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January 26, 2007

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I no longer have any expectations of this administration, nor is the Executive Branch and its agents capable of disappointing me. I will blame no others in the world for sharing this opinion of the Executive Branch, and acting on it in the way they see fit.

An anonymous State Dep't spokesman has said that Arar's "personal associations and travel history" are what's keeping him on the watch list.

"Personal associations" would presumably be Abdullah Almalki signing his lease and meeting him for lunch, and Abdullah El-Maati meeting him exactly once, presumably. As for travel history--this is from Ahmad Abou El-Maati's chronology of his torture in Syria:

Ahmad told them that he had told them the truth and that he could not change what had happened. The interrogators said they would not accept that. Ahmad said he could not invent a story, and they told him yes, he could invent a story.

They told him to strip naked except for his shorts and made him lie down, and handcuffed his hands behind his back to his legs. He was still blindfolded. They poured ice water all over him and brought in thick electric cables and started beating him with them on his feet, legs, knees and back. They would occasionally stop and take him back to his cell. This continued for two days.

Ahmad broke down and agreed to say what they wanted him to say. He was asked about any Syrians he knew, including Arar. Ahmad explained that he did not know him well
and met him briefly in a garage where he had worked in Montreal in 1998. He was also asked about Almalki, and he told them he knew him, but not well, and had once asked
Almalki for advice on obtaining a Syrian visa.

The Syrian interrogators wanted Ahmad to say he had seen both of them in Afghanistan, although he had only seen Almalki there in passing and had not spoken with him. In the
end Ahmad said what he thought they wanted him to — that he had seen them both in Afghanistan.

They could be relying on something else or in addition, of course; I have no access whatsoever to his U.S. files. But I wish someone would at least ask some follow ups about this...I am trying to get this information into a newspaper and to Senator Leahy's office, but no response whatsoever yet.

We, by contrast, actually detained him and shipped him off to Syria, where he was kept in a three foot by six foot underground cell and tortured for ten months. Unlike the Canadian government, we have not initiated an investigation of how we ended up shipping an innocent engineer off to be tortured in Syria. To my knowledge, no one has resigned.

Nor has Syria done anything about it.

We must conclude that the US is closer to Syria than Canada when it comes to things like human rights.

Canada's most important relationship will always be the United States but, you know, we really really need to diversify the portfolio a little bit more.

The last few days have found me agreeing with Tories, or in this case a former Tory. My world is upside down.

I didn't have Gonzales anywhere near high enough on my list of people ruining the country.

Hilzoy, I think it's sufficiently clear by this time that the most important thing to this administration (well, next to increasing their own personal wealth - but collectively) is never admitting that they were wrong. Over Maher Arar, they're taking exactly the stance I would expect if the most important thing is that Fox News viewers and Rush Limbaugh listeners should continue to believe that there probably was something about Arar that justified the US sending him to Syria, and that Canada, claiming there wasn't, is just being wrongheaded and presuming on the close relationship.

Plus, if everything goes pearshaped for them personally, an admission of guilt would make the trial open-and-shut, yes?

Ashcroft may have been partially excused for being a loony. Gonzales on the other hand is a perfect specimen of the kind of person who will serve any regime and pervert justice in its name and then claim that he only did his job. Once he is out of office he should be brought to trial and then be put in one of the less than pleasant jails in the South for the rest of his life (with no chance of parole and an explicit ban of pardon)!

To my knowledge, no one has resigned.

LOL. When's the last time someone in charge resigned over ANYTHING? In the US I mean.

LOL. When's the last time someone in charge resigned over ANYTHING? In the US I mean.

Tenet resigned over those "16 words" and then got the Presidential Medal of Freedom (at least I think it was afterwards).
Btw, I think that Medal is now so tainted that it should be abolished and replaced by something else.

These guys have no shame over causing 500,000 deaths.
These guys have no shame over 3,000 US soldier deaths and 25,000 injured.

Does anybody honestly think they give a shit about one guy -- who isn't even dead ???

Sniff more glue.

They probably "give shit" that the guy is still alive and can cause them trouble unlike some "who have met another fate" [Bush on secretly killing alleged terrorists without trial]

Tenet resigned over those "16 words"

Hmmm... June 2004, two and a half years ago:

"I tell you about my plans to depart with sadness, but with head held very, very high," Tenet told CIA employees at the agency's Langley, Virginia, headquarters.

"And while Washington and the media will put many different faces on the decision, it was a personal decision, and had only one basis -- in fact, the well-being of my wonderful family -- nothing more and nothing less."

