Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is This Who We Are?

You may have heard of the case involving Maher Arar. Here's a synopsis from Glenn Greenwald.

Maher Arar is both a Canadian and Syrian citizen of Syrian descent. A telecommunications engineer and graduate of Montreal's McGill University, he has lived in Canada since he's 17 years old. In 2002, he was returning home to Canada from vacation when, on a stopover at JFK Airport, he was (a) detained by U.S. officials, (b) accused of being a Terrorist, (c) held for two weeks incommunicado and without access to counsel while he was abusively interrogated, and then (d) was "rendered" -- despite his pleas that he would be tortured -- to Syria, to be interrogated and tortured. He remained in Syria for the next 10 months under the most brutal and inhumane conditions imaginable, where he was repeatedly tortured. Everyone acknowledges that Arar was never involved with Terrorism and was guilty of nothing.

Arar sued Canadian authorities and won. He tried to sue American authorities and has not done so well. Yesterday the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied a rehearing of Arar's case en banc because they accepted the government's argument that the courts were barred from examining the conduct of government officials since state secrets and involved and because courts should not interfere in the actions of the Executive where national security is involved.

Greenwald writes a compelling article on this case. I encourage you to read it. With a tag line of "Even when government officials purposely subject an innocent person to brutal torture, they enjoy full immunity," how could you not?

And there's more from Scott Horton at Harper's Magazine. This case is disturbing on many levels. And nobody will be held accountable.

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