The Pieces Start To Fall Into Place In The Giuliana Sgrena Case

On Monday, here’s what I wrote about the botched Giuliana Sgrena rescue:

“There are a lot of wild claims flying around about American troops firing on the car of rescued journalist Giuliana Sgrena. I could go into detail about them, but I suspect that this is one of those events that has been initially obscured by the “fog of war,” like the tale of the Baghdad Museum or the missing explosives story. At first, you see all sorts of conflicting stories, but once everything settles, you find out that there is a lot less to it than many people thought at first.

In this case, we’re already starting to hear that the Italians may not have alerted the CIA about the car carrying Sgrena and how confusing checkpoints can be for those who aren’t familiar with them. This is not surprising since Occam’s Razor suggests that there was some sort of miscommunication or confusion which caused the soldiers to believe they were being threatened which then led to them opening up on the car Sgrena was in.”

As I suggested, here we are on Wednesday, rougly 48 hours later, and we know quite a bit more about what happened.

According to a “senior U.S. military official,” the car Sgrena was traveling in approached the checkpoint going in excess of 100MPH. While Sgrena’s story has been all over the map, that level of speed would seem to be consistent with this statement from Sgrena:

“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.”

So the car is barreling down the highway towards a checkpoint; but surely they knew she was coming, right? That’s in dispute, but the US apparently says no:

(Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini) said Calipari, an experienced officer who had negotiated the release of Sgrena and other hostages in Iraq in the past, had contacted U.S. authorities to let them know the car carrying the freed hostage would be on its way to the airport.

But according to the U.S. military official, Italians did not coordinate the transport with U.S. or coalition forces, and, as a result, U.S. soldiers did not know who was in the car. They instead believed the car was carrying a bomb.

Furthermore, Sgrena looks to have been caught in a lie about how many rounds were fired at the car she was in. According to Sgrena, “300-400 bullets were fired & “tanks started to strike against us.” Of course, common sense says that if the military unleased that sort of barrage at Sgrena’s car, she wouldn’t be around to tell the tale. But we don’t have to speculate since pictures of the car are now available.

From the available shots (more here), the only places on the car that appear to have been hit are the windshield on the driver’s side and possibly the left front tire. Of course, since standard procedure is to fire at the engine block, it’s possible shots went through the grill, hit the engine and then rattled out and hit Calipari. From what I’ve been told by someone who regularly reads reports from the military coming out of Iraq, that’s something that has happened before more than a few times.

The only piece of the puzzle left is why Sgrena would lie about what happened and try to paint the US as the bad guys. Well, once you read about a conversation reporter Harald Doornbos had with Sgrena, you’ll find that puzzle piece is now in place as well:

“Be careful not to get kidnapped,’ I told the female Italian journalist sitting next to me in the small plane that was headed for Baghdad. ‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘That won’t happen. We are siding with the oppressed Iraqi people. No Iraqi would kidnap us.’

It doesn’t sound very nice to be critical of a fellow reporter. But Sgrena’s attitude is a disgrace for journalism. Or didn’t she tell me back in the plane that ‘common journalists such as yourself’ simply do not support the Iraqi people? ‘The Americans are the biggest enemies of mankind,’ the three women behind me had told me, for Sgrena travelled to Iraq with two Italian colleagues who hated the Americans as well.

(Doornbos goes on to explain how the women demeaned him for travelling as an embedded reporter with the US military, for security reasons. They didn’t want to hear about any safety concerns.)

‘You don’t understand the situation. We are anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, communists,’ they said. The Iraqis only kidnap American sympathizers, the enemies of the Americans have nothing to fear.”

So we’re talking about a commie who openly describes herself as an enemy “of the Americans” and who believes that “Americans are the biggest enemies of mankind.” Obviously in a situation like this, you have to take the word of someone like Sgrena with more than a few grains of salt.

Although we’re still awaiting a final report from the military, we now know enough to piece together a pretty good general idea of what happened and it looks as if Sgrena’s story doesn’t hold water.

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