adolescent in your life is sane and calm, the next in melodrama heaven, the next railing at the injustice of it all, the next calm. Whether or not he was trying to mislead the agents, there's no denying he was clearly behaving like any other Canadian teen, in tone of voice, in body position, in eye (or lack of) contact, in crying and soothing himself with keening. And I think we need to remember that. We ought not to become so unthinking, so like our governmental ministers who used plausible deniability so that they would not have to confront the truth of their actions, that we cannot see the friggin' obvious. Interrogators were using adult tactics on a teen, a child, a human being whose brain is not yet fully developed precisely because of his age, as scientists have definitively established without a doubt. We know that the teenage brain does not reach full adult development until 18 to 20 years old. Khadr was nowhere near the end of his brain development. Hence, the wild mood swings, the uncontrollable emotions, the lack of clear thinking.

CSIS and the Americans used these tactics during a time of immense cognitive, social, and emotional growth. Remember back to when you were 16, 17, and 18. Weren't those years incredibly different for you in your ability to perceive, socialize, emote, and think? If you said no, you need a memory check or your brain became stultified at 16. That stupidity of us-them mentality that led the Americans to use torture, oh sorry, torture-lite, as if that makes a diff, on a teen; that led the Canadians to follow in their footsteps by not objecting to the frequent flyer program; that led Canadian Liberal government ministers and later Prime Minister Stephen Harper (like anyone else counts in his cabinet) to not ensure they had received the full picture, will result in one seriously stunted and dysfunctional individual. Did these people think they could just keep him in Guantanamo Bay forever and not ever have to release him into a general prison population (which we all know is a sieve, if even the most notorious child killer in Canada can get on the web) never mind the general population as a man? Didn't they think about the long-term consequences of what kind of individual they were creating?

Khadr's American lawyers suggested a program of reintegration. These lawyers were clearly asking themselves that question and wondering how to mitigate the damage done. The utter stupidity of Harper and the Canadian officials is that they dismissed these suggestions out of hand. Harper cannot at the same time as allowing the Khadr family to roam free in Canada, say that Omar Khadr deserves to be locked up in Cuba for the rest of his life. He cannot talk about justice with a straight face when he allows such a dichotomy in consequences. And he's being disingenuous to say that this is merely about justice and is not political. The firefight was born out of a political cause -- Al Queda wants to kill us, we want to defend ourselves. We do that through the military, not the courts. If this was really about justice, then Khadr would not be in Cuba, outside of American jurisprudence, but inside US territory, being prosecuted by a US Attorney in a US criminal court.

2 comments:

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Lt.C. Ralph Peters on Omar Khadr Gitmo Tape: "We Should Have Killed That Punk on a Battlefield where it was legal to do so!"

Watch video at http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/07/ltc-ralph-peters-on-omar-khadr-gitmo.html

talk talk talk said...

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement." Matthew 5:21-22.

Jesus wasn't talking about the kind of anger you normally think of, but the kind that would lead to a person killing another human being if they could get away with it or justify it, the kind of anger embodied in sharia law. Spare me such hatred and black-and-white thinking.