With the United States reopening the case of Maher Arar to determine if he was sent to Syria to be tortured, it got me thinking.
Outsourcing torture has long been an issue with American governments. Outsourcing has taken place both in the form of outsourcing the actual individuals doing the torturing, meaning using an Egyptian or an Afghani or a Syrian to do the torturing, or in the form of outsourcing the location used for the torturing, such as Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib or Hong Kong.
The presidents of the United States have long stuck by the same message: “We do not torture.” Reagan said it with his message to the Senate in 1988. Clinton ratified the UN Convention to Congress in 1994 and used similar language to Reagan, using four diplomatic reservations focused on one word: “mental.”
Yes, most American presidents and governments have continued to uphold this stance with clarity and without contention or quibbling.
President Bush has repeated it consistently throughout his tenure, often whispering under his breath the slight addition: “But we know someone who does.”
Of course, Bush knows as we all know that America is at war and must do whatever it takes to protect its citizens. That means getting the terrorists and possible terrorists and possible potential terrorists and their families and friends and physicians and mail carriers and bartenders and barbers and neighbours and teachers and priests and foot massagers as far away from American soil as humanly possible.
I think this is a mistake.
With the economy looking to be in less than ideal shape, outsourcing should be the last thing on American minds at this point and time. By pushing torture outside of America in an effort to duck regulations, American officials are making a serious mistake in protecting what could be a burgeoning job market.