AP Pulitzer-Winning Photographer Bilal Hussein to be Charged
The AP reports that one of it's photographers may be formally accused, possibly of cooperating with insurgents.
The U.S. military plans to seek a criminal case in an Iraqi court against an award-winning Associated Press photographer but is refusing to disclose what evidence or accusations would be presented.
An AP attorney on Monday strongly protested the decision, calling the U.S. military plans a "sham of due process." The journalist, Bilal Hussein, has already been imprisoned without charges for more than 19 months.
A public affairs officer notified the AP on Sunday that the military intends to submit a written complaint against Hussein that would bring the case into the Iraqi justice system as early as Nov. 29. Under Iraqi codes, an investigative magistrate will decide whether there are grounds to try Hussein, 36, who was seized in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on April 12, 2006.
Dave Tomlin, associate general counsel for the AP, said the defense for Hussein is being forced to work "totally in the dark."
The military has not yet defined the specific charges against Hussein. Previously, the military has pointed to a range of suspicions that attempt to link him to insurgent activity.
This trial is likely to be about more than Bilal Hussein. The two un-indicted defendants in this case are the Associated Press and the US Armed Forces. The AP has no choice but to turn the Hussein trial into the story of a witch-hunt. If it does not succeed in convicting the US Armed Forces by publicity and Hussein is found guilty according to proceedings perceived to be fair, then the news service will essentially stand condemned of fronting for the insurgents, and perhaps, for al-Qaeda.
The poor performance of government lawyers so far probably means that Bilal Hussein will have better defense lawyers than the prosecution. On the other hand, the plethora of captured insurgent documents and the number of former insurgents who have switched to the coalition side may mean that the government case, if Hussein is guilty, may be unstoppable.
The expression "to the victors go the spoils" is true in more than the military sense. The winners get to write history because theirs is by definition the winning narrative. Bilal Hussein will get his day in court, but the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq -- which the press is only now and very reluctantly beginning to admit -- has probably changed the atmosphere. Seeing the way things are tending it's natural that some are, consciously or unconsciously, finding ways to "nuance" their legacy. It's not inconceivable that some may even be looking for ways to claim credit for the defeating the "freedom fighters" and "Minutemen" they once so admired. How far will they stick up for Hussein now? This should be interesting to watch.