Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bush's Double Standard

DeWayne Wickham over at the USA Today pens a thoughtful piece, juxtaposing the cases of Maher Arar and Luis Posada Carriles, on the double standards of the Bush Administration when it comes to terror:

While the flimsiest of evidence caused U.S. officials to hustle Arar off to Syria, a mountain of suspicion about Luis Posada Carriles' involvement in a long list of terrorist acts has not been enough to wrench him out of this country's grip.

Posada is on the lam from Venezuela, where he was awaiting a retrial of charges that he had a hand in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. The Cuban exile denies involvement in that heinous crime, but former counterterrorism specialist Carter Cornick said Posada was "up to his eyeballs" in the bombing, The New York Times reported last year.

The newspaper also reported that Posada once bragged of masterminding a series of bombings of tourist hotels in Cuba in the 1990s, an admission he later recanted. An Italian tourist died in one of those blasts.

But instead of spiriting Posada off to Venezuela, the Bush administration is holding him in an immigration detention center. Rather than accuse him of being a terrorist, it simply has charged him with entering this country illegally.

One possible retort to this double standard charge, if you are so inclined to defend Bush's approach, is that maybe the United States had no idea that Aher would be tortured. Unfortunately, this position cannot be defended by the available evidence, which suggests the contrary.

In sending Arar — whom a Canadian government commission recently cleared of any terrorist ties — to Syria, the Bush administration had good reason to know he would be brutalized.

"Although torture occurs in prisons, torture is most likely to occur while detainees are being held at one of the many detention centers run by the various security services throughout the country, and particularly while the authorities are attempting to extract a confession or information regarding an alleged crime or alleged accomplices," the State Department said of Syria in its 2001 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

To me, these actions by our government are truly shameful, and sacrifice our values for questionable security (and I wouldn't condone sacrificing our values for even certain security, aside perhaps from an exceptionally dire and imminently known threat). One wonders what the Bush Administration has to say about these two cases, and, in his conclusion, Wickham leaves a taste of that, while pronouncing it quite bitter indeed:

Last year, an immigration judge ruled that Posada couldn't be deported to Venezuela or Cuba — countries the Bush administration considers rogue states — because he might be tortured. During an appearance on Telemundo, a Spanish-language TV station, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked whether this decision might affect the world's perception of the Bush administration's worldwide war on terrorism. "We try and intend to apply our standards uniformly, consistently," she said, "but these are issues that have to be decided in the right channels."

In fact, the Bush administration has contradictory standards — one for people who are thought to be enemies of this country, such as Arar, and another for Posada, an accused terrorist, who is the enemy of its enemies.

Why can't we get more refleshingly lucid and blunt op-eds in this country? We sure could use them.