This is from the Huffington Post. Some of the comments are weird. I will try to find out more about the treaty binding governments not to hold people in secret detention.
U.S. Handling of Arar Case Shows How far We've Fallen ()
Late last month Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology "on behalf of the government of Canada" to one of its citizens, Maher Arar, and his family. Moreover, the Canadian government agreed to pay Arar more than $10 million to settle his case.
On September 26, 2002, U.S. authorities detained Arar, the Syria-born Canadian citizen, during a stopover in New York en route from Tunisia to Canada.
He was subsequently sent to Syria for torture under the controversial American practice of "extraordinary rendition." After a year of torture and pressure by the Canadian government, Arar was released and returned to Canada.
According to the official inquiry conducted by the Canadian government, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents acted on false and misleading information supplied by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The inquiry findings led to the prime minister's formal apology to Arar on behalf of the Canadian government and the $10 million settlement. In addition, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli resigned as a result of the Arar controversy.
Meanwhile, Arar still appears on the U.S. watch list -- American authorities are refusing Canada's request to purge his name. His inclusion on U.S. lists effectively excludes Arar from at least one-third of the world's nations, according to his attorneys.
The Arar case has all the familiarity of the administration's misguided "if you knew what we knew" play book that has effectively led us into the current quagmire. More concerning, the Arar case is reflective of what we have become.
The U.S. government's unwillingness to remove Arar's name, let alone apologize, demonstrates how far astray we have become from our own democratic sensibilities. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy noted that instead of sending Arar a "couple of hundred miles to Canada and (have him) turned over to the Canadian authorities ... he was sent thousands of miles away to Syria."
The absurdity is mind-boggling, with each passing day we come closer to an Orwellian nightmare.
Just this week, representatives from 57 countries signed a treaty that prohibits governments from holding people in secret detention. Regretfully, but not surprising given the current climate, the United States was not among the countries that endorsed the treaty, suggesting that the text did not meet U.S. expectations.
When one begins to connect the dots, linking Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, secret prisons, the selective application of habeas corpus, the Arar case, along with our unwillingness to sign a treaty that prohibits secret detention, it becomes quite clear that rather than a few bad apples or isolated incidents, the aforementioned reveal a systematic approach in the use of torture while ignoring the rule of law.
Where is the outrage? Such malfeasance should create the unlikely coalition of liberals, conservatives, Greens, libertarians, fundamentalists and atheists taking to the streets in mass protest.
We become further entrenched in the abyss because what is now required goes against one of America's less flattering values.
Historically, official apologies from the government have been rare. I recall when President Clinton went to Africa. He came as close to an official apology for the atrocities of slavery as anyone. The next day Republicans took to the floor outraged.
If there cannot be an official apology for the institution of slavery, which almost divided the nation over 200 years ago, it seems rather hopeless that we could show humility for infractions no more than four years removed.
The gravity of mistakes made in the invasion and occupation of Iraq make the need for contrition essential. Not only does Arar deserve an apology -- and to have his name removed from the U.S. watch list -- but this government must humble itself before the world community. The seldom-used art of apology could be a crucial first step in paving the way for whatever bad choice in Iraq we ultimately settle on.
Since it appears unlikely that such impulses are part of the DNA of the present administration, I suggest the myriad candidates running for president in 2008 put together a contrition speech in case he or she wins. It might come in handy.
Byron Williams is an Oakland pastor and syndicated columnist. E-mail him at byron
@byronspeaks.com or leave a message at (510) 208-6417.
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