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Liveblogging Twitter: Khadr Jury Deliberations

Breaking, 5:30pm. After 8 hours of deliberations by the seven-person military jury, the jury reached a decision, sentencing Omar Khadr to prison for 40 years. The decision is subject, reportedly, to the plea deal made with Khadr and his legal team, whereby the young man confessed to murder and other crimes, for a promise of an eight year sentence — one year in Guantanamo, followed by seven years in Canada. The following liveblogging started earlier today.


After a day’s break in the proceedings of the Omar Khadr military commissions trial, and five hours of jury deliberation yesterday, the trial picked up at 12: 27pm today, Eastern time. The trial is being live-tweeted by a number of journalists present in Guantanamo, most notably Carol Rosenberg, Andrew Mayeda, Michelle Shephard, Derek Stoffel, French journalist Malorie Beauchemin, and others, who are watching proceedings on a video feed. Other journalists and observers, such as Daphne Eviatar, are in the courtroom, and we can expect reports from them later.

It has been a contentious week, and I’ll assume if you’re reading this you have already been following the trial. I should mention up front, that I find the military commissions trial of Omar Khadr to be a kangaroo court, meant to produce a false confession for show trial, propaganda purposes. The purpose of liveblogging this proceeding via twitter-feed is to give as up-to-date information on the breaking news of this important trial — the first trial of a former child soldier in modern, Western history — and a forum for readers to discuss and process the proceedings.

For those interested in such things, Twitters own license, agreed to by those who sign up via Twitter, says that anyone using Twitter agrees “to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same.” The two relevant feeds from Twitter can be directly accessed here and here.

Right now, it appears the 7-person military jury has asked to have the video replayed of the testimony of Captain Patrick McCarthy, the former legal adviser at Guantanamo, who testified earlier that Omar Khadr had the “potential to rehabilitate.”

The following are not inclusive of all the Tweeting being done, but selected samples. Besides the journalists, I’m adding what I feel are relevant or interesting tweets from others following on Twitter:

@DerekStoffelCBC Derek Stoffel
#Khadr jury wants to see transcript of Cpt. McCarthy’s testimony. Court has no transcript but Judge Parrish offers to let them see it again. [~1:02pm ET]

@JulietONeill Juliet O’Neill
Following my colleague @mayeda at #Khadr jury deliberations at #Gitmo. Will report Ottawa #cdnpoli reaction to jury decision/plea bargain. [~1:03pm ET]

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
At 30 minutes into deliberation jury revisiting testimony of Capt McCarthy, the 06-08 prison staff lawyer who spoke by video from Kabul. [~1:05pm ET]

@shephardm Michelle Shephard
They don’t have transcript so #GTMO judge is now re-playing a recording of his testimony for 7-member #Khadr jury from earlier this week. [~1:07pm]

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
While jury watches, we can see prosecutors Jeffrey Groharing and Michael Grant are talking to each other behind their hands. On video…

Now this seems of special interest:

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
Human Rights Watch observer spotted four #Khadr jurors and widow of soldier he killed taking brunch in same #Guantanamo dining room today. [~12:17pm ET]

This would be before court had resumed for the day.

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
Debating difference in definition of sequestration between civilian juries, war court. Factoring in #Guantanamo has one Sunday brunch venue. [~1:19pm ET]

@DerekStoffelCBC Derek Stoffel
#Khadr jury spent an hour re-listening to Cpt. McCarthy's testimony. They're now back deliberating. We're back to waiting. [2:07pm ET]

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
McCarthy testified that #Khadr appeared to have a "positive" influence on other inmates [2:11pm ET]

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
#Khadr's jury is back deliberating after 1-hour re-run. McCarthy urged different "standard of accountability" for 15 year old than adult. [~2:14pm ET]

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
#Khadr was originally housed in camp 5, highest security facility at #Gitmo; but eventually transferred to camp 4. for "compliant" inmates [~2:14pm ET]

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
McC notes that #Khadr never kicked out of camp 4, despite zero tolerance on misbehaviour under #Gitmo rules [~2:14pm ET]

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
But McC seemed to back down under prosecution cross-examination; prosecution read him several reports by prison guards on #Khadr
[~2:16pm ET]

The deliberations over the potential rehabilitation of Omar Khadr is a staple portion of the sentencing phase of a criminal trial. According to news reports, Khadr has already made a stipulation to guilt, one that has been seriously questioned by many, and it’s worth looking at Marcy Wheeler’s blog post on this, as well as Daphne Eviatar at the Huffington Post.

