By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Startling and disturbing

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that the United States is ranked sixth — tied with the military dictatorship of Burma — in the number of journalists it has imprisoned. Coming in ahead of them are China, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan.

According to the CPJ, the U.S. is holding a total of five journalists — four in Iraq and one at Guantánamo Bay.

Is it possible that these five are terrorists who were posing as journalists? Of course. But in reading the CPJ’s descriptions of their cases, it becomes immediately clear that American officials have made no good-faith effort to explain themselves or to allow international scrutiny.

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  1. Bill Baar

    Lebanonese journalist Jubran TwJubran Tweini blown up by terrorists. Not jail, blown up…David Ignatius writes today…This is the time of the assassins in the Arab world. On Monday they killed a brave Lebanese journalist who dared to tell the truth about Syria. This week in Iraq they will try to kill people who want to vote. They kill wives to intimidate their husbands. They kill children to frighten their parents into silence. Their power is the ability to create raw fear.The shame for America isn’t that we have tried to topple the rule of the assassins but that we have so far been unsuccessful. We thought we were cracking the old web of terror when America invaded Iraq in 2003, but it’s still there, in the shadows of the shadows. George W. Bush gets a lot of things wrong, but he knows that he’s fighting the assassins. On days like these, I’m glad that he is such a stubborn man.I’m proud of Bush and what America’s done too.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    So it’s all right that we imprison journalists because at least we don’t blow them up? Yes, this does explain why Syria didn’t make the CPJ’s top five, but I would hope that “we’re better than Syria” doesn’t become a rallying cry for the president’s defenders.

  3. Bill Baar

    It’s ok to imprison jounralists if they commit crimes or found in contempt like Miller.It’s ok to detain journalists if they’re enemy combatants; not for crimes but for the duration of the war on terror. (All it takes is a Fatwa of surrender from Bin Laden to release them; no crime here but instead war declared on the United States.)In neither case is it right to assasinate a journalist as Syria just did.Bolton is doing a good job in the UN with the Mehlis report. The appropriate rallying cry is it’s time for Regime Change in Syria; although you can check the Lebanonese Democratic, pro-liberation websites for more passionate rhetoric. But time for Regime Change works for me.

  4. Neil

    Is anyone claiming that these five “journalists” (most are cameramen–do they actually count? I kid! sort of…) were arrested for practicing journalism? It looks instead like they were caught in the broad net cast over suspected enemy sympathizers, and they happened to be “journalists”.Certainly, people of many occupations have been detained unjustly in Iraq, Guantanamo and god knows where else, and the US can be criticized for its unwillingness to allow international scrutiny, but that issue is not specific to these five. Do we have numbers on how many carpenters are imprisoned, or schoolteachers, or store clerks? Perhaps a similar injustice is occurring among those occupations as well.Unless there is some evidence that these five were targetted due to their journalistic efforts, it’s a non-issue, or rather the same issue as the greater one of unjust detention in general.Re bill, oh more regime change yeah that’s what we need–we’ve done such a bangup job of it in Iraq. While we’re at it let’s go after Iran and North Korea too.

  5. Anonymous

    Good point, Neil. Reading any of the journo websites would lead one to believe that many more Pulitzers should be given. All due respect, these are among the more self-absorbed folks on the planet…

  6. Bill Baar

    Neil: Note Bush said today a democratic Iraq would be a symbol for the middle east from Damascus to Teheran.I think he’s looking at North Korea and a few other spots too.

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