Sunday, February 26, 2006

Reviewing the Maher Arar case

See this New York Times editorial on extraordinary rendition and the case of Maher Arar, the Syrian-born Canadian who was detained by U.S. officials in 2002 and promptly shipped off to be tortured in Syria on the flimsy and wholly unsubstantiated suspicion that he was somehow connected to al Qaeda. Arar is suing the federal government, but a federal judge in Brooklyn has refused to hear his case. His treatment was simply "reprehensible," not to mention illegal under the Constitution. But this decision in Brooklyn shows once again just what Bush has been able to get away with:

With the Bush administration claiming imperial powers to detain, spy on and even torture people, and the Republican Congress stuck largely in enabling mode, the role of judges in checking executive branch excesses becomes all the more crucial. If the courts collapse when confronted with spurious government claims about the needs of national security, so will basic American liberties.

Back in August, Vivek K. wrote about the Arar case here.

Keep on top of this case. The Bush Administration no doubt wants it to go away, just as it wants no public discussion of anything it's doing in the war on terror, much of which is similarly reprehensible, both legally and morally untenable. But democratic citizens owe it to themselves -- and to fellow citizens like Maher Arar (American citizens should care about what their government did to a Canadian, no?) -- to hold their leaders accountable.

Bush has thus far avoided accountability and neglected his responsibilities as a democratic leader.

There is still time.

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