What Happened to Giuliana Sgrena?

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Freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena—the Italian woman who just escaped death at the hands of American soldiers—has been relating an account of the shooting that flatly contradicts the Pentagon's story. Doug Ireland summarizes:

[T]he Nouvel Observateur's daily news bulletin reports in a Saturday afternoon posting that Sgrena says the conduct of the car in which she was being transported to liberty couldn't possibly justify the fusillade that riddled it and its occupants with bullets. "Our car was rolling along at normal speed, so it was impossible for there to have been a misunderstanding," Sgrena told the Italian magistrates who've been charged with investigating the murderous incident, according to the Italian wire service Ansa–which also says her account has been confirmed by one of the Italian secret service agents in the car with her, who was likewise wounded. These two testimonies from the victims of the shooting completely contradict the Pentagon's account that Sgrena was in a speeding car that was heading straight for a checkpoint and was shot at to stop it. In fact, says Sgrena, there was no checkpoint–"just a patrol that started shooting at us as soon as they bracketed their headlights on us."

Sgrena's boyfriend is taking the accusations further, calling the shooting a deliberate ambush aimed at suppressing unspecified information the reporter had acquired. Eason Jordan, call your office…

NEXT: The State of Science Journalism, In a Teeny-Weeny Screen

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  1. Yeah, delusions of grandeur are hard to shake

  2. 80sfan,

    Who is having delusions of grandeur?

  3. Another needless killing as a result of a needles war. When we speak to the world about this ongoing tradgedy, we need to tell them that our government does things that most Americans would never countanance.

  4. Saddam Hussein was worse.

  5. First, what is a “normal speed,” I bet she doesn’t know what speed they were traveling at. Normal speed might be 80 mph for all we know.

    Second, she admits they were still moving, which doesn’t contradict the pentagon’s story at all – it confirms it. The convoy was told to stop – it didn’t – they got shot at. That is what happened according to all accounts, including this one.

    I have never been in a war zone. But if I was, and I saw military personnel waving at me to stop, then firing warning shots, I would stop.

    The troops’ job over there is dangerous enough. They need to protect themselves too, they can’t wait for the car to get there and then look inside to see if it is a suicide bomber. They need to stop the car before the checkpoint. If someone doesn’t stop when ordered to stop they should get shot at. That is just common sense.

  6. If it was an ambush to keep her quiet, why is she still alive?

  7. armchair,
    Reread this:

    In fact, says Scregna, there was no checkpoint–“just a patrol that started shooting at us as soon as they bracketed their headlights on us.”

    That doesn’t sound like the scenario you’re conjuring.
    I’m not going to speculate on what went wrong, but I hope bloggers are as persistent on this as they were on the Dan Rather thing.

    Note to NPR:
    Get Sylvia Porgioli on this case.

  8. We will soon discover that Scregna was working with Hunter Thompson on his 9/11 expose, and the “agency” did them both.

  9. We will soon discover that Scregna was working with Hunter Thompson on his 9/11 expose, and the “agency” did them both.

    Yeah, except they forgot to kill her.

    It’s understandable why her friends, family, associates would be pissed — but the conspiracy theories don’t make any sense. If it was deliberate, how come she ain’t dead? Why kill her guard and leave her alive? (Maybe the entire kidnapping was just a ruse to get this guard killed.)

  10. It is a tragedy that Scregna was wounded and others died, however to claim that the attack was “aimed at suppressing unspecified information the reporter had acquired” is a load of horseshit. IF the information is so damning, why didn’t the boyfriend know? Why doesn’t the whole world know?

    Is it because she is lying about the circumstances to cover up the mistakes of those who “rescued” her, or her own mistakes? Can anyone truly blame her? Afterall it is easier to say the US Military is full of murderous rapists than it is to say “I told the driver not to stop for anything, and he didn’t. That is why he is dead.”

    Owning up to one’s own culpability is difficult. Even more so for a person in Scregna’s situation.
    I don’t blame her for the deaths of her “rescuers,” I do blame her for lying, and using herboyfriend to lie to the world.

  11. I thought he was a competent driver.

  12. All Things Considered, March 5, 2005 ? On Friday, U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint opened fire on a car carrying Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been freed by Iraqi kidnappers. An Italian agent in the car was killed protecting Sgrena, who was wounded. The political fallout from the incident is straining U.S.-Italian relations and is expected to increase public opposition to Italy’s deployment of troops to Iraq.

    I have already dispatched Guido to kneecap all above save my heartthrob and Scots-Irish stallion, Ruthless.

  13. Without committing to any particular account of what happened, I’ll note that unless Ansa misreported, Scregna’s story — not her boyfriend’s interpretation of the soldiers’ motives, but her version of events — has apparently been corroborated by the Italian secret service agent who was wounded.

  14. Another needless killing as a result of a needles war.

    Rick Barton,
    The artillery in this needless war is of much higher caliber than that of a needle.
    It could be as high as a Zippo on a domestic flight.

