twitter

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A US editorial on the Arar case.

While an apology would be good even better would be an investigation into the practice of rendition and holding those responsible who have been involved in it. Senator Leahy could certainly start the ball rolling.


From Daily Times Waltham MA, USA

Editorial: Arar deserves an apology
Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - Updated: 12:45 AM EST



Thanks in part to the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy, the stories of innocent people swept up in the war on terror are rarely told. Some of those stories are no doubt locked up at Guantanamo or secret prisons overseas, perhaps forever.
Maher Arar is the exception. He's been able to tell the story of how he was grabbed by U.S. authorities while changing planes in New York on his way home to Canada, how he was held for weeks without charges or access to due process, how the CIA transported him to Syria, where he was locked up and tortured for 10 months.

A Canadian citizen, Arar was released through pressure from his family and the Canadian government, and his story received much attention north of the border. The Daily News followed his story as well, because he lived in Framingham and worked at MathWorks in Natick before moving to Canada. But Arar's story hasn't attracted much attention here in the United States. Nor has it inspired what the Canadian government gave late last week: an apology.

The apology, following a 2-year investigation, was unequivocal: "On behalf of the government of Canada, I want to extend a full apology to you and Monia as well as your family for the role played by Canadian officials in the terrible ordeal that you experienced in 2002 and 2003," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters in Ottawa, referring to Arar's wife, Monia Mazigh, and their two children.

The apology comes with a check for $8.9 million, to compensate Arar for Canada's part in his detention. Harper's government is also pressing the U.S. to remove Arar from its terrorist watch lists and to issue its own apology.

Also demanding the U.S. apologize is Rep. Ed Markey, D-7th, who for years has championed the cause of his former constituent and tried to get Congress to outlaw "extraordinary rendition," the practice of turning U.S. suspects over to foreign regimes for interrogation and torture.

Despite progress in clearing his name, Arar's suffering continues. He has been unable to find work, and may never escape the psychological effects of his detention. "The mental suffering, the psychological suffering is beyond human description," Arar told the MetroWest Daily News last year," but what really worries me is how this will affect my kids when they grow up."

As a matter of policy, what Markey calls "the outsourcing of torture" should stop. But even those who defend it as a necessary tool for fighting terrorists wouldn't claim that the agents who use it are incapable of making a mistake.

When a mistake is made, even with the best of intentions, a mature individual acknowledges it and apologizes. When the government makes a mistake, especially one that ruins the life of an innocent man, those the government represents should demand no less.

What the United States did to Maher Arar was wrong. The honorable response of a mature nation in such a circumstance starts with an apology and reparations. After that, we'd like to see President Bush make a promise not to let it happen again.

No comments: