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January 16, 2008

Photojournalist at Gitmo because of US war on Al Jazeera

Amy Goodman interviews Asim Al-Haj, the brother of imprisoned photojournalist Sami Al-Haj. Sami has been held without charge at Guantanamo for over 5 years.

Asim says that Sami's captivity is part of a larger campaign by United States to intimidate Al Jazeera, his brother's employer. The independent network Al Jazeera has long been a thorn in the side of the US military. President Bush allegedly floated the idea of bombing Al Jazeera, according to a leaked memo from 2004.

The US military is waging the battle for information supremacy in a very literal way. Journalists in Iraq are getting locked up left and right.

Just before Christmas, Scott Horton provided an update on the woefully unfair trial of Pulitzer-prizewinning photojournalist Bilal Hussein. Hussein is not allowed to cross-examine prosecution witnesses or meet with his lawyer in private. The US has assigned its own military lawyers to prosecute the case, even though the case is supposedly being tried in the wonderful new Iraqi court system.

Horton, who is both a lawyer and a journalist, participated in the defense of Bilal Hussein in 2007:

I was involved with Bilal Hussein's case through the end of last year and I personally conducted investigations that disproved many of the contentions advanced – and then quickly withdrawn – by U.S. Forces in Iraq. From my own examination of the case and discussions with U.S. representatives, I was convinced that Bilal Hussein was seized and has been held in captivity for the last year for one reason: the Pentagon was embarrassed by the photographs he took of the fighting in Al-Anbar province. They contradicted the message the Pentagon was putting out about the nature and scope of fighting in Al-Anbar and senior figures in the Bush Administration were particularly galled that the AP won the Pulitzer Prize for its photographic coverage of the war. The Pentagon wanted to send a message to the entire press community in Iraq: Cross us, and we can just lock you up. And we don't need reasons. This is justice in the style of the Bush administration.

The judge imposed a gag order, so the public only hears what the US military chooses to leak to right wing blogs and other friendly outlets.


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But aren't Gitmo inmates no-persons under the law anyway?

This information is nothing short of chilling.

Who said the authoritarian right had learned no lessons in Vietnam? No Five O'clock Follies this time around!

We're all on the same page now: The surge is working. The surge is working. The surge is working. The surge is working. The surge is working. The surge is working. The surge. . . Zzzzzzzz. . . .

They've already bombed al jazeera, more than once. The leaders of my country are war criminals. Not just for Al Jazeera bombings but from a long string of crimes against humanity. I sometimes suspect "The Dick" Cheney has a basement full of demons working 24/7 to think up new crimes to throw blood on the once decent reputation of America. I assume it's just rooms full of neo-cons though. War criminals.
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Man, a Pulitzer Prize. That must rankle them even worse than Gore's Nobel.

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