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Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:36 AM

Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen? by Jeremy Scahill

http://www.thenation.com/article/166757/why-president-obama-keeping-journalist-prison-yemen

Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?
Jeremy Scahill

On February 2, 2011, President Obama called Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The two discussed counterterrorism cooperation and the battle against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. At the end of the call, according to a White House read-out, Obama “expressed concern” over the release of a man named Abdulelah Haider Shaye, whom Obama said “had been sentenced to five years in prison for his association with AQAP.” It turned out that Shaye had not yet been released at the time of the call, but Saleh did have a pardon for him prepared and was ready to sign it. It would not have been unusual for the White House to express concern about Yemen’s allowing AQAP suspects to go free. Suspicious prison breaks of Islamist militants in Yemen had been a regular occurrence over the past decade, and Saleh has been known to exploit the threat of terrorism to leverage counterterrorism dollars from the United States. But this case was different. Abdulelah Haider Shaye is not an Islamist militant or an Al Qaeda operative. He is a journalist.

Unlike most journalists covering Al Qaeda, Shaye risked his life to travel to areas controlled by Al Qaeda and to interview its leaders. He also conducted several interviews with the radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki. Shaye did the last known interview with Awlaki just before it was revealed that Awlaki, a US citizen, was on a CIA/JSOC hit list. “We were only exposed to Western media and Arab media funded by the West, which depicts only one image of Al Qaeda,” recalls his best friend Kamal Sharaf, a well-known dissident Yemeni political cartoonist. “But Abdulelah brought a different viewpoint.”

Shaye had no reverence for Al Qaeda, but viewed the group as an important story, according to Sharaf. Shaye was able to get access to Al Qaeda figures in part due to his relationship, through marriage, to the radical Islamic cleric Abdul Majid al Zindani, the founder of Iman University and a US Treasury Department–designated terrorist. While Sharaf acknowledged that Shaye used his connections to gain access to Al Qaeda, he adds that Shaye also “boldly” criticized Zindani and his supporters: “He said the truth with no fear.”

While Shaye, 35, had long been known as a brave, independent-minded journalist in Yemen, his collision course with the US government appears to have been set in December 2009. On December 17, the Yemeni government announced that it had conducted a series of strikes against an Al Qaeda training camp in the village of al Majala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province, killing a number of Al Qaeda militants. As the story spread across the world, Shaye traveled to al Majala. What he discovered were the remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs, neither of which are in the Yemeni military’s arsenal. He photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label “Made in the USA,” and distributed the photos to international media outlets. He revealed that among the victims of the strike were women, children and the elderly. To be exact, fourteen women and twenty-one children were killed. Whether anyone actually active in Al Qaeda was killed remains hotly contested. After conducting his own investigation, Shaye determined that it was a US strike. The Pentagon would not comment on the strike and the Yemeni government repeatedly denied US involvement. But Shaye was later vindicated when Wikileaks released a US diplomatic cable that featured Yemeni officials joking about how they lied to their own parliament about the US role, while President Saleh assured Gen. David Petraeus that his government would continue to lie and say “the bombs are ours, not yours.”

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http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/15/jeremy_scahill_why_is_president_obama

The Obama administration is facing scrutiny for its role in the imprisonment of a Yemeni journalist who exposed how the United States was behind a 2009 bombing in Yemen that killed 14 women and 21 children. In January 2011, a Yemeni state security court gave the journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a five-year jail sentence on terrorism-related charges following a disputed trial that was condemned by several human rights and press freedom groups. Within a month of Shaye’s sentencing, then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced he was going to pardon the journalist. But Saleh changed his mind after a phone call from President Obama. Thirteen months later, Shaye remains behind bars. We speak to Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists and award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. "Abdulelah Haider Shaye [is] a brave journalist who just happened to be on the wrong side of history in the eyes of the U.S.," Scahill says. "His crime seems to be interviewing the wrong people and having the audacity to publish the other side of the story."

Filed under Yemen, Drone Attacks, Drones, Freedom of the Press, Obama, War on Terror, Human Rights

Guests:Jeremy Scahill, award-winning investigative journalist and author of the bestselling book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army." His latest piece for The Nation is called, "Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?"
Mohamed Abdel Dayem, coordinator of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen? by Jeremy Scahill (Original post)
G_j Mar 2012 OP
uponit7771 Mar 2012 #1
Enrique Mar 2012 #3
truebrit71 Mar 2012 #2
G_j Mar 2012 #4
surfdog Mar 2012 #6
eomer Mar 2012 #13
treestar Mar 2012 #18
monmouth Mar 2012 #5
G_j Mar 2012 #7
kenny blankenship Mar 2012 #8
SidDithers Mar 2012 #25
G_j Mar 2012 #26
gratuitous Mar 2012 #9
G_j Mar 2012 #10
gratuitous Mar 2012 #12
surfdog Mar 2012 #11
woo me with science Mar 2012 #14
Octafish Mar 2012 #15
EFerrari Mar 2012 #20
Vattel Mar 2012 #16
G_j Mar 2012 #23
Robb Mar 2012 #17
girl gone mad Mar 2012 #19
white_wolf Mar 2012 #21
Solly Mack Mar 2012 #22
woo me with science Mar 2012 #24

Response to G_j (Original post)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:37 AM

1. oh god, here we go

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Response to uponit7771 (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:43 AM

3. I know, right?

here we go again, reporting on things our government is doing. What a drag!