  15. Oooh, Haystack, good one! Nothing like pulling out the ol’ Domestic Terrorism card to scare the bejeezus out of Middle Amurika to keep the yokels in line and on message.

    While you’re at it, point out that our troops are justified in doing whatever they want to whomever they want whenever necessary to fight the War Without End, all because death from the skies could come at any minute. And don’t forget–if Kerry was elected, this would be much, much worse.

  16. She’s not American, so she must lying–just like all those Iraqis and Afghanis who have claimed “we” (through our valiant and forever-above-criticism-or-reproach soldiers) shot up untold carloads of innocents, wedding parties, etc.

    Everybody knows the Pentagon, like the US government (at least under the Bible-believing George Bush, not that Slick Willie), never lies.

    Just ask Jessica Lynch. Or Pat Tillman–sorry, never mind; I guess he’s not feeling too well recently.

    Everybody who says otherwise is a mad conspiracy theorist, don’t you know.

  17. Maybe (to quote NRBQ) “it was an accident.”

  18. Maybe someone who’s been locked in a closet for months & had her life threatened by nutjobs isn’t going to be a particularly reliable witness, could be?

  19. RTFA, Doug.

  20. You’re going to call that screed an article?

  21. Go back to sleep, Doug.

  22. Douglas Fletcher,

    Why is it so hard for you to believe that maybe the U.S. military isn’t being entirely truthful about the matter? That doesn’t mean the boyfriend’s spin on the events is right (he obviously wasn’t there), but it does mean that one should take a jaundiced eye to ANYTHING the U.S. military has to say. Of course the same attitude might be useful re: the Italian reporter as well.

    I always find that attitude that the military can never lie to be rather bizarre.

  23. I’ve got an idea: why don’t we wait until the investigations are over and the findings released?

    BWAH-HA-HA-ha-ha-ha! Hoo, boy… I knew I shouldn’t have drained that bottle of wine.

  24. I believe there’s no need to invoke conspiracy theories when ordinary screwing up will do as an explanation. What do you expect out of a bunch of 20-year-olds who have been trained as soldiers and then dumped into an environment in which civilians can’t be distinguished from combatants & death can strike at any time?

    These sorts of things happen in war. All the more reason to get our troops out of there.

  25. I notice many posters seem disinclined to believe the US military. I myself am disinclined to believe avowed anti-American Communists.

    See here.

    Key quote: “Sgrena, a 56-year-old journalist for the communist daily Il Manifesto…”

  26. yeah, but it was corroborated by the italian secret service agents in the car with her.

  27. Her boyfriend, Pier Scolari…

    It’s good to know he found something to keep him busy since Newhart ended.

    Kevin

    (OK, so he’s worked some.

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0778642/ )

  28. Eh, in this case I’ll have to go with the theory of “Mutually-Assigned Cynicism”: the safest thing to do is assume both sides are lying until further notice.

    Feel free to use that term if you wish…

  29. I sense a desire to blame (or excuse) one side at the expense of the other. Anyone moving toward people with guns bears some responsibility for being fired upon. Anyone firing upon a target of unconfirmed identity bears some responsibility if the target proved to be non-hostile.

    That one person was a recently-freed hostage/reporter makes for more emotional arguments that take over the facts (the facts so far available, anyway).

    It strikes me as an insignificant story in context of a 4G war. Aggregate all similar instances and look for lessons.

    Or, if you want a conspiracy, Scregna was slightly reprogrammed by the captors to act as a press agitator against the US. Her dramatic return to freedom was planned to stoke anti-war activism in Italy. Imagine if the “insurgents” had put Maupin in the car instead.

  30. From the article:

    “They were 700m from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints.”

    Hmm…

    That sounds doubtful. That’s a lot of ground to have unguarded between the last checkpoint and the airport.

    Plus, only one person dead from a head shot. The rest wounded. That doesn’t sound like a hail of bullets. Plus, if a vehicled patrol stumbled upon them, they would have been sprayed by a larger caliber gun, like a .50-cal or an M-60, which should have much messier results.

    My bet is that the driver of the car (an Italian Secret Service Agent?) screwed up somehow.

  31. Haystack,

    The Iraq war is not an attack on those who commited the 9/11 murders. There shouldn’t even be a war on terror. What a ridiculous concept! Terror is not an enemy. It’s a tactic. A war on a tactic is by nature, an open ended war and one with out cessation. The war on terror is nebulous enough to give the government a sort of carte blanche excuse for infringing on all manner of individual rights.

    Our government’s response should be to hunt down AQ and kill them so they can’t do it again and quit the needless and sometimes shameful interventions that motivated their attacks against us in the first place. There is no evidence that the Iraq war will make us any less likley to be the targets of terror.

  32. Who is surprised a car driven by an Italian was travelling too fast?

  33. For your edification, not all patrols and check points are announced beforehand, the idea is to surprise insurgents who are driving around Iraq. Sometimes we just go to a point, set up a checkpoint for a period of time.

