Conffederate
Confederate

November 25, 2007

Hussein in the Membrane

Forgive me for not trusting you, Tom, but when you purposefully obfuscate the fact that Bilal Hussein was arrested as an unknown as the military targeted Hamid Hamad Motib, a known member of al Qaeda, and that he supposedly did not announce he was a journalist when arrested, I somehow doubt your story.

Bilal Hussein was picked up as an unknown, and apparently hoped to remain that way, knowing that insurgents without previous records not caught in the act of an attack are frequently released. Before he was able to matriculate out of our "catch and release" system, however, he was identified by an alert guard who just happened to remember his face from a picture of Hussein posted to The Jawa Report. Hussein had been quiet about his true identity for roughly a month before he was identified.

Hiding his true ID and occupation... not very innocent behavior from an innocent journalist, is it?

To my admittedly inadequate understanding of Iraqi law, Bilal Hussein's pending court date in front of a Iraqi magistrate is the Iraqi equivalent of a U.S. grand jury or preliminary hearing. Since when do defense attorneys--or the media overlords signing their paychecks--get to see grand jury evidence?

According to Wikipedia--yeah, I know:

Unlike the trial itself, the grand jury's proceedings are secret; the defendant and his or her counsel are generally not present for other witnesses' testimony.

If this is correct, and defendants don't get to see evidence in these preliminary hearings, then Tom Curley is more or less lying to the readers of the Washington Post, isn't he?

Sounds like he needs to re-read his corporate ethics policy.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 25, 2007 12:37 PM
Comments

Oh, come on, CY, you don't expect the self-anointed elites in the media to follow the rules set down for the benighted masses, do you?

Posted by: C-C-G at November 25, 2007 01:22 PM

Okay. Every day we have more evidence that "intelligent" does not equal smart. How many more of the mainstream media are going to fall on their swords instead of just eating crow? (There ya go James Taranto .. a metaphor alert for ya!)

And for what? A nobel cause? Hardly. And for who: Liars, prevaricators, terrorists masquerading as photographers, attention sucks, Warhol minuteers?

To read the president of the AP pen stuff that can be disputed in a heart beat by trackbacks on the blogs would be hilarious if it were not so horrendous.

THE first question I asked when the story popped up was "Why didn't he use his AP get-out-of-jail-free-card?" I also remembered the critiques and questions about his pictures years ago, though not his name.

Honest to pete, us hoi pilloi are just not that stupid. Take note though -- It does hack me though when the "narrative" starts and is recycled until it drowns out the facts. Fortunately, as the print papers die, so shall the AP, unless it learns to stop trying to write history instead of report it.

Keep up the good work all you pajama clad fact checkers.

Posted by: JAL at November 25, 2007 03:19 PM

Anybody who believe AP about anything needs to be in a mental ward. Period.

Posted by: buster at November 25, 2007 03:39 PM

The AP's credibility in Iraq is close to zero. Remember when the bureau spent months trying to find its "source" for some 80 stories, an alleged policeman named Jamil Hussein? They finally found someone by that name, but he was in no position to authenticate all of the information they attributed to him. It was a handy name they used to meet the attribution rules. They played games on that, and now they want us to trust them on this one. I don't think so.

Posted by: Buck Smith at November 25, 2007 03:54 PM

Yes, the Iraqis have an inquisitorial judicial system, like those enlightened, nuanced Europeans, instead of an adversarial system, like us cowboy Americans.

Guess the reality-based community is going to have to recuse itself whilst they figure out how to spin this one.

Posted by: Akatsukami at November 25, 2007 03:56 PM

You need to delete your comments about grand juries.

From what we saw from the Sadam Hussien and friends proceedings, Bilal's hearing will be more like a preliminary hearing. The defendant and defense counsel hear the testimony of prosecution witnesses in open court. As I recall, defense counsel gets to cross examine the prosecution witnesses. Probably, defense counsel gets to review the investigation reports before or at the preliminary hearing.

Another questions is whether AP's American lawyer has been authorized to appear in the Iraqi court. Maybe AP should hire an Iraqi lawyer for the Iraqi court proceedings.

Posted by: slp at November 25, 2007 04:09 PM

From the Seattle Times, Newspapers as an endangered species.

44,000 news-industry employees lost their jobs in the past five years,200 papers closed in the past 25 years.

What could be causing this?

Posted by: Ydobon at November 25, 2007 04:18 PM

SLP, time to get your glasses checked. Here's what CY wrote:

To my admittedly inadequate understanding of Iraqi law, Bilal Hussein's pending court date in front of a Iraqi magistrate is the Iraqi equivalent of a U.S. grand jury or preliminary hearing.
(emphasis added.)

So your points about the hearing being similar to a preliminary hearing have already been addressed, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 25, 2007 04:31 PM

You only need to read this paragraph to know where Tom Curly is coming from:
Perhaps it is not surprising that the operators of the world's largest prison-camp network have found a way to provide access to due process in a form that actually looks more unjust than indefinite imprisonment without charges.

