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A Raw Deal for Khadr

The American justice system is one of the fairest in the world. Transparent, independent, bound by strict rules of evidence and procedures that recognize the natural advantage of the government and lean toward giving the accused benefit of the doubt.

The onus is on the prosecutor to prove guilt, and the accused has the right to see ALL the evidence against him, to cross-examine witnesses, to face his accuser, and to enquire into how evidence was gathered. If his constitutional rights were violated in the process, there's a good chance he'll get to walk. It happens.

Which is why the administration of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush absolutely refused to try any of the Guantanamo inmates in U.S. federal courts, relying instead on interrogation by torture, and secret tribunals.

And which is why the Obama administration's decision to try the most notorious Guantanamo inmates at the scene of the crime - Manhattan - is a remarkable example of a nation's confidence in its own democracy.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who reportedly boasts about masterminding the 9/11 attacks, who reportedly admits personally cutting the head off Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, a man who would, if he could, substitute some sort of Al Qaeda-designed medieval religious nightmare in place of secular courts, is going to be tried in an open, public trial, with all the protections that entails.
Attorney General Eric Holder, in announcing the decision, even referred to Mohammed as the "alleged" mastermind of 9/11.

Good on Holder, and Obama, and America, says the rest of the civilized world.

Less noticed by most here was another decision today:  Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, who has spent eight years locked up in Guantanamo, will be tried by military commission for his alleged crimes, rather than in civilian court.

Meaning Khadr will not have the right to see all the evidence against him, meaning hearsay might be admitted as evidence, meaning coerced confessions could be used, and meaning it could all take place in the darkness of military secrecy.

In other words, a Canadian citizen who was captured as a child soldier in Afghanistan, who was dragged over there by his jihadist father, who has rotted without charge for years, will be afforded less fairness and due process than the man accused of masterminding the worst attack on innocent civilians in American history.

In Ottawa, the government of Stephen Harper, which has done contortions to defy the wishes of Canadian judges who want Khadr repatriated to Canada, immediately pronounced itself satisfied with the American decision.

To repeat: Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen.