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On Omar Khadr, even Bushies are biting Obama

Omar Khadr ditched his usual white prison garb Wednesday and donned a shirt and tie for the jury selection in his trial. His lawyer says the courtroom appeared shocked at the transformation.

When a man bites a dog, that's news. But who would have thunk it would have come to this?

In a front page article in today's New York Times, Kenneth Waxman says of the Obama Administration's decision to try Omar Khadr: "Optically, this has been a terrible case to begin the commissions with…There is a great deal of international skepticism and hostility toward military commissions, and this is a very tough case with which to push back against that skepticism and hostility."

Mr.Waxman, it turns out, was the Pentagon's top official responsible for detainee affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

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Further down in the article, the Times quotes Kenneth L.Wainstein: "It is important for the government to be able to proceed through a trial, to do so in a transparent way, and have the world see that this is a fair process with strong safeguards and full due process…The sooner that happens, the better."

Mr.Wainstean, it turns out, served as assistant attorney general for national security under President Bush.

According to the Times article, anonymous officials in the Obama administration have even discussed aborting the trial and are desperately hoping for a plea bargain: "But the administration has not pushed to do so because officials fear, for legal and political reasons, that it would be seen as improper interference….Still, Dennis Edney, a Canadian lawyer assisting the Khadr family, said a deal involving a lesser charge, like conspiracy to support terrorism, remained possible. 'I would strongly recommend a reasonable deal to Omar if the murder charge was off the table,' Mr. Edney said.

Sergeant Speer's wife, Tabitha Speer, might object to that outcome. She attended the opening of the trial and has written of her husband's death, 'The pain now carried by both myself and our children will last a lifetime'."

Plea bargain discussions, as the saying goes, are no doubt continuing. If they get anywhere-as fervently hope Mr.Khadr's supporters, including in the Canadian media and at the New York Times it would appear-the Obama administration may yet request that Canada repatriate Mr. Khadr.

Meanwhile, if you want to understand the grave predicament of many Democratic candidates as the mid-term elections approach, the languishing US economy would be your first stop. But President Barack Obama's weak and vacillating performance on other issues too-issues such as the Afghanistan war, Guantanamo and the NY City mosque-go a long way to explaining why even his own political base is disheartened as the day of judgment looms.

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