The US Supreme Court today rejected the appeal brought by Maher Arar, a victim of the US's policy of extraordinary rendition -- which, in Arar's case, involved kidnapping a Canadian citizen and shipping him off to Syria to be imprisoned in a 3'x6'7' underground dirt cell and brutally tortured every day for over 10 months. Arar has been repeatedly and thoroughly exonerated of any wrongdoing -- he was an innocent man to whom unspeakable things were done, and done in all of our names. But the people who are responsible for these awful crimes have never been held to account, and thanks to today's ruling, they probably never will -- at least not by the U.S.:
"Today's decision eliminates my last bit of hope in the judicial system of the United States," Arar said in a statement.
"When it comes to 'national security' matters the judicial system has willingly abandoned its sacred role of ensuring that no one is above the law," he alleged.
"My case and other cases brought by human beings who were tortured have been thrown out by US courts based on dubious government claims. Unless the American people stand up for justice they will soon see their hard-won civil liberties taken away from them as well."
The refusal by the Supreme Court to take up the case means Arar's last legal avenue is closed in a decision that could impact on any similar cases.
Interestingly, though, it seems the RCMP (Canada's national police force) are investigating the role played by U.S. and Syrian officials in Arar's torture, and may lay criminal charges against those responsible.
As the Center for Constitutional Rights' attorney Maria LaHood said:
The U.S. should be conducting its own criminal investigation of the officials responsible for sending an innocent man to Syria for a year to be interrogated under torture, not covering for them. Again, the Canadians are doing the right thing by criminally investigating not only Syrian officials, but officials from the U.S. as well. The Obama administration should look to the Canadian example and do what's right - apologize to Maher and hold his torturers accountable.
The RCMP aren't blameless here -- they were complicit in Arar's rendition, and Canada's top cop found himself having to apologize to Arar for the "terrible injustices" he endured. Apologies are all well and good, but nothing says "I'm sorry" like criminal indictments against those who ordered your kidnapping and torture. "The Mounties always get their man" or so the saying goes -- let's hope in this case it holds true.