Khontinued from [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/international-news-and-politics/khadrs-khangaroo...
[url= [excerpt] http://www.theprovince.com/news/believe+values+Khadr+must+sent+free/1250...
[T]he government's handling of the Khadr case has raised troubling questions that seemed long settled until the last few years -- by which I mean since the 17th century. On Aug. 23, 1628, a naval officer named John Felton murdered George Villiers, formerly Lord High Admiral under Charles I. The murder raised fears of a broader treason. Charles asked his judges if Felton, who refused to name his accomplices, could be tortured to make him speak.
Blackstone, the great English jurist, later wrote: "The judges, being consulted, declared unanimously, to their own honour and the honour of the English law, that no such proceeding was allowable by the laws of England."
Torture was known in England, but it was never authorized by the Common Law. As early as 1460 Sir John Fortescue hailed England's refusal to condone torture as one of the its proudest claims. From its earliest days, the Common Law rejected torture not only because of its cruelty, but also because it degraded all who used it. From time to time, the Executive condoned torture of prisoners because of fears of rebellion -- or what today we might call terrorism -- but judges never did. As an English court noted in 1846, in Pearse v Pearse, "Truth, like all other good things, may be loved unwisely -- may be pursued too keenly -- may cost too much." Truth obtained by torture has always been too costly for the Common Law. So evidence obtained through torture is no evidence at all, which in Khadr's case means no grounds for a trial.
It's also true that Khadr was a "child soldier" of 15 when captured, and that the case against him was looking flimsier by the day before Obama shut down the Guantanamo trials, but those matters are secondary. He was tortured. He cannot be tried on evidence resulting from that. Full stop.
Some people today argue that "coercive interrogation" is not the same as torture, and that distasteful acts may be necessary in the fight against terrorism. Others have seriously suggested allowing torture itself in extreme circumstances, but only after a judge has issued a "torture warrant." One American legal scholar suggested that such a warrant "would limit the torture to non-lethal means, such as sterile needles being inserted beneath the nails to cause excruciating pain without endangering life." He later claimed that he raised the issue only to spark debate, but at least to the Common Law, there are some things so obviously wrong as to not require debate. The mere enunciation of such a position is enough to show how repugnant it is.
The abolition of torture in England in 1640 was a significant step toward restraining the executive and making supreme the rule of law, including the view that no one is above the law. No one, not even the executive, may lawfully torture anyone else.
The danger in not protesting when other nations conduct "coercive interrogation," or torture -- as Canada has so far not protested on behalf of Omar Khadr -- is the degrading effect such silence has on the law everywhere. Along with the rest of the Common Law world, Canada has built its civic freedoms slowly, over time. But freedoms can be eroded in the same way. To allow "coercive interrogation" is to take a step away from freedom. Refusing it may briefly benefit a few wrongdoers, but it benefits everyone else -- has benefited everyone else -- for centuries.