Monday, January 19, 2009

Maher Arar and Khadr

This is an interesting piece of testimony in Omar Khadr's trial at Guantanamo Bay. A lot is left unanswered. The most important question, of course, is whether Khadr's ID of Arar was really done without prompting. And if this intelligence is solid, did the Canadian government know about it when it gave Arar over $10.5 million in compensation? If the US did not share this information, why did they hold back? Don't they trust Canada's security agencies?
Hopefully, counsel in Khadr's trial will return to this evidence.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration's decision to ignore American rules of interrogation and due process put such a taint on all of this that we'll never have a definitive outcome.
Judging by Khadr's classification as a compliant prisoner, it looks like the kid might actually be salvagable. In my view, this was always a case of abuse, not by the Americans but by Khadr's terrorist father, his jihadist mother and his bloodthirsty sisters.

In this National Post story, it turns out the FBI or CIA showed Khadr material on Arar from American intelligence agency files. That makes the case much more interesting. Now it doesn't matter whether Khadr was tortured or if he was prompted to ID Arar. Keep this in mind: Canada settled with Arar because our government believed it was Canada's bad intelligence that got Arar arrested and shipped off. Now it turns out the US had been tailing Arar since the time he lived near Boston, and may have had their own reasons for committing what is still a despicable act, shipping him to Syria.
That means most of his beef is with the US, but Canadians have paid the price.
And, in the end, some of the Americans' reasons for doing what they did may have come from Omar Khadr.
Small world.

UPDATE

It's becoming pretty obvious Khadr's interogation was botched and the Arar information was bogus. The Americans claim Arar told the Syrians Arar was in Afghanistan in 1993, when Khadr was six years old. The prosecutors at Guantanamo say Arar was in Afghanistan around time of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a time when Arar has a solid alibi in California and Canada.

Leaving aside the obvious problems with Khadr's statements -- none of which would get anywhere in a real court -- the central issue remains: the Americans were very active on Arar's case on their own, and the claim that Canada was the main source of intelligence data for Arar's arrest in New York and "rendition" to Syria now seems very weak. And that was the basis for Canada paying Arar a very large settlement.

2 comments:

Stephen LaRose said...

Given what the US did to Gitmo prisoners, I would imagine that a 15-year-old would say anything in order to get the heck out of there, or at least stop the torture.

Ottawa Watch said...

But that's not the point. I agree the evidence is no good, but the fact that the US had hunted Arar for years does take some of the blame off Canada for Arar's arrest and rendition to Syria.