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Documents suggest Canadian involvement in Arar interrogation
April 22, 2005 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Some eighteen months ago, I posted a link detailing the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen scooped up at an American airport and sent to Syria by the American governement. A month later, Arar released a frightening statement describing the conditions of his torture at the hands of the Syrian government. And now comes word that not only was the response of the Canadian government wholly lacklustre, but "Canadian officials failed to act to prevent Arar's deportation – and once he was in Syria, Canadian authorities appeared more interested in Arar's interrogation than his treatment."
posted by The God Complex (24 comments total)

 
Also, Maher Arar has a webpage.
posted by The God Complex at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2005


[via mblog.]
posted by The God Complex at 2:10 PM on April 22, 2005


As a Canadian, this (and other recent actions by the RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration) literally enrages me.

If this can happen, what is my citizenship worth? If I'm kidnapped by some other government and deported to a third country for torture, what is my government going to do about it? Sternly worded memo? Be slightly brisk with the ambassador in line at the UN cafeteria? Nothing?
posted by Capn at 2:18 PM on April 22, 2005


That is indeed absolutely disgusting.
posted by clevershark at 2:39 PM on April 22, 2005


Don't know if it was previously discussed: back in February, Edward Markey introduced HR 952 to the House, known as the 'Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act' .

The bill would require the Secretary of State to annually produce "a list of countries where there are substantial grounds for believing that torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment is commonly used in the detention of or interrogation of individuals." The transfer of prisoners to any of the listed countries would then be verboten. Too little too late, obviously. It's disappointing to know that Canadian authorities weren't more keen to prevent Arar's deportation if they ever suspected he'd face torture.

Markey's bill was introduced a few days after this New Yorker article:
The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program.
posted by jenleigh at 2:48 PM on April 22, 2005


A few weeks ago 60 Minutes had an interview with a US official who first started the extraordinary rendition program. It was sickening to see him wax enthusiastic for torture -- he literally could see nothing wrong with it, and even went on about how necessary it was to have people tortured in -- you guessed it -- "the post-9/11 world".

Maybe someday he'll find himself on the other side of the equation. I hope he doesn't lose his enthusiasm then.
posted by clevershark at 2:52 PM on April 22, 2005


Canada, too? There go my grand plans for escape...
posted by blendor at 2:55 PM on April 22, 2005


From an American veteran, who is decorated with some pieces of junk saying I did this or that.

Do a google search on SERE School. They prepared us for this kind of crap.

Been there, done that.

What is the classic scenario they always conjure in a situtaion like this....."If a nuclear weapon were going to go off in 24 hours....and this guy knew where it was and how to disable it?......" Would it justify torturing him to get the answer to prevent killing millions?

You betcha.

In this guy's case....he just plain got screwed, and beaten to a pulp for nothing. Not sure that the US or Canada or the world owes him anything per se, but he got a raw deal, and he needs to move on.


If he's looking for "awareness"....he needs to pick a color, and design a magnetic ribbon to place on the back of SUVs.


ts
posted by timsteil at 3:05 PM on April 22, 2005


But what if the resistance to policies such as this one day takes the form of a mushroom cloud?
posted by fleacircus at 3:17 PM on April 22, 2005


What is the classic scenario they always conjure in a situtaion like this....."If a nuclear weapon were going to go off in 24 hours....and this guy knew where it was and how to disable it?......" Would it justify torturing him to get the answer to prevent killing millions?

This has the makings of a hit TV show!
posted by gigawhat? at 3:20 PM on April 22, 2005


timsteil writes ".'If a nuclear weapon were going to go off in 24 hours....and this guy knew where it was and how to disable it?......' Would it justify torturing him to get the answer to prevent killing millions?"

Yes, I guess that is the usual way to introduce this kind of thing. The real problem begins when it starts do run down the mythical slippery slope: 'If a nuclear weapon were going to go off in 24 hours' is substituted by 'If a nuclear weapon may be going to go off in 24 hours' then for 'If people of his color usually make bombs' down to 'If he was once neighbor to a cousin of a known terrorist's twice removed aunt' and then to 'I don't like his face and a friend of mine plainly dislikes him'. The two last ones lead right down to Abu Ghraib and, apparently, to this guy.
posted by nkyad at 3:21 PM on April 22, 2005


What is the classic scenario they always conjure in a situtaion like this....

I think the more relevant "classic" scenerio is as follows:

""If a nuclear weapon were going to go off in 24 hours....and the authorities identified an individual who they thought might have some information about it, would it be justified to torture this potentially innocent individual in order to possibly get some information that may or may not be relevant to the nuclear weapon in question."

That's the real world for you. Things get a little more complicated when you're not omniscient.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:22 PM on April 22, 2005


Class, let's review. In the last 12 months (or so), we've learned that:

- our government has not paid thousands of ill people for diseases contracted through negligient oversight of the blood system;
- a Canadian citizen was kidnapped and tortured... and our government did less than nothing.
- another Canadian citizen was kidnapped, tortured and murdered: And yet we've done nothing there, too.
- a top Ontario judge has declared that the province's public health system is near collapse and not ready for another epiidemic a la SARS.
- Canadian farmers are going bankrupt because our government can't seem to reopen the US border to our beef -- beef which, almost all scientists agree, is safer than US beef.