I was talking about really resigning. Saying that you did something wrong, or that you were responsible for something that went wrong, and than resigning your post.

These guys have figured out that as long as you can convince the American people that you are protecting them, you can do just about anything. If they democrats in congress were serious about this there would be televised hearings, subpoenas, testimony under oath, etc. etc. etc. Instead, AG AG shows up, blows smoke, and then ignores them.

Concerning: resigning for failure.
If we are talking about voluntary resigning for failure (and saying so), you are probably right (one could interpret Powells decision to not stay after saying that his UN presentation would be a black spot on his career forever as something like that though).
There were a few forced resignings (or is it 'resigns'?) like Libby or Perle. The first one as a scapegoat the letter to get him out of the direct firing line. Both are of course completely unrepentant.
There were also a few former strong Bush supporters/enablers/accomplices that later resigned in disgust or because they thought that they could not go above a certain level of lawbending/breaking but would have to if they stayed.

@Hartmut: yeah, I think this is one of those culture clash area's. With us it is normal if you resign because things went wrong on your watch. Which means that both the lack of people resigning over things like Iraq, the false intelligence, Katrina, etc. and the acceptance of the fact keeps on amazing me.

TEST

These guys have figured out that as long as you can convince the American people that you are protecting them, you can do just about anything.

Spot on.

My reading of US history of the last six years is as follows.

The executive of the US is currently in the hands of people who, for the last 30 years, have devoted themselves to the doctrine that the executive, as executive, is unaccountable to anyone.

Normally, this is not a point of view that would get a wide hearing here. September 11 was their ticket to ride, and they are working it for everything they can get out of it.

It is, really, time to yank the leash while there is still a leash to yank.

Thanks -

"Trying to be polite." I enjoyed reading all your comments regarding this potential terrorist (and thank you Sebastian for your email).

"Trying not to mischaracterize the positions of the people with whom you are discussing." You are all assuming Maher Arar is not a potential terrorist just because Canada says so and paid him money for his supposed wrong.

"Trying to explain your position instead of merely asserting it." Unfortunately, after 9/11, we cannot afford to be so dismissive of someone we already know has more terrorist connections than Mohammad Atta. You may think I am being paranoid, but perhaps you should recall all the criticism leveled at this President because of just ONE unspecific PDB about hijacking airplanes. I'd rather be safe than sorry this time around.

"Trying to understand the positions of the people with whom you are discussing even if you disagree with them." If you want the U.S. to let this potential terrorist into the U.S. (absent strong exculpatory evidence, I am fine banning ANYONE connected to the Abdullahs) or apologize to him (of course, his lawyer wants an apology AND 33% of the compensation, right?), I obviously disagree, but I am willing to listen to why you think that way, especially if you can guarantee Maher Arar will never commit a terrorist act, espectially if there was rendition involved (someone above claimed to "blame no others in the world for sharing this opinion of the Executive Branch, and acting on it in the way they see fit").

"Trying to empathize with the positions of the people with whom you are discussing even if you disagree with them." I again appreciate what you guys are saying, but during wartime, civil liberties are necessarily abridged. FDR never "apologized" or "resigned" over the Japanese-American internment camps, did he? Was he impeached for that? Just thank God for the 22nd Amendment this time at least.

Hey, Slarti: better check the basement window - look what's crawled back in!

So, Charlie: are we to take it, then that your opinion re the Maher Arar case is that: any abuse of any "potential terrorist", up to, and including physical abuse and/or outright torture is just fine, dandy and OK? And shouldn't even be criticized, much less apologized for (still less compensated)?

Oh, and are we also to assume that you are quite comfortable with said torture/abuse being inflicted on people solely on some government official's say-so; without the necessity of any sort of offcial inquiry as to whether the "potential terrorist" is really one, or actually just an innocent citizen?

Please clarify these points for us. And while you are at it, maybe you should provide (via email to Sebastian or whatever), your real name and home address, so that the appropriate agencies can be notified the next time they need a "potential" terror suspect to rendition abroad. After all: how do we know you (whoever you are) aren't a "potential terrorist" as well? And since you've gone on record as being Okey-dokey with torture, you can't really complain, can you?

A quick reminder to our newbies: DNFTT.

I wish Charle were honest. He just doesn’t like who he is told to not like by Party officials.

He doesn’t apply his same diligence, concerning ties to terrorist, to the Bushes and their ties to the Saudis and 9-11. But more than happy to apply it to the folks The Party has told him to.

Cleek, if you're about, I've made a slight change to your ObWiDisemvoweller script that fixes this little problem.

Should I paste the change here, email it to you, or post the change on your blog?

