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Ottawa Offers 10.5 Million Apologies to Maher Arar

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posted on Jan, 26 2007 @ 12:45 PM
This is one of them issues that has me shaking my head. Syrian-born Maher Arar was deported from the United States to Syria on information that was provided to the US by our own RCMP. Upon arrival in Syra, Arar endured a full year of torture for his false statements regarding his involvement in Al-Qaeda. This is a serious violation of human rights that Canadians and Americans both played a large role in. I hesitate to say this, but if this man came from a different background, I believe this story would be garnering more headlines and both governments would be facing serious scrutiny for allowing this to happen.

I do applaud Mr. Harper for his willingness to step up to the issue, but our American counterpart are refusing to remove Mr. Arar from their Watchlist.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has formally apologized to Maher Arar and offered him compensation of $10.5 million for the year of torture he endured in Syria.

As well, the government will be paying Arar's legal fees, reported to be about $2 million.

"On behalf of the government of Canada," Harper read from the letter sent to Arar, "I wish to apologize to you, Monia Mazigh, and your family for any role Canadian officials may have played in the terrible ordeal that all of you experienced in 2002 and 2003.

"I sincerely hope that these words and actions will assist you and your family in your effort to begin a new and hopeful chapter in your lives." In 2002, the Syrian-born Arar was deported by the U.S. to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured into making false confessions that he was involved with al Qaeda.

The software engineer, now living in B.C., was cleared by a judicial inquiry last fall. Justice Dennis O'Connor concluded that Arar was deported based on misleading information provided to the U.S. from the RCMP.

Link to Article

This debacle has led to the recent resignation of RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli.

Zaccardelli's role in the affair of Maher Arar has been the subject of intense speculation and controversy. Members of the House National Security have called his testimony in this matter "contradictory", with Liberal MP Mark Holland saying "We've now got Mr. Zaccardelli in my opinion perjuring himself before a parliamentary committee." Zaccardelli resigned from his post as Commissioner on December 6, effective December 15, 2006. over_Maher_Arar_file

Human beings are completely fallible. Nobody should tell you otherwise. We've made a tremendous error on the status of Mr. Arar, and I for one am proud to see Ottawa step up and try to offer restitution to the man they helped inflict an unsurmountable amount of pain.

Despite being cleared of any terrorist links, Arar remains on the American watch list -- preventing him from entering the United States or even flying over its airspace.

Harper said efforts continue to convince U.S. counterparts to remove Arar from their watch list.

"This government reserves the right to disagree with the Americans when we have something substantial to disagree about," Harper told reporters.

"We were clear, we don't believe Mr. Arar should be on watch list. We articulated that at all levels of the government up to and including the president. And we'll continue to do so."

On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins blasted Ottawa's efforts to have Arar removed from the list, saying Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day is "presumptuous" if he thinks he has a say in the matter. Wilkins said Day should back down, because an American assessment concluded Arar should remain on the watch list.

Day said last week he's seen all the U.S. information and found nothing new to suggest Arar is a risk.

But the ambassador says the U.S. found its own reasons to keep Arar on the watch list.

Arar has launched a separate lawsuit against U.S. officials.

Link to Article

Even though the information was provided by the Canadian RCMP, American's have played a role in this travesty. They need to face the facts and provide the proper restitution for this man and remove his name from the Watchlist. I'm not fully educated on his background, but from what I have read, he has done nothing to be blocked from entering the country or flying in their air space.

Would this be a different story if the man came from a different background?

posted on Jan, 26 2007 @ 06:03 PM
I am absolutely thrilled to see that Arar finally got an apology and some compensation for what he went through.

The RCMP behaved in a horrible fashion and this case reminds me of why CSIS was formed and the whole anti-terror thing taken away from the RCMP. The RCMP has a history of making things up and acting outside the law, arson included, if they can't get their job done. I can't give the RCMP as many
as I would like. I'd crash the server.

This information that the American's supposedly have on Arar that justifies his continuing presence on the watchlist - would that be information that was extracted through torture?

