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Ash writes: "Amanda Knox and the international circus that surrounds her actually matter. It's really about something bigger."

Amanda Knox. (photo: The Guardian/Sipa USA)
Amanda Knox. (photo: The Guardian/Sipa USA)

Amanda Knox and the Wages of American Imperialism

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

28 March 15


This story first appeared on Reader Supported News January 31, 2014. Yesterday, March 27, 2015, Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, quashed the murder case against Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, in the death of British student Meredith Kercher. The decision by the Court of Cassation is permanent, final and not subject to subsequent review. As a legal matter the case is concluded. - MA/RSN

manda 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.

Marc Ash was formerly the founder and Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+24 # Barbara K 2015-03-28 13:23
If that is how Italy runs its justice system, I will certainly avoid Italy. To have put this young lady thru all that pure hell for pure spite for something she had nothing to do with, is disgusting, to say the least.

+80 # Archie1954 2015-03-28 13:31
But Italy's judicial system has proven that it is both fair and just. The case against both defendants was dismissed. It is the US that has a politicized, corrupt and unfair system of "justice"! It also has a corrupt government and DOJ. Request for the criminal CIA agents to be returned to Italy to serve their sentences has been ignored by the US government even though Italy's request meets all the terms of the extradition treaty it signed with the US. No American has any standing to question the judicial systems of other countries, not when their own is so corrupt.
+55 # opinionaire 2015-03-28 14:14
while I cannot argue that the USA has many problems with both its justice system and its foreign policies, I cannot agree with your first statement. The Italian courts indicted, acquitted, reversed the acquittal, and generally dragged this young woman's life through years of unnecessary hell. That is not fair and just, it is abusive.
+13 # nogardflow 2015-03-28 17:36
Barbara, I think this article is more about the US justice, 'or injustice', system, rather than Italy's justice system.
+28 # djnova50 2015-03-28 14:48
Some foreign courts will do this if they do not have viable suspects. The prosecutor and investigating team did not do a good job, became embarrassed and basically tried to fix their bungles.

Amanda has led a relatively quite existence at home in WA. But, I started seeing articles about her over the last week. The articles were more about the court system in Italy.

I never believed that Amanda Knox was guilty of what the Italian court was charging her with. I certainly hope she will now be allowed to live her life without all the turmoil she encountered in Italian court system.
+59 # MidwestTom 2015-03-28 14:56
The American Justice system summed up in one short question:
"How much justice can you afford"?
+3 # RLF 2015-03-28 16:22
You a carpenter Tom?
+8 # wrknight 2015-03-29 15:50
Quoting MidwestTom:
The American Justice system summed up in one short question:
"How much justice can you afford"?

In the U.S., justice is for sale to the highest bidder. So if you don't have a lot of money, don't expect a lot of justice.
+4 # Sweet Pea 2015-03-31 09:19
Wow! How very true. Our system is so skewed in the favor of those who have enough money to buy theirselves out of anything, that we have to send innocents to prison to support our huge prison industry.
+17 # Philothustra 2015-03-28 14:57
Marc Ash is exactly correct: the fanatical anti-American tone of the police, prosecutor and blog was a reaction to building resentment in Europe over American imperialism and intrusion. The extreme rendition thing was just one factor- US jets blowing through a crowded ski lift in a north
valley was another.
Italy's judicial system is a joke. the prosecutors are given to wild flights of fantasy (the orgies, the blood feast) that defense lawyers are not allowed to protect of confess, despite lack of any evidence.

But is US "justice" any better?
+39 # WestWinds 2015-03-28 15:12
The way our government has and is conducting itself makes me totally ashamed to be an American. Once upon a time, I was a proud American, now I hesitate to admit I belong to such blatant corruption. But this is what you get when corporations run a country. May they never truly own and run the world.
+6 # Justice Lady 2015-03-29 12:58
True.Its our "monopoly capitalist" system, in the words of Shirley Anne Hardy author of "Stolen Land-Stolen Lives & the great con trick of DEBT!" that's to blame. We let our land & natural resources be plundered, their rents that should belong to all going into private pockets. Natural monopolys are privately exploited & then big money itself becomes a monopoly as Henry George explained.But its our insane tax system that's the main culprit."Unjust Deserts" was another good book along theses lines.
+43 # turnoutthelights 2015-03-28 15:29
It's all about the religion of American Exceptionalism. It deprives us of insight to other cultures and values----much to our continuing national detriment.
-30 # polfrosch 2015-03-28 15:36
I didn't follow this case in detail, but this article is not very impressive.

