How not to win friends for Bush's Iraqi policy

Sayhey

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May 22, 2003
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US troops fire at freed hostage

Freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has been hurt by US troops firing at a car taking her to Baghdad airport soon after her release.

An Italian secret service agent was killed in the shooting at a checkpoint.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi summoned the US ambassador demanding an explanation for what he called "such a serious incident".

The US military in Baghdad confirmed that forces shot at a vehicle and said an investigation had been launched.

"About 2100 [1800 GMT], a patrol in western Baghdad observed the vehicle speeding towards their checkpoint and attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car," it said in a statement.

"When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block, which stopped the vehicle, killing one and wounding two others."

'Dumbfounded'

Mr Berlusconi, a staunch supporter of the US-led invasion of Iraq, said there were "disquieting questions" that needed to be answered.

"We are petrified and dumbfounded by this fatality," he said of the death of the agent, named as Nicola Calipari.

Mr Calipari died trying to shield Ms Sgrena with his body when they came under fire, Mr Berlusconi said.
BBC
 

zimv20

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so is this the biggest tactical blunder since the bombing of the chinese embassy? or the shifa pharmaceuticals factory strike? or something else?
 

Sayhey

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Berlusconi does not have to call elections until next year, so I don't know what immediate impact this will have. I believe there must be regional elections this year and those could be effected by the large anti-war sentiment in Italy.
 

pdham

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Jan 28, 2003
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IJ Reilly said:
Yeah, it's always the victim's fault. What else could it be?
Of course its not the victims fault, and I don't think that is what the poster was implying.... strange they didnt stop at the checkpoint. but we weren't there so we don't really know the circumstances. But its not directly the soldiers fault either. Lets pretend you live and work in a place where on any given day you and your friends could breath their last because of a roadside bomb, a suicide bomb, etc. If a car is speeding at you with no intention of stopping and ignoring your warnings (assuming that is what happened) what do you do? Wait and see if it goes kaboom when it pulls along side or stop it a safe distance away. This was of course a gross miscalculation and a truly unfortunate event, but I don't see how the soldiers reaction was at all surprising. I don't really see this as a political event... the soldiers are too far removed from the politics, they are just doing their job. Of course it will have political ramifications, but this is first and formost a commentary on the brutal, terrible circumstances war puts combatants and innocents in. Both parties are unfortunate victims of those circumstances.
 

pseudobrit

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Jul 23, 2002
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Were I driving a car in the hellhole formerly known as Iraq and someone began firing shots at my car, there's no way in hell I'd stop the car.

The driver probably didn't see or recognise the checkpoint and thought he was being attacked.
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Let's pretend you've been held hostage for weeks by Iraqi militants who threatened to kill you every day you were in captivity. Let's pretend you've just been released. Let's pretend that you've got to drive one of the most dangerous roadways in a dangerous country, where people are often killed and kidnapped, at night, in order to get the hell out of that country to the safety of your own home. Let's pretend you're going to make the drive to the airport slowly and cautiously and use your turn signals.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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from the turkish press

US attack against Italians in Baghdad was deliberate: companion

ROME - The companion of freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday leveled serious accusations at US troops who fired at her convoy as it was nearing Baghdad airport, saying the shooting had been deliberate.

"The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving Rome's Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home.

"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."

The shooting late Friday was witnessed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office which was on the phone with one of the secret service agents, said Scolari. "Then the US military silenced the cellphones," he charged.

"Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive," he added.

When Sgrena was kidnapped on February 4 she was writing an article on refugees from Fallujah seeking shelter at a Baghdad mosque after US forces bombed the former Sunni rebel stronghold.

Sgrena told RaiNews24 television Saturday a "hail of bullets" rained down on the car taking her to safety at Baghdad airport, along with three secret service agents, killing one of them.

"I was speaking to (agent) Nicola Calipari (...) when he leant on me, probably to protect me, and then collapsed and I realized he was dead," said Sgrena, who was being questioned on Saturday by two Italian magistrates.

"They continued shooting and the driver couldn't even explain that we were Italians. It was really horrible," she added.

Sgrena, who was hospitalized with serious wounds to her left shoulder and lung after arriving back in Rome Saturday before noon, said she was "exhausted because of what happened above all in the last 24 hours".

"After all the risks I have been running I can say that I'm fine," she said.

"I thought that after I was handed over to the Italians danger was over, but then this shooting broke out and we were hit by a hail of bullets."

The chief editor of Sgrena's left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto Gabriele Polo meanwhile branded Calipari's death a "murder".

"He was hit in the head," he said.

Calipari will be given a state funeral Monday.
 

Thomas Veil

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Feb 14, 2004
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Oh, man, this is going to get interesting.... :(

Let's have a show of hands: given the truthfulness batting average (.083) of the administration, how many don't think there's something really, really screwy here?
 

blackfox

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Feb 18, 2003
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What information might this woman have had to warrant her death? (by the Americans, not the kidnappers).

I am trying to imagine how it would be more productive to take the press from an incident where she is killed, than whatever she might have released to the International media later on.

Of course, now you will have both.

I don't really know what to think. Echoing sentiments from above, I can hardly blame the soldiers, as at worst they were following orders about something they knew next-to-nothing about.

Depending on circumstances, I can't blame the driver either. I would assume he might have felt arrangements had been made for their travel to the airport, their route and time of travel could hardly have been a surprise to the US military patrolling the route.

