Does this story
October 21, 2002 6:28 AM   Subscribe

Does this story about the US govt making someone disappear for no admitted reason scare you as much as it scares me?
posted by lerrup (32 comments total)

 
It would scare me more if it weren't so light on facts and so heavy on trying-to-scare-me-tone.
posted by Fabulon7 at 6:34 AM on October 21, 2002


Fabulon brings up an excellent point. It's not all that convincing...
posted by Stauf at 6:50 AM on October 21, 2002


Does this story about the US govt making someone disappear for no admitted reason...

Oh, boy. The story is not "about the US govt making someone disappear..." The U.S. deported him to the country in which he was born, and where he is a citizen. It in no way "made him disappear" ... deportations happen every day. What happened to him in Syria was beyond the control of the U.S.

Canadian officials have been unable to find any trace of her husband in Syria, where he could face a prison term because he didn't report for his mandatory military service as a teenager.

Why should the U.S. factor in whether he might go to jail for a crime he committed in his country? Especially where we would be making a value judgment on the merit of the law. That would be awfully colonialist and interventionist of us, wouldn't it?
posted by pardonyou? at 6:53 AM on October 21, 2002


The Globe and Mail has a slightly less sensational article although the facts are the same... light... and why does no one have any facts to speak of? Maybe because the people responsible for this action are choosing to keep them entirely to themselves... never mind the people, never mind the legitimate government that this man is (i hope is and not was) a citizen of. This should be a wake up call to any citizens of any nation who think that their nation's sovereignty is going to protect them from the thugs running the USA... fat chance
posted by dorcas at 7:04 AM on October 21, 2002


I think the argument here is that he should have been deported to Canada, where he is also a citizen, has a university degree and a wife and children.

There's a lot of debate here in Canada whether people should be deported to their country of birth when they have lived in Canada long enough (since childhood) to have no family or connection to the culture whatsoever. This man is very much a product of Canada, and should have been sent to Canada, regardless of what crime he may have committed.
posted by UncleDave at 7:04 AM on October 21, 2002


I apologise for the word "disappeared", so lets stay with deported. Surely, "light on facts" is the worrying part, what about due process, etc. Shouldn't there be court records, lawyers, Judges, etc? Or can the executive now do what it likes?

It would appear, I am not alone in being worried.
posted by lerrup at 7:25 AM on October 21, 2002


Not only that he should have been deported to Canada (if anywhere) but that they arrested, held, and deported a Canadian citizen without deigning to inform Canada this was happening, and, when pressed, refused to say why. Wouldn't it worry you if a foreign country were doing that to your citizens?
posted by transient at 7:43 AM on October 21, 2002


He disappeared in Syria. Or he's somewhere being interrogated and he never got on a plane to Syria... I can't seem to find anything saying he was ever actually en route to Syria. (Go ahead, whomp on me if I just missed it in the article.)
posted by Shane at 8:00 AM on October 21, 2002


The US factors in because they deported him to Syria. Despite the fact he was travelling on a Canadian passport. Despite the fact that his flight originated in Switzerland and not Syria. Despite the fact that he was vacationing with his family in Tunisia and was enroute to Canada from Tunisia.

The US had three options when they deported him:
1) Deport him to Canada, where he is a citizen
2) Deport him to Switzerland, where his flight originated
3) Deport him to Tunisia, where his journey began.

Instead, INS arbitrarily put him on a plane to Syria and he has not been heard from since. His family has no idea where he is. The Canadian government can't find any trace of him, and the Syrians are not commenting.
posted by smcniven at 8:11 AM on October 21, 2002


The Canadian government can't find any trace of him, and the Syrians are not commenting.

Sounds to me like you ought to be concerned about the Syrians, then.
posted by oissubke at 8:35 AM on October 21, 2002


I think this is just another example of the United States government just doing whatever it wants to regardless of how the rest of the world sees it. If we keep this arrogant course for much longer we won't have any allies left.
posted by waltb555 at 8:42 AM on October 21, 2002


Sounds to me like you ought to be concerned about the Syrians, then

Look, I'm not going to argue about whether the US should have deported him in the first place. If they had cause to not allow him into the country then by all means deport him (mind you, he was transiting through the airport, not trying to clear customs).

What I take issue with (and lay the blame squarely at the feet of the US government) is that they deported him to Syria. The man was travelling on a Canadian passport for christ sakes. That alone implies that he has Canadian citizenship, and should have been deported to Canada.

