Time Wrings Hands Over Question, 'Can a Child Be Tried for Jihadist Crimes?'

With his August 12 post, "Can a Child be Tried for Jihadist Crimes?", Time magazine's Tim McGirk hit the Obama administration from the left on the military tribunal prosecution of jihadist Omar Khadr.

Khadr was captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was just 15 years old. He's charged with the murder of a U.S. soldier, a crime he's already confessed to, although he now claims his confession was coerced.

Although 15-year-olds in the United States are frequently tried as adults for murder and although Khadr is in 23 years old now, McGirk presented the case as the potential first conviction of a "child" for war crimes since World War II. What's more, McGirk presented the case as a potential travesty of justice in an ill-conceived war on terror, a term he dismissively used in quote marks:

Khadr's trial got underway just as another military tribunal sentenced Osama Bin Laden's former chef and driver, Ibrahim a-Qosi, to 14 years in prison. The first prosecution of a Gitmo prisoner since Obama took office promising to close down an offshore prison that had become a symbol of the Bush Administration's riding roughshod over the rule of law in the course of its "war on terror".

Have we no decency! Putting poor cooks, chauffeurs, and children in prison and throwing away the key!

At no point did McGirk indict al Qaeda terrorists, particularly Khadr's late father Ahmed Said --  "an imposing, grey-bearded patriarch" who was "a close friend" of bin Laden's -- as monsters for allowing teenagers to join in suicidal jihad against the world's most advanced military, even as he closed with this familiar critique of U.S. anti-terrorism policy (emphasis mine):

Jury selection for Khadr's trial is supposed to end on Wednesday and the trial will begin immediately afterwards. It is expected to run until mid September. But regardless of its finding, the trial is unlikely to reflect positively on the Obama Administration in the eyes of many of its allies in the fight against al-Qaeda.

Photo of Omar Khadr via Time magazine.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.