Back to it…

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
“15 year olds, in my opinion, shouldn’t be held to the same standard of accountability as adults should be,” McCarthy said [~2:26pm ET]

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
The jury has now resumed deliberations; they’re now approaching their sixth hour … [~2:27pm ET]

@m_beauchemin Malorie Beauchemin
Procès #Khadr. Les journalistes auront 15 min pour se rendre en Cour entendre la sentence. On sursaute chaque fois que le téléphone sonne. [~2:40pm ET] [Google translator: “Journalists will have 15 minutes to go to court to hear the sentence. We jump every time the phone rings.”]

Some other commentary on Twitter:

@BridgetGuevara Bridget Guevara
Whaaaat?! // MT @vickersty #Khadr prsctrs trying to use forced plea as evidence he can’t be rehabilitated. YOU can’t be rehabilitated

@CanadaLiberty CanadaLiberty
If Khadr had been a15 yr.oldAmericanDefendingtheAlamo,He’dBeAnAmerican Hero! #ondp #lpc #khadr

@GeorgieBC Georgie BC
It is ok for US soldiers to murder children, but it is a war crime for children to murder US soldiers. .. #Khadr

Now, here’s a curious point I had not noticed:

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
@LadyLibertine22 #Khadr defence never called their mental-health experts to testify

I know that one of the people who had been prepared to testify was Brig. Gen. (ret.) Stephen Xenakis, “Omar Khadr’s unlikely defender.” See Michelle Shephard’s story in The Star:

Xenakis, now 62 and retired from the army, is one of the court-approved medical experts granted access to Khadr over the last few years. He has spent more than 100 hours meeting with the Toronto-born captive and considered an important witness for the defence in the trial that is finally set to begin on Monday….

“There’s nothing that makes me think this guy’s dangerous in any way,” says Xenakis. “For us to use him as a symbol or icon of us being hard on terrorists, which is something that has been the position all along, is wrong.”….

“I think it’s wrong to take a person who’s a 15-year-old, who’s basically a child soldier, and for us to treat him as something other than an adolescent who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” says Xenakis.

3:01 pm ET, via Carol Rosenberg. Jury still out. Total deliberation time: 6.5 hrs.

For readers who may not know, whatever the jury decides, if it is more than the amount of years agreed in the plea bargain (8 years, with approx. one more in Guantanamo, and then supposed transfer to Canada), the plea deal will be honored. If the amount of time decided is less, then Khadr could go free in under 8 years, theoretically. However, the U.S. really threw the book at Khadr to get him to stipulate guilt for their phony show trial.

Additionally, the U.S. has a habit of going back on its deals, most recently in the case of Ibrahim al-Qosi. See this posting by Marcy Wheeler.

3:34pm ET

@m_beauchemin Malorie Beauchemin
Sept heures de délibérations pour le jury d’Omar Khadr, chargé de déterminer la sentence. Toujours pas de décision. [Google Translator: “Seven hours of deliberation the jury of Omar Khadr, charged with determining the sentence. Still no decision.”

More background:

@uruknet uruknet
Canada’s role in the persecution of child soldier Omar #Khadr #guantanamo #humanrights [~2:57pm ET]

bmaz is answering some questions, with his legal expertise, over at Emptywheel, lots of interesting commentary re possibility of a Khadr appeal, other matters:

A few new tweets in past half hour, reminding us…

@Perkel Colin Perkel
If sentencing jury at #Khadr can’t agree, then convening authority can order new sentencing hearing or impose no punishment.

@Perkel Colin Perkel
Further, for a sentence of 10 years or more, six of seven #Khadr jurors must agree . . .

It’s now 4:30 pm, ET, and Michelle Shephard is reporting from Gitmo:

@shephardm Michelle Shephard
Coming up eight hours for #Khadr jury. Past #Gitmo sentence deliberations for Australian, Yemeni and Sudanese detainees was under two hours

BREAKING: Jury will have decision in 14 minutes, reported via multiple tweets — It’s now 4:50pm ET

@brynweese Bryn Weese
#Khadr jury has sentencing decision. About to tell court in 15 mins.

@DerekStoffelCBC Derek Stoffel
Media being told a sentencing decision in #Khadr case will come in 15 minutes.

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
Reporters at #Gitmo scrambling to get up to court to hear the #Khadr sentence

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
The Omar #Khadr jury has returned a sentencing verdict in slightly over 8 hours. Media scrambling to #Guantanamo war court.

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
He will be the first detainee convicted of murder (in violation of the laws of war) by the #Gitmo tribunal

Convicted? Is that how it will be spun? How apart, first detainee to be forced to confess for the Gitmo show trial?

More Mayeda:

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
Also, #Khadr is the first #Gitmo detainee to be sentenced who committed his crimes as a juvenile

Flash – 40 years sentence:

@DerekStoffelCBC Derek Stoffel
BREAKING: #Khadr military jury recommends 40 years in prison.

