The case of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein was a cause celebre among right-wingers a couple years ago. Some of them still haven't gotten over it.
One of them is David Paulin, who uses a Dec. 12 FrontPageMag article (which also appears at American Thinker and his own blog) to express dismay that Hussein was given an International Press Freedom Award after spending two years detained by the U.S. military in Iraq without ever being charged.In the process, Paulin repeats unsubstantiated claims about Hussein.
Paulin asserted that Hussein "hobnobbed easily with pro-Saddam loyalists and al-Qaida terrorists," which purportedly gave him "the uncanny ability to show up just as an attack occurred." No evidence is offered to support the claim. Paulin added that "To some, Hussein's photos raised troubling questions about the AP's hiring practices and objectivity." Paulin does not say who "some" are.
But anti-war liberals and media elites saw things differently. Hussein was a dedicated photojournalist doing his job – getting all sides of a story – only to be unjustly imprisoned without formal charges. One AP lawyer, apparently unaware Iraq was not a peaceful democracy but at war, even complained that Hussein was being denied “due process.”
It was a common complaint among liberals: Hussein had been denied “due process.”
Paulin does not mention why "due process" was a "common complaint": Hussein was never charged with a crime during his time in custody. Nor does Paulin explain why he apparently believes Hussein should have been denied "due process" and why he thinks it's acceptable to imprison a journalist without charges for two years.
Paulin also writes: "After two years in prison, he escaped the possibility of a criminal trial when he was freed under a general amnesty that took effect seven months ago." That's misleading; according to Hussein's attorney, Scott Horton: "When we say 'amnesty,' it’s usually an executive act. This was a judicial amnesty based on a review of the complete court record."
Horton also stated:
An Iraqi Judicial Commission reviewing his case took ten days to reach a conclusion: No basis existed for the terrorism-related charges which had been brought against him. The conclusion was a sweeping repudiation of accusations U.S. military figures have brought against him, backed by no evidence, but by a handful of strangely motivated American wingnut bloggers.
Paulin then snarked:
Hussein, during his live comments, also noted that Iraq was one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists. He was certainly right about that. More than 180 Iraqi journalists and media workers have died during the war – many targeted for asking too many questions or simply because they worked for Western news organizations. Obviously, none worked in the risk-free environment that Hussein did.
Again, Paulin offers no evidence that Hussein faced no risks in his photography, or that his relationship to terrorists is any more chummy that that of, say, Aaron Klein (whom we don't see Paulin ranting about).
Oddly enough, Paulin claims to be a journalist. You wouldn't know it from this little factually deficient attack.