Expert On Evil Weighs In On Khadr

/ Wednesday, October 20, 2010 /
This morning I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Hilary Homes of Amnesty International to find out where the rumoured plea deal for Omar Khadr stands. Also to help recap for my listening audience how it is that a child plucked off the battlefield at the age of 15 could end up spending 8 years in military detention and then have to face a military tribunal, which explicitly forbids the invocation of the Geneva Conventions and where the outcome is pretty much predetermined. There's also the issue of the brutal interrogation techniques Omar was subjected to by his American captors and the underhanded and possibly criminal manner in which CSIS helped to do dirty work for the US.

 The interview was a good one and I'll post up a link to it later today so you can listen for yourself. Hilary is a terrific interview and the talk was informative as I knew it would be. So I get home and open up my local fishwrap to see what's there like always and maddeningly I find on page A-21 of the News Section an article entitled "Khadr has never renounced Muslim jihad, expert on evil says."

A bunch of questions spring to mind. What makes one an expert on evil? How would you quantify such a thing? Why isn't this in the Op-Ed section of my paper?

Well, it turns out that the expert in question is Dr. Michael Welner who is a renowned forensic psychiatrist which is a profession that encompasses the interface between law and psychiatry. They work with the courts to help evaluate two specific areas of interest: Competency to Stand trial (CST) and Mental State at the Time of the Offence (MSO). Dr. Welner has tried to go further by creating what he calls the 'Depravity Scale.' This mostly subjective measurement he has created incorporates forensic science, law and public input so as to distinguish crimes that warrant more severe punishment from those that do not. In effect, it's an attempt to quantify evil.

This of course does not make him an expert on evil any more than any of us, but it sounds sexier when you're writing up a newspaper opinion piece. Oh wait! This article is not in the Op-Ed section of my newspaper it's in the regular news section. So even though what's being forwarded is one man's opinion -- a man whose area of expertise is not the Middle-East or terrorism or the psychology behind child soldiers, the story is right there along with the rest of the news. A narrative to help make Omar Khadr seem less sympathetic.

So Dr. Welner who has never met Omar and who has never been to Guantanamo "discounts much cited comments by some US guards at Guantanamo that the Toronto native is a "good kid" and salvageable." He calls them shallow in their prognostic significance. Well, at least they have met him. Welner also says that Khadr has never publicly repudiated Al-Qaida and made no call to other "...radical Islamists to mature beyond their own elemental intolerance."

The sociopathy at work here from someone who should know better is stunning. There is the presumption of guilt for starters, no acknowledgement of the child's malleability, and for him to suggest that this boy should be calling on all who believe in jihad or radical Islam to renounce it is preposterous.

Another day, another lying, manipulative narrative from the MSM -- in this case from Steven Edwards of Postmedia News, courtesy of Canwest News and the Montreal Gazette.

You can help by sending a letter to the PM by going here. If you're in Montreal, Toronto or Edmonton the schedule for screening of the documentary about Omar entitled 'You Don't Like The Truth - 4 days inside Guantánamo' can be found here.

UPDATE: An anonymous reader has informed me that Dr. Welner in fact was hired by the Pentagon to be its witness and  has spent seven to eight hours over two days interviewing Omar Khadr which still does not make him an expert on child soldiers, coerced confessions or anything else relating to Omar's case including Omar. He seems to have been hired strictly because he is a high-profile guy and is willing to say what the Pentagon wants him to say. Dr. Stephen Xenakis a former brigadier-general in the US military who has spent more than 100 hours meeting with the Toronto-born captive holds an opinion that is the exact opposite of Dr. Welner's. I stand by what I said originally about the "expert on evil."

Also it's worth a trip over to Peace, order and good government, eh? to read what pogge has to say on the matter.  It's short and to the point!


Anonymous on: October 20, 2010 at 4:46 PM said...

Thank you very much Karl, I hope this is read far and wide.

According to Edwards the Doctor did go to GITMO. Welner spent 7-8 hours over two days interviewing Khadr during videotaped sessions at Guantanamo, and has studied mounds of documented material (searching for his 'goodness', oy vey.

As well pogge ( did some sleuthing regarding his peer reviews and fees, see this

According to
Ultimately, viewing evil as a distinct or quantifiable concept is an illusion and an illusion cannot be legitimized. A loaded concept full of moral and theological judgement.

I simply cannot believe this guy is going to be releasing his 65 page 'opinion' at GITMO on behalf of the prosecution!!


{ karl knox } on: October 20, 2010 at 5:16 PM said...

Thanks so much for letting me know I'll update my post to reflect that! Cheers!

Anonymous on: October 20, 2010 at 6:24 PM said...

As I mentioned on my blog yesterday, the mere fact that Welner has spoken publicly about the trial and his forthcoming. "testimony", absolutely discredits him as a witness and violates his code of ethics.

{ karl knox } on: October 20, 2010 at 6:32 PM said...

Anon, Since this tribunal has been put together to convict I'm not sure code of ethics is of any concern to anyone involved in the proscution. I wish Canadians would take a look around at the 15 yyear olds they know and understand that no matter what actually happened Omar could not possibly be responsible. And then maybe look at the facts and realize he's likely only guilty of being at the wrong place at the wrong time as Dr. Stephen Xenakis says

I'm going down to the station and will post the link to my interview in a couple of hours.

Thanks for coming by - what's your blog's name, I'll blogroll it.

{ CanNurse } on: October 20, 2010 at 6:52 PM said...

Just read the Wikipedia entry for this guy, Dr. Welner, & noticed that all family members of both his parents extended families apparently perished in Poland during the holocaust. Interesting that an American Jewish psychiatrist with direct family holocaust trauma is "assessing" a Muslim. Just sayin'.

{ karl knox } on: October 20, 2010 at 7:23 PM said...

Can Nurse - Yeah, I saw that. a terrible thing to happen to one's family.

He's claiming to be an expert on what's inside this young man at the same time as he presumes his guilt. All this from 7 or 8 hours of speaking with him. That's not credible and he seems to like the media spotlight a whole bunch.

Anonymous on: October 20, 2010 at 7:57 PM said...

Here is Jeff Kaye's seminal article on Welner @ Firedoglake
The Psychiatric Demonization of Omar Khadr

Don't forget to sign the Amnesty's petition.


{ karl knox } on: October 20, 2010 at 10:59 PM said...

Thanks for the link Toe - I've signed that petition and sent a letter to the PM



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