October 24, 2007

Well, Who Knew?

Some more choice bits from the congressional hearing on extraordinary rendition, specifically involving the Secretary of State's words on Maher Arar:

"We do absolutely not wish to transfer anyone to any place in which they might be tortured."

Anyone here remember the barrage of "Iraq has Nukes!" hysteria that went on immediately before the invasion there? (If not, there are plenty of reminders running around now.) And remember the "Saddam Loves bin Laden!" idiocy? And the "Iraq caused 9/11!" screed? Then the feeble "The President Never Said That!" denials? That was true, of course; but barely so. Bush didn't expressly state that Saddam Hussein was involved in the World Trade Center attacks.

In exactly that spirit, reread the quote above.

Hey, Condi? If you don't wish to transfer anyone to any place they might be tortured, why did you? Anyone else thinking of the prototypical abusive relationship line: "I didn't want to hurt you, but you made me..."

So Arar will continue to be considered a threat by the United States for no apparent reason:

American officials have said they have their own reasons for keeping Arar out of the United States.

Oh, pardon me! I think I can guess what those reasons might be... Unless that report that came up last week is true:

A report last week suggested the United States still considers Arar a security threat based on an allegation that he was seen in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s by a man who led training at a terrorist camp - a charge Arar has denied.

If it's good enough for the government, shouldn't it be good enough for you and me?

Now, to be fair, there's no proof that Syria tortures people. I mean, who would know that sort of thing? Other than the State Department, which Ms. Rice is supposedly the head of:

"[...]there was credible evidence that security forces continued to use torture frequently."
"[...]HRAS reported numerous cases of security forces using torture on prisoners in custody[...]"
"Former prisoners and detainees, as well as the HRAS, reported that torture methods included administering electrical shocks; pulling out fingernails; forcing objects into the rectum; beating, sometimes while the victim was suspended from the ceiling; hyperextending the spine; bending the detainees into the frame of a wheel and whipping exposed body parts; and using a backward-bending chair to asphyxiate the victim or fracture the victim's spine. Torture was most likely to occur while detainees were being held at one of the many detention centers run by the various security services throughout the country, particularly while the authorities were attempting to extract a confession or information. For example, in July, a Syrian-Canadian citizen reportedly was tortured while being questioned by security services (see Section 1.e)."

When asked about Arar's time in Syria, where he gets his own special mention in this 2004 report, Ms. Rice replied:

"I am aware of claims that were made, congressman."

Fair enough! I mean, heck, if you can't trust an authoritarian regime that regularly tortures people not to torture someone, you just have to wonder what's wrong in the world.

And besides, it's not like she even knew she'd be asked about Arar's extraordinary rendition! Why, it came as such a surprise, that she didn't even have time to pack her notes:

Asked by Democrat William Delahunt whether U.S. authorities relied on diplomatic assurances from Syria that Arar wouldn't be tortured, Rice said she had forgotten some of the details but would provide a "full accounting" later.

I, for one, am sure she'll get right on that. Just like I'm sure when she does have "those details", they'll be reported promptly to all the right media outlets.

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posted by Thursday at 9:19 pm

2 Comments:

Blogger Gazetteer said...

I distinctly remember the time that little Scottie McLellan was asked about the torture of Mr. Arar after the story had been splashed all over the front pages of the Washington Post and NY Times.

His response (from memory)?

"Where did you hear about that - bloggers?"

These people are unbelievable in their audacity.

They have absolutely no shame whatsoever.

.

8:44 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

I'm a bit bemused by the sheer volume of press secretaries this lot has gone through over the past couple administrations.

President George has had Fleischer, McClellan, and Snow so far. How long's Perino going to last, do you think?

He's got a chance to break Clintons record of four in eight years; I think he'll go for it!

8:29 pm  

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