Wounded Guiliana Sgrena disembarks
plane in Rome: was it her own fault?
I’ve been following with growing incredulity the story of Italian reporter, Giuliana Sgrena’s liberation from captivity and subsequent shooting by U.S. forces in Iraq, along with the murder of her security agent, Nicola Calipari. The initial U.S. statement claimed that the Italian diplomatic car was traveling at high speed and refused to stop when our forces flashed lights and fired warning shots. Watching the pindits on the cable talk shows was even more maddening. Barry McCafferty ranted that it was all Sgrena’s fault. After all, what person in their right mind tries to run an American roadblock, etc., etc. ad nauseum. Talk about blaming the victim!
After the initial Alice in Wonderland U.S. statements, Sgrena and the Italian government came out with strong statements saying that the Italian vehicle was traveling at a normal rate of speed, saw no lights, heard no warnings to stop and had notified U.S. troops that they would be traveling this route. Considering we’re dealing with a hard right Italian government, I found it extraordinary to read the Foreign Minister’s statement that the U.S. response was flat out unacceptable and at total odds with the facts as the Italians knew them. Poor George, after all this is one of his political soulmates and one of his only allies in the Iraq fight telling him he’s full of crap. How pathetic!
Advice to Iraqis: stay off the road
when Negroponte’s going to dinner
Now, officials at the U.S. embassy in Iraq are slowly lifting the veil of lies: Italian Was Killed at Iraq Checkpoint Set Up for U.S. Ambassador’s Trip. It appears that U.S. ambassador John Negroponte was driving to dinner with U.S. commander George Casey. Because of a storm, Negroponte was forced to drive to dinner instead of flying by helicopter. U.S. troops set up a “mobile checkpoint” near the airport and along the route of Negroponte’s motorcade. Though the ambassador had passed the checkpoint at 7:30 PM for some inexplicable reason the troops were still there at 8:55 PM when Sgrena’s car arrived. The rest is history.
I’m only guessing here, but I suspect that the soldiers might have remained after Negroponte passed because they thought he might return after dinner via the same route. They would have been tremendously edgy because they knew that Negroponte’s safety was of the highest priority. Imagine what would happen to a solider who compromised the security of the most important U.S. diplomat in Iraq? So is it any wonder they were trigger happy or came out blasting at the Italian car?
James Glanz notes in this article that:
American commanders, including General Casey, have so far declined to clarify what took place that night, citing a continuing investigation.
That stance by the commanders has left the American Embassy in the position of being the prime source of information from the United States about the incident.
As usual, the U.S. military hunkers down to try to weather the storm by playing deaf mute.
I am sure further embarrassing revelations in this case await us. What makes that prospect especially delightful is that Negroponte comes up very soon for Senate hearings on his appointment to be Bush’s new national intelligence czar. This gives the Democrats, if they have any fight or spine left in them, the opportunity to rake him over the coals about this incident. I’m sure the only reason that unnamed embassy officials in Iraq are telling the New York Times anything about this incident is that they’re trying to preempt questions from Democrats at the hearings. You can be sure that they will only release the minimum to get by the hearings. It’s up to the media, Democrats and us bloggers to probe for more details than Negroponte’s folks are willing to give out.
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