On the TV holding forth
About war, nukes and victory?
He was dreaming of course
but he runs the Air Force
And he's talking about World War Three
--No Hiding Place, Stephen Stills
Richard L. Skinner, Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told two House subcommittees last Thursday that the Mahar Arar extraordinary rendition case involved "very questionable" actions by United States government officials and was re-opened last year following the receipt of new "classified" information.
"Skinner 'could not rule out' that Mr. Arar was sent to Syria with the intention of having him questioned under torture about possible connections to terrorists."
Mahar Arar, a telecommunications engineer who had immigrated to Canada from his native Syria as a teenager, was detained in September 2002 as he tried to change planes at Kennedy International Airport while flying back to Canada from Switzerland. U.S. officials sent Arar against his will to Syria, which "habitually tortures" its prisoners, because his name name was on an immigration watch list.
"The Justice Department’s ethics office is reviewing a decision in 2002 by department officials to send a Canadian citizen to Syria, where he was tortured, American officials said Thursday.
"A Justice Department spokesman, Peter A. Carr, said that its inquiry, by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, was begun in March 2007 and was examining the role of department lawyers in expelling Maher Arar to Syria, which has long been identified by the State Department as habitually using torture on prisoners (Justice Dept. Investigation Deportation to Syria.)"
U.S. officials had no legal basis to do anything except deny him entry to the U.S. Instead, Mr. Arar was kidnapped and illegally detained in New York without arrest warrants.
The investigation challenges the decision to send him to Syria, "suggesting that he could have been sent on to Canada or returned to Switzerland, where his flight had originated."
"The IG’s inquiry, which began in 2003, ran into resistance both inside the DHS and from other agencies, Mr. Skinner said, delaying its progress. He said his department initially sought to keep the entire report secret but agreed to his request to release most of it."
As Mr. Arar's flight originated in Zurich, why was the manifest not vetted via computer before the plane left the ground? This should be protocol for keeping people on watch lists out of the U.S. Isn't this why we spend the big bucks, to upgrade DHS communication and computers?
An afterthought: Would any al-Qaeda terrorist or agent travel under a passport or name that is known to U.S. intelligence or security officials? I mean, even Mujibar in India who mans the outsourced Sony tech problem line knows that if he calls himself "Shawn" or "Steve" we are more likely to receive him well.