Rather, what is significant about her death is this: Why doesn't America have an Anna Politkovskaya? Why don't we have someone as courageous as she was to tell the story of how we razed Fallujah to the ground Grozny-style? How we bombed to smithereens and ethnically cleansed a city of 300,000 people in retaliation for the deaths of four American contractors? Where is the American Anna Politkovskaya who will tell us about how we directly killed roughly 200,000 Iraqis, and indirectly are responsible for about half a million Iraq deaths since our invasion? Why isn't there a single American willing to risk almost certain death, the way Politkovskaya did, in the pursuit of truth and humanity?
One reason why is because they risk getting killed not only by Iraqi insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists, but also by the highly efficient American forces. (Not that this stopped Politkovskaya, but it stops America's righteous Politkovskaya-bearers.) And even if they get the story out, it gets quashed by the mainstream press, you lose your job, and you get met by a hostile, even bloodthirsty public who doesn't want to hear about it.
Take the case of Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi correspondent for Knight Ridder. Salihee was shot by an American sniper with a bullet to his head on June 24, 2005. At the time, he was gathering material for an investigative piece about how the US was training death squads -- the very same death squads which are now responsible for the savage civil war that kicked into high gear this year.
Salihee was killed; the American sniper was cleared; and Knight Ridder washed its hands, declaring "there's no reason to think that the shooting had anything to do with his reporting work." Imagine an analogous situation in Chechnya, the hue and cry from the Applebaums -- it'd be as inversely loud as the silence over Salihee's death. At least even the Kremlin admits Politkovskaya was killed for her reporting.
Indeed Salihee is just one of a number of journalists killed in Iraq, by far the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. And it's not all the insurgents' fault either. Some more marginal journalists, from Robert Fisk to Dahr Jamail, have written about how US forces in Iraq target journalists for murder. But no one wants to hear that -- so these kinds of reports stay on the margins. Journalists were targeted and killed at Al Jazeera; at first, reports that the Americans targeted them were dismissed as "conspiracy theory" talk, but recently, admissions that Bush, Blair, and a former Blair minister all explored ways to bomb Al Jazeera during the war are finally raising questions. Well, not really. Should be raising questions, leading to impassioned editorials by the Post and Anne Applebaum. But they're not, because they're too busy demonizing Russia.
Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist who was kidnapped last year in Iraq and freed by an Italian intelligence agent, was shot and wounded (the agent was killed) by US forces when she was returning to freedom. She insisted that US troops deliberately targeted her. A smear campaign in the US press -- labeling her a Communist and an anti-American with Stockholm Syndrome-- effectively nullified her story, but even pro-Bush Berlusconi was so incensed by the incident that he started to back away from Bush's war.
Italian TV later discovered evidence that US forces had used an illegal WMD, white phosphorus chemicals, during its destruction of Fallujah the year before. In spite of all the evidence, including burned corpses whose clothes were still intact, eyewitnesses, and even friendly Iraqi ministers who denounced it, the American media largely ignored it. Why the fuck did Italian TV, and not American TV, break this story? Where was Anne Applebaum on the atrocities in Fallujah?
The case of Eason Jordan, CNN's longtime superstar news chief, might explain the mainstream American media's silence. This is what happens when you're a mainstream American media man who dares to tell the ugly truth about Iraq. While hobnobbing with the Global Aristocracy at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January of 2005, Jordan made the mistake of telling his fellow elite what was really happening in Iraq: American forces were "out to get journalists, and some were deliberately targeting journalists."
Within two weeks, the longtime CNN honcho was out of work. His resignation came complete with a Stalin-esque confession that's chilling to read today:
"After 23 years at CNN," he wrote, "I have decided to resign in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq. I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise."