Or can you?
He is under arrest for being the creator and architect of 9/11. If you haven't heard of him, you will soon. His long-awaited trial is about to get underway.
Arrested in 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is being held in Guantanamo Bay prison. After years of political and legal wrangling, it was recently ruled that KSM and 4 alleged co-conspirators will be tried by a military panel, not in federal court.
The charges? According to the transcript of a pretrial hearing on March 10, 2007, KSM's attorney submitted the following written testimony:
I hereby admit and affirm, without duress ...
1. I was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center Operation.
2. I was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z.
3. I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl ... For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet, holding his head.
The testimony lists a total of 31 terrorist acts, among them the Bali nightclub bombing, the Shoe Bomber Operation, and assassination attempts against President Clinton and Pope John Paul the second.
I kept waiting for Jimmy Hoffa and Princess Diana. Re-reading KSM'S confessions, it is no wonder one starts to wonder ...
KSM also submitted an oral testimony (I have edited it here as little as possible). It takes off with his explanation of why he refused to take the oath: "religiously I cannot accept anything you do."
In that vein, he attacks a Western misrepresentation of Islam: "Killing is prohibited ... The Ten Commandments are shared between all of us. We all are serving one god." Allah, KSM assures us, orders Muslims to "love those who are just." As for those who are unjust, "who fight you [because] of your faith and drive you out of your homes," well ... there's the rub.
KSM: We "have language for the war. You have to kill." It will always be that way. "War start from Adam when Cain he killed Abel until now. It's never gonna stop killing of people. This is the way of the language [of war]. American start the Revolutionary War then they starts the Mexican then Spanish War then World War I, World War II. You read the history. You know [there is] never stopping war. This is life." Here KSM is on the brink of saying that life is war; war, life. It follows that if there is no war, there is no life. He didn't say that -- or did he?
It also follows that language, which is part of life, is for him the continuation of war by other means. KSM puts language-as-tactics into practice by scolding the tribunal, "when you said I'm terrorist, I think it is deceiving peoples. Terrorists, enemy combatant. All these definitions as CIA, you can make whatever you want."
Make whatever you want. The age-old confusion of a freedom fighter and a terrorist bubbles to the surface. "If now we were living in the Revolutionary War and George Washington he being arrested through Britain. For sure, he, they would consider him enemy combatant. But American they consider him as hero."
Good, bad: it all depends, KSM thinks, on which side you're on. At bottom, war is life because life is war; war is ... war ... As analyzed in The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion, tautological thinking -- the assumptions are the conclusions; the conclusions, the assumptions -- which KSM exhibits, is a principal characteristic of middle class rebellion.
In case you wonder about his position on the victims of 9/11, KSM utters an almost visible shrug. "Because war, for sure, there will be victims. When I said I'm not happy that three thousand been killed in America. I feel sorry even. I don't like to kill children and the kids. Never Islam are, give me green light to kill peoples." Why, then, did he kill 3,000 people? You already know the answer. "But there are exception of rule when you are killing people in Iraq. You said we have to do it ... Same language you use, I use."
We have come full circle in KSM's circular reasoning. Al-Qaeda's philosophy as expressed by its purported Number 3 man boils down to this: what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Should/must, rule/exception: no doubt KSM believes he has reached the epitome of brilliance in confounding virtue and necessity. Sorry, al-Qaeda: others got there long before you.
The simple truth is that KSM converts a virtue -- defending one's religion and territory -- into a hyper-extended necessity, i.e., a command to kill non Muslims everywhere, even on an airplane going home. This is a classic manifestation of another principal characteristic of middle class rebellion analyzed in Source: preter-realistic reasoning, i.e., reasoning beyond, beside, more than a specific, concrete case warrants. KSM directly expresses and experiences preter-realism this way: religiously, I cannot accept anything you do.
In preter-realism we are looking at the essential dynamic of extremism. Life is not heaven, the middle class rebel concludes; therefore, it is hell. Never gonna stop killing. Having made a prediction, KSM must make it come true.
I oppose torture in interrogations. Time and again, poor results show that anybody will say anything just to stop the pain. Which poses this question: sadism aside, why inflict it? The real purpose of torture, I submit, isn't information or confessions, but rather to cement the solidarity of the group performing the torture. Thus, torture serves as an indicator that the group practicing it had severe unity problems to begin with, long before the first victim entered the room.
Not surprisingly, KSM now disavows his 2007 testimony, claiming it was obtained under torture. A captive of his own unconscious ambivalence, in typical middle class rebel fashion KSM can't come up with anything better than to push the "yes" and "no" buttons simultaneously. He thereby conjures up a dilemma: was he lying then or is he lying now? We've already seen this tactic, the open secret, in the case of Luis Posada Carriles, a.k.a. Bambi (see post of 3/27/2011).
"Aye" as well as "nay" : that is how KSM votes "maybe." Ambiguity, however, -- not Guantanamo -- is the middle class rebel's hell. What the hell, he might as well make the most of it. It's called using the tools at one's disposal. And KSM does it; he uses ambiguity as a lever to gain mechanical advantage. The latter, by the way, is something he is well versed in; he has a degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University (1986).
Ambiguity as leverage is why KSM smiles, jokes, laughs in court. He employs a non-mechanical -- if not anti-mechanical -- phenomenon to serve a mechanical purpose. Here, too, as with virtue and necessity, war and life, KSM no doubt imagines he has successfully combined separate, often conflicting elements. In reality, he is merely exhibiting the cult of synthesis -- the nostalgic yearning for Unity, the One -- unconsciously driving middle class rebels everywhere.
Make whatever you want. We will do exactly that in Part 2.