I want every person in America to read this piece by Bob Herbert in the New York Times:
If John Ashcroft was right, then I was staring into the malevolent, duplicitous eyes of pure evil, the eyes of a man with the mass murder of Americans on his mind. But all I could really see was a polite, unassuming, neatly dressed guy who looked like a suburban Little League coach. If Mr. Ashcroft was right, then Maher Arar should have been in a U.S. prison, not talking to me in an office in downtown Ottawa. But there he was, a 34-year-old man who now wears a perpetually sad expression, talking about his recent experiences – a real-life story with the hideous aura of a hallucination. Mr. Arar’s 3-year-old son, Houd, loudly crunched potato chips while his father was being interviewed.
. . . In the fall of 2002 Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen, suddenly found himself caught up in the cruel mockery of justice that the Bush administration has substituted for the rule of law in the post-Sept. 11 world. While attempting to change planes at Kennedy Airport on his way home to Canada from a family vacation in Tunisia, he was seized by American authorities, interrogated and thrown into jail. He was not charged with anything, and he never would be charged with anything, but his life would be ruined. Mr. Arar was surreptitiously flown out of the United States to Jordan and then driven to Syria, where he was kept like a nocturnal animal in an unlit, underground, rat-infested cell that was the size of a grave. From time to time he was tortured. He wept. He begged not to be beaten anymore. He signed whatever confessions he was told to sign. He prayed.
Among the worst moments, he said, were the times he could hear babies crying in a nearby cell where women were imprisoned. He recalled hearing one woman pleading with a guard for several days for milk for her child. He could hear other prisoners screaming as they were tortured. . . .
The Justice Department has alleged, without disclosing any evidence whatsoever, that Mr. Arar is a member of, or somehow linked to, Al Qaeda. If that’s so, how can the administration possibly allow him to roam free? The Syrians, who tortured him, have concluded that Mr. Arar is not linked in any way to terrorism.
. . . Official documents in Canada suggest that Mr. Arar was never the target of a terror investigation there. One former Canadian official, commenting on the Arar case, was quoted in a local newspaper as saying “accidents will happen” in the war on terror. Whatever may have happened in Canada, nothing can excuse the behavior of the United States in this episode. Mr. Arar was deliberately dispatched by U.S. officials to Syria, a country that – as they knew – practices torture. And if Canadian officials hadn’t intervened, he most likely would not have been heard from again.
. . . A lawsuit on Mr. Arar’s behalf has been filed against the United States by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. Barbara Olshansky, a lawyer with the center, noted yesterday that the government is arguing that none of Mr. Arar’s claims can even be adjudicated because they “would involve the revelation of state secrets.” This is a government that feels it is answerable to no one.
I’ve written before about how I cannot believe that, in America, we are even having a discussion about the nuances of the legal issues surrounding torture. I am sickened and saddened that America’s values now allow this sort of thing. This is not about protecting America, its about a bunch of sick, arrogant aristocrats exercising their sadomasochistic urges under the guise of “protecting the homeland.”
We have this sort of thing going on in this country, and around the world, and the Anglican Church leaders can only worry about the appointment of a single gay Bishop. Why is there just no moral outrage in America? Why are we allowing our representatives in Congress to get off scott-free, when we should be demanding they investigate and bring to justice anyone involved. Getting a hum job in the oval office is a high crime, but conspiring to commit a violation of a federal law against torture is something to be ignored. Just in case you are unclear about the law against torture, here it is:
United States Code Section 18
Release date: 2004-08-06
As used in this chapter–
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from–
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) “United States” includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501 (2) of title 49.
(Title 18. Section 5. The term “United States”, as used in this title in a territorial sense, includes all places and waters, continental or insular, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, except the Canal Zone.
Title 18. Section 7.(3) Any lands reserved or acquired for the use of the United States, and under the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction thereof, or any place purchased or otherwise acquired by the United States by consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of a fort, magazine, arsenal, dockyard, or other needful building.)
Release date: 2004-08-06
(a) Offense.– Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction.– There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if–
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy.– A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
Worse still is that NOTHING has been gained by all of this. Let’s look at the score card here. The FBI and their non-violent approach to interrogation for the first WTC bombing resulted in four convicted (Mohammed A. Salmeh, Ahmad M. Ajaj, Nidal A. Ayyad, and Mahmud Abouhalima) for planning and executing the attack, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine other convicted of conspiracy in the bombing. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and Eyad Ismail convicted of masterminding the bombing and sentenced to life without parole. Six others conspirators convicted in 1997 and 1998 and sentenced to 240 years each.
Major convictions = 22
George, John, Alberto and other administration goons with their torture squads have arrested thousands, tortured hundred, sent thousands of American troops to be killed and maimed in two wars, killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians (including children), and all of this has resulted in NO (that’s zero, zilch, nadda) major convictions.
This whole thing isn’t about justice. It’s about a bunch of schoolyard bullies who have seized the massive power of the United States government. It’s about intimidation, fear, and control. And just under the seething puss-infected wound these guys have inflicted on America lies their thinly veiled threat; If you say or do the wrong thing, you might be next.
It is time that this is stopped. All those American’s who voted based on “moral-values” need to stand and be counted. Torture is NOT a moral value. I want to beg everyone who reads this to call or write your representatives in the House and the Senate, and demand that they take action to put a halt to this. None less than Plato said, “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Every minister in this country needs to preach about this from every pulpit. You cannot wait for someone else to take action, and you CAN make a difference. Members of Congress are coming up for re-election soon in political time, and they will respond if enough people let them know this is an issue. Just call, someone will make a tic mark on a legal pad somewhere, and that sheet winds up with enough tic marks, it will become an issue.
American honor is not just stained It is GONE. The entire idea of honor has gone to the same place as shame. I weep for this.