A Dangerous Job

A DANGEROUS JOB….Over at the CBS News blog, Brian Montopoli writes about the case of Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, a CBS cameraman who was shot by a sniper while covering a car bombing in Baghdad:

Hussein was taken to a military hospital, where he was treated ? and arrested. The film in his camera, the military later said, suggested he might be involved with insurgents….The fact that Hussein was taping the event, it was alleged, suggested he had previous knowledge of the attack. And the tape in the camera was said to be damning; there were suggestions it showed four incidents that proved he was involved in insurgent activity.

[Time passes. After a year in Abu Ghraib, Hussein finally gets a trial.]

Normally Iraqi trials take ten or fifteen minutes, but the presiding three-judge panel knew this one was under intense scrutiny, and it lasted over an hour. The news was good for Hussein: The Iraqi attorney general, whose job it was to prosecute Hussein, said there was no evidence to support the prosecution. He was cleared.

….The tape that was in Hussein’s camera, which was supposed to have been so damning, turned out to be less than 20 seconds long. The multiple pieces of evidence against Hussein on it did not exist. The tape shows debris in a road, according to Linda Mason, CBS News Senior Vice President, Standards and Special Projects, and a faint voice can be heard shouting “Allahu akbar” ? God is good. “Ameer had been accused of chanting this, but he was holding the camera and the microphone was right near the camera, so if he were the one chanting this, you would have heard it,” Mason told TV Week.

Hussein’s lawyer thinks this is an example of the U.S. military sending a message to the press corps: there are certain things we don’t want you to tape. Hussein himself, unsurprisingly, has decided he no longer wants to be a journalist.