Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Justice Denied

Maher Arar is back in the news.
A U.S. court ruled Monday that a complaint by Maher Arar, a Canadian who accuses U.S. authorities of illegally deporting him to Syria, where he was tortured, cannot be heard in federal court.

Arar, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, was stopped at a New York airport on his way home from vacation in September 2002. U.S. officials accused him of links to al-Qaeda and deported him to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured for months.

He claims those who sent him to Syria recklessly and knowingly intended to subject him to torture. Before he was secretly whisked away to Syria, he was confined for 12 days in New York and alleges he had to endure cruel, inhumane and degrading conditions.

Arar had argued his constitutional rights were violated when he was confined without access to a lawyer or the court system and then forcibly returned to Syria, where U.S. authorities had reason to believe he would be tortured.

But the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, affirming a lower court decision, ruled two to one Monday that Arar's claims that it was a violation of due process to send him to Syria could not be heard in federal court.

"Arar has not adequately established federal subject matter jurisdiction over his request for a judgment declaring that defendants acted illegally by removing him to Syria so that Syrian authorities could interrogate him under torture," Reuters reported the ruling as saying.

The court concluded that adjudicating the claims would interfere with sensitive matters of foreign policy and national security. It also said that Arar, as a foreigner who had not been formally admitted to the U.S., had no constitutional due process rights.
(For more on the history of this case see's In Depth coverage of the story
from the beginning, and all the posts done here at Les Enrages that refer to Arar's case.)

Please note the section in bold above. To attach the correct language to it, Maher Arar was kidnapped by the FBI on September 26, 2002. That's right, kidnapped. To characterize the event as an arrest lends it a dignity it simply doesn't deserve. No arrest warrant was issued or applied for. No formal charges were laid. No habeas corpus hearing was ever held. That Arar was denied his constitutional rights seems to be a given, or in legal terms he has a prima facie case.

I'd like to make a point that I think is simple but important and often ignored. The distinction between kidnap and arrest is NOT that the latter is carried out by a government and the former by a criminal. It is that an arrest is conducted under the scrutiny of the court system and follows due process. That badges may have been flashed and so forth only adds the phrase "under color of authority" to the crime.

In fact in every detail we see that the US government and its agencies has scrupulously avoided any judicial review of these acts. That smacks of a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Bush Department of Justice. Arar should seek criminal charges against anyone involved in this sordid episode, up to and including the Attorney General at the time (John Ashcroft) and the subsequent AG (Alberto Gonzales) for not charging the kidnappers. That might just send a powerful message to Michael Mukasey, the current AG. He must know that his tenure will not last beyond the installation of a Democratic government next January.

But the sad truth of it is, the Maher Arar case is just a tiny element of a much bigger story. Much, much bigger. As Station Agent says in this post,
If ever a subject needed a definitive book written about it, the U.S. Attorneys Purge is it. The problem is coming up with a thesis for the book because the sheer evil genius of the purge is that it works for the Bush administration on so many levels that to take just one motive and run with it would leave so many other wings of the scandal behind.
Yes, the Prosecutors' Purge Scandal would by itself provide material for a major book, a tome, nay an encyclopedia - the author of which would be confronted with an overwhelming amount of evidence of criminal obstruction of justice by Bu$hCo™. But even that is only a small element in the much larger story of the perversion of justice on every level in BushMerika.

Think for instance of the $BILLIONs that have gone missing in Iraq ‡, on top of the $BILLIONS that have been distributed to crony organizations with little or no actual work having been done. Consider the various gang rapes that Blackwater and KBR employees have gotten away with scot free in a lawless environment that Paul Bremer set up to help enable Bush crimes there. (‡= TPM Muckraker posted this story on just how the administration has dodged investigation of corruption in Iraq while I was writing this piece. Instant update.)

It's as if the Bush administration wants to strip Lady Justice herself and subject her to various humiliating stress positions. Perverts!

Behind it all we see the same theme applied over and over and over - the appointment of people into key positions who will ignore the plain language of the law in order to get a result that is politically expedient to the GOP and their corporate masters. They are not looking for officers of the court, they're looking for accessories after the fact at every level up to and especially including seats on the Supreme Court, and the office of Attorney General. This is croniest at the worst imaginable, the wholesale appointment of partisan hacks into the very positions that are meant to monitor and prevent government abuses.

And in every case another theme is the connecting thread. The GOP, government agents and their corporate partners in crime ALWAYS avoid responsibility. Examples include Scooter Libby, Blackwater, KBR, the telecoms, and of course the FBI agents who kidnapped Maher Arar. The principle in play is that you are innocent even after having been proven guilty. And there are plenty of victims like Maher Arar and Jamie Leigh Jones who will continue to be denied justice in both civil and criminal courts because that's how Bu$hCo™ set it up.

On the other side of the coin are those who have been persecuted without proper cause by the Bush Department of Injustice. Examples include Don Siegelman, Dr. Cyril Wecht, Dr. Bernard Rottschaefer, plus hundreds of Iraqis, Afghanis, Uyghurs, and an assortment of suspicious-looking brown people who have been subjected to unbelievably dehumanizing abuse up to and including murder. Of whom Maher Arar is just one.

And all of them prosecuted persecuted under the guiding principle of the Bush DOJ: Forget about being assumed innocent until proven guilty. If you're not one of us, you're guilty until proven otherwise, maybe even long after proven otherwise. Most astonishingly, even if the Bushlicking Supreme Court rules that you are being denied your rights, the Bushlicking Department of Justice (or in the case of Military Commissions the Department of Defense) will continue to hold you in confinement.

That's how Bu$hCo™ set it up. They have in fact committed one huge horrific crime in order to enable the commission of a multitude of other crimes. It is an obstruction of justice case the scope of which the world has never known, and which the very mechanisms of justice are unprepared to correct.

For a blogger to merely list all of the perversions of justice that the Bush administration has perpetrated would be a monumental task. It would take the resources of an entire government department (such as DOJ if it wasn't itself a major part of the problem) years, maybe decades just to sort it all out. Something on the order of the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

Simply put, the entire Bush regime could be accurately described as the crime of the millennium - unlikely to be surpassed before the year 3001. The case of Maher Arar will be seen as a mere speck of shit in the great stinking pile that has been created by The Bush Department of Injustice.

“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration
has committed war crimes.
The only question that remains to be answered is whether those
who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”
-- Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba --

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