You may think this is trivial, but the Canadian government does not think so. They have "protested" this action to the US government, which in diplomatic parlance means they are some pissed
posted by smcniven at 9:12 AM on October 21, 2002


Instead, INS arbitrarily put him on a plane to Syria

How is it arbitrary to return him to a country he's a citizen of? I agree Canada was also an option, but since they considered him linked to terrorists, why would they return him to country where he would have no trouble getting back into the U.S.
posted by chris24 at 9:35 AM on October 21, 2002


Here is an interesting wrinkle:
http://www.dss.mil/nf/adr/forpref/country7.htm (scroll down to Syria)

It appears that it is no simple matter to renounce your syrian citizenship. I am sure that this was not unknown to the US authorities that shipped this man back to almost certain incarceration.

Also, I am sure it was a 'better safe than sorry' action. If enough evidence was available to tie him to any terrorist organization he would be sweating it out under the bright lights of the interrogators right now in guantanamo.

The cowboy diplomacy is beginning to wear thin.
posted by canucklehead at 9:50 AM on October 21, 2002


How is it arbitrary to return him to a country he's a citizen of?

It's arbitrary because he was travelling on a Canadian passport, not a Syrian one. That alone should have made the US send him to Canada

He left Syria when he was 17, and has since established a successful career in Ottawa as a telecom engineer. A Halifax based newspaper indicated this weekend that he also worked for a major US software firm prior to starting his own consulting firm in Ottawa.

The US would not accept this kind of treatment of one of its citizens. Why should Canada, one of your closest allies and most important trading partner have to accept it?
posted by smcniven at 9:55 AM on October 21, 2002


Yes, it worries me too, and I can't believe the people jumping in with "hey, what's the problem?" Are you so obsessed with the War on Terror that any actions, no matter how arbitrary and inhuman, are OK so long as we don't actually torture someone to death? (Torture itself is fine by Alan Dershowitz, and, I'm betting, a fair number of MeFites.)
posted by languagehat at 9:56 AM on October 21, 2002


Sounds to me like you ought to be concerned about the Syrians, then.

wow. can't argue with that kind of logic. ugh.
posted by dobbs at 9:59 AM on October 21, 2002


The facts of this case do not upset me as much as the precedent that this can and does happen.
posted by copacetix at 10:21 AM on October 21, 2002


since they considered him linked to terrorists

"The US won't share with Canadian officials any evidence that Mr Arar has engaged in terrorist activities."

Which, to my jaded eyes, reads as "The US doesn't have any evidence that Mr. Arar has engaged in terrorist activities; at least none convincing enough to stand up to the scrutiny of those notoriously hardnosed Canadian officials."

Or, to put it another way: if they did have real evidence of wrongdoing or of terrorist connections, wouldn't Syria be the last place they'd send him? Why not just pull another Padilla and lock him up safe and sound in the brig?
posted by ook at 10:28 AM on October 21, 2002


New rule: The US can do whatever it wants as long as the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" appears somewhere within the text of the justification.
posted by websavvy at 10:30 AM on October 21, 2002


What happened to him in Syria was beyond the control of the U.S.
really?
if they hadn't deported him he would still be with his familly in Canada not in Syria.
posted by JonnyX at 10:42 AM on October 21, 2002


there's a comprehensive list of links on this site which is said to be updated as and when any further news articles are published.

my concern with this is that a) the Usa is insistent on returning to macarthyism and b) this chap is very dead, despite any firm evidence of terrorist action on his part.

languagehat and websavvy have it pretty nailed in their posts - "possible terrorist links" seem to justify any action on behalf of the US. hmph.
posted by triv at 11:43 AM on October 21, 2002


In general, deportations of inadmissible aliens are perfunctory and can be performed almost immediately. (Deportation of just-passing-throughs is rude, and uncommon, but not illegal.) Entering the US is not a right, but a privilege; the alien in question generally has the burden of proof to demonstrate that he is not a threat, in courts which are not criminal but administrative. The legal standards are thus not "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" but "reasonable belief", and the reasons don't have to include overt acts of terrorism but can descend to mere association. (Note: an alien who has been admitted will be in a stronger position in a deportation hearing, with more of the burden on the government.)

So, the government can deport someone they haven't yet legally admitted through merely "reasonably believing" that he's been hanging around with the wrong sort of people.

In the case of an 'alien terrorist', deportation is subject to special rules:

(2) Removal.-

(A) In general.-The removal of an alien shall be to any country which the alien shall designate if such designation does not, in the judgment of the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of State, impair the obligation of the United States under any treaty (including a treaty pertaining to extradition) or otherwise adversely affect the foreign policy of the United States.

(B) Alternate countries.-If the alien refuses to designate a country to which the alien wishes to be removed or if the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of State, determines that removal of the alien to the country so designated would impair a treaty obligation or adversely affect United States foreign policy, the Attorney General shall cause the alien to be removed to any country willing to receive such alien.


