Whatever it is that makes America great, it sure is not this:
Canadian intelligence officials passed false warnings and bad information to American agents about a Muslim Canadian citizen, after which U.S. authorities secretly whisked him to Syria, where he was tortured, a judicial report found Monday.
[…] The inquiry, which focused on the Canadian intelligence services, found that agents who were under pressure to find terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, falsely labeled an Ottawa computer consultant, Maher Arar, as a dangerous radical. They asked U.S. authorities to put him and his wife, a university economist, on the al-Qaeda “watchlist,” without justification, the report said.
Arar was also listed as “an Islamic extremist individual” who was in the Washington area on Sept. 11. The report concluded that he had no involvement in Islamic extremism and was on business in San Diego that day, said the head of the inquiry commission, Ontario Justice Dennis O’Connor.The inquiry, which focused on the Canadian intelligence services, found that agents who were under pressure to find terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, falsely labeled an Ottawa computer consultant, Maher Arar, as a dangerous radical. They asked U.S. authorities to put him and his wife, a university economist, on the al-Qaeda “watchlist,” without justification, the report said.
Barring a long-overdue sense of shame, count on the usual suspects to put out the Frayed Electrical Cable Cookbook to show how great life was for innocent Canadian Maher Arar under CIA and Syrian captivity.
You can bet that there are more Maher Arars out there. Glenn Greenwald has a rundown of a few more that we know about – count the number times that the US invokes the State Secrets doctrine to cover up erroneous maltreatment exactly like Maher Arar’s. Given our present government’s manic bent for secrecy the actual number of innocent people taken from their previous lives, denied contact with their family and cruelly tortured, in some cases to death, is certainly far higher than we know. The AP suggests that the number could be staggering:
In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantanamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law.
Disclosures of torture and long-term arbitrary detentions have won rebuke from leading voices including the U.N. secretary-general and the U.S. Supreme Court. But the bitterest words come from inside the system, the size of several major U.S. penitentiaries.
Keep Maher Arar in mind when defenders put the best face on our system:
Every U.S. detainee in Iraq “is detained because he poses a security threat to the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq or coalition forces,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for U.S.-led military detainee operations in Iraq.
That’s right, we ship an innocent Canadian citizen to Syria to be cruelly tortured with frayed electrical cables based on the “best” intelligence of US and Canadian authorities acting on their home turf, and Lt. Col. Curry wants us to believe that our intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan is airtight enough to reliably tell a cabdriver from a jihadi. Funny, the FBI doesn’t need a translator or a Canada expert to mistakenly finger Maher Arar. Maybe if the US had Arabic translators and mideast experts to sort through the area’s byzantine cultural currents we might hope to reach the FBI’s stellar false-positive rate. Since we don’t have enough of either it is a statistical certainty that the occupation will have a false-positive rate that is orders of magnitude worse.
This parable should clarify what people mean when we talk about the government’s torture policy. Those who continue to argue that the question is whether to torture terrorists simply have no credibility. Torture advocates, revolting as that concept may be in our supposedly enlightened country, want to punish bin Laden and instead end up whipping innocent westerners like Maher Arar with frayed electrical cables. When one demands that the government have the right to mistreat its captives and in the same breath argues that the government should escape accountability for acting wrongly then mistakes like Arar become simply inevitable. Anybody who pretends otherwise is fooling himself.
The Other Steve
It appears to me that the Republican strategy here is to support torture, solely because the Democrats are against it. That is, they don’t really care about the morality of the issue, they are simply using it as a defining political opportunity.
The GOP has made some electoral gains in recent years based on a perceived morality, but with this embrace of a highly immoral principle for purely partisan reasons does the GOP not risk a backlash?
Anyone want to bet that over at Free Republic they’re saying the guy was probably guilty and joking about doing this with Joe Wilson and Harry Reid?
I’m not sure I agree. Watching Bush on television last Friday, all I could think of was this man is scared. He’s looking for the Republican congress to legalize what are likely to be war crimes. My fear is that the congress will ditch all remaining semblances of morality and bail this f*cker out. To the everlasting shame of this once-great country.
Actually, it’s a bit worse than I thought:
and then there’s this:
Your first blockquote is all jacked up. Repeats itself. Says the same thing twice. Cut and paste error, IMO.
Got it, thanks.
Welcome to the Real Amerika.
Colin Powell is right. America is losing their moral authority in the war on terror.
And up here, expect to see some mountie heads rolling in the snow. This is just too horrible for words.
