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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘Find, prosecute, and bring to justice'”

    “”Conduct an immediate and thorough investigation in order to find, prosecute, and bring to justice all those responsible.””

    This was the United States message to Russia after the journalist Anna Politkovskaya – well-known for her criticisms of the Russian government – was murdered in a contract killing Oct. 7.

    And that message – “”find, prosecute, and bring to justice”” – was right, of course. The death of a journalist is more than just a death – it is an important indicator of the state of free speech in a nation.

    However, the U.S. has not been so forceful in its reaction to the deaths of its own journalists, or those of its allies.

    On March 22, 2003, a British journalist named Terry Lloyd was killed by American troops. He was caught in crossfire and wounded in the stomach, but made it to a minibus belonging to Iraqi civilians that began to drive him to a hospital. Unfortunately, U.S. Marines then fired on the minibus and shot him in the head.

    “”The minibus presented no threat to the American forces,”” concluded the British inquest into his death. But a U.S. investigation found that the Marines had “”followed the applicable rules of engagement”” in firing upon a civilian van carrying the wounded.

    The International Federation of Journalists, which has decried the media deaths in Iraq – a total of 153 at last count – “”welcomed the verdict,”” and said that “”after three years, we can at least demand that justice is delivered to those who have died at the hands of democratic forces.””

    And now, the British coroner said he would next ask his government “”whether any steps can be taken to bring the perpetrators responsible for this to justice.””

    Don’t these statements sound like our statement to the Russians?

    Yes, obviously these cases are very different. Lloyd was in a combat zone; he was first wounded by Iraqi gunfire before he was shot in the head by U.S. troops. Politkovskaya was simply murdered. Yet there still seems to be a double standard evident in the U.S.’s response.

    Politkovskaya’s death may have been ordered by the Russian government, or it may have been undertaken in order to make the Russian government look bad. In any case, the U.S. response is unambiguous, righteous, and indignant. “”Find, prosecute, and bring to justice!””

    Lloyd’s death, however, did not garner this response.

    The American soldiers who gave statements did not even attend the inquest into his death. They were not permitted to.

    The U.S. military did give the inquest a videotape showing what is thought to be the aftermath of the attack – two vehicles on fire. But a forensic expert for the inquiry said that the previous 15 minutes of the videotape – 15 minutes that might have shown the events surrounding Terry Lloyd’s death – seem to have been erased.

    The thing is, accidents happen. Soldiers are people, just like everyone else. Sometimes they make mistakes.

    However, 20 journalists from the U.S. or its allies have died in Iraq due to mistakes that have remained unexplained and “”whitewashed,”” as the IFJ says. In another case, a tank fired on a hotel housing 200 journalists, killing two cameramen, Taras Protsyuk and Jose Couso.

    We call our country “”the free world.”” We certainly think of ourselves as more democratic, more open, more free, than Russia. We feel fit to preach free speech to Russia – to paint ourselves as the leader in democracy to everyone else.

    But if we are leaders in democracy and justice, then we need to take responsibility for what’s happened. If the military just said, “”Yep, that was the fault of a few individuals, and we’re sorry,”” it wouldn’t be so bad.

    But instead, we brush these tragedies under the carpet. We conduct investigations and find “”no fault”” when there indisputably was fault. We fail to acknowledge even the futility of these journalists’ deaths.

    The results of the inquest into Terry Lloyd’s death were released one week ago. The British are America’s allies. They are not cranks or terrorists. They have objectively determined that Terry Lloyd’s death was wrong and should not have happened. They have asked us for answers. And since the inquest found that Lloyd was unlawfully killed, the British are now able to take legal action against those who they say killed him.

    For the sake of Anna Politkovskaya and Terry Lloyd, for the sake of our friendship with the United Kingdom, for the sake of our reputation in the international community – let’s be mature enough to admit we’ve made mistakes.

    And let’s not let those mistakes happen ever again.

    Lillie Kilburn is a sophomore majoring in psychology. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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