Friday, October 05, 2007

Media Reveal Disturbing New Twists in Death of Soldier in Afghanistan

By E&P Staff Published: October 03, 2007 11:35 AM ET

NEW YORK Newspapers in Massachusetts have been doggedly digging into the case (covered by E&P on Monday) of a Quincy woman who died in Afghanistan under mysterious circumstances last week.

The military first reported that Ciara Durkin, 30, who served in the National Guard, had died “in action,” then revealed that she was killed in a “noncombat” incident that was being investigated.

Her family was told that she had been killed by a single gunshot near a church. They are charging that the military has been dragging its feet in giving them more details. They reject any chance of suicide and suspect friendly fire or murder.

A new twist emerged today in a Boston Globe article: Her family says she had told them to push for an investigation if anything ever happened to her.

She was in a finance unit and may have found some improprieties, according to a story in the Patriot-Ledger, which also disclosed that her family had notified the military about her concerns about her safety three weeks ago.

The Globe reported that the family wondered if, as a lesbian, she may have been targeted.
Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Ted Kennedy are pushing for answers.

Since Durkin is a native of Ireland, the Irish Echo newspaper is also covering the case widely."She did say to us that she had concerns about things she was seeing when she was over there," her sister, Fiona Canavan, told WGBH-TV in Boston. "She told us if anything happened to her, that we were to investigate it."

In a letter, Kerry urged Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates "to deploy your staff on this matter immediately, so that the answers and circumstances around Specialist Durkin's death are uncovered, expeditiously and thoroughly."

Canavan said the family was wondering whether Durkin might have been singled out because she was gay. " Ciara was a lesbian, and that's bound to come out," Canavan said. "It is possible that someone over there found that out, and, you know, maybe they were very homophobic."

The Globe article observed: “Kerry said the Durkin family desperately needs answers to three questions: Why has the Army not responded to the Durkin family's request for an independent autopsy? Why, after not responding to the family's request for an independent autopsy, did the Army fail to contact the Durkin family with the Army's autopsy results?

The family was told to be available to receive a phone call between 1 and 3 p.m. on Oct. 1, and the Army never called.

Why has the Army refused to make Durkin's will and paperwork available to her family, so they can respect her wishes as they plan her funeral and burial?”

An editorial in the Patriot-Ledger today declares: "The initial reports of Ciara Durkin’s death in Afghanistan are a byproduct of the Bush administration’s wrongheaded intent to shape the public perception of this fight and the war in Iraq."

But it is a disgrace that grieving families of those killed in service to their country have to endure painfully slow trickles of information - and misinformation - that pose more questions than answers."

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