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TA-ANALYSIS: U.S. Government being sued by Syrian-Canadian

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posted on Jan, 22 2005 @ 06:46 PM
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In September, 2002, Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen travellng with a Canadian passport had to cut short a vacation in Tunisia with his wife and two small children. He was returning home to Ottawa alone. While connecting through New York's JFK, he was detained by U.S. immigration officials, questioned repeatedly about links to Al-Qaeda, then placed in a Brooklyn jail before finally being deported to Syria, even though he asked to be returned to Canada. He was held without charge in a Syrian prison for over a year where he claims he was tortured. More than a year after his release, there is an ongoing public inquiry into how and why this happened. Maher Arar is now suing the U.S. government who is trying to have the case dismissed on "national security concerns."
 



www.thestar.com
The United States government is attempting to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar, claiming the litigation would jeopardize national security.

Invoking the rarely used "state secrets privilege," U.S. Department of Justice lawyers filed a motion with the New York eastern district court this week, stating that the release of any information concerning the U.S.'s involvement in Arar's deportation to Syria could jeopardize "intelligence, foreign policy and national security interests of the United States."

Lawyers with New York's Centre for Constitutional Rights, who filed the lawsuit on Arar's behalf a year ago, said the government is abusing claims of national security in order to avoid a review of its policies and handling of terrorism suspects.

"They're asking the court to sanction their cover-up basically," lawyer Maria LaHood said yesterday.




Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


While he was imprisoned in Syria, his wife, Monia Mazigh, worked tirelessly on his behalf, trying to secure his release. She eventually succeeded. In the June, 2004 federal election, she ran for the New Democratic Party but did not win.

Since his return to Canada Maher Arar has been in the news often, speaking out against what happened to him and demanding a public inquiry, he has succeeded and the inquiry continues.

Maher Arar has been nominated as Time Magazine (Canada) as Canadian Newsmaker of the Year 2004.


Related News Links:
www.timecanada.com

washingtonpost.com

www.cbc.ca
www.ararcommission.ca...
www.commondreams.org
www.maherarar.ca


[edit on 22-1-2005 by Banshee]




posted on Jan, 22 2005 @ 07:35 PM
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This is a most interesting read if you have the time, and actually I'm surprised it hasn't come up on ATS at all as the story has been ongoing in Canada and involved the US government who deported Arar to Syria without contacting the Canadian government until after he was deported (October 10/02).

Gone are the days where we can be passive about such things happening, because it could happen to you too...

www.counterpunch.org...

[edit on 22/1/05 by AlwaysLearning]



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 11:28 AM
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The American Spectator
LAST NOVEMBER, ARAR HELD a press conference detailing his experience, including graphic descriptions of the torture by Syrian authorities. He hinted that someone inside the Canadian government knew about his detention at Kennedy airport. He further claimed American authorities had intimate personal information about his life in Canada at their disposal. The Canadian government has denied all involvement in the affair, especially in the deportation to Syria.

It was then someone leaked secret intelligence documents on Arar to the press. On November 8, the Ottawa Citizen ran a story by reporter Juliet O'Neill detailing the case against Arar. It is widely presumed that the documents were leaked in an effort to counter all the bad publicity generated by his charges.

Two-and-a-half months later, the now infamous raid occurred. The search and seizure coincided with a broadcast of a segment on 60 Minutes II about the Arar affair. The show ran the accusation of unnamed American authorities that not only was Canada informed of Arar's detention, it had signed off on his deportation as well.



www.caut.ca
Canada and the U.S. have signed a "Smart Border Action Plan" that calls for developing common standards for biometric identity cards, visa policy coordination, sharing of passenger information, joint passenger analysis units, compatible immigration databases, exchanges of information on immigration-related issues, integrated border enforcement teams, establishment of integrated national security enforcement teams and joint cooperation in deporting individuals to source countries.


If you put two and two together it's pretty obvious that the Canadian government was at the very least complicit in the matter. The American Spectator article I posted is a pretty good read as well - even if a bit old.

I feel bad for this guy, he's a pawn in a political chess match and more than likely did nothing wrong. His tale teaches us all a lesson though: be careful who you're friends with.



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 12:40 PM
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I imagine all the ordeal this man and his family has been through, I imagine how horrible would be if you were accused of something or somebody that you are not, and to be in jail for a long time when you know you are Innocent.

Yes he not only should sue US, but Syria and Canada also.



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 12:58 PM
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I may be wrong, but I think he's suing the US govt first because they have refused to give any info or comment on his case, citing "national security'. I'm sure the Canadian lawsuit will follow, after the inquiry is completed. Another group that should be sued in this mess is the RCMP.

