Friday, January 26, 2007

Canada is getting a bit testy with us

Because even though one of its citizens was bound over for torture in Syria and later found innocent, the US won't take him off the 'no fly list'..... I guess because we assume that if he wasn't an United States hating terrorist then... he sure is now? Canadians also don't like the pomposity of the US ambassador to Canada (Hasn't Bush just chosen the BEST diplomats?):

Cut the bull, Mr. Ambassador. That's how my mother's family in South Texas would react to pompous indignation like that of U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins.

Once again he slammed Canadian efforts to have Maher Arar taken off the U.S. watch list as a suspected terrorist, observing it was "a little presumptuous" of Canada to try to tell the U.S. who it could let into its country.

Wilkins' remarks are especially galling now that the O'Connor inquiry has revealed that "Canadian investigators made extensive efforts to find any information that could implicate Mr. Arar in terrorist activities" and "… found none."

Wilkins impresses no one with his loaded statement that "three U.S. agencies" did a full review of the Arar file and found "their own reasons" to keep the Canadian software engineer on America's watch list.

"Their own reasons," eh? One wonders what those reasons might be.

Of course, Wilkins' public statements continue to victimize Arar. But his pain at being on a no-fly list is nothing compared to the pain of being tortured in a Syrian jail for almost a year after U.S. authorities sent him there on October 8, 2002 on a chartered flight paid for by the U.S. Department of Justice.

We all accept that Canadians were in part responsible for that horrible event. The RCMP, sadly, has a long history of making uneducated guesses on international and counter-intelligence files, which is why CSIS was created in 1984.

Still smarting over their lost mandate, it seems, the Mounties again jumped to unwarranted conclusions on Arar, which were conveyed to the U.S.

Though Canadian authorities tried to self-correct, there would be no relenting from a U.S. security machine eager to chalk up political wins, and it would require Canada to negotiate directly with Syria in order to gain Arar's eventual release in 2003.

Ambassador Wilkins suggests that Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and, by extension, Canadians generally are "presumptuous" to question what the U.S. has on Arar.

To some Canadians, this reeks of McCarthyism. Heck, we don't have to go that far back to question the merits of intelligence claims from an outfit that started and entirely screwed up a war on the basis of information from the likes of Ahmad Chalabi, a wealthy Iraqi ex-pat with overblown ambitions. Remember the junk the honourable Colin Powell was made to present the world on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction at the UN Security Council?

Update: Mustang Bobby notes the Canadians have apologized to Maher Arar.

Update 1/27: Bryan is disgusted at our ambassador.

Glenn Greenwald voices his anger:
There is absolutely no question that Arar is a completely innocent individual whom our government literally abducted and sent to be tortured -- for months, away from his family and everything he knew. Once this entire matter came to light, the administration simply dug its heels in further, insisting that national security required that his case be dismissed from our courts (which naturally obliged), and now -- almost out of spite and/or a pathological inability to admit error -- continues to keep him on its no-fly list.

This was the case that caused Pat Leahy to have a genuine and intense outburst of rage after Alberto Gonazles placidly recited his mindless buzzphrases to defend the administration's conduct here. It is hard to see how anyone doesn't have a similar burst of outrage when thinking about what our government has done, and continues to do, to Maher Arar (of course, the purposeful dehuminization of Arabs and Muslims allows us to not only bomb them free of any regrets, but also to subject them to treatment of this sort).

At least the Canadian Government seems to be run by people with a minimal sense of conscience and decency. The contrast with our own government, in this case at least, is depressingly glaring.

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