We’ve known about “extraordinary rendition” — the outsourcing of torture by the Bush administration to authoritarian regimes for some time now.But for the first time we have a vivid, detailed report on this barbaric practice from a Western governmental source. A Canadian judical report lays bare the case of Maher Arar, a a Muslim Canadian citizen.
The Royal Mounties mistakenly suspected the computer engineer of being connected to terrorists and asked U.S. officials to put him on a watchlist. In September 2002, while waiting to change planes in New York, Arar was snatched into U.S. custody. And then in the best of traditions of Argentine and Chilean dictatorships, he was “disappeared” into a clandestine gulag. Says the Washington Post:
He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan — where he never has been — and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released, the Canadian inquiry commission found.
Let’s translate. Not on some remote mountainous battleground, not in the netherworld of a lawless Pakistani province, but right in the middle of a New York airport, a Canadian citizen was kidnapped by American agents. Instead of being subjected to a proper police investigation, instead of being tried in a court of law for supposed illicit association, he was instead packed off to our good friends in the Jordanian monarchy. And from there, delivered directly to the same torturers in Damascus that we denounce on a daily basis.