With the latest release of classified military files on Guantanamo Bay detainees, The Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn seems to think he’s stumbled upon some real breaking news:
[T]here is a new piece of information that has not received any press attention. Omar Khadr was determined to be of “high intelligence value.” His connections to senior al Qaeda terrorists, including his father, gave him insights into how al Qaeda and the Taliban operate.
Wow! The U.S. military thought Omar Khadr had “high intelligence value”? So that’s why he was shipped to Guantanamo Bay and held for all these years. Despite Joscelyn’s great investigative work, it turns out this information isn’t so new, as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage notes:
But it wasn’t among the initial files that The New York Times selected to publish, because it is relatively uninteresting. First, the basic narrative of what the government believed about Mr. Khadr’s actions had already come out — in far greater detail — as a result of his prosecution before a military commission on war crimes charges, which resulted in his guilty plea. Moreover, unlike some other assessments, the one of Mr. Khadr does not reveal previously undisclosed reasons or sources for the government’s beliefs about him.
Yes that’s right. As Canada’s Globe and Mail reported, “The newly released assessment sheds few new details about Mr. Khadr, who was captured as a 15-year-old al-Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan in 2002.”
It seems that Joscelyn is upset that “many advocates have turned him into something of a false martyr, however, claiming that Khadr is the real victim of American wrongdoing.” So that by uncovering this (not so) new evidence, Joscelyn seems to be claiming he has the goods on how Khadr deserved what he got. And as a kicker, he points to one instance in which a judge ruled that a specific piece of evidence against Khadr would be admissible in court because it was not the product of torture. Therefore, Joscelyn concludes, “there is no evidence” Khadr was ever tortured (this is not true).
And Khadr’s detention and ultimate conviction aren’t as simple as Joscelyn makes it seem. Khadr’s prosecution was “unusual” not only because child soldiers are normally not prosecuted (Khadr was 15 years old when the U.S. military apprehended him), but also because the main charge against him was killing a soldier on the battlefield, an action, again, that is not traditionally prosecuted. But the irregularities of Khadr’s saga don’t end there. While questions of illegitimacy also surround Khadr’s legal proceedings, Dennis Edny, Khadr’s Canadian lawyer, said the U.S. military even added charges “that we’d never heard of” during his plea hearing. “The Americans have made up the new rules in the laws of war,” Edny said. Apparently, that’s all just fine for the folks at the Weekly Standard.