DoJ Confirms Internal Investigation in Case of Maher Arar

Richard L. Skinner, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, revealed yesterday that his department had reopened the investigation into whether U.S. officials knew that Canadian citizen, Maher Arar would be tortured when he was turned over to Syria following his U.S. detainment. The investigation was reopened based on “new information,” Skinner testified in his appearance before the House Subcommittee on International Relations, Human Rights and Oversight.

The Inspector General also revealed that the Department of Justice’s own Office of Professional Responsibility has started an investigation into the role of the DoJ lawyers in the case.

From the New York Times:

A Justice Department spokesman, Peter A. Carr, said that its inquiry, by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, was begun in March 2007 and was examining the role of department lawyers in expelling Maher Arar to Syria, which has long been identified by the State Department as habitually using torture on prisoners.

The DoJ Office of Professional Responsibility already has its hands full with a number of investigations into the Justice Department’s role in Bush Administration scandals. OPR is currently investigating allegations of selective prosecution relating to the prosecutions of Don Siegelman ; John Yoo’s torture memos; Monica Goodling’s possible firing of an attorney because she’d heard a rumor that he might be gay; officials who gave legal approval to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques; the role of Department of Justice attorneys in the authorization and oversight of the warrantless electronic surveillance program and of course the probe into the firings of U.S. Attorneys.