Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has acknowledged that the U.S. government made a mistake in 2002 when it deported Canadian software engineer Maher Arar to Syria, the country of his birth, where he was imprisoned as a suspected terrorist for a year and tortured. Arar was arrested during a stopover in New York based on what turned out to be erroneous information from the Canadian government, which has since exonerated him, apologized, and paid him $11 million in compensation and legal fees. Rice, for her part, did not exactly apologize, telling the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
We do not think that this case was handled as it should have been. We do absolutely not wish to transfer anyone to any place in which they might be tortured….We have told the Canadian government that we did not think this was handled particularly well in terms of our own relationship and that we will try to do better in the future.
But Rice also indicated that the U.S. government is not prepared to meet the Canadian government's request that Arar be removed from a list that bars him from entering the United States. "I think we and the Canadians do not have exactly the same understanding of what is possible in the future with Mr. Arar in terms of travel and the like," she said.
My 2006 column about the Canadian report that exonerated Arar is here.