    If the Italians pulled this off without any coordination, there would be no way the soldiers at a checkpoint would know to expect a car moving erratically and/or quickly, and not to shoot it. At the main entrance to BIAP, there are signs at least 1000 meters out from the checkpoint as well obstacles designed to cause drivers to realize there is a checkpoint ahead and to slow down. Unless these Italians were brand new to Iraq, they new where this entrance was and how to approach it, and what would happen if they failed to do so.

    The checkpoint usuallly is built around a large military vehicle, and everyone knows what they look like, being surrounded by soldiers and all, and we do whatever we can to get a car to slow down before we use deadly force. Considering there have been more than a few car-bombings in Iraq, the soldiers manning the checkpoint are only going to let a driver fail to observe the warnings before they decide to err on the side of caution. Oh, there is also the consideration that the first carbomb is used to open a whole for a follow-on, and wouldn’t a carbomb on the flightline of BIAP be a success for the terrorists? There is a lot to take into consideration while you are on guard.

    This story will gain this journalist a lot of publicity and play into the hands of anti-war activists, and the journo is going to sell a lot of magazines and write a book, good for her.

  34. This is in response to a comment that is up the list a bit, but the fact that she doesn’t even realize a checkpoint was there shows she really wasn’t paying attention.

    It is very well known that there is a check point in that area on that road. Note the fact that no news account disputes this (just her account which admits military personnel were there but states it wasn’t a checkpoint — does she know what a checkpoint is?), and even the very first articles to report on this incident mentioned the well-known details about this area.

    The simple fact is that whoever was driving the car refused to comply with orders from military personnel. The passengers didn’t realize what was going on till shots were fired. So from their perspective that is what happened. Their perspective is just flawed.

    No one has disputed 2 facts: (1) it was a checkpoint; and (2) the car had not stopped, but “continued driving at normal speed,” in Giuliana Sgrena’s own words. Those facts show the shooting was justified – the driver just messed up.

    As an aside, her name is spelled wrong in the article above.

  35. Thanks, Armchair. I’ve just fixed it.

    Kevrob: Every time Tom Hanks is up for an Oscar, Peter Scolari goes on suicide watch.

  36. “The simple fact is that whoever was driving the car refused to comply with orders from military personnel.”

    And you know that they were given orders…how? The people in the car report being fired on as soon as the Americans put their lights on them.

    My guess – the patrol was looking for a similar car that was full of bad guys, and found this one instead.

  37. Every time Tom Hanks is up for an Oscar, Peter Scolari goes on suicide watch.

    Dammit. Now I have to get that show erased from my memory again.

  38. Why would Italian secret service refuse to respond and speed through the “check point”? I suspect, and this at least partially comes from comments I’ve heard from of few folks who have been there (2 grunts, a former grunt turned contracter and a doc) we have a we habit of shooting first and letting God do the sorting.

    and I enjoyed Dynamists comment “Anyone moving toward people with guns bears some responsibility for being fired upon. ” WOW, thi is an interesting comment. Next time someone gets shot by gang-bangers here in Chicago, I’ll share that comment.

    I’m giving the idea that we targeted them a low probability of being true, maybe around 11%, I give the idea that we just shoot whatever moves and letting the great thunder beast in the sky sort them out a 99% probablility.

  39. Skeptikos,
    I’m agreeing with your math.
    Now let’s imagine how hard it is to get some witnesses for what you’re saying.
    It’s like the atmosphere in the ‘hood around here. There is a conspiracy of silence, just one more side-effect of the War on Drugs.

  40. So Rick Barton thinks the American government “does things most Americans would never contanance [sic]” Hasn’t opposition to stuff like genocide of American Indians, slavery, and overthrowing Latin American governments always been the purvey of a minority of Americans?
    By the way, does anybody know whether Giuliana Sgrena plays chess?

  41. The usatoday.com report says: “Sgrena wrote that her captors warned her as she was about to be released not to signal her presence to anyone, because ‘the Americans might intervene.'”

    This suggests a scenario in which the occupants of the vehicle saw the lights but drove on, fearing an ambush. It could have been clever psychological manipulation by her captors, playing on the distrust she already had of the US, leading her driver to make a stupid move that gave the kidnappers a propaganda victory.

    I don’t know that this is true. It’s just one of the possibilities to consider.

  42. While admitting to not quite understanding the fuzzy math of 110%, I’m curious why no one has mentioned another obvious conclusion.

    This war has gone off with shakey reasoning at best. Is it not possible that the death of this journalist was perhaps one of it’s goals? She worked for a European communist newspaper and as Putin’s recent actions have shown, the Cold War is obviously not over. I think this action was likely ordered by some one at the top, Rummy if not Bush himself.

    The fact that she is still alive simply speaks further to Bush’s incompetence.

  43. garym, I gotta say, that’s a lot more complicated than “terrified, sleep deprived 19 year old shoots at wrong car.”

  44. Correct: Way to carry the ball over the goal line!

    Skeptikos: Would you drive your car directly at a group of people you perceived to be “gang bangers”, particularly if said persons had weapons drawn and pointed at you?

