Khadr GuanSign StalinTrials Khadr GuanInterr

In the 1930s Joseph Stalin introduced the show trial.
The accused would stand up in court and willingly, even eagerly,
confess to the most fantastical crimes.
Torture, sleep deprivation, beatings, and threats against their wives and children
made men confess to things that were unlikely, sometimes impossible
and usually unsupported by other evidence.
To stop the pain, you had to confess
to whatever it was that the interrogators wanted to hear.
And then you had to get up in court and
willingly confess to it all over again.


And now Guantanamo's very first military tribunal
has its first guilty verdict,
thanks to those methods of coercion
first perfected for the Soviet Bloc show trial.
The trial of Canadian Omar Khadr has been called a travesty of justice,
a violation of the rule of law, a kangaroo court and lots of other things beside.
But what it really was, was a show trial.
The chief evidence against the then-15-year-old child was his own confession.
And that confession, made years ago and long since recanted,
was obtained under conditions
that any normal human being
would describe as torture.

Stalin would have been proud
by Tony Keller, National Post, Oct 28, 2010

...At the first great show trial, in Moscow in 1936, Grigori Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev and other former senior Communist party members admitted to being members of a terrorist organization. They said they had plotted to kill Stalin and other Soviet leaders. In the following years, as Stalin's purges picked up steam, show trials featured increasingly incredible stories, usually involving the accused admitting to being agents of Western imperialism....

Omar Khadr was captured in 2002 in Afghanistan. He was the only survivor after a firefight and an air strike on an al-Qaeda position. He had been wounded in his shoulder and in both eyes, shot twice in the back and was near death. It was alleged that, just before he was shot, he had thrown a grenade at attacking American troops, killing one of them. As already noted, he was 15 years old.

He then spent several months in the hellhole that was Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, where he claims -- credibly, given all that we know about what went on at Bagram -- that he was subjected to sleep deprivation, the chaining of his hands above his head for hours, that he was hooded and threatened by dogs, and sometimes forced to urinate on himself because he was not unshackled to go to the bathroom. His chief interrogator at Bagram admitted to telling the teenage boy that unless he co-operated, he would be sent to a U.S. prison, where a group of black men would gang rape him to death. Ponder that for a moment. He was interviewed about 25 times by this interrogator, Joshua Claus. Claus was also the interrogator for an Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar who was chained to the ceiling and beaten to death in Bagram in 2002; Claus pled guilty to his involvement in the affair and received a five month sentence. In a lovely Orwellian touch, the U.S. government insisted that reporters covering Khadr's trial not name Claus, but instead refer to him as "Interrogator 1."

In Bagram, Khadr confessed that he had thrown the grenade that killed an American soldier. No one saw him do this, so his confession is really the only evidence of the act. Last summer, U.S. military judge Colonel Patrick Parrish ruled that the confession, despite the obviously coercive circumstances under which it was made, had been freely given, and could be used against Khadr in court. This week, Omar Khadr was offered the following choice: plead guilty, or face two different routes to life in prison. He could go to trial, and thanks to a confession that would be laughed out of any real court of law, he'd probably be convicted. But even if the court somehow found him not guilty, the U.S. reserved the right to detain him indefinitely as an enemy combatant. The only sure way to get out of jail early was to tell his interrogators what they wanted to hear.

On Monday, Khadr was even forced to cop to other crimes, including the killing of two Afghan soldiers, something he wasn't even charged with, and for which the prosecution appears to have had no evidence. And, in a nice touch that Stalin would have appreciated, Khadr appears to have also been forced to sign away his right to sue his jailors for the various forms of deprivation and abuse that he was subject to. In court on Monday, Col. Patrick Parrish repeatedly asked Khadr to confirm that he was agreeing to these terms willingly, that he really, truly, sincerely wanted to plead guilty all of his own accord. Khadr said yes. They could have told him to confess that he had simultaneously piloted all four hijacked planes on 9/11, and he would have done it.

And so the Bush administration project of ridding the world of terrorism by means of torture comes full circle. The U.S. military and CIA, ordered to use force to extract information from detainees, something that violated not just U.S. military tradition but U.S. military law, had to come up with new interrogation techniques, and quickly. They turned to history, including copying communist coercion-based interrogation models, such as those that captured American troops had been subjected to during the Korean War.

The original communist torture techniques, which for a time inspired the standard operating procedures at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and the secret black sites, were not designed to elicit truth. They were designed to produce false confessions: That was the whole point. They were designed to force people to say what interrogators wanted to hear - yes, I am a capitalist stooge, yes I am a Trostkyite, yes I am a terrorist. And now Guantanamo's very first military tribunal has its first guilty verdict, thanks to those methods of coercion first perfected for the Soviet Bloc show trial. My God, what have we done? Somewhere in hell, Joseph Stalin is smiling.

