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Amanda Knox, seen here last week on NBC News's Today show, has defended her decision not to return to Italy and expressed a desire to visit Kercher's grave.
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Amanda Knox and the international circus that surrounds her actually matter. It's really about something bigger.
If it looks as though the case against Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is superficial at best, there's a reason for that -- it is. To say that because a speck of Knox's DNA may have been present -- on a knife, or a bra clasp, in the apartment in which she resided -- is absurd on its face and constitutes no evidence of anything.
In addition, neither prosecutor got anywhere near presenting a viable connection between the man convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher, Rudy Guede, and Knox or Sollecito. The purported collaboration was the stuff of a poorly written work of fiction. In fact, there was no evidence of collaboration between Guede and Knox or Sollecito presented to the court at all.
In their totality, the combined theories presented to the three courts by two prosecutors were so illogical and utterly lacking in substantiation that it's the prosecutors, not the defendants, who should have been on trial -- for misconduct.
Further, that a second prosecutor could present a second case that all but abandoned the entire premise of the first case, after the first case was thrown out on appeal, is patently malicious, and absolutely does constitute a separate/unique judicial instance and double jeopardy in a very material sense. The whole thing makes a profound mockery of the entire concept of criminal justice.
But while there is little chance that Amanda Knox is guilty of murdering anyone, she is in fact guilty of two very important things: being an inconveniently pretty young woman and being an American abroad in the Bush era.
By the fall of 2007, Italy was in a significant state of conflict with the US over the Bush administration's policy of extraordinary rendition. Of specific note were Italian kidnapping charges against nearly two dozen CIA agents for the kidnapping of Muslim cleric Abu Omar, resulting in 23 convictions. The New York Times reported, "Judge Oscar Magi handed an eight-year sentence to Robert Seldon Lady, a former C.I.A. base chief in Milan, and five-year sentences to the 22 other Americans, including an Air Force colonel and 21 C.I.A. operatives."
Italy's decision to confront America's cavalier disregard for their borders, laws, and judicial system was in line with objections and threats of prosecution by several nations, including German arrest warrants for CIA agents in the kidnapping and extraordinary rendition case of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen.
What was at issue for those nations from which citizens and residents were taken was their national sovereignty and the integrity of their judicial process. None of which appeared to matter to the Bush operatives, but mattered greatly to those nations where the crimes occurred -- including, significantly, Italy.
In the midst of this international conflict simmering just below the surface of broad public view, a young American woman traveled to Perugia, Italy, to study. Her subsequent arrest and high-profile trial for the murder of roommate and fellow student Meredith Kercher would rivet world attention on the very same Italian judicial system that the US had casually disregarded throughout the Bush years.
Italy never got their CIA agents, but they got a pretty young girl from Seattle, and with her the undivided attention of America and the world to the authority of Italian justice.
It's not clear if Amanda Knox will foot the bill for the 23 convicted CIA agents, but what is clear is that Italy and many other countries view America's policy of rendition as indeed extraordinary, and they have a point to make.