Sunday, January 15, 2006

Breaking news. Breaking silence.

I'm forced out of a bad spell of writer's block by a promise I made back in August.

I commented then on the arrest of Reuters cameraman Ali Omar Abrahem al-Mashhadani by the U.S. military in Iraq. Al-Mashhadani's family said at the time that soldiers searching their home found video on his computer that they apparently considered suspicious. Well, I said that if he was exonerated I would report it immediately. Mashhadani has been freed after five months in detention without charge, and I suppose that's as good as exoneration.

I'm baffled at the silence of the U.S. military. If reason existed to detain him for so long, why can't that reason be revealed? I understand that due process is impractical in certain circumstances, like in the midst of an invasion-versus-insurgency bloodbath. Still, how could there be reason to hold him for five months but no reason to hold him for six months? Or three years? Or just have the last U.S. soldier leaving Abu Ghraib toss him the keys on the way out? The only rational explanation I can imagine is that al-Mashhadani's interrogators determined that he might be an intelligence asset if set free and kept under surveillance. Nevertheless, some sort of statement seems in order. Silence is damning.


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12:47 PM  

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