Hands Off Jill Carroll

You're abducted at gunpoint from a Baghdad street your friend and translator is killed before your eyes you're held hostage in isolation for 82 days in rooms where you can't even see outside and threatened with death. Finally, you're forced to make a propaganda video, saying things you don't believe in a desperate attempt to save your life.

And then, miraculously, it works you're finally released, reunited with your loved ones, and finally feel like you're "alive again "

"To be able to step outside anytime, to feel the sun directly on your face, to see the whole sky." As Carroll told reporters waiting for her plane to touch down at Boston's Logan Airport, "These are luxuries that we just don't appreciate every day."

A happy ending, no? A ray of hope in an otherwise bleak landscape of war, terror and torture, right? Cause to celebrate and rejoice, one would think? Instead, inexplicably, despicably, Jill Carroll came under vicious attack all over again -- this time by her own countrymen and peers, fellow members of the media.

The mugging of Jill Carroll by the pathetic likes of John Podhoretz, Don Imus and the rest of their wingnut cohort from the right side of the blogosphere makes me sick. How dare these misguided, ill-informed armchair analysts unleash their barrage of criticism accusing Carroll of showing "too much sympathy for her kidnappers?"

Have they no shame now? They certainly should, after accusing the 28-year-old Christian Science Monitor correspondent of, at best, a "Stockholm Syndrome" identification with her tormentors, and, at worst, treason?

After all, following an emotional reunion with her family in Boston, Carroll spoke of her loathing for the gunmen who threatened her with death "many times" during her ordeal, described her captors as "criminals at best," disavowed a videotaped statement made during her captivity and another made shortly before American troops arrived to take custody of her, and denied allegations that she had refused to answer questions from the American military.

"Things I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not," Carroll said in a statement released Saturday by the Monitor newspaper.

I wonder if Imus' racist, homophobic and idiotic producer Bernard McGuirk would like to repeat his disgusting suggestion that Carroll may 'even be carrying Habib's baby' now?"

It's a disturbing sign of our partisan-crazed media ecology that Carroll came under sustained assault from pro-war right-wing bloggers and talk radio hosts who attacked her for stating -- while under obvious duress -- that she had not been threatened during her confinement, as well as for wearing Muslim dress and sympathizing with her captors.

Anyone with a brain -- or even a heart -- would know, as Carroll pointed out once she was free, that "fearing retribution from my captors," she could not speak freely, that "out of fear, I said I had not been threatened," when in fact, she "was threatened many times."

What was Carroll's crime? Merely this: She is a suspected member of "the liberal media" that hard-up, hard-core supporters of this illegal, unconstitutional and unwinnable war -- from the White House down -- claim is allying itself with the insurgents resisting America's occupation of Iraq.

Of course, Carroll never expressed any understanding or sympathy for the insurgency. Rather she distanced herself from the sentiment, stating explicitly, "I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes."

"You'll pretty much say anything to stay alive," noted Micah Garen, a documentary filmmaker who wrote a book about his 10 days as a hostage in Iraq in 2004. Like Carroll, Garen was forced to make a video before his release. Political controversy and "media craziness" are two of the issues Carroll will confront in the coming weeks, Garen added.

His words were echoed by another former hostage, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. McCain said on Meet the Press that Carroll's comments in the video should not be taken seriously. "This was a young woman who found herself in a terrible, terrible position. And we're glad she's home," McCain told NBC's Tim Russert. "We understand when you're held a captive in that kind of situation, that you do things under duress."

So why can't the right-wing chickenhawks understand that?

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