Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

Brit Hume Makes Light of Lawsuit Brought by Parents of Slain Peace Activist Rachel Corrie

Reported by Marie Therese - July 12, 2007 -

Yesterday during Special Report anchor Brit Hume delivered a short, snide update on the status of a lawsuit filed in 2005 by the parents of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old Washington State peace activist killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. The D9 bulldozer had been sold to the Israeli government by the American company, Caterpillar. Ms. Corrie was acting as a human shield to prevent the demolition of the house of a Palestinian pharmacist and was mowed down by the bulldozer despite the fact that she was in front of it, wearing a fluorescent orange jacket and carrying a megaphone. Because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the 108th Congress (Republican) refused a request to open an independent inquiry, an Israeli report stands as the official record. That report absolves Israel of all responsibility in the matter. Rachel's parents were not satisfied with this and sued both the State of Israel and Caterpillar. With video.

In Hume's report he made it sound like this was a frivolous suit brought by the parents of a girl too stupid to get out of the way of a large piece of machinery. He claimed that it was an "accident" while airing a picture of Rachel wearing a black head scarf. This, naturally, created the image that she was somehow in league with those awful terrorists who want to blow us all up. Hume could barely control the dripping sarcasm and at one point I thought he was actually going to laugh as a way of diminishing the Craig and Cindy Corrie's attempts to hold Caterpillar responsible for the hundreds of deaths and injuries that have occurred as the result of their bulldozers being used to gut Palestinian homes.

The Corries argue that bulldozers - like ovens - are not manufactured to kill people. They claim that Caterpillar is responsible for all deaths that have occurred as the result of the "weaponization" of an otherwise non-military vehicle, because the executives at Caterpillar were aware of two things when they contracted the sale to Israel.

1) Israel planned to use the bulldozers as a military tool in violation of international law to destroy the homes of members of the Palestinian general population.

2) Caterpillar was aware at the time of sale that the United States government objected to the demolition of homes of innocent people as reprisal for the actions of a radical few.

An audio tape of the July 9th hearing can be accessed at United States Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit. Enter case number 05-36210.*

As Cindy Corrie wrote in the Boston Globe (registration required):

"Rachel was an unarmed peace activist trying to prevent the demolition of the home of a Palestinian pharmacist, his wife, and three children. She believed that nonviolent direct action against the Israeli occupation would make Palestinians, and also Israelis and Americans, more secure. Rachel stood there to protect a home and family in Gaza because the United States and Israel rejected a UN proposal to send international human rights monitors there. International activists went instead. Rachel stood there protesting illegal home demolitions that the United States opposes on the record yet fails to stop -- destruction that we support with billions in annual military aid to Israel for bulldozers, Apache helicopters, F-16s, and more."

Why, I asked myself, would FOX News even bother with this story, if, as Hume implied, the whole thing is without merit? It didn't make sense until I read this exchange that occurred Monday, July 9th, in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments for and against allowing the case to proceed:

" ...[Lawyers] for Caterpillar and the U.S. Justice Department, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Caterpillar's behalf, argued that letting the case proceed would require U.S. courts to improperly intervene in the political arena.

"The judge asked the Justice Department lawyer, Robert Loeb, to consider the hypothetical case of a U.S. oven manufacturer during World War II, asking, 'If the company continued selling ovens to Germany, knowing they were being used to kill Jews, would there be legal grounds to go after the company?'

"'Yes,' Loeb replied, adding 'Treason, for starters.'"

"But the lawyers for the Justice Department and Caterpillar Corporation continued to make the case that Israel's home demolitions are legal, and American judges do not have the jurisdiction to pass judgment on the state of Israel." (source: Cross-Cultural Understanding)

The first thing that struck me was the fact the the Justice Department (you know, the shining beacon of law and order run by perjurer Alberto Gonzales) seems to have made a 180 degree shift in its attitude. According to Cindy Corrie in 2003, the American government's official stance on bulldozing homes was negative. Now, it would seem that as of Monday, the Bush administration is all in favor of it.

The second thing I noticed was that the question and answer about the ovens would seem to indicate a possibility that the 9th Circuit might decide that there is an issue of corporate responsibility above and beyond the profit motive. And THAT would scare the dickens out of FOX News!

The Corries expressed their feelings about their day in court thusly:

Monday, July 9th, was a powerful day for us at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle. It was moving and momentous, after four years of seeking accountability, to actually be in a court room, to feel a bit of the majesty of the law and the hope that we still find in it. It was powerful to be there on Rachel’s behalf and on behalf of Palestinian families who have suffered and continue to suffer such terrible losses, and to see even a very limited application of the law to these tragedies.

It was powerful to sit in a U.S. courtroom and to hear even a few comments and questions related to the terrible acts that have happened in the West Bank and Gaza."

For more information about Rachel Corrie, click on the link: The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.

* Post amended July 12, 2007 at 4:15 PM EDT to clarify the basis for the Corrie lawsuit and add some new links. - MT