Prosecuting those who defend us, and defending and freeing those who kill those who defend us. Feckless. If not treasonous. via U.S. trying to repatriate Khadr: sources.
NEW YORK — Obama administration officials are quietly seeking a way to repatriate Canadian-born terror suspect Omar Khadr, an authority in a position to know has confided.
Mr. Khadr’s age of 15 at the time of the alleged offences is playing on the minds of certain administration officials – especially those with backgrounds in the type of activism that has clashed with some of the more controversial U.S. anti-terror efforts, the source signalled.
Samantha Power, Michael Posner and Harold Koh are among administration officials with the strongest backgrounds in human rights study and activism. For example, Assistant Secretary of State Posner was founding executive director of Human Rights First, which has advocated Mr. Khadr’s repatriation as one alternative to his continued prosecution in the military system established at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But even those seeking to return Mr. Khadr to Canada don’t feel the United States can make the first move. They want Ottawa to ask for Mr. Khadr back so that the Obama administration has “political cover” to dodge any domestic backlash resulting from the release of an accused terrorist from the U.S. justice system.
“There are political repercussions,” the source said. So administration officials are “looking for a Canadian [out]reach.” Their determination to explore what “we can do” is nevertheless there, the source added. The U.S. “would like to send him back.”
The U.S. Department of Justice declined comment on the issue.
The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has long publicly maintained it will not seek Mr. Khadr’s return, saying he faces serious charges in the United States that need to be addressed.
After rejecting at least two repatriation and rehabilitation plans proposed by Mr. Khadr’s Canadian lawyers, the government also won key Canadian Supreme Court backing in January for maintaining its refusal to ask Washington to give him up.
Mr. Khadr faces five war crimes charges before the military commission system created under the presidency of George W. Bush. Among them is murder in the death of Delta Force Sgt. Chris Speer, who was fatally wounded by a hand grenade that Khadr allegedly tossed during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan.
Military prosecutors, who have said they will not seek the death penalty in the event Khadr is convicted, have insisted his age at the time of the firefight is relevant only as a mitigating factor at a sentencing hearing.
Insiders say the prosecutors have signalled they’d seek a “decent number” of years of imprisonment that would well exceed the current time served – but would be short of the maximum life sentence he could face if found guilty.
Sgt. Speer’s widow, Tabitha, is also expected to testify at any sentencing hearing. His death left her alone to raise their two young children.