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Railroading A Journalist In Iraq

Gardephe's efforts to find out more about his client and the upcoming hearing in Baghdad have been equally fruitless. The only military people talking to him are press officers.

The Iraqi legal system traces its roots to the dawn of human civilization, and we are confident that it will do its best with this troubled case. But it takes nothing away from the competence and impartiality of Iraq's judiciary to protest what is about to happen to Bilal Hussein.

After months of stony silence, except for leaks of unsupported and self-serving allegations to friendly media outlets, military authorities are railroading Bilal's case before a judge in circumstances designed to put Bilal and his lawyers at an extreme disadvantage.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the operators of the world's largest prison-camp network have found a way to provide access to due process in a form that actually looks more unjust than indefinite imprisonment without charges.

But this is a poor example -- and not the first of its kind -- of the way our government honors the democratic principles and values it says it wants to share with the Iraqi people.

The writer is president and chief executive of the Associated Press.

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