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January 14, 2004

Comments

Excellent stuff! In a perfect world a major newspaper would pick this up for a large investigative piece. But in a perfect world Arar would never have been tortured.

One small footnote. Off the top of my head, I think one of the big Canadian papers changed ownership recently and went from being extremely right-wing to solidly pro-Liberal, and it could have been the Post. I could be completely wrong on that though, since I don't normally read Canadian papers.

whoops. The National Post, not the Canadian Post. Off to make a correction.

But I think if he's innocent it's that much worse, and that much more likely that this has happened before and will happen again.

Maybe it's happening now.

Well done, Katherine.

Yes, James, it is.

Jesurgislac: Yeah, and I bet we in the UK are doing it to. Hey, I'm sure there's not a government on Earth that hasn't/isn't. Mind you, in my comment above I strictly meant the ridiculous (and surely utterly indefensible?) hand-over to a foreign regime that one would, like Syria, expect to disrespect human rights.

But then who really respects them these days?

Anyone: How much of a stink would there have been in the US press had this been an 'American' citizen?

There would have been slightly more fuss: but presumably, if Maher Arar had been a US citizen, he would have gone to join Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, and he would most likely still be there. (It's just possible that he would have been released, as Youssef Yee eventually had to be released.)

The US government still distinguishes between US citizens (who go to indefinite imprisonment inside the borders of the US) and non-US citizens, who may be shipped (effectively) to anywhere the US decides to send them: Syria, Bagram Airbase, Guantanamo Bay. It will certainly be yet a further step if the Bush administration decides to treat US citizens exactly the same as non-US citizens.

You asked how much of a fuss there would be in the US press. It is, honestly, hard to say: most of the US press appears to have decided that if the Bush administration says a US citizen is guilty, they must be guilty (of something). However, even anong those who simply take for granted that the Bush administration's determination of guilt is unquestionable, there is a significant proportion who still believe that all US citizens have a Constitutional rights, even if the administration says they're guilty.

If Maher Arar had been a US citizen, reaction would have ranged from the extreme right, who would still believe him guilty (otherwise why would he have been sent to Syria?) to the middle-of-the-road press like the New York Times, which would probably have said cautiously that it was a very bad precedent even if Maher Arar was a terrorist. Only the very small, very left-wing press would ever have said outright that it was a crime.

The National Post was foiunded by Conrad Black as a right wing foil to the progressive conservative Globe and Mail, Canada's long-time major English-language daily. The Post is now owned by the Asper family,who are deeply involved with the Liberal Party -- but it remains the home of Ann Coulter in Canada, and a number of equally nutty right-wing Canadian columnists.

Here's the line up of Toronto-based newspapers the day before the world ended:

National Post: World to End Tomorrow. Markets Close Early. Major Positions Said Liquidated.

Globe and Mail: World Said Ending Tomorrow. Cabinet Meets. Martin Said "Concerned."

Toronto Sun: God To World: The End.

Toronto Star: World Ending Tomorrow. Women and Minorities Affected.

I was once suspected of gun smuggling and armed robbery, I was visiting my girlfriend's family in Switzerland (who I had lived with for a few months before) when the police came to the house with a search warrant and took me in for questioning.

Now the crazy thing is that the bank robbery I was suspected in was committed while I was in Ireland studying (as you can imagine it was not too difficult to get an alibi for that - although it didn't get that far)

The fact was that the nearest I had ever been to a gun was toys when I was a kid - and by that stage the police were begining to see that they were in danger of making complete fools of themselves (they had actually wasted money on the investigation)

The other point of interest to them was that my girlfriends father was a very respected member of the community (CEO of large insurance company, on the Board of the Basel Kunstmuseum, etc.)

I always wondered what would have happened if the police were too embarased to admit that they had wasted money on a useless investigation and I wasn't from a priveleged background. I had always thought that it would be deportation, made up evidence etc. Looks like it can be a lot worse than I imagined!


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