Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When It Rains, It Pours

It has been a busy week for torture and secret imprisonment stories. Here's yet another one.

A Canadian man was stopped by US agents in New York while changing planes, and whisked away to Syria to be beaten and tortured because he was misidentified as a terrorist. He was kept in a coffin sized room for 10 months, and under torture, confessed to having been trained in Afganistan, where he had never been.

This story combines all the worst elements of torture with all the worst elements of secret imprisonment. I don't know what else to say. We are ensuring there will be a full pipeline of enemies for at least the next generation.

Update: Here's a much more impassioned response by Glenn Grenwald

So on top of operating secret torture gulags in Eastern Europe, we also kidnap people, charge them with no crime, give them no opportunity to defend themselves, deny them contact with their consulate in violation of international treaties (as the Canadian report complained about), send them off to be tortured for months, and then when it turns out that they are completely inncoent, we block them from obtaining compensation in our courts because our Government claims that national security would be jeopardized if they were held accountable for their behavior.

How can you be an American citizen and not be completely outraged, embarrassed, and disgusted by this conduct? What the Bush administration is doing on so many levels is a grotesque betrayal of every national value and principle we have always claimed to embrace and for which we have fought, and which we claim we are defending as part of our current "war".

Can it even be debated at this point that the Bush administration has so plainly, as Billmon described it the other day, "forfeit(ed) forever its ability to chastise the human rights abuses of others without triggering a global laughing fit"? Who would ever take seriously the notion that a Government that engages in this behavior can lecture anyone on human rights abuses or import democratic values around the world?


snarkbutt said...

Obnoxious rhetorical advice:

You had me at "I don't know what else to say," and then lost me with the next comment.

You can't follow up "I don't know what else to say" with another sentence. Obviously, you did know what else to say, and said it. To my mind, the last comment goes too far and weakens the rest of the post. You imply that this "reserved, soft-spoken father of two" will now become a terrorist. There's no need to heap more indignities on this man by assuming he'll be an "enemy" from now on. (An "enemy" of what, I'm not sure.)

Look at it this way: If you had experienced what this man had, would you become a terrorist? Would it ensure a "pipeline" of enemies? No, you would be just as adamant against Bush's policies as you are now. You'd be an "enemy" of torture, for sure.

I don't know if you meant to say that Arar himself would become a terrorist, but rhetorically, that's what you imply. And that's just too much for me.

Dan S said...

I don't know what to say, except that I wasn't being literal :)

I have no reason to think that Arar himself will become a terrorist, but we certainly created an enemy of him where one likely didn't exist before. Mostly, behavior like this ensures that terrorist recruitment will remain strong, since they have obvious examples of evil that we commit to use against us for justification for whatever cause they have.

Brownie said...

After reading your blog for many months now, I have begun to wonder why it is (almost) none of the cases of (insert any alleged abuse by anyone of a diametrically opposed political persuasion to yourself here)are ever mentioned anywhere else in the media besides here and your source.

It is either suspiciously convienient or frighteningly suspicious (if you catch my drift).

Has the world broken down so far?
Has the media totally dropped the ball?
Have our leaders and our country been reduced to this?

Frankly, you scare me Dan. I just can't figure out why. Is it that you have tapped a secret pipeline to truths no one wants released? Or is it that you are the victim of huge ruse, one of an endless line of unwitting stooges, succumbing to the bait of planted stories by a vast left wing conspiracy?

Ocham's Razor: (spelling?)
The most obvious explanation is usually the correct one.

If I shave your blog with this razor...I find I want to hide behind a beard (except for the fact that I might be hit over the head and wake up in a secret Bulgarian CIA prison, because I look too much like a "bad guy").

All I once thought unfathomable is now coming to pass.

God Help Us.


dw said...

I agree with snark's analysis of your rhetoric Dan, but I'm glad you pointed out this situation. Laws are written NOT primarily for when a govt is right in identifying a terrorist or criminal, but for when they're wrong.

Brownie, this story about the Canadian falsely accused of terrorist connections cannot only be found at the Washington Post, where Dan links, but at the Chicago Trib , The Montreal Gazzette and on ABC News, among many others. In fact, while refusing to explicitly apologize, the Candian prime minister did say, ""I think it’s clear that ... Mr. Arar has been done a tremendous injustice." To say. the least.


Dan S said...

I agree with snark's analysis of your rhetoric Dan...

Shoot. First a librarian, and now a poet. I guess my computer science backed opinions on rhetoric are pretty much trumped. :)

I have mixed feelings about changing it though. It makes the ensuing comments not make sense. Maybe I should just live with my mistakes...

Dan S said...

Brownie, do I see the beginnings of recognition that the media might not be so left-titled after all? :)

This is all over the MSM now, but it happened *years ago*, in 2002. It made the news now only because the canadian commission released its final findings. In fact, the story is so old, it has a wikipedia entry that was first entered in March of 2003 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maher_Arar)

It is a good question why stories like this don't get the play they deserve.

Brownie said...

"do I see the beginnings of recognition that the media might not be so left-titled after all?"

Maybe, maybe not. I still think there is plenty of tilt (the direction depends upon the organization) to go around, but its the realization that the media is NOT DOING IT'S JOB is what I find (no longer surprising, but) deplorable.