Oh, I also added an extra mode where the specified individuals express a random series of comments praising pie.

Oh, I also added an extra mode where the specified individuals express a random series of comments praising pie.

Fafnir!!!! You're back!!!!

Fafnir!!!! You're back!!!!

*sigh* if only. Somewhat OT (OK, very OT), I watched Dark Kingdom on SciFi. I can't say how close it is to the story as my acquaintance with the Ring is via Anna Russel (the Rhine Maidens seem to be missing from the film). It was enjoyable, though, and certainly made me think of (and wish for the return of) Fafnir.

Jay C:

Anyone the President of the United States deems a "potential terrorist" is fair game, again absent strong exculpatory evidence. You are free to criticize the Comannder in Chief during wartime. Careful, though, what actions you take. For instance, I thought everyone was going to the big march on D.C.? At some point before actually hijacking and crashing jetliners, I would assume, even you would say "potential terrorists" deserve arrest, right?

For the record, I have lunched with either Abdullah. If there is some other link to terrorists you are concerned about, let me know. Nonetheless, DOJ can easily gain access to my home address, so they don't need Sebastian.

SomeOtherDude:

I apply the exact SAME diligence, and strong exculpatory evidence, concerning ties to terrorists. Did Bush lunch with Abdullah?

C.h.a.r.l.e. Excuse the language, but goddamn! Pie is good!

Totally.

Well, Anarch, as an ObWinger who started reading back when Moe Lane was still posting, I'll assume that the "newbie" advice wasn't directed at me... ;)

You're right, though: it's just that some troll-shit is just too hard to resist tossing back at its source - I'll just go off and look at hilzoy's nebula pix....

Jay C:

Anyone the President of the United States deems a "potential terrorist" is fair game, again absent strong exculpatory evidence. You are free to criticize the Comannder in Chief during wartime. Careful, though, what actions you take. For instance, I thought everyone was going to the big march on D.C.? At some point before actually hijacking and crashing jetliners, I would assume, even you would say "potential terrorists" deserve arrest, right?

For the record, I have lunched with neither Abdullah. If there is some other link to terrorists you are concerned about, let me know. Nonetheless, DOJ can easily gain access to my home address, so they don't need Sebastian.

SomeOtherDude:

I apply the exact SAME diligence, and strong exculpatory evidence, concerning ties to terrorists. Did Bush lunch with Abdullah?

Anyone the President of the United States deems a "potential terrorist" is fair game, again absent strong exculpatory evidence.

Actually, I think this standard should be applied to any number of criminals and potential criminals and persons associated with potential criminals. Let's let the executive branch, via its many law enforcement organs, bring accusations, and then let the criminals seek out strong exculpatory evidence.

It's what the American criminal justice system should be based on. That way, we can better spread freedom to the rest of the world.

Imagine the avalanche of flowers and candies. My cavities are tingling just thinking about it.

Wait, come to think of it, a kid I used to go to high school with was recently arrested on drug charges - of the dealing variety.

I think I had lunch with him almost every school day for two years straight.

I'm screwed. Price we gotta pay I guess. Oh well, at least the weather in Syria's gotta be nicer than NYC this time of year. See you all in a few.

looks like i finally have a reason to switch to FireFox for blogging at home!

Well, Anarch, as an ObWinger who started reading back when Moe Lane was still posting, I'll assume that the "newbie" advice wasn't directed at me... ;)

Nope, we just cross-posted.

But on the other hand? Mmmmm, pie. (:

Looks like someone is allergic to innocent-until-proven-guilty.
But why then does the Phooey outsource the torture to the Middle East? Are they cheaper or simply more experienced. I thought the School of the Americas was the Ivy League of alternative interrogation methods (aka Sonderbehandlung). Or are all Schutzhaft cells already occupied because KBR again proved unable to build a house that withstands a bit of huffing and puffing?
Btw, Pie fr prsdnt! Lng lve p!

Ths s rll pssng m ff.

Good to know that the question in the last paragraph of the post was a rhetorical one.

On the question When's the last time someone in charge resigned over ANYTHING? In the US I mean. The last time someone (a biggie, of course, not a worker bee) resigned in the US he received a severance package of something on the order of US$200 million. And he resigned because he was incompetant. It should tell you more than a bit about how business is handled in the US. While, of course, they are laying off tens of thousands of ordinary workers.

Should I paste the change here, email it to you, or post the change on your blog?

you can put it on my blog, if ya like.

Sorry about the double post. When anyone wants to "[t]ry to understand and empathize with the positions of the people with whom you are discussing even if you disagree with them", I'm sure she will let me know.

