New York Judge: Maher Arar deportation… matter of Security

The Toronto Star is running on story on the latest in the saga of Maher Arar. The Canadian who was deported by the US to Syria during a stopover at Kennedy International in New York.

He stayed in a Syrian jail for over a year and claims to have been tortured.

The case led to a public inquiry here in Canada, where the Government was, for the most part, exonerated of direct responsibility for allowing Arar to be deported. However, the US Federal court judge has again opened the possibility that there was still a “possibility of Canadian complicity in the decision to send Arar, now 35, to Syria in 2002”.

Personally I find it highly improbable that Canadian authorities, whether at the RCMP, CSIS or Foreign Affairs level, or all of the above, were not somehow involved. And even if they weren’t, they are certainly guilty of not doing enough to stop this sort of thing from happening.

The most disturbing aspect of this ruling, however, is this…

Brooklyn District Court Judge David Trager cited the need for national security and secrecy in making his decision…. “A judge who declares on his or her own … authority that the policy of extraordinary rendition is under all circumstances unconstitutional must acknowledge that such a ruling can have the most serious of consequences to our foreign relations or national security or both,” Trager wrote.

Arar rightly asks then… if a judge does not have the authority to challenge the constitutionality of extraordinary rendition… than who does?

This seems to be another case of trumped up “security” stepping on the rights and freedoms that so many have fought and died for and have frankly come to expect from our governments.

Hopefully Arar and others like him will continue to fight so that this issue is not swept under the mat.

Slate also has a related article (WarinContext) about the other side of the coin.. people who are, or are at least more likely to be threats… but they are “un-people” in the “not-place” who are “not” guilty or not guilty. Confused? Well, sadly, after reading the article… it makes more sense.

Releasing hundreds of prisoners after holding them for four years without charges would be big news. Better, a Guantanamo at which nothing has happened in four years. …. Are these men who are quietly released the “best of the worst”? No. According to the National Journal one detainee, an Australian fundamentalist Muslim, admitted to training several of the 9/11 hijackers and intended to hijack a plane himself. He was released to his home government last year. A Briton said to have targeted 33 Jewish organizations in New York City is similarly gone. Neither faces charges at home.

It grinds on because the Bush administration gets exactly what it pays for in that lease: Guantanamo is a not-place. It’s neither America nor Cuba. It is peopled by people without names who face no charges. Non-people facing non-trials to defend non-charges are not a story. They are a headache. ….

Ah, the tangled webs we weave.

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