Friday, September 29, 2006

This is freedom?

The Iraqis are free to pass any laws they want, of course. But is this what we envisioned when we invaded?

Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.

Okay, let's cut the Iraqi government some slack for being weak and under siege. But besides being ineffective, it's also corrupt, riddled with militias and death squads and increasingly autocratic.

Not a good omen for the future of the country.

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