Really the craziest idea to strike America’s governing class in the 21st century has been that we could improve intelligence by wildly lowering the evidentiary thresholds required for various sorts of action. No more need to demonstrate probable cause. Coercived interrogations now permitted. Hearsay’s in, confronting your accusers is out. The idea of all this, I suppose, is that it will generate more information. Which, of course, it will. Much more. But it will also be much less accurate information. Which brings us back to the tragic tale of Maher Arar:
When the United States sent Maher Arar to Syria, where he was tortured for months, the deportation order stated unequivocally that Mr. Arar, a Canadian software engineer, was a member of Al Qaeda. But a few days earlier, Canadian investigators had told the F.B.I. that they had not been able to link him to the terrorist group.
And guess what — turns out they “had not been able to link him” to the terrorist group because he had nothing to do with terrorism. They kidnapped, deported, and tortured the guy all for nothing. And just imagine if he had “broken” under torture and “confessed” to his involvement in an al-Qaeda plot directed by the government of Iran. Just imagine how excited some folks in the OVP would be about that “information.” And then off we go to war! To think you should run a country this way, you’d have to ladel an extraordinary level of stupidity atop the basic layer of crass imorality.