Is there truth in torture?
By Reuel S. Amdur - The Arab American News | Saturday, 02.23.2008, 11:44 AM

As consumers, we know the tough row to hoe in the struggle for truth in advertising.  One thinks back to the case in the early part of the last century when one typewriter manufacturer created a "knocker," a defective product which it claimed to be that of a major competitor.  Well, there are also problems with allegations made under torture.  In waterboarding we trust?


It is now publicly acknowledged that waterboarding was the trigger for loosening the tongue of al-Qaeda big cheese Abu Zubayda, one of George W. Bush's guests at Hotel Guantanamo.  Among other things, Zubayda named a couple of Muslim men under security certificates in Canada as al-Qaeda agentsMohamed Harkat and Adil Charkaoui.  According to Zubayda, Harkat operated a safe house in Pakistan for Taliban en route to Chechnya.

There is no question that Harkat was in Pakistan.  He worked for a Saudi-based charity there.  Was he also a link in moving Taliban to Chechnya to fight the Russians?  After all, Zubayda said so.  But there is some question as to the truth of his allegations.

Undoubtedly, torture can get at the truth, but it can also get lots of false information, and one is frequently at a loss as to how to sort the wheat from the chaff.  A victim can be driven to say anything, whatever he thinks will get a torturer to stop.  The torturer wants names?  Give him names.  Perhaps give him wrong names in order to protect one's own comrades.

During the height of the Inquisition in Germany, the ruler of one of the small German states urged the church, "Stop, before you kill all my subjects!"  Under torture, the circle of the accused simply spun out of control, constantly expanding as new names were extracted.  And one opponent of the Inquisition proclaimed, "You torture me and I'll torture you, and we'll both confess."

Is there any better evidence against Harkat and Charkaoui?  We don't know, and neither do they.



Sunni and Shi'a together

On Februay 16, Ottawa Sunnis and Shi'ajoined together to honor the contributions of four Muslim provincial legislators: Yasir Naqvi of Ottawa, Khalil Ramal of London, Reza Moridi of Richmond Hill, and Shafiq Quaadri of Etobicoke, part of Toronto.

Dr. Tyseer Aboulnasr, speaking for the Canadian Muslim Network, observed, "There's a lot more in common with us than there are differences, so let's work together." While the Ottawa Muslim Association represents Sunnis, Akbar Manoussi, a Shi'i, serves on the board of the association.



Harkat remains on bail     


Judge Eleanor Dawson has turned down the request by the Canadian government to cancel the bail and forfeit the bond of Mohamed Harkat, one of the five Muslim men on security certificates in Canada.  She nevertheless was critical of him and his mother-in-law for not notifying the court when the mother-in-law moved out of the house.  The judge allowed him a bit more room to travel so that he can now visit his sister-in-law, but she otherwise refused his requests for easing bail conditions.



Passport unchanged


Eliyahu Yoshua Veffer, a Canadian man born in Jerusalem, has lost his bid to have his passport indicate that his birthplace is Jerusalem, Israel.  Canada, like many other countries, has its embassy in Tel Aviv, not formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.  B'nai Brith took his case all the way up the ladder to the Supreme Court of Canada, but the court refused to hear it.

By Reuel S. Amdur - The Arab American News

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