Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Italy Rejects US Account Of Calipari Killing

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From Reuters:

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's foreign minister rejected Tuesday a U.S. account of how its forces killed an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq and urged Washington to punish any soldiers found guilty of wrongdoing in the shooting.

...Fini dismissed speculation that U.S. forces deliberately fired on the Italians, but he said an initial U.S. military statement on the shooting, released hours after the attack, did "not coincide" with what Italy believed had happened.

"It was certainly an accident," Fini said.

"But this doesn't mean, in fact it makes it necessary, to demand that events are clarified ... to identify those responsible, and if people are to blame then to request and ensure that the guilty parties are punished," he added.

The U.S. military has said its soldiers fired on the Italians' car after it approached a checkpoint at speed and failed to heed signals to slow down.

But in a detailed reconstruction, Fini insisted that the Italians had been driving slowly and had received no warning.

He added that immediately after the shooting, U.S. soldiers had apologized profusely to freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena and an unnamed Italian intelligence officer who survived the fire.

You've heard from Italy, now what is the U.S. saying? From the AP:

The United States has said soldiers at a Baghdad checkpoint "attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car. When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block which stopped the vehicle, killing one and wounding two others."

...The White House has described the shooting as a "horrific accident" and promised a full investigation.

At the Pentagon (news - web sites), Army Gen. George Casey said he had no indication the Italians had told U.S. forces in advance that their convoy was carrying Sgrena to the Baghdad airport.

"I personally do not have any indication of that, even on a preliminary basis" Casey told reporters. He stressed that another officer has been appointed to investigate the matter, and that he is not personally familiar with all the relevant details of what happened that night.

What do I think? This is such a hard one, and I've been going over it in my mind for a while now.

Giuliana Sgrena

First off, I think the claims being made by Giuliana Sgrena that she was an American target is unlikely to be true (and by that I mean it's fucking ridiculous). Really, if they had wanted to kill her, they would have finished her off (and for that matter, everybody else in the car). Why leave any witnesses to complain about what happened? Why leave the primary target alive? There are even more holes in her theory, but you get the idea.

The U.S. Story

Having said all that, I don't subscibe to the official U.S. story either. If proper and clear warning was given, why wouldn't the driver have slowed down then? The Italians had nothing to hide and were perfectly legit. These were veteran secret service agents, they weren't stupid! Why risk their life for....what? Nobody has even thrown out a reason, and I suspect that's because there isn't one.

The Soldiers

So, does this mean that I think the U.S. soldiers were incompetent or malicious? No way. I'm sure that they did give some kind of warning signals. Why wouldn't they? But the signals went wrong. They were ineffective.

The message didn't make it to the car, for whatever reason. But the soldiers didn't know. To their eyes the car had been warned and was still coming towards them. What does this mean to an American soldier in Iraq? 'There is a car bomb. It will kill me unless I stop it.'

So they stopped it. And in the car, Nicola Calipari threw himself in front of Sgrena to save her from the bullets.

Afterwards, by the Italians own account of the story:

"Two young Americans approached our officer and, demoralized, repeatedly apologized for what had happened."

What is his life worth?

So here we are. Nicola Calipari, a hero in the true sense of the word is dead. What is his life worth? Apparently to the U.S. Gov and Giuliana Sgrena, not much. One is spinning away responsibility for a mistake. The other is exploiting a tragedy for her own agenda. What a way to honor his sacrifice.


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