Monday, April 02, 2007
Benjamin Wittes in The New Republic (emphasis mine):
Of the names being floated publicly [to replace Gonzales], the one with the best shot of threading the needle is Comey's predecessor as deputy attorney general, Larry Thompson. Thompson, now general counsel of Pepsico, managed to emerge from Ashcroft's department with a reputation for good management and professionalism. The Bushies don't hate him, and his name doesn't rile Democrats either. He served as a U.S. attorney earlier in his career as well. Yet even Thompson would not be a worry-free pick. During his prior service in the Justice Department, he approved the deportation of a Syrian-Canadian named Maher Arar to Syria--where Arar claims he was tortured. The administration has tenaciously resisted accounting for this decision, and a Thompson nomination would provide a forum for uncomfortable pressure to do so.
Jeralyn at TalkLeft supports Thompson's nomination among the contenders, and the New York Times has deemed Thompson a "moderate". And, given the confusion over what information the U.S. had from the RCMP when Thompson signed off, and the scumbaggedness of his colleagues, I'm even open to the idea that he doesn't deserve anything like the lion's share of the blame for what happened. (Though, frankly, it's pretty hard to see past the fact that he had final sign-off on a rendition of a Canadian citizen to Syria.)
But, but, but...
Arar's claims of torture have been fully accepted by the official Canadian inquiry (in which the U.S. refused to participate). The RCMP Commissioner resigned in disgrace over the case. The government has agreed to pay the Arar family 12.5 million dollars and have demanded the U.S. take Arar off their watch list -- and been rebuked. The entire affair has been a complete disgrace to Canada, and should be to the U.S. as well. Even beyond the very big questions of morality and process involved, shouldn't Thompson's potential appointment as Attorney General be a U.S.-Canada diplomatic disaster of epic proportions? Does it even matter?