Bob Herbert: Outsourcing torture
NEW YORK Maher Arar is a 34-year-old native of Syria who emigrated to Canada as a teenager. On Sept. 26, 2002, as he was returning from a family vacation in Tunisia, he was seized by American authorities at Kennedy Airport in New York, where he was changing planes.
Arar, a Canadian citizen, was not charged with a crime. But, as Jane Mayer tells us in a deeply disturbing article in the current issue of The New Yorker, he "was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet."
In an instant, Arar was swept into an increasingly common nightmare, courtesy of the United States of America. The plane that took off with him from Kennedy "flew to Washington, continued to Portland, Maine, stopped in Rome, Italy, then landed in Amman, Jordan."
Any rights Arar might have thought he had, either as a Canadian citizen or a human being, had been left behind. At times during the trip, Arar heard the pilots and crew identify themselves in radio communications as members of "the Special Removal Unit." He was being taken, on the orders of the U.S. government, to Syria, where he would be tortured.
The title of Mayer's article is "Outsourcing Torture." It's a detailed account of the frightening and extremely secretive U.S. program known as "extraordinary