Friday, April 13, 2007

Bilal Hussein

Andrew Sullivan raises the issue of Bilal Hussein, a press photographer in American custody without charge for about a year. In fact, the Bush administration refuses to bring charges; in fact, the accusations seemed to change "even in the course of a single press cycle". Even worse, "the U.S. Forces insist that they have secret charges which, in the manner of Franz Kafka's novel The Trial they are unwilling to present to Bilal Hussein". The manifold "suspicions" raised by military spokespeople have been exposed as false.

Who, then, is Bilal Hussein? Hussein was part of an Associated Press (AP) team of photographers that won a Pulitzer prize for coverage of the war in Fallujah in 2005. This sheds some light on a possible reason for Hussein's incarceration. The Pentagon was enraged by some pictures he took of fighting in the Al-Anbar province, pictures that disputed the established storyline. In fact, the administration was irked that these AP photographers won a prize in the first place. So the message is clear: toe the line on Iraq, or else...

Sadly, there is precedent. During the early stages of the war, the U.S. bombed Al Jazeera headquarters in Baghdad, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. It had done the same thing in Kabul, destroying the building. Coincidence? Hardly. Remember the leaked memo, describing how Tony Blair had tried to talk Bush out of bombing Al Jazeera? Of course, the Bush administration denied it, but the British government pursued charges against two civil servants under the Official Secrets Act for leaking the document.

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