Omar Khadr,Two Courtrooms - Same InjusticeA Comparison by Robin MathewsOmar Khadr, Basi, Virk, and Basi.
Basi, Virk and Basi!
At fifteen years old Omar Khadr may have thrown a grenade. If he did, it
may have killed a U.S. soldier/medic in Afghanistan. A death is important, even though Canadian-born Omar Khadr may have believed he was fighting for Afghanistan … even though he was a child soldier as defined by United Nations convention, and was badly wounded. A death matters. But it pales as we think ….
Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi may have engaged in all the activities alleged in the original accusations against them. Two were charged with fraud and breach of trust, leaking confidential government information, bribery - one with money laundering - in the BC Rail Scandal. That matters in the conduct of public business which must be kept clean …. But the accusations against the men pale as we think ….
As we think of the nightmare called Guantanamo Prison, of the rape of international law (by two U.S. presidents) that it stands for, of the denial of U.S. law it broadcasts, of the desecration of centuries of struggle to establish the rule of law it demonstrates – Omar Khadr’s alleged crime almost disappears out of sight.
Nor may we forget for a second that Stephen Harper and his Canadian government rejected all claims arising from the rule of law, and turned their backs on Omar Khadr. A CanWest columnist – of all people – writes that the “handling of Khadr’s case more closely resembles justice in China or Iran than it does justice in Canada or any nation whose judicial procedures deserve our respect”. [email@example.com]
Stop. That was yesterday. Since the Khadr detention at Guantanamo and the wrongful appointment of the Special Prosecutor in the BC Rail Scandal trials – nearly ten years – justice in North America is visibly a plaything of organized crime. That means a plaything of crime organized at the highest levels. It means we live in a culture of corruption that extends everywhere throughout the government and bureaucracy.
That is the central fact. Upon it hangs all the rest. The creators of Guantanamo Prison undertook that action as a piece … as a small piece of a large program of what must be called organized crime.
By the same token, the creators of the BC Rail Scandal and the secret/semi-secret, covert break-up of BC Hydro, sell-out of river energy, manufacture of huge transportation contracts – all under veils of secrecy, covert negotiations, and disinformation point to highest level organized crime. That activity extends through government, law firms at home and off shore, contracting networks, regulators, financiers … you name them – all feeding off B.C. public wealth invisibly forfeited into the indefinite future….
Until all of that is investigated, exposed, and remedied through criminal action, the BC Rail Scandal will not be put to rest.
None of that is said lightly.
We are talking about the collapse before our eyes of civil society in North America – with the courts and the major press and media consenting … and participating.
Omar Khadr was taken into custody only months after Gordon Campbell won power in B.C. and began, with the approval of his cabinet and caucus, the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR (among other betrayals of public trust). Omar Khadr was not permitted to speak to a lawyer until 2004, when he had been in custody for two years. Even that was a waste of time since he would live in a Concentration Camp and would face the biggest Kangaroo Court in the Western World in 2010.
Basi, Virk, and Basi were fingered before December 2003 when the legislature offices of Dave Basi and Bob Virk were (search warrant) raided by RCMP. The Force also raided other addresses, found incriminating evidence – with which nothing whatever was done. The three men were charged in December 2004. The investigation and charges have the appearance of strategic fakery. Especially since no major actors were investigated or charged and those others found with incriminating evidence in the original raids were ignored!
The Special Prosecutor appointed to work with the RCMP and to lay charges against the three men was appointed in violation of the legislation covering the appointment of Special Prosecutors … in flagrant violation of the legislation. Such was the violation connecting him to the cabinet intimately involved in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail that his every action in the years of pre-trial and in the months of trial must be deeply suspect. His conduct at the close of the trial served to deepen any suspicion present.
His improper appointment made the charges he framed improper, invalid, in fact…null and void. It made illegitimate the years of pre-trial hearings and the months of trial.
The court, from the beginning, was a Kangaroo Court. I wrote the judge presiding at the pre-trial hearings, asking what check the court runs on appointed Special Prosecutors.
She wouldn’t answer the question.
