Sunday, May 29, 2005

NYT: Scott Shane's "The Costs of Outsourcing Interrogation: A Canadian Muslim's Long Ordeal in Syria"

In 2002, when the United States government seized Maher Arar as he changed planes in New York and took him to Syria, the reason was starkly stated in a Justice Department document: he was a member of Al Qaeda.
But no evidence of that has been made public in a judicial inquiry here into why Mr. Arar, a Canadian who was born in Syria, was sent to his native country, where he says he was beaten with a metal cable and held for 10 months in a tiny cell. Instead, it increasingly appears that Mr. Arar was singled out because his ties to other Muslims under suspicion in Ottawa were misinterpreted by jittery Canadian and American security officers.
American officials said in recent interviews that the decision to deport Mr. Arar to Syria was made by the Justice Department after consultation with the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and the National Security Council, and was based on secret information from Canadian security agencies. But a Canadian official who reviewed that information and other evidence said nothing persuasively connected Mr. Arar to any terrorist group.

The above is from Scott Shane's should be front page article entitled "The Costs of Outsourcing Interrogation: A Canadian Muslim's Long Ordeal in Syria." Instead it appears on A11 (David Johnston contributed to the report.)

Keesha e-mails to note Eric Lipton's "U.S. Is Set to Test Missile Defenses Aboard Airlines:"

In an airplane hangar north of Fort Worth, technicians are preparing to mount a fire-hydrant-shaped device onto the belly of an American Airlines Boeing 767. It is an effort that could soon turn into a more than $10 billion project to install a high-tech missile defense system on the nation's commercial planes.

The Boeing 767 - the same type of plane that terrorists flew into the World Trade Center - is one of three planes that, by the end of this year, will be used to test the infrared laser-based systems designed to find and disable shoulder-fired missiles. The missiles have long been popular among terrorists and rebel groups in war zones around the world; the concern now is that they could become a domestic threat.
The tests are being financed by the Department of Homeland Security, which has been directed by Congress to move rapidly to take technology designed for military aircraft and adapt it so it can protect the nation's 6,800 commercial jets. It has so far invested $120 million in the testing effort, which is expected to last through next year.

Wally e-mails to note Katrin Bennhold's "Chirac and Socialists Reel After a Debate on Europe:"

Even if the yes camp wins, both the center-right government of President Jacques Chirac and the opposition Socialist Party look badly wounded, and with the two main pillars of French democracy weakened, strategists of the far right and far left sense opportunities to enter the mainstream.
Mr. Chirac, the main proponent of the charter, could have ratified the constitution by a parliamentary vote, but under pressure from rivals in his party demanding a popular vote, he decided last year to call for a referendum. The subsequent months of debate, however, have become as much a funnel for discontent over his government as a debate about the European Union. Elected to his second term three years ago, with 82 percent of the vote, Mr. Chirac is now so weak that a third run in 2007 looks impossible, and his center-right government is adrift, in need of new leadership and ideas, said politicians, political analysts and party officials.

Lastly, Erika e-mails to note an article in the Times' Sunday Magazine (and she notes that she found it via BuzzFlash), Cynthia Gorney's "A Mothers' War:"

They were talking about military burial benefits as the waitress took the salad plates away, and one of them had come up with something perversely humorous even on this subject, so they had been laughing. Now there was a brief, comfortable silence. They had one of the back rooms at Boone Tavern in downtown Columbia, Mo., where they usually go. It was a Friday night in February, and because one woman had other plans, there were only five of them, which made the big, round table seem too large. Instead of spacing themselves around it, they had taken seats along one side, closer to one another.
Patricia said, ''I had a doorbell moment this week.''
Tracy Della Vecchia looked up quickly and watched Patricia's face. Tracy's son had gone to high school with Patricia's son, so Tracy and Patricia knew of each other during the years when all the teenagers would hole up drinking beer in the barn on Tracy's property. But now their sons were 22 and in the same Marine unit in Iraq, and Tracy knows things about Patricia that she has never known about another person before. Tracy knows that clipped to Patricia's refrigerator is a list of things to remember in case the telephone rings in the middle of the night and it's Patricia's son calling from a camp somewhere just to talk. Tracy knows that the grandfather clock in Patricia's house chimes nine times when the other clocks say it's noon because the grandfather clock is set to Baghdad time. Tracy knows that Patricia has figured out how to tell if someone is in her driveway by squinting at the reflection off a certain glass-covered picture in the dining room, so that if it should ever be two men in uniform, Patricia will know they have arrived before they start ringing the bell and before she is obliged to look directly at them and hear what they have come to say.

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