The plight of former terror detainee Maher Arar led Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) to erupt at Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at a hearing last week, calling it a "black mark on us."
But despite the fact that a Canadian investigation cleared
Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian whom U.S. officials deported to Syria, four months ago, the administration says he should stay on a U.S. terrorism watch list. And they say they have the information to prove it. Trouble is, the Canadians, even after a senior official was briefed again last week, aren't convinced.
In a letter
written last Tuesday (and released today), Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff assured the Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day that the U.S. had "reexamined" Arar's case, and he really does belong on that watch list. To prove it, they offered to brief Canadian officials on their findings.
Well, they did. And here's
what Minister Day had to say about what he was told late last week: ""He should not be on the watch list... We have seen some recent information that has not altered our opinion at all."
So does the administration have still more information up its sleeve? It's not clear. After getting raked over the coals
by a furious Leahy during a hearing last week, Gonzales promised to provide the committee with more information about Arar. In a statement today, Leahy said that he remained "hopeful" that Gonzales would follow through with that promise.