Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mixed Feelings About Omar Khadr's Gitmo Interrogation

Omar Khadr's lawyers have released video of his interrogation at Guantanamo Bay and this makes me feel a bit conflicted.

First of all, I don't like what the Bush administration is doing at Gitmo. They are playing loose with civil rights and that's a bad thing. Also, torture is a very bad thing and is a bad way to interrogate. I don't think that many people have a good feel for how poor a strategy it is. Often, the situation is sold as "if lives are at stake, what is it worth to get the information?" In reality, if interrogators use torture, there is little chance of getting good information. Torture has no place in any sound interrogation.

On the other hand, this kid doesn't strike me as someone who is worthy of much pity. His family has been involved with al-Qaida including financing them.
Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen but was raised in Afghanistan, was questioned about his family, which has a long history of alleged involvement with radical Islamic causes. His Egyptian-born father, Ahmed Said Khadr, and some of his brothers fought for al-Qaida and had stayed with Osama bin Laden.
This does not look like a naive US college student toying with extremism. This seems to be a family that has actively supported a very nasty cause. If this kid were let go, perhaps he would foment more nastiness against the US. This might be even more true now that he thinks he has been so poorly treated, but it quite possibly would have been true regardless.

It seems that when someone pleads convincingly, people can fall for it and come to their side. When I see someone pleading convincingly, I think to myself: What would this person do if he were guilty? Nothing different. This kid quite possibly wants to get out of Gitmo so he can head back to Afghanistan. Just because he cries when interrogated doesn't mean he's a good kid, so I'm not willing to exonorate him based on his tears any more than I am willing to convict him without solid evidence.

I have seen nothing that indicates he has been tortured, but the US better keep it that way. If this kid is who he seems to be, the US needs to find a way to de-fang him and keep him from motivating more extremism. Only when this is done in a way that avoids all torture and provides a good chance of a fair justicial process can the US feel good about what was done.


Anonymous said...

Lt.C. Ralph Peters on Omar Khadr Gitmo Tape: "We should have killed that punk on a battlefield where it was legal to do so!"

Watch video at http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/07/ltc-ralph-peters-on-omar-khadr-gitmo.html

reston kid said...

That perspective is difficult to defend, but we see it also when talking to our own police officers who see criminals they know are guilty get off on technicalities. When you see someone get off "easy" and you know they are guilty, it's probably easy to go in the direction of the vigilante.

Still, I don't know about anybody's guilt or innocence. My point is not that he should have been killed, but that I don't buy into him being a poor, helpless kid any more than I buy into him being evil. Regardless, I wish the U.S. would never torture. I believe it is both morally wrong and tactically ineffective.

Anonymous said...

What exactly was done to Khadr that constitutes torture?

reston kid said...

As I said in the original post, I have not seen anything that suggests he was tortured. With congressional hearings going on today about the U.S.'s use of torture at Gitmo (and in general), I just feel the need to indicate that I think it's reprehensible.

Anonymous said...

"I think it's reprehensible."

What about a "ticking bomb" scenario?

reston kid said...

Yeah, I've seen Jack Bauer do that on 24, but I have not read anything that indicates that sort of success can be achieved in real life. If torture were an effective way to get the information you need in a ticking bomb scenario, I'd think about it, but I have not read anything to indicate that it is an effective method of getting information from a fanatic. If you know of information that indicates its superior efficacy with such people. Please share it.

Anonymous said...

"I have not read anything that indicates that sort of success can be achieved in real life."

The fact that you haven't read it is a good thing. But I wouldn't be surprised if the New York times will write about it some day.

You don't really believe that Khalid Shaykh Mohammed or Ramsi bin Alshib volunteered the information they provided, do you?

reston kid said...

no, i don't think they would have simply volunteered information, but i do not know that torture was what got them to talk, and i don't know whether either of them actually provided information about events that had not yet happened.

the torture myth

Anonymous said...

"but i do not know that torture was what got them to talk"

What was it? Cookies and milk?

"and i don't know whether either of them actually provided information"

Then the fact that we haven't had a major attack in North America for seven years must be pure luck.

Anonymous said...


Ever heard of Lt.C. Allen West, particularly why he retired?