@DerekStoffelCBC Derek Stoffel
#Khadr jury recommends 40 years… BUT plea deal Khadr signed limits his sentence to 8 years – can apply for transfer to Canada after 1 yr.

At first they couldn’t hear it:

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
Omar #Khadr is standing. The sentence was announced but the jury wasn’t miked and we in #Guantanamo’s filing center didn’t hear it.

So, the military jury says it will ignore the child status of Omar Khadr at the time of capture, or ignore the torture of Omar Khadr. They appear to be channeling the racist demagoguery of hand-picked psych expert, Dr. Michael Welner. What was the purpose of this show?

More from Guantanamo, 5:11pm:

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
Tabitha Speer, #Khadr’s victim’s widow cheered at the sentence. The Toronto-born war criminal looked straight ahead.

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
RECAP: Omar #Khadr’s military jury returned a 40-year sentence and the judge told him, out of earshot of the panel, that he will serve 8.

And the reaction on Twitter at #khadr? A sampling:

@habibahamid habiba hamid
Breaches UN convention on rights of child @amayeda #Khadr sentenced to 40 years, military confirms

@RS_Chang Richard S. Chang
Really wonder how jury came to 40-year sentence for Omar #Khadr, who was a 15-year-old child soldier when he was caught on battlefield.

@dgardner Dan Gardner
A fitting conclusion for an unconscionable and unjust proceeding. RT @DerekStoffelCBC: #Khadr military jury recommends 40 years in prison.

@progress_report Brodie Conley
are you f*cking kidding me? 40 years recommended sentence. what do you expect from a jury made up of military personnel. #khadr

@rmazar Rochelle
WTH this is how we deal with child soldiers?! RT @DerekStoffelCBC: BREAKING: #Khadr military jury recommends 40 years in prison

Michelle Shephard notes:

#Guantanamo sentence 15 more than even Pentagon prosecutors asked for in #Khadr case.

The verdict will be used by right-wing commentators to “prove” that Khadr was “worst of the worst,” and by implication all of the prisoners at Guantanamo. This propaganda show is one example of how prisoners are used for exploitation, i.e., psychological warfare purposes. It is no different than the Stalinists using show trials of dissenters, complete with confessions and fake juries, the entire panoply of juridical proceedings, but with none of the content.

A sad, shameful day for America. A country that will not own up to its own use of torture. How much irritating crap will I have to read about this or that little political mini-tempest on various blogs, while the soul of the country shades into infamy?

What now?

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
#Khadr attorney: “Omar was given a choice to plead guilty or be prosecuted in an unfair process with the possibility of a life sentence.”

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
#Khadr is #Guantanamo’s youngest and last Western detainee among 174 now held in the prison camps. He is now the convicted 3rd war criminal.

@amayeda Andrew Mayeda
Am told by military spokeswoman here that the plea-deal docs (and hopefully diplomatic notes between Canada-US) will be released

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
He had been held in #Guantanamo’s communal camp for cooperative detainees. Now he goes into single cell, maximum security confinement.

Back into solitary confinement, i.e., back into torture, since isolation is a very specific kind of torture. What a massive clusterfuck! Submit Khadr to this charade, kill his sense of self-integrity via false confession, then shove him into solitary with the “belief” (and how can I not this put this word into quotes?) that he will be released to custody in Canada for another seven years…

Omar Khadr is you or me. This is what the U.S. rulers have in store for anyone who they decide to make an example of.

More on the reality that solitary confinement constitutes torture. From a Wired interview with psychologist Craig Haney, who has worked on this subject for a long-time:

…let me note that solitary confinement has historically been a part of torture protocols. It was well-documented in South Africa. It’s been used to torture prisoners of war.

There are a couple reasons why solitary confinement is typically used. One is that it’s a very painful experience. People experience isolation panic. They have a difficult time psychologically coping with the experience of being completely alone.

In addition, solitary confinement imposes conditions of social and perceptual stimulus deprivation. Often it’s the deprivation of activity, the deprivation of cognitive stimulation, that some people find to be painful and frightening.

Some of them lose their grasp of their identity. Who we are, and how we function in the world around us, is very much nested in our relation to other people. Over a long period of time, solitary confinement undermines one’s sense of self. It undermines your ability to register and regulate emotion. The appropriateness of what you’re thinking and feeling is difficult to index, because we’re so dependent on contact with others for that feedback. And for some people, it becomes a struggle to maintain sanity.

That leads to the other reason why solitary is so often a part of torture protocols. When people’s sense of themselves is placed in jeopardy, they are more malleable and easily manipulated. In a certain sense, solitary confinement is thought to enhance the effectiveness of other torture techniques.

And, no press appearance from the jury:

@shephardm Michelle Shephard
#Guantanamo prosecutors, #Khadr lawyers on the way to media hangar for press conferences. #Military jurors have declined to be interviewed.

