Thursday, February 10, 2005

Herbert today
Maher Arar is a 34-year-old native of Syria who emigrated to Canada as a teenager. On Sept. 26, 2002, as he was returning from a family vacation in Tunisia, he was seized by American authorities at Kennedy Airport in New York, where he was in the process of changing planes.

Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen, was not charged with a crime. But, as Jane Mayer tells us in a compelling and deeply disturbing article in the current issue of The New Yorker, he "was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet."

In an instant, Mr. Arar was swept into an increasingly common nightmare, courtesy of the United States of America. The plane that took off with him from Kennedy "flew to Washington, continued to Portland, Maine, stopped in Rome, Italy, then landed in Amman, Jordan."

Mr. Arar was seized because his name had turned up on a watch list of terror suspects. He was reported to have been a co-worker of a man in Canada whose brother was a suspected terrorist.

"Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say," Ms. Mayer wrote.

The confession under torture was worthless. Syrian officials reported back to the United States that they could find no links between Mr. Arar and terrorism. He was released in October 2003 without ever being charged and is now back in Canada.

I don't have the words.