Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Maher Arar, I'm profoundly sorry

Just how many letters of profound apology are owed to innocent victims of our overzealous policies supposedly aimed at curbing terrorism? And how much animosity and likely future terrorism has been created by these misguided policies?

Khaled el-Masri, I'm profoundly sorry
Maher Arar, I'm profoundly sorry

I'm profoundly sorry that my government abdicated its responsibility in determining your innocence, and instead sent you to foreign lands where you were tortured and brutalized and made to confess to acts which you did not do. My government still seeks to excuse their criminal negligence against you and your loved ones, but I do not excuse them. Please forgive my fellow Americans for too long tolerating this sort of behavior from their government.

el-Masri and Arar are the two on this list of examples (scroll down) of extraordinary rendition who are clearly innocent. Many of the others there were apprehended on arguably flimsy evidence. In any case America should be about due process, and abdicating our responsibility to deal with likely terrorists because "wink, wink" these other governments without our scruples might be able to extract confessions, is a morally bankrupt and counter productive policy.

Oh, but we have Alberto Gonzales' assurance that:
Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria, I'm not aware that he was tortured, and I haven't read the Commission report. Mr. Arar was deported under our immigration laws. He was initially detained because his name appeared on terrorist lists, and he was deported according to our laws.

Some people have characterized his removal as a rendition. That is not what happened here. It was a deportation. And even if it were a rendition, we understand as a government what our obligations are with respect to anyone who is rendered by this government to another country, and that is that we seek to satisfy ourselves that they will not be tortured. And we do that in every case. And if in fact he had been rendered to Syria, we would have sought those same kind of assurances, as we do in every case.
Mr Gonzales you are a moral cripple who should be disbarred, let alone be sitting as the chief law enforcement officer of our land. That's harsh language against someone who appears so reasonable, and no doubt would be incapable of inflicting torture on anyone himself. But it was Gonzales who as chief counsel to the President was architect to internal policies weakening our commitment to the Geneva Conventions, referring to them as "quaint" and giving cover to those who created the environment for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, many against entirely innocent Iraqis who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

If Gonzales had any decency we would be expressing profound regret at the pain and suffering caused to innocent families trapped by the web of his own making. But instead he defends, denies, and asks us to believe that the government is satisfied in every case that such extradited prisoners will not be tortured.

But they were. Time and time again. Why send them except because we know that these other governments are not constrained as we are? And we are far less constrained already because of your policies? When will we renounce this madness? And still Bush stubbornly fights members of his own party to weaken our commitment against inhumane and degrading treatment. Canada's Harper could use some lessons in humility as well.

This is surely beyond the pale, and I just don't get those who don't understand that.


-epm said...

Not only is the current U.S. government profoundly morally bankrupt, I also point an accusing finger to the U.S. media who have not made this an important issue to investigate and to confront government officials with this.

That's worded awkwardly, but you know what I mean. Our culture is becoming increasingly amoral in matters of truth, fairness and humanity.

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