This column written by Ezra Levant, appears in today’s National Post. It perfectly describes the left’s ongoing love affair with Canada’s #1 poster-boy of terrorism, Omar Khadr.
Ezra Levant: The Canadian Bar Association’s Khadr fetish
The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has a crush on Omar Khadr. The left-leaning lawyers’ club held its convention in Dublin last week, but even Ireland’s charms couldn’t get their minds off the accused terrorist, still detained in Barack Obama’s prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The spark for the CBA’s latest pronouncement on the matter was a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, ordering the Canadian government to seek Khadr’s repatriation (the government is considering an appeal). But the CBA doesn’t need a reason to talk about their favourite cause. Khadr has been the subject of more CBA press releases than everyone else on the planet combined.
The CBA is obsessed. A search of its website yields 232 items about Khadr. What about other Canadians trapped overseas, such as Huseyn Celil, a Canadian citizen currently being held on trumped-up charges by China, or William Sampson, who was held and tortured in Saudi Arabia? They are non-persons to the CBA — no press releases for them, and no mentions on its website.
At any one time, there are typically about 1,000 Canadians detained overseas, most of them for good reason. In Khadr’s case, he is charged with murdering a U. S. soldier, Christopher Speer, in Afghanistan, where Khadr had gone as part of his jihad.
Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention is pretty clear on the rights of people caught in Khadr’s circumstances: If someone isn’t part of a chain of command, doesn’t wear a flag or emblem “recognizable at a distance,” doesn’t bear their weapons “openly” and doesn’t follow the “laws and customs of war,” they don’t have rights as a prisoner of war. Khadr didn’t do any of those things.
In the past, when Allied troops caught enemy combatants breaching those rules — like some Germans did on D-Day– they were shot on sight, or subject to expedited trials on the spot. Not Khadr; His life was saved by U. S. medics and he was flown to Guantanamo, where he has received food, shelter, a Koran and an imam — and free lawyers. Sgt. Speer was flown home, too — to a graveyard.
If the CBA had a general policy of demanding the return of Canadians caught in trouble overseas, its Khadr fetish wouldn’t stand out so garishly. But the CBA doesn’t do that. In fact, when it comes to the world’s worst regimes, the CBA isn’t just silent — it participates in their PR rehabilitation.
Take Burma, a brutal country that just extended the illegal house arrest of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner. The CBA recently sponsored a tourist junket to Burma, full of sightseeing and shopping. Suu Kyi has specifically called for a tourism boycott, saying in a 1999 interview “to suggest that there’s anything new that tourists can teach the people of Burma about their own situation is not simply patronizing, it’s also racist.” But the CBA sent 60 vacationing lawyers to Burma on an itinerary that included some great bargains on lacquerware and rubies.
But the CBA’s moral cover for Burma pales next to its collusion with the Chinese government. The CBA engages in legal exchanges with the All China Lawyers Association, a Communist Party front. If the CBA were meeting with legal dissidents, or were filing lawsuits or petitions on behalf of political prisoners, that would be one thing. But they’re meeting with lawyers who work for the police state. It’s an exchange alright — the CBA vacationers get a great junket, and China and Burma get PR cover. They can point to the CBA’s visits as proof of their liberalism. Oh, and you won’t find the word Tiananmen on the CBA’s website, either.
There is one more thing about Khadr. He was captured by the United States in 2002. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the CBA began its noisy campaign to press the Canadian government for his release.
Was it a coincidence that the CBA didn’t care about Khadr’s repatriation until the Conservative government was elected?
Perhaps we should ask the keynote speaker at last year’s CBA convention, Jean Chrétien.
Ezra Levant blogs at ezralevant.com