Friday, August 10, 2007

LET THE RED CROSS BRING THEM COOKIES: We'll give them anal suppositories loaded with sedative

By way of Glenn Greenwald's column at Salon today, your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow is drawn to quotes from a New York Times story on Maher Arar, "a Canadian citizen abducted by the Bush administration and sent to Syria to be tortured."

"Canadian intelligence officials anticipated that the United States would ship Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian who was detained in New York in 2002 on suspicion of terrorism, to a third country to be tortured, declassified information released on Thursday shows," reported the Times.

"Mr. Arar was sent by American intelligence officials in October 2002 to Syria, where he was tortured and jailed for a almost a year. Last September, an extensive Canadian inquiry concluded that the terrorism accusations against him were groundless.

"The newly released sections indicate that neither the Syrian government nor the Federal Bureau of Investigation were convinced that Mr. Arar was a significant security threat. They also suggest that the investigation of Mr. Arar was prompted by the coerced confession of Ahmad Abou el-Maati, a Kuwaiti-born Canadian who was also imprisoned and tortured in Syria."

Some of this was also addressed in an ugly Congressional debate on the impact of extraordinary rendition and torture on America's image overseas in April.

The transcript of the session, put on the web by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, was must reading.

I discussed it at length, and its central character, ex-CIA man Michael Scheuer, at the Register here.

For that session, Scheuer went on a merciless rant. Europeans were anti-Catholic and anti-American, effete and sanctimonious, their countries havens for terrorists. The press was aiding and abetting terrorists. Democrats wanted terrorists to have cookies from their mamas. Scheuer didn't think torture was a good idea but he didn't care if detainees were tortured, either, because they were the enemy.

Scheuer was as churlish and offensive as one can be without resorting to blows, the black and fuming face of the United States in the war on terror, a visage that has destroyed our reputation overseas. [DD suggests you read the comments from Reg readers, Europeans.]

"Throw [terrorists] in a stockade, let the Red Cross bring them cookies, let them write their Mama," snarled Scheuer, mocking a questioning Democrat, Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts.

This prompted Delahunt to fire back, "And just so that Dr. Scheuer ... thinks I am a kind of weak kneed fuzzy wuzzy, let mummy make cookies for me, in my previous career I was a district attorney and put a lot of people in jail."

The country has been brought to ethical and moral ruin in this so-called war when decent people opposed to torture are simply mocked as wanting to let terrorists have "cookies from mama" by those whose actions have put a black stain upon the nation.

"[Maher Arar] sued the Bush administration in federal court for his abduction and torture, but his case was dismissed because the administration argued that its adjudication would jeopardize the disclosure of 'state secrets'; thereafter, the Canadian government paid Ahar damages for his ordeal and apologized to him for having been wrongfully abducted and tortured, something the U.S. government has steadfastly refused to do," wrote Greenwald today.

In April, Arar was made an object of scorn by Scheuer. In the transcript, a Democrat notes, astonishingly, that "[Arar] was tortured without due process." It is an obvious fumble, almost Freudian in lieu of the country's current predicament over its new reputation as a systematic torturer under orders from the Bush administration.

Is there a "due process of torture"?

There is.

Greenwald has written about it this week in reference to a horrifying story in the New Yorker by Jane Mayer. (Another piece on the same subject appeared in this month's issue of Vanity Fair.)

"The C.I.A.'s interrogation program is remarkable for its mechanistic aura," writes Mayer for the magazine. " 'It's one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever,' an outside expert familiar with the protocol said. 'At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you've heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process...

"A former member of a C.I.A. transport team has described the 'takeout' of prisoners as a carefully choreographed twenty-minute routine, during which a suspect was hog-tied, stripped naked, photographed, hooded, sedated with anal suppositories, placed in diapers, and transported by plane to a secret location. A person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, referring to cavity searches and the frequent use of suppositories during the takeout of detainees, likened the treatment to 'sodomy.'"

Ed Markey, another Democrat questioning Scheuer in the April Congressional session on extraordinary rendition, remarked of Maher Arar: "And now Dr. Scheuer, as you know, the Canadian government has apologized to [him] and has actually paid his family about $10 million ... Do you think the Canadian government has made the right decision in apologizing to Maher Arar and his family, for giving him 10 million for engaging in extraordinary rendition, for sending him to Syria and having him tortured without due process?"

Scheuer: "I would say, sir, that it is entirely the Canadian government's decision."

Markey: "Do you think the United States government should apologize to Maher Arar?"

Scheuer: "No, I don't."

Continuing after another Markey question, Scheuer added: "And I will tell you, if I had the same sheet of information about Maher Arar today, I would go after him again..."

The conversation descends further into acrimony, with Markey trying to get Scheuer to admit that a serious mistake was made with Arar and Scheuer contradicting him.

In a final fit of pique, Scheuer insists when Syria finally released Maher Arar, "it was to stick their finger into the eye of the United States."


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