Shoe-Throwing, Torture, and Freedom

The reports about Muntadar al-Zaidi being brutalized in custody have reached Memeorandum.

Via Siun at Firedoglake, Iraq blogger Raed Jarrar says that an Iraqi MP told Al-Baghdadia (al-Zaidi’s employer) that Al-Zaidi’s “hand was broken in jail.” Also via FDL, Roads to Iraq passes on the news that another Iraqi television station is saying that al-Zaidi was transferred to Camp Cropper — the U.S.-run military prison near Baghdad. And of course, that raises fears among Iraqis that al-Zaidi is being tortured or beaten. As Andrew Sulllivan notes, “after Bush and Cheney, America is now instantly associated with the abuse of prisoners in the Middle East.”

None of these reports have been independently confirmed, since al-Zaidi is being denied access to legal counsel.

Camp Cropper, Spencer Ackerman reminds us, is where Saddam Hussein was imprisoned. So “if it’s true [that al-Zaidi was taken there,] why is a guy who threw a shoe at President Bush going to such a high-security facility?”

Juan Cole links to coverage of the huge street rallies in Iraq in support of al-Zaidi — including U.S. military patrols being pelted with shoes by crowds of demonstrators in Najaf.

The protests continued today, with participants holding up shoes, and signs in Arabic and English saying “Go Out, U.S.A.

TigerHawk has my qualified respect (not that he needs it) for this post:

Lefty blogs are in a froth over rumors that Iraqis, or even Americans, are torturing Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush the other day. That would be bad. I, for one, hope that nobody did anything worse than, say, the Chicago cops would have done circa 1968. That might sound shocking, but you have to be realistic about these things. Treatment even that humane represents a quantum leap for Iraq and most of the Arab world. Put differently, while it is a bit of a stretch even for George Bush to say that this was a victory for “democracy” as such, it is certainly a sign that Iraqis have greatly expanded their sense of personal freedom. If al Zaidi gets away with a couple of broken ribs and only a few months in the hoosegow, he will be far better off than if he had done the same thing in all but perhaps three or four of the roughly 40 other Arab countries.

Anyway, I agree with digby who writes that Bush should ask that the Iraqis pardon Mr. Shoes “as a Christian gesture of forgiveness.” Yes, that’s exactly what he should do.

Needless to say, I don’t share all of TigerHawk’s underlying political assumptions, but that’s okay — he stands quite alone among conservative bloggers (at least, that I have seen) in expressing some common humanity. Just that simple statement, “That would be bad,” is more than anyone else on the right has been willing to say.

And I also agree that, in digby’s words, Bush should “make a Christian gesture of forgiveness at Christmastime and ask them to release this man.”

Let’s hope that this one time Bush does the right thing.

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