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In this Pentagon-approved photograph of a sketch by Janet Hamlin, Omar Khadr, centre, pleads guilty under oath, addressing Captain Michael Grant, USAF on October 25, 2010 in Guantanamo Bay. (JANET HAMLIN/JANET HAMLIN/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Pentagon-approved photograph of a sketch by Janet Hamlin, Omar Khadr, centre, pleads guilty under oath, addressing Captain Michael Grant, USAF on October 25, 2010 in Guantanamo Bay. (JANET HAMLIN/JANET HAMLIN/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Republicans will be salivating at Khadr testimony Add to ...

Below the fold on the front page of The Globe and Mail today, Paul Koring reports:

"In powerful, sweeping testimony, a forensic psychiatrist painted a grim portrait of Omar Khadr as a unrepentant, dangerous, Islamic extremist who has been 'marinated in the radical jihadism' at Guantanamo…. Mr. Khadr, 24, could be freed soon after he returns to Canada a year from now if, as many expect, his Canadian lawyers win his early release based on the nine years he will, by then, have spent in U.S. custody."

With the prospect of Republicans taking control of the House and, less likely, the Senate looming after next week's mid-term elections, this kind of testimony is particularly unhelpful in managing Canada's most important external relationship. As our ambassador to Washington, Gary Doer, discovered last week.

According to CP, Mr. Doer sent a letter to Nevada Tea Party/Republican candidate Sharon Angle on Monday, telling her she was mistaken in suggesting that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks came from Canada: "There have been no terrorist attacks on the United States coming from Canada … I can assure you that Canada takes border security very seriously and trust you will see fit to set the record straight…. We do not have a 'porous' border but rather one of the more secure borders in the world."

However, unlike on past occasions - such as the remarks of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano - this time our American accusers did not back down or seek to soften their allegation. To illustrate the "porous border," Ms. Angle one day later pointed to the case of Ahmed Ressam - who was arrested by a US border agent on his way from Victoria (via Montreal) to blow up the LA International airport. And conservative blogger Michelle Malkin posted a long list of terrorist suspects who had links to Canada.

A report in today's edition of the Wall Street Journal illustrates the challenge that Mr. Doer - and Canada - will be facing after next week's election in the matter of Omar Khadr. And it could also help explain why the Government has been so reticent to show its hand this week on the question of repatriation:

"Republicans who have blocked the Obama administration from closing the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects are now questioning its moves to transfer some detainees to Europe.

Republican staffers on the Senate Intelligence Committee recently traveled to Spain, Germany, France and other countries to dig for evidence of lax oversight of former detainees transferred there, according to people familiar with the matter.

The trip is an indicator of the next phase of the fight over the Guantanamo prison, a frequent flashpoint in debates over national security and the war against al Qaeda terrorists. President Barack Obama ordered it closed on his second day in office, but quickly retreated after opposition from Republicans and some Democratic lawmakers.

The transfer of detainees has been the administration's most successful strategy to reduce the Guantanamo population. It has resettled or moved 66 people, mostly to European countries.

In moving detainees abroad, the Obama administration is following in the footsteps of the Bush administration, which released hundreds of men from Guantanamo.

The prison now houses just over 170 detainees, including 24-year-old Canadian Omar Khadr, who pleaded guilty this week to charges including throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. The U.S. said it would support Mr. Khadr's move to Canada after he serves another year at Guantanamo.

With Republicans expected to make major gains in Congress in midterm elections, the question is whether the transfers can continue at the same pace.

Republicans cite an estimate from the Pentagon that some 20% of the detainees released under President Bush have returned to the fight. They say Mr. Obama should abandon the release policy in light of that figure. The Obama administration suspended transfers of detainees to Yemen after the botched airline bombing on Christmas Day 2009 by a Nigerian man who had trained in Yemen."

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