If a tree falls in the forest, with no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if a news story breaks and goes almost entirely unreported, is it a news story? There was news in the case of Maher Arar on Wednesday. That nearly everyone reading these words will respond with a puzzled look--"Who?"--is yet another testament to the effectiveness of the corporate press in the U.S.. Arar's is a great story, mind you, but what should have been his 15 minutes of fame was a consequence of his being one of the victims of the Bush administration's "War On Terror"[tm], and stories like that don't make the news in the U.S.. As it so happens, there's a synchronicitous confluence between it and the thing that is presently making the news in the U.S., the Obama pimping his despicable Supreme Court nominee around the Senate.
But I'll get to that in a moment.
First, some background:
Arar was a Canadian engineer and small businessman who, in 2002, was flying home to Montreal from a family vacation in Tunisia and made the big mistake of having a name like "Maher Arar" while switching flights in New York during the Bush administration. He was promptly kidnapped by the administration, thrown in a hole for two weeks and without any access to a lawyer or any other basic element of due process, interrogated about his being a member of al Qaida. He wasn't a member of al Qaida but because--follow this--he once worked with the brother of a man who was suspected of having ties to people in al Qaida, his protestations on this point weren't accepted by his persecutors and he was packed up and spirited away to Syria.
The Bush administration falsely claimed this wasn't an example of its "extraordinary rendition" game, whereby suspected terrorists are shipped off to foreign soil to be tortured, and that it was instead a "deportation." Arar wasn't a Syrian though. While he'd been born there, he'd fled from there as a teenager and never returned--he'd been a Canadian resident for 15 years, and a Canadian citizen for 11 yet his entreaties that he be sent to Canada--the destination of any legitimate deportation--were ignored. He was, instead, delivered, by the administration, to Syrian authorities in Jordan, who blindfolded and shackled him and hauled him across the border to a 3-feet-wide rat-infested cell without light which became his "home" for nearly a year, during which time he was repeatedly tortured. His torturers demanded answers to the same questions he'd been asked after being kidnapped by the Bush administration. He broke quickly and "confessed" to whatever they wanted in order to make the torture stop but apparently nothing he said panned out--after 10 months, the Syrians released him with the declaration that they could find no links to terrorism.
Arar returned to Canada and after some recuperation, began looking into legal action against the Bush regime and the government of Canada (which had collaborated with it). In Canada--quite a contrast to the non-story it has been in the U.S.--the matter became a national scandal and eventually the subject of an official commission of inquiry. The commission unequivocally concluded that there was no evidence linking Arar to terrorism and the Prime Minister issued a formal apology to Arar on behalf of the Canadian government, accompanied by a $10.5 million settlement. Mountie Commissioner Giuliani Zaccardelli was forced to resign his post over the matter.
In the U.S., Arar's suit against the Bush gang--virtually unreported at any stage of the affair--was initially thrown out after the administration invoked the damnable "states secrets privilege" (which the court should gut instead of using it as a premise for throwing out such suits). Arar appealed and the case was thrown out again. With the government he's suing now being administered by the Obama administration, Arar has taken the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead of prosecuting the crimes of the Bush administration (or merely settling the case), the Obama has done what he's virtually always done when one of these matters has been raised; he's adopted the sins of that administration as his own. His administration has kept Arar and his family on the U.S. terrorism "watchlist" and on Wednesday, the administration filed, with the Supreme Court, papers asking them to reject Arar's appeal.
That's the same Supreme Court on which the Obama wants to place the horrid Elena Kagan. Should Kagan be confirmed and the court decide to allow the case to proceed, Kagan, who has endorsed the premise of Bush's "War On Terror"[tm] and has publicly supported the administration's kidnapping policies, will ultimately be one of the justices sitting beside John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence "Uncle" Thomas, and Samuel Alito hearing it.
Seems a bit more substantial a matter than the Kagan sit-down photo-ops with Senators presently consuming the news, doesn't it?
 As my persistent readers will recognize, this is one of the things ye humble editor most feared; that the abuses of the Bush administration would be defended, instead of rebuked, thus passing into precedent as acceptable.