Opinion column: Deadly bias

By David Johnson

A week ago, Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was freed by her captors in Iraq – the result of a deal negotiated by the Italian government. Her escort was fired upon by United States forces en route to Baghdad International Airport, wounding Ms. Sgrena and killing Nicola Calipari, the intelligence officer who coordinated the hostage release. Despite overwhelming evidence that the attack by U.S. forces was a mistake, many (Sgrena included) attempt to perpetuate the lie of a deliberate attack. As with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, this fifth column goes beyond the necessary legitimate exposure and criticism of mistakes by the United States, gleefully contributing free enemy propaganda.

Whether or not Sgrena was targeted is not a trifle of a he said, she said dispute. Beyond the obvious fact that a U.S. soldier wanting you dead means you probably won’t live to whine about it, the evidence against Sgrena’s claim of a U.S. ambush is tremendous. Consider:

1. As described in the Los Angeles Times, the Baghdad airport road contains some of the toughest seven miles of road in Iraq. It is the site of numerous car bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), accounting for the deaths of many American soldiers. Near the end of the road, an insurgent-friendly mosque was found to have large stashes of grenades, ammunition and guns. Bomb-laden cars have been used to ram American vehicles at high speeds along this road.

2. The car carrying Sgrena sped through an American checkpoint during the black of night. ABC News reported her vehicle may have been traveling at speeds up to 100 mph, and even Sgrena conceded that her driver was “almost losing control” avoiding puddles, though more recently she claims their car was moving at a reasonable speed.

3. The Washington Times reports that Italian intelligence agencies kept the U.S. in the dark about the negotiated release, meaning U.S. troops had no knowledge that Sgrena’s car would be traveling to the airport.

4. More than 500 Americans have been killed in Iraq as the result of attacks on roads and at checkpoints.

5. Sgrena has repeatedly claimed that the car carrying her was riddled with “300 to 400 bullets” and that they were fired upon by tanks. This is obviously false given the widely available pictures of the car she traveled in; such an attack would have left nothing.

Sgrena said of Americans, “for them … human life is worth little.” She added that Americans are bothered by “the happy end to negotiations” for her release. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that the ransom paid for her release was in excess of $10 million, a sum that’s hardly a “happy end” when in the hands of terrorists. This $10 million can buy a lot of explosives to use against U.S. troops.

Sgrena, the wingnuts infesting the fever swamps of the American Far Left and the media complicit in disseminating her lies (such as the English newspaper the Guardian) have made clear their na‹ve yet dangerous hatred of the United States. Her bias had deadly consequences as she refused U.S. protection, ultimately leading to her kidnap and the death of the Italian agent. But why should she accept help from the U.S. when she believed that (per first-hand experience by Dutch journalist Harald Doornbos) “no Iraqi would kidnap us” for “we are siding with the oppressed Iraqi people” and “the Americans are the biggest enemies of mankind.” As with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, it’s entirely possible that such disgrace happened as the result of soldiers following orders, but no one can claim or prove that such tragedies or travesties are intentional. It’s a credit to our open society that we learn of, and can criticize, mistakes by our military. But when such criticism devolves into illegitimating the most moral military on earth as caring not for human life or dignity, anti-war advocates have crossed a line and, dare I say, are quite unpatriotic.