Secret documents on Gitmo's youngest detainee revealed
Secret documents were unsealed this week showing for the first time the extent of Canada's federal government's knowledge of the treatment of Omar Khadr inside of Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Khadr is Canada's only prisoner detained by the United States at Guantanamo Bay.
At age 17, Khadr was placed in a special program at the camp that intentionally deprived him of sleep, and moved him every 3 hours for 21 days in order to prepare him to speak to government officials.
It is reported that the document release is just ahead of a release of video tapes of the interviews with those government officials that will give the first look at a detainee being questioned at the prison.
From the Canadian news The Globe and Mail:
"On a number of occasions, the teenager was observed crying uncontrollably, and claiming he was at least partly blind. He removed his shirt to show interviewers bullet wounds, one of them still seeping blood, that he had suffered to his back and stomach during a battle in Afghanistan.
The documents show that:
Mr. Khadr was subjected to what was known as a "frequent flyer program," which moves a prisoner from cell to cell every three hours 24 hours a day. The idea is to keep prisoners from resting, making them more susceptible to interrogation. A Foreign Affairs document states that Mr. Khadr was placed in the program prior to a set of interviews and “will soon be placed in isolation for up to three weeks and then he will be interviewed again.” The effectiveness of the method was questionable in the eyes of the Canadians.
"Certainly Umar did not appear to have been affected by three weeks on the 'frequent flyer' program. He did not yawn or indicate in any way that he was tired throughout the two-hour interview. It seems likely that the natural resilience of a well-fed and healthy 17-year-old are keeping him going."
During the first Canadian visit, in February of 2003, Mr. Khadr recanted certain admissions claiming "all the information provided in his previous interviews was said only due to 'torture.'"
During that same visit, Canadians agents questioned Mr. Khadr about his family. The cameras caught the teenager complaining about his wounds, his eyes and a shoulder, and dabbing “at a small spot on his shoulder that was seeping blood.”
Foreign Affairs kept records of the visits under intelligence files marked "UBL" or "Bin Laden." The Khadr family once lived with the al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan. A forensic psychologist told DFAIT that Mr. Khadr was "a Mama's little boy."
Considering him a "thoroughly screwed up young man." officials remarked on several odd behaviours, including one after an interview with a Pentagon interrogator. "He was shown a picture of his family - he denied knowing anyone in the picture. Left alone ... he urinated on the picture," -twice, and despite being shackled. When left alone, the documents say, he "laid his head down on the table beside the picture in what was seen as an affectionate manner."
The judge ordering the release of the tapes said that Canada had become implicated in violating international law when the Foreign Affairs office took part in Khadr's interviews.
The Globe and Mail also reported that the interviews were not being released to benefit the U.S.'s case against Khadr:
"In one of the few observations that augurs to the benefit of the federal government, Judge Mosley said that Canadian interrogators apparently were not acting with the purpose of helping U.S. authorities assemble a case against Mr. Khadr. A Supreme Court ruling last winter had already favoured Mr. Khadr's right to view material that could aid his defence against U.S. military charges that he still faces of murdering a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan."
In June of this year, another Canadian news outlet, CBC News released reports from Guards at Guanatanamo Bay with favorable impressions - as well as concerns - regarding Omar Khadr, who is now 21 years old:
"Omar Khadr is "salvageable" and a "good kid," but a prolonged detention at Guantanamo Bay could turn the Canadian into a radical, say the U.S. soldiers who guard him.
His guards describe him as a "likable, funny and intelligent young man," according to documents from Foreign Affairs, which also state the 21-year-old hopes Canada will get him out of the U.S.-run detention centre in Cuba."
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement while attending the G8 Summit said that he would not seek the return of Khadr to Canada claiming that there was "no real alternative" to the U.S. legal processes in place for Khadr at Guantanamo. However, the Canadian Press disputes Harper's claims of no alternative in a report issued shortly after Harper's statements.