Wednesday, November 02, 2005

US Frees Abu Ghraib Prisoners

It is a common complaint in the Blogosphere, that this or that news item did not get picked up in the mainstream press.  This item, though, caught my attention as being particularly newsworthy, despite not being in the news:
US frees Abu Ghraib prisoners

Tuesday 01 November 2005, 21:02 Makka Time, 18:02 GMT

Iraqi and US authorities have announced the release of about 500 inmates from the notorious US-run Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad to mark the end of Ramadan.

"In the spirit of Eid al-Fitr, a day that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the Iraqi government requested a special release board and worked with Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) to expedite the release of approximately 500 security detainees from Abu Ghraib," a military statement said.

Iraqi human rights ministry spokesman Hisham al-Suhaili said: "Five hundred and sixty-five detainees will be freed from Abu Ghraib on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr."

"These detainees were selected for release following a careful and thorough review of their files by a special Iraqi-led review board which determined they had not committed serious crimes against Iraqi Forces, the citizens of Iraq or coalition forces," the US statement said.

Excluded were those convicted of violent crimes such as bombing, torture, kidnap or murder.

"This release is an acknowledgment by the Iraqi government and MNF-I of the importance of the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, the day of joy and thanksgiving," the statement added.
Maybe it is true that the media are underreporting good news that comes out of Iraq.  On the other hand, this item does raise these questions: Given that these five hundred people had not committed serious crimes, why were they being held at in the first place?  Is the US military arresting and jailing people for having stolen a loaf of bread?  Why is it that their government has to petition for their release?  Aren't we doing our best to review these cases, and release the people promptly in the event that there is no compelling reason for us to detain them?