Canadian and Syrian citizen Maher Arar was in the U.S. on his way home from a vacation in 2003. The U.S. was acting on bad intelligence given to them by Canada. Arar was treated harshly while in U.S. custody, lied to about what would happen to him, his attorney was lied to, and he was eventually transferred to Syria, which he pleaded against because he believed he would be tortured.
Turns out he was right. For ten months he suffered (read bottom of link for details, many of the links from Glenn Greenwald’s article) in horrible conditions and was tortured.
After ten months, the Syrians finally figured out he had no connection to terrorism and returned him to Canada. Canada had a government commission review the case and found both the Canadian and American governments were clearly in the wrong. Canada’s Prime Minister personally and publicly apologized and Arar received about $9 million for what he endured. Though a few lawmakers have apologized, America’s government has not.
I bring this up because Arar’s suit against the U.S. government has died. The Supreme Court has refused to hear his appeal of a lower court’s decision that he has no grounds to sue. Extraordinary rendition, woo, I guess.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations have argued they cannot be held accountable for our actions because of state secrets, or some such garbage. It is no secret that this innocent man was detained, sent to Syria, and tortured.
So the message here is that the United States government can just snag whoever they want, have them tortured for months, and there are no consequences for their actions and no remedy for the victims. When you make a decision to do horrible things like this, the least you could do is commit to at least trying to make things right when you f up so bad.
Imagine you are not at all involved in terrorism, are detained, lied to, sent to Syria, tortured for months, probably think you’re going to die, nearly do from being malnourished and mistreated, finally return home, have public knowledge that you have done no wrong, then the government that did this to you accepts no responsibility and takes no action, doesn’t even apologize. Actually imagine that. Absolutely ridiculous.
So many people talk about accountability for actions in this country. It’s often used as a way to justify cutting social programs. But when it comes to torturing an innocent dude, all that accountability talk goes out the window.
What’s ever going to stop things like this from happening if there are never consequences?
Enjoy you rights, which only apply when it’s convenient.
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