The Case Of Bilal Hussein

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Media, War

I had heard the name before on a few, right-wing blogs, and they all basically had an issue with photographers taking pictures of what the enemy was doing instead of stopping the acts they were perpetrating. One blogger even went so far as to call for Hussein’s death. …

A little more background…Hussein worked for the AP as a war photographer, and was subsequently accused by the military of helping some insurgents kidnap a couple journalists. The only problem is, once those journalists were rescued, they said Hussein was a hero.

Hussein has been detained since April without any charges. The AP wants to know why:

In interviews, the leaders of APME and the American Society of Newspaper Editors shared frustration with the case of Bilal Hussein and said they would urge the Pentagon to release the photographer, who has been held by the military since April, or to provide the AP with justification for his continued detention. The president of the Associated Press Photo Managers, Steve Gonzales, said in an e-mail that his group would sign onto that effort, saying it understands “the necessity of unbiased visual journalism in theaters of conflict.”

The AP similarly has called for the military to release the photographer or charge him with a crime.

And this has happened before. CBS cameraman Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein was detained…at Abu Ghraib no less…for over a year. He was released without charge.

Also, one other thing to note here…read that last sentence of the blockquote again. “The AP similarly has called for the military to release the photographer or charge him with a crime.” The AP is not looking for Hussein to walk if he’s been doing something illegal.

Six months is more than enough time to get some facts together and make a case against Hussein. The military hasn’t done that, and they should…or else they should release Hussein without charge.


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8 Responses to “The Case Of Bilal Hussein”

  1. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    The guy is a prisoner of war, Justin; He is not a U.S. citizen and he does not need to be charged with a criminal offense to be detained indefinitely (unless you want to rehash that whole debate).

    From the U.S. Army press:

    The military said Hussein was captured with two insurgents, including Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

    This guy is an insurgent as far as I’m concerned.

  2. Justin Gardner Says:

    Jimmy, if you’re talking about the same war I’m talking about, this it’s a war WITHOUT END. Therefore, detaining people indefinitely is crazy given we’re fighting a war on a tactic.

  3. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Its not a war on a tactic. Bush coined the term, “War on Terror” because it is too politically incorrect to call it the “War on Islamic Radicalism,” or the “War on Muslim Terrorists.”

    If releasing a prisoner means he will go back to the battlefield and fight, then he must be detained. The same goes for propaganda-artists like Hussein who advance the cause and also have advanced knowledge about terrorist acts.

    Consider it a life sentence for accomplice to murder. It doesn’t seem so harsh when you think of it that way.

  4. Justin Gardner Says:

    Hey listen…Bush’s word…not mine. If he wanted to clarify it and use less encompassing terms, that’s up to him to do. I’ve blogged about how some in the government want to change this nomenclature to something more appropriate like “global struggle against terrorist organizations”, but Bush has reasserted that he wants to call it the War on Terror. Again, his words…

    Also, let’s get something straight. There is no evidence to suggest that Hussein had any advance knowledge of terrorist acts. That’s the right-wing blogosphere’s accusation…it doesn’t make it fact. And honestly, do you think Hussein’s photos make it more or less likely that people will side with the terrorists? Seriously. The pictures I’ve seen have shown their brutality, not their courage.

    Again, this is a war on a tactic. Both you and I know that. That’s why, conveniently enough, Hussein isn’t called a POW. Because the administration knows that this is just a never ending battle, and they use that as justification to hold anybody indefinitely.

    By the way, did you read the case of the other photographer I linked to? You might want to before you comment again.

  5. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    If this is a debate about what is the proper vernacular to use, fine; I’m guilty of that too when I refered to Bilal as a prisoner of war; since that is a technical term defined by Geneva, and Bilal doesn’t fit into that category. But even if he, or any other insurgent were POWs, they still don’t have to be charged in order to be detained until the war is over.

    I don’t agree that this is a war on a tactic, and Bush has called out “Islamo-fascism” and “Islamic Jihadism” in the past, so the reference to “War on Terror” is rather a moot point in my eyes.

    do you think Hussein’s photos make it more or less likely that people will side with the terrorists?

    More. At least if you are some 20-year-old arab who has been taught America is the great Satan who’s goal it is to destroy the religion of Islam and steal oil for the Jews. Hussein’s photos are very flattering to the terrorists – they come out looking like ragtag revolutionaries fighting the evil leviathan U.S. military. Like David vs Goliath, except this time David is the philistine and Goliath is the jew.

    Why else would the Jihadists pose for these photos, or make those Jihad propaganda films that CNN likes to show on the air?

    There is no evidence to suggest that Hussein had any advance knowledge of terrorist acts.

    This guy is setting up secret meetings with wanted terrorist leaders who are responsible for killing hundreds of civilians and U.S. soldiers in order to organize more propaganda footage. If this doesn’t fall into the “Either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” category, I don’t know what does.

  6. Meredith Says:

    Jimmi,

    If he did something illegal, charges should be filed. Otherwise, he should be released. If there is proof of what you say, why couldn’t charges be filed? There is no excuse for locking people up for years when they have done nothing wrong. Don’t you understand that without these safeguards, you or me or anyone can be imprisoned indefinitely for no reason? You are naive if you think the government will not abuse this power.

  7. Justin Gardner Says:

    The government has ALREADY abused this power. See the other case I cited above. Detaining a cameraman for an entire year then just releasing him when they couldn’t gather any evidence. That’s crazy.

  8. TM Lutas Says:

    To insist that charges be filed on a wartime combatant is to insist on the legality of kangaroo courts. We have outlawed, as a tactic, the trial of ordinary combatants in wartime because too often you get a kangaroo court. Every nation insists that, of course *they* wouldn’t do it but it turns out false so often that wartime courts are only for extraordinary bad acts.

    Mr. Hussein apparently tested positive for explosives residue when he was captured and the US’ position is that handling explosives is inconsistent with the role of journalist. I’m inclined to agree with that.

    As for lifetime incarceration in a long war, I submit that exactly that treatment ended the threat of thuggee. I think that the british were justified in doing it.

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