July 23, 2008, New York – Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Senior Attorney Maria LaHood, who represents Maher Arar in the U.S., issued the following statement in response to Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s Comments before Congress today:
“Mr. Mukasey testified today that given Syria’s history, he finds it ‘somewhat unlikely that somebody would hope to get anything out of anything that went on in Syria,’ apparently acknowledging that the United States could not trust the results of any interrogation in Syria because of its history of torture. Yet nearly in the same breath, Mr. Mukasey placed reliance on ‘assurances’ from Syria regarding how Mr. Arar was to be treated there. Mr. Mukasey testified that sending Maher ‘to Syria was safer, provided that we got the assurances - and it’s my understanding that we did.’
“These are the same ‘assurances’ that the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General found were ambiguous, in addition to finding that the U.S. apparently failed to examine the ‘validity’ of the ‘assurances.’
“Sending Maher to Syria instead of home to Canada was certainly not safer for him, and did nothing to make the United States safer. Although not surprising, it is still disappointing that Mr. Mukasey is currently refusing to appoint an outside special counsel to do an independent investigation of Maher’s rendition to Syria. The tendency of the Department of Justice to cover up its crimes is exactly why an outside prosecutor is needed.”
For more information on Mr. Arar’s case, visit the Arar v. Ashcroft case page.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.