Monday, December 8, 2008
The full Second Circuit will hear oral arguments tomorrow in Arar v. Ashcroft, the civil action by a Canadian detained at JFK, held in solitary confinement for two weeks in the U.S. without access to an attorney or the courts, and rendered to Syria for, um, "enhanced interrogation techniques." (After a year of in Syria, Syrian officials released Arar, stating that he had no connection to any criminal or terrorist activity. The Canadian government, after an exhaustive inquiry, concluded the same.) This is another case that a new Obama administration may be able to influence. I blogged on the other, Al-Marri, a couple days ago. The NYT ran an editorial on both today.
Arar originally claimed Due Process violations for the government's denial of counsel, denial of access to the courts, and subjecting him to torture by the Syrian government. He also claimed a violation of the Torture Victim's Protection Act, which allows a person tortured by a foreign government to bring suit against that government in U.S. courts. Arar claimed that Ashcroft, et al., were complicit in his torture. Arar's original complaint is here.
An earlier split 3-judge panel of the Second Circuit ruled against Arar. The majority held that Arar's claims would interfere with national security and foreign policy, that as a Canadian he was not entitled to Due Process, and that federal officials weren't sufficiently under the control of the Syrian government to support his TVPA claim. The Second Circuit decision is here.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Arar, has an excellent resource page here.
The en banc hearing tomorrow is notable because the Second Circuit granted it sua sponte, signalling either the case's important, its unhappiness with the panel decision, or both.
We'll keep you updated.