Kidnap, Torture, and … Oh, not that one …
First, you need to know that since this happened, Arar, a Canadian citizen, has been exonerated and awarded (if I remember correctly) $9 million in damages by the Canadian government.
Now Arar (reported by Amy Goodman in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer):
… was returning to Canada from a family vacation, with a plane change at New York’s JFK Airport. There he was pulled aside, searched, questioned and imprisoned. Two weeks later, U.S. authorities sent Arar to Syria.
Arar spent the next 10 months enduring brutal beatings and psychological torture … kept in a cell the size of a grave. Arar was accused of being connected to al-Qaida, and of having been to a training camp in Afghanistan. Neither was true, but after weeks of beatings, he admitted to everything. Worse than the beatings, Arar said on “Democracy Now!,” was how he suffered while isolated in the dank, windowless cell: “The psychological torture that I endured during this 10-month period in the underground cell is really beyond human imagination. I was ready to confess to anything. I would just write anything so that they could only take me from that place and put me in a place where it is fit for a human being.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reprimanded U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: “We knew damn well, if he went to Canada, he wouldn’t be tortured. He’d be held. He’d be investigated. We also knew damn well, if he went to Syria, he’d be tortured.”
Arar was detained less than two months after Gonzales’ office produced the notorious “Torture Memo,” which has served as the legal basis for the Bush administration’s brutal torture methods such as “waterboarding” (holding a victim’s head underwater until unconscious) that are increasingly well-known and globally despised. The U.S. government also engages in “extraordinary rendition.” This Orwellian phrase describes how foreigners are grabbed off the street or from their home and secretly delivered to some other place, outside the U.S. (in Arar’s case, Syria), where illegal and brutal interrogations can take place beyond the reach of Congress and the courts.
This, friends, is immoral.
The Bush Administration should apologize to Arar, make financial restitution, and pledge permanent abandonment of “extraordinary rendition” and torture. Just as the Bush policy of “preemptive war” led in error to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, rendition and torture inevitably victimize the innocent.
And who will speak up for them?