Clowns & Jokers

Stuck in the middle.... Left, right, centre. It's a mess out there.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Free Jack Idema Blogburst

One of the problems faced by those of us who campaign for the release of illegally-imprisoned American Special Forces soldier Jack Idema and his men (Brent Bennett and journalist Ed Caraballo) is the general belief that Afghanistan is now a functioning, modern democracy. Indeed, most casual observers could be forgiven for believing that the war against the Taliban in 2001 swept clerical fascists from power completely, and that anyone falling foul of the law in Afghanistan today would be treated fairly.

This week, however, the mask of moderation finally slipped, and the world got to hear about the case of Abdul Rahman, the man sentenced to death in Afghanistan for the 'crime' of converting to Christianity.

Although it now seems as though Mr. Rahman has been spared, the fact that this only came about because of huge international pressure, and that, further, the judge who sentenced him immediately went on record as urging ordinary Afghans to 'tear Rahman to pieces' upon his release, acted as a wake up call for many of the people who'd believed the days of the Taliban were over.

Of course, for those of us who've followed the Jack Idema story for a while, Mr. Rahman's brush with death came as less of a surprise -- It was a similar, 'ex'-Taliban judge who presided over the travesty of a trial that saw Jack and his team convicted of kidnap and torture in September 2004. Back then, the lunatic presiding over Jack's case, Judge Abdul Baset Bakhtyari, behaved in the following, bizarre fashion:

Announcing to the press his intention to find Idema guilty before the trial had taken place

Refusing to allow Jack and his team to present any evidence in their defence
Allowing prosecution witnesses to give evidence without being sworn-in
Failing to take note of the fact that the prosecution failed to provide any physical evidence that Jack or his team had kidnapped or tortured anyone
Refusing to allow Jack and his team to cross-examine prosecution witnesses
Refusing to allow Brent's court-appointed, female, lawyer into the courtroom (she informed Brent she had been threatened with death if she dared show up)
Engaging in whispered conversations and note-passing with the prosecution team to which the defence were not a party
Refusing to allow interpreters to translate statements made by the defence
Back in 2004, it was near-impossible for Idema to get anyone to listen to his complaints -- It's to be hoped that the Rahman case will illustrate to everyone that they were entirely justified.

So what can we do? Well, anyone reading this with their own blog can sign up for the weekly Free Jack Idema Blogburst by emailing Cao or Rottweiler Puppy for details


At Thursday, 30 March, 2006, Blogger Rastaman said...

I've been digging into Mr. Idemas history as much as possible considering the dubious sources available on Google, and some things are repeated enough to be believable. Idema was a soldier of fortune going after the $25 million reward for Bin Laden, as were others. He had gotten himself pretty well in with the Northern Alliance, which was, or is, a group of private warlord militias.
At some point in the game he obviously became considered a threat to one of the very many different power groups in Afghanistan and they got a judge to put him away. Very possibly the judge was on the side of Bin Laden or the Taliban. Who knows? The whole thing is pretty murky anyway. Idema was known to the US military there and apparently maintained a liason with them. After all, he was a former Green Beret and the bounty on Osama's head was open to all comers, of which there were many. There's a lot of soldiers of fortune running around Afghanistan right now, apparently.
It does seem to me that Jack Idema must have done something embarrassing to the military there or he would have gotten help. Especially being a Green Beret. He had close military ties yet when it hit the fan they backed away. There has to be a reason that the world is not being made privy to.
In a lawless society, those who try to make their own law fail more often than succeed, as there can only be one final winner. Afghanistan is a long, long way from becoming a stable society with one centrally recognised governing body. I thing Jack Idema fell into a crack of his own making.

At Thursday, 30 March, 2006, Anonymous alison said...

Surely any opportunity to rock up with evidence to properly convinct him would be out there by now. Im of the opinion we need more Jack Idemas.

At Friday, 31 March, 2006, Blogger Jo said...

While I can understand your concern for this individual, I think its also worth pointing out that:

Refusing to allow the prisoner to present any evidence in their defence

Allowing prosecution witnesses to give evidence without being sworn-in

Failing to take note of the fact that the prosecution failed to provide any physical evidence that the prisoner had kidnapped or tortured anyone

Refusing to allow the prisoner and his team to cross-examine prosecution witnesses

Refusing any date for trial

..all apply to the hundreds held in Guantanamo. Wrongdoing multiplied several hundred fold is still wrongdoing, even if the skin colours and nationalities differ.

At Saturday, 01 April, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

Ive argued so often about Guantanamo which i fully support for a nos of reasons but prinicpally for the same reason i support Jack Idema, namely i want suspected terrorists rounded up. I will add this though as it is the point of the blogburst: G gets far too much coverage in the press to weirdo obsessive levels frankly. Amnesty have it has their reason d'etre at the moment. Amnesty dont have Jack on their radar they couldnt give a flying one. They do have Nazanin though. So wheres the outrage and huge volumes of press coverage for the girl?? I mean its hardly like shes getting a fair trial. She is far more likely to end up on the end of a rope for defending herself against rapists. Those held in G arent in such a hideous fix. Its easy to go on about Guantanamo but the obsession to the detriment of needier cases is appauling. What were doing here is giving Jack some coverage.

At Saturday, 01 April, 2006, Blogger Jo said...

So its not what is being done, which I would object to wherever and whoever was involved, its the fact that its being done to someone you happen to support...see my point on Joblog?

At Saturday, 01 April, 2006, Blogger ed thomas said...

I think the point Alison is making is that the circumstances surrounding anyone's incarceration can be questioned- and that Amnesty are doing plenty of that.

However, there are big differences between Idema and the Guantanmo crowd.

For one thing Idema's no terrorist, and has no history of terrorism. He's a plain criminal at worst, and a hero at best. Therefore he should be given a proper chance to defend himself.

The context of the Guantanamo detainees is one where they've been found in, shall we say, a compromising, terrorist environment, and haven't, unlike many, under questioning given real reason to feel that they are not committed to terrorist activities against the US and others.

You have to bear in mind that the Guantanamo detainees that remain are among a small minority that haven't been released up to now: the vast majority of people were held for only a short time for questioning before release. What we're talking about is a situation far removed from a conventional crime trial, yet not close enough to a war scenario to be governed by typical POW protocol. An unofficial war requires and unofficial POW response- which is Guantanamo.

Anyway, the situation with Idema is far different.

At Saturday, 01 April, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

Ed - thanks for summising on Guantanamo.

The point i was badly making in response to your reference to Guantanamo HERE is that i find it baffling the left will refer to Guantanamo at every opportunity as a reflex on discussing human rights yet ignore more pressing cases like Nazanins et al. It appears to me therefore that the left use Guantanamo as a stick to beat the US with over Iraq in general. In other words less to do with perceived human rights outrages (which G isnt) or theyd be all over Nazanin and countless others.

Wheres the outrage??

In Jacks case his trial was a farce.

At Saturday, 01 April, 2006, Blogger Jo said...

Well, I take your points on the distinction between the cases, but I personally dont go on about Guantanamo that much :)

However...a general point is that as we in the west are supposed to be so in so many ways superior to other states, our situation and how we act has correspondingly to be squeaki clean to and past the point of perfepction.

Its a bit like being a civil servant- the expectatation is for you to be utterly beyond reproach, because of your position, not because youre intrinsically better than anyone else :)


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