Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Torture begets torture

One of the problems with torture is that quite apart from being morally wrong, it results in false confessions. People being tortured will say anything to make it stop, implicating friends, family members, or people suggested to them by their torturers. And there's a perfect example of this in the case of Canadian rendition victim Maher Arar. In September 2002, Arar was stoped while passing through the US on the way home from Tunisia. He was then deported to Syria where he was tortured for almost a year, and forced to sign a false confession that he had trained with Al Qaeda. A subsequent commission of inquiry from the Canadian government cleared Arar of any connection with terrorism and recommended compensation, but important parts of the commission's report were kept secret. Some of those sections have now been declassified [PDF], and what they reveal is disturbing. Most significant is the US and Canadian authorities' original reason for believing Arar was a terrorist: a "confession" from another Syrian-Canadian which was itself extracted under torture. Despite knowing how their "evidence" was obtained and that the source had retracted it, the RCMP not only relied upon it, but put it before a judge without being clear about its origins. Anything, it seems, to get the next "suspect" in the chain. And as a result, Arar was taken to Syria and tortured in turn into another false "confession". It really makes you wonder how many of the "suspected terrorists" currently held by the US and its proxies really are, and how many are just innocent victims of this obscene echo chamber of lies extracted by torture.