Synopsis of Arar's suit against the US and chronology

As is evident through looking at the results of the lawsuit so far. It is going nowhere because the defendants always bring up national security considerations. Under the cloak of national security defendants can break laws and treaties with impunity. Stockwell Day the Canadian cabinet minister in charge of security has seen the secret evidence and did not change his mind about Arar and his not being a threat to security. He has been removed from the Canadian terror watch list.
Docket: Arar v. Ashcroft




Synopsis

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen was detained during a layover at J.F.K. Airport in September 2002 on his way home to his family in Canada. He was held in solitary confinement for nearly two weeks, interrogated, and denied meaningful access to a lawyer. The Bush administration labeled him a member of Al Qaeda, and rendered him, not to Canada, his home and country of citizenship, but to Syrian intelligence authorities renowned for torture.




Mr. Arar spent nearly a year detained in Syria, where he was interrogated and tortured, without charge. After being beaten and whipped with a two-inch thick electrical cable, Mr. Arar falsely confessed that he had attended a training camp in Afghanistan. He was held in a dark, damp underground cell the size of a grave for over ten months. "I was willing to do anything to stop the torture," he says. After nearly a year of confinement, Syrian authorities released Mr. Arar, publicly stating that they had found no connection to any criminal or terrorist organization or activity. Upon his return to Canada, Mr. Arar was never charged with any crime; nor has he been charged with any crime by the United States. The Canadian Parliament has convened a Public Inquiry to investigate the details and reasoning behind Mr. Arar's rendition, which the United States has categorically refused to cooperate with.

Since his release, Mr. Arar has become outspoken about his own experience and the injustices committed under the guise of countering terrorism around the world. CCR believes a case like Mr. Arar's only reveals the willingness of U.S. officials to trample on the most fundamental principles of due process and human rights in their scorched earth approach to counterterrorism. As a signatory of the International Convention against Torture, the U.S. has an obligation to avoid sending detainees to a nation that regularly practices torture against prisoners.

In response to flagrant violations of Mr. Arar's basic human rights at the hands of the U.S. government and concurrent with the Center for Constitutional Rights' stance against torture of any form, CCR has brought suit on behalf of Mr. Arar. On January 22, 2004, the Center filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Homeland Security Tom Ridge, as well as numerous directors of the U.S. immigration officials. The claims in the lawsuit include violations of Mr. Arar's right to due process under the U.S. Constitution, his right to choose a country of removal other than one in which he would be tortured as guaranteed under the Torture Victims Protection Act, and his rights under international law.

One of the constitutional claims alleged by CCR is that Mr. Arar's Fifth amendment due process rights were violated when he was confined without access to an attorney or the court system, both domestically before being rendered and while detained by the Syrian government whose actions were complicit with the U.S. Further, the Attorney General and INS officials who carried out his deportation also likely violated his right to due process by recklessly subjecting him to torture at the hands of a foreign government that they had every reason to believe would carry out abusive interrogation. In addition, another claim was filed under the Torture Victims Protection Act, adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1992, which allows a victim of torture by an individual of a foreign government to bring suit against that actor in U.S. Court. Mr. Arar's claim under the Act against Ashcroft and the INS directors is based upon their complicity in bringing about the torture he suffered.

In January of 2005, the U.S. government moved to dismiss the case by asserting the "state secrets" privilege, claiming that the reasons Mr. Arar was deemed a member of Al Qaeda and sent to Syria instead of Canada are "state secrets." The Government argued that litigating the case would disclose these state secrets, revealing intelligence gathering methods and harming national security and foreign relations. On March 15, 2005, CCR filed a response, arguing that Mr. Arar could prove his case without privileged information, and even if such information were necessary to establish a defense, procedural safeguards could protect such information.

On February 16, 2006, Judge David Trager of the Eastern District of New York dismissed Mr. Arar's claims against U.S. government officials for "rendering" him to Syria to be tortured and arbitrarily detained. Judge Trager found that national security and foreign policy considerations prevented him from holding the officials liable for carrying out an extraordinary rendition even if such conduct violates our treaty obligations or customary international law.

Although the district court also dismissed Mr. Arar's claim for the officials' violation of his due process rights while detained in the U.S., the order permitted Mr. Arar to amend his complaint to better allege how he was grossly physically abused in the U.S., how he was injured by being denied access to counsel, and to name defendants who were personally involved.

On April 3, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel DLA Piper US LLP filed a Motion requesting that they be permitted to immediately appeal his "rendition" claims to the Second Circuit without waiting for resolution of his U.S. detention claim. Judge Trager denied this Rule 54(b) motion on July 5, 2006. On July 14, 2006, Mr. Arar filed a notice of intent not to replead, but to instead stand on the allegations of his complaint, and therefore appeal the entire February 16th order. Final judgment was accordingly entered August 17, 2006. On September 12, 2006, Mr. Arar's Notice of Appeal was filed in the Second Circuit.

On September 18, 2006, the Canadian Commission of Inquiry established by the Canadian Government to Investigate the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Mr. Arar issued its report. The Commissioner concluded "categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada." Canadian investigators, with U.S. cooperation, exhaustively investigated Mr. Arar, and found no information that could implicate Mr. Arar in terrorist activities. The Commission also found no evidence that Canadian officials acquiesced in the U.S. decision to detain and remove Mr. Arar to Syria, but that it is very likely that the U.S. relied on inaccurate and unfair information about Mr. Arar that was provided by Canadian officials.