This kind of shit is why I get so pissed off when I hear the usual talking heads say that these people being rendered or aggressively interrogated or whatever deserve it because they’re the “worst of the worst”. It’s also the reason why our system is *supposed* to be based on presumption of innocence. How many times do we hear that these people *are* terrorists because they were swept up on the field of battle? It’s bullshit noise stated as fact when the reality is that we did not take 14000 prisoners of war in Afghanistan; some were given to us, and some were taken inside the US, often based on hearsay.
We’ve sold our soul to the devil but are too much in debt to buy it back.
obviously, this proves that torture and rendition work.
a bit OT but… via Kos
Here’s a bit more detail on the last part of the story, which Tim F. mentions briefly, and I’m sure everyone’s aware of it (sorry, broken link):
Unbelievable. Accountability is everything in government.
Yglesias throws this freaking CRAZY idea out there:
Holy Jesus potato chips….this is just lunitical…
The Other Steve
It may be a combination of things.
But I was listening to Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke, and they said that the Republican plan for the 2006 elections was to get the Democrats to vote against torture and then run that as an issue against them in the election.
I think Bush is scared that the plan may not be working, mainly because a handful of Republicans have rebelled and said “Look, we’re not going to vote for torture just to further your political goals”. If the Republicans lose control of the House and Senate, Bush is in for a world of conflict and he fundamentally hates conflict and argument.
I’m outlining this, because not only do I think there is truth here, but framing the debate in this way brings scrutiny to Republican tactics which helps to educate the voters.
Not only should Democrats be standing up and saying “this is wrong”, they ought to be pointing out the motivation behind the Republicans action. That is, they aren’t just cruel morons, they’re political partisan morons.
First, a little housekeeping to lessen the burden for little tranny Annie Coulter. She’s been meaning to get to this and could use the help. Thank God the
grownupsworthless fucking retards are now in charge!
Great, so we’ve been rendering friendly country’s citizens from within our own borders to known torture chambers. Gee, I thought one of the retardnuts talking points was that we had to whack Saddam because he did torture chamber kind of shit. Oh well, I guess if it has the seal of approval from Falwell’s Jesus it’s okay and patriotic. Big difference.
Predictable result from torture in this situation. He confessed to anything they wanted to hear even though it was false. How many times would you have to hit these stupid, spineless assholes upside the head with a baseball bat attempting to knock something into the void about torture? IT DOESN’T WORK SHITHEAD!
They secretly rendered a Canadian citizen while he was in NYC. You think they’d have great qualms doing that also to a U.S. citizen? Maybe it’s already happened. Moral authority? They never had it. As long as there are Bush type Republicans in office they will continue to tear down this country.
The Other Steve
Punchy – It’s sad. I thought MAD(Mutual Assured Destruction) was a sound deterant. If that is what Cheney and the boys are advocating as a response to Iran, ok.
In fact, I still think that is the way to respond to Iran, simply make it clear that if they use a nuke, their country will be turned into a sheet of glass.
Although, you know, there’s a bizarre correlation here with the book Dune. Perhaps GW Bush is really Muad’Dib? Did we ever consider that?
The Other Steve
Although, yeah… the whole sending a Canadian citizen to Syria to torture him, kind of puts a damper on the Republicans are just promoting torture as an election issue.
The whole idea of sending him to Syria really sickens me.
Does anyone remember how Bushco got the UN to nullify international jurisdiction for war crimes perpetrated by occupation forces in Iraq, based on the solemn promise to prosecute those war criminals ourselves.
Now Bush is trying to make it impossible for anyone who engaged in torture (with official sanction) to be prosecuted for war crimes.
Guess what….the next time the US asks for it to be allowed to handle its own war criminals, the answer will be “Hell no!” The wingnuts should be really proud of Bush for this….
Oh! To be a drill-bit and electrical cord salesman in Syria and Eygpt in October of 2001!! Imagine how rich I’d be right now!
Except the “spice” (or more accurately, the “spice blow”) has given him a permanent jaw twitch instead of glowing blue eyes. All hail Muad’Ipshit!
Luckily enough, the administration has more than one good candidate to play the fat, evil Baron Harkonnen.
Does this mean that Ann Coulter is a Tleilaxu face dancer?
Karen Hughes was on Hardball last night spouting the BushCo company line. The “define/redefine” meme is disingenuous. The Geneva Conventions “defined” the guidelines and Bush is attempting to “redefine” them. The doublespeak by Hughes is criminal.
See that’s why we should start torturing at home. That way we wouldn’t have to outsource.
I read a piece today about Mr. Arar, who has been characterized as a wacky fundamentalist in some press reports (thankfully, few Canadian ones). How many fundamentalists have wives who walk about completely un-burkaed? Furthermore, how many have wives with PhD’s? My understanding is that the extreme fundamentalist Muslims are definitely anti-“that whole edumacated women” thing.
