Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Stockwell Day not convinced by US evidence on Arar

This article makes it crystal clear that the letter was written before Day met with CHertoff. At that time Day already saw the evidence and was not convinced. Gonzales did not even mention the letter in his testimony before Senate. I sure hope that Leahy continues with senate investigations into the case.


Arar to stay on watch list, U.S. says
Letter co-signed by homeland secretary two days before he met with Day
PAUL KORING AND JEFF SALLOT

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

WASHINGTON, OTTAWA — Maher Arar should remain on the security watch list barring him from the United States, the Bush administration says in a letter released yesterday that bluntly rejects pleas from senior Canadian cabinet ministers.

The letter, written last week, marks the conclusion of a Canadian-requested review by U.S. counterterrorism officials of the file on Mr. Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was tortured in a Damascus prison after being sent there by the Americans.

"We remain of the view that the continued watch listing of Mr. Arar is appropriate," says the letter to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, signed by both Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney-General Alberto Gonzalez.

The letter was dated last Tuesday, two days before Mr. Day met Mr. Chertoff in Washington. Mr. Day said that Canadian counterterrorism officials had viewed the American dossier on Mr. Arar, finding "nothing new" that would justify keeping him on a terrorist watch list.




U.S. file fails to link Arar to terror, Day says
U Neither man mentioned the letter. Nor did Mr. Gonzalez when he was questioned about Mr. Arar the same day by the U.S. Senate judiciary committee.

However, Mr. Day said last night the letter and the U.S. intelligence dossier on Mr. Arar that it refers to changes nothing, and Canada still believes Mr. Arar is an innocent man who should be taken off any watch list.

In a written statement, Mr. Day said: "While in Washington last week, I apprised American authorities that this information which they had would not alter our position on this matter.

"I have informed the Americans once again that we have removed Mr. Arar and his family from our watch list according to the recommendation of the [Mr. Justice Dennis] O'Connor report and because we do not deem Mr. Arar or his family to be a security risk. I maintain the same position which I clearly articulated in writing to Secretary Chertoff on September 21st, 2006." At that time, Mr. Day urged the Americans to delist Mr. Arar.

The U.S. letter makes it clear that Canadian-provided information originally fingering Mr. Arar isn't the basis for continuing American concerns about him.

"Our conclusion . . . is supported by information developed by U.S. law enforcement agencies that is independent of that provided by Canada," the letter says.

Mr. Arar's U.S. lawyer said the Bush administration is still not coming clean. Maria LaHood said Canadian officials undoubtedly know far more about Mr. Arar than U.S. officials after a lengthy commission of inquiry exonerated him of terrorist allegations.

The reason Washington may still keep him on a watch list is to protect the U.S. position in the lawsuit, she said.

Mr. Arar has sued Washington for civil-rights violations in deporting him to Syria.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper telephoned President George W. Bush last fall saying it was "unfair" that Mr. Arar remained on the watch list, urging the Americans to "come clean."

Foreign Minister Peter MacKay made another appeal when he met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before Christmas. Ms. Rice said she would personally ask Mr. Chertoff and Mr. Gonzalez to take the unusual step of reviewing why a person was on a watch list.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who chairs the powerful Senate judiciary committee and has championed Mr. Arar's case, said he was "disappointed that the letter does not address the larger issues surrounding this case. The reason the Arar case is such a sore point and such an offence to American values is that he was sent to Syria, on the Bush administration's orders, where he was tortured

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