Friday, February 11, 2005

BOB HERBERT writes this week about Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen who was arrested at Kennedy Airport on his way back home to Canada from a vacation in Tunisia. Arar had emigrated to Canada from Syria when he was a teenager. He was essentially kidnapped: put on a plane that took him to Amman, Jordan, where he was thrown into prison and tortured. He was kept in that prison and subjected to torture for a year. The reason? Arar's name was on a watchlist. Why was Arar's name on a watchlist? Because a fellow employee at the company he worked for had a brother who the authorities thought might be a terrorist. In 2003, about 13 months after he had been arrested in New York City, long after he had given up telling his torturers he was innocent; and after he had made the confession his torturers wanted him to make, he was released from prison because the Syrian authorities could find no evidence at all of any link between Arar and terrorism.

This week's New Yorker has an article by Jane Mayer about Maher Arar's ordeal, and about the policy of "renditioning" by which he was stripped of every human right and legal protection our system is supposed to provide. There is also a Q&A with Mayer and Amy Davidson, as well as previously unreleased correspondence and other documents by Bush administration lawyers relating to the treatment of detainees.

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