CCR hopes that the U.S. will follow suit and clear Mr. Arar's name of any links to terrorism. Meanwhile, CCR is continuing the struggle in the courts, and on December 12, 2006, CCR attorneys filed an appeal in the Second Circuit on behalf of Mr. Arar.






Docket: Arar v. Ashcroft




Synopsis

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen was detained during a layover at J.F.K. Airport in September 2002 on his way home to his family in Canada. He was held in solitary confinement for nearly two weeks, interrogated, and denied meaningful access to a lawyer. The Bush administration labeled him a member of Al Qaeda, and rendered him, not to Canada, his home and country of citizenship, but to Syrian intelligence authorities renowned for torture.




Mr. Arar spent nearly a year detained in Syria, where he was interrogated and tortured, without charge. After being beaten and whipped with a two-inch thick electrical cable, Mr. Arar falsely confessed that he had attended a training camp in Afghanistan. He was held in a dark, damp underground cell the size of a grave for over ten months. "I was willing to do anything to stop the torture," he says. After nearly a year of confinement, Syrian authorities released Mr. Arar, publicly stating that they had found no connection to any criminal or terrorist organization or activity. Upon his return to Canada, Mr. Arar was never charged with any crime; nor has he been charged with any crime by the United States. The Canadian Parliament has convened a Public Inquiry to investigate the details and reasoning behind Mr. Arar's rendition, which the United States has categorically refused to cooperate with.

Since his release, Mr. Arar has become outspoken about his own experience and the injustices committed under the guise of countering terrorism around the world. CCR believes a case like Mr. Arar's only reveals the willingness of U.S. officials to trample on the most fundamental principles of due process and human rights in their scorched earth approach to counterterrorism. As a signatory of the International Convention against Torture, the U.S. has an obligation to avoid sending detainees to a nation that regularly practices torture against prisoners.

In response to flagrant violations of Mr. Arar's basic human rights at the hands of the U.S. government and concurrent with the Center for Constitutional Rights' stance against torture of any form, CCR has brought suit on behalf of Mr. Arar. On January 22, 2004, the Center filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Homeland Security Tom Ridge, as well as numerous directors of the U.S. immigration officials. The claims in the lawsuit include violations of Mr. Arar's right to due process under the U.S. Constitution, his right to choose a country of removal other than one in which he would be tortured as guaranteed under the Torture Victims Protection Act, and his rights under international law.

One of the constitutional claims alleged by CCR is that Mr. Arar's Fifth amendment due process rights were violated when he was confined without access to an attorney or the court system, both domestically before being rendered and while detained by the Syrian government whose actions were complicit with the U.S. Further, the Attorney General and INS officials who carried out his deportation also likely violated his right to due process by recklessly subjecting him to torture at the hands of a foreign government that they had every reason to believe would carry out abusive interrogation. In addition, another claim was filed under the Torture Victims Protection Act, adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1992, which allows a victim of torture by an individual of a foreign government to bring suit against that actor in U.S. Court. Mr. Arar's claim under the Act against Ashcroft and the INS directors is based upon their complicity in bringing about the torture he suffered.

In January of 2005, the U.S. government moved to dismiss the case by asserting the "state secrets" privilege, claiming that the reasons Mr. Arar was deemed a member of Al Qaeda and sent to Syria instead of Canada are "state secrets." The Government argued that litigating the case would disclose these state secrets, revealing intelligence gathering methods and harming national security and foreign relations. On March 15, 2005, CCR filed a response, arguing that Mr. Arar could prove his case without privileged information, and even if such information were necessary to establish a defense, procedural safeguards could protect such information.

On February 16, 2006, Judge David Trager of the Eastern District of New York dismissed Mr. Arar's claims against U.S. government officials for "rendering" him to Syria to be tortured and arbitrarily detained. Judge Trager found that national security and foreign policy considerations prevented him from holding the officials liable for carrying out an extraordinary rendition even if such conduct violates our treaty obligations or customary international law.

Although the district court also dismissed Mr. Arar's claim for the officials' violation of his due process rights while detained in the U.S., the order permitted Mr. Arar to amend his complaint to better allege how he was grossly physically abused in the U.S., how he was injured by being denied access to counsel, and to name defendants who were personally involved.

On April 3, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel DLA Piper US LLP filed a Motion requesting that they be permitted to immediately appeal his "rendition" claims to the Second Circuit without waiting for resolution of his U.S. detention claim. Judge Trager denied this Rule 54(b) motion on July 5, 2006. On July 14, 2006, Mr. Arar filed a notice of intent not to replead, but to instead stand on the allegations of his complaint, and therefore appeal the entire February 16th order. Final judgment was accordingly entered August 17, 2006. On September 12, 2006, Mr. Arar's Notice of Appeal was filed in the Second Circuit.

On September 18, 2006, the Canadian Commission of Inquiry established by the Canadian Government to Investigate the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Mr. Arar issued its report. The Commissioner concluded "categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada." Canadian investigators, with U.S. cooperation, exhaustively investigated Mr. Arar, and found no information that could implicate Mr. Arar in terrorist activities. The Commission also found no evidence that Canadian officials acquiesced in the U.S. decision to detain and remove Mr. Arar to Syria, but that it is very likely that the U.S. relied on inaccurate and unfair information about Mr. Arar that was provided by Canadian officials.

CCR hopes that the U.S. will follow suit and clear Mr. Arar's name of any links to terrorism. Meanwhile, CCR is continuing the struggle in the courts, and on December 12, 2006, CCR attorneys filed an appeal in the Second Circuit on behalf of Mr. Arar.

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