Did the American military try to murder Giuliana Sgrena?
The ability of the average American to ignore the obvious is overwhelming at times.
In the last few years, I've learned to tuck my political views away like a resistance fighter. Not from fear of reprisal, mind you; it's because once I open a debate with the vast sea of halfwits that populate this nation, I feel waves of apathy and ignorance beating against my skull. The ad hominem attacks begin soon after.
To wit: the occupation of Iraq. It's not unfair to claim the whole affair as a disaster, but point out major mistakes in policy and strategy? The rebuttal generally devolves into "Well, we gotta support the troops."
You may recognize this scenario. You may have even lived it. Attempt to hammer some reality into the minds of people who still think we need to nuke the Middle East for 9/11 and you're in for some serious reductionism and deflection. Support the troops? What does that have to do with the mess the federal government calls foreign policy? Nothing, but it insinuates that because I question an illegal invasion, I do not "support the troops."
Let me be frank: I support our men and women in the Armed Forces inasmuch as I do not want them to die for a lie. My devotion ends there. And having seen evidence that American military attempted to assassinate Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena at the first of this month, I'm starting to rethink even that.
. . . . .
Abu Ghraib was one thing. Regardless of the horrifics (and I stand aghast at how one human being can debase another), I rationalize it with the typical excuses: utter stupidity, poor training and an abundance of stimulants keeping the troops from realizing they're in the fifth level of Hell. But ordering a hit on a journalist known for working with the very people the Bush Administration was trying to "liberate" from Saddam? Shameful... just shameful.
And not very well done, considering Sgrena survived the assault. Despite firing on her vehicle with a tank, the hit squad was unable to get its target even though several hundred rounds tore through her tiny car.
The position of the United States is that an overzealous group of troops new to the Iraqi theater fired at Sgrena's speeding vehicle as it raced through a checkpoint on its way to the American-occupied airport. Unfortunately, that story is a pantload.
According to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, U.S. agents were informed well in advance that Sgrena would be escorted to the airport after being held hostage by Iraqi insurgents. Sgrena herself has commented that her car was traveling below the posted speed limit and was well past the checkpoint when American troops opened fire.
"The driver had notified the embassy and Italy twice that we were heading to the airport, which I knew was controlled by the American troops," recalled Sgrena after the ordeal. "It was less than one kilometre, they told me... when... I remember only fire. At that point a rain of fire and bullets came at us."
American media shockingly falls on the side of the former (the Washington Post has gone so far as to say we shouldn't be concerned because we routinely kill innocent people). Apparently unconcerned with reporting truth, some commentators have obfuscated facts (claiming photos of Sgrena's car as proof it isn't as bullet-riddled as she says); even worse, some are smearing Sgrena by saying she got what she deserved because she reports news contrary to the Bush mouthspout.
Excuse me. Who deserves to be driving to freedom only to be shot at? Who deserves to have their protector murdered in front of them? Who deserves pain and turmoil?
No one — and to insinuate otherwise only highlights how unbelievably ridiculous the "majority" mindset in the United States is.
Sgrena was warned by those who held her captive that "the Americans don't want [her] to return." Why? Not just because she repeatedly spoke out against the war, but because she was in a position to reveal to the world that the United States used banned biological weapons against the people living in Fallujah.
You know, those weapons of mass destruction Saddam was supposed to have.
Sgrena's information-gathering and reporting seems to explain why American troops were seen digging up huge quantities of topsoil and burying it elsewhere. It also further drives home the "at all costs" willingness of the Bush Administration to tackle Iraq regardless of the price.
But an Iraqi health official has already said that internationally banned weapons like nerve and mustard gas were used at Fallujah. If the word is already getting out, why silence the voice of an unembedded journalist?
Because the clandestine "death" of a woman held hostage in Iraq makes good propaganda. Killing Sgrena would have been a huge coup for Bush, as it provokes Berlusconi into continued troop commitment in the Middle East (Italy is overwhelmingly against occupation at this time). Like a small-scale 9/11, the death of a journalist and the secret service agent sent to keep her safe would enrage the Italian public... particularly if it was "proven" the assault came from the insurgency.
And if that's the case — and I have no reason to believe otherwise — I'm simply disgusted by the military force I pay to protect me. It's not enough that they are sent around the world on the whim of a man who on a good day is a functional retard, now they're the private Brute Squad that punishes free-thinkers with violence. At best, the crack squad of men and women that fired on Giuliana Sgrena are a bunch of inept idiots.
What a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Sgrena's ambush reflects Iraq perfectly. Held hostage by those the U.S. deems terrorist, she is well-treated. En route to freedom on American-secured roads, she's almost killed by the soldiers who are fighting for freedom. Idiocy at its best.
And you can bet what people will say if I bring this up. Yep.
"Well, we gotta support the troops."
Not this time around.
Canon Fodder is a weekly analysis of politics and society.
Update: Since this article went live, I've learned that the Bush Administration has since absolved the hit squad from any legal ramifications. Outstanding.
Canon Fodder is a bi-weekly analysis of politics and society.