Tuesday, February 21, 2006

This is what I'm on about!

So much for activist judges.

The case of Maher Arar was the one that finally pushed me over the edge to go work in the swing states. In case you do not remember, here's the short version of his story:

In September 2002, Arar was in Tunisia, vacationing with his wife Monia Mazigh and their two small children. On Sept. 26 while in transit in New York’s JFK airport, he was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda.

Twelve days later, he was chained, shackled and flown to Jordan aboard a private plane and from there transferred to a Syrian prison. In Syria, he was held in a tiny “grave-like” cell for ten months and ten days before he was moved to a better cell in a different prison. He was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.

This man, a Canadian citizen since 1991, was spirited away and tortured, before finally released without any formal charges. Even at my most cynical, I had hoped that this country, who claims to be fighting for freedom, would error on the side of caution, that stories like this wouldn't be out there. But they are. And to me, one story made public means how many other Maher Arars are there out there that haven't been released, that were flown to a cell by American military flights across Europe that use a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use (hat tip, DailyKos)?

But do we honestly care about justice here? US District Judge David Trager doesn't. From the Seattle PI:

U.S. District Judge David G. Trager rejected arguments that Arar was protected by the Torture Victim Prevention Act, which allows U.S. courts to assess damages for human rights abuses committed abroad.

Trager said that as a non-citizen, Arar couldn't demonstrate that he has a viable cause of action under that statute.

Citing "the national security and foreign policy considerations at stake," the judge said Arar had no grounds in a U.S. court to claim his constitutional right to due process was violated.
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This is unconscionable. Are we no longer human beings? They took at least a year of his life away, not counting the permanent physical and psychological damage, his reputation... the "family values" posse has robbed his children of one of their loving parents for at least a year. To be found completely innocent. How can these people get shit so completely wrong? How did they miss the August 2001 briefing yet zero in on this guy? How can we talk about spreading freedom when we can't even manage to not destroy the freedom of already free people? And how do these people live with themselves? I'm sick with pain knowing this guy's story, and they go shoe shopping or play golf or fiddle while the world burns.

The full story from the PI here. And Bob Herbert sums it up best from his column:
"If kidnapping and torturing an innocent man is O.K., what's not O.K.?"

And people wonder why I don't give a fuck about the Olympics?

Now we see the violence inherent in the system.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ram-O said...

Good article, but unfortunately the Democrats really aren't doing jack shit to stop civil rights abuses of Arab-Americans either. Sometimes the Dems are even wors than the Repubs when it comes to anti-Arab racism.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Ruby K said...

So true, Zappy, so true. And of course, the "liberal" media has buried this story. No one wants to put this story on the front page where it belongs. Who knows how many of these stories didn't make it out of Iraq alive?

12:55 AM  

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