About a week ago, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews overruled a decision made by the warden of Millhaven Institution, also known as Guantanamo North, and refused an interview request by the Canadian Press to speak with Omar Khadr over the phone.
This refusal was justified by the Minister’s office because of security concerns.
I am still trying to figure out how speaking on the phone from a maximum security prison can pose a threat to Canadians. Does it insinuate that Khadr will speak in encrypted messages to the journalist and to some shadowy accomplices? Or does it mean the interview poses a threat to the intelligence of people?
One has to remember that the refusal of the interview came few days after the speedy approval of the very controversial anti-terrorism bill S-7. So maybe, the government was so excited to see the bill passed amidst the growing fears created by the Boston Marathon attack and the sudden arrest of two Muslims suspected as terrorists, and thus didn’t want to wreck the perfect atmosphere by allowing an ex-Guantanamo detainee to tell his story and nuance the whole debate geared for tighter security measures.
There is no doubt that the refused Khadr interview will bring to the table the use of torture that many security experts still depict with a fancy and elaborate word like “enhanced interrogation techniques”. Khadr’s personal story, one that so far no one knows in detail, will speak to the intelligence of people rather than create security threats. It will make Khadr look more like a human being and a child soldier caught in a labyrinth of violence and war. Regardless of the guilt or innocence of Khadr, Canadians have the right to hear his story and make their own judgment. Canadians do not need a minister’s office to tell us what to read or to protect them from some “dangerous” reading.