E.g: the most negative attitude towards Knox and her friend is in England, not in Italy.

This has nothing to do with Bush.

And: it is clear the guy sentenced to 16 years after a confession he revoked can not have committed the murder alone. So who did it?

rsn usually does better.
+13 # John S. Browne 2015-03-28 17:13

I knew there had to be at least one person here who presumes Amanda Knox guilty in violation of the U.S. Constitution (and/or the Italian constitution?) [I'll assume that you're an "Amerikan" and that you, like most "Amerikans", don't understand that it is the duty of ALL Americans to obey the Constitution, the supreme law(s) of the U.S.]. We're ALL supposed to presume EVERYONE innocent unless they are PROVEN beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty, and to have same accomplished through an impartial jury of their peers. And that, or something similar, is probably in international (and E.U.?) law as well.

Obviously, just because the convicted defendant has retracted his confession, and supposedly couldn't have carried out the murder without assistance, doesn't prove that Amanda Knox and her co-defendant were involved. So, in the interests of standing up for True Justice, you should presume her and her co-defendant innocent, instead of presuming them guilty.

+10 # John S. Browne 2015-03-28 17:19

I am so tired of most "Amerikans", more often than not without any sense whatsoever, presuming defendants guilty. It is totally un-American and anti-American, but it just goes to show that most "Amerikans" are thoroughly dumbed-down about their supreme law(s), don't take it and/or them seriously, and love violating principle(s) simply out of ignorance and spite. Wait until they're presumed guilty for a crime they didn't commit, then they would certainly decry presumption of guilt. But, as long as it doesn't happen to them, they have little or no mercy or pity for anyone who hasn't even been convicted yet, if they ever are.

Oh, that's right, you're a German, aren't you? Don't you have a similar presumption of innocence provision in the German constitution and/or other German law? Or does your country, like Italy probably does by all appearances, have a high rate of convicting innocent people? Yes, we here in "Amerika" have that too, but that is because of the habitual injustices, and malicious prosecutions, by mostly-corrupt prosecutors and judges, their twisting and manipulations of the law(s) in their favor, and due to their preventing real defenses, stacking the deck in favor of the prosecution and the courts.

0 # John S. Browne 2015-03-30 14:50

I'll never forget when I was railroaded for a felony thirty years ago. The extremely-evil prosecutor, in cahoots with the extremely-evil judge, did not apply a mitigating factor for my sentencing that DID apply to me, and applied an aggravating factor to me that did NOT apply to me, thus enabling them to give me the maximum sentence on a first time felony burglary that I did NOT commit. Considering that the so-called burglary was a non-violent crime, and because it was my first and ONLY felony, I should have been given the minimum sentence. Burglary in California at that time carried a sentence of two, four or six years; so, with the aggravating and mitigating factors applied in a TRULY just way, I should have only been sentenced to two years, or four at the most.

These "criminal '(in)justice'" people have a completely different idea of what "justice" is, than what you and I think it is or should be; and their interpretation of "justice" is extremely evil; or they think it's perfectly okay to manipulate "justice" to throw the book at people who don't deserve that level of "(in)justice". When I got out after serving three years with good behavior (half-time credit in California), in my fight for custody of and visitation with my daughter, I'll also never forget the different, unjust judge arguing with me about what "justice" allegedly "is" and "is not", thus proving that they have a totally different idea of what "justice" is. And it's not fairness.

+4 # Polstein 2015-03-29 11:44
1. Where did I write I am convinced Amanda Know is guilty? Why do you jump to this accusation and put these words into my mouth?

2. The courts in Italy came to the conclusion the black ivory coast citizen Rudy Guede was guilty of AIDING in a murder and sentenced him to 16 years (Guede confessed and later revoked, which is legally useless in his case)

Knox and Sollecito were found guilty, then not, then again and now finally not - on the basis of lack of evidence.

