omar khadr's so-called confession: "somewhere in hell, joseph stalin is smiling"

Tony Keller, writing in the National Post, says what I've been thinking all along. Yes, the Post. This shouldn't be an issue of left and right. Don't conservatives believe in basic concepts of justice and fairness?*
In the 1930s, that great legal innovator Joseph Stalin introduced the show trial. The accused would stand up in court and willingly, even eagerly, confess to the most fantastical crimes. At the first great show trial, in 1936, Grigori Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev and other former senior Communist party members admitted to being members of a terrorist organization. They said they had plotted to kill Stalin and other Soviet leaders. In the following years, as Stalin's purges picked up steam, show trials featured increasingly incredible stories, usually involving the accused admitting to being agents of Western imperialism.

What made men confess to things that were unlikely, sometimes impossible and usually unsupported by other evidence? Torture. Sleep deprivation, beatings, and threats against their wives and children. To stop the pain, you had to confess to whatever it was that the interrogators wanted to hear. And then you had to get up in court and willingly confess to it all over again.

The trial of Omar Khadr has been called a travesty of justice, a violation of the rule of law, a kangaroo court and lots of other things beside. But what it really was, was a show trial.

* We know the current Conservatives don't, but many conservatives must. Small-c conservatives, it's time to take back your party.

Read it here.


M@ said...

Yep, I thought of Arthur Koestler myself as the "trial" went on.

(Full disclosure: I never finished Darkness at Noon -- it was too disturbing for me when I tried. I'd try again, but I think I've read enough about show trials these days.)

laura k said...

I read Darkness at Noon when I was far too young to appreciate it, so I was less disturbed - similar to the first time I read 1984.

It wasn't until I read that Orwell as a young adult that it hit me full force. Now I seem to read 1984 every 10 years - one of a very small number of books I re-read.

Hm, it's time to re-visit Koestler. Thanks for the reminder.

allan said...

A terrorist conviction for the Peace Laureate! Yay!

Gunner said...

Hey it's a right wing two fer, get tough on terrorists and juvenile crime, after all he was a child soldier. A 15 year old under his father's thumb must be punished eh?