Omar Khadr settlement yields data mining opportunity for Canadian right wingers

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      This morning, the Canada Taxpayers Federation is crowing that it's collected 52,000 signatures on its petition opposing a $10-million government settlement to Omar Khadr.

      He's the former child solder who was sent to a U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002. After being subjected to severe interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, Khadr confessed to throwing a grenade in a military confrontation in Afghanistan that killed a U.S. medic, Sgt. Christopher Speer.

      The Canadian Taxpayers Federation petition has the earmarks of a data-mining campaign.

      That's because signatories are required to provide an email address and postal code. This is extremely useful in political campaigns because it enables the data collector to target future messages to specific ridings.

      The Canadian Taxpayers Federation petition requires signatories to provide their postal code.

      The Canadian Taxpayers Federation used a similar approach in gathering names and postal codes while opposing the TransLink Mayors' Council recommendations for transit and transportation improvements in 2015.

      One of the key operatives in that campaign was Hamish Marshall. He later manageed Andrew Scheer's successful campaign to become leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

      In Canadian politics, the champion data miner has been the Conservatives, according to author Susan Delacourt's Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them.

      U.S. journalist Sasha Issenberg's The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns has also chronicled how political parties compile information on voters for use in future campaigns.

      Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Khadr's favour

      Khadr was taken to a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay when he was 15 years old and remained there for 10 years. He pleaded guilty to murder in 2010 and was sentenced to eight years, not counting the time he had already been kept behind bars. There were no witnesses that he actually lobbed the grenade during the firefight between the Taliban and U.S. forces.

      His now-deceased father was a friend of Osama bin Laden.

      Khadr has sued the Canadian government for $20 million for its actions during his incarceration in Guantanamo Bay. On July 3, the Globe and Mail revealed that the federal government is prepared to settle the claim for $10.5 million and grant an apology.

      In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that "Canada actively participated in a process contrary to its international human rights obligations and contributed to [Khadr's] ongoing detention so as to deprive him of his right to liberty and security of the person". This was contrary to section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

      "The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects," the Supreme Court of Canada ruling stated.

      The court also stated: "There is a sufficient connection between the government’s participation in the illegal process and the deprivation of [Khadr's] liberty and security of the person.  While the U.S. is the primary source of the deprivation, it is reasonable to infer from the uncontradicted evidence before the Court that the statements taken by Canadian officials are contributing to [Khadr’s] continued detention."

      In the meantime, the widow of Spear and the wife of a U.S. soldier injured by the grenade are seeking an injunction on the funds being transferred to Khadr. They won a judgment in a Utah court against Khadr for US$134 million.