In his new book, You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression, journalist and Progressive magazine editor Matthew Rothschild recounts the case of Maher Arar. A Syrian-born Canadian computer engineer, Arar was detained in 2002 by FBI agents during a stopover at JKF airport in New York. Believing him a member of Al Qaeda, the FBI sent Arar to Syria, where he was kept in the basement of a prison-in a room not much larger than a coffin-and beaten and tortured routinely for 10 months and 10 days. After his release, Arar was cleared of terrorist affiliations by both the Canadian and Syrian governments. Arar’s case is the most famous example of the Bush administration’s “extraordinary rendition” program, by which U.S. intelligence agents fly suspected terrorists to countries like Syria and Uzbekistan to be tortured during interrogation.
You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression.
- When: Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 7 p.m.
- Where: Borders Books & Music, 900 State St., Santa Barbara
- Cost: Free
- Age limit: Not available
You Have No Rights is a dark, heavy-handed polemic against the Bush administration’s approach to human and civil rights. It begins with a finely rendered description of the various ways in which the administration has subverted and violated the U.S. Constitution and international law since 9/11, from the National Security Agency’s wiretapping scandal to the establishment of the Guant¡namo Bay prison camp. It then goes on to describe, in short, dryly written vignettes, the stories of 82 ordinary people across the country whose rights have been violated as a result of ramped-up national security policies. But Rothschild overreaches-Arar’s case is lumped together with stories like that of Denise Grier, a nurse at Emory University, Georgia, who was ticketed in 2006 by a DeKalb County police officer for sporting a “BUSHIT” bumper sticker on her car.