Thursday, July 17, 2008

What's wrong with interviewing Khadr?

I'm seeing a lot of these questions on the blogs, comments sections and other outlets of right wing frustration. "The agents weren't beating up Khadr. They were totally professional. Looked like a completely fair and just interview to me etc. etc."

It's not the nature of the interview that was the problem. That's ridiculous. Have these people ever heard of context? It's the fact that you have a 15 or 16-year-old boy, obviously a child soldier, obviously having been tortured and we as a nation were complicit in taking advantage of the situation.

Are these people honestly arguing that all you have do is turn your back on a torture victim while other parties beat and waterboard him and then you can go back to questioning him? "Hey, I didn't beat him up, I just asked questions in a totally professional manner."

Are we going to blame or punish these agents? Not likely. Much like soldiers in battle, they had their orders. It was a post-9/11 world and terrorists were apparently everywhere.

(If you torture people until they admit they are terrorists and then torture them some more until they tell you about other terrorists, you'll find that there a lot of terrorists. And when a 16-year-old boy starts telling you that he has no eyes or feet, maybe he's been tortured just a little too much.)

The question is this: although these agents have no responsibility, as they say here, to seek consular or welfare visits for people like Khadr, are they still bound - as human beings and agents of the Canadian government - to see to the Charter Rights of Canadian citizens?

Were they aware of what had been done to the boy and, once made aware, did their behaviour toward him change?

Our nation has an obligation, through treaties and commitment to human rights, to not take advantage of torture. Did we knowingly do this? Are we still doing it now?

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skdadl said...

It is clearly a violation of international law, Canadian law, American law, everyone's law, to participate in interrogations of prisoners who have been or will be treated abusively, whether the interrogator is guilty of abuse or not.

The FBI knew that in 2002 and began sending intelligent questions and warning signals back to Washington, some of the first we heard. But CSIS and DFAIT were not responsible enough to do that. They and the politicians who sent them should be held accountable.

Greg said...

That's what I thought. If you didn't know he was being abused, you could go there for the purpose of interrogating him.

But once an agent of the Canadian gov't becomes aware that he's an abused, tortured child soldier, he should have the moral authority to call a halt to the interrogation. If he doesn't want to become an anti-torture advocate because that's not his job ... well, fine ... but he's still responsible to Canada and the treaties Canadians have signed.