  45. The 2 most likely assessments are given by:

    1) Dynamist: I sense a desire to blame (or excuse) one side at the expense of the other. Anyone moving toward people with guns bears some responsibility for being fired upon. Anyone firing upon a target of unconfirmed identity bears some responsibility if the target proved to be non-hostile.

    2) joe: “terrified, sleep deprived 19 year old shoots at wrong car.”

    Sadly, both assessments deprive us of a chance to point fingers at our usual suspects.

  46. Alan Rutkowski,

    Even if, opposition to stuff like genocide of American Indians, slavery, and overthrowing Latin American governments always been the purvey of a minority of Americans, which is certainly incorrect vis a vis slavery, it still doesn’t take away from my point that; “our government does things that most Americans would never countenance.” BTW, you misspelled my misspelling of “countenance.”

    By the way, does anybody know whether Giuliana Sgrena plays chess?

    Giuliana Sgrena has an “A” rating with the Italian Chess Federation and seems to favor closed opening systems. However, she was recently disciplined by the European Postal Chess League for cheating by using a computer. 🙂

  47. Joe: My hypothesis and yours aren’t mutually exclusive. Things like this are often the result of stupidity on both sides.

    Correct: The U.S. invaded Iraq so that it could kill an Italian journalist two years later? Remarkably devious of Bush, I’d say.

  48. Dynmamist,

    One, I was laughing at your blame the victim thought process, two, do you really think 2 Italian secret service agents would “run” an American check point, for exactly that reason?

    Usually when victims are shot down in the street, they rarely had a chance to avoid being shot, well unless they took the initiative and shot themselves first. My personal experience is that most people, and I suspect the Italians fall into this, try to avoid being shot at.

    It would be very difficult to set up a hit using a check point and standard issue grunts, unless you are planning and insuring those same grunts are later terminated.

    BUT…it is really easy to listen to the Iraqi’s themselves, and from what I’ve been reading, they have the perspective, and this is from an AP article no longer online from a few months back, that we (the US) pretty much shoot first and ask questions later. When you do that, well, you get a lot of local merchants in jail with glowsticks sticking out of some inappropiate orifices, and weird (and politicaly dangerous) deaths. Like the death of this Italian agent.

    The sloppiness, is both inevitable in a government not much into accountability, and probably. And completely avoidable by serious warriors, and we have none of those in the ruling protectarate at present.

  49. I’m just naive enough to believe that American troops weren’t in possession of some foreknowledge of who exactly was in the car and what kind of daming information the passengers may have had.

    I’m also inclined, I know – just call me a stupid jingoistic rube, but I’m more inclined to believe our military than Sgrena and whomever she’s currently sleeping with.

    Some of you guys will believe anything as long as it puts America in the worst light.

  50. skeptical;

    We have no “serious warriors” in Iraq right now?

    Please elaborate.

  51. Jesse,

    Okay, so now we have the story of two Italian citizens who were shot at in a war zone.

    We have a larger number of Americans who corroborate the story that the car was driving in such a manner as to seem a threat.

    Unless a person is just oriented to believe anyone over an American, particularly American military personnel, the story is pretty thin.

  52. “…but I’m more inclined to believe our military than Sgrena and whomever she’s currently sleeping with.”

    And the part where the Italien intelligence operative backed up here version of how the shooting transpired, and contradicted the official statment from the Pentagon, goes down the memory hole? The Bushbot position is to cast this as her word against the Boys Fighting for Freedom? Gotcha.

  53. joe,

    Hey, I already confessed to being a simpleton for not automatically assuming that these two Italians are unquestionably above suspsicion. They obviously have no agenda or prejudices of their own and were simply doing what anyone else would have done in their situation.

    But, if I’m a Bushbot for automatically believing “my” guys (the American soliders) what kind of bot does that make you and half of the posters here for your knee jerk reaction to believe anyone but an American?

    You don’t have to answer that; the seemingly obvious point is that there are two sides of this story. So in your analogy, we’re both automatons but we’re programmed to different masters.

    Who’s your daddy?

  54. Here’s one way to tell if you’re a bot, Sporadic. You hear two conflicting accounts of an event you did not witness. Is your reaction:

    (a) “I don’t know which story is true, or if either story is true. I wonder what other evidence there might be?”

    or

    (b) “I must believe something. Which side do I feel more comfortable believing?”

    You get bonus bot points if you assume everyone else is picking (b) as well.

  55. Jesse said it best.

  56. I saved this for last but why haven’t I read of anyone mentioning who her employer is?

    Il Manifesto is a communist newspaper (I wonder if they give all of the papers away in protest of private property).

    But I’m sure Sgrena has no bias or prejudice against America, the antithesis of her personal ideology.

    She says they were driving along celebrating her freedom; she mentions happy voices and such and the all of a sudden, gun fire. So to believe her rendition, they were joyously celebrating with lots of laughter and talking while simultaneously peering out of every window, intent on looking for check points and, of course, she was keeping a constant eye on the speedometer. In between celebratory actions; whatever it is you do to celebrate in a speeding car, at night, in Iraq.

