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September 19, 2006

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are the italics better or worse to read than nested blockquotes would be?

It seems so piddling to say such a thing, in the company of such a thing, but blockquotes.

I think it is pretty readable. Katherine, I'm curious what you think about O'Connor's finding that he doesn't think the Canadians had any idea what was happening? Is it plausible or should we think that, like Italy in the CIA Nasr kidnapping, there were Canadians in on it?

I'll really get people mad at me, but here goes:

What was with Khadr?

Mr. Almalki was a central suspect. His activities of the past decade understandably appeared suspicious. He had worked in Afghanistan, which was now al-Qaeda's home base. He was acquainted with Omar Said Khadr, now established as a member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle. He sold communications equipment to Pakistan, some of which apparently had found its way into the hands of the Taliban. He had a friend, Mr. El-Maati, who was closely related to a wanted al-Qaeda terrorist. He travelled extensively.

Did Arar have contacts with Al Qaeda?

One U.S. official said yesterday that when apprehended at the airport, Arar had the names of "a large number of known al Qaeda operatives, affiliates or associates" in his wallet or pockets.

What about these various allegations here?

DaveC, your citations are ancient. Arar has been completely exonerated.

LJ, I think it is plausible. On the other hand I think Canada may have been sharing info. with Syria. They really should do a report on Almalki, El-Maati, and Nurredin (who I've never really discussed because he was detained after Arar).

DaveC, I don't really know much about Almalki's connections with Al Qaeda or extremists, if any, beyond the fact that he has been released and not charged. You might refer to his chronology; I believe he acknowledged working for the same charity as one of the Khadrs years ago. I don't remember the details. I can't keep the Khadrs straight.

Arguing about Arar's guilt will, as you say, just make me very angry. I would trust O'Connor's 1000 page report over anonymous quotes from U.S. officials in a single source.

I would trust O'Connor's 1000 page report over anonymous quotes from U.S. officials in a single source.

And an anonymous quote from 2003, at that.

The full Arar Report, if your interested DaveC, here.

DaveC,
You did read the first article you gave us, not just scan for names? It's about Abdullah Almalki. The points about Khadr stand to contradict the accusation of Almalki, not reinforce it.

You do realize that the US official only states that in 2003 and, because his/her name is not given, is supplying this information on background. Why should we believe it? If it was information that was trueand had a bearing on the case, why is it not mentioned in the O'Connor report? (the section it should appear in is at page 149 in Vol 1)

The last link has the writer arguing that Arar deserves every dollar he can get out of the government. That presumes that the tribunal was correct, and that the points raised are not consequential.

Words fail. Again.

Great. I was buzzed and happy. If I actually read this, I'd be depressed. Thanks a lot, Katherine.

[On the plus side, I have yet another thing to bring to my Senators' attention when I call.]

Not that I would really know, but Arar himself seems to be doing a lot better these days. (That article was published before the report.)

DaveC, did you actually read Katherine's article before responding to it? Or did you just not want to let go of your ridiculous notion that torturing people makes them give up "useful information"?

Time to read Darkness at Noon again.

I just listened to a CBC interview about the US Gov't's involvement in the Arar case. In the interview, James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation denied that there's any reason to believe that the US has tortured anyone or sent anyone to another country to be tortured.

The other person being interviewed (didn't catch his name but he's a NY lawyer) asked why it was, then, that the US Gov't is seeking broader powers to ... well, torture.

Carafano had a tantrum, yelling at the lawyer and then hanging up in the middle of the interview. The whole thing was incredible. The interview should be available on-line at http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/ in the next day or two.

Katherine: Yes, better, but still dealing with repercussions from his ordeal - and not just emotional:

Even en route to see the report that he hopes will clear his name, Maher Arar can’t escape the lens of the security spyglass.

It’s Saturday morning and Arar, baldly accused four years ago of terrorist ties, is anxiously waiting at the Kamloops, B.C., airport while a check-in clerk carefully screens him.

“I don’t know why I have to go through this all the time,” Arar says as the Air Canada staffer scrutinizes his ticket and driver’s licence, then makes a phone call.

The official eventually tells Arar he isn’t sure what caused the almost 15-minute delay.

