Another Blow to the White House's Detainee Plan
If you want to understand why the Bush Administration is losing its battle with Congress over terror detainee rules, just read Doug Struck's article this morning in the Washington Post. The lead? "Canadian intelligence officials passed false warnings and bad information to American agents about a Muslim Canadian citizen, after which U.S. authorities secretly whisked him to Syria, where he was tortured, a judicial report found Monday."
The New York Times had this take on the story and the Globe and Mail, one of Canada's leading newspapers, offered this view. And if you really want to know how badly US and Canadian officials acted read the "Arar Commission" report here.
The story of Maher Arar is really a story about lost credibility. The governments of Canada and the US accused the man of doing things he did not do. And then used those accusations to do horrible things to him under the color of law. These governments abused trust and lost credibility. This is also the essence of the debate over the application of the Geneva Conventions to the treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Administration officials-- some of the very ones who loosened the legal reins in a way that brought us Abu Ghraib, some of the very ones who permitted the abuse heaped up Arar-- now are telling the Senate and the rest of us that they can be trusted to operate decently within a legal framework that bends to the purposes of the White House. Why in the world would anyone believe them?
The answer is: more and more people don't. And that's why the President's men and President's women are showing signs today of giving in to the political and legal realities of the situation and coming closer to the position staked out by Republican Senators Graham, Warner and McCain. The White House no doubt will contend today that the Arar Inquiry is all wet and, anyway, has nothing to do with our domestic debate over terrorism. The White House is wrong on both counts.
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