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
Pentagon spokeswoman advises: All seven military officers on #Khadr jury were asked if they’d take questions from the media and all refused.

For those who felt Omar Khadr should not have taken the plea deal, consider this from Michelle Shephard:

@shephardm Michelle Shephard
If #Khadr had not taken the plea deal of 8 years and was instead given the jury sentence he would be 64 when released.

It’s time for me to sign off here. Carol Rosenberg and others are headed for the news conference. Carol tweets:

@carolrosenberg Carol Rosenberg
Off to a press conference in the Camp Justice hangar with prosecutors, observers. Story updating regularly here.

My thanks again to all the reporters and commentators who have worked on this story. I look forward to what those in the courtroom saw and felt, the feedback from Khadr’s attorneys, the prosecutors (gag), and assorted media.

A low and sad day for justice. A terrifying day for Omar Khadr. And to Mrs. Speer and others, who thought they would never see this day, a thought or two:

“Vengeance taken will often tear the heart and torment the conscience.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

“The noblest vengeance is to forgive.”

Postscript, thanks to harpie:

DoD Statement on Khadr’s sentence

Exchange of Diplomatic notes on Khadr

Jury sentences ‘child soldier’ to 40 years at Guantanamo; Carol Rosenberg; 10/31/10

from US Diplomatic note to Canada:

The Government of the United States proposes that were Mr. Khadr to request a transfer to Canada to serve any sentence there, the United States and Canada could implement such a transfer under the Treaty between Canada and the United States of America on the Execution of Penal Sentences (the “‘Treaty”) and existing domestic authorities….

The Government of the United States specifically understands that such transfer would result in Mr. Khadr being subject to Canadian law pertaining to detention and in Mr. Khadr being able to apply to the National Parole Board (an independent administrative tribunal operating autonomously from the Government of Canada) for parole following the completion of one-third of his sentence. The Government of the United States understands that eligibility for parole does not mean that the release will be granted; only that it will be considered.

from Canada’s Diplomatic Note to the US:

The Government of Canada shares the view of the United States that were Mr. Khadr to request a transfer to Canada to serve any part of his sentence in Canada, the United States and Canada could implement such a transfer….

The Government of Canada therefore wishes to convey that, as requested by the United States, the Government of Canada is inclined to favourably consider Mr. Khadr’s application to be transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence, or such portion of the remainder of his sentence as the National Parole Board determines, provided the aforementioned conditions are met and the Government of the United States approves Mr. Khadr’s transfer to Canada.

“Inclined to favorably consider…” “Could implement such a transfer” — Perhaps this is simply diplomatic language, but I look forward to hearing more analysis on this. Not that I trust what I hear anymore, or even what I see. But there it is, and I hope the U.S. and Canada hold to their agreement.

None of this takes away from the truth Mr. Khadr lives at this very moment, returned to solitary confinement, a form of torture, having had to endure the ignominy of a forced confession and the huzzah of blood lust from his purported victims.

Nice country, this, eh?

Final addition (really):

Omar Khadr’s Oct. 13 Plea Deal Agreement (PDF) (my bold emphasis)

I understand that this agreement permits the Military Commission to find me guilty for all offenses to which I plead guilty without the need for the government to present evidence that would prove my guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I offer to plead guilty because it will be in my best interest that the Convening Authority grants me the relief set forth in this agreement. I understand that I waive my right to a trial of the facts and to be confronted by the witnesses against me, and my right to avoid self:incrimination insofar as a plea of Guilty wilI incriminate me.

Some more interesting material there. For instance, as Carol Rosenberg notes, “Omar #Khadr’s plea bargain spelled out the only four people who could testify on his behalf at #Guantanamo sentencing hearing. Page 4 C3”.

I will not seek to offer the testimony, either in court or via VTC of any witness, other than: (I) Dr. Katherine Porterfield: (2) Dr. Steven Xenakis. (3) Captain McCarthy; and (4) Dr. Arlette Zinck, all of whom the Government has agreed to produce at U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay. Cuba for sentencing. [understand that sentencing proceedings will not be delayed to of these witnesses are unavailable.

But they certainly did not all testify. Where was Dr. Xenakis?

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Jeff Kaye

Jeff Kaye

Jeffrey Kaye is a retired psychologist who has worked professionally with torture victims and asylum applicants. Active in the anti-torture movement since 2006, he has his own blog, Invictus, previously wrote regularly for Firedoglake’s The Dissenter, as well as at The Guardian, Truthout, Alternet, and The Public Record. He is the author of Cover-Up at Guantanamo, a new book examining declassified files on treatment of prisoners at the Guantanamo detention camp.