I think the lesson we learned might be more accurately described as be careful of who your co-worker's relatives are, and who you use as a reference on your rental applications, when you make them up.

It's a horrible story, and when I brought it up around a month ago, in a thread about secret flights to move prisoners out of the US, nobody seemed to care. If you say something that is remotely negative about something the US has done, you are immediately ignored by a lot of close-minded people here. A
to AlwaysLearning for posting this story.

On a side note, I thought it was quite ironic that the same week Bush was Times man of the year, Maher Arar was Canada's.

[edit on 23-1-2005 by Duzey]



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 09:05 PM
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Originally posted by PistolPete

If you put two and two together it's pretty obvious that the Canadian government was at the very least complicit in the matter. The American Spectator article I posted is a pretty good read as well - even if a bit old.

I feel bad for this guy, he's a pawn in a political chess match and more than likely did nothing wrong. His tale teaches us all a lesson though: be careful who you're friends with.


I know you are right Pistol...they are hitting roadblocks in the inquiry. It will be interesting to see where it goes. Will keep an eye out and post anything of interest that I see.



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 09:14 PM
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Originally posted by Duzey
On a side note, I thought it was quite ironic that the same week Bush was Times man of the year, Maher Arar was Canada's.


Thanks, Duzey. I look carefully for stories like these now...its all part of a pattern of singling out Muslims.

I think Canadian lawsuits will follow the inquiry too - RCMP and most especially CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service). Already the inquiry is hitting roadblocks. I fired off an e-mail to my Liberal MP to support Arar.

I was also pleased that Arar was nominated person of the year...it was a bold statement I thought.

Hats off the Arar's wife, Monia Mazigh too ...when you see her you think she's a timid Muslim woman...but, man, has she got cojones! I think she will make it in federal politics yet.


Now isn't that a stark contrast to what *they* want us to believe about Muslims...that they are uncivilized???



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 09:30 PM
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What I find scary about this story is that it is a matter of policy for the US government to do these things, and there are those that support them in these atrocities. He's not the first one this has happened to, and he won't be the last. Just because someone is Muslim, that doesn't make them a terrorist.

CSIS, RCMP, US govt, Canadian govt, Syria, they should all be sued. And if anything should ever happen to me, Monia's the person I'm calling first. She's the kind of person we need in politics.


[edit on 23-1-2005 by Duzey]



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 09:51 PM
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I think Arar & Mazigh's efforts have brought a lot of momentum to the issue...at least in Canada. Good on them.


The scary thing is...if Arar were merely a permanent resident and not a citizen of Canada...he'd be dead now.

It makes me wonder now about Adil Charkaoui et al who are being held in Canada on security certificates.

I say anyone who is able to have dual citizenship (Canada and birth country) and doesn't take advantage of it is taking a serious risk. These days it can happen to anyone...not just Muslims!



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 09:55 PM
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I have to wonder if Maher Arar had been a US citizen, instead of a Canadian citizen, would this have had a different ending? Or would he still be in a Syrian jail?



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 10:44 PM
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Originally posted by Duzey
I have to wonder if Maher Arar had been a US citizen, instead of a Canadian citizen, would this have had a different ending? Or would he still be in a Syrian jail?


Excellent question. If he had US and Syrian citizenship could they have deported him...it would mean revoking his US citizenship and I don't think that could be done just arbitrarily. Or maybe they could.

I don't know...sometimes all I can do is shake my head in amazement.



posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 10:59 PM
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I think that Extraordinary Rendition is something all non-US citizens need to be very aware of, if planning on touching US soil.

This definition comes from Wikipedia:


Extraordinary rendition is a United States CIA procedure wherein the agency sends a foreign suspect to another country for interrogation. Along with the suspect, the CIA provides the foreign intelligence services with a list of questions it wants answered.



posted on Jan, 24 2005 @ 07:42 AM
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I realize that this in wrong. But this is not the only person in the world who has been wrongly accussed of a crime. There are people on death row, right now, who are innocent. He should be happy that he was able to secure his release. It's not like an American has never been falsley accussed of a crime or crimes in a Middle Eastern country, or any country for that matter.



posted on Jan, 24 2005 @ 07:44 AM
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I still can't see what the U.S. supposedly did wrong...he was Syrian and he was returned to Syria? What's wrong with that?



posted on Jan, 24 2005 @ 09:22 AM
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What the US did wrong was deport a Canadian citizen to Syria, to be tortured, after he, and his legal representation, were told it would not happen. That and the little fact that the US govt didn't inform our govt until after the fact. If we did that to a US citizen, regardless of his ethnic background, wouldn't you guys be upset?