And yet we're going to have an election over the relatively meaningless revelations of the Gomery inquiry?

Fuck me.
posted by docgonzo at 3:38 PM on April 22, 2005


timsteil: What is the classic scenario they always conjure in a situtaion like this....."If a nuclear weapon were going to go off in 24 hours....and this guy knew where it was and how to disable it?......" Would it justify torturing him to get the answer to prevent killing millions?

You betcha.


I agree with you, go ahead and torture away. I also think that the person/people doing the torture should stand up and admit what they did, and be thrown in jail for an appropriate period of time. That way you can serve the prison term in the happy knowledge that:

a) you saved a large number of people, and
b) the standards of human rights have been upheld.

It is a little thing called personal accountability.
posted by Chuckles at 3:44 PM on April 22, 2005


he got a raw deal, and he needs to move on

I see, so then if YOU were kidnapped, beaten and tortured, and for basically nothing, you wouldn't be at all hurt or or offended to read a callous remark like that about YOUR "raw deal". Gotcha. So why don't torturers pick on people like you and leave the rest of us alone? Maybe y'all could wear a special button so they'll know you've volunteered.
posted by davy at 3:49 PM on April 22, 2005


By the power of stipulation, I have the power!
posted by kenko at 4:03 PM on April 22, 2005


I agree with you, go ahead and torture away. I also think that the person/people doing the torture should stand up and admit what they did, and be thrown in jail for an appropriate period of time.

Precisely.

At its core, attempting to LEGALIZE these actions is not about moral dilemmas. It's about making sure that those who make the call to cross a moral boundary line never face consequences.
posted by verb at 4:12 PM on April 22, 2005


Would it justify torturing him to get the answer to prevent killing millions?

You betcha.


Except of course that you have no guarantee that there is a nuclear weapon, and torture is not a particularly relaible way of gaining information. It is much more likely that by engaging in torture, you merely become a monster and everyone else dies anyway.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:23 PM on April 22, 2005


This is the sort of shit that makes me want to join a militia.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:26 PM on April 22, 2005


You know...

I completely forgot that this -- nuke in 24 hours scenario -- is apparently the plot line to "24".....a show I have never seen. Only know about it from reading the paper.

Yet that was the way it was presented to us....If you had to do this to save a million...or ten million or whatever people...would you do it? Would you do it to save a thousand?....Or one? Then they preceded to give us a taste of what it would be like to be on the receiving end.

I agree with Chuckles et al, that there is an issue of accountability, but I'm not convinced it should be at the individual level.

When it comes to renditions etc, I think the heads of whatever groups, be it the president, the DCI, or whomever, might want to say...yes, this is what we are doing and this is why we are doing it.

Sure this guy went through hell, and from all looks, seems it was a case of mistaken identity, guilt by association, and government gone way wrong.

But if doing what was done to this guy could have prevented 9/11....if it could prevent that mythical nuke from going off and killing millions...or a bio attack or whatever nightmare situation you can conjure. Would it be worth doing?

You know, there are hundreds of thousands of of kids out there in the service. Some of them are filling soda machines on aircraft carriers....some of them are spec ops types doing the very same things so derided here.

They don't pick their missions. They just complete them.

What is the old Sicilian saying (OK I may be wrong about sicilian)

"The fish rots from the head down"

Talk to Bush.

ts
posted by timsteil at 5:27 PM on April 22, 2005


This is the sort of shit that makes me want to join a militia.

Yup.

As previously noted, another problem is that torture is not even guaranteed to get accurate information; the usual response is to tell 'em whatever they want the want to hear so they'll stop.

"I confess! I confess! It was ME who shot Abe Lincoln! Me! (Will you remove that curling iron from my anus now? Please?)"
posted by davy at 6:21 PM on April 22, 2005


It seems to me that one can't honestly approve of this, unless one also accepts, without outrage, that Americans will be tortured, some to death, by some other country which feels that America is a threat to them.

I can't imagine that anyone here could be so callous as to make that argument.
posted by clevershark at 6:25 PM on April 22, 2005


Between stuff like this, yesterday's FEMA Camp post, and the peak oil crisis just around the corner, the comming religo-class-political party revolt, and epidemics not being given serious consideration, I'm glad I stashed weapons, water, food, and other survival supplies during Y2K.

That stuff may just come in handy soon...
Don't worry, I'll protect your non-tinfoil-hat-stupid-ass-non-forethought-"It'll never get that bad" crowd, too... some of ya.... stay away from my chocolate!
posted by Balisong at 8:11 PM on April 22, 2005


It seems to me that one can't honestly approve of this, unless one also accepts, without outrage, that Americans will be tortured, some to death, by some other country which feels that America is a threat to them.

Can I feel less outrage?

It is a threat, to lots of countries. And coming soon to a theatre near you. Growing up in North America, I was always taught that we were locked in this interminable cold war in which the Soviets might strike first and we would have to defend ourselves -- to the death -- while they maintained that they would do no such thing and had to defend themselves from us. Now we see shockingly open discussions on the pre-emptive use of nuclear technology. I wonder if the former Soviets gain any comfort from knowing that they were right.
posted by dreamsign at 10:06 PM on April 22, 2005


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