The Army lawyer defending the last Western captive at Guantanamo turned to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday in a last-ditch bid to stop the upcoming war crimes trial of alleged Canadian terrorist Omar Khadr.
The Toronto-born Khadr, 23, was captured, critically wounded, at age 15 in Afghanistan in a U.S. raid on a suspected al Qaida compound.
Pentagon prosecutors charge that Khadr committed war crimes for allegedly hurling a grenade that killed a Special Forces soldier in the July 2002 raid. The Pentagon also accuses Khadr of conspiring with al Qaida to commit terrorism for allegedly helping to plant bombs along Afghan roadways to resist the U.S. invasion to topple the Taliban and route al Qaida after the 9/11 attacks.
But Army Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, Khadr's Pentagon-appointed defense lawyer, said in a statement Monday that U.S. plans to put him on trial before a military jury at Guantanamo later this month deny the Canadian due process because the court is designed for foreigners not American citizens.
"Separate is always unequal," said Jackson, noting that accused terrorists who are U.S. citizens "get all the protections of federal court."
"If you are a noncitizen, you are tried by a military commission. The military commissions provide young Omar, a Canadian citizen, only second-class justice," he said. "This kind of discrimination is something we cannot stand for as a country."
Jackson's emergency petition to the Supreme Court asks the justices to either order a lower court to consider Khadr's petition on the separate and unequal argument -- or to consider the case itself.
Federal judges had earlier said that, because Congress created the latest version of Military Commissions, civilian review would only be appropriate after a trial and in the case of conviction, an appeal through the war court system.
Meantime, the Defense Department is airlifting some 32 international journalists, many of them Americans and Canadians, to watch the resumption of pre-trial hearings in the Khadr case.
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