Blah. Who do you have to beat the crap out of without justification to get the other 30% of America to notice? Definitely not any sort of Iraqi or Afghani–and not a Canadian Muslim either, apparently. But what about an American soldier? Nah, probably not that either. Face it, they’re way beyond reasoning with at this point.
I really wanted to see someone try to defend this (in a non-spoof).
No one going to try?
The surreal thing is hearing administration people try to defend this turd. You can’t even bring up specific arguments with them because they pull that “Well, we can’t talk about specific interrogation methods because the Enemy will Adapt & Win”. It’s similar to their legal strategy of asking courts to dismiss challenges to it because you can’t talk about it.
Who taught you that torture was wrong? Who taught you about human rights? Who taught you about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Who taught you about the importance of the rule of law? Who taught you about America? Your parents, your teachers, your church, watching tv?
Serious questions, no snark. It seems like a lot of people never learned any of that, which is really, really sad. But I’m interested in hearing your stories..maybe this could be something cool.
Mistakes will happen in every war. While I feel bad for Mr. Arar, he’s collateral damage in our war against Islamofascism. Luckily the mistake was recognized and he is now a free man. That proves the system works.
Well of course parents teach by example, but I learned about The Constitution in school–we read it and stuff.
My understanding is that the “evidence” against Mr. Arar is this: The brother of one of his co-workers is supposed to be a terrorist!
I wonder if the extremely tenuous nature of this “case” might penetrate the skulls of even our brain-dead, daddy-figure-craving, idiot right-wingers? Arar could have been anyone — any one of us.
If the retardocons are so gung ho to have someone else run juice through someone’s balls, how about we follow Israel’s example? Now those guys have some experience in terrorism, interrogation techniques including torture, and all that stuff. Plus they have great motivation to get it right. For them it’s not “over there,” it’s there.
In 1999, after extensively considering the issue, the Israeli Supreme Court banned torture. Their finding was that in addition to being inhumane, torture doesn’t work and harmed Israeli interests. Pre-Bush, our military and intelligence services had also come to the same conclusions years ago.
The Israeli Supreme Court also found the “ticking time bomb” scenario so pushed by proponents of torture didn’t happen. That was Hollywood.
But maybe in an effort to placate the hardliners, that Supreme Court ruled that if authorities were certain there was a ticking time bomb situation, and they were certain they had someone in custody who had and was refusing to divulge information that could avert the attack, they could immediately authorize torture. No limits. Plus no prior court approval required since time would be critical in the situation.
You can picture our “leaders” salivating over that. Yeah, that’s what we want! Until they hear the kicker. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled they had better be correct about the situation and the person in custody. If wrong, the authority approving torture, not the interrogators, would be subject to prosecution. You can see our admin going limp over that part. Responsibility and accountability are concepts they can’t even see let alone begin to grasp.
Pb, that’s what’s really interesting to me. I’m beginning to wonder if that wasn’t the case for a lot of people.
I think we all grow up in our little words and as we get older, we realize that what’s normal to us, isn’t necessarily normal for other people.
I just always assumed that in social studies class, everyone learns about “America”, but maybe that’s not the case?
That’s kind of why I wanted to get everyone’s take on how they came about believing what they believe about our country.
At least there WAS an inquiry — we’re not as far gone as I feared.
Maybe they were playing hookey that week or something, and only got the usual rabid nationalism indoctrination, but missed that whole boring ‘Constitution’ part. That is to say, they just know that America is the greatest nation in the world, but they don’t know why.
Post. of. the. year.
There’s so much insight and truth in that single sentence, reading it was like having an epiphany.
Every once in a while some university Poli Sci class or law school club conducts this little experiment: They question people on the street in an American city and ask them if they would be in favor of 1) a law that allowed everyone to say whatever they wanted about the President and other elected officials and anything else they wanted to comment upon, so long as it didn’t cause a riot or physical harm and it wasn’t obscene; 2)a law stating that government should stay out of religion and religious institutions should stay out of government; 3) a law stating that newspapers, radio, and TV should be able to broadcast anything they want in their news broadcasts so long as it is true. . . . Well, you get the drift. Every time they try it the result is the same. A majority of those questioned not only don’t recognize the questions as taken directly from the First Amendment, but don’t think law like that should be passed. So much for educating people about the Constitution. God help us all!!
AG Gonzales has said it was a deportation, not a rendition.
Maher Arar: Rendition Was Just a Red Herring
Now if you believe that, I really, really have to stop asking the rhetorical question how stupid can Bush apologists be. They’d know no bounds.