The curious Canadian care for Khadr

By David T. Jones on February 26, 2009

It must be tedious and frustrating to be a "concerned Canadian."  So many errors to be corrected; so many problems to be resolved; so many wrong directions to be set straight. 

Not in Canada of course, but in the United States.  And Uncle Sam persistently fails to appreciate how he should be a better Canadian.  Still, if President Obama has listened carefully to your extended albeit unsolicited advice on February 19, dreams may come true.

But in the mean time, we have had Senator Romeo Dallaire, former general and poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder, taking up the cudgels to provide guidance for how the United States should handle Omar Khadr.  Why not just return the tormented young man to Canada.  But for what, pray tell?  Senator Dallaire suggests "rehabilitation and re-integration."  Nary a mention of punishment.  Somehow, punishment seems un-Canadian when associated with any consequences for Mr Khadr's activity.

Earlier, the good Senator harrumphed that Mr Khadr has been "traumatized," and that his treatment was "outright unfair and unacceptable."  Others have contended that no trial should be permitted because all evidence against him is tainted by the circumstances under which he has been held and interrogated.

But Senator Dallaire and other Canadian pontificators conspicuously ignore the results of Mr Khadr's actions:  the widow of Sgt 1st Class Christopher J Speer and her two fatherless children, Mrs Tabitha Speer and her now 9 year old daughter and 7 year old son.  It is almost six and a half years since their husband and father was killed in Afghanistan.  These are three Americans who go unmentioned in the chattering stories agonizing over the "tortures" suffered by Mr Khadr.  These are three individuals whose lives are immeasurably more harmed and damaged than that of Mr Khadr.

Even less mentioned is Sgt Layne Morris, who lost an eye to the same grenade that killed Sgt Speer.  His military career ended due to the injury--but perhaps Canadians and Senator Dallaire would be more sympathetic if he claimed PTSD.

In truth, Mr Khadr was the luckiest teenager in the world.  How many enemy combatants fatally wound a military unit's medic and survive to tell the tale?  Indeed, it is only the consequence of unprecedented U.S. medical and humanitarian action that Mr Khadr survived to whine about his fate--or for the Senator Dallaires of the world to claim his treatment is unjust.

Khadr's proponents contend that he was a "child soldier" because he was 15 when captured in Afghanistan.  Leaving aside the fact that he was not a "soldier" since he was not in any uniform or regular military formation, he was certainly doing his level best to kill those who called upon him and his companions to surrender.  He was no more a soldier than your local Toronto gang-banger gunning down rivals over drug turf is a soldier.  Do Canadians somehow conclude that they can wander the world trying to kill Americans and get a free pass to do so as long as they are under age 18?   Sorry; but we unreconstructed Americans believe that if you are old enough to try to kill us, you are old enough to pay the consequences.

But, to be sure, we have Mr Khadr's defense lawyers attempting to argue that "friendly fire" killed Sgt Speer and that Khadr's contradictory testimony is tainted.  Next I expect to hear them claim Mr Khadr was being held against his will by rude Taliban companions after attempting to return to Koranic studies in Toronto--at worst a victim of the "Stockholm syndrome" generating artificial sympathy with one's captors.

Let's leave it at that.  Mr Khadr currently suspended trial is scheduled to resume; if his lawyers are sufficiently persuasive, he will be released--a free Canadian.  If convicted, that is the time for the Canadian government to propose his return to Canada to serve his sentence in a "Club Fed" akin to that nurturing Paul Bernardo.

But if Canadians would like a bit of perspective to their normal media reading, they might access the "Honor the Fallen" site for Sgt Speer at  

Scrolling down the page, you will find a tribute by his wife Tabitha.  And perhaps reflect on who truly deserves your sympathy.


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