    Thus when she says she saw no signals to stop, I believe her. Really, I do. No axe to grind, 100% attentive to the drive. I really believe her.

  57. Jester’s delusional.

    Anyone that can read this thread and come away with the idea that the majority of posters are objectively looking for evidence, giving both sides a fair shake doesn’t have an objective bone in their body.

    Lying to people is bad; lying to yourself is pathetic.

  58. I stand corrected, I did find one mention of her being a communist.

    And Solitude and Brambley did a fine job of summing it up. One was wait until the investigation was over – not much fun for the anti-American conspiracy types. The other was that at worst, some young GI’s who’ve been watching their buddies get blown up by civilians, shooting at the first hint of provocation.

    Even Jester and Thoreau would be a littel trigger happy if their own lives depended upon it.

  59. I never said there was only one bot on the premises, Sporadic.

    Also, unless the Italian secret service is crawling with commies, I think the woman’s politics are a (cough) red herring.

  60. Jesse, just salute the flag and shut the fuck up (if you know what is good for you).

  61. Ah yes, the Roshomon effect in action. 🙂

    Sporadic,

    Note that the positions which you now praise are of course the positions that you earlier eschewed. Talk about flip-flopping. 🙂

  62. We can’t know which of two conflicting accounts is true, or closer to the truth.But we can observe some things about the behavior of the parties involved. The US Army has been fairly restrained this far, while pending further investigations, and has emphesised that the account they have released has merely been what the soldiers involved have told them. Obviously, if the soldiers fucked up, they might not say so.
    The Italians in the party have rushed to press, with garbled hysterical, and self-contradictory reports.
    Who wants to bet, the Army gets vindicated?

  63. Dear Reader, please go back to the last few posts by Sporadic and Andrew, and notice how they keep using the phrase “the Italians” or “the two Italians.” Where everyone else is talking about the testimony of the intelligence agent (from the pro-war, American-allied government whose troops are fighting alongside the US Army and Marines), the two hawks keep lumping Mr. Carapari with Ms. Sgrena, in an attempt to discredit his testimony by attacking her credibility.

    Personally, I think it’s shitty to take the words of a communist reporter and put them in the mouth of an intelligence agent/hostage negotiator from a democratic nation, just because you don’t want to hear what he has to say. But no worse than what that side’s been spewing for the past three years.

  64. I’m surprised no one here has mentioned the ransom. Supposedly the Italians caved in and handed 3-4 million over to the terrorists.

    So this lady is a strident communist, and bribed murderers millions to save her neck. And now these murderers have some extra cash to spend on their operations, and have a very lucrative motivation to pursue further kidnappings.

  65. She wouldn’t be the one who bribed the, Mr. Nice Guy. That would be the Italian Government, if indeed payments were made.

  66. “The US Army has been fairly restrained this far,”

    Well, if you can call levelling a city of 300 thousand to rubble restrained, then fine. The fact of the matter, this isn’t the first journalist to claim that they were deliberatley targeted by the US military. Here are some of these incidents that resulted in the death of journalists:

    1. Air strike on Abu Dhabi and Al-Jazeera offices in Baghdad. April 8, 2003.
    2. Tank fire on Palestine Hotel, April 8, 2003.
    3. Reuter cameraman killed by the US military. Aug 18 2003.
    4. Cameraman for al-Arabiya TV station shot dead by US troops. March 18, 2004.

    Also, This isn’t the first time the US military shoots at innocent people at check points. Also the US military lied about event in Iraq before, so banking on that they never lie is shaky at best.

  67. joe:

    “If” – then she had something to do with it. We’re not talking about some lunkhead who was over there driving trucks. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was directly involved in the negotiations, and aided her captors.

  68. What a disgusting example of blaming the victim.

  69. So, joe, a “victim” has the moral authority to do anything, including conspiring with murderers, in order to save her own skin?

    So you’re saying, if a ransom was paid, that she had nothing more then a passive role? Wanna take that bet?

  70. You have absolutely no reason to believe she conspired with her captors, or was involved in any way with the negotiations for her release. Do you? Can you link to anything that can be called “evidence” that the victim of this kidnapping collaborated with her assailants? i didn’t think so.

    Nor do you have a leg to stand on when claiming that being ransomed makes one liable for the criminals acts of one’s captors.

    I suppose you’d volunteer to be beheaded if someone offered to pay your ransom. Sort of like you volunteered to go to Iraq with the Marines. Oh, wait.

  71. Mickey Kaus http://www.kausfiles.com has some interesting comments today:

    “Have U.S. generals ever been through a U.S. roadblock? Drudge briefly linked to this excellent CSM piece which asks that question after describing how easy it is for innocent, law-abiding Iraqi drivers and their passengers to get killed by U.S. fire. There’s also a horrifying account in Evan Wright’s Generation Kill. (“[A U.S. Marine] asks the father, sitting by the side of the road, why he didn’t heed the warning shots and stop. The father simply repeats, ‘I’m sorry,’ then meekly asks permission to pick up his daughter’s body.”) … Can average drivers detect so-called warning shots? Wright writes:

    “In the dark, warning shots are simply a series of loud bangs or flashes. It’s not like this is the international code for “Stop your vehicle and turn around.” As it turns out, many Iraqis react to warning shots by speeding up. Maybe they just panic. Consequently, a lot of Iraqis die at roadblocks.