I can understand why the US is unwilling to look at this and acknowledge their own errors in judgement, because it makes them look like crap. I do hope that Harper keeps up the pressure on them, because it is completely deserved.

posted on Jan, 27 2007 @ 07:02 AM

Originally posted by Duzey
This information that the American's supposedly have on Arar that justifies his continuing presence on the watchlist - would that be information that was extracted through torture?

Governing on fear and tyranny.

Originally posted by Duzey
I can understand why the US is unwilling to look at this and acknowledge their own errors in judgment, because it makes them look like crap. I do hope that Harper keeps up the pressure on them, because it is completely deserved.

I agree. The American administration should, and needs to feel the pressure on this one. They, just as us, played a big role in inflicting a tremendous amount of suffering on an innocent human being. It is my opinion that if his last name was Smith rather than Arar, they would be singing a different song. Removing Arar from the watchlist is the right thing to do, but that is not the big issue at hand for this administration. It's all about how it looks to the public. The general public does not want to see any individual with the last name Arar, with accusations of terrorist links, permitted in their country or air space. Even though the accusations are proven false, on information that Canadians have taken the blame for, the American government still fails to right these wrongs.

I'm impressed that our Administration is willing to "take it on the chin" in order to assure the right thing is done.

Proud to be Canadian.

CBC has two new articles that pertain to the subject at hand.

Harper's apology 'means the world': Arar

Maher Arar said his innocence has been confirmed by the formal apology Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued to him on Friday.

"This means the world to me," Arar said during a one-hour press conference in Ottawa on Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday, Harper apologized and offered a $10.5 million compensation package to Arar and his family, along with money for legal fees, for the "terrible ordeal" they suffered after Arar spent nearly a year in a Syrian jail.

U.S. refuses to take Arar off watch list

The United States has not lifted its restrictions on Maher Arar, even though the Canadian government apologized to him on Friday and offered him a $10.5 million compensation package. Arar, a Canadian citizen who was born in Syria, was detained in 2002 by U.S. authorities who suspected him of terrorist links and deported him to his homeland, where he was jailed and tortured. Arar's name was later cleared by a Canadian judicial inquiry, which blamed his deportation in part on the RCMP.

The U.S. State Department said Friday it would keep Arar on its security watch list, even though Ottawa has been pushing for his name to be removed.

"We remain convinced that Mr. Arar's presence on the watch list is appropriate," the department said in a statement. "Ultimately, the United States will decide for itself who is or isn't on the watch list."

The U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, said the United States would not change its mind.

First of all, it pleases me to say that Arar has been gratified with his new found fortune and his formal apology from the Canadian government. A man who has been through what he has, could easily accept the gesture and continue to spit in their face. But he is taking this in stride and seems to hold no ill feelings toward our government. We can say that the money is more than enough to compensate, but is it really? Would anyone here accept 10.5 million dollars to be jailed and tortured for a year? I know I would not, and I commend Mr. Arar for his forgiveness. Not something we see in every individual.

In regards to the second article, it is only solidifying a pre-existing image of the American regime.

"We remain convinced that Mr. Arar's presence on the watch list is appropriate." -U.S. State Department

And they have openly said they will not change their mind. How? How can this possibly be done? It has been empirically proven that this man has no terrorist links. Where is the responsible government in all of this? No action without an equal reaction? They are faulting a man for actions of a corrupt RCMP office and possible fault on their end.

We talk about how far we've come as a society. When it comes to sexism, we've finally swung the pendulum the other way. Equal rights are preached and we do our damnedest to assuring everyone is treated fairly. It is all a load of crap. Years and years ago we oppressed women, blacks, jews, etc., and today we've taken our dirty fingers and pointed them in a different direction. We haven't made progress as a society, we've merely directed our attention elsewhere.

Mr. Arar is not permitted to enter the United States because of his last name and this ethnical background. We can sugar coat it all we wish, but this man is being discriminated for things that are out of his control.

It inspires me that we as Canadians have made the strides to assure the proper treatment of this individual. We've acknowledged our hands were dirty in this ordeal and we've made the steps to provide restitution. I think the American administration needs to take their hands out of their pockets and do something about this.

All of this is based on the naive assumption that they actually give a damn.

[edit on 27-1-2007 by chissler]

posted on Jan, 27 2007 @ 10:09 AM

Originally posted by chissler
Removing Arar from the watchlist is the right thing to do, but that is not the big issue at hand for this administration. It's all about how it looks to the public. The general public does not want to see any individual with the last name Arar, with accusations of terrorist links, permitted in their country or air space.

I'll play the role of optimist this time.

In my mind, the US govt has put themselves in a bad position. To admit to one error in judgement leads people to wonder what other lapses in judgement have occurred. To admit that they sent a Canadian citizen off to be tortured then have the man turn out to be innocent is embarrassing to say the least. By insisting that he has terrorist links, they can save face. I don't think a majority of Americans would favour sending an innocent man off for torture in Syria, no matter what his ethnicity happens to be.

Then again, I'm seeing behaviour from our southern neighbour that I couldn't even have imagined 7 years ago.

I can't believe how graciously Arar has acted through this whole ordeal. The man has the patience of a saint. If I had gone through what he went through, I doubt I could be as generous as he has towards our govt.

posted on Jan, 27 2007 @ 10:39 AM

Originally posted by Duzey
I don't think a majority of Americans would favour sending an innocent man off for torture in Syria, no matter what his ethnicity happens to be.

I don't think so either. And when Mr. Arar was deported, we were all under the impression that it was the appropriate move. When we had new information, we've made strides to provide restitution. Saving face is a privilege that I don't think we should inherit when we've done what we have done. I do agree though. If the American's were to admit their mistake, it would begin to undermine their stance on "War On Terror" and questions would begin to file in pertaining to their approach. The power of headlines. The man has been proven to have no terrorist links, but in the eyes of the American government, it is easier to keep the label than remove it and admit error.

Republicans are "Tough On Terrorism!" If Arar were permitted to enter the country, headlines would read that a supposed terrorist is permitted within their borders. Administration is wavering, they are weak on terrorism, etc., with full knowledge that the man is completely innocent.

posted on Jan, 30 2007 @ 07:35 PM
I'm an American and I was just doing a bit of research into Canadian-US relationships which led me to the story of Maher Arar.

What really surprises me is that I have never heard of this incident before and I was a real news buff up until about a year ago when work got in the way of my free time. I just typed his name in the Google news search and it comes up with all Canadian sources. Not much US coverage that I can see.

From what I can tell the US government doesn't really care what happened to this guy.

posted on Jan, 31 2007 @ 05:04 PM
I'm not incredibly surprised that you don't have much coverage of Arar's story in the US.

The US government seems to feel that they were justified in their actions, which I strongly disagree with. The only concession to error is that the US government has said they will consult us in the future when sending Canadian citizens off for torture. Not that they won't send our citizens off for torture, but that next time they will let us know they are doing it so we don't find out about it after the fact.

posted on Feb, 1 2007 @ 04:22 PM
While slightly off-topic, I just finished reading an op-ed by John Gleeson from the Winnipeg Sun that put the subject of Arar's payout in a way I had never even thought of. I wanted to share.

Maher Arar was awarded $10.5 million, plus legal costs, and an apology -- even though it was Syria that did the torturing and the U.S. that sent him there to be tortured, albeit with the help of false intelligence from the RCMP.

By comparison, Canada's 80,000 residential school survivors have been granted an average payout of $24,000 -- with the estimated 12,000 to 20,000 people who suffered physical and sexual abuse eligible for a few thousand more.

The court-ordered settlement, which took more than a decade to reach, has reportedly been tied up once again, this time by the Harper government appealing the amount of legal fees (up to $40 million) earmarked for a law firm with close ties to former PM Jean Chretien.

Canada did not imprison this man for a year, nor send him to be imprisoned, and yet his compensation package is richer than David Milgaard's, who spent 23 years in a Canadian prison after being wrongfully convicted of murder by Canadian courts.

Arar's payout is almost 10 times the amount awarded to Donald Marshall, who served 11 years in a Canadian prison for a crime he was falsely convicted of in a Canadian court.

