Torture victims treated better by Canada than U.S.

Eight years ago, a Canadian citizen named Maher Arar was arrested by federal officials at Kennedy International Airport in New York based on information from Canadian law enforcement — later determined to be incorrect –  that he was somehow connected to al Qaeda.  After being held in the U.S. for nearly two weeks, the government had him sent to Syria.  At Washington’s direction, Arar was detained for nearly a year by the Syrians and, as expected, severely tortured.  After he was finally freed, Arar sued the Department of Justice.

His case seeking damages wound its way through the federal courts for years, and just this week came to a shameful end.  The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a lower court dismissal of Arar’s claim, in effect ruling that the U.S. government is permitted to send a person off to be tortured by a surrogate government, based on apparently erroneous information, and never be held accountable.  The High Court bought into the Obama Administration’s argument that having to respond to Arar’s allegations in court proceedings might damage our diplomatic relations, could impugn the motives of government officials,  and possibly harm “national security.”  The federal government has refused to even apologize to Arar for its actions.

The current administration’s invocation of this “state secrets” doctrine to avoid having to respond to lawsuits against it that might prove difficult or embarassing in terms of our national security and diplomatic policies, continues the policy of its predecessor Republican administration.

Mr. Arar has fared considerably better in Canada.  Our northern neighbor has admitted its error, officially apologized to Arar, and compensated him $10.2 million.  Interestingly, the United States has a Bill of Rights designed to protect individuals against being treated in a manner such as Arar suffered; however, such rights mean little without judges with the courage and understanding to back them up.  The lesson here?  If you’re going to be sent somewhere to be tortured, you’re better off being sent there by the Canadian government than the U.S.

17 comments Add your comment

Sam ( The Cool 1 )

June 18th, 2010
7:54 am

We love our Country, but fear our government. Something is wrong with this picture.


June 18th, 2010
10:46 am

conservatives will pooh-pooh this article as “rewarding terrorists and condemning the use of torture in a time of war…” But, I’d like to hear what they have to say when one of their family members at a tea party is erroneously picked up by the Obama administration on domestic terrorism charges, sent away to be tortured, then dropped back off with nothing but a “Sorry.”


June 18th, 2010
11:29 am

Mr. Barr:

As I am sure you know as a former U.S. Attorney, the law is not always just …………. but it is the law.

Mr. Arar

June 18th, 2010
11:36 am

Reading this article was torture

Al Gore

June 18th, 2010
11:39 am

Andrew your comment is brilliant. Way to stick it to the conservatives Einstein. Oh wait… I gotta go…someone from the Obama adminsitration is here to waterboard me. Great prediction genius.


June 18th, 2010
3:33 pm

Five comments all day ??? !!!

Mr. Barr ………….. you have got to pick better threads !

Sam ( The Cool 1 )

June 18th, 2010
4:48 pm

Ah! Let’s make it seven.

oilly olley

June 19th, 2010
6:20 am

Maher Arar has University degrees in computer engineering, telecommunications and electrical engineering. We are not talking about a person with limited knowledge here and a Muslim, a foreign National had been traveling freely between the U.S. Canada and the middle east. Now, that has to get the authorities attention. Canada had an exhaustive investigation and found little to connect him with terrorist activities. They found a signature on a rental application[ a recomendation] of a Muslim who had certain clandestine activities. Now Canada has around 30 million citizens, most liiving within 50 miles of the U.S. border. The U.S. has 350 million people, it is far easier to follow activities of suspected violators of National Security there and easier to do security checks and when they checked they found this suspect Maher Arar innocent of terrorist activities.
What it all comes to, is countries, like people, make mistakes. Canada is our closest ally.
Believe it or not, at one time the biggest concern for people living near Canada was being caught with a lot of big fish in the boat without a Canadian fishing license, sometimes they would confiscate boat and all, they were very protective of their fish.

Mrs. Norris

June 19th, 2010
8:29 am

Well, it was Canada’s fault after all, wasn’t it? Having said that, maybe we shouldn’t send anyone off to be tortured. Isn’t there something in the Geneva Convention about that?


June 19th, 2010
10:07 pm

Mr. Barr misses the point completely. His facts are wrong, all of them. But for now, lets stick to the point.

He concludes, “If you’re going to be sent somewhere to be tortured, you’re better off being sent there by the Canadian government than the U.S.”

Mr. Barr, can you name one person that Canada has detained and sent off?

No, you can’t. Why? Because there aren’t any. So your conclusion has no basis. And yet without proof, you choose to blame-America-first, saying a person is better off, sent off by Canada.

Shame on you, Mr. Barr, for believing the critics, and for not doing your homework, and for losing your faith in America.

America’s only shortcoming in this sorry affair was to take the high road, deciding not to vigorously – and publically – defend herself against the cheap-shot artists. America chose instead to avoid embarassing a war-time ally that had screwed up, badly.

As a result, America was trashed for five years, unfairly. That’s how long it took the good part of Canada to investigate the bad part of Canada.

Eventually, good Canada figured out that bad Canada had lied to good Canada. After some more eventually, good Canada concluded that bad Canada’s conduct was the reason Mr. Arar ended up in Syria. Then bad Canada said “sorry”, and good Canada paid Mr. Arar 10 million U.S. dollars.

Mr. Barr, did you think RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli changed his testimony and resigned to spend more time with his family?

Mr. Barr, have you ever eventually read the O’Connor inquiry report?

Do your homework, Mr. Barr. Or run away, Mr. Barr, run away. Perhaps, spend some time with the family?

Dennis Blankenship

June 20th, 2010
9:15 am

I cannot believe that I agree with Bob Barr.

Socrates Stepchild

June 20th, 2010
10:21 am

I guess this counters the story about the Candadian politician who came to the U.S. for heart surgery. Let’s look at the box score: Canadian healthcare worse than USA. Canadian justice for accused terrorists better than USA. Moral of story, if you are a terrorist, go to Canada.

Fakey McFake

June 20th, 2010
10:38 am

“Interestingly, the United States has a Bill of Rights designed to protect individuals against being treated in a manner such as Arar suffered…”
The Bill of Rights is not designed to protect individuals such as Arar, it is designed to protect U.S. citizens.

wumpy fish

June 20th, 2010
1:50 pm

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
remember we only torture the guilty, comrade.


June 20th, 2010
1:51 pm

I agree. People often forget that the the United States Bill of Rights applies to US Citizens, not foreigners who happen to be here. Similarly, the “right” or “privelege” (I’ll let you choose) to go to college in the US at in-state tuition rates should also ONLY apply to US Citizens. It galls me that Kennesaw State uses my tax dollars to give discounted tuition to illegal immigrants. SHAME ON YOU KENNESAW!


June 25th, 2010
9:13 am

The man was kidnapped and transported to Syria on nothing more substantial than a rumor. That alone is a major crime. He was sent to Syria by the Bush administration precisely so that he could be tortured.
The USA learned early on that the rumor was baseless, but our government hacks simply cannot believe they can ever make an error in judgement. They believe they must be seen to be correct even when they know they have made a terrible mistake. So people who aren’t afraid after reading this story are simply stupid.


July 9th, 2010
9:57 pm

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