Jill Carroll was released today at approximately 11 am in Baghdad into the custody of the Iraqi Islamic Party. Despite the apparent efforts of the United States and the Interior Ministry to arrange Jill Carroll’s release it was a small Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, which was able to win her release.
According to SITE Institute, who presents information on the video interview released by the Revenge Brigades:
Near the close of the interview, a statement is read in Arabic announcing Jill Carroll’s release, and noting that the Americans forces and CIA did not assist in her freedom. It was the American government agreeing to some of their conditions that brokered her release. The mujahid states: “Jill Carol, go back in peace to your family and to your country, to tell them and to the American people what you saw and heard during these three months. You are a witness of the events here and we have full confidence in you that you will tell the truth without any falsification.”
I was speaking with a friend of hers yesterday who told me he felt the Interior Ministry was just putting up an illusion, that they have control of the situation in Iraq. Keep in mind there is very little control in Iraq right now, even in Baghdad, you can be killed or kidnapped at any time.
We saw this also with the near-simultaneous attacks on two Daewoo electronics stores in Baghdad, in broad daylight.
Iraqi journalists and media workers have been repeatedly detained without charge for much longer than Jill Carroll’s four months. As I have written before, the media and the international community have failed to make any solid demands of the United States to clarify the reasons for detaining these journalists.
Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, a CBS cameraman, is the only Iraqi journalist currently known to be held by the United States in Iraq. It was revealed last week that he will be facing a military trial starting April 5th.
No public charges have yet been made against Hussein, nor were any charges ever levelled at the other 6 journalists known to have been detained by the United States, some for at least 11 months. By the time Hussein reaches trial on the current schedule, he will have been held, apparently without charge, for one year. The Iraqi constitution, mind you, says that Iraqis may not be detained without charge more than 48 hours, and appears to suggest American troops may not detain Iraqi citizens.
Although it is important to mark Jill Carroll’s release, which is something for which I and all journalists are grateful for, it must be set against the context of the war in Iraq. A war in which more than 70% of media workers killed are Iraqis.
As I write this, Jill Carroll’s story is being discussed on CNN, and they are interviewing a representative from the Christian Science Monitor, Jill Carroll’s most recent employer. While I’m writing this, at 2:05 PM CNN has chosen to cut away from the interview with the Christian Science Monitor to cover a “live press conference” with the Major League Baseball associaiton, regarding new investigations into steroid use.
This conference is also broadcasting live on every other news station I have access to currently, MSNBC, FoxNews, and CNBC.
Perhaps I shouldn’t expect we’ll ever have contextualized coverage of Iraq so long as tabloid investigations into “America’s past-time” are considered more important to cover than understanding more clearly the reasons for the deaths of more than 2500 soldiers in Iraq and tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths since 2003.