In 2002, Maher Arar was stopped while on a layover at John F. Kennedy International Airport on his way home to Canada. US officials detained Arar for two weeks and then told him that, based on classified evidence, they were sending him to Syria instead of letting him return home to Canada. In Syria, he was tortured and detained in an underground cell - three feet wide, six feet long and seven feet high - for nearly a year. During the first two weeks, he was subject to intense beatings, whipped on his back and hands with an electrical cable, and interrogated. Arar was eventually released without ever being charged with a crime.
In the hopes of preventing this from happening to anyone else, Arar has, since then, been fighting for an acknowledgement from the US government that its actions were illegal. Not only has President Obama refused to investigate the previous administration for crimes of torture and rendition committed against so many like Arar, but, on an even more basic, human level, Obama won't even apologize to this innocent man for the irreparable wrong done to him.
It has now been close to two years since Arar's legal avenues for redress in the United States were exhausted by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Together, we took his story from court to higher court, and after six years of demanding that those responsible for his torture be held accountable, the US Supreme Court slammed the final door - at the request of the Obama administration - by refusing to hear Arar's case. The judiciary has become complicit in torture and other abuses by failing to check the executive branch.