Torture? In Syria? Who knew?
[Tail-wag to Miss Vicky]
The shock on his visage was almost palpable. Pierre Pettigrew, faced with a report from independent investigator Stephen Toope that Canadian citizen Maher Arar, and three other Canadians, had actually been tortured--yes, tortured--in a Syrian jail, couldn't believe his eyes. Our ashen-faced Foreign Affairs Minister immediately called in the Syrian Ambassador for a chit-chat, and demanded that the Syrian government arrest and prosecute itself.
The Ambassador, Jamil Sakr, wasn't having any of that. "Hey, you first," he responded. "You were blaming the Americans all this time, but you kept giving us leads for more questioning, and now you're blaming us? I demand that your government resign."
"That's not going to happen," sneered Pettigrew. "We didn't do anything wrong. CSIS told us everything was on the up-and-up. So did the RCMP. So did our Ambassador."
"What a friend you have in CSIS," Sakr sneered back. "And that Pillarella guy couldn't find his ass with both hands. So we got a little rough. So what? Your RCMP offered us all kinds of help. You never talked to Michel Cabana?"
"Need to know," said Pettigrew sadly, burying his face in his hands. "Anyway, Bill Graham was Minister then, and he never said a word."
Tempers had cooled, and soon the two were shooting the breeze like old beer buddies.
"So you actually torture people?" Pettigrew asked, shaking his curls with amazement.
"Torture, schmorture," Sakr snorted. "Jail's not so bad back home. Inmates even get cable."
Pettigrew laughed in spite of himself. "But this could give you a black eye in the international community," he said.
Sakr groaned. This guy was so dumb you could torture him for a thousand and one nights and be lucky if he got his telephone number right. "We already seem to have a couple of shiners," he said. "The Americans think we're a terrorist threat, maybe even stored those WMDs at our place, but they keep sending us terror suspects anyway. Go figure."
Pettigrew rose to his feet to leave. "On your way so soon?" asked his new friend.
"Duty calls, I'm afraid," said Pettigrew. "We just found out that conditions are bad on Indian reserves, and there's a cabinet meeting. We're all in shock. It's just one damn thing after another."
"Good talking with you," Sakr said. "If you ever see him, give my regards to Jean Chrétien." He laughed. " 'Pepper on my plate.' That guy always cracked me up."