Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 10, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

THIRD PARTY TORTURE....Maher Arar, the guy that we shipped off to Syria to be tortured, tells his side of the story in the Los Angeles Times today:

My ordeal began on the afternoon of Sept. 26, 2002, when my flight back from a family vacation in Tunisia stopped over in New York and American immigration officials pulled me aside to answer a few questions. At first it was only an inconvenience thorough airport security, post 9/11-style. But my questioners persisted. And when someone waved a copy of the 1997 lease for my Ottawa apartment, I was shocked and confused. What was going on here? Who gave them the lease and what was its significance to them? For the first time, I began to realize that the questioning was not simply routine.

....To this day, unnamed American officials continue to allege that I have ties to Al Qaeda, although I have not seen the details and I have not been charged with a crime.

....My arguments were useless. Soon I was in a small private jet, chained and panic-stricken; then in a succession of cars in Jordan and Syria, blindfolded and beaten repeatedly; and finally placed in that shallow grave.

I describe my cell in Syria as a grave because it was just 3 feet wide, 6 feet long, 7 feet high and unlit. While I was there I sometimes felt on the verge of death after beatings with a black electrical cable about two inches thick. They mostly aimed for my palms but sometimes missed and hit my wrists. Other times, I was left alone in a special "waiting room" within earshot of others' screams. At the end of the day, they would tell me that tomorrow would be worse. In those 10 1/2 months I lost about 40 pounds. I never saw, but only heard, the agony of my fellow prisoners.

I am sympathetic to the fact that we will sometimes make mistakes and arrest the wrong people. I am not sympathetic to the fact that we refuse to back up serious accusations with evidence. And I'm decidedly not sympathetic to the fact that we ship people off to brutal dictatorships to be tortured.

The war on terror does not require us to behave like animals. After all, if we descend to their level, what's the point of the fight? The government owes both Arar and Canada an explanation for what happened here.

Kevin Drum 12:18 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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