Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The mark of fear

I realize this story will be blogged everywhere...

Canada clears 'al-Qaeda suspect'
By Lee Carter, BBC News Toronto

Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 06:33 GMT 07:33 UK
A public inquiry in Canada has strongly criticised the country's authorities for wrongly accusing a Syrian-born Canadian of terrorism.

Maher Arar was arrested in New York in September 2002 and accused of being an al-Qaeda member.

He was deported by US officials to Syria where he claimed he was tortured.

The inquiry absolves Mr Arar of any suspicion of terrorist activities and urges the Canadian government to compensate him financially...

full article

But what worries me as much if not more than the fact that the US government may from this and other reports be willing to do an "end-run" around the preferred, honorable, and humane policy against torture, but that there are those willing to defend such "extraordinary renditions". I considered linking to examples but I don't want to promote their sites - you can Google them easily enough if you like.

The excuses tend toward the claim that such things are based on "good classified intelligence" and that the US has no moral culpability for what happens to people after they are sent away so long as the destination country says there won't be any torture. Yet Mr. Arar was sent to Syria, not Canada where he resides. It's like sending a woman back to a drunken abusive ex-husband known for his violent temper so long as he says "I won't hit her no more" and then claiming you aren't responsible for the bruises. The evidence in this case was so strong that a review absolutely cleared Mr. Arar, yet those who want to defend what happened still imply he was probably guilty, and if not, that such practices are "necessary" to keep people safe. Huh. I didn't realize Mr. Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, wasn't a person.

May we see such blindness in our own lives and extend compassion to those who teach us, even when we find their "lessons" bitter. May we see their manifestation of Buddhanature and not forget our own experiences with greed, hatred, and ignorance.

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