Scott Horton, writing in his Harper's column, describes the case of Maher Arar, the man who was snatched in New York and sent off to Syria to be "questioned" by the Syrians 'cause, you know, "we don't torture."
Of all the Bush Administration’s many perversions of the justice system, there is something particularly distressing about the case of Maher Arar. A Canadian software engineer, he was changing planes in JFK on his way home to Canada after a Mediterranean vacation when American law enforcement snatched him up. Arar had been fingered as a terrorism suspect by Canadian authorities. Within a brief period of time, he was interrogated, locked-up and then bundled off to Jordan with directions for transshipment to Syria, a nation known to use torture. Indeed, it was plain from the outset that he was shipped to Syria for purposes of being tortured, with a list of questions to be put to him passed along. Never mind that Syria is constantly reviled as a brutal dictatorship by some Bush Administration figures who openly dream of bombing or invading it… the Syrians, it seems, have a redeeming feature—their willingness to torture the occasional Canadian engineer as a gesture of friendship to the Americans.
Read the entire article, and his on-going column for that matter. Harar's treatment and the subsequent stonewalling is particularly stunning but fortunately all is now right with the Bush administration. Here is a quote from Bush's speech to the Federalist Society, as illustrated by Glenn Greenwald. Bush should truly be commended for delivering it without cracking a smile. He truly is the perfect ventriloquist's dummy for Dick Cheney, whose secret service name is "Edgar" (Bergan) while Bush's is "Charlie" (McCarthy). Here is what he said, straightfaced, to wild applause at the Fed Soc:
The President's oath of office commits him to do his best to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." I take these words seriously. I believe these words mean what they say.
Actually he believes these words mean what John Yoo thought they meant when Yoo wrote:
In both the War Powers Resolution and the Joint Resolution, Congress has recognized the President's authority to use force in circumstances such as those created by the September 11 incidents. Neither statute, however, can place any limits on the President's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make.
"The words mean what I say and mean what I want," in other words.