"Extraordinary rendition" is White House-speak for kidnapping. Just ask Maher Arar. He's a Canadian citizen who was "rendered" by the U.S. to Syria, where he was tortured for almost a year.
The first time the phrase "war on terror" was used was when George W. Bush linked the same phrase to the word "crusade". He declared in September 2001: "This crusade -- this war on terrorism -- is going to take a while..." He was talking about the response of the American administration to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He prepared the ground for the shocked American public for a long war against militant Islamists.
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Canada has long held the unique status of being a nation that puts its secret police on postcards, T-shirts and tacky tourist trinkets. During the 1990s, that same police force also entered a five-year licensing agreement with the creators of Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck at Walt Disney, "in response to the popularity of unlicensed products and concerns that these products were having a detrimental effect on the RCMP's reputation."
When "Public Safety" Minister Vic Toews released his "new" national security strategy last month, he cautioned the few people paying attention that "no government can guarantee it will be able to prevent all terrorist attacks all the time," as if such catastrophic events were a daily reality as common to Canadians as mosquitoes.
A classified U.S. diplomatic cable records how American officials worked with senior Canadian police and security officials to find "work-arounds" to anticipated restrictions on intelligence-sharing even before the Arar commission report went to the printers in 2006.
The cable from David Wilkins, then the U.S. ambassador in Ottawa, details a series of damage-control meetings he and other senior American diplomats held in 2005 with the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and with the prime minister's national security adviser.
Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.
Hassan Diab, a Canadian citizen and former University of Ottawa professor, faces the possibility of life imprisonment in France for his alleged role in a 1980 Paris bombing that killed four people. Diab's finger and palm prints do not match those of the suspect, nor does his handwriting. The suspect's physical description is unlike what Diab looked like in 1980, and Diab denies being in France and emphatically condemns the bombing. He's being sought based on secret intelligence, the source of which even French officials are unaware, that may have been extracted under torture. Nevertheless, Canada's draconian Extradition Act may provide legal grounds for Canada to send Diab to France to stand trial.
As Syria continues its brutal crackdown on demonstrators, Democracy Now! interviews a Canadian citizen who was repeatedly tortured by Syrian authorities after he was rendered to Syria by the United States in 2002. Maher Arar was seized at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in September 2002 and sent to Syria, where he was tortured and interrogated in a tiny underground cell for nearly a year. He now works as a human rights advocate in Canada. "The co-operation with the Syrian government, as well as other dictatorships post-9/11, gave some legitimacy to those dictatorships," says Arar. He calls on the United States and the United Nations to declare the Syrian regime illegitimate, and refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.