Freedom Folks

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Free Jack Idema Blogburst

One of the most galling aspects of the campaign to free U.S. Special Forces soldier Jack Idema and his compatriots, Brent Bennet and journalist Ed Caraballo, from their illegal detention in Afghanistan has been the attitude of big media toward the case. Over the past weeks, I've written a great deal about the failure of MSM and human rights groups to shine a spotlight on either the abuses Idema and his men have suffered, or the fact that he is being held illegally, following an appeal that overturned the original guilty verdict against him.

Certainly, the fact that the media have failed to report Jack's conviction was overturned, or that the ex-judge he detained was, in fact, linked to senior terrorists, or that the witnesses who accused him of torturing them were proved to have lied -- Certainly, these are the most serious failures in big media's reporting of the case. But they're not the only errors MSM have made.

See, if you do a search for 'Idema' over at the BBC, the $6b news organisation returns a total of 16 hits, all which are filled with references to 'bounty hunters', 'vigilantes' and 'secret prisons'. Over at the Guardian it's the same, with another 16 stories, all concerned with Idema's arrest and trial. This is a pattern that you'll find repeated time and again across almost the whole of MSM. It's as if, prior to his arrest in July 2004, Jack Idema simply didn't exist.

... But why should this be surprising? After all, didn't Jack Idema first come to the media's attention after his arrest? Wasn't the trial in September 2004 the first time anyone outside of the secretive world of Special Ops had heard of him? Well, in a word, no:
In the dusty courtyard outside, Jack, an American special adviser to the Afghan military, treated Afghan injuries, stitching a fresh bullet wound in one man's lower leg. Even without anaesthesia the soldier was thankful for the treatment. As the Green Beret wiped the blood splatters from his face a dozen Afghan fighters looked on, they have never had this kind of support in 23 years of war.
This passage, originally written for United Press International during Operation Anaconda, features an early sighting of Idema, hard at work with Northern Alliance troops as they fought the Taliban in 2001. Note that, at this time, the press weren't questioning Idema's credentials -- He's correctly identified as an 'American special adviser' and 'Green Beret'. Also bear in mind that most of the stories quoted from today have been quietly disappeared from their original locations -- Were it not for the fact that the SuperPatriots have maintained copies of the material, much of it wouldn't be easy to find on the internet today.

A year later, and another UPI report on the near-capture of none other than Osama bin-Laden again places Jack Idema in the thick of the action:
'I immediately suspected Bin Laden was one of them' says Jack, the American advisor to the Afghan Northern Alliance who was first informed about the location of the fugitives on December 18 while he was on a trip to Jalalabad. 'Only the top of Al Qaida would be protected and treated in that way.'
And, from the same piece, Idema's position in the Northern Alliance is detailed:
General Hazrat Ali and Commander Sami Ali worked with Jack for three years, calling him their greatest ally and friend against al-Qaida and the Taliban. It was those fiercely independent yet loyal troops that had followed Jack into the Kut Tangai mountains after approval from General Mohammed Fahim, Minister of Defense, in search of bin Laden. This was the last time Osama bin Laden was ever spotted.

And again. This time around, UPI are reporting on Idema's involvement in the rescue of high-ranking Afghan officials from a terrorist attack:
"Jack," as the special advisor to the Afghan military is known, managed to rescue the President of Afghanistan's Ariana Airlines, Robullah Amain, who had escaped from the mob and was surrounded in a terminal office. Along with seven Afghan commandos, Jack rescued Amain, Haji Timor the airport manager and five others and escorted them to safety.
An ISAF spokesmen claimed that a small team of British soldiers supposedly helped to save the national airline executive from certain death.
Ariana President Robullah Amain confirmed that in reality, it was an American Green Beret and his Afghan soldiers.
And, finally, a report on the assistance Idema brought to victims of the Nahrin earthquake in 2002:
Wearing a khaki-and-brown, U.S. flag patch on his shoulder, sporting a beard and carrying an assault rifle, Jack drove through Nahrin in a local van with a translator asking people if they needed help. He'd already bandaged more than 30 children by the afternoon and used up five boxes of field dressings - and quite a few happy-face bandages.
Jack, who began visiting the village late last week, stopped in one tent Saturday to see a baby who was born while her mother, Sharifa, was buried under the rubble.
Eight months pregnant when the Monday evening quake hit, Sharifa crouched for an hour on her hands and knees under the rubble to protect her newborn until they were rescued. Sharifa asked Jack, who also treated her back injury, to name the daughter: He chose "Suzzana," or "new beginning" in the Dari language [Suzzanaya Viktoria as her full name].
"I thought I was dead and I thought the child was dead for sure," the mother said as Jack tenderly examined the infant to check an eye infection he had treated the day before.
So let's put all this together. Far from being a 'mysterious figure' (as the BBC called him at the time of his trial), Jack Idema is a man who was:
  • Well known to the media during the course of his work in Afghanistan.
  • Was repeatedly referred to as an 'American special advisor' and an 'advisor to the Northern Alliance' by the media who later denied all knowledge of him.
  • Was known to Generals in the Northern Alliance who described Idema as their 'greatest ally and friend against al-Qaida and the Taliban'.
  • Led the hunt for bin-Laden.
  • Led Afghan commandos in a rescue of senior Afghan officials.
  • Is a hero to the ordinary Afghans he rescued from their earthquake-devastated villages
So why, when the BBC are called on to write up a profile of Jack Idema, do they introduce him in the following way:
Idema always claimed to be a defender of American values, a patriotic ex-special forces soldier working on the front-line of the US war on terror, with the full backing of the Pentagon.
There are plenty of people who never believed him. Others say they did - and now regret it.
And why do so many of the search results for 'Idema' only refer to material from the point of his 2004 arrest onwards?

Well, Idema's arrest and trail made for a good news item; exactly the kind of thing the post-Abu Gharib media were looking for. Here, they had the story of a 'rogue' U.S. soldier 'torturing innocent' Afghans in a 'private jail'. To many left-wing journalists, this must have seemed like a gift from heaven.

But here's the thing: if MSM had told the full story, the one detailing Jack's hunt bin-Laden, his service with the Northern Alliance during Operation Anaconda, his rescue of government officials, his bandaging injured Afghan children as they cheered his name -- If MSM had told that story, well, then, people mightn't have been so quick to swallow the line they were being fed about Idema hanging prisoners upside down in his (non-existent) basement.

More to the point, people might be more willing to listen to those of us who are pleading for Jack Idema and his men to get a fair hearing today.

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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