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U.S. seeking a plea agreement in case of Guantanamo detainee

When the administration decided to revive commissions, the Khadr prosecution was the first to move toward trial, largely because it was the most developed case.

Military officials argued that the public relations issues raised by some in the administration could not delay a prosecution.

"I get some of the concerns, but the die was cast," one military official said.

Pretrial hearings opened in the case this week.

The proceedings have drawn about three dozen journalists, including media from Asia, Europe, Latin American, the Middle East as well as Canada.

The defense attempted this week to squash incriminating statements by Khadr, alleging that they were obtained through cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and should not be admitted as evidence. The defense will attempt to show that Khadr was subject to several kinds of abuse both at Bagram air base and at Guantanamo Bay, including threats of rape, beatings and sleep deprivation.

The government argues that Khadr was treated well and was an eager and cooperative detainee until he concluded that he was not going to be released.

A former military interrogator at Guantanamo Bay testified Friday that Khadr was extremely cooperative and was being considered for repatriation to Canada in late 2002 when a team of interrogators conducted an assessment of his intelligence value. The interrogator, a woman, said she was chosen to question Khadr because he might consider her a "mother figure."

The woman, who was identified only as Agent 11, said she questioned Khadr 12 times from October to December 2002. She said that she had Khadr sit in a comfortable chair and gave him M&M's to encourage him to talk and that he thought his cooperation would expedite his return to Canada.

She said Khadr discussed senior al-Qaeda figures, whom he had met through his father, an associate of Osama bin Laden's.

Khadr also went through the series of events that led to his capture after a firefight in southeastern Afghanistan. Khadr was badly wounded, the agent said, and U.S. personnel tended to him.

The agent quoted Khadr as saying, "I kept waiting for the white angels to come," and then adding: "The Americans saved my life."

Khadr's attorney gingerly suggested during cross-examination that the interrogator was chosen more as a "female" than a "mother figure." Agent 11 rejected the characterization.

The interrogator, who was probably in her 20s when she questioned Khadr, said she established a strong rapport with the Canadian.

"He said, 'I'd rather be in the booth with you than bored in my cell,' " Agent 11 said.


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