In its lead editorial today entitled “Tainted Justice,” the New York Times pleads the case of a Canadian-born Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr who, when he was 15 years old, allegedly threw a hand grenade that killed a U.S. soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan. The Times objects that since Khadr was a juvenile when he committed the alleged crime, he should not be tried in a military tribunal. In fact, if the Times had its way, it would release Khadr for his troubles.
if his trial goes forwrd his summer as scheduled, he will be the firs person in decades to be tried by a Western nation for war crimes allegedly committed as a child. That has drawn justified criticism from United Nations officials and civil liberties and human rights groups.
As usual, the UN and leftist assortment of civil liberties and human rights groups are not justified in their criticism. We are not talking about a little kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether he actually threw the hand grenade or not that killed Special Forces Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer (to which he confessed during his interrogation), he joined those fighting on the side of the enemy who were responsible for the death of Sergeant Speer and many others from the ranks of our brave soldiers.
Seriously wounded himself by gunfire, Omar Khadr’s life was saved by U.S. Army medics. One of those medics provided the account of Khadr’s initial detention in Afghanistan which the Times uses to elicit our sympathy for the lad. According to this witness, who testified during a hearing on whether Khadr’s confession should be barred from his scheduled military commission trial, Khadr was hooded and handcuffed to his cell in a painful position, and cried when the hood was removed.
However, the Times leaves out of its sob story the testimony of an agent of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service who said that during a late 2002 interrogation Khadr calmly described planting mines in Afghanistan just three or four days before his capture:
He just wanted to kill as many Jews as he can. He wanted to kill Americans as well. He told me of a reward system of about $1,500 of every American that was killed. [Khadr] told me he wanted to kill as many Americans as he could so he could get as much money as he could. He appeared to be calm about it.
By way of contrast, six days before he received the wounds that killed him, Sergeant Speer walked into a minefield to rescue two wounded Afghan children.
What does the Times think should be done with Khadr? Incredibly, in an insult to the memory of Sergeant Speer and to his survivors, it declared:
After Mr. Khadr’s eight-year ordeal, it would be no disrespect to Sergeant Speer to return Mr. Khadr to his home country under terms designed to protect public safety and strive for his rehabilitation.
I think that Sergeant Speer’s widow, his children and his fellow soldiers who witnessed his death would be a better judge of how best to respect the fallen soldier’s memory than the New York Times.