when the good guys behave like bad guys

In 2002, a 15-year-old Canadian boy, Omar Khadr, committed the crime of being discovered alive in an Afghanistan building that had been attacked by…

In 2002, a 15-year-old Canadian boy, Omar Khadr, committed the crime of being discovered alive in an Afghanistan building that had been attacked by American troops.

The compound was thought to be an al-Qaida base, and likely was, because a firefight broke out when the soldiers attacked.

One of the last to die was Christopher Speer, a young soldier with dreams of becoming a doctor, until a grenade ended his life.

Omar Khadr, the child of fanatical parents, has been charged with killing Christopher Speer by tossing the grenade, although Khadr had been shot in the back, twice, already, and was near death.

The sole evidence against him is that he survived the attack.

It’s also been learned that an American soldier admitted he tossed a grenade into the building at the end of the firefight, about the time Speer entered on the other side.

Khadr was patched up, miraculously surviving his wounds, and shipped off to Guantanamo, the legendary prison camp which has done so much to destroy the reputation of the United States.

Remember, this was a 15-year-old boy.

It’s against international law to imprison child soldiers, who are usually brainwashed and tortured and forced to fight.

If they come from Africa and survive we celebrate them and buy their books.

If they come from Afghanistan, the Americans lock them up and torture them, and our spineless toadies in Ottawa are the only Western government that has not asked for its own nationals back.

Omar Khadr might turn out to be as creepy as his mother and father. If so, he’s still our creep, and it’s our task to deal with him using our laws.

The poem under the statue of Liberty in New York says: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….” Perhaps it should say “…then we will imprison them, torture them, and try them in kangaroo courts.”

O America, you were once the hope of the world!

After six years, more prisoners at Guantanamo have committed suicide than been found guilty in a trial. So far only one trial has achieved a guilty verdict, and that was an Australian who pleaded guilty so he could be sent home and released early.

America is the sole regime in the world that publicly advocates torture.

Even the most notorious governments like China and Israel at least have the intelligence to denounce torture (while concealing their practices behind locked doors).

This is why American Justice department officials have twisted both logic and language to justify their practices by mumbling on about the Geneva Convention being out of date, and “quaint.”

This has led to impressive euphemisms for torture. Some of them would be amusing if they didn’t involve such brutality.

Take waterboarding. It sounds like what surfers do in California on the weekends. It was also used by Japanese prison camp commanders who were hung at the end of the Second World War for their war crimes — torturing British, Australian, American, and Chinese prisoners.

International law’s legal term for this despicable practice is “interrupted drowning.” It’s when you drown someone, and just before they die, pull them back out, and then do it again, and again, and again … for years, in some cases.

This is probably why there have been 34 suicide attempts and 350 incidents of “self-harm” at Guantanamo.

Four have been successful.

This angered their American captors who declared these suicides “asymmetrical warfare.”

Another official remarked that the suicides were “a good public relations move.”

Over the years, a few victims of Guantanamo have taken to hunger striking. This means they get a feeding tube jammed down their noses several times a day, often without lubrication, sometimes with the blood still on it from the last victim.

The prisoners are inspected every three minutes. Their lights have never been turned off. They are given nightshades so they can theoretically sleep in the bright light. The majority are kept in solitary confinement 22 hours a day.

Of the 280 men remaining at Guantanamo even the American government has admitted 70 are “no longer a threat.”

Imagine surviving six years in such a prison, finally having your name cleared, yet you’re still kept prisoner because they have nowhere to ship you where you won’t be tortured again.

It was originally said these prisoners were the “worst of the worst.”

The New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, rechristened them “the unluckiest of the unluckiest.”

To counter the bad press the Bush administration ratcheted up the language offensive, inventing another batch of innovative terms for torture: This is how we ended up with “enhanced coercive interrogation techniques” and “sleep management” (deprivation), and “stress position” (shackled to a wall with your feet off the ground).

I’m not making this up.

Secret prisons are called “black sites.” And illegal kidnappings are known as “extraordinary renditions.”

Khadr, we are informed, is not a prisoner, he’s a detainee. And he’s definitely not a prisoner of war because he’s an “illegal combatant.’

And he doesn’t have to worry about those fancily named interrogation sessions any more.

Now, they are simply called “reservations.”

If you watch American presidential candidate, John McCain, you’ll notice he walks and moves gimpily. He continues suffering the after-effects of being tortured in Vietnam 40 years ago. That’s why he fought so hard for laws to prevent torture.

He also knows that the more we continue to behave like this, the sooner we’ll be seeing more videos of Americans and Canadians being tortured in jihadist prison cells.

Guantanamo has earned America the revulsion of the world.

This story has been going on so long it’s almost become old news, yet our unforgivable government has been one of the few not to express its disgust at the American gulag.

The elected administrations of both the US and Canada have demonstrated how fragile our democracy is, how quickly human rights can become no rights at all, and how easily we all accept it.

 Brian Brett, poet, journalist, novelist, lives on Salt Spring Island and returns to the Yukon whenever he can. His most recent book of poetry and prose is Uproar’s Your Only Music.

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading


Wyatt’s World for June 18, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read