Britain Cries Murder Over Journalist's Death
If the "special relationship" between the United States and Britain has been strained by the fallout over Iraq, it seems to have become especially troubled as of late.
A beleaguered Tony Blair, President Bush's strongest ally in the world, is due to leave office within the year. A leading medical journal has published a study alleging castrophic loss of civilian life in Iraq. And a top general stunned Downing Street by telling the once pro-war Daily Mail that British troops should withdraw from Iraq "sometime soon."
It seemed that bad news couldn't get much worse for the longtime Anglo-American alliance, at least in terms of the global war on terrorism.
Then last Friday, a British coroner ruled that veteran TV correspondent Terry Lloyd was "unlawfully killed" by U.S. troops in March 2003 while being evacuated from a Iraqi war zone. The coroner found that the minibus carrying a wounded Lloyd posed no threat to U.S. troops when they fired on it, and that he would query the British attorney general about charging those reponsible for his death.
Blair now faces parliamentary demands that he "apply pressure on Washington to ensure that US Marines are tried in a British court" for Lloyd's murder, according to the Press Gazette, a British news site.
The coroner's findings have attracted wide coverage in both the British tabloids and mainstream press.
Lloyd was praised by Sky News TV correspondent Ross Appleyard as a consumate professional who was among the first to report the truth about about Saddam Hussein's poison gas attacks on Kurdish villages in 1988 and the hype about Private Jessica Lynch's alleged shootout with Iraqi troops in 2003.
According to the Guardian, the coroner heard testimony that Lloyd, 50, a reporter for the ITN network, was wounded during a gunfight between a US tank and an Iraqi armed pick-up truck on March 23, 2003. He was helped into a minibus but as it sped towards a hospital, "American forces opened fire, hitting Lloyd in the head as he lay in back of the minibus."
"Murdered," declared the tabloid Mirror. Lloyd's widow Lynn and daughter Chelsey "demanded the marine who shot him in the head as he lay injured be prosecuted for war crimes."
A Pentagon spokesman told the Telegraph that "an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident was completed in May 2003. The investigation was limited to the engagement of the vehicle Mr Lloyd was travelling in."
"The investigation determined that US forces followed the applicable rules of engagement."
"The Department of Defence has never deliberately targeted non-combatants, including journalists. We have always gone to extreme measures to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage."
Lloyd's family bitterly rejected that claim.
They described the U.S. forces who fired the fatal shot "as acting like 'trigger-happy cowboys' and said his death was a 'despicable, deliberate and vengeful act,'" according to The Scotsman.
"Are the killers of Terry Lloyd getting away with his murder?" asked BBC foreign editor John Simpson.
His answer: Probably.
"It is highly unlikely that the US soldiers who killed the ITN correspondent Terry Lloyd and two members of his team during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 will be brought to justice," Simpson wrote in The Independent.
"Yet even if the British government were prepared to put pressure on the Bush administration, it would almost certainly come to nothing. American soldiers who kill civilians through carelessness or brutality in battle receive a remarkable degree of protection from the US authorities. There is little investigation, and a soldier can usually clear himself by saying he opened fire because he believed his life was in danger."
By Jefferson Morley |
October 18, 2006; 11:32 AM ET
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