When I laid out the full report of the improper appointment of William Berardino QC as Special Prosecutor, the Chief Justice and Associate Chief Justice and the trial judge twice reported that they would do … nothing. The Gage Canadian Dictionary calls a Kangaroo Court “an unauthorized or irregular court in which the law is deliberately disregarded or misinterpreted”. Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie presided over a Kangaroo Court. Guantanamo Bay and B.C. Supreme Court.
The endings of the two “trials” in the same month, October 2010, were shockingly similar. They were both Public Relations disasters operated by governments pretending some kind of ‘rule of law’ exists … where it doesn’t.
Whatever the alleged “crimes” of Omar Khadr, Basi, Virk, and Basi – they were men played like puppets for years in the sleaziest, dirtiest political games employed to defeat the rule of law.
If Omar Khadr had been tried fairly, he’d have been out of Guantanamo in weeks … out, very likely, of jail altogether.
If Basi, Virk, and Basi had been tried fairly, they would (at the very least) have stood in court with top politicians and private corporate actors in the province. The trial - and the government of Gordon Campbell - would have been over in a few short months. Instead, to keep the Liberal government in power a fake set of pre-trial hearings was conducted through two elections.
The trial itself was conducted until the amnesiac fumbling, wallowing, and posturing of the first two witnesses, Gordon Campbell’s longtime Chief of Staff and one of cabinet’s top-level corporate appointees, was so revealing of the political sewer they inhabit that the Prosecution, the Court, the Attorney General, the RCMP, and the Cabinet became desperate.
They couldn’t let nearly thirty more Crown Witnesses reveal the stinking hole B.C. government has become. It’s ugly link with the RCMP. It’s fake Office of the Attorney General. Its compliant courtiers in the B.C. Supreme Court.
In the Omar Khadr and the BC Rail Scandal cases the trials ended with a “deal”, a plea bargain, an “agreement” between accused and (real) accusers. In both cases the “deal” stank to high heaven. In both cases governments desperate to hide their lawlessness (in fact, their criminal behaviour) patched and covered and postured in an attempt to make stinking injustice have the look of order and decency.
The treatment of Omar Khadr was so inhuman, so unjust, so sadistic that even law-denying Stephen Harper had to get in line with the U.S. government cover-up. His present position does him no credit. It simply shows that when his thug masters tell him to jump – he asks “how high?”
The Khadr trial end couldn’t be completely controlled by the U.S. government. And so the fake “jury” of military personnel in a travesty of a court recommended a 40 year sentence for Omar Khadr. Since the whole Guantanamo structure is demonic, sadistic, and inhuman, the jury was decoration … wonderful, fanciful, mean-minded, perverse decoration.
It was ignored. The Defence and the Accusers decided on an eight year term for Omar Khadr, most to be served (possibly) in Canada. Of course, the “Defence” really had little to do with the “deal”. For years Omar Khadr’s revolving Defence lawyers have been describing the process as sham, contrived, rotten….
What occurred, almost certainly, is the U.S. government wanted to dump Omar Khadr. “The fifteen year old terrorist-in-the-flesh” was becoming a sick, embarrassing joke. So Defence received its instructions. “Accept several guilty pleas, help dump Omar Khadr in Canada, make him see ‘reality’, or we’ll show him what lawless, sadistic, fascist courtroom savagery can deal out. Take your pick”.
By the same token “deal making”, “plea bargaining” was secondary in the Basi, Virk, and Basi BC Rail Scandal “trial”. The primary thing was to close down the trial, to slam the door on it. Fast. To stop the outpouring of evidence that the Liberal government of B.C. is, in fact, a major part of “organized crime”.
The plea bargaining had one goal only – to decorate the charges enough so they’d look reasonable to anyone not paying attention. And to assure the accused that if they refused a bargain, they would pay and pay and pay….
A little thing like the six million dollars in Defence lawyers’ charges were absorbed quickly by the Liberal government. “Standard” practice rules that convicted accused must pay. But they won’t. The taxpayer will.
The gravity of the allegation of crimes against the three men was watered down as much as the Special Prosecutor and Cabinet dared to water. If they could have freed the men completely, they would have done so. But the closing down of the trial had to be decorated.
Reporters close (?) to the Prosecution reported that Dave Basi insisted all charges against his younger cousin be dropped. And they were.
