Saturday, September 15, 2007

Free Sami Al-Haj

Free Sami Al-Haj. The link goes to an online petition by the American Committe to Free Sami Al-Haj. Elaine was going through her e-mails this morning and the petition was mentioned in one. She asked that it be noted and we'll put it at the top.

"Calls Grow for Release of Imprisoned Journalist" (Democracy Now!):
A leading media protection group is renewing calls for the U.S. to release an al-Jazeera cameraman from Guantanamo Bay. Sami Al-Haj is now more than eight months into a hunger strike protesting his imprisonment without charge or trial. Doctors who’ve examined him say it appears he's given up his fight to live. Yesterday Democracy Now spoke to Joel Campagna, Middle East program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, about al-Haj's case.
Joel Campagna: "He is a journalist who worked for al Jazeera who was detained in the line of work for over five years now. He has yet to be charged with a crime. The implication of his arrest is that the U.S. military can effectively remove a journalist from the battlefield, hold them for years without end, without charge and not be compelled to charge them with a crime. And we've been calling on the U.S. military to either charge Sami Al-Haj with a crime and give him a fair trial or release him."

Democracy Now! has explored the case of Sami Al-Haj many times and most recently (I think it was the most recent) in a segment broadcast in July.

Elaine asked for this to be noted and it was but for any wondering about how it's Iraq related, it's very much related. Bully Boy has had a war against Al Jazeera that has included bombing intimidation and discussions with Tony Blair about taking the network 'out.' It goes to the pattern of intimidating journalists and the historical use of imprisonment and torture (and Sami Al-Haj has been imprisoned and tortured) to both silence critics and to send a message. As with many imprisoned for something other than what they are accused of, the US offered to free Sami Al-Haj if he would be there spy at and on Al Jazeera.

The illegal war continues due to fear. The White House worked very hard on instilling fear early on and made sure target a number of people in order to 'send a message'. Messages can be sent back and the message needs to be: Free Sami Al-Haj immediately.

The man is a reporter. He is not a threat to anyone (other than those who fear the truth). It's been five years. If the administration had any proof, the show trial would have already taken place and been used not only to demonstrate the 'goodness' and 'rightness' of the illegal imprisonments but also to target journalists publicly. The adminstration's public war on the press and their love of false linkage would have led to the biggest show trial of the century. It didn't because Sami Al-Haj is not guilty.

He is, however, a prisoner. He's been denied basic rights since day one and a victim of the torture lab going on at the prison in Guantanamo.

During the Cold War a lot of awful things happened outside the eyes of the American people. Today, this happens in full sight and, as bad as things were then, it couldn't have happened then. Back then the USSR existed and one of the lines of divisions the Cold Warriors always pointed to was that the US doesn't have secret prisons and doesn't torture prisoners.

Not entirely true (to put it mildly) but the fact remains what's being done to the prisoners at Guantanamo couldn't have been done publicly then because you can't paint another government as all that is evil without *pointing to* yourself. That 'hindrance' may very well explain the move away, by the White House, from 'war' between governments and a war on the world. When your tossing all the cited values into a garbage dump, you really can't talk to much about the differences between governments, can you?

While it is very much true that our government has frequently forgot or ignored what this country is supposed to stand for, we are still taught the ideal and it's past time to start demanding that the government live up to the expectations of the people.

Again, the petition can be found here.

The e-mail address for this site is

[C.I. note: "Applauding"? I have no idea. Corrected to "pointing to".