The record of the current Attorney General of the United States is not exactly a distinguished one but it may have reached its lowest point yet when Alberto Gonzales Tuesday tried to distance his Justice Department from the horrible case of Maher Arar, the Canadian who was wrongly accused of being a terrorist (by Canada and the US) and then "rendered" to Syria where he was tortured. The Attorney General's lame soft-shoe was immediately repudiated by the Justice Department itself, on Wednesday, when a spokesperson said that her boss "had his timelime mixed up."
Today's Times' report included this: "'The facts speak for themselves, you know,'" Mr. Arar said. "'The report (by Canadian officials, including a high-level judge there) clearly concluded that I was tortured. And for him to say that he does not know about the case or does not know I was tortured is really outrageous.'" Maria C. LaHood, Mr. Arar's lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, called Mr. Gonzales' comments 'unbelievable. I had hoped that they would actually step up and say, "We made a mistake, we accept the report's findings, we clear Mr. Arar's name and we apologize," ' Ms. LaHood said."
Admit a mistake? Not this Attorney General. Allow the facts to get in the way of his talking points? Not this Attorney General. The Arar Commission Report is embarrassing enough coming during the tensest of times during the political debate over the treatment of terror deteainees. But for a high-ranking Administration official to pretend that the Arar episode either didn't exist or that US officials were not partly to blame is even worse. Credibility is the coin of the realm in the fight now between Congress and the White House. And the nation's highest-ranking lawyer, a man who isn't exactly brimming with credibility anyway thanks to past debacles, just lost some more.
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