    “Surely our roadblock practices have done much more to alienate Iraqis than the Abu Ghraib abuses. Roadblocks wind up killing innocent families, not humiliating suspected insurgents. … Wright does describe some efforts by Marines to improvise a better policy, with spotty results. …”

  72. jesus, joe, you don’t need to get testy here.

    “Can you link to anything that can be called “evidence” that the victim of this kidnapping collaborated with her assailants? i didn’t think so.”

    I am able to provide a link.. just give me a freak’n chance.. sheesh..

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13112-2005Mar7.html?sub=AR

    Here is a selection from that article:

    “I believe, but it’s only a hypothesis, that the happy ending to the negotiations must have been irksome,” she (Sgrena) said. “The Americans are against this type of operation. For them, war is war, human life doesn’t count for much.”

    So, right here, she appears to be setting up a defense for ransom. The “happy ending” is the preservation of a “human life” (hers), even if it may have involved funding of terrorism.

    joe, I’m going to say this again, this is a journalist who is a loud voice of anti-Americanism, right or wrong. It’s not a stretch to think she and her paper might have outright sympathizers in the Italian government, and those who are simply afraid their anti-American constituents. I refuse to believe she was just a passive “victim”. There is a lot of influence at play here.

    The bottom line: if money or other kind of aid is involved here, this is something that will contribute to the further loss of American life, whether it’s over there or here. Let’s just hope it’s not someone you care about, joe.

  73. Certainly, any rational person would conclude that paying millions of dollars to Islamofascists in order to save one person’s life is a very bad idea. It incents the bad guys to do more kidnapping, gives them resources to kill more people, etc.

    Thus, we should be discouraging this from occurring, should we not?

    What better way to discourage payment of ransom for hostages than to issue shoot-on-sight orders for any hostage who has been ransomed?

    Obviously, the CIA discovered the ransom deal, and had its stooges in the Army set up a quickie checkpoint to kill the journalist. It was only through the incompetence of the American soldiers that she survived!

    Take it away, Democratic Underground/Hit & Run Solidarity Front!

  74. So the victim approves of her release, and doesn’t think the American government likes it. Therefore, she was collaborating with her captors. Oh, and she was a communist, and therefore had…uh…a lot of support among the Italian security apparatus and the Bersculonin administration.

    Of course. How silly of me.

  75. So the victim approves of her release, and doesn’t think the American government likes it. Therefore, she DIDN’T collaborate with her captors?

    I fully admit that I’m speculating.. and you seem very sure of yourself. Let’s see.

  76. “I fully admit that I’m speculating.. and you seem very sure of yourself. Let’s see.”

    Isn’t this what Dennis Hastert said about George Soros’ alleged payoffs from drug cartels? That he was just speculating, and didn’t know one way or another?

    It is repugnant and libelous to accuse a victim of an abduction of cooperating with her captors. Your charge amounts to an accusation that she was an accessory to the killing of the intelligence agent that sacrificed himself for her. Shame on you.

  77. I’m repugnant and shamed. Thanks for setting me straight. Now it’s time to heal.

  78. joe’s post is so good that I’m reposting it:

    Dear Reader, please go back to the last few posts by Sporadic and Andrew, and notice how they keep using the phrase “the Italians” or “the two Italians.” Where everyone else is talking about the testimony of the intelligence agent (from the pro-war, American-allied government whose troops are fighting alongside the US Army and Marines), the two hawks keep lumping Mr. Carapari with Ms. Sgrena, in an attempt to discredit his testimony by attacking her credibility.

    Personally, I think it’s shitty to take the words of a communist reporter and put them in the mouth of an intelligence agent/hostage negotiator from a democratic nation, just because you don’t want to hear what he has to say. But no worse than what that side’s been spewing for the past three years.

    Comment by: joe at March 7, 2005 09:23 AM

  79. “Certainly, any rational person would conclude that paying millions of dollars to Islamofascists in order to save one person’s life is a very bad idea.”

    Perhaps that should be qualified to “any rational person who’s not actually being held by the hostage-takers”. A person who is facing certain death should logically prefer their own survival over the purely hypothetical deaths that might result as a byproduct. Or are you seriously arguing that, if you were held hostage, and you overheard the hostage-takers negotiating a ransom for your release, you’d deliberately attack your captors so as to induce them to kill you and thereby prevent the ransom being paid?

  80. joe

    Is it not a measure of how interested the Italian govt. might be, in getting to the bottom of all this, that they buried the body of the only actual homocide victim? Is that what you would do, joe?

  81. Put me down as “pro-burying dead people,” Andrew.

    And no, I don’t consider it indicative of anything that they didn’t keep the poor bastard in a freezer, except perhaps of a decent respect for the dead.

