Monday, October 30, 2006

Bilal Hussein: free him or charge him

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article up on Bilal Hussein, an AP photographer currently held by the U.S. Military who has not been charged with any crime. This story hasn't gotten a lot of air (I only knew about it vaguely before the Greenwald Article), so I thought that I'd refer to it here in hopes that more people learn about it. Here's an excerpt:
Hussein's detention in April was preceded by months of vicious complaints from Bush followers that his photojournalism was anti-American and suggestive of support for the insurgents. Before there were even any news reports anywhere about Hussein's detention, Michelle Malkin learned of Hussein's detention -- she claims "from an anonymous military source in Iraq" -- and blogged about it. At the time, she claimed that "Hussein was captured earlier today by American forces in a building in Ramadi, Iraq, with a cache of weapons." It will surprise nobody that, as was conclusively revealed once AP was able to talk publicly about Hussein's detention, many of the "factual claims" on which these accusations were based are just outright false.

The power to detain people indefinitely -- meaning forever -- without so much as charging them with any crime is, of course, the very power that Congress just weeks ago vested in the President when it enacted the so-called Military Commissions Act of 2006. While it is customary for soldiers captured on a battlefield to be held as prisoners of war until the end of hostilities, Hussein and many (if not most) of those who have been detained around the world were not captured on any battlefield at all, nor were they caught in the act of waging war against the U.S.. Instead, they have simply been arrested in apartments, homes, and off the street and then thrown into prisons with no charges or process of any kind.
Glenn Greenwald is a treasure. I don't know if Bilal Hussein is guilty of anything or not. If he is, he should be charged with a crime. If he isn't, he should be released. This throwing people in prison indefinitely stuff is what our country was founded to put an end to. It is un-American. Of course, this disgusting Congress did try to give this administration that power, but Congress can't nullify the Constitution just by passing a law.

A lot of people in the lefty blogosphere get into huge arguements about whether or not it is appropriate to use the term "fascist" when describing the Bush administration. I do not think it is the right term--delusional kleptocratic wanna-be authoritarians seems more fitting (but I guess that's not too far from a definition of fascism.). But incidents like this sure do provide good fodder for the opposing point of view. Imprisioning journalists is one of the cliches of dictatorship.

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