“They wanted a security check,” the clerk explains. “We get them quite often. You’re not being singled out.”

But Arar is skeptical. Already uneasy, the experience makes him more fearful.

“I don’t know how to describe this feeling,” he says, motioning to his chest. “It’s here inside.”

[...]

The delay in Kamloops clearly spooks Arar. He wonders if he is still on a security watchlist.

“And if I am on a list, what kind of list? And who put me on this list, and why?”

Arar is especially unnerved because the last time he flew, from Ottawa to Edmonton he experienced the same sort of delay. And he spent the trip in the last row of the plane beside someone he strongly suspects was an undercover air marshal.

Arar’s inquiries to Air Canada didn’t answer his questions about that flight.

An airline spokesman was unavailable Sunday to discuss the Kamloops incident. It is known, however, that Air Canada checks passenger names against a U.S. security list, even on flights within Canada.

Marlys Edwardh, one of Arar’s lawyers, called the additional scrutiny of her client inexcusable, saying he should receive the same treatment as other Canadians. “I think it is ridiculous."

The NY Times is getting warmer...

A better link to today's New York Times story, thanks to the link generator.

What of the prisoners that do deserve to be there?

Mohammed: What of the prisoners that do deserve to be there?

No one deserves to be held without a hearing and without a chance to see the evidence against them.

No one deserves to be tortured.

In law, the US is not permitted to send any prisoners to Syria - not even prisoners who have been convicted of a crime in an American court - because the US is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, and Syria is known to use torture on prisoners.

The answer to your question is mu: there are no such people in the world, no matter what they have done, therefore your question is unanswerable.

More to the point, his question is pointless. We can't know which people may deserve to be held in Gitmo, a Syrian interrogation cell, or any similar hellhole, until after they are given a fair trial. We're not going to get a fair trial if we contaminate the results with confessions induced by torture.

I disagree, FWIW, that "no one deserves to be tortured." If we believe that bad deeds deserve bad treatment, then I have no trouble concluding that some deeds must be bad enough to deserve torture. Lex talionis ("eye for eye, hand for hand, foot for foot") suggests Bush deserves to be tortured, for example. But so what? "Treat every may according to his desert, and none shall 'scape whipping." I don't want to torture people because a) it does absolutely no good, b) it harms the souls of the torturers, including those who passively acquiesce in it, c) it breeds bad and sloppy habits, d) it produces lousy intelligence, e) it makes us hated and despised by good people whose help we need, and f) we are certain to torture some people who don't deserve it -- ESPECIALLY IF WE DON'T GIVE THEM A FAIR TRIAL FIRST!!!

What of the prisoners that do deserve to be there?

This sort of response puts the cart before the horse, neh?

trilobite: More to the point, his question is pointless.

That's what mu means... ;-)

I disagree, FWIW, that "no one deserves to be tortured." If we believe that bad deeds deserve bad treatment, then I have no trouble concluding that some deeds must be bad enough to deserve torture.

I do. Once permit torture or capital punishment in a judicial system, and you skew the system. Prisoner A deserves to be tortured because he raped and murdered 11 little children because he was caught. Does Prisoner B deserve to be tortured because he raped and murdered only 2 little children before he was caught? Does Prisoner C deserve to be tortured because he murdered 5 children but did not rape them? Does Prisoner D deserve to be tortured because he raped 11 children but did not murder them? Does Prisoner E deserve to be tortured because she kidnapped 11 children and sold them - one to A, one to D, and the other 9 to adoptive parents who didn't know (they claimed) the children were stolen? Does Prisoner F deserve to be tortured because she acted as a lure for Prisoner C to get children? Does Prisoner G deserve to be tortured because Prisoner D worked for him for 40 years and G deflected the complaints of many worried parents? At what point do you draw the dividing line "What this person did was bad enough that we can now torture them!" Let's not. Permitting torture into the system at all is wrong. Tempting though it is to imagine Bush under torture, no, he doesn't deserve it - not least because (in his mind) it would turn him from hero to martyr.

This aside from your other point, which of course I completely agree with: we cannot torture people in any case, no matter how bad they are, because we cannot do that to the people who would be required to commit torture.

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