Really, I mean, when I arrived there, I just couldn't believe it. I thought first it was a dream. I was crying all the time. I was disoriented. I wished I had something in my hand to kill myself, because I knew I was going to be tortured, and this was my preoccupation. That's all I was thinking about when I was on the plane. And I arrived there. I was crying all the time. So, one of them started questioning me, and the others were taking notes. And the first day it was mainly routine questions, between 8 to 12.
And the second day, that's when the beatings started, because, you know, on the first day they did not find anything strange about what I told them. And they started beating me with a cable, electrical threaded cable, and they would beat me for three, four times. They would stop again, and they would ask questions again, and they always kept telling me, “You are a liar,” and things like that. So, the beating continued for the first two weeks. The most -- the most intensive -- the intensive beating was really the first week, and then after that it was mostly slapping, punching on the face and kicking.
So, on the third day when they didn't find anything, third or fourth day, they -- in my view, they just wanted to please the Americans, and they had to find something on me. So, because I was accused of being an al-Qaeda member, which is nowadays synonymous with Afghanistan, they told me, “You've been to a training camp in Afghanistan.” And I said, “No.” And they started beating me. And I said -- well, I had no choice. I just wanted the beating to stop. I said, “Of course, I've been to Afghanistan.” I was ready to confess to anything just to stop the torture.
Maher Arar tells us that his suffering hasn't ended with his release:
I’m completely a different person. I still have fears. I don't take the plane anymore. I don't fly. I lost confidence in myself. I feel overwhelmed. My -- there is some kind of emotional distancing between me and my kids and my family. They ruined my life. They ruined my life, and I have not been able to find a job. People try to -- you know, some people I know, they try to distance themselves from me. It's -- you know, I don't know how to describe it. I don't think there is any word I could use to describe what I am going through. And I thought when I came back it would take me a month or two months or a year or two years to get back to normal life. It’s been two years and four months since I came back to Canada, and there are things that are improved a little bit, but I’m still not the same person, and I’m still suffering psychologically.
Arar was found innocent by a canadian court yesterday. "Mr. Arar has been done a tremendous injustice," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons. "The government has received this report that has a series of recommendations... The government will act swiftly based on those recommendations."
It has been recomended that Canada "register a formal objection with the governments of the United States and Syria concerning their treatment of Mr. Arar and Canadian officials involved with his case."
In the US, however, the right seems to have been taken over, to a certain degree, by big torture fans. Oddly, the religious right has weighed in in favor of torture. From Associated Press:
Republican Sen. John McCain's standoff with the White House over treatment of detainees _ an issue the former POW knows intimately well _ threatens to exacerbate his already contentious relationship with conservatives.
"Maverick status is looked upon as a strength in Congress, but a maverick in the White House is not looked upon with great admiration from our folks," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Monday.
"Politically, this isn't wise," added the Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, which supports the president's call for Congress to approve tough interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects.
"Who would Jesus attack with dogs?" might be a good question to ask these idiots. Other opinions have been as ridiculous. Columnist Jim Kouri writes, "Senator McCain is stubbornly refusing to define the term 'torture' leaving US interrogators wondering what techniques they are permitted to use in order to extract information from terrorists. He speaks of moral highground, but doesn't mention that his sanctimonious 'moral highground', although playing well in the newsrooms of the New York Times, may cost some Americans their lives because interrogators weren't aggressive enough in getting information that proves valuable in thwarting attacks on the US."
You have to wonder what it is about the definition of torture that Kouri finds so confusing. His bio shows a career in law enforcement, most of it as an executive, so you have to wonder how he got so far without having any idea what constitutes acceptable treatment of suspects.
We wind up making arguments for and against torture. We make fine distinctions between abuse and 'alternative interrogation techniques', as if the question were entirely semantic. We pretend to be confused about what torture even is, when we've never had that problem before.
Here's what I think of those who favor torture of terrorist suspects -- they are, to a man, cowards. They have no principles, no morals, only a concern for themselves and their safety. They are the same fools who'd throw out all of our rights to 'protect our freedom', while either forgetting or willfully ignoring the fact that, with every right we lose, we become less free. They don't stand for the principles of freedom and liberty -- no matter how easily those words spill out of them when you poke them. They'd rather live as prisoners than expose themselves to even the slightest risk of dying as free people.
And the risk is slight. You stand more chance of being hit by lightning than dying in a terrorist attack.
They can argue that torture makes us safer, but how safe can you be said to be when your government can whisk you off to a secret prison for an indefinite period of abuse and human rights outrages? And do it without any trial or any appeal. Once you get your finger caught in that secret prison machine, you literally enter into a lawless system in which you have no rights at all. Think about it -- there is nothing to prevent this from happening to pretty much anyone. No safeguards, no oversight. How safe does that make you?
Not long ago, Keith Olbermann broadcast from Ground Zero and he quoted Edward R. Murrow -- "Remember that we are not descended from fearful men." But fearful men are trying to drag us backward to what we threw off over two hundred-thirty years ago. Fearful men won't save us -- they don't lead, they retreat. In our present case, they want to escape back to oppression and injustice and a brutality unsuited to the world's oldest democracy.
Heroes don't torture. Panicked idiots do. I can't think of any story of any person we've admired that includes the phrase 'and then the hero tortured'. The Gestapo weren't admirable.
The only way we can continue as a nation of free people is to lose the fearful men. Fearful men aren't free and only free people are fit to lead free people. Cowardice is a tyrant who makes slaves of us all.
Technorati tags: politics; terrorism; crime; scandal; Bush; republicans; religious right; NEWSFLASH -- torture's one of the evils that evil-doers do