Drone memo should reverse Gitmo convictions, attorneys claim


Attorneys for a Canadian man who spent a decade detained by the United States army at Guantanamo Bay say particulars within the Obama administration’s just lately launched “drone memo” exonerates their shopper of warfare crimes.

Omar Khadr was solely 15 years previous when he was captured by American forces in Afghanistan in 2002 and brought to the Bagram Air Base, then Guantanamo, the place he later pleaded responsible to homicide in violation of the legal guidelines of warfare — in keeping with army prosecutors, Khadr tossed a grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer.

After being transferred to Canadian custody in 2012, Khadr mentioned he pleaded responsible to warfare crimes as a result of he was “left with a hopeless choice” of both accepting the fees or threat going through “continued abuse and torture” by the hands of his Gitmo jailers.

But in a latest court docket submitting [PDF], legal professionals for Khadr, now 27, say a just-published US Department of Justice memorandum comprises info that instantly challenges the American authorities’s case in opposition to their shopper.

Khadr’s attorneys wrote this week that the key “drone memo” launched by the White House final month — the DOJ doc that the federal government relied on to justify the 2010 drone strike in Yemen that killed American citizen and suspected AL-Qaeda member Anwar Al-Awlaki — suggests prosecutors had no place to cost the Canadian teenager with homicide in violation of the legal guidelines of warfare after he allegedly killed an American soldier throughout a firefight in Afghanistan.

The DOJ memo itself was a penned by the division’s Office of Legal Counsel in response to the query of whether or not Central Intelligence Agency officers — who should not members of the US army — could be blamed for warfare crimes by launching drone strikes. The memo was written in July 2010, and justified the strike that later that yr killed Al-Awlaki.

According to a footnote inside the memo, launched June 24 of this yr as a consequence of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, “lethal activities conducted in accordance with the laws of war, and undertaken in the course of lawfully authorized hostilities, do not violate the laws of war by virtue of the fact that they are carried out in part by government actors who are not entitled to the combatant’s privilege.”

“That completely blows away one of the major prongs of the government’s theory in all these Guantanamo cases,” Sam Morison, Khadr’s Pentagon-based lawyer, advised The Canadian Press throughout an interview on Wednesday this week.

Although Khadr was charged with violating the “US common law of war” that dates again centuries, his attorneys say the memo regarding CIA drone strikes recommend such laws merely doesn’t exist.

“The whole purpose…was to evaluate whether the CIA agents were violating the law,” Morison mentioned. “The only reasonable interpretation of that analysis is that there is no such thing (as the common law of war).”

On Monday this week, Morrison and the remainder of Khadr’s authorized counsel, filed a movement in Guantanamo’s appeals court docket asking that the conviction in opposition to their shopper be vacated.

“The Americans made up serious charges that they knew were false,” Dennis Edney, a Canadian based mostly lawyer for Khadr, advised the Toronto Star this week. “It’s a complete violation of everything we understand about justice.”

Should Khadr’s attorneys succeed, then a variety of circumstances pertaining to present or former Guantanamo detainees accused of warfare crimes could possibly be referred to as into query. According to Human Rights Watch, nevertheless, solely six of the 149 detainees at Gitmo face any formal prices — fewer than the variety of prisoners who’ve died whereas held there in army custody.