Monday, March 13, 2006

U.S. court rules our government can break international laws to carry out torture

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

An ominous new decision from Federal judge David Trager has said the United States can violate international laws, presumably international conventions to which the U.S. is bound by treaty. The case involves a lawsuit filed by Canadian citizen, Maher Arar. He had been kidnapped by CIA agents during a stopover at Kennedy Airport. In his decision, Federal District Judge David Trager dismissed a lawsuit brought by Arar challenging his arrest, detention, and torture.
According to Nat Hentoff's column, Liberty Beat, Arar was flown to Syria where he was held in solitary confinement and tortured:
... in a three-by-six-foot cell ("like a grave," he said). He became, internationally, one of the best-known victims of the CIA's extraordinary renditions—the sending of suspected terrorists to countries known for torturing their prisoners.

The Torture Judge

Arar, subsequently released, has not been charged with a crime —by Syria or the United States, which refuses to cooperate with any investigation. The Canadian Parliament, however, has begun an investigation to include a public inquiry.

The implications of this case are enormous. If Judge Trager's ruling is allowed to stand, American officials will have a " light to do to others what they did to Arar." Any crime could then be committed in the name of national security.

Judge Trager's decision is a transparent circular argument, most often found in the decisions of Antonin Scalia. Trager maintains that any other ruling would have the "...the most serious consequences to our foreign relations or national security or both." In other words, Trager has not ruled upon law, but upon expediency. His primary consideration is not what is legal or what is not but rather, what is "convenient" to those agencies otherwise bound to operate within the U.S. Constitution. He has said, in effect, that even a judge must acquiesce in the commission of state crimes —for convenience! They must acquiesce not by or for law —but for convenience!

The concept of "Separation of Powers" is given a NeoCon treatment by an activist conservative judge:
...the coordinate branches of our government [executive and legislative] are those in whom the Constitution imposes responsibility for our foreign affairs and national security. Those branches have the responsibility to determine whether judicial oversight is appropriate.
Hentoff appropriately asks whether or not it is the duty of the judiciary itself to determine whether judicial oversight is or is not appropriate. Here's my opinion for what it's worth: the Federal Judiciary since Marbury v Madison has always determined when judicial oversight is appropriate.
Original 'Toon by Dante Lee. Use with permission only

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