Lies, secrets, and torture, Part 153

The U.S. government sent Maher Arar off to the Syrian torture chambers AFTER being told by the Canadian government that there was no real evidence tying him to al-Qaeda.

Back on the torture front, it now emerges that Canadian officials told the FBI that Maher Arar had no link to terrorism before the FBI arranged for the INS to send him off to the Syrian torture chambers. Indeed, it seems that Arar was deported precisely because the FBI doubted it had enough evidence to charge him with any crime. (But don’t worry: the Syrians promised they wouldn’t torture him, and an al-Assad’s word is his bond.)

Recall that Arar’s suit for damages was blocked under the “state secrets” doctrine.

Pray tell, what secret is being protected here? Surely the incompetence of the Bush Administration’s “war on terror” is as about as notorious as any fact could possibly be.

It’s the old story: the guy who says that the dictator is a fool gets three years in prison for insulting the dictator, and twenty more for revealing a state secret.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

4 thoughts on “Lies, secrets, and torture, Part 153”

  1. Thanks for reminding me of the joke (20 years for revealing a state secret)!, which I first heard 35 years ago from friends who had fled East Germany. I'm pinching myself. I never imagined that their nightmare would be looming as our future.

  2. It is generous of you to assume that it was incompetence that caused them to send Ayar to be tortured. I would have guessed that they didn't care that he was innocent. He was of Arab descent, after all, and a foreigner to boot. Besides, they might have figured that he'd get health care in Canada if he survived.

  3. I'm 95% sure the state secret being protected is that we sent Arar to be tortured in Syria based on false confessions that two other Canadian citizens made under torture in Syria.
    The evidence is circumstantial, but strong.

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