  82. Put me down as “pro-burying dead people,” Andrew.

    Horrifying! Dead people should be put in crypts above ground, not buried so deep that ve have to claw our vay out.

    Ve vant to come out and play!

  83. Or are you seriously arguing that, if you were held hostage, and you overheard the hostage-takers negotiating a ransom for your release, you’d deliberately attack your captors so as to induce them to kill you and thereby prevent the ransom being paid?

    I hope I’d be man enough to do so, yes. Its goddamn selfish to put dozens or hundreds of others in mortal danger to save your own hide; I hope I’m better than that. I also hope I am never tested.

    One Italian was man enough. Google “Fabrizio Quattrocchi” and see what you learn.

  84. “Perhaps that should be qualified to “any rational person who’s not actually being held by the hostage-takers”. A person who is facing certain death should logically prefer their own survival over the purely hypothetical deaths that might result as a byproduct.”

    I agree. My ideals would probably fly out the window just as quickly (if not more) then anyone elses’.

    But I think the line between understandable behavior and correct behavior is pretty thick in this case. One should never negotiate with murderous thugs in any way, shape, or form, much less make a deal. Never.

  85. “One Italian was man enough. Google ‘Fabrizio Quattrocchi’ and see what you learn.”

    Except that Quattrocchi was literally seconds from being killed anyway, not on the verge of being rescued….

  86. Rick Barton,

    Who do you think runs the American government, Martians? If a majorty of Americans would never countenace things they’re government does, where are the mass demonstrations against government policy? I think you’ve confused Americans with somebody else. Italians, maybe?

  87. I meant “their government.” Yikes!

  88. joe

    I believe it is pretty much SOP anywhere in the civilised world, to keep the bodies of homocide victims available until the case is closed. Either the Italian government doesn’t actually believe there are any unanswered questions…or they don’t want them answered.

    Am I really supposed to “put you down” as opposed to the procedure followed across North America? Do you want to change the paractice in Boston, for example?

  89. Those Italian Secret Service Agents were all married to CIA operatives, and the only reason they got this assignment is because of their connections. They aren’t credible witnesses.

  90. Andrew, it is NOT standard practice to so preserve the bodies of troops and civilians killed by friendly fire.

    What you are saying is, since the body was treated the way a military KIA is treated, rather than the way a homicide victim is treated, we should therefore conclude that the Italian government is trying to dishonestly make the case that this was a criminal homicide.

    With every interation, the conspiracy theory grows larger and more unrealistic – now the Italian government is in on it. The lengths you people will go to to avoid admitting that the US screwed something up…

  91. Uh, joe, lets not leap to the conclusion that the US screwed this up. Lets review the facts:

    The Italians paid a ransom to the kidnappers. Because they knew we would disapprove, they kept it secret from us.

    Because the Italians kept it a secret, our boys on the ground had no reason to keep a lookout for la Sgrena, who by her own admission was in a car that was driving so fast it was barely under control.

    Also according to Italian witnesses, the car did not stop as it approached the checkpoint.

    So far, I would say the Italians had plenty to answer for their own selves, and all according to their own testimony.

  92. RC Dean:
    “Lets review the facts:”

    Yeah, lets.

    Sgrena:

    “Our car was rolling along at normal speed”

    RC Dean:

    “who by her own admission was in a car that was driving so fast it was barely under control”

    Sgrena:
    “In fact, says Sgrena, there was no checkpoint–”

    RC Dean:
    “Also according to Italian witnesses, the car did not stop as it approached the checkpoint.”

  93. From an article in today’s NY Times

    Next to the scandal of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, no other aspect of the American military presence in Iraq has caused such widespread dismay and anger among Iraqis, judging by their frequent outbursts on the subject. Daily reports compiled by Western security companies chronicle many incidents in which Iraqis with no apparent connection to the insurgency are killed or wounded by American troops who have opened fire on suspicion that the Iraqis were engaged in a terrorist attack.

    Accounts of the incidents vary widely, as they have in the incident involving Ms. Sgrena, with the American command emphasizing aspects of drivers’ behavior that aroused legitimate concerns, and survivors saying, often, that they were doing nothing threatening. Since few of the incidents are ever formally investigated, many families are left with unresolved feelings of bitterness.

    American and Iraqi officials say they have no figures on such casualties, just as they say they have no reliable statistics on the far higher number of civilian deaths in the fighting that began with the American-led invasion nearly two years ago. But any Westerner working in Iraq comes across numerous accounts of apparently innocent deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers who drew American fire, often in circumstances that have left the Iraqis puzzled as to what, if anything, they did wrong.

    The confusion arises, in most cases, from a clash of perspectives. The American soldiers know that circumstances erupt in which a second’s hesitation can mean death, and say civilian deaths are a regrettable but inevitable consequence of a war in which suicide bombers have been the insurgents’ most deadly weapon. But Iraqis say they have no clear idea of American engagement rules, and accuse the American command of failing to disseminate the rules to the public, in newspapers or on radio and television stations.