This is just wierd.
 

themadchemist

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Jan 31, 2003
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IJ Reilly said:
Let's pretend you've been held hostage for weeks by Iraqi militants who threatened to kill you every day you were in captivity. Let's pretend you've just been released. Let's pretend that you've got to drive one of the most dangerous roadways in a dangerous country, where people are often killed and kidnapped, at night, in order to get the hell out of that country to the safety of your own home. Let's pretend you're going to make the drive to the airport slowly and cautiously and use your turn signals.
Would you prefer that the troops not fire shots at any cars trying to speed through checkpoints, even after warning shots? Or should we just check for their race first? :rolleyes:

I think it's tragic and I'm waiting to find out that there's a big blunder, but even I can't fault the troops for doing their jobs. How were they supposed to know who was in the car?
 

themadchemist

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Thomas Veil said:
Also, I wonder why they didn't shoot out the tires instead of firing into the car.
Good point...I figured that there was a low probability of hitting a tire, so if the car actually was laden with explosives, it would be smarter to hit the easier target. Can anyone answer that?

edit: Also, the quote that you showed...We still don't know if the people at the checkpoint were told (in which case this was a HUGE blunder on the part of higher ups) or if anyone had any idea of timing...Also, was the car clearly marked as an Italian car? If not, how could they be sure it was not another car going through around the same time?

Wait, just reread zim's article post--they passed all the checkpoints?! Did they run through them? If not, this is highly suspicious, the default setting for our actions these days.
 

Thomas Veil

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I wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of monumental screw-up -- like, for example, the car passed all roadblocks and then was fired upon by some nervous soldier -- and the administration made up the "ran the roadblock" story to cover for it.
 

themadchemist

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Thomas Veil said:
I wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of monumental screw-up -- like, for example, the car passed all roadblocks and then was fired upon by some nervous soldier -- and the administration made up the "ran the roadblock" story to cover for it.
You know, I'm trying this thing where I give the administration the benefit of the doubt for 5 or 10 minutes when I first hear a story...That way, I feel less partisan. It usually turns out to be a royal waste of time. However, I'll try to delay judgment here until we have a wee bit more information.
 

skunk

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Jun 29, 2002
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themadchemist said:
You know, I'm trying this thing where I give the administration the benefit of the doubt for 5 or 10 minutes when I first hear a story...That way, I feel less partisan. It usually turns out to be a royal waste of time. However, I'll try to delay judgment here until we have a wee bit more information.
Time's up. Come on, they're banking on you reserving judgment: that's how they got in again....

Although "silencing the cell-phones" could be SOP to prevent remote detonation.

Anyway, I wonder if the "investigation" will be as complete as the ones into the attacks on Al Jazeera and the ITN reporter who was killed? What was the result of those "investigations"? Does anybody know? I thought not.
 

skunk

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It gets better:
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=617249

Italian hostage tells of rescuer shielding her from bullets

Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena tells how US troops fired 400 shots into her car, killing the man who had freed her


By Peter Popham in Rome

06 March 2005

Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist freed on Friday after a month in captivity in Iraq, was recovering in a military hospital here after taking shrapnel in her shoulder when American troops fired 300 to 400 shots into her car as it approached Baghdad airport. She touched down in Rome yesterday morning and was carried from the aeroplane wrapped in a blanket and attached to a drip, looking haggard and exhausted.

The unprovoked attack killed Nicola Calipari, the Italian military intelligence agent who had negotiated the journalist's release. He had thrown himself on top of Ms Sgrena to shield her and was killed by a bullet in the head. In a brief conversation with the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, President Bush said he was sorry about the incident and promised that it would be investigated.

The bizarre and bloody end to what should have been a day of joyful celebration occurred at around 9pm as the unmarked car with local plates carrying Ms Sgrena and her liberators approached Baghdad airport. A plane was waiting to take her home. But while the car was still some 600 metres from the terminal, American troops opened fire, unleashing a volley of 300 to 400 shots, killing Mr Calipari outright and wounding Ms Sgrena and the other two intelligence officers in the car, one of them seriously.

The American State Department claimed the car had been travelling at high speed. They said soldiers guarding the approach to the airport had waved and flashed lights ordering the car to pull over, then fired shots in the air and finally shot out the engine block to force it to stop. The statement failed to explain why the car's passengers were peppered with bullets. And in her first interview from hospital, Ms Sgrena said that the car "was not travelling particularly fast, given the circumstances".

She said that it was "while I was talking to Nicola Calipari and he was relating to me all the phases of the abduction, we were struck by a rain of fire". Calipari had immediately hurled himself on top of her, saving her life. The worst moment of the entire experience, she said, was "the man who had freed me dying in my arms". Piero Colari, Ms Sgrena's partner, told reporters angrily: "There are only two explanations, either it was an ambush or those soldiers were complete idiots."​
Hmmm. Nice work, guys.
 

zimv20

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from this bloomberg article

Sgrena told Rome prosecutors Franco Ionta and Pietro Saviotti that the shots didn't come from soldiers standing at a checkpoint.

``It wasn't a checkpoint, but a patrol that started shooting after pointing some lights in our direction,'' the Ansa news agency cited Sgrena as telling the prosecutors. ``We hadn't previously encountered any checkpoint and we didn't understand where the shots came from."
a lot of conflicting information out there.
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Thomas Veil said:
Also, I wonder why they didn't shoot out the tires instead of firing into the car.
Rules of engagement. Anyone that seems threatening they are allowed to shoot to kill. A lot of people have died this way in Iraq. What was it Don Rumsfeld said about freedom. Oh yeah ... it's "messy."
 

Thomas Veil

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Feb 14, 2004
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You're right, I'm sure. I guess I was thinking more of police procedure, which is required to use the least force necessary to achieve its objectives, as opposed to military procedure, which, when faced with danger, goes into more of a "shoot first and ask questions later" mode.