And let's not even compare Arar's lottery-like windfall with the relatively modest amounts assigned to survivors of Canada's abusive residential school system.

Rich payout makes no sense

Gleeson goes on to say that Harper is playing political games with the Arar case.

I found the column to be thought-provoking. Arar did deserve the money, without a doubt, but why is he more deserving than the people that Canada screwed over on a long-term basis with no assistance from other countries?

[edit on 1-2-2007 by Duzey]

posted on Feb, 1 2007 @ 04:38 PM
The only thing I disagree with in that post is that it's comment of it being off topic. Very interesting read.

The Donald Marshall case was one that I am very familiar with. The murder was committed in Sydney, Nova Scotia. About 10 minutes from where I grew up.

When you compare the pay out to those of other Canadians, you can certainly begin to scratch your head. I'm not sure if there is much of an answer to it. I would like to see this issue pushed a little more and try to garner a response from Harper.

I don't think it is fair to downplay our role in the whole process. We did not torture him, we did not deport him, but if we did not behave in the manner that we did, none of this would of happened. America would not of deported him if it was not for us and Syria would not of tortured him if it was not for us, so I think that is suffice to say that we played an integral role in this process.

So I would say that he certainly deserves a lump sum from our government. But the total itself is up for discussion. Whether Harper over shot is still to be determined I guess. Gleeson's approach on this is very impressive. It never crossed my mind to be honest. I was caught up with how great Arar was dealing with all of this and his refusal to point fingers.

posted on Feb, 1 2007 @ 05:28 PM
We're definitely not without blame in the Arar case and Gleeson does understate the RCMP and CSIS's role in the affair, but I'm overlooking that for the moment. No matter what Gleeson says, I'm not going to let our intelligence services and the government of the hook that easily.

I was all caught up in how wonderful it was that Arar was getting compensation and like you, in awe of how gracious he has been. It never crossed my mind to compare his payout with that of others either. I'm still in the process of letting the column sink in and rattle around my brain, but it has definitely left me with some thinking to do.

Two other examples of govt payouts for wrongful conviction:

Guy Paul Morin - $1.2 million

Morin was acquitted of murder at his first trial in 1986. The Crown exercised its right to appeal the verdict on the grounds that the trial judge made a fundamental error prejudicing the Crown's right to a fair trial. In 1987 the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial. The retrial was delayed until 1992 by Morin's own appeals based on the Crown's non-disclosure of exculpatory evidence and by other issues, including the double jeopardy rule.

Morin was convicted at the second trial, but many believed him to be innocent. Unlike others convicted of murdering children after sexually abusing them, he was kept in the general population throughout his time in prison without being a victim of violence. Improvements in DNA testing led to a test in 1995 which excluded Morin as the murderer. Morin's appeal of his conviction was allowed and a directed verdict of acquittal entered in the appeal.

An inquiry into Morin's case also uncovered evidence of police and prosecutorial misconduct, and of misrepresentation of forensic evidence by the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences.

Thomas Sophonow - $2.6 million

In 1981, Barbara Stoppel was found unconscious, with twine wrapped around her neck, on the bathroom floor of the doughnut shop where she worked. The 16-year-old died six days later in hospital.

Sophonow, now 47, was tried three times for her murder. The first trial ended in a hung jury. He was found guilty in his second and third trials, but both verdicts were later overturned by appeal courts.

Sophonow spent four years behind bars until the Manitoba Court of Appeal acquitted him in 1985.

Key evidence in the Sophonow conviction came from a jailhouse informant who had a conviction for perjury.

I don't begrudge Arar a single dollar of his payout, but the more I look at wrongful conviction payouts that have stemmed from police and prosecutorial misconduct (not human error), the more I think Gleeson might be onto something.

[edit on 1-2-2007 by Duzey]

posted on Feb, 1 2007 @ 06:17 PM
Pure speculation here, but I'm going to run with it.

