Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I shouldn't listen to talk radio.

Especially when I'm driving, because sometimes I hear things that are so breathtakingly ignorant I want to bite a chunk out of the dashboard and spit it out the window. Today I was tuned in to the show that airs before Rush, and the commentators were discussing Maher Arar (no "Talk Like A Pirate" jokes, please). Arar is the Canadian who was detained in the US on suspicion of terrorism and "renditioned" to his native Syria, where they tortured him for 10 months. After a lot of fucking around by US and Canadian authorities, Arar was found to have no terrorist links, released, and totally exonerated yesterday by an inquiry into his case.

Anyone who has their head screwed on should be outraged by what happened to Arar. Even the wingnut radio hosts were a bit concerned that someone could be whisked off the street with no evidence and shipped away to some shithole where the local authorities can use more energetic interrogation techniques than we do. But not caller Jeff. Jeff was a totally unhinged wingnut asshole, right off his rocker on the toxic mix of paranoia and patriotism. He adamantly disagreed with the show hosts' concern for Arar's civil liberties, calling them "weak-kneed liberals". He maintained that US authorities need this kind of power to fight terrorism, and as for Arar, well tough shit. That's the way the cookie crumbles. If a few innocent cookies get crumbled it's all good because it's part of the War On Terra.

Apart from the nightmare visited on Mr. Arar, we should all be outraged that this could even happen in the first place. Why was Arar mistakenly put on a watchlist? Why was the information shared with the US if it wasn't even confirmed? How can authorities be allowed to detain people without evidence? In what kind of Orwellian society do authorities "rendition" suspects to other countries, knowing they'll be tortured? And worse yet, how many Jeffs are out there, people that have devolved to the point where this is not just acceptable, but desirable?