Of course I think the AP is more concerned with how it will look when it is confirmed that they were infiltrated by a terrorist than what happens to Bilal Hussein. It will taint (even more) their entire coverage of the Iraq war.

Posted by: Kazinski at November 25, 2007 04:38 PM

But he was a source used by Real Journalists, so he must be innocent, right? This is just one more example of the fascist military Bushhitler stifling dissent. Because terrorism is just a form of dissent, and dissent is the highest form of patriotism, so this Bilal Hussein is actually an essential part of saving the republic.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at November 25, 2007 05:29 PM

Perhaps it is not surprising that the operators of the world's largest propaganda network have found a way to make perfidy and treachery look like bravery and dedication.

Well, they think they've done that, anyway.

Really, they just look like a bunch of weasels who aid the enemy, or ARE the enemy.

Posted by: Dave at November 25, 2007 05:34 PM

Don't the Chinese, or the North Koreans or the Commie Cubans have the world's largest prison camp network? That would be my guess...

Posted by: Broadsword at November 25, 2007 06:22 PM

AP does not recognize the legitimacy of the Iraqi government. They are still carrying the torch for Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: Mwalimu Daudi at November 25, 2007 06:47 PM

CY,

What ethics policy... remember, we're talking about the AP here.

Jim C

Posted by: Jim C at November 25, 2007 06:50 PM

What the assistant said...yep yep yep!!!

Posted by: the Underassistant to the Assistant Village Idiot at November 25, 2007 07:33 PM

From the Curley article: "Ask an Iraqi lawyer if you don't know how this works."

I take it that was too much trouble for him...

At the start of the Jamil Hussein escapade I looked at the AP Managing Editors code of ethics (APME at the ASNE site).

To put it bluntly: they don't even care about ethics as stated in their own code of ethics. Mind you at least they thought hard enough to put one online unlike TNR....

Posted by: ajacksonian at November 26, 2007 07:31 AM

TNR had ethics? O.o

Posted by: C-C-G at November 26, 2007 09:41 AM
So your points about the hearing being similar to a preliminary hearing have already been addressed, thankyouverymuch.

Preliminary hearings were mentioned by CY, but he then went on to discuss the issue as if it were a US-style grand jury hearing. SLP's point still stands. I said good day, sir. Game, set and match. Yahtzee!

Posted by: NovAnoM at November 26, 2007 06:45 PM

SLP, the magistrate's review in the detention system may well not be exactly like the full-blown judicial process you saw - and didn't see, in the case of the investigative hearings - with the Iraqi High Tribunal trials of former regime members. Defense counsel was present at the investigative hearings in those cases, but these are not normal judicial proceedings.

I was very familiar with the situation a year or so back - but then again, the situation varied from place to place, depending on security, the quality of the Iraqi judicial personnel available, and other factors.

As a high-profile case, Hussein will probably get a magistrate's review (if that's still the current system) - if only due to sheer numbers, most detainees will probably not have their cases formally reviewed in that fashion (or at least they didn't used to). Determinations of "security threat" represented by each individual are made using all available info.

As has been the case since the beginning, the press here engages in despicable deception by implying that being held "without charge" is unusual or even unreasonable in these circumstances. ALL the detainees are held without charge, under authorities flowing from the UN-sanctioned status of Coalition forces in Iraq (how many "smart" NYT readers even KNOW that our operations in Iraq take place under explicit UN authority?). Most are released, eventually. The worst/most important foreigners are held indefinitely for safe-keeping and their intelligence value, some of the worst perps with no intel value are tried at the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) under Iraqi law. Several of these folks have been executed in the last two years (our first occupation edict was to ban capital punishment, the new Iraqi parliament's first act was to restore it).

"Held without charge" is meant to have great emotional and propaganda impact - conjuring up a Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Syria, uh -- oh, wait, I don't think that the western press loses much sleep worrying about actual dictatorships in such places, even when they jail reporters. But it's perfectly reasonable and historically quite normal in the extreme state of emergency Iraq has experienced since 2004. And when the detainees are in the Coalition system, it's a situation where the chances of mistreatment are tiny (sorry, ignorant Abu Ghraib obsessives), and "justice" is probably the best ever delivered under such horrible circumstances.

If Hussein is dirty, as seems quite likely, you can expect the mini-uproar about him such as this column to disappear quickly, assuming the military gets the basic facts out.

It's not just that the AP and much of the rest of the press have morphed into rather heavy-handed advocacy outfits instead of information-gatherers, delivering a fairly dumb take on world events - it's their nearly uniform sympathy for violent psychotics, fascists, racists, and authoritarians that amazes.

Posted by: IceCold at November 27, 2007 03:24 AM
It's not just that the AP and much of the rest of the press have morphed into rather heavy-handed advocacy outfits instead of information-gatherers, delivering a fairly dumb take on world events - it's their nearly uniform sympathy for violent psychotics, fascists, racists, and authoritarians that amazes.

Doesn't amaze me... for decades now the media has looked at the world through lefty rose-tinted glasses, and that means that they support anyone and anything anti-American.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 27, 2007 09:47 AM