Saturday, January 19, 2008

Complete this list: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, China, and . . . ?

The United States has been added by Canada to their watch list of countries that practice torture.

In Canada, the United States has joined a notorious group of countries -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan and China, among others -- as a place where foreigners risk torture and abuse, according to a training manual for Canadian diplomats that was accidentally given this week to Amnesty International lawyers.

The manual is intended to create "greater awareness among consular officials to the possibility of Canadians detained abroad being tortured." Part of the workshop is devoted to teaching diplomats how to identify people who have been tortured. It features a section on "U.S. interrogation techniques," including forced nudity, hooding and isolation.

The 93-page PowerPoint document was inadvertently released to attorneys working on a lawsuit against the Canadian government; it was obtained by The Washington Post from an attorney for defendants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been held at the U.S. military prison for more than five years, has generated attention across Canada.

This story comes the same week that a rather testy Homeland Security chief Chertoff told critics of his controversial tightening of border-crossing controls on the Canadian border--passport or birth certificate are now required to get back in the states, not just a driver's license--that they need to "grow up" and face the dangers (from Canada) of a post-9/11 world. (Video here.)

Let's see: We're now on a list of torture states with tribal sheikdoms, medieval theocracies, and totalitarian gerontocracies (although Canada was too considerate to tell us so outright), and the Bush administration thinks the fitting response is to restrict movement across what has been rightly celebrated for generations as the longest unguarded international border in the world. Because, you know, those Canadians--you never know what they're up to. Shifty. Untrustable.

(Story updated here.)

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