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Candide’s Latest: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Torture's Never Mind

Tortured by mistake.

Maher Arar is the Canadian computer engineer who’d been vacationing in Tunisia when, on a lay-over at John Kennedy Airport on Sept 26, 2002, American authorities seized him, sent him to Syria via Jordan (“rendered him” as part of their outsourced torture program) and let Arar languish in a Syrian jail, where he was beaten and “kept in a coffin-size dungeon” for ten months. He was then released, a tacit admission that neither the Syrians nor the Americans had managed to tag him with any link to terrorism. And in fact he had none. On Monday, following a federal investigation, the Canadian government essentially said this: “our bad.” Canadians had sent the U.S. faulty information on Arar. “The inquiry, which focused on the Canadian intelligence services, found that agents who were under pressure to find terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, falsely labeled … Arar, as a dangerous radical,” the Post reports. They asked U.S. authorities to put him and his wife, a university economist, on the al-Qaeda "watchlist," without justification, the report said. Arar was also listed as "an Islamic extremist individual" who was in the Washington area on Sept. 11. The report concluded that he had no involvement in Islamic extremism and was on business in San Diego that day.” Makes you wonder how many of those 14,000 individuals illegally heldby American authorities in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, without charge, have been condemned on the basis of similarly bogus tips.

Will Bush be reading this? “Second-rate police work in the age of terror can result in the deaths of 3,000 people. It can also land an innocent man in a nightmare of torture and degradation. The RCMP's inexcusably shoddy performance on the Maher Arar file set in motion the inexorable chain of events that led Mr. Arar to 10 months and 10 days of imprisonment and torture in a grave-like Syrian jail cell,” the Toronto Globe & Mail editorializes. “ Canada's hands are dirty. Not as dirty as they might have been -- Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor has seen all the evidence and has concluded that neither the RCMP nor any other government agency sought to have Mr. Arar deported to Syria. But dirty all the same, from sloppiness, indifference, butt-covering and defamation.”

Ohdave puts words to pictures as Bush’s pet-goat storybook understands the word “torture.”

Gaza: The Children killed in a war the world doesn’t want you to know about: More than 37 children and teenagers under have been 18 killed [out of a total death toll, including militants, of 228] in the operations mounted by the Israeli military in Gaza since 25 June,” the UK Independent reports. Of these, the Palestinian Centre of Human Rights “classifies 151 as "civilian", although beside non-combatants and bystanders, that total also includes militants or faction members not involved in operations against Israel at the time ­ for example those deliberately targeted in Israeli air strikes because of their involvement in previous attacks.”

Israel’s latest demographics: 7 million Israelis, 76 percent Jewish, 19 percent Arab.

The Pope’s crusade: “Ayatollah Ali Khomenei on Monday accused the pope of committing the world's biggest Christian church to what he claimed was a "crusade" launched by United States President George Bush against Islam.”

Read Benedict XVI’s full Sept. 12 speech here.

 Blogs

  • Glenn Greenwald on John Woo, Albert Speer to George Bush’s architecture of neo-dictatorship: “I began writing a post in response to this truly ridiculous Op-Ed by John Yoo in this morning's NYT -- in which Yoo gleefully celebrates every authoritarian transgression of the Bush administration, from torture and pre-emptive wars to endless invocations of presidential secrecy, the issuance of "hundreds of signing statements" declaring laws invalid, and even what Yoo calls the President's assertion of his power to " sidestep laws that invade his executive authority" (what we used to call "breaking the law") (emphasis added in all instances). But then I thought better of it, because, at this point, anyone who fails (or refuses) to recognize that the President does not have the power in our system of government to violate laws by invoking national security concerns is never going to recognize that. Yoo's Op-Ed is so flagrantly frivolous that it ought not be taken seriously. He even goes so far as to claim that the "founders intended that wrongheaded or obsolete legislation and judicial decisions would be checked by presidential action." How can you be on the faculty of a major law school and say this?” The full post…
  • Sophia on Benedict XVI and the Disrepute of Reason: “If there is a condemnation to be made, it should be made of Benedict’s wrongly timed statements about Islam. The timing, on September 12th, is either a clear sign that Benedict’s statements are actually an attack and not a mere accident or a sign that this Pope speaks with no context in mind when he addresses intelligent people. Speaking with no context in mind can only be made by mentally challenged people. Intelligent people and people at high positions and with such high responsibilities always have a context in mind whenever they speak, this is called simply social intelligence…Benedict’s lack of sensitivity or intelligence, or both, reach new highs when one realise that the use of the reference offending the prophet came from the work of a scholar from a Lebanese origin. Lebanon is a bleeding country who has come to represent, by its past and present sufferings, the delicate and dangerous balances of power, religions and international and middle east politics, thanks to Benedict’s intellectual friends in Faith, the American and English neo-cons.”
  • Soumaya Ghannoushi on the “Return to the Dark Ages”: “The Pope's response to the anger his statements sparked in the Muslim world was more offensive than the statements themselves. He apologised not for what he said, but for Muslims' failure to grasp the intended meaning.”
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