Watch Omar Khadr Interview (by Canadian government agents in USA prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, February, 2003), You Tube (interviewed six months after capture following 2002 firefight in Afghanistan... "I want to go back to Canada.... When will I go back home?....")

IRAQ-AFGHANI PHONY WARS (...The only "action" our soldiers see are explosions by some anonymous person who is blown up with the bomb ("suicide bombers" they're called) or by invisible "taliban or osaddam bins" who disappear into holes in sand dunes. This is met with retalitary force by Big Brother's army (the UN government our soldiers fight for) wherein we drop bombs from overhead hoping to "smoke 'em out". It doesn't matter if whole villages and villagers get blown to smithereens in the process because that then gives our soldiers something to finally do, ie walk around with their guns hanging out giving candy to the children....)

AFGHANISTAN REMEMBERED (...I remembered them with tears and heartbreak when the Soviet Union invaded their country a few years after I'd left. Now the United States, with the complicity of the other major powers, has perpetrated an unprovoked attack on that sovereign nation, and I am once again suffering for the people of Afghanistan...)


4.Old World Destruction & 7.Systems of Thought & 20.Thought Police & Snitches & 28.Reality Control & 34.Ministry of Love (Torture) & 39.Interrogation & Torture & 40.Electric Shock Brainwashing

Canada's Khadr sentenced 40-years prison (Khadr, now 24, pleaded guilty last week to five war crimes), National Post, Oct 31, 2010

Stalin would have been proud, National Post, Oct 28, 2010

Khadr pleads guilty to murder to avoid war crimes trial, NYDailyNews, Oct 25, 2010 (Khadr was charged with murder in the death of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a special forces medic from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The U.S. says the Canadian, who was seriously wounded in the firefight, is a war criminal because he was not a legitimate soldier. The prisoner also faced charges of spying, material support for terrorism, conspiracy and attempted murder...)


Khadr Rubble Khadr photos show he's innocent: lawyers (show he did not kill a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan). CBC, Oct 29, 2009

'You don't care about me' Omar Khadr sobs in interview tapes, CBC, Jul 15, 2008 (just-released tapes show the Toronto-born Khadr, 16 at the time, being interviewed in prison at Guantanamo Bay by Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials over several days in late February 2003... Khadr is shown at one point on the tapes saying to his questioners, "Promise me you'll protect me from the Americans." Upon further questioning, during which time interrogators insisted Khadr be clear on the truth, the teen said: "They tortured me very badly at Bagram [detention facility in Afghanistan]." "They tortured you?" the interrogator asked. "Yes," Khadr replied. "And you had to say what you said?" the interrogator asked...)


TV TORTURE SHOW 24 DENEGRATES AMERICA (has been airing on Fox since 2001, depicts a single, panic-laced day in which Jack Bauer — a heroic C.T.U. agent, played by Kiefer Sutherland — must unravel and undermine a conspiracy that imperils the nation. Terrorists are poised to set off nuclear bombs or bioweapons, or in some other way annihilate entire cities. The twisting story line forces Bauer and his colleagues to make a series of grim choices that pit liberty against security. Frequently, the dilemma is stark: a resistant suspect can either be accorded due process — allowing a terrorist plot to proceed — or be tortured in pursuit of a lead. Bauer invariably chooses coercion. With unnerving efficiency, suspects are beaten, suffocated, electrocuted, drugged, assaulted with knives, or more exotically abused; almost without fail, these suspects divulge critical secrets....)


Canada's Khadr sentenced 40-years prison
(Khadr, now 24, pleaded guilty last week to five war crimes)
National Post, Oct 31, 2010
U.S. NAVAL BASE GUANTANAMO, Cuba — Omar Khadr has been sentenced to 40 years in prison by a military jury at Guantanamo Bay. However, under a plea deal with the Pentagon, Khadr will only spend at most another eight years behind bars. The seven-member jury of military officers handed down the decision Sunday after more than eight hours of deliberations, writing one of the final chapters in the politically charged legal saga of Khadr, a Canadian who’s been held in U.S. custody since he was 15. After announcing the jury’s recommended sentence, Col. Patrick Parrish, the presiding judge, told Khadr that after serving another year in U.S. custody, he could apply to be transferred to Canada. Khadr, now 24, pleaded guilty last week to five war crimes, including the murder of Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer, who died after a firefight between al-Qaeda and U.S. forces in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002. In their final arguments this weekend, prosecution and defence lawyers had offered starkly different portrayals of the Toronto-born Khadr. The prosecution painted him as an unrepentant murderer and terrorist, while the defence argued he was a promising young man who was used by al-Qaida and deserves a second chance in Canada....The [Canadian Prime Minister] Harper government has steadfastly refused to discuss the possibility of repatriating Khadr, even as the sentencing hearings drew to a close. The Khadr sentence is a significant landmark for the Guantanamo war-crimes tribunal, created in 2002. He is the fifth person convicted at Guantanamo, but the first charged with murder in violation of the laws of war. Khadr is also the first convicted for crimes committed as a juvenile. Before sending the jury away to deliberate, the judge told them they could consider a range of factors, including Khadr’s age, education, level of maturity, and the eight years he has served at Guantanamo. They could also consider the death and injury he caused, his potential for rehabilitation and the danger he represents to society.

