Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oh Say Can You See, A Rogue Nation?

The article “Army whistle-blower says hotel with journalists on target list” by Amy Goodman, tells a story of reckless disregard for life and the value of a free press. Breathtaking in its implication, I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all witness to a country that has become the world’s largest and most dangerous rogue nation. What was once unthinkable is now policy. Dick Cheney’s exploration of the dark side has extended like a shadow over the planet like a scene out Dr. Strangelove or an animated WW2 propaganda film. As you’ll see, the moral high ground is now a quaint antiquated notion relegated to the dust bin of forgotten histories.

As Amy Goodman writes, it all began with “the shelling of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad by a U.S. Army tank on April 8, 2003. The tank attack killed two unembedded journalists, Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk and Jose Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish television network Telecinco. Couso recorded his own death. He was filming from the balcony and caught on tape the distant tank as it rotated its turret and fired on the hotel. A Spanish court has charged three U.S. servicemen with murder, but the U.S. government refuses to hand over the accused soldiers."

"The story might have ended there, were it not for a young U.S. military intelligence veteran who has just decided to blow the whistle. Adrienne Kinne is a former Army sergeant who worked in military intelligence for 10 years, from 1994 to 2004. Trained in Arabic, she worked in the Army translating intercepted communications. She told me in an interview that she saw a target list that included the Palestine Hotel. (Kinne recalls) ‘(P)utting one and one together, I went to my officer in charge, and I told him that there are journalists staying at this hotel who think they're safe, and yet we have this hotel listed as a potential target, and somehow the dots are not being connected here, and shouldn't we make an effort to make sure that the right people know the situation? And unfortunately, my officer in charge ... basically told me that it was not my job to analyze ... someone somewhere higher up the chain knew what they were doing.’ She said the officer in charge was Warrant Officer John Berry.”

"Kinne's account directly contradicts the official line of the U.S. government. On May 2, 2003, Colin Powell, then secretary of state and a former general in the Army, visited Spain. He said of the Palestine Hotel: 'We knew about the hotel. We knew that it was a hotel where journalists were located, and others, and it is for that reason it was not attacked during any phase of the aerial campaign.' If Powell was telling the truth, then why was the hotel included on the list of targets that Kinne says she read in a secure e-mail?”

What government would give an alleged war crime a pass from judicial scrutiny to determination the guilt or innocence of the accused servicemen?

That would be a country that has stacked its own courts with ideologues and politicized its legal system to escape accountability. That would be my country, the one I don’t know anymore.

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