Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Outrage of the Day

Writing of the Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein who has been held by the U.S. military in Iraq for 19 months—

We believe Bilal's crime was taking photographs the U.S. government did not want its citizens to see. That he was part of a team of AP photographers who had just won a Pulitzer Prize for work in Iraq may have made Bilal even more of a marked man. —Tom Curley, President and chief executive of the Associated Press, writing in "Railroading a Journalist in Iraq"

This remarkable assertion by the person who leads America's and the world's largest news organization was published on page 17 of Saturday's Washington Post. Without the paper before me I surmise that this would have been a page of the two-page editorial section. I have to wonder what the Post considers news.1

Curley writes,

.... This affair makes a mockery of the democratic principles of justice and the rule of law that the United States says it is trying to help Iraq establish.

A year ago, our going to trial would have been good news. But today, the military authorities who created the case against Bilal have largely been rotated out of Iraq. Witnesses and evidence that Bilal may need would also be much harder to find, even if there were time to track them down. Further, if Bilal wins, he could still lose: The military has told us that even if the Iraqi courts acquit Bilal, it has the right to detain him if it still thinks he is an imminent security threat.

After months of stony silence, except for leaks of unsupported and self-serving allegations to friendly media outlets, military authorities are railroading Bilal's case before a judge in circumstances designed to put Bilal and his lawyers at an extreme disadvantage.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the operators of the world's largest prison-camp network have found a way to provide access to due process in a form that actually looks more unjust than indefinite imprisonment without charges.

But this is a poor example -- and not the first of its kind — of the way our government honors the democratic principles and values it says it wants to share with the Iraqi people.

Related posts
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (6/16/04)
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (Revisited) (6/21/04)



1The deference that the Post (and almost all other media outlets) gives to the military and to the government is well demonstrated here. We might argue that the allegations made by the military against Bilal Hussein, in the absence of formal charges or evidence, should also be published in the Opinion section. [back]

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