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how's this for a cover-up?

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Now that Congress is busy looking into what the Speaker of the House, and others connected with Mark Foley, knew and when they found out about his Internet cruising, why don't they look into today's revelation, by the International Herald Tribune and the Associated Press, that American servicemen shot a 50 year old British journalist, Terry Lloyd, in the back of the head in March of 2003, the early days of the Iraq war. Moreover, why don't esteemed members of Congress, and the attorney-general, investigate how it is that the first 15 minutes of video shot by U.S. servicemen from a neighboring tank, which would prove where those shots originated, reportedly have been erased?

What an outrage to learn of the execution-style shooting of Mr. Lloyd, a reporter for an independent British television station, who,unlike his American and British colleagues, was not embedded when he reported from Iraq. One can only wonder what he had stumbled upon, and what he would have reported were he allowed to do so. Further, one can only think of last week's cold-blooded assasination, in Moscow, of renowned investigative journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in her apartment building, contract-style, and rumored to have been working on Russia's policy of torture with regard to Chechen detainees. What was Terry Lloyd working on, and was he silenced?

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An inquest into the British journalist's death at the hands of U..S forces notes that Lloyd was driving with other ITN reporters and cameramen from Kuwait towards Iraq when he "was shot in the back by Iraqi troops who overtook his car, then died after U.S. fire hit a civilian minivan being used as an ambulance and struck him in the head." (AP) Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker, who wrote the inquest report, intends to ask the attorney general to investigate this matter, and bring those responsible to justice, but what happens when "those responsible" turn out to be heads of our own government? One wonders who will render justice when, as is the case with the Putin regime, those at the helm of our government are busy redefining what justice is.

"Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head. The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming...There is no doubt it was an unlawful act of fire," Deputy Coroner Walker says. As reported. Lloyd was shot "in the back of the head as he lay in the back of a makeshift ambulance, " (International Herald Tribune) A spokesperson for the Pentagon response to the alleged contract style killing, by our troops, is simply that: "The Department of Defense has never deliberately targeted noncombatants, including journalists." (AP) Does being shot in the back of the head while resting in an ambulance, no less, suggest a lack of deliberation to you? And, as an ITN cameraman, and colleague of Lloyd's, Daniel Demoustier, the only one to survive the rampant gunfire, says the inquest didn't clarify whether the bullet that killed Lloyd came from an American tank, or helicopter. Why would that matter? How can a bullet from a helicopter, or any vehicle not within closer range, hit somebody in the back of the head, expecially when he's in an ambulance? Moreover, if the forensics were strong enough to suggest that the shooting was an accident, why did the coroner rule that Lloyd was "killed unlawfully?"

Importantly, if the murder of this British journalist was not deliberate, as the Defense Department asserts, then why is it that the opening 15 minutes of footage of the incident taken by U.S. servicemen, and presented in court, were ostensibly deleted? And, if the killing was an accident, why wouldn't U.S. authorities allow American servicemen to testify at the inquest? Moreover, why is it that several submitted statements were ruled inadmissible? (AP) We must also ask why it is, too, that a leading European newspaper writes that "prosecution of U.S. service members seemed unlikely." (International Herald Tribune) Who is responsible for granting immunity to our troops, and can it be the same fellows who recently granted immunity to themselves by redacting the War Crimes Act with the Military Commission Act of 2006? While the widow of the slain journalist, Lynn Lloyd, is willing to give American servicemen the benefit of the doubt, one can't help but marvel at her description of a government that has "allowed their soldiers to behave like trigger-happy cowboys in an area in which there were civilians traveling." (International Herald Tribune) That, folks, would be our government; those "trigger-happy cowboys" have, as commander-in-chief, our president, George W. Bush.

After a week-long inquest into Mr. Lloyd's murder, the Pentagon concludes that "its forces had followed proper rules of engagement." (AP) Indeed, it would seem that the Defense Department is now rewriting those "rules" to bend so far as to allow execution-style shootings. If, as recently reported, members of our armed forces are finding it more difficult to tell who the enemy is in Iraq maybe it's because our government has blurred the line of demarkation between good and evil such that it is brazenly obvious that the enemy is not "terror," but justice.

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I'm sure we all want to know a bit more about what Mr. Lloyd was working on before he was silenced by a bullet to the back of his skull, and why it is that our government was, at best, ambiguous about whether the shots came from American servicemen, or Iraqis, a helicopter, or a tank. Given that evidence of intent on the part of our military was disallowed at the formal inquest into the killing, the only plausible explanation is that our government tried to cover-up the murder of a British journalist at the onset of the war in Iraq.

What does it say about our country when the head of the premiere global journalist organization, Aidan White of International Federation of Journalists, observes that "If this was murder, as the court suggests, and the United States is responsible, it certainly is a war crime." And, what does it say about the universal outcry against the execution-style slaying of a prominent Russian journalist, and calls for investigations, when the London-based National Union of Journalists calls the killing of 50 year old British television journalist, Terry Lloyd, by our own forces, "nothing short of a war crime."

Granted, some cover-ups are sexier than others, and some cover-ups have more teeth. Clearly, news of a foreign reporter's murder by members of our own military doesn't grab headlines, or entice the media, and talking heads of the blogosphere at large, to indulge in nonstop, and nauseatingly repetitive coverage as did the lascivious instant messages sent by a middle-aged elected official to a congressional page. But, those of us who stood in silent vigil, earlier this week, whether in New York, or Amsterdam, in remembrance of a slain Russian journalist, those of us who have called for an investigation of who, in the Kremlin, was behind the hit need to stop, look, and think about this: the European press, and human rights groups, are condemning our government in much the same way we condemn Putin, and his assault on free speech, and a free press. History will soon forget Mark Foley and his foibles. Our silence, on the other hand, can only be viewed as acquiescence.
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http://ladyjaynestahl.blogspot.com
Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.

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