Discussion of Aneal Basi’s position is very difficult – as it must be in a corrupt trial. RCMP appear to have found evidence of wrong-doing against all three men. But since the Special Prosecutor is without credibility, having been wrongly appointed, we cannot accept the accusations against Aneal Basi – or any of the accusations against the three men put in place by an illegitimate Special Prosecutor.
That having been said, the Aneal Basi “removal” from all charges, all accusations whatever, may prove very, very much. From December 2004 until October 2010 the Crown (William Berardino QC) was certain of its charges against Aneal Basi – during six, long, much debated, pre-trial and trial years. And then, at the insistence of Dave Basi – reporters close (?) to the Prosecution wrote – Aneal Basi was washed of all charges against him.
The end of the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial was, in that way, a little different from the Omar Khadr trial ending.
The three men in B.C. had many, many more chips to play than Omar Khadr had. Bob Virk, for instance, sat on the scandalous “Evaluation Committee”, a cabinet-created sleaze operation to shoe-horn BC Rail into CNR. In that Committee secrets were received, secrets were spawned and shared, and ‘directions’ were given about how to ‘evaluate’.
Dave Basi was praised by Gordon Campbell for his behaviour pretending to be someone else when phoning a call-in show. The cabinet, one may guess, knew all Dave Basi was doing in his ‘media monitoring’ job, in alleged counter farmed-salmon protests … and more … reaching into the federal Liberal Party. (Remember cabinet members Geoff Plant, Gary Collins, Judith Reid, and Christie Clark all found it convenient to retire from politics at the 2005 election.)
If the trial continued – quite apart from the blood and gore Crown Witnesses close to the cabinet would leave on the floor in their days of cross-examination – there were the accused. Two of them were joined at the hip with the major actors in the corrupt (perhaps criminal) transfer of BC Rail to CNR.
Those accused had much to say – and they had to be stopped from saying it. The trial had to be closed down, the door slammed shut. Fast. And it was.
When Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell’s long-time Chief of Staff, left the courtroom at each break during his cross-examination, he looked self-possessed though shaken. But when second Crown Witness Brian Kenning – who sat on the Evaluation Committee with Bob Virk – left the courtroom, he looked as if he might explode, his eyes angry and afire as he passed me going out.
Then he disappeared from B.C. to a birthday party in Toronto (it was reported)…and two jurors had medical problems…and Dave Basi fell sick.
Maybe planned events coincided with accidental ones. Maybe Mr. Kenning said: “I won’t step back into that court room. It’s a slaughterhouse. Do something”.
Whatever the case, when Brian Kenning was found to be in Toronto in the middle of giving testimony under cross-examination in Vancouver, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie might well have ordered him back – immediately. Instead – as I recall her response – she was perfectly happy with Mr. Kenning’s actions, smiled … and accepted, almost as if she knew about his departure well in advance. (But of course she couldn’t have.)
Maybe Gordon Campbell, the Attorney General and other members of cabinet, and William Berardino QC, Special Prosecutor, were already at work to kill the trial. That is highly likely.
At the close of the trial, in scrum, William Berardino announced, without modification, that the plea bargain decision to have government pay all costs was his alone. That little piece of theatre was blown off the stage within hours, and the fooling with truth passed to the Attorney General who stated the ridiculous, that the decisions were made by Deputy Ministers (implying they weren’t at least approved by full cabinet before being announced).
No more need be said about that.
Except that the twenty million dollar farce involving the cabinet, the RCMP, the top judges of the B.C. Supreme Court, the Canadian Judicial Council, the Stephen Owen Special Prosecutor Review, the ever-subservient and fawning Mainstream Press and Media, and the wrongfully appointed Special Prosecutor says everything at a glance.
The trial was not stopped because the Special Prosecutor was wrongly appointed, in violation of the legislation governing the appointment of Special Prosecutors. No one in authority would deal with that undeniable truth – in fact all supported his illegitimate role in the case, when approached - by kinds of silence or obfuscation or statements of inaction.
The trial was stopped to protect organized crime operated from the highest levels of government in B.C. Just as the trial at Guantanamo Bay was also stopped to protect U.S. organized crime.
The B.C. Supreme Court is now, quite simply, a place where injustice rules and expensive games are played with taxpayers’ money to shield organized crime.
China and Iran should send observers. There is much they can learn from watching the operation of the British Columbia Supreme Court.