How many of you were at the D.C. protest today?

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070127/D8MTSA4O0.html

You probably missed Hillary butchering the National Anthem in Iowa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfZ_gXCHaMw

I have posted here about the way in which the Bush administration's position undermines the cooperation on which the international system of civil aviation depends.

To give "c.h.a.r.l.i.e" an answer I strongly suspect he does not deserve, in two parts:

1) Our minister of public security has seen the evidence the Bush administration claims to have; I have not. If your evidence cannot convince Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper, two of the most pro-Bush Canadians in existence, I have to believe you don't have a case.

2) If Canada decided to ban everyone we suspected of knowing a terrorist supporter, say anyone who once gave money to the IRA, from our airspace, we could have the Brits fax us a list. Or we could save fax paper and just ban everyone in the Boston phone book.

Sorry,OT,Katherine, Do you know anything at all about David Hicks, the Aussie in Gitmo?

I know a fair bit about GTMO, almost nothing specific to Hicks.

David Frum disagrees with C.h.a.r.l.e. (though he makes an amazingly lame attempt to blame it on Arabists in the state department. Right, I'm sure rendition is the state department's idea.)

Frum never said Syria was wrong about Arar. He does complain about getting information from Syria because it is "hostile to and mistrustful of Sunni Islamic extremism". Luckily for us, Bush is mistrustful of either extremism.

Have never figured out whether people like C.h.a.r.l.e. are a) yanking out chains or b) really believe what they say. If it's the latter, alas, poor country--we seem to have a lot of them.

Tzs: Primarily, Charlie and Don Quixote are here - from different ends of the political spectrum - to make trouble. What they want is to get angry, outraged responses - it's impossible to know what they actually believe, because they never engage in honest discussion. They're trolls. They poison debate. Various people have suggested that the solution is just not to respond to them - not give them the high they're looking for - but in practice I've found this is impossible. Charlie plagued Political Animal for years before Kevin Drum banned him, because even though all the regulars had learned not to respond to him, newbies kept showing up and feeding the troll: Don Q still plagues Obsidian Wings every time he can get a new handle to get around Hilzoy's banning him. The tradition at Obsidian Wings is that people deal with the trolls on their own side: when Von or Sebastian or Charles Bird or Andrew get bored with having a right-wing troll at ObWing, I daresay Charlie will get banned here.

Charlie plagued Political Animal for years before Kevin Drum banned him...

And for several years after.

but in practice I've found this is impossible

On the other hand, I have absolutely no trouble failing to give Charlie or Don Q (or any of his various incarnations) the time of day when they're trolling. It's liberating, not having any measurable amount of regard for their opinions.

Slarti: On the other hand, I have absolutely no trouble failing to give Charlie or Don Q (or any of his various incarnations) the time of day when they're trolling.

Yes, Slarti. And if everyone who ever comments on this blog was warned from the start that Charlie and Don Q (various incarnations) were trolls and not to bother responding to anything they have to say - warned in a field above the "Comments:" window, so that they'd know when they started typing - then we'd likely have considerably less problems with them. But, as I believe I pointed out in the comment you responded to, newbies keep coming along who engage trolls in discussion.

It's liberating, not having any measurable amount of regard for their opinions.

Actually, what's liberating is that you banned Charlie. Shame Sebastian thought fit to unban him.

Ashcroft may have been partially excused for being a loony.

Ashcroft gets no pass for looniness. He owns whatever happened on his watch. Among other things, that includes all of the more noxious passages of the USA Patriot Act.

While being no fan of Ashcroft, I will note that he refused to sign off on the NSA's domestic surveillance program in 2004. Gonzales and Andy Card tried to get him sign off while he was in the ICU with pancreatitis, but apparently he said "No".

I will gladly give him props for that, while noting that it's a pretty damned low bar. Just goes to show what we've come to.

Thanks -

Jes, Cleek has made the GreaseMonkey script available here. I have found it extremely effective.

Katherine,

Concering Mr. Arar's travel history, it would be my thinking that this comment relates more to Mr. Arar's business travel then the other information the US Government was recieving from Syria at the time. It would no doubtly greatly add to the assumption of his threat. But again this was a statement coming from State, so their particular access to that piece of information would be limited. Although again the desicion to place one on a No-Fly list was discussed across departments.

Now all this information on Mr. Arar when reviewed recently might give reason to keep in on the list. And the statement from the state department official focuses on the recent review not past reviews or the original decisions made in 2002.

As for contacting Mr. Leahy's office try calling his Washington office directly.

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