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:42 AM

2. Can someone boil this down for me please?

 

I tried reading it and it still doesn't make any sense to me..??

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Response to truebrit71 (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:45 AM

4. it helps to watch the Democracy Now! segment at the the DN! link. nt

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Response to truebrit71 (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:50 AM

6. Their argument is flawed

 

The article implies that a journalist could never coordinate with Al Qaeda

Doctors can but journalist can't that's what the article would have you believe

Total horseshit

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Response to surfdog (Reply #6)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 03:06 PM

13. That's not what they claim.

They don't claim that a journalist could never coordinate with Al Qaeda, but rather that there's no evidence that this one did.

For many journalists in Yemen, the publicly available “facts” about how Shaye was “assisting” AQAP indicate that simply interviewing Al Qaeda–associated figures, or reporting on civilian deaths caused by US strikes, is a crime in the view of the US government. “I think the worst thing about the whole case is that not only is an independent journalist being held in proxy detention by the US,” says Craig, “but that they’ve successfully put paid to other Yemeni journalists investigating air strikes against civilians and, most importantly, holding their own government to account. Shaye did both of those things.” She adds: “With the huge increase in government air strikes and US drone attacks recently, Yemen needs journalists like Shaye to report on what’s really going on".


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Response to truebrit71 (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 06:35 PM

18. I'm still awed at President Obama for running the Yemeni prison system

I mean I know he's good, but wow!

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:48 AM

5. Obviously, after the third or fourth posting of this, the OP's not getting the

answers or outrage they are looking for.

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Response to monmouth (Reply #5)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:52 AM

7. the DN! segment is from today... nt

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Response to G_j (Reply #7)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:59 AM

8. That's just one of their stock apologies/denials

Everyone just ignores it like junkmail, but it keeps coming anyway.

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Response to monmouth (Reply #5)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 09:08 AM

25. It's just one of the stock criticisms / attacks...

Everyone just ignores them like junkmail, but they keep coming anyway.

Sid

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Response to SidDithers (Reply #25)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 10:30 AM

26. since when does Jeremy Scahill offer "stock criticisms"

of anything? That is intellegtually dishonest. Suggestion (I know it's too much to ask, but): watch/read/listen to the interview from Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/15/jeremy_scahill_why_is_president_obama

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 11:03 AM

9. Well what's the big schmeal anyway?

So 35 people got vaporized in Yemen by our weapons. That should teach them a very good lesson about where they decide to live in the future. Well, their survivors, I mean. When the mighty and righteous American wehrmacht blows away a bunch of people, it's surely doing the work of the Almighty, and the angels rejoice over the bodies of the slain.

Anybody that says otherwise is just itching for a little stay at the Graybar Hotel. And if that person just happens to get shivved? Well, you can't blame us for that, can you?

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #9)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 11:05 AM

10. glad you are still here

this place is turning into a virtual wasteland for progressives and peace activists..

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Response to G_j (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 11:24 AM

12. Thank you and ditto

It's gettin' kinda lonely for folks who think the Constitution means something and isn't just a quaint old optional document.

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #9)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 11:07 AM

11. Yawn

 

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 03:12 PM

14. K&R Ugly truths--->Ugly hypocrisy--->Ugly apologism. nt

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 03:19 PM

15. A journalist? He's lucky he's not a whistleblower.

The snotty ingrate. Give him the Bradley Manning treatment and send out copies of the video to platinum supporters.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #15)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:55 PM

20. He's in a prison built expressly for errant journalists to boot.

They went to all that trouble, his friends should just stfu.

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 06:32 PM

16. We shouldn't ask people who abuse prisoners to keep someone in prison.

 

What is Obama thinking? Once again he demonstrates that he doesn't care about basic individual rights.

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Response to Vattel (Reply #16)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 02:45 AM

23. the US has also 'renditioned' people to Syria

Some real nice bedfellows there..

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 06:34 PM

17. "Journalist." That's funny.

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Response to Robb (Reply #17)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 10:35 PM

19. The Washington Post, The New York Times and ABC News didn't think it was funny.

They all hired him or relied directly on his reporting.

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Response to Robb (Reply #17)

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 11:20 PM

21. The fact that you can laugh at this at all is a bit disturbing.

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 01:04 AM

22. K&R

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Response to G_j (Original post)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 09:06 AM

24. Kick

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