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December 05, 2005


Thanks, Katherine.

I once knew someone (quite well) who had been tortured. The first time he was tortured he was twelve, and the longest time was 45 days in one of the worst prisons in Turkey, during the worst period of military rule.

The psychological effects are devastating, and they last for a very, very long time. I mean: you cannot imagine.


Clarification: "you cannot imagine" was a sentence I was trying to figure out how to end (you cannot imagine -- unless you've either been there, or known someone who has, or have an extraordinary imagination, or immersed yourself in the details? Something like that.) But I couldn't figure out how to end it without endless qualifications. It was only after I posted the comment that I realized it might be read as referring not to the general amorphous 'you', but to Katherine, who is about the last person I'd ever say that of.

Maher Arar is Canadian.

I know this is nit-picking, but did't he also have dual citzenship with Syria?

I know this is nit-picking, but did't he also have dual citzenship with Syria?

Not exactly. He tried to renounce his Syrian citizenship but they wouldn't let him. AFAIK he never utilized his Syrian citizenship after attaining his Canadian one, though Katherine can probably correct me if I'm wrong.

"The rule of law will not return to our country easily."

On comments that I suspect did myself no service, I attacked Josh Marshall's idea of a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission." IIRC, his primary desire was to to get out the truth about the runup to the war, with some kind of amnesty in order to facilitate disclosures.

The South African model, which has an enduring website I visited for a while, of course attempted reconciation between actual victims and oppressors, with amnesty a possibility subject to review. Actual amnesty was granted meagerly, tho it appears prosecutions were often suspended or forgotten. I was unable to determine how many actual prosecutions came out of the T & R.

What most offended me about Marshall's idea, which seems to have vanished into the aether, is that he seemed to be thinking of American victims and American culprits, as if dissembling about WMD had any equivalence to crimes of apartheid and tire-necklaces.

Or rendition. The crimes or mistakes or whatever of the have a very int'l nature, and any concievable attempt at "Truth and Reconciliation" will require equal participation by Iraqis and Afghanis and much of the World Community. Any amnesty to solicit revelations would need a threat of prosecution in order to be effective. I very much doubt Marshall would be willing to move in such a direction.

Disregarding the present administration and current political atmosphere, I think it is essential that at some point in the future America demonstrate recognition of our errors, contrition, and make some even symbolic restitution to our victims. Bushco may ignore and dismiss and forget Arar and el-Masri and Fallujah; the rest of us cannot.

we still have a citizen in GTMO, David Hicks. Our PM is not even calling for his release, he trusts the military tribunals put in place by the current admin. Even after the return of Mamdouh Habib, it would appear that most Aust are just happy to see him as a lier and forget about it. When we have become so similar to our enemies (particulary the old ones USSR), how do we justify what we are doing, why the acceptance by the masses?

As if another great series would be cause for panic!

Excellent post. I appreciate your continued efforts to keep people informed about this vital topic.

Thank you, Katherine. I would like to imagine we'll have a government one day that will hand out honors to people like you who have given so much to keep the public informed on rendition, torture, and our other self-betrayals. (To say nothing of a gov't that will apologize to Mr. Arar and offer at least financial compensation, which sounds like it would come in handy, however inadequate.)

There are no longer (AFAIK) any British citizens in Guantanamo Bay, but there are several people who had the right to remain in the UK, whom our government has simply - and inexcusably, in my view - washed its hands of. There is at least one Jordanian and at least one Iraqi who were given right to remain because they were refugees from their own countries: the Home Secretary apparently said, with a Gilbert and Sullivan logic that would be funny under the right circumstances, that they ought to appeal to the governments in their country of origin. (At the time he said that, effectively the only government in Iraq was the US occupation.)

Tomorrow Condoleeza Rice meets with the new Chancellor of Germany. The Chancellor is unlikely to confront Ms Rice over the strong possibility that EU airports were used for illegal CIA flights transporting prisoners for torture, but it's something that's bound to be raised by the European Parliament.

Martin Schulz, head of the Social Democrats group in the European Parliament, said yesterday: "If [EU] member or candidate states actively contributed to, or connived in, illegal transports and torture, or illegal prisons on their territory, that must be investigated and the necessary consequences drawn. There's active acceptance, and there's acquiescence. Neither of those are acceptable."

I know that this is tangential to the point of the post, but is there anything that could be done to help Arar, at least with his financial difficulties? After everything he's been through, it sounds like he's sacrificing his recovery and his employment prospects in order to fight for a cause that we all believe in.

Hey, have you seen this?

Two Afghans were jailed in 2002, and held for three years at Gitmo, for a SATIRE they wrote, in 1998. In response to Clinton's announced $5 million reward for OBL, these guys announced a reward of 5 million Afghans (value: $113) for the capture of Bill Clinton.

Perhaps the worst offense though, is this:
A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico, declared this summer that "there was no mistake" in the brothers' detention because it "was directly related to their combat activities [or support] as determined by an appropriate Department of Defense official." U.S. officials declined to discuss the case, so no full picture is available of why it took so long for the pair to be cleared.

We have a Pentagon spokesman named Flex Plexico? WTF?!?!

(And no, the Pentagon spokesdrone is not part of the satire.)

Tomorrow Condoleeza Rice meets with the new Chancellor of Germany. The Chancellor is unlikely to confront Ms Rice over the strong possibility that EU airports were used for illegal CIA flights transporting prisoners for torture, but it's something that's bound to be raised by the European Parliament.

After hearing Rice's statements this morning from Germany (short version, we don't do torture or extraordinary rendition resulting in torture), it's safe to say that she has become an unprincipled liar on behalf of the Bush policy of torture and rendition.

I was no Rice fan before this, but anyone who has any lukewarm feelings about her, and is also revolted by the torture and rendition policies of the Bush administration, is going to have to rethink their tepid support.

I think its fair to cross the line and lable her as disgusting and an embracer of evil.

Kudos to you both for all the work.

Thanks for this. Excellent work, as usual.

The damage from all this is so far reaching, and will take so long to repair... if we ever can.

One story (in the NYTimes, I think) that stuck with me right after the relevations of Abu Ghraib was about the reactions of US citizens who had fled to the US to escape torture in other countries. It was heartbreaking, the ones who had been on the road to recovery (which can take years, as evidenced by Mr. Arar's story), who went into an immediate regression on learning that the country they had fled to for safety, that was supposed to be a beacon of justice and human rights... wasn't. (Mind you, there are those, especially outside the US, who would argue that it never was. But still).

People who work with torture survivors immediately fanned out to contact and reassure their clientele (like the person who was finally able to go out in the rain or take showers after being waterboarded), but what can they tell them now? It wasn't a one off thing of "a few bad apples".

This is who we are now. Until enough of us decide that this is who we are not.

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