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Cablegate: Omar Khadr Interrogation Dvd Released

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ASEC AF
SUBJECT: OMAR KHADR INTERROGATION DVD RELEASED

REF: Ottawa 828

1. (SBU) Summary: Omar Khadr's Canadian lawyers on July 15 released
DVDs containing the 2003 interrogation of their client by Canadian
Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents at Guantanamo Bay.
Khadr's lawyers and friendly media characterized the content as
"disturbing" and hoped the material would sway the government into
demanding the United States repatriate Khadr to Canada. The initial
public reaction to the DVDs was strongly divided. The Canadian
government meanwhile has not commented on the release of the DVDs.
End summary.


2. (U) At 05:00 ET on July 15, Omar Khadr's Canadian legal team
released a ten minute edited "highlights" reel from a DVD containing
video images of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
interrogations of their client at Guantanamo Bay in 2003. The
excerpt was posted on the internet and dominated the morning news
cycle. Khadr's lawyers released the complete eight hour taped
interrogation at a 13:00 ET press conference. The original DVD had
been made by U.S. officials in 2003 and then shared with CSIS. CSIS
turned over the classified material to Khadr's lawyers following a
June 25 Federal Court of Appeal ruling that CSIS officials had
violated Khadr's constitutional rights in interrogating him while in
U.S. custody in Guantanamo. The Court ordered that Khadr be given
selected material, including the DVD, relevant to his defense in
U.S. military proceedings to use as his lawyers saw fit, including
release to the media in a form and at a time of their choice.


3. (SBU) The release of the DVDs was synchronized with televised
commentary from Khadr's U.S. military lawyer Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kuebler
and lead Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney. Kuebler told Canadian
television news watchers that Prime Minister Harper had abandoned
Khadr in order to "curry favor" with U.S. President George Bush.
Khadr's legal team characterized the DVD contents as "disturbing"
and said that they hoped that the material would "shame" the Harper
government into pressing for their client's release. They argued
that CSIS officials in 2003 disregarded Khadr's circumstances,
seemed fully aware of the treatment to which he had been subjected,
and appeared to know that the interrogation was "probably illegal,
but went ahead with it anyway." The release also elicited
sympathetic commentary in print media, including op-eds written by
various human rights NGOs. Amnesty international reiterated its
argument that Khadr was a 15-year old "child soldier" when he was
detained on the battlefield in Afghanistan in July 2002, and charged
that PM Harper was complicit in the "injustice" perpetrated against
Khadr by refusing to intervene on his behalf with the United States
government.

4. (SBU) The DVDs contained the public's first glimpse of conditions
inside Guantanamo Bay and of CSIS interrogation techniques. From a
security perspective, Canadian analysts emphasized that the release
of the material underlines the fact that CSIS is now operating in a
new climate of public scrutiny, both in its conduct and in its
handling and disclosure of sensitive material. The Khadr DVDs
provided no evidence of abuse, although media outlets described the
scenes as "hard to watch" because of Khadr's evident emotional
Qscenes as "hard to watch" because of Khadr's evident emotional
distress. The long-term impact of the material on public opinion is
unclear, but initial reaction appears to reinforce existing
strongly-held divisions among Canadians about the case. Canadian
news services report receiving "hundreds" of online comments,
equally divided between sympathy and hostility directed at Khadr,
with almost no "middle ground."

5. (SBU) The Canadian government has not commented on the release of
the DVDs. Last week, PM Harper reiterated his government's
consistent position that Khadr faced serious charges and that there
was "no real" legal alternative to allowing the U.S. military case
against him to proceed (reftel). Although the case has spanned both
the previous Liberal and present Conservative governments, the
Conservatives are now alone in arguing that the U.S. case against
Khadr should run its course. All three opposition parties support
the return of Khadr to Canada. In reaction to the DVDs, Official
Opposition Liberal foreign affairs critic MP Bob Rae called for

Khadr "to face Canadian justice rather than American martial law,"
an essentially political sound-bite as there is no consensus among
Canadian legal experts in Canada as to whether legal grounds exist
to try Khadr in Canada, and no expectation that any Canadian court
would convict him. The left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP)
called for Khadr to be returned to Canada and rehabilitated. The
Conservatives are likely gauging public reaction to the images
carefully, but no change in current official policy appears likely.

WILKINS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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