President Obama and his mouthpieces in the mainstream press are outraged that Russian President Vladimir Putin is partnering with Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad in the global war on terrorism. “Doesn’t Putin realize that Assad is a dictator?” they exclaim. “Why doesn’t Putin instead work with the U.S. to oust Assad from power? They ask.
Putin’s position is that Assad is a great partner in the global war on terrorism and, therefore, should not be ousted from power. Putin and Assad say that the rebels who are firing on government troops are the terrorists who need to be killed as part of global the war on terrorism. They ask why the U.S. government is supporting terrorists when it purports to be against terrorism.
The Putin-Assad position is, in fact, no different from that of Egyptian military dictator Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who says that the people who are trying to overthrow his dictatorship are terrorists. Interestingly enough, the U.S. government, which partners with el-Sisi by providing him with hundreds of millions of dollars in weaponry, agrees with el-Sisi. That’s why U.S. national-security state officials and their national-security state counterparts in Egypt stand together in their war on terrorism against the Egyptian “terrorists” who are trying to overthrow el-Sisi’s military dictatorship.
So, what’s the difference? Why does the U.S. government partner with the dictatorship in Egypt to wage the war on terrorism against Egyptian rebels but then supports the Syria rebels who are trying to oust the dictatorship in Syria?
There is another complication in all this. Guess who else used to be the U.S. government’s partner in its global war on terrorism.
Yep! You guessed it! None other than Assad and his brutal Syrian dictatorship — the dictatorship that Putin is supporting and that the U.S. Empire is now opposing.
How’s that for irony? Indeed, how’s that for hypocrisy and speaking with a forked tongue?
Guess what the Syria dictatorship did in its role as the U.S. government’s partner in the global war on terrorism. It did what dictatorships are good at: Torture. The Syrian dictatorship tortured people on behalf of the U.S. national-security establishment.
Why use Syria to torture people? Well, in that way U.S. officials could secure information from suspected terrorists, while at the same time, exclaiming, “We’re innocent! We had no idea that the information was going to be secured by torture when we renditioned the victim to one of our dictatorial partners.”
Recall the case of Maher Arar. He’s a Canadian citizen who was returning home from an overseas trip on an itinerary that took him through Dulles International Airport, where he was to change planes. While doing so, U.S. officials took him into custody and accused him of being a terrorist.
Arar vehemently denied that he was a terrorist and requested to see a lawyer. Notwithstanding the Bill of Rights, which guarantees all persons, not just U.S. citizens, the right to counsel, U.S. officials said that because he was a foreigner, he wouldn’t be allowed to have an attorney.
Finally, U.S. officials told Arar that they were deporting him, only not to Canada, where he and his family lived, but rather to Syria, where he was born.
Guess what happened to Arar when he got to Syria. Assad’s national-security state goons proceeded to subject him to the most brutal torture imaginable … for more than a year! Finally, at the end of all this, the Syrian torturers acknowledged that they had an innocent man on their hands and released Arar, whereupon he was permitted to return to Canada.
U.S. officials maintained that they were entirely innocent in the affair. They said that they were just innocently deporting Arar to Syria and had no idea that he was going to be tortured.
But it was all a lie because when Arar filed suit against U.S. officials for kidnapping him and delivering him into the clutches of their Syrian partners, U.S. officials requested the federal judiciary to dismiss the suit on grounds of “state secrets” — that is, that if the U.S. government were required to defend the suit, it would have to disclose secret methods and procedures it uses in its global war on terrorism.
But wait a minute! If it was just an innocent deportation to Syria, then how could that involve secret methods and procedures as part of the U.S. global war on terrorism?
In any event, the federal courts, following the same deference to authority the Syrian federal courts show the Syrian national-security state establishment, accepted the argument and dismissed Arar’s suit.
What U.S. officials were obviously trying to keep secret was the process by which the CIA, which ultimately took Arar into its custody and transported him from Dulles to the Middle East, struck the torture deal with its deep-state counterparts within the Syrian regime.
Think about it: In order to arrive at a deal, conversations between Syrian and U.S. officials had to take place on a very secret basis. The Syrian torturers would have to know, for example, what questions their U.S. partners wanted them to ask Arar. And in fact, Arar said that the questions he was asked under Syrian torture were much the same questions that U.S. officials were asking him when he was being held prisoner here in the United States.
How did the torture deal get struck? Did President George W. Bush and President Assad talk about the deal? What were the terms of the deal? Was it put into writing? Was any money or other consideration exchanged? What was the nature of the general partnership between the deep-state officials within the U.S. government and those of the Syrian government?
We don’t know the answers to any of those questions because they constitute “state secrets” that neither Arar nor the American people are entitled to know. Not surprisingly, Congress never held any hearings to get to the bottom of the U.S.-Syrian torture partnership. Also not surprisingly, the mainstream press never asked for the details of the partnership or how the rendition-torture deal involving Arar came to be and the exact terms of the deal.
But we do know one thing: The United States, Syria, and Assad were once loyal partners, just as Russia, Syria, and Assad are today. Just ask Maher Arar. He’ll tell you all about that partnership and what it did to him.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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