This would explain why Syria, and not Canada, was the destination -- and strongly suggests that Syria agreed in advance to accept him. A not unconvincing explanation is that the Syrians are questioning him on our behalf; otherwise we may merely be happier putting him off into a country where he has a straightforward legal reason to be jailed (shirking military service) rather than one where he won't.
posted by dhartung at 12:11 PM on October 21, 2002


I think that's precisely what people are objecting to dhartung: that some administrative joe can arbitrarily decide to ship someone off to a foreign prison without diplomatic recourse. I'm sure that the "alien" did not designate Syria as the country to which he should be removed...
posted by transient at 12:34 PM on October 21, 2002


dhartung: as always I must applaud your research abilities; based on your links this looks to be entirely within the letter of the law -- still troubling, but legal. The csmonitor link is a convincing interpretation as well (and makes me feel rather stupid for painting the whole mideast with the same brush in my earlier comment.)
posted by ook at 12:49 PM on October 21, 2002


You can say it's legal, but it's not right. Under the Patriot Act all the government has to do is point a finger say squeal "terrorist" and anything they do is "legal." Why Syria? Because the Syrians can interrogate this guy in ways that are still illegal in the US: torture and detainment. We're just working the loopholes.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:01 PM on October 21, 2002


Deportation may be legal, but this was arguably not deportation but extradition. Otherwise, why to Syria and not Canada? The only legalistic explanation I can see is the "extradition" clause of part (A) above. But he was said to be deported, not extradited. Surely a person is deported to the country that issued their passport, and extradited to a country that claims jurisdiction for an alleged crime. Extradition is an entirely separate issue from deportation and there are other legal niceties that have to be observed. Such as a declaration from the country requesting extradition and enumeration of the charges. Is that what in fact occurred? (Feel free to shoot down any of my assumptions above -- these are not legally qualified statements, merely my lay perceptions of the relevant practices and definitions.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:18 PM on October 21, 2002


If it is true, then this is a huge violation of Canadian rights and deserves a stronger response from the Canadian government. A protest isn't much when it is a mans life at stake.
posted by Coop at 3:23 PM on October 21, 2002


I've not been to JFK in many years. Does it not have a 'transit lounge' for international through-passengers, in order that those with non-US destinations don't have to clear immigration & customs?
Did Mr. Arar choose to try to go through US immigrations, or was he required to enter the US in order to connect to Canada?
posted by TuffAustin at 3:37 PM on October 21, 2002


The story seems to have been solved... the man has been found
posted by Idea Factory at 5:04 PM on October 21, 2002


Doesn't solve anything though.

dhartung, where is the proof on the balance of probabilitites?

We've seen no evidence at all yet....
posted by lerrup at 11:27 PM on October 21, 2002


Dhartung, I don't understand how the two quoted passages explain why he was sent to Syria. Both passages use similar variations of the phrase [send them where they want to go unless it would] impair the obligation of the United States under any treaty or otherwise adversely affect the foreign policy of the United States. The US does not have an extradition treaty with Syria, so in all cases excepting a specific request to the contrary, he should have been sent to Canada.

Also, from this page:
(A) In general.-Except as provided by subparagraphs (B) and (C), an alien who arrives at the United States and with respect to whom proceedings under section 240 were initiated at the time of such alien's arrival shall be removed to the country in which the alien boarded the vessel or aircraft on which the alien arrived in the United States.

(B)[... If traveling from contiguous territory of the US. Not relevant ...]

(C) Alternative countries.-If the government of the country designated in subparagraph (A) or (B) is unwilling to accept the alien into that country's territory, removal shall be to any of the following countries, as directed by the Attorney General:
[options, including country of birth and of citizenship]
So the options are pretty clear in terms of a non-terrorist deportation, the choice of deporting him to Syria only comes up after the ports of departure refuse him. After that, it is left to the discretion to the AG whether to send him to country of citizenship or country of birth. So from what I can see, is he was deported as a terrorist he should have been sent to Canada, and if as a random unwanted, to Switzerland.

Also note, from further down in the page you linked:
2) Diplomatic contact.-An alien in the custody of the Attorney General pursuant to this title shall have the right to contact an appropriate diplomatic or consular official of the alien's country of citizenship or nationality or of any country providing representation services therefore. The Attorney General shall notify the appropriate embassy, mission, or consular office of the alien's detention.
Which does not seem to have occurred, though I guess that depends on what you define "appropriate" as.
posted by Nothing at 5:27 AM on October 22, 2002


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