Nobody knows more yet, the reasons for this verdict will be published weeks later.

3. Anyhow, I didn´t criticise that judgement, I am neither strongly for nor against it. Obviously this case is not chrystal clear, but murky - with a huge PR effort on Knox´s part.

4. I know there were severe problems with the first prosecutor, as I remember the sex stories were wrong, furthermore the prosecutor himself became a legal case, and the DNA expertise was sloppy and faulty, unusable.

5. So - lack of evidence - ok - sounds reasonable.

6. But why don´t you question the verdict of Guede at all if you are so empathic with Knox? Not fair!

7. This case was not solved by the police or the courts - and that IS bad. Nobody commited the murder, only one person aided? There is no justice for the family of the victim.

8. All of this does not mean I just want somebody ("anybody") punished just to have some punishment. Ok?

This would not improve a bad situation. My standards are slightly higher.
+3 # Polstein 2015-03-29 13:31
Yes, "in dubio pro reo" has constitutional rank in Germany. And that does apply for Italy as well.

After all, the origin of this rule is ROMAN law, ok? It became a basic rule of all justice systems, including muslim.

But this is not my point.

It´s this: the article above basically says: Mrs. Knox became an "Ersatz" victim
of revenge because of the CIA renditions.

I say: No. This is rather on the lines of the nationality of victims and former suspects

The murder victim Meredith Kercher was british - and most british media were
convinced Knox/Sollecito were guilty.

See this article after the court decision from the Guardian (this is the
en-"light"-ened version of the tabloids wording):

"Amanda Knox is free because she's rich and American, says Patrick Lumumba"

Lumumbas life was destroyed by a lie of Knox. Not very pretty either.

Obvioulsy most US citizens are 100% convinced the US citizen Amanda Knox is innocent.

Last: the attitude towards the italian justice system in the comments is unfair and plain wrong:

The italian prosecutors are the heroes of Italy. They fight the mafia, the powerful, the corporations, politicians and spooks. As they are truly independent from the government, they get promoted from within their ranks for being aggressive. Dozens of them were assassinated because they dared to question power.
+4 # Polstein 2015-03-29 13:50

I consider it astonishing how important the case of Amanda Knox is to US citizens.

Not because it´s a second rate question to go to jail for 26 years without proof of guilt.

But in the USA innocent citizens were executed (the ultimate justice failure again and again!) Concerning innocent in death row: see recently Debra Milke
(The Debra Milke case got coverage in Germany - because of the german angle and involvement - again my argument - on the other hand Amanda Knox got coverage too - no german angle.)

I´m not 100% shure in the Milke case either, I don´t know enough, but "in dubio pro reo" was a life saver!

On a grand scale the US justice system fails every day delivering justice deserving that name to it´s black and poor and weak citizens. That´s about the worst one can say about a justice system, isn´t it?

The same huge problem of life threatening unfairness exists with the police for blacks, isn´t it?

There is a lot to do - I don´t understand the focus on Amanda Knox in the Kercher case.

And within the Kercher case: what about Lumumba and Guede?
+4 # Philothustra 2015-03-29 14:12
Ridiculous comment. I also read the howling diatribes against "foxy Knoxy"
from English trolls, clearly psychotic fantasies. But the original case and cop
fraud was definitely a response to US
(and yes Bush) arrogance.
Forget about the "Italian constitution".
There is no presumption of innocence in
Napoleonic law, indeed the opposite, and the accused can be held indefinitely,
much like in Guantanamo.
+3 # Polstein 2015-03-29 14:46
Strong wording, weak knowledge.

The Code Civil or Napoleon was valid in Italy from 1805 to 1814.

In all countries of the European Union this legal text is applicable.

A quote from your own profile page:

It amazes me that so many television talkers
who never studied politics and economics
can hold the stage every day, year after
year, just by shouting and sputtering.
+19 # goodsensecynic 2015-03-28 15:41
Is it possible to believe that Italy's criminal justice system is flawed AND that American imperialism begets what Chalmers Johnson called "blowback" WITHOUT drawing too close a connection?

