Is he lying, manipulating? Is he sincere? Search me. If it’s a calculated routine, it’s a complicated one. The fact is, we simply don’t know what’s going on in Omar Khadr’s head, his political thoughts, his potential for violence, his chances for successful integration in Canadian society. Anyone who tells you otherwise — certain he’s a bomb waiting to explode, certain he’s a gentle lamb — is simply grasping at his preferred straws.
Never mind humanitarianism for now. The smart public safety play, from the day of his capture under a Liberal government, was to take an active interest in precisely these questions, in hopes of him coming home, as he must, as well-adjusted and pacified as possible. At every turn, Ottawa has rejected that approach, and no doubt there are more stall tactics to come. Personally, my hunch is that he is not particularly dangerous. But I’d rather wager as little of my safety on that as possible. If he is, in fact, a threat, it’s hard to see the advantage, in Dr. Welner’s memorable phrase, of him continuing to “marinat[e] in a community of hardened and belligerent radical Islamists” at Guantanamo Bay.