In June, while we were marking Torture Awareness month with our Document a Day feature, the U.S. continued its undignified slink away from accountability — most notably when the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in Maher Arar’s lawsuit against the United States for his rendition and torture.
Arar, a Canadian citizen and innocent victim of mistaken identity, was detained at JFK airport in 2002 and then sent to Jordan , where he was brutally abused for almost a year. Shamed by revelations that information provided by its own security services had contributed to his ordeal, the Canadian government has conducted a full investigation, issued a formal apology, and awarded Arar substantial damages. By contrast, the Bush and Obama administrations have both fought to keep his case out of U.S. courts, arguing it could damage diplomatic relations and national security; Obama’s acting solicitor general even argued that the case could call into question “the motives and sincerity of the United States officials who concluded that petitioner could be moved to Syria,” as if that, too, could somehow harm the country. Coming at the end of Arar’s futile quest for justice in the U.S. , the symbolism of our nation’s highest court literally refusing to listen to his case couldn’t be more clear.
I will be catching up on other recent developments in the days ahead, and next week we’ll begin posting Chapter 5 of the Report, which follows the torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani and traces the roots of the U.S. military’s programmatic abuse inside Guantánamo.
Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald, one of the Torture Report’s expert contributors, and I recently recorded some reflections on the Torture Report and the ongoing struggle for accountability:
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To read more about and see documentary evidence of the Bush administration’s torture program, go to thetorturereport.com.