::extraordinary rendition

19 09 2006

Mister President–

I think I need some clarity on this.

Say you’re a Canadian citizen, and you’re travelling home to Canada from a trip overseas.  Your return trip takes through JFK International, where you have to catch a connecting flight.  Say you’re getting off your plane and you’re on your way to you connection when you get arrested kidnapped in the airport. 

Let’s go on in this scenario and say that you’re held for two weeks by officials working for the United States government, and during that time you’re not allowed to call any of the following people:

  1. Your wife back home in Canada
  2. Your lawyer
  3. The Canadian embassy or any member of the Canadian government. 

Let us also remember, in this hypothetical situation, that there are treaties between the Canadian and US governments dealing with just this sort of thing, and that the treaties spell out that you should be able to, at a minimum, get in touch with 2 and 3 on the list above. You’re a good Canadian who knows a thing or two about what your government does, and you’re aware of your rights.  No one seems to care.

So let’s say you’re held in the US for two weeks, after which time the CIA decides to put you on a plane and fly you to Jordan, and then drive you to Syria, where you are turned over by the CIA to the Syrian government.  The Syrians hold you for a year, during which time you are repeatedly tortured.

When the US government is asked about you and your whereabouts, let’s say they deny ever having heard of you.  For a year or so.  Then they refuse to say where you are or what has become of you.

But let’s say the Syrians can’t get anything out of you, and they give you back to the Canadians, who spend the next two years smearing your name and calling you a terrorist. 

Then all of a sudden they realize that you’re not a terrorist, you’ve never had terrorist sympathies, and you’ve never done anything wrong.  Unless of course, being of Arab descent while travelling through US airspace is wrong.  And it very well may be. 

The Canadians issue apologies, offer you compensation for the money you’ve lost and the slander  you’ve suffered, and genuinely try to make up for their part in the horrible injustice that’s been done to you and your family.  The United States, on the other hand, summarily dismisses without comment the lawsuit you filed against them.

Bullshit, right? 

That’s just another liberal bullshit conspiracy story that never happens.  We are saving the world for democracy here, people. 

We are the guys in the white hats.

Tell that to Maher Arar.  The bullshit story above is his story, and it is true.

But hey, there’s a war on, right?  And every airport, bus stop, train station and intersection is part of the front, right? We are all players here, we are all soldiers. 

This is tragic, this is sad, this is a terrible injustice, but would which would we rather have–a few mistakes, a few people tortured when they shouldn’t be, or another 9/11?  That’s how the logic goes.  There is collateral damage in every war.

Wrong.  If this can happen to one person, if the government can blow off treaties and laws and common human decency when dealing with a Arab Canadian no one is likely to care about, it can happen to anyone.  You or me, in New York or Kansas City, citizen or no. 

Am I paranoid?  Am I a conspiracy nut?  I don’t think I am.

What’s stopping it from happening?

Who knows that it hasn’t happened already?





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