Sunday, June 8, 2008

Scott Horton has "More on Maher Arar"

From Scott Horton's blog, No Comment, in Harper's:

He was apprehended by American authorities, who had been tipped by Canadian intelligence (falsely, as it turns out) that Arar was connected to an Al Qaeda cell. Arar was rushed through a series of extraordinary quick proceedings, put on a plane to Jordan and turned over to Syria, where he was tortured. A year later he came back to Canada. The Canadian government did an exhaustive study of the case, concluded they were in the wrong and gave Arar a $10 million payment in compensation. But what did the Bush Administration do?
Can the US Gov't be so comprehensively inept? How many "mistakes" does it take to make them a policy? Does the rendition program operate on the Canetti Principle?

For example, let's pick an Iraqi-Canadian to single out for public torture. On Canetti's principle, that should induce a lot of shock for the buck.

It is the first death which infects everyone with the feeling of being threatened. It is impossible to over assess the role played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars. Rulers who want to unleash war know very well that they must procure or invent a first victim. It need not be anyone of particular importance, and can even be someone unknown. Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed that the enemy is responsible for this. Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one: his membership in the group to which one belongs oneself.

Elias Canetti, Masse und Macht vol. 1, p. 152 (1960)(S.H. transl.)

(Emphasis added.)

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