The Invisible Men

Canadian inquiry may reveal CIA secrets on outsourcing torture

After Arar's release, which caused a storm in Canada but barely raised a whisper in the U.S., Syrian authorities said they had no interest in him, and had interrogated him in a show of goodwill towards the U.S. Arar believed his interrogation was largely related to a casual acquaintance, a terrorism suspect who has also been released from jail in Syria.

In November, almost two months after Arar returned to Canada, U.S. officials claimed they had sent him to Syria after receiving assurances he wouldn't be tortured. Syria maintained that it hadn't tortured him.

"Obviously, it would be superb if the inquiry shed some light on U.S. practices," said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International in Canada, which has been deeply involved in Arar's case. U.S. officials have said they acted on information supplied by Canadian authorities, but didn't cooperate with them during the operation. "We're interested to know what role, if any, Canadian input may have played in him being detained in the first place," Neve said.

Friends of Arar have said if not for the efforts and charisma of his wife, Monia Mazigh, who is now running for parliament in Canada, he might still be in jail, or worse.

"It shouldn't matter whether a person is guilty or not," Arar told the Voice. "A human being should be respected. They should not be sent for torture. The principle behind any free society is due process.

"What is really at stake," he continued, "is the message the U.S. government, which talks about democracy, is sending to third-world countries."

And American observers have an interest in what kind of intelligence causes authorities here to send suspects off to prisons in countries that permit the use of torture. "Who knows whether some of these people [we detained] were dissidents?" said the former CIA official. "Intelligence is imprecise. You can't go on a hunch and torture someone."

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