A clutch of U.S. congressmen apologized publicly yesterday to Maher Arar, the man Canada’s Mounties once fingered as a terrorist and who was later shipped by the Bush administration to Syria where he was tortured.
“Let me personally give you what our government has not – an apology,” said Bill Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, who chaired the extraordinary hearing yesterday.
The image of Mr. Arar, 37, was beamed in from Ottawa by video link and appeared on a huge monitor on the wall of the wood-panelled chamber on Capitol Hill. Despite an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a $10-million compensation payment from Canadians for being wrongly accused of al-Qaeda links, the Syrian-born software engineer remains barred from the United States as a terrorist suspect.
“I am not a terrorist; I am not a member of al-Qaeda or any terror group,” Mr. Arar told the joint hearing of the justice and foreign affairs committees of the House of Representatives, where the Democrats hold a majority.
Democrats echoed Mr. Delahunt, keen to portray the Bush administration as wrong, arrogant, unwilling to admit its mistakes and too keen to ship people off to places where they face a strong possibility of being tortured.
Even some Republicans apologized to Mr. Arar.
“We should be ashamed” of what happened to you, Dana Rohrabacher, the committee’s senior Republican, told the Canadian. (MORE)