In the wake of hearings about the youngest Guantanamo detainee, four of the most experienced journalists have been banned from entering the facility on very spurious grounds. Is the government merely trying to avoid further scrutiny?
According to Amy Davidson at the New Yorker, Omar Khadr was brought from Canada to Afghanistan by his father, an al-Qaeda associate. He was captured as a 15-year-old, accused of throwing a hand-grenade at a US soldier. Davidson adds that:
Among other things, Khadr says he was tortured as a fifteen-year-old while in American custody, and at his hearing yesterday an interrogator acknowledged telling him a "story" about a boy like him who was raped and killed in an American prison after he didn't say what was expected of him.
He is now 23. Hearings in his case ended on Thursday. Immediately afterwards it was announced that four of the most experienced Guantanamo reporters were banned from the facility. The justification, as outlined in the video below, was that they had revealed the name of the interrogator who told that rape story. But the name, reports Davidson, was freely available "in court documents, in an on-the-record interview he gave the Toronto Star, and in the context of his own trial (he was court-martialed for abusing another prisoner)." The suspicion that the ban was enacted to avoid further scrutiny is reinforced by an examination of the four journalists and their records. According to Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent:
- The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg was "the single most diligent, consistent and experienced Guantánamo Bay reporter in the world, having carved out the Guantánamo beat steadily almost since the detention facility here opened in 2002 and traveled here more frequently than any other journalist. (I personally heard complaints about her from public affairs officers here five years ago-and those complaints amounted to whining about how dogged an investigator she was.)"
- Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, had "written the most comprehensive account to date of Omar Khadr's life and experiences in detention at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, in both her Star reporting and her book Guantanamo's Child."
- Paul Koring of The Globe and Mail; and Steven Edwards of Canwest were "invaluable resources about Khadr and Guantánamo."
It should not be a surprise that, once more, justice has not been served at Guantanamo. But — under a new administration — it is a disappointment. It turns out you don't have to be George W Bush to do terrible things.