An American filmmaker was detained in Iraq back in May after potential bomb-making materials were discovered in the taxi he was riding in. He was eventually released without charge after seven weeks.
"This case highlights the effectiveness of our detainee-review process," the spokesman, Brig. Gen. Don Alston of the Air Force, said in the statement. "We followed well-established procedures, and Mr. Kar has now been properly released."
However, Mr. Kar’s lawyer thinks that seven weeks was a long time for a U.S. citizen to wait in jail for the government to realize that he had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"He was never told what if any charges were being made against him," said one of the lawyers, Mark D. Rosenbaum. "He never had access to a lawyer. He was never told that he passed a lie-detector test. He was virtually incommunicado. That's not a model detention policy. And that was for 50 days - for a guy who got into the wrong cab."
We can probably assume that the military put Mr. Kar's case on the fast track, given the likelihood of press scrutiny of the detention of a U.S. citizen, and that the U.S. is trying harder not to let detainees languish too long without a determination, after such cases were repeatedly splashed around the news. So this is pretty much top speed for processing detainees in Iraq.
Our justice system, with its transparency and uncompromising protection of civil liberties, truly is a shining example to the aspiring democracies of the middle east.
Might I suggest that Mr. Kar, when he finishes with the project he was working on when interrupted, make a film about his experience in detention. We can only speculate what we might learn if all the people wrongly detained in Iraq and elsewhere had the education, connections, and resources to show us their version of what happened to them in U.S. custody. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be pretty, although it might be illuminating.