Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gonzales Not A Reality-Based AG

The AG takes a dip into a famous river in Africa:

In an embarrassing turnabout, the Department of Justice backed away Wednesday from a denial by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales of responsibility for the treatment of a Canadian who was seized by American authorities in 2002. The man was deported to Syria, where he was imprisoned and beaten.

Asked at a news conference on Tuesday about a Canadian commission's finding that the man, Maher Arar, was wrongly sent to Syria and tortured there, Mr. Gonzales replied, "Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria." He added, "I'm not aware that he was tortured."

The attorney general's comments caused puzzlement because they followed front-page news articles of the findings of the Canadian commission. It reported that based on inaccurate information from Canada about Mr. Arar's supposed terrorist ties, American officials ordered him taken to Syria, an action documented in public records.

On Wednesday, a Justice Department spokesman said Mr. Gonzales had intended to make only a narrow point: that deportations are now handled by the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Justice.

The spokesman, Charles Miller, said the attorney general forgot that at the time of Mr. Arar's deportation, such matters were still handled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which was part of the Department of Justice.

"He had his timeline mixed up," Mr. Miller said.

Yeah right, more likely he was simply engaging in defensive denial of a miscarriage of justice.

Asked why Mr. Gonzales appeared to cast doubt on the Canadian finding that Mr. Arar had been tortured, Mr. Miller said, "I wouldn't go beyond what he said."

Another can of worms altogether.

Asked about Mr. Gonzales's remarks, Mr. Arar said in an interview on Wednesday with National Public Radio that American officials had sent him to Syria despite his protests that he would be tortured there.

"The facts speak for themselves, you know," Mr. Arar said. "The report clearly concluded that I was tortured. And for him to say that he does not know about the case or does not know I was tortured is really outrageous."

Maria C. LaHood, Mr. Arar's lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, called Mr. Gonzales' comments "unbelievable."

"I had hoped that they would actually step up and say, 'We made a mistake, we accept the report's findings, we clear Mr. Arar's name and we apologize,' " Ms. LaHood said.

Apologies? Never.

In September 2002, as he changed planes at Kennedy International Airport in New York on his way home to Canada, he was detained because his name was on a terrorist watch list. His name was included on the basis of incorrect information from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that he was linked to Al Qaeda, the commission found.

American officials wanted more information about what threat he might pose and decided to deport him to Syria, an option legally possible because he had been born there. Officials have said that as is standard in such cases, the United States sought "assurances" from Syria that Mr. Arar would not be tortured.

In fact, he was held there in a dank cell that measured 3 feet by 6 feet by 7 feet and beaten repeatedly with a metal cable, according to Mr. Arar's description and the commission report.

What other reason would there have been to send him to Syria? Especially if we "wanted more information about what threat he might pose"?

The "assurances" are more ass-covering sophistry, of course.

It would be not be difficult to persuade a secret police official of a nation that has agreed to conduct a hostile interrogation of a prisoner sent to them by the U.S. to give such an "assurance." For proper compensation, the foreign official would doubtlessly sign an affidavit that no torture would be forthcoming.

President Bush's former lawyer Gonzales is still protecting his boss.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story was all over the papers here yesterday. At least Arar got an apology from the House of Commons...

Another story here today is that apparently Boeing has won an $80 million contract to build watchtowers along the Canada/U.S. border... I guess the transformation of your country into Fortress America continues unabated... If only we could get a country to see a shrink... I'd be willing to chip in some money for a neighbour.... but in the meantime.... memo to self... try not to have any reasons to cross the border...


9/21/2006 12:34 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


The people who are out defending the undefendable--like Gonzales--are really shameless.

Also, the hidden motive of the Boeing watchtowers is the same as the fences and electronic barriers between the U.S. and Mexico.

To prevent Americans from fleeing when the really repressive policies take effect.

9/21/2006 1:40 PM  
Blogger Meatball One said...

He would have had to sit on a pillow to see the prosecutor in the eyes at the Nuremberg trials. Such a pathetic go fetch Hössy of a barely dry back, that AG is.

9/21/2006 7:29 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


He is still young. He will have ample time in his retirement to reflect upon his errors.

Like McNamara.

9/22/2006 8:22 AM  
Blogger DrewL said...

Funny how the U.S. would send him to Syria, a country not far removed from the reviled "Axis of Evil".

And, more recently, the Syrians helped fend off an attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus.


Perhaps relations with Assad's regime aren't so chilly after all?

9/23/2006 3:18 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


The Syrians were cooperative with U.S. intelligence in the early days of the "war on terror."

They became progressively less helpful as we grew less grateful.

9/23/2006 3:47 PM  

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