A Canadian's perspective on domestic and international issues. Independent coverage of Canadian federal, provincial and municipal elections and anything of interest in Canada.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Expel Wilkins, Give Arar Diplomatic Immunity!

So, despite being cleared of any connection to terrorism and of any wrong doing by a federal commission here in Canada, the United States still refuses to take Maher Arar off their terrorism watch list and prohibit him from travelling to the US.
Apparently the US is basing its decision, to ban Arar, on his travel history and his associations with certain individuals and groups in Canada and abroad. This means that Arar is banned from US territory because he’s been known to attend a mosque where suspected terrorists worship, he’s a Muslim, he’s been to Syria, has been supported by other persons on the terrorism watch list, and has spoken out about his experiences with US intelligence services.
The US terrorism watch list, which has existed for many years under different titles, has many names on it. One of those names is Mohammed Ali, former heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Once upon a time that list included the name “Farley Mowat”, because Mowat, the distinguished Canadian novelist, had admitted to firing his BB gun at US planes when he was a kid. Apparently I am also on that list, because I had the audacity to write to the US President and voice my opposition to his intitial invasion of Iraq! It must be difficult for them because I have exactly the same name as a former FBI and CIA director. There are many others on the list, and many of them are guilty of little more than having names similar to known criminals, or they have simply spoken out. Apparenlty free speech is allowed in the US as long as the free speaker does not attempt to exit or enter the US.
Today the US says it will not remove Arar from its watchlist, ever. They site his contacts and travel history. Based on that, there are several names that should be on the list that aren’t. One name I can think of is ‘Donald Rumsfeld.’ We’ve all seen the photos of him, glad handing and joyful, with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Another name that should be on that list is George Bush senior, who has a long history of association with the bin Laden family, and was a senior official with the CIA when Osama bin Laden became a CIA operative. A third name that should be on that list is Condaleeza Rice, who for many years, before she became a member of the current US cabinet, did the party circuit in Los Angeles, a circuit we know to be full of subversives. Then there is her known association with all sorts of terrorists both as National Security Advisor and now as Secretary of State. Her travel record shows her travelling frequently to so-called terrorist states all around the world.
Vice-President Richard Chaney would also make a good canidate for the list, based on his involvement with Enron and his widely publicised penchant for playing with guns. Should we allow known crooks and gunslingers into Canada?
If Arar is on a watchlist because of his travel history and his associations, then surely these people also need to be added to that list.
Better yet, maybe Canada should start a terrorism watch list of its own and start denying people on it entry to Canada based on their travel histories, associations, and personal history. One person who would definitely belong on such a list is the current US President. Many here in Canada believe he is the biggest terrorist alive today, and some have even worked to have him tried for crimes against humanity. Surely someone expected of such crimes would belong on the list.
Another name that would make that list is the US Ambassador to Canada. He belongs on it because of his links to the Bush family and to white supremists in the US. He’s also clearly a bigot who has little respect for due process, and a hypocrite who favours Canada handing over personal information about its own citizens but refuses to allow the same to be done in reverse. Moreover, his recent comments which impune the character of Maher Arar amount to nothing short of slander.
So, perhaps this is how Canada should deal with the US refusal to exonerate Maher Arar, and to remove his name from the watchlist. We should make a no-fly list of our own and place a bunch of US citizens on it, then refuse to remove their names, nor to explain why we refuse to remove their names.
To be fair, the Americans are simply erring on the side of caution. That’s why Mohammed Ali is on the list. There must be thousands of terrorists with that name. If they have to keep them all out to make sure the one who will do damage doesn’t get in, then so be it. Trouble is, there are probably terrorists named Barack Obama too! It is likely true of the name Maher Arar, there has to be a terrorist with that name, doesn’t there? The one we have here probably isn’t the one they need to be afraid of, but if they just remove his name, then the Maher Arar who is a terrorist, might get in, right!
Speaking of the list, you know who else was on that list? Most of the 911 bombers, that’s who! Apparently it didn’t stop them from boarding the planes and hijacking them, did it?
The US makes a lot of noise about freedom and justice. According to founding principles of justice, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and as such, no government has a right to act against any person, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or who they associate with, until such times as that person is proven guilty. Still, the US insists it has the right to prejudge people based on where they are from, where they have been, and who they have seen. At the same time the US disregards the principle of innocense until proven guilty, it asserts its right to force its values of ‘democracy and justice” on other nations and their citizens by assuming guilt until proven innocent, and even when proven innocent, the US still claims the right to punish based on suspicion of guilt. All this in mind, is it any wonder the US are not succeeding in spreading their “democracy” to Iraq?
The United States should not only drop Maher Arar from its watchlist, but it should compensate the man for his trouble, to the tune of millions. And if it doesn’t, then Canada should step up and protect Mr. Arar from any further injustice at the hands of the US government.
If I were Prime Minister of Canada, here’s what I would do. I’d start by recalling the bigot Wilkins to Ottawa and then I’d expel him, for impuning the reputation of a Canadian citizen. Send him to Washington with a clear message that Arar’s name is to be cleared from the list. If that doesn’t work, then add the names Rumsfeld, Rice, Bush, Chaney and Wilkins to whatever no fly list Canada has.
If that doesn’t work, then I’d offer Mr. Arar a job with Canada’s foreign service and provide him with a diplomatic passport.
Bottom line in all this, the US are being ignorant. They are acting like school yard bullies who, upon being found assaulting a defenseless schoolmate, are refusing to acknowledge the assault and the innocense of their victim. They are trying to hide the fact that they are bullies who have no just cause for their aggressive behaviour. We should treat them as such.


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