(excerpted from Realnews.com)
The outrage is that the Canadians removed the United States and Guantanamo from a list of countries and places where the use of torture could be suspected on persons in custody. They did so only because they U.S. objected. It was a craven act and calls into question the rule of law in Canada, their independence and their commitment to fight against torture.
The matter arose because of a 92-page booklet that the Canadians use to train their diplomats on how to make sure they are aware of torture when those diplomats visit Canadians in custody in foreign countries. The booklet is in large part based on evidence from Guantanamo and the Maher Arar case (he was the Canadian sent by the US for torture in Syria).
In addition to naming countries the manual lists a certain number of techniques that it considers torture. Of course, if you go down that list, it’s hooding, stripping, blindfolds, sleep deprivation, isolation– not even the worst things that the US is doing e.g. waterboarding—but still torture. Those essentially line up with what the US has authorized for use in Guantanamo and very likely were used against the Canadian citizen that remains in Guantanamo, Omar Khadr.
One reason it’s really important, I think, for the Canadians to keep both the US and Guantanamo Bay on the list is, first of all, there’s a Canadian citizen right now in Guantanamo, Omar Khadr. And there’s also other Canadian citizens and residents who may or may not be picked up in the so-called 9/11 wars. And what Canada did here was really—I mean, I’m really in shock. I already thought—at least I’ve always thought that Canada had a semblance of democracy and of genuineness around these issues of torture, particularly after the Arar case. And what they apparently did here was, as soon as they got a complaint from the United States, that the United States didn’t want to be on the list of countries that might possibly be involved in torture, within one day, 24 hours as far as I can tell, they took the name, or they’re apparently taking the name of the United States and Guantanamo off the list, along with the name of Israel as well.
What’s really shocking to me, just shocking, is that it’s the Arar case, the Maher Arar case, where Canada acknowledged that it had wrongly cooperated with the United States, and its diplomats supposedly hadn’t noticed that Arar had been tortured, that was a principal reason for placing the U.S. on the list. And this entire module that the Foreign Affairs was using to train its diplomats is really because of the Arar case and the recommendations of the commission that looked into the Arar case.
The US is just being removed from the list by the stroke of a Canadian pen. I mean, there should be just people in Canada screaming at the government about this, just screaming. It’s pretty amazing that the United States ambassador picks up the phone or says something publicly and is able to essentially change what the truth is, basically change the facts, and say despite the fact that you know about Iraq, that you know about Khadr in Guantanamo, that you know about Arar, or you know torture was an everyday technique used for interrogation in Guantanamo, that with one phone call Canada would just fold.
Canada had been a bit of an example, sort of heroic for us in the United States, that our northern neighbor who finally had protected one of its citizens, at least Arar—although it didn’t protect Arar initially—and had engaged in a serious public inquiry. Then it put a lie to all its efforts by folding at the behest of the U.S.
Well, we’ve known for a long time that the United States is engaged in torture. I mean, it’s public, and they actually probably want the world to know, because they’re using it as a technique of terror. We have all the documents, we have the Rumsfeld techniques; we have all the testimony of the tortured. But the fact that another country and an ally of the United States, in fact one of our closest allies, Canada, had actually labeled the United States as a place you have to look to for torture and Guantanamo as a place you have to look as well, may help the political process of impeachment and accountability in the United States for the torture program.
However, the collapse of the Canadians on torture, which is starring us all in the face, is a sad day for all of us.