The Conservatives are in the middle of this "Green Machine" movement and all about saving the environment. This after a bit of a history that would be slightly contradicting of their recent stance. So with that being taken into consideration, it would appear that the party is in a period of transition. With the pure sensitivity surrounding this case, Harper and the Conservatives may of wanted to make an example of the case. Their mishaps led to the torture of this individual, and restitution was more than deserved. But the underlying headline, and more importantly in the eyes of the Conservatives, is Maher Arar's ethnicity. Here we have the "Green Machine" stepping up and taking it like a man. They've made a mistake and they are more than willing to over turn every rock that was impacted by this. These guys are helping out the little man, the minorities that the rest of the world has turned their backs on. Syria tortured him, American's deported him, but here we are standing proud providing restitution. God this crap makes me feel patriotic.

Just a thought. Environment, Minorities... do the Conservatives actually have some fresh thoughts in mind here? Is the Harper government providing this level of restitution to this man for the same reason that the American's won't let him cross their borders?

That's gotta take home a few brownie points come election time. That is assuming guys like Gleeson don't have their voices heard.

[edit on 1-2-2007 by chissler]

posted on Feb, 2 2007 @ 03:59 PM
Chissler, have you been advising the Conservatives on PR?

That's some mighty fine speculation.

posted on Feb, 10 2007 @ 08:08 PM

would you have other sites like the Winnipeg Sun Article?

I have to do a debate on Security Measures since Nine Eleven and the other team will probably use the Maher Arar case against me,

that article will be a beton-like defence for me

It would be of great help thanks

(Im pro-security in the Debate)

posted on Feb, 14 2007 @ 06:12 PM
Sorry, that article is the only one I've seen that looks at the Arar settlement in that light.

Good luck with your debate.

posted on Aug, 29 2007 @ 09:04 AM
I feel that Canada was merely complying with America's demands.

We allowed him onto a plane. We let him through our own security.

I don't think that it is the Canadian government who owes him anything other than an apology. We didn't deport him.
Canada would not deport a Canadian citizen. Without sufficient reason.

[edit on 29/8/07 by ju stab urden]

posted on Oct, 20 2007 @ 03:05 AM
What an absolutely fascinating back and forth between Duzey and Chissler. I have always enjoyed their posts and find it a breath of fresh air to know that my fellow Canadians are right in the thick of things when it comes to ATS and AP.
The situation with Mr. Arar is fascinating to say the least. Some of the questions I’ve had regarding this situation are as follows

Questions for C.S.I.S and the R.C.M.P:
1. When did the R.C.M.P receive the information that Arar was involved in terrorist activity?
2. Why did the R.C.M.P. not divulge this information to C.S.I.S.?
3. Why did neither the R.C.M.P nor C.S.I.S not travel to the U.S to detain Arar immediately and then transfer him back to Canada for investigation?
4. Who or what group of people made the decision that Arar was to be immediately transported to Syria?
Personal conspiracy theories and questions relating to the main topic:
1. Why did the Canadian government not make the effort to immediately detain Arar once he landed in the U.S.?
2. Why was it only for a one year period that Arar was kept in Syria?
3. Was the U.S. using a secret interrogation facility in Syria at the time and when they finally realized that Arar was infect not a terrorist they let him return to Canada?
4. If in fact Arar was a terrorist and with the U.S. already involved in its deportation tactics why did Arar not return to Canada from Syria via Germany, France, U.K. Spain, where there would be a connecting flight directly into Toronto?
I believe that Mr. Arar is telling the truth that he was tortured. I also believe there are political war games going on between Canada and the U.S. which would, if this story were to get out to the American public, create a large upheaval with regard to their human rights issues. Granted that with the current “ultimate terror threat” which is constantly broadcasted into the hearts and minds of every American the American public as a whole are willing to accept that situations, like that of Mr. Arar, are acceptable to maintain a semblance of order and for the “greater good” of American society.
I believe that Mr. Arar is a perfect example of how easily an entire nation can be propagandized into the acceptance that if any government, legal or security organization states that a person is a terrorist or associated with terror they must be removed by an means necessary and that the population will accept it as a just punishment.

Thank you all for your time,

posted on Oct, 20 2007 @ 03:22 PM
Good day,

I have read some new information about the Arar issue. I hope what I offer adds to the already well thought out and very interesting topic.

Thank you all for your time.

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