Wednesday :: Aug 20, 2008

Justice No Factor In US War On Terror


by Jeff Dinelli

In 2002 Maher Arar, a software engineer from Canada, was abducted at New York's JFK Airport by U.S. agents using bad Canadian information linking him to terrorists. He was thrown on a plane bound for Jordan and eventually his native Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured for over a year.

Why it took a year to figure out the guy was an innocent code monkey apparently remains unexplained. Canadian authorities issued a formal apology to Arar and gave him some $10 million for his troubles. The Bush Administration's response to the whole thing, however, has been pathetic.

The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general has said the Justice Department is investigating. Some in Congress have essentially said, "Uh, gee, sorry, Dude." As far as the Administration goes, last year Condi Rice dramatically stated that this grossly cruel human rights atrocity wasn't "handled particularly well." Whew! Go Condi! Arar is still on a terrorist watch list, for absolutely no reason. A NY federal appeals court is gonna hold a hearing to decide if Arar can sue the US government, which only had to make a statement acknowleging they were wrong sending this innocent guy to be beaten in a cage. Instead, now the Administration is facing costly court fees to contest Arar's right to sue them.

Shouldn't a democratic government be held responsible for striking a balance between post-9/11 hysteria and basic, humanistic civil rights? Instead, in this country, it's left up to the courts, who, of course, made things worse. Initially a three-judge panel ruled that since Arar hadn't actually entered the US, he was changing planes, he's not eligible for constitutional rights, and, of course, the old standby that if the thing went to trial, there may be sensitive national security information leaked. A trial relating to an absolutely innocent man, mind you. Suprisingly, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals is going to review the panel of Three Blind Mice.

From the LA Times' op/ed board:

As welcome as the appeals court's action is, the better resolution would be for the United States to follow Canada's lead in formally apologizing to Arar and compensating him. The administration's failure to do so seems to stem from a reluctance to repudiate its policy of transferring suspected terrorists to foreign countries. The next president, who will have no stake in this miscarriage of justice, should quickly rectify it.

That would be a start, yes. For chrissake, what the hell have we become?

Jeff Dinelli :: 9:35 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!