Remember the case of Mahar Arar? A disturbing story in the New Yorker about "extraordinary rendition" told his tale of being "placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet." He was sent to Syria, where he was beaten and tortured. He was finally released, and was never charged with any crime, except being on a US terrorist watch list. "Rendition" is the practice of outsourcing torture, where terrorism suspects are sent to countries where torture is legal... because, of course, torture isn't legal in the United States.
A lawsuit against the United States has been filed on Arar's behalf.
And now, his case has been significantly strengthened. Look below the fold to see why.
The New York Times has obtained the logs of the Gulfstream jet used to transport Arar to Syria:
federal aviation records examined by The New York Times appear to corroborate Mr. Arar's account of his flight, during which, he says, he sat chained on the leather seats of a luxury executive jet as his American guards watched movies and ignored his protests.
The tale of Mr. Arar, the subject of a yearlong inquiry by the Canadian government, is perhaps the best documented of a number of cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which suspects have accused the United States of secretly delivering them to other countries for interrogation under torture. Deportation for interrogation abroad is known as rendition.
In papers filed in a New York court replying to Mr. Arar's lawsuit, Justice Department lawyers say the case was not one of rendition but of deportation. They say Mr. Arar was deported to Syria based on secret information that he was a member of Al Qaeda, an accusation he denies.
The discovery of the aircraft, in a database compiled from Federal Aviation Agency records, appears to corroborate part of the story Mr. Arar has told many times since his release in 2003. The records show that a Gulfstream III jet, tail number N829MG, followed a flight path matching the route he described. The flight, hopscotching from New Jersey to an airport near Washington to Maine to Rome and beyond, took place on Oct. 8, 2002, the day after Mr. Arar's deportation order was signed.
So much for the mystery of the Gulfstream. In fact:
Records of the jet's travels also show a trip in December 2003 to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States holds hundreds of detainees, suggesting that it was used by the government on at least one other occasion.
If the plane was used to move Mr. Arar, it is the fourth known to have been used to transport suspected terrorists secretly from one country to detention in another.
Damn journalists, they ruin everything, don't they, Mr. Bush and Mr. Gonzales?