While I certainly don’t wish for any innocent men to be treated badly, I’ve always suspected that the $10m man, Maher Arar, is either a) not particularly innocent, and b) was treated reasonably, based on the suspicions and evidence in a time of war that both the Canadian and US authorities had on him. I have outlined my thoughts in this post from earlier in 2007, “Why the US Won’t (and Shouldn’t) Let Go”.
Only one reporter that I have found – the Globe & Mail’s Colin Freeze – has also refused to accede to Arar’s CAIR- and left-wing-activist-endorsed America-bashing narrative. In today’s Globe, Freeze casts great doubt on Arar’s oft-repeated claim that he has never been to Afghanistan:
Judge O’Connor took a hard line against torture evidence entering counterterrorism investigations. Playing devil’s advocate, he stated in his findings that even if one were inclined to believe coerced confessions (presumbably, that Arar admitted to attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan -ed.), the Syrian information would hardly be grounds for marking Mr. Arar as a terrorist for life.
“The training camps were diverse in nature,” Judge O’Connor writes. “Some could be described as terrorist training camps, others only as mujahedeen training camps.
“Based on the Syrians’ information, it could not be determined whether Mr. Arar was a member of al-Qaeda or had received specific terrorist training. He could have gone to Afghanistan as a religious Muslim with a desire to fight the infidels or he could have had more nefarious intentions.”
A fascinating passage. O’Connor, whose inquiry was prohibited from examining US or Syrian evidence, and was not supposed to be examining whether Arar had ever trained in Afghanistan, nonetheless finds it necessary to make excuses for some hypothetical young man who may have headed to Afghanistan “with a desire to fight the infidels” (news for you, O’Connor – you are an infidel!). Further, the O’Connor commission specifically leaves open the possibility that Arar did train in Afghanistan:
In an interview Friday, Paul Cavalluzzo, Judge O’Connor’s commission counsel, explained why the inquiry didn’t settle the Afghanistan question.
“What the report says is that one’s presence in Afghanistan is a very complicated and nuanced question. If the person is a mujahedeen fighting the Soviets … we looked upon these people as freedom fighters and nationalists,” Mr. Cavalluzzo said. “However, if they were in Afghanistan after 1996, when al-Qaeda moved to Afghanistan, and attended an al-Qaeda training camp, that’s a different story.”
He added, “as far as Arar is concerned, there was the allegation and it wasn’t proven either way.”
Aha! They seem eager to provide Maher Arar with a convenient excuse, should more evidence of his actions in Afghanistan in the early 1990s come to light. Apparently, it would be OK if he was there fighting infidel Soviets, but it would not be OK if he was there fighting with Bin Laden after his return from Sudan in 1996. However, there is an obvious, glaring error in this logic, of course: Arar was alleged to have trained in Afghanistan in 1993, when Al Qaeda was already well-established, and when the Soviet Union was already long tossed into the dustbin of history.
Maher Arar was interviewed for three hours by a US Congressional committee this past week, via teleconference from Ottawa. I’ve only had a chance to skim through the video (which can be found here in RA streaming format), and although the parts I’ve seen have only featured fawning and friendly questions, I’m hoping to go through it carefully to look for inconsistencies or slip-ups – and, possibly, some tough-minded Republican.
As Maher Arar runs around the world undermining virtually any attempt at fighting Islamic extremists in our midst, we deserve to know if he’s doing it based on truth, or lies.