Americans take a turn smearing ArarRead more here.
For Maher Arar, it never ends.
It wasn't enough that the Canadian computer engineer was deported by the U.S. to Syria to be tortured.
Nor was it enough that, even after he got home, unknown Canadian government officials deliberately leaked false and damaging information to the media in an attempt to smear him.
Now, after a painstaking 34-month judicial inquiry finally cleared his name, the U.S. government has decided that it is its turn to smear Arar.
The smear was delivered by David Wilkins, U.S. ambassador to Canada. In a statement released yesterday, he said that Arar will stay on a U.S. watch list that denies him entry to that country "based on information from a variety of sources."
The ban also means that the B.C. resident won't be able to fly domestically within Canada if — as is the case with many flights between Vancouver and Toronto — he at any point crosses American air space.
Wilkins insisted that the U.S. decision to deport Arar to Syria in 2002 was also based on the same "variety of sources."
In any other case, this claim might be believable. It is the nature of security services to keep the information they gather secret. Most ordinary citizens never know why, or even if, they are under suspicion.
But most ordinary citizens don't have extensive judicial inquiries examining their situations. Arar did. And while it is true that Justice Dennis O'Connor, the inquiry head, did not have the authority to directly investigate American actions in this affair, he came about as close as anyone could.
O'Connor says in the first part of his report, released in September, that it is possible the U.S. decision to deport Arar to Syria for torture was based on information other than that provided by Canada. But he concludes it is most unlikely.
One of the reasons he does so is that RCMP officers testified that they never received any intelligence information from their U.S. counterparts about Arar. The data flow, they said, was only one way.
Again, it is possible that the Americans chose not to share even a shred of information with the RCMP about a Canadian being investigated in Canada for alleged links to terrorists. But it is so improbable as to be unbelievable.
So why then Wilkins' statement?
Figures, doesn't it? They can never admit they've made a mistake.