As regular readers know, Attytood has been on the warpath urging the authorities in Iraq, under the thumb of the American military, to give Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Bilal Hussein a real day in court...or set him free. Our fear is that -- before broader awareness of the Hussein case mounts -- he will be found guilty in a kangaroo court, without the kind of due process that Americans would expect and that you'd think would be part of that "freedom" package that we delivered to Iraq:
Those worst fears are coming true, of course. Harper's magazine has the inside scoop. For example:
-- The Iraqi judge is also allowing the U.S. military to present evidence by witnesses through remote television hook-ups from undisclosed locations. This is done particularly to be sure that Bilal Hussein would not be able to cross-examine any witnesses.
-- The Pentagon was particularly concerned about the prospect of Bilal Hussein getting effective defense from his lawyer, former federal prosecutor Paul Gardephe. The judge was told to refuse to allow Bilal Hussein’s U.S. lawyer to participate in the case. The judge accepted this advice. Consequently, the U.S. military has a five-man team to press its case, but Bilal Hussein’s lawyer is silenced and not permitted to participate–and all of this has occurred as a result of U.S. Government intervention with the court. The irony of course is that under Iraqi law, the U.S. military has no authority or right to appear and prosecute, but Bilal Hussein’s chosen counsel has an absolute right.
There's a lot of good (as in "interesting," not as in "positive") stuff here, including confirmation that the military is using friendly right-wing bloggers to bypass the tradtional media. Reading this, there is little doubt that this award-winning journalist -- who risked his life to bring images from Iraq's front line to the world and is greatly admired by those who've worked with him, like my Daily News colleague Jim MacMillan -- will be found guilty by this kangaroo court and sent away for a long time. It's frustrating. If the American and Iraqi authorities have real evidence that Bilal Hussein is a terrorist, it should be presented in a fair and open courtroom.
Here's something else that's even more maddening -- America's journalistic community is not stepping forward to try to stop this disgrace from happening. Read on...