Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Canadian Terror Suspect Vindicated

After being kidnapped by the FBI in Sept., 2002 and held in a Syrian jail where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured, Maher Arar is now vindicated. After 127 days of public testimony, and many days of testimony behind closed doors, a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Dennis O'Connor concluded, "I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada."Obviously the 'post-9/11' FBI have failed to distinguish the difference between legitimate security operations and common thuggery, but it was not within the commission's mandate to assess the actions of non-Canadian entities. The commission did find considerable fault with Canada's RCMP, as reported in the Toronto Star.
"In the tense and suspicious aftermath of 9/11, the federal government foolishly rushed an in-experienced (sic) and ill-prepared RCMP back into the complex, shades-of-grey world of spying.
It was a mistake with sadly predictable consequences. Within months, the RCMP was stomping all over an innocent Canadian's rights as well as his privacy and, two years later, it was again hiding its actions from political masters...It wrongly identified him as an Islamic extremist, fingered him to the U.S., and then slowed Foreign Affairs efforts to rescue him from a filthy Syrian cell not much bigger than a coffin."
The ensuing actions show Canada approached the brink of the same kind of tyranny characteristic of the American 'anti-terrorism' efforts under the BushCo™ reign of terror, but thankfully stepped back from that brink.
"Jean Chrétien's government blurred the critical line between intelligence-gathering and crime-prevention, with awful results for Arar as well as for public confidence in the RCMP...the RCMP brought that public humiliation on itself when it figuratively kicked down Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill's door. Until that January, 2004, raid, the federal government stood steadfast against rising demands for a public inquiry into the Arar affair.
But what was widely seen as an attempt to intimidate the press was too much for a new Paul Martin administration, trying to distance itself from its predecessor. Martin publicly declared O'Neill innocent and promised to get to the bottom of the Arar case."
The result is in the report handed down by Justice O'Connor. The bottom of the Arar case has proven to be very low indeed. If we go beyond the Arar case to US activities of kidnapping, rendition and torture in general the bottom is lower still. At least in Canada we have a government that shines a light into their darkest places.
In America we see a government that continues to deny their own criminal activity. Then when it becomes undeniable, they deny that there is anything illegal about it. Then, when THAT becomes undeniable, they try to retroactively make legal the most egregiously despicable actions. Sickening. As Glenn Greenwald asks, "How can you be an American citizen and not be completely outraged, embarrassed, and disgusted by this conduct?"
Cross-posted from Friendly Neighbour
Unclaimed Territory - "Moral Authority" under Bush.
BBC News - article.
New: NPR radio report, with audio of Arar in his own words. h/t Pam
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