Sunday, March 06, 2005

Friendly Fire

Almost immediately, it was obvious that something strange had taken place. Nicola Calipari, an Italian secret agent who was driving kidnapped journalist Giuliana Sgrena to freedom following her release Friday in Baghdad, was killed in an attack on their car. Sgrena was injured in the incident.
Shortly thereafter, it emerged that the car was set upon by "friendly fire" from United States-led forces. Calipari died trying to shield Sgrena, a reporter for a leftist paper, Il Manifesto, from bullets.
Ms. Sgrena, an opponent of the Iraq war, believes she was targeted by the U.S. Her captors had told her that, "The Americans don't want you to go back." There have been suggestions from some quarters that Ms. Sgrena has information about actions in Iraq that the United States does not want to be released.
U.S. military officials say they tried to stop the car -- using hand signals, flashing lights and warning shots before firing at the car's engine. Ms. Sgrena says she saw no such warnings as a passenger in the vehicle. She contends in an article published in her paper today that the car was travelling slowly and that the troops fired without motive, as soon as the car was lit up by a search light.
Calipari was killed instantly by a single shot in the head. One of the points of controversy in this story is how a bullet aimed at the car's engine could have hit Mr. Calipari in the head. Not being a firearms expert -- and being well aware of what often happens when I aim a tennis ball at a target -- I don't have an opinion on whether that line of inquiry is justified.
For his part Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi met with the U.S. ambassador to Italy and demanded and explanation.
Calipari, an experienced hostage negotiator, is being mourned as a hero in Italy, a country whose populace is strongly opposed to the war in Iraq despite a government that supports the Bush administration.
You can read all of this in the news.
You can also read that George W. Bush has promised a full investigation.
There's where it gets really weird: The use of the words "Bush" and "investigation" in the same sentence. This administration is hardly known for its candor in either investigating or admitting to misdeeds.
When in the last 4 years have we had any sort of honest, unbiased, thorough investigation of any action by this administration? It hasn't happened in the White House, it hasn't happened in Congress, and it sure as hell hasn't happened in the press, despite the fact that the press has been victimized in several high-profile cases.
I know that the right-wingnuts first response to any suggestion that we need investigations is to bring up the Clinton-Whitewater-Lewinsky case and start screaming about how we lefties wanted to constrain Kenneth Starr.
But, whatever they say, that investigation -- which was ordered by the Democratic administration, not the Repugnican Congress -- was allowed to proceed to completion despite widespread belief that it was a money-wasting fishing expedition.
Here's my short list of issues which have not been fully investigated during the George W. Bush administration. I welcome anyone who happens to read this post to add to my list:
  • The policies that led to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo
  • Extraordinary rendition -- the abduction of people with suspected ties to terrorist organizations and transport of those people to countries that practice torture
  • The White House security breach that allowed a male prostitute using the pseudonym Jeff Gannon to enter the west wing posing as a reporter every day for two years straight
  • The leak of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame's name to journalists including right-wingnut Robert Novak, who printed a story that included this information
  • Charges of price-fixing against Halliburton, the government contractor formerly headed up by Vice President Dick Cheney
  • The manipulation of information that allowed the administration to falsely build a case for invasion of Iraq
  • The dismissal of intelligence information in the summer of 2001 that warned repeatedly about the possibility that Al Qaeda would attack targets in the United States
  • Dick Cheney's Energy task force
  • Ties between the administration and Enron

What have I missed?

A final point: It's rather ironic that this incident would take place just a couple of weeks after CNN's Eason Jordan was forced to resign over ridicule from the right-wing blogs about a private statement he made suggesting that journalists may have been targeted by U.S. forces in Iraq. Once again, my counsel to my daughter springs to mind: The truth will always prevail in the end. Let's see how this plays out.