From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Corrective action to right serious wrongs
In war against terror, when things go wrong, follow Canada's lead
(February 6, 2007) — "Mistakes were made" is the kind of nonspecific, noncommittal language that's come to be expected from the federal government when it has been caught crossing the line between right and wrong.
But amid the fight against terrorism, the Bush administration seems to believe it needn't even bother to offer such flaccid admissions.
Never mind that Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and wrongly imprisoned for nearly a year as a result of post-Sept. 11, 2001, information provided by United States intelligence. The Bush people refuse to release any details about the case.
Or so what if three years after Mohamed Muthana's northeast Rochester grocery store was stormed by nearly two dozen law enforcement officers, he and other local Yemeni Americans are no closer to getting their cases resolved?
So what if the search for evidence of illegal money transfers to the Middle East that could finance terrorism forced the shutdown of Muthana's business?
So what if Muthana provided authorities with proof that the transfer of thousands of dollars to Yemen was legitimate?
Meanwhile, all the local U.S. attorney's office and the FBI will say about the case is ''no comment."
The Bush administration should look to the Canadian model for handling cases of suspected terrorist activity that are disputable. After a four-month investigation, Canada concluded that it was misled by Americans about their plans for Arar. The Canadians not only apologized to Arar but offered the software engineer financial compensation.
For sure, terrorist detective work is dicey. And, yes, mistakes are bound to be made. But when errors are suspected, and particularly when they're found, corrective action must be taken.
Rather than stonewalling as the Bush administration is doing in the cases of Arar and local Yemeni, it should thoroughly explain its position.
And when government has been found to have overstepped its boundaries, it must set the record straight. Doing so undergirds the principles of American democracy. Ask the Canadians.