Maher Arar, a 35-year-old Canadian engineer, is suing the United States, saying American officials grabbed him in 2002 as he changed planes in New York and transported him to Syria where, he says, he was held for 10 months in a dank, tiny cell and brutally beaten with a metal cable.
Now federal aviation records examined by The New York Times appear to corroborate Mr. Arar's account of his flight, during which, he says, he sat chained on the leather seats of a luxury executive jet as his American guards watched movies and ignored his protests.
The tale of Mr. Arar, the subject of a yearlong inquiry by the Canadian government, is perhaps the best documented of a number of cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which suspects have accused the United States of secretly delivering them to other countries for interrogation under torture. Deportation for interrogation abroad is known as rendition.
In papers filed in a New York court replying to Mr. Arar's lawsuit, Justice Department lawyers say the case was not one of rendition but of deportation. They say Mr. Arar was deported to Syria based on secret information that he was a member of Al Qaeda, an accusation he denies.
Question: why would the U.S. Justice Department be in the business of deporting Canadian citizens to Syria? Yeah, that smells right.
If Mr. Arar's story is true, and the discovered aviation records are a strong sign that it is, then this would demonstrate that, even as he talks a good game about freedom, President Bush is apparently not above kidnapping and delivering citizens of democracies to interrogation and torture at the hands of an undemocratic, authoritarian regime which he otherwise condemns for its authoritarianism and lack of democracy. We are through the looking glass, people.
I honestly don't know what I find more disturbing, that Bush has an army of lawyers, not mention wingnut pundits and bloggers, at his disposal and prepared to seriously argue that there is nothing at all improper or contradictory about the policy of rendition, or that this brazen affront to democracy and decency will have to take it's place in a long, long line, overshadowed by Saving Terri and Steroids in Baseball.