Arar vs Ashcroft Case-Challenge To US Rendition Program

Canadian Maher Arar, a software engineer, was detained in a New York airport in 2002 as he was changing planes to fly home when he was seized, denied legal representation and deported back to Syria, his birthplace where he was tortured for ten months before cleared of all charges. The Canadian government apologized and awarded him $10 million in compensation. Secretary of State admitted the case was mishandled but refused to issue an apology. Mr. Arar is now suing former Attorney General Ashcroft, the ex-heads of homeland security, immigration and the FBI. The courtroom where the case is being heard exploded in laughter when Ashcroft’s defense lawyer said Arar was “clearly and unequivocally a member of Al Qaeda.” Judge Rolbert Sack responded to the lawyer, “That’s a shocking statement for you to start with.”

The three judge of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals is trying to determine if the xcivil case can be revived after it was thrown out by a lower court in 2006 on grounds to hear such a case endangered national security relations with Canada. This is the first court case to challenge the “extraordinary rendition” program which has sent hundreds of innocent people to countries where they were tortured. David Cole, a lawyer for Arar, noted, “Torture is illegal in the United States and it is illegal for U.S. officials to outsource torture.” The defense argues the American government can not be held responsible for torture that happened elsewhere. Apparently, according to the Bush administration it is OK to send someone to be tortured just as long as someone else does the torturing.

  • Greg

    This could open the door for anyone deported to claim torture in their home country. They can all sue without providing any real proof of torture. Perhaps we should just take their word for it. Doubtful other countries would say, ‘sure we tortured that dude’! How can we substantiate anyone being deported that they may be tortured? Should we inquire by asking the other country? I wonder what they would say? Duh!! Therefore, we need to open our doors to anyone out of fear of getting sued over alleged torture? That’s nuts!

  • Fred Stopsky

    The Canadian government conducted an extensive investigation of the Arar case, that’s why he got $10 million in compensation. What exactly do you think goes on in Syrian prisons? I wonder how YOU would feel being dragged away at an airport and suddenly finding yourself in another country where you were tortured. The Arar case has been thoroughly studied and investigated. Why is it Bushites are willing to spend millions of dollars investigating non-existant crimes of the Clintons in Arkansas but worry about spending time dealing with an open and shut case of torture inflicted on an innocent man. I served my country in the armed forces and we were taught about torture being a violation of our Constitution and the Geneva Convention, but those who never fight are willing to torture people. I stand with Senator John McCain on the horror of torture. What exactly does being an American mean to you– torture innocent people?

  • Truman

    I am amazed at the duplicitous attitude of Presdient Bush.

    He won’t sign a health/education bill for our families and kids , won’t funnel money away from the war to help us with healthcare, education, infrastructure needs, and then calls unpatriotic if we don’t fund the troops.

    What’s unpatriotic is neglecting our veterans who have returned home and have to struggle to survive because The Prez won’t spend the money for our troops medical care when they return to the states.

    I say we give our troops money for a one way ticket home, and give GW a one way ticket to Iraq and let him his republican co-horts fight it out.

    Enough of the killing and maiming of our own troops.

    Bring the troops home, and let’s start funneling the billions for war to our healthcare, schools, and other needs.

    If we are spending 12billion a month on a war, imagine what we could do with that money right here at home.

    I support our troops, but not their commander-in-chief.

  • Fred Stopsky

    I agree with your analysis. Get them out of harm’s way and get the people of Iraq some peace and security.