Regarding Torture and Children and America:
Hamza al-Khateeb might turn out to be the Emmett Till of Syria. The 13-year old boy's body was given back to his parents on May 24. He had been arrested in Saida during a protest against the government on April 29. For the next month, he was tortured by Syrian security forces. He had been shot in both arms and castrated, with "lacerations, bruises and burns to his feet, elbows, face and knees, consistent with the use of electric shock devices and of being whipped with cable." Human Rights Watch has said that this is part of a pattern of abuse of the protesters. When a video of Hamza's body hit the internet, it sparked even more intense protests over the last two days. The Obama administration and especially Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have strongly condemned the Syrian government.
When the Rude Pundit read about Hamza al-Khateeb, his stomach turned. Because it reminded him of this regarding Canadian citizen Maher Arar: He "was driven to Syria, where interrogators, after a day of threats, 'just began beating on me.' They whipped his hands repeatedly with two-inch-thick electrical cables, and kept him in a windowless underground cell that he likened to a grave. 'Not even animals could withstand it,' he said. Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say. 'You just give up,' he said. 'You become like an animal.'"
Arar was sent to Syria in October 2002. He was held there and tortured for a year. He was arrested by the United States and sent first to Jordan before being brought to Syria. He was suspected of being a terrorist. He was sent to Syria so that President George W. Bush could declare to the world that the United States does not torture. That was a lie, and he lied even more plainly when he said that we do not "hand over people to countries that do torture."
But we did. We encouraged Syria to mutilate and degrade prisoners we brought there. We wanted its intelligence service and secret police to do things to suspects that our silly laws and putative morality would not allow. We encouraged Syria and for all those loathsome years at the beginning of this already-weary century, we turned a blind eye. And now the torture of children has become a regular part of the brutality the Syrian military has unleashed on the people.
In Syria, a doctor at a military hospital was interviewed on TV. He said that Hamza's wounds were actually normal decomposition. The secret police detained Hamza's father and tried to force him to tell the media that his son was killed by "Sunni Muslim extremists."
Surely, what happened to Hamza al-Khateeb was a nightmare beyond nightmares most of us are capable of having, far worse, if we can say that, than the extended torture that Maher Arar faced. Surely, we wouldn't think twice that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be arrested and charged with crimes against humanity, even if he didn't personally torture prisoners. And, if that is true, then, you see, surely, we must acknowledge and face the fact that the men and women who created and supported the policy that sent hundreds of people to be tortured, some by the same torturers who do the bidding of al-Assad, should also be arrested.
(Note: We still do rendition.)