Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Free Jack Idema Blogburst 12/27/2006

One of the things that needs stressing about the case of illegally-imprisoned U.S. Special Forces soldier Jack Idema is his complete innocence. When this is pointed out, week after week, it's important that readers don't conclude this is simply a matter of those campaigning for Jack's release claiming he's an innocent man. No, Jack's innocence is a matter of fact, and has been for the past two years:
All members of TASK FORCE SABER 7 were declared innocent of all charges by the Afghan Second Court, which granted a trial de novo (a new trial) in November 2004. In closed hearings, which took place between December 2004 and March 2005, Idema and his men were ordered released by the Appeals Court based on new evidence. The decision was consequently endorsed by the Supreme Court of Afghanistan.

Idema, Bennett, and Caraballo were found innocent of all charges and Appeals Court Acting Chief Judge Saheb Noor along with Appeals Court Judges Abdul Latif (011-93-70287222 [speaks English]) and Chief Religious Judge Mawlawi Azizullah stated on the record during the closed hearing that there had been absolutely no evidence of torture and that the original two bomb suspects that gave statements against the team were in fact terrorists and had committed perjury in the first court hearing in July 2004.
So the highest court in Afghanistan found Idema and Brent NOT GUILTY. Then...question: Why is Jack Idema languishing in prison almost two full years later?

The answer to this one came last October in the form of a sworn witness-statement by one, Tawous Noorzai, who was the Deputy Block Commander of Jack's wing at Pulacharke Prison:
I have known the three men mentioned above for 26 months. I have escorted them to court on many occasions, and I have attended their court hearings and the secret trial that was conducted in the Second Court [Court of Appeals]. I was present during the decision of the Court of Appeals (February 2005 Christian calendar), where all three men were declared innocent by a panel of three Chief Judges and three visiting judges, including the two Religious Judges who called their arrest a terrible crime against justice in Afghanistan.

I personally was present in February or March 2005 (Christian calendar), when the Chief Judge, who had just returned from a vacation in America paid for by the American Embassy, said that although they were innocent, he needed to get permission from the US Consul before signing their release order.

It was supposed to be done the next day and the judges were to call a press conference and announce their verdict and issue an apology from the Supreme Court. Several days later, I heard the Chief Judge, Ismail Abed, tell Mr. Jack that he could not release them because the American Embassy had "worked behind the curtain" and ordered the Court to stop their release.
Since it's a stone cold fact that Jack was found not-guilty on appeal and further that he remains stuck in prison to this day, we have little reason to doubt Tawous Noorzai's account here -- If the intervention didn't come from the U.S. Embassy, then who? Few (if any) others have enough political muscle to effectively overrule a decision by Afghanistan's Supreme Court.

If that's the 'who' behind Idema's illegal detention, the next question is 'why'? What does the U.S. State Department possibly have to gain from keeping Idema behind bars?

One answer might be that, when the (false) accusations against Idema first surfaced only months after events at Abu Ghraib made headline news, it struck the State Department as politically expedient to deny all knowledge of Idema and allow the Afghans to do as they pleased with him. Certainly, this cold-blooded approach helped them avert another damaging scandal, but only if Jack either died in a Taliban 'riot' at Pulacharke or served his sentence as a 'guilty' man. As things turned out, Jack did neither

... Which created a problem for the State Department -- What might Idema have to say about their behaviour as a proven-innocent, freed man? Is this why the State Department continues to imprison Idema? Because, having dug themselves into a hole, they cannot extricate themselves from it without suffering political embarrassment?

Certainly, this is speculation on our part. But. Consider the following, from Tawous Noorzai, writing about events leading up to Captain Brent Bennett's removal from Afghanistan earlier this year:
Cmdr Jack was offered amnesty if he confessed and also signed papers against United Front officials. He refused. I was present during these meetings and when these things occurred. I thought he should sign and go home, but he always said that it was his honor that he would trade for freedom if he signed.
Leaving aside the jaw-dropping chutzpah of asking a man to admit to a crime he's already been found not-guilty of committing, this type of maneuvring adds weight to the supposition that the State Department keeps Idema imprisoned in order to avoid having to answer questions about their conduct. After all, what better way to wipe away that inconvenient not-guilty verdict than a signed admission of guilt from Idema himself?

That Jack refuses to sign the papers is certainly a testament to his honour. That such principles are lost on the State Department is hardly surprising -- As the Idema case proves, they have none.

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. I'd urge everyone to do this, as we're still terribly short on takers. If you want to know more about the story, Cao's Blog has a large section devoted to Jack Idema. There's also a timeline here, and, of course, a huge amount of information is available over at SuperPatriots, without whose work none of us would have learned about Jack's story.

Finally, PLEASE NOTE: The SuperPatriots and Jack images on this site are used with WRITTEN COPYRIGHT PERMISSION and any use by any third party is subject to legal action by SuperPatriots.US.

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The Free Jack Idema Blogroll:
The Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill, The Lone Voice, Kender's Musings, Irate Nate, The Devil's Kitchen, Cao's Blog, Big Dog's Weblog, Theodore's World, NIF, Rottweiler Puppy, Right For Scotland, Freedom Folks, The City Troll, Sacramento Boxing, Causes of Interest, Concatenation of Events, Hyscience, Stuck On Stupid, The Daily Blogster, You Don't Know Jack, Right Wing Nation and Ron's Musings.