Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The innocent have nothing to fear

I just went to msn.com to check my mail, and I'm greeted with this:

TORONTO, Sept. 18 - Canadian intelligence officials passed false warnings and bad information to American agents about a Muslim Canadian citizen, after which U.S. authorities secretly whisked him to Syria, where he was tortured, a judicial report found Monday.

The report, released in Ottawa, was the result of a 2 1/2-year inquiry that represented one of the first public investigations into mistakes made as part of the United States' "extraordinary rendition" program, which has secretly spirited suspects to foreign countries for interrogation by often brutal methods.

I encourage you to read the whole article. Here's the quick version: Innocent Canadian citizen Maher Arar is wrongly put on a list of terrorist suspects. The U.S. government snatches him while changing planes in New York and, with no trial, ships him to Syria, where he spent nearly a year being beaten and kept in a dungeon.

This isn't the first time the U.S. has sent alleged terrorists to some foreign despotism so that the locals can do the sort of things that we claim to be too civilized to do ourselves, but to the best of my knowledge this is the first time that an innocent ensnared in this has returned to tell his tale.

When American apologists for torture and detention without due process are challenged to defend their views, the traditional response is something along the lines of, "These people are terrorists! Why are you so worried about the rights of terrorists?" Well, this is why. How many other Maher Arar's are suffering in some foreign hellhole as I type?

For more details, you can check out the wikipedia entry or Mr. Arar's website.

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