    The military says it takes many precautions to ensure the safety of civilians. But a military spokesman in Baghdad declined in a telephone interview on Sunday to describe the engagement rules in detail, saying the military needed to maintain secrecy over how it responds to the threat of car bombs.

    The spokesman, as well as a senior Pentagon official who discussed the issue in Washington on Sunday, said official statements issued after the Friday shooting offered a broad outline of the rules. In those statements, the military said it tried to slow Ms. Sgrena’s vehicle with hand signals, flashing lights and warning shots before firing into the car’s engine block.

    But many Iraqis tell of being fired on with little or no warning.

  94. I see that even the disputatious a admits that the Italians paid off the kidnappers and kept their activities secret from the Americans. Running covert ops in a war zone inherently puts your people at risk.

    Sgrena has said they were driving so fast they nearly lost control of her car. From her Il Manifesto article:

    The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell. Nicola Calipari sat next to me. The driver twice called the embassy and in Italy that we were heading towards the airport that I knew was heavily patrolled by U.S. troops.

    The Italians admit they didn’t stop as they approached the checkpoint. That they didn’t recognize it as a checkpoint doesn’t refute this point. They were in constant contact with their controllers, but never gave the Americans any notice, even though they knew they were approaching a high-risk area around the airport.

    For Sgrena to claim there was no checkpoint is contentious to say the least – it amounts to a claim that the Americans either attacked her car because they were wilding or because they were on some nefarious mission to intercept and destroy her. The fact that she survived should refute the latter, more conspiratorial claim.

    There is plenty of room for American fault or negligence here – a poorly run checkpoint, for example. But lets not pretend that this is open and shut, and lets not overlook the known or admitted contribution of the Italians to the fiasco outside the airport.

  95. I always find that attitude that the military can never lie to be rather bizarre.

    Late on the page, but I never said anything like that, Mr. Bart.

  96. Did anyone see that Frontline where there were reporters imbedded with a cavalry platoon? In the show, a car was driving towards an area where there were some soldiers standing around. It didn’t even really look like a checkpoint, just a couple of soldiers standing there, talking about how they needed to always be alert and that they would fire warning shots if any cars got to close because of all of the suicide bombings. Their military vehicle was close by, IIRC, but not right next to them. Anyway, a white car was driving towards them and it looked to be moving at freeway speeds (they were on a freeway). As the car approached, the soldiers began firing at the car, which was still over 100 yards away, from what I could tell. Eventually the car figured it out, stopped, and turned around.

    All just to show that the troops will open fire at a distance. But can you blame them? My guess is that it was a simple mistake by both the Italians (for not realising that they were behaving in a way that was going to get them shot at by US troops), and the Americans for not realising that it was semi-friendlies. That she would embelish the story towards her communist, anti-american ends shouldn’t be any more surprising than the fact that this happened in the first place.

  97. Alan Rutkowski:

    Who do you think runs the American government, Martians?

    Power corrupts. And the type of folks who aspire to, and acquire political power (force) do things that the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t.

  98. Regarding the shooting being a deliberate assasination; to believe this you would have to believe very strongly that the US Army is very very bad at what they do; using a platoon of soldiers to assasinate someone is, yes, exactly what some on the Left side of the spectrum would believe could happen, but which a professional soldier would scoff at.

    The Army has a number of very good snipers; if (and I don’t entertain the notion that this would happen, but it should be noted it’s possible) the powers that be wanted her out of the way, hand one of these guys an SKS with scope, plant him at a location where the lady in question will be and set him loose.

    You would not order a platoon of grunts to do the job; too many opportunities for loose lips, let alone that you can’t be sure the target will go down.

  99. RC Dean:

    “I see that even the disputatious a admits that the Italians paid off the kidnappers and kept their activities secret from the Americans.”

    Where did I ‘admit’ to this? I have not said anything to accept or reject the ransom thesis. I simply have no idea what happened. Aren’t you tired of making shit up?

    “Agrena said they were driving so fast”

    Where did she say that they were driving so fast?

    “The Italians admit they didn’t stop as they approached the checkpoint. ”

    Again, Sgrena said they was no checkpoint. So how could she admit to not stopping at the non-existing checkpoint? Again, I don’t know what happened, but you claim she admitted to something that directly contradicts what she said without offering a shred of evidence. So very typical of you.

  100. Rick Barton:

    Well, my point is that if a most Americans object the the actions of their government,as you contend, they have a funny way of showing it. Germany didn’t support the war in Iraq because it would have been political suicide for Germnay’s political leaders to do so. Italians regularly take to the streets to protest their government’s actions and policies. Americans, on the other hand, rather easily swallow the flag-waving drivel of quasi-Soviet style Fox News and support the war. So on what exactly do you base your fanciful notion that most Americans would never countenance –your words–the things their government does? Is the government somehow keeping them in the dark? Could it be that most Americans can’t read?

  101. I suppose we’re supposed to swallow your drivel, is that it?

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