Khadr photos show he's innocent: lawyers
CBC, Oct 29, 2009
The former defence lawyers for Omar Khadr are reported to have submitted photos and documents they say could show he did not kill a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. The Toronto Star reported Thursday that the photos were submitted earlier this year by Khadr's formerly military defence team to a U.S. government task force looking into the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Khadr, now 22, is accused by the United States of killing a U.S. soldier with a hand grenade in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15. He has been held at Guantanamo Bay since then. The newspaper said the photos it obtained show an injured Khadr under rubble from a collapsed roof. Beside Khadr lies a dead militant apparently killed by U.S. forces. Khadr's former defence team contends that the dead man lying beside him in the photo may have thrown the grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer. The case against Khadr at the U.S. military tribunal in Guantanamo is adjourned until Nov. 16 while U.S. President Barack Obama decides how to proceed with Khadr and roughly 200 other prisoners there. Obama has vowed to shut down the controversial prison at the military base in Cuba.

'You don't care about me' Omar Khadr sobs in interview tapes
CBC, Jul 15, 2008
A teenage Omar Khadr sobs uncontrollably as Canadian spy agents question him at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in interrogation footage released by his lawyers Tuesday. The video is of poor quality and the voices are often inaudible, as it was never intended to be viewed by the public. But it shows the Toronto-born Khadr, 16 at the time, being interviewed by Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials over several days in late February 2003. The footage is from five formerly classified DVDs consisting of 7½ hours of questioning that took place six months after Khadr was captured, following a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen, has been held at Guantanamo Bay for six years on charges that he killed a U.S. medic during a firefight in Afghanistan. Khadr's defence lawyers have repeatedly called for their client to be returned to Canada, arguing he was a child soldier and was tortured to extract confessions.

Although he appears reluctant to answer many of the interrogator's questions, Khadr is shown at one point on the tapes saying to his questioners, "Promise me you'll protect me from the Americans." Upon further questioning, during which time interrogators insisted Khadr be clear on the truth, the teen said: "They tortured me very badly at Bagram [detention facility in Afghanistan]." "They tortured you?" the interrogator asked. "Yes," Khadr replied. "And you had to say what you said?" the interrogator asked.

The tapes, made public under a court order obtained by Khadr's lawyers, offer a rare glimpse of interrogations of Guantanamo detainees and of Khadr, now 21. The only Western foreigner still being held at the naval prison, Khadr is scheduled to go on trial before a U.S. military commission in the fall. The U.S. Defence Department granted special permission to CSIS and Canada's Foreign Affairs Ministry to question Khadr after he was brought to Guantanamo Bay. A brief video excerpt of the tapes was released via the internet early Tuesday morning, followed by disc copies of the five DVDs made available in the afternoon at the lawyers' offices in Edmonton.

At another point during one of the interviews, Khadr raises his orange prison-issued shirt to show wounds that he says he sustained during the firefight. "I'm not a doctor, but I think you're getting good medical care," the interrogator responds. As with all the agents in the video, his face is blacked out to protect his identity. Khadr cries, "I lost my eyes. I lost my feet. Everything!" in reference to how the firefight in Afghanistan affected his vision. "No, you still have your eyes and your feet are still at the end of your legs, you know," a man says. When the agent accuses Khadr of crying to avoid interrogation, Khadr tells the agent between gasping sobs, "You don't care about me." As Khadr continues crying, the agent calls for a break. "Look, I want to take a few minutes. I want you to get yourself together. Relax a bit. Have a bite to eat and we'll start again," the interrogator says. Then Khadr begins sobbing with his head in both his hands, chanting over and over again in a haunting voice. His words are difficult to hear, and at first could be taken for "Kill me" or "Help me". However, Arabic speakers working at say the teenager appears to be keening "Ya ummi", which is Arabic for "My mother". (Asked about it after the video was released, Khadr lawyer Nathan Whitling told reporters: "Your guess is as good as mine".)...

