Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A journalist in Kafka's court

The case of Bilal Hussein, the Iraqi photographer for the Associated Press who has been detained by military authorities -- whose captivity has been ardently promoted by Michelle Malkin as part of her ongoing campaign against reporters she suspects (on notably thin grounds) of being in cahoots with the insurgents -- is back in the news:
WASHINGTON -- Representatives of two journalists detained by the U.S. military said Tuesday the government should charge them or set them free.

The U.S. has been holding Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein in Iraq for a year. Sami al-Hajj, a cameraman for the Mideast news network Al-Jazeera, has been detained since late 2001 and is currently at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

While U.S. officials allege that Hussein took photographs synchronized with explosions, indicating he was at a location ahead of time, Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, said he was "simply the unlucky fellow who happened to be the photographer for the world's largest newsgathering organization in a difficult province."

Carroll said the AP had examined 900 of Hussein's photographs and there was no indication he was on the scene before attacks occurred.

Well, so much for Malkin's chief claim against Hussein -- that his photos indicated he was at the scene in advance of insurgent attacks, and that they displayed a general "coziness" with the terrorists. As I noted at the time, all they really indicated was that Hussein was very good at his job.

But note the Kafkaesque quality of the system into which he has become enmeshed:
Paul Gardephe, the lawyer handling the case for the AP, said the military recently acknowledged to him that it has no evidence to support earlier allegations that Hussein was involved in a plot to kidnap two other journalists.

Carroll said, "The sort of rolling set of allegations that arise and then disappear without the benefit of a trial ... or any kind of an official court proceeding is what is distressing to all of us here." She spoke during a panel discussion in connection with World Press Freedom Day.

Officials have what they believe to be information that links Hussein to insurgent activity, but most of the evidence is classified and cannot be released publicly, said Col. Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman.

Imagine being caught a system of justice in which you can be detained by the government on accusations of plotting against it, but they don't have to produce any evidence of that because it's secret. That's what has befallen Bilal Hussein.

Journalists -- real journalists -- everywhere should stand against this obscenity and raise a stink about it. As for Michelle Malkin, well ...

No comments: