Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Second Circuit Court of Appeals Dismisses Maher Arar's Lawsuit

The Second Circuit, in a 184 page in banc decision, has affirmed the District Court's dismissal of Maher Arar's lawsuit.

Maher Arar is an individual who was detained while changing planes at Kennedy Airport in New York because Canadian authorities believed that he was a member of Al Qaeda. Mr. Arar alleges that after being taken into custody he was mistreated over a twelve day period by U.S. officials, and then the real nightmare began.

After the 12 days of alleged mistreatment by the hand of the United States government, Mr. Arar alleges that the United States government sent him to Syria via Jordan so that he could be properly tortured and interrogated by Syrian officials.

Mr. Arar sued former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft; former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; Robert Mueller, Director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and others in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Mr Arar’s alleged that the above mentioned individuals’ actions violated the Torture Victim Protection Act (“TVPA”) and the Fifth Amendment.

The District Court dismissed Mr. Arar’s complaint unanimously holding that: (1) the District Court had personal jurisdiction over Thompson, Ashcroft, and Mueller; (2) Mr. Arar failed to state a claim under the TVPA; and (3) Arar failed to establish subject matter jurisdiction over his request for a declaratory judgment. See Arar v. Ashcroft, 532 F.3d 157 (2d Cir. 2008).

Mr. Arar appealed this decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, but his suit was initially dismissed. Thereafter, an in banc rehearing occurred, and the Second Circuit in a 184 page decision vacated the initial opinion, but unfortunately for justice, affirmed the District Court’s ruling.

Parenthetically, the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor was a member of the in banc panel and participated in oral argument.

So much for accountability.

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