Khadr's mother, Maha Elsamnah, emotional after watching her son's interrogation, expressed a deep sense of loss for her family and uncertainty over what she should do. In a brief interview with CBC News on Tuesday morning, Elsamnah — who lives in Toronto — said she feels the need to protect the five children still with her. Her husband, Ahmed Said Khadr, was an avowed al-Qaeda sympathizer before he was killed in fighting with Pakistani military forces in 2003. Elsamnah refused to say more without speaking to her lawyer....

Khadr's defence lawyers, however, said they hope Tuesday's release of the videos will spark public support for their efforts. "We Canadians stand for compassion, we stand for the rule of law. And what you are seeing there is the abuse of the rule of law as Canadian courts have indicated about Canadians and Canada's involvement in Guantanamo Bay," lawyer Dennis Edney told CBC News. Edney said Canadian officials should have asked Khadr about potential torture, but instead went into the interview without any help for the then teenage boy. "We don't do that in Canada and that shouldn't have happened to this young, most vulnerable boy in Guantanamo," the lawyer said. He also said Khadr suffers from several injuries, including the loss of sight in one eye and difficulty with the other, as well as shrapnel and bullet wounds. Referring to Khadr's sobbing chants, Edney said, "It's the cry of a desperate young man. He expected the Canadian officials to take him home."...

In May, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that branches of the Canadian government had to hand over key evidence against Khadr to his legal team to allow a full defence of the charges against him, which include accusations by the U.S. that he [15-year-old Khadr] spied for and provided material support to terrorists. Several Canadian media organizations then applied for and obtained the release of the DVDs, as well as a package of documents that made headlines last week. The DVDs come nearly a week after internal foreign affairs documents were released showing that Canadian officials knew Khadr had been sleep-deprived for weeks to make him more willing to talk during interrogations. The report says Gould learned during a visit to Guantanamo on March 30, 2004, that Khadr had been put on a "frequent flyer program", meaning he was not permitted to remain in any one location for more than three hours.

In another portion of the videotape released later in the day, the interrogator asks Khadr about the 2002 firefight between suspected Islamist militants and U.S. soldiers, and how the fight began. Pentagon officials said Khadr, who was 15 at the time, ambushed American soldiers with a hand grenade after the four-hour fight at the suspected al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan. In response to a question, Khadr said it wasn't the Americans they had planned on attacking, but the Northern Alliance — the anti-Taliban coalition. "So a firefight started. The Arabs shot at the Americans, the Americans shot back. Did you guys make a decision that you would fight till the end", "They made the decision," Khadr replied. Khadr shook his head when asked whether he was going to fight until he died. Asked whether the event overtook him and he had to react, Khadr said: "I had no choice".

4.Old World Destruction (...The sixties were the period of the great purges in which the original leaders of the Revolution were wiped out once and for all. By 1970 none of them was left, except BIG BROTHER himself. All the rest had by that time been exposed as traitors and counter-revolutionaries... a few had simply disappeared, while the majority had been executed after spectacular public trials at which they made confession of their crimes. ...They had confessed to intelligence with the enemy (at that date, too, the enemy was Eurasia), embezzlement of public funds, the murder of various trusted Party members, intrigues against the leadership of BIG BROTHER which had started long before the Revolution happened, and acts of sabotage causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people. ...Even at that time Winston had not imagined that the people who were wiped out in the purges had actually committed the crimes that they were accused of....)

7.Systems of Thought (...Practices which had been long abandoned, imprisonment without trial, torture to extract confessions, were tolerated and even defended...)

20.Thought Police & Snitches (... The great purges involving thousands of people, with public trials of traitors and thought-criminals who made abject confession of their crimes and were afterwards executed, were special show-pieces not occurring oftener than once in a couple of years...)

28.Reality Control (...It was true that she regarded the whole war as a sham: but apparently she had not even noticed that the name of the enemy had changed. In the end he succeeded in forcing her memory back until she did dimly recall that at one time Eastasia and not Eurasia had been the enemy. But the issue still struck her as unimportant. "Who cares?" she said impatiently. "It's always one bloody war after another, and one knows the news is all lies anyway." But in some ways Julia was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda. Once when he happened in some connexion to mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, 'just to keep people frightened'. This was an idea that had literally never occurred to him. She told him that during the Two Minutes Hate her great difficulty was to avoid bursting out laughing. But she only questioned the teachings of the Party when they in some way touched upon her own life...)

34.Ministry of Love (Torture) (...One did not know what happened inside the Ministry of Love, but it was possible to guess: tortures, drugs, delicate instruments that registered your nervous reactions, gradual wearing-down by sleeplessness and solitude and persistent questioning. Facts, at any rate, could not be kept hidden. They could be tracked down by enquiry, they could be squeezed out of you by torture....)

39.Interrogation & Torture (...He became simply a mouth that uttered, a hand that signed, whatever was demanded of him....)

40.Electric Shock Brainwashing (..."How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?"...)

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~