Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Price to Pay for Torture.

I can't be the only person disappointed with the Supreme Court’s refusal to consider the claims of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen sent to Syria to be tortured under the orders of the George Bush administration.

Now, we can easily condemn the Bush administration for it's role in all of this, but it is increasingly harder not to also feel disgust at the Obama administration's insistence that torture cases such as this must not be brought before American courts.

Amazingly, Mr. Obama’s acting solicitor general, Neal Katyal, urged the Supreme Court not to take the case, arguing in part that the court should not investigate the communications between the United States and other countries because it might damage diplomatic relations and affect national security. It might even raise questions, Mr. Katyal wrote, about “the motives and sincerity of the United States officials who concluded that petitioner could be removed to Syria.”
Wouldn't it be simply awful to question “the motives and sincerity of the United States officials who concluded that petitioner could be removed to Syria”?

I mean there is already enough in the public record for us to question the motives of those who sent him there.
“The American authorities who handled Mr. Arar’s case treated Mr. Arar in a most regrettable fashion,” Justice O’Connor wrote in a three-volume report, not all of which was made public. “They removed him to Syria against his wishes and in the face of his statements that he would be tortured if sent there. Moreover, they dealt with Canadian officials involved with Mr. Arar’s case in a less than forthcoming manner.”

The Syrian-born Mr. Arar was seized on Sept. 26, 2002, after he landed at Kennedy Airport in New York on his way home from a holiday in Tunisia. On Oct. 8, he was flown to Jordan in an American government plane and taken overland to Syria, where he says he was held for 10 months in a tiny cell and beaten repeatedly with a metal cable.
Contrast the difference between the reaction of the Canadians to this case and the utter inaction from the Americans.
In Canada, the government conducted an investigation and found that Mr. Arar had been tortured because of its false information. The commissioner of the police resigned. Canada cleared Mr. Arar of all terror connections, formally apologized and paid him nearly $9.8 million.
In the US, Arar can't even get his case heard in court, and he can't get it heard because the Obama administration are the ones making the arguments insisting that his case should not be heard.

I am with the New York Times editorial board on this.
There is no excuse for the Obama administration’s conduct. It should demonstrate some moral authority by helping Canada’s investigation, apologizing to Mr. Arar and writing him a check.
Rather than helping to keep the crimes of the Bush administration away from American courts, Obama should be doing the opposite. They certainly should be acknowledging that this man has been wronged and making sure that they compensate him for the dreadful things which were done to him.

Here, Senator Leahy takes apart Gonzales for the way the Bush administration enabled torture. What was done to this man is no less outrageous now that Obama is in the White House.

Click here for full article.

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