posted on Jan, 24 2005 @ 09:39 AM
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The Wikipedia article about him answered all of my questions. The United States acted properly:



Arar holds both Canadian and Syrian citizenship. He was born in Syria, and moved to Canada at the age of 17 in 1988 to avoid mandatory military service requirements.
...
On September 26, 2002, he was detained by United States immigration officials while changing planes at JFK Airport while returning to Montreal from vacation with his family in Tunisia, where his wife was born. Immigration officials claimed Arar was an associate of Abdullah Almalki, a Syrian-born Ottawa man whom they suspected of having links to the al-Qaeda terror organization, and therefore suspected Arar of being an al-Qaeda member himself. When Arar claimed that he only had a casual relationship with Almalki (having formerly worked with Almalki's brother at an Ottawa high-tech firm), the officials produced a copy of Arar's rental lease from 1997 which Almalki had co-signed. The possession of this lease was later widely interpreted as evidence of complicity by Canadian authorities in Arar's detention.
...
On September 25, 2004, the results of an internal RCMP investigation by RCMP Chief Superintendent Brian Garvie were published. Though the version released to the public was censored, the Garvie report documented several instances of impropriety by the RCMP in the Arar case. Among its revelations were that the RCMP was reponsible for giving American authorities sensitive information on Arar with no attached provisos about how this information might be used, and that Richard Roy, the RCMP liason officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs, may have known of the plan of deporting Arar to Syria but did not contact his supervisors

Additionally, Deputy RCMP Commissioner Garry Loeppky lobbied hard, in the spring of 2003, to convince his government not to claim in a letter to Syria, that it "had no evidence Mr. Arar was involved in any terrorist activities" because Arar "remained a person of great interest".

In response to the Garvie report, Arar said that the report was "just the starting point to find out the truth about what happened to me" and that it "exposes the fact that the government was misleading the public when they said Canada had nothing to do with sending me to Syria."


He was born in Syria, was a citizen of Syria and didn't leave due to valid refugee reasons. Canada provided information to the U.S. that he was suspected of involvement with terrorist activities. I don't see anything wrong with deporting him to his original country of citizenship. If anyone did anything wrong by this guy it was first Syria then Canada. Stop bashing the U.S. for just following a logical procedure.



posted on Jan, 24 2005 @ 09:55 AM
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djohnsto77,

I just wanted to point out that I am just as angry with my govt as yours, here. This bashing is not exclusive to the US side. It only seems that way because Arar has yet to initiate lawsuits against any Canadian institutions. But he will. Regarding part of your quote:




Though the version released to the public was censored, the Garvie report documented several instances of impropriety by the RCMP in the Arar case. Among its revelations were that the RCMP was reponsible for giving American authorities sensitive information on Arar with no attached provisos about how this information might be used, and that Richard Roy, the RCMP liason officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs, may have known of the plan of deporting Arar to Syria but did not contact his supervisors


This is actually my bigger concern. The RCMP had 'terror' taken of it's list of responsibilities for good reason, like they can't be trusted. Any information of this nature should not have been released by them, it should have gone through CSIS. His rights as a Canadian citizen were trampled on, by both governments.

PS The US govt has already said that this shouldn't have happened without prior consultation and they won't deport any more of our citizens without telling us first, so to me, that indicates they acknowledge this wasn't properly handled.



posted on Jan, 24 2005 @ 10:05 AM
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Well if you're willing to blame the Canadian goverment for its involvement, I'll concede the U.S. should have been more proactive in trying to contact all Canadian authorities. Most of this discussion seemed to be quite one-sided attacking the U.S. From what I see we still don't know how much communication occurred between U.S. Immigration and the RCMP. It looks like the problem won't happen again though hopefully.



posted on Jan, 24 2005 @ 10:18 AM
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Sorry if it seemed one-sided, I guess we forget up here that you don't get any of our news, and don't really know what goes on. Right now we're going through a public inquiry (as far as govts let anything be public) so we can find out where our system failed Mr. Arar. And they only did this because they were pressured into it.

After that is completed, if you were to hop on any Canadian board, you will see our govt getting torn to shreds. The inquiry link, if you're at all interested:

Maher Arar Commisson of Inquiry



posted on Jan, 24 2005 @ 10:26 AM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
Well if you're willing to blame the Canadian goverment for its involvement,


Just a cultural note, one of the great defining traits of a true Canadian is the ability, willingness, nay, eagerness to blame our govt for whatever goes wrong.


Your anti-government conspiracy groups don't have anything on the average Canadian



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