Bilal Hussein to be tried in the Iraqi justice system

Bilal Hussein is the AP stringer photographer who was arrested in Iraq by US forces in April 2006 and held on suspicion that he had serious connections to terrorists. Trying him in the Iraqi justice system does make sense. Whether he’s guilty or not (and the evidence suggests that he’s as guilty as a Kennedy in a sorority house), his alleged crimes were against the Iraqi people and committed inside Iraq. But the Associated (with terrorists) Press isn’t happy.

The U.S. military plans to seek a criminal case in an Iraqi court against an award-winning Associated Press photographer but is refusing to disclose what evidence or accusations would be presented.

An AP attorney on Monday strongly protested the decision, calling the U.S. military plans a “sham of due process.” The journalist, Bilal Hussein, has already been imprisoned without charges for more than 19 months.

A public affairs officer notified the AP on Sunday that the military intends to submit a written complaint against Hussein that would bring the case into the Iraqi justice system as early as Nov. 29. Under Iraqi codes, an investigative magistrate will decide whether there are grounds to try Hussein, 36, who was seized in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on April 12, 2006.

Isn’t announcing the means and venue of trial at least a step in the direction of vindication if you believe, as the AP does, that he’s innocent? Would they have him just tossed out without the chance to at least clear his name?

Evidently not. And because they’re a global press organization, they’ll get the chance to try Hussein on their own wires and they will have the power to demonize the US military, the Iraqi prosecutors and anyone else who disagrees with them. Out of maintaining the thinnest veneer of objectivity, the AP ought to recuse itself from reporting on the Hussein case at all.

But they didn’t earn the Associated (with terrorists) Press nickname for being shrinking violets, did they?

Update: Michelle has much more. She has owned this story since Hussein’s arrest 19 months ago.

Update: Rusty Shackleford, terrorist hunter.

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