Sunday, June 3, 2007

Not O.K.

Canada-born Omar Khadr (right), in adult detention since his 2002 capture in Afghanistan, when he was 15 years old, is due to be arraigned tomorrow before a U.S. military commission at Guantánamo. There too will be Salim Ahmed Hamdan, in whose case the U.S. Supreme Court last June invalidated President George W. Bush's plan for military commissions. Congress responded with post-Hamdan commissions in key respects much like the pre-Hamdan version. It also cut off detainees' rights to seek the habeas review that had brought the case to the Court. And so in Khadr v. Gates, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Wednesday that it had no jurisdiction to consider a petition by the young man to whom court papers referred, when he was still a juvenile, as "O.K."
We've written about the implications of trying a child before these commissions, and the NY Times has a similar story today. It downplays additional news of the week: that with trial nearing, Khadr's fired his attorneys. One, American U. Law Professor Muneer Ahmad, told Toronto's Globe and Mail:
'It seems that Omar doesn't want American lawyers. American lawyers haven't been able to do anything for him, and I think it's important that he have the counsel of his choice.'
Although Khadr has a qualified right to represent himself under commissions rules, he has no right to what he now wants -- Canadian attorneys. The Toronto paper wrote:
That sets the stage for a procedural brouhaha that could transform the session into a circus -- not the smooth opening day that the Bush administration may have hoped would defuse international condemnation of the process.

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