I have no doubt that American imperialism produces hostile reactions in other countries (and has at least since people chucked rocks at Vice-President Nixon in Caracas, Venezuela in 1958). It is, after all, US policies in North Africa, the Near and the Middle East that are mainly responsible for the creation and promotion of al-Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL/IS and the rest.

BUT, to attribute the squalid actions of the Italian court in the Knox case seems to me to be a bit of a stretch. Maybe a bad Italian justice system is just a bad Italian justice system. After all, look at how it's mishandled the Berlusconi case(s). Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a bunch of crappy lawyers and judges are just a bunch of crappy lawyers and judges.
+11 # lfeuille 2015-03-28 17:43
Quoting goodsensecynic:

BUT, to attribute the squalid actions of the Italian court in the Knox case seems to me to be a bit of a stretch. Maybe a bad Italian justice system is just a bad Italian justice system. After all, look at how it's mishandled the Berlusconi case(s). Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a bunch of crappy lawyers and judges are just a bunch of crappy lawyers and judges.

I don't think it is a stretch at all. The court being part of society is influenced by public opinion and pubic opinion was running pretty strongly against the US. I think is was more than just the usual disapproval of US heavy-handednes s. I seem to recall an incident where US forces were involved in a serious accident at a sky resort in Italy that killed people and got off scot free. I can't remember the details.
-7 # fenox 2015-03-29 09:57
I followed the/Amanda Knox case through the British media and for sure Amanda wasn't the white angel Ash supposes. And the Italian justice not the dumb anti American bunch Marc likes to see. Most European countries use the code Napoleon and in a court case with a jury the jury can condemn if they feel "convinced" about guilt even if no other evidence. And Amanda's conduct after Meredith's murder was highly suspicious.
+1 # Polstein 2015-03-29 13:29
unintentionally copied to this position, sorry...
0 # tgemberl 2015-03-29 14:08
I think this illustrates the general point that when a serious crime is committed, the authorities are under pressure to find SOMEONE to charge for it. That's the main reason for me that the death penalty should be abolished: not because executing someone is wrong in itself, but because the more heinous a crime was, the more likely the wrong person will be accused of it. And once someone is dead, you can't make it up to them later if you find out they're innocent.

I remember the case of the Kennedy relative (Michael Skakel) who was convicted of killing a young woman in 2002. Because as a Kennedy he was an elite figure who could afford expensive legal help, the press decided early on that he was guilty. But from what I read, there were severe doubts that he was. He had problems (he had spied on the woman from a tree outside her window), but he probably didn't kill her. His guilt was pushed by well known writers including Mark Fuhrman.

Here's a Wikipedia summary of the case:
-4 # socrates2 2015-03-29 17:21
Call me a skeptic, but I sense a strong political leitmotif in the decision. With this holding the Italian courts lost the power to request that the US extradite Ms Knox.
That power would have raised the question, why her and not the CIA agents?
Empire must have once more "exercised" its influence and Ms Knox was the unintended and/or "accidental" beneficiary.
Be well.
-3 # corals33 2015-03-30 02:39
Two pretty, innocent young white girls, one didn't have a condom to have sex with a strange black man we have no idea how she met and the other sleeping with a man she met just a couple of weeks or is that a distortion of the facts. Is that how nice normal white girls behave when they go abroad to study? Mr. Ash is this truthouting or some more TRUTH being left out. I would be livid if my own daughters behaved like that but it seems neither of the parents concerned seemed appalled by their daughters 'actions and activities leading up to this most troubling crime. We can look at the political angle later, Sir.
-4 # corals33 2015-03-30 03:06
This article raises more questions about its author than the Italian Justice System. The History of American Justice is more a litany of injustice, especially where black people are involved, not unlike this case, and I am wondering which truthout specs this writer was wearing perusing the details of this matter. I would suggest closer inspection of the "little picture" concerning exactly what relationship these two innocent girls had with a black middle-aged looking bar owner one was supposed to be working for, labelled a vagrant in some reports and a younger black man who seemed to appear out of nowhere to end up in the other young lady's flat to ravish and kill her. That clip of the rich "innocent" Italian "boy" and Amanda Knox having their kind of fun is most disturbing in light of what has transpired never mind the bigger picture involving the lies and spies Mr. Ash would have us investigate.

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