Tag Archives: Ahmed Ghailani

The Diminishing Marginal Utility of Torture


Across the past few days and in deliberation of the Guantanamo Bay trials we have, all of us, had ample opportunity to note the ideological, intellectual, and moral deficiencies of our opponents. Omar Khadr confesses in a military commission to his crimes, the case against Ahmed Ghailani unfolds in civilian court, and there arrives fresh news of terrorism originating in Yemen. Justice is done, or is undone, depending upon one’s perspective. What we perhaps fail adequately to clutch is that we are all of us in this together. I say this quite without sentiment, my point being only that an explosive device is indifferent to the bend of your politics. If that is not a compelling cause for solidarity, then it happens that nothing is.

Then there is the personal. Here is one example: the cargo planes destined for the United States and for a destruction prevented this past weekend were meant to have exploded in the coming days over Chicago. As it happens, I will myself be flying to Chicago this week. I know this is a facile pairing, but can you honestly say a thought such as this would never have crossed your mind, were you in the same position? Nor is this the first time I’ve had occasion to draw such an inference. From a statistical view of things, any one of us has little to fear — but you are quite probably on the list, comrade. Your kind is marked, by the Takbīr shouting killers, for destruction. If you are not on the list, it is because you are one of the murderers, in which case I will be happy to see your wish for martyrdom fulfilled in the least ceremonious and individual manner possible. That is, without harm to others and with the pointlessness of it all laid bare. Continue reading