Cutting Through the Bullshit
Jerry Fresia, writing in Counterpunch, gives anyone willing to look a wake-up call in the matter of journalist Guiliana Sgrena and slain officer Nicola Calipari:
The top U.S. general in Iraq, Army gen. George Casey, has stated that the US had no indication that Italian officials gave advance notice of the route of the vehicle...As a former Air Force intelligence officer, I would argue that this statement is absolutely ludicrous. Based upon intelligence collection capabilities of even 3 decades ago, it is reasonable to assume that the US intercepted all phone communication between Italian agents in Iraq and Rome, monitored such traffic in real time and knew precisely where Sgrena's vehicle was at all times, without advanced notice being provided by Italian officials...
One can only assume that the intelligence capability of the US during the past 28 years has improved significantly. Thus, the wrong questions are being asked. It is reasonable to assume that 1) satellite and aircraft intelligence (photographic and electronic) intelligence was being collected in real time and 2) that my contemporary counterpart in Iraq was monitoring this intelligence and vehicular traffic (and possibly the conversations within such vehicles) within a radius of several kilometers around the airport if not the entire city. Anomalies would be reported immediately to those in command. The question, then, becomes what communication occurred between those in command and those who fired upon Sgrena's vehicle.
I also believe that a clear motivation for preventing Sgrena from telling her story is quite evident. Let us recall that the first target in the second attack upon the city of Fallujah was al-Fallujah General Hospital. Why? It was the reporting of enormous civilian casualties from this hospital that compelled the US to halt its attack. In other words, the control of information from Fallujah as to consequences of the US assault, particularly with regard to civilians, became a critical element in the military operation.
Now, in a report by Iraq's health ministry we are learning that the US used mustard, nerve gas and napalm--in the manner of Saddam--against the civilian population of Fallujah. Sgrena, herself, has provided photographic evidence of the use of cluster bombs and the wounding of children there. I have searched in vain to find these reports in any major corporate media. The American population, for the most part, is ignorant of what its military is doing in their name and must remain so in order for the US to wage its war against the Iraqi people.
Information, based upon intelligence or the reporting of brave journalists, may be the most important weapon in the war in Iraq. From this point of view, the vehicle in which Nicola and Giuliana were riding wasn't simply a vehicle carrying a hostage to freedom. It is quite reasonable to assume, given the immorality of war and of this war in particular, that it was considered a military target.
It's good to see SOMEONE offering a sober assessment--yes, admittedly with conjecture, but conjecture based on experience and solid hypothesis (i.e., does ANYONE who isn't a lunatic think our intelligence capabilities, particularly regarding the monitoring of electronic communication, somehow managed to DEGRADE over time? C'mon). However, if Sgrena DOES have something, the sooner it gets out, the better, as the public has already shown a remarkable capacity for ignoring abuse and torture of prisoners, other reports of cluster bombs in populated areas, the checkpoint insanity (thanks to YRHT--again--for the link), etc. etc. and so on. If there's evidence the US HAS used chemical weapons, it certainly would be yet another black mark in this horrible war, although at this point I seriously wonder if the US public would blink an eye if Bush went even nuttier and started using atomic weapons. I'm not saying Bush WOULD do that--even he's not quite that insane, and the international ramifications would be devastating for us--but, if somehow the decison could be made in a vacuum (hey, like inside Dubya's head), I'm afraid that the number of folks who just don't care is...well, large enough to elect the guy we've got.
OK, it's Friday--and the thought above just got me a little worried. Time for some liquid relaxation.