Sunday, March 20, 2005

Eliminating journalists

Reading this article about Iraq , I remembered this article by Naomi Klein and putting them together you get a very disturbing picture. First of all the recent article:

Iraq's series of unfortunate events, especially at US military-manned checkpoints continue unabated. One such episode that recently got its fair share of media coverage was the killing of an Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari on May 4. Calipari gave his life to save the recently freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena.

Sgrena was taken hostage by a group of Iraqi militants who demanded an immediate withdrawal of the 3000 strong Italian troops from their country. While the demand itself is legitimate, the method used to achieve it was callous and cowardly, threatening the life of one very courageous anti-occupation journalist who worked for the Italian daily, Il Manifesto.

Sgrena and others, who chose to narrate the war from the mouths of Iraqi civilians, were a thorn on the side of the US administration. She interviewed women prisoners released from Abu Ghraib and visited Fallujah, the defiant city of 300,000 completely destroyed by the US Army. The details she conveyed were harrowing, to say the least.

When the 56-year-old journalist was released, her close encounter with death was anything but over. Agent Calipari hurriedly escorted her to the Baghdad airport, only to be "ambushed" along the way by US troops who showered their car with 300-400 bullets, according to news reports. The results were deadly. Calipari was instantly killed as he dove on top of Sgrena to shield her. Sgrena was also wounded.

According to Pier Scolari, Sgrena's companion: "The Americans and Italians knew about (her) coming. They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints. Giuliana had information, and the US military didn't want her to survive."

Segrena, who insisted that the car was not speeding, that there were no checkpoints, no hand signals, not even warning shots, supported Scolari's statement. "I remember only fire," she wrote from Rome's Celio military hospital. "At that point a rain of fire and bullets came at us, forever silencing the happy voices from a few minutes earlier."

But the relationship between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and George W. Bush is just too "special" to be compromised by another "unfortunate" event and the life of some unknown "although courageous " officer.

The US military responded once again, claiming that they "had immediately ordered an investigation." The US administration also offered its customary response, dismissing the allegations of intentional murder as conspiratorial nonsense.

The US mainstream media reported on the story, failing not to unreservedly mention that Sgrena was a "self-identified communist" working for a communist newspaper. The subtly implied notion was that Giuliana Sgrena is an ideological nutcase and was not to be trusted.

The Naomi Klein article:

Eliminating journalists
The images from last month's siege on Falluja came almost exclusively from reporters embedded with US troops. This is because Arab journalists who had covered April's siege from the civilian perspective had effectively been eliminated. Al-Jazeera had no cameras on the ground because it has been banned from reporting in Iraq indefinitely. Al-Arabiya did have an unembedded reporter, Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, in Falluja, but on November 11 US forces arrested him and held him for the length of the siege. Al-Saadi's detention has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists. "We cannot ignore the possibility that he is being intimidated for just trying to do his job," the IFJ stated.

It's not the first time journalists in Iraq have faced this kind of intimidation. When US forces invaded Baghdad in April 2003, US Central Command urged all unembedded journalists to leave the city. Some insisted on staying and at least three paid with their lives. On April 8, a US aircraft bombed al-Jazeera's Baghdad offices, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. Al-Jazeera has documentation proving it gave the coordinates of its location to US forces.

On the same day, a US tank fired on the Palestine hotel, killing José Couso, of the Spanish network Telecinco, and Taras Protsiuk, of Reuters. Three US soldiers are facing a criminal lawsuit from Couso's family, which alleges that US forces were well aware that journalists were in the Palestine hotel and that they committed a war crime.

I remember just the other day listening to an anti-war activist named Margarita saying that
Nicola Calipari was assasinated by the americans. I first expressed disbelief. They assasinated an ally's intelligence officer? But it seems now that Berlusconi is too good of an ally to follow through with what his people want and the US knew this. It seems increasingly obvious that if it was an assasination the real target was Giuliana Sgrena.

Cost of the War in Iraq
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