Last week, Muntadar al-Zeidi was freed from the Iraqi prison in which he had been held for nine months. Al-Zeidi is the Iraqi journalist who last December threw both his shoes at then-President George W. Bush, who at the time was standing behind a podium answering questions from the Baghdad media. Fortunately for President Bush, al-Zeidi’s journalistic skill apparently are superior to his throwing skills, since both shoes missed the former president, who, by the way, exhibited impressive speed and dexterity in deftly bobbing and weaving to avoid the leather-soled projectiles.
Although al-Zeidi complained that he was tortured by Iraqi authorities during his incarceration, he was actually fortunate he was prosecuted and sentenced under Iraqi law instead of US jurisprudence. Had he been subject to prosecution in our system, his sentence would have been far longer than the three-year sentence he received initially, and which was subsequently reduced. Under US law, he would have been charged not with a single offense, but multiple offenses (assault on a federal official, assault with a deadly weapon, terrorist acts, reckless endangerment, etc.). Such a prosecution would likely have resulted in a sentence far in excess of three years, which would not likely have been reduced (there is no longer parole under federal sentencing).
We also know that under the George W. Bush policy (continued at least thus far by the administration of President Barack Obama) if the president decides on his own that a person is an “enemy combatant” (and there is nothing under federal law that exlicitly excludes shoes from being considered a combatant’s weapon), the person so designated can be detained indefinitely without access to any legal remedy. Finally, we won’t even get into the question of wether water-boarding or other “enhanced interrogation techniques” would have been practiced on al-Zeidi in order to determine what other heinous plots other than shoe-heaving he, or others in his conspiracy, might have been planning.
Yes, Mr. Muntadar al-Zeidi is actually one lucky dude. He should quit whining. It could’ve been much worse.