Thursday :: Mar 10, 2005

Italian Government, In Essence, Says Pentagon Is Lying About Giuliani Sgrena Attack


by Steve

The Italians have called the Americans liars over the killing of an Italian Secret Service official and the near-murder of Italian journalist Giuliani Sgrena last week. You’ll recall that American military officials said Tuesday that the US was unaware that the Italians were in the country negotiating for Sgrena’s release. Yesterday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his government basically said that the United States was lying.

U.S. military officials in Iraq had approved an Italian intelligence officer's mission to free a kidnapped journalist and were expecting their arrival at Baghdad's airport on Friday when U.S. soldiers opened fire on the Italians at a checkpoint, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday.
In the weeks after Sgrena was taken hostage in Baghdad on Feb. 4, Italian intelligence officers worked to identify the kidnappers, determine that she was still alive, locate her and negotiate her release. Along the way, Fini said, information was shared with the U.S. Embassy's hostage working group in Baghdad.
Nicola Calipari, a senior intelligence officer familiar with working in Iraq, arrived with a colleague at Baghdad International Airport on Friday. Calipari spent 40 minutes contacting U.S. military authorities in charge of the airport to notify them of his mission and receive a safe-conduct document to move around the airport, according to the Italian leaders.
Calipari put the journalist in the back seat of the car and, with his colleague driving, they headed toward the airport, where a plane was waiting to take them back to Italy.
With the inside light on, Calipari sat alongside Sgrena and made phone calls to superiors to report his success. One was to an Italian official who was standing next to an American colonel at the airport, the prime minister said Wednesday, addressing the Italian Senate.
Calipari "therefore warned the American military officials of their immediate arrival in the airport zone," Berlusconi said.
Yet the American military says that they knew nothing of it, which means that they are lying.
U.S. Army Gen. George W. Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, said Tuesday in Washington that he had been unaware on Friday that Italian officials had entered Iraq to rescue Sgrena and said he had heard nothing since to indicate the Italians had told U.S. forces of the car's route.

And it appears that we are lying about whether or not the car was speeding when it was hit by 300-400 shots.

In a statement after the shooting, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division said the Italians' car was "traveling at high speeds" and refused to halt at a checkpoint despite attempts by U.S. soldiers to warn the driver to stop "by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car."
Fini, citing testimony by the driver, also an intelligence officer, said Tuesday that the car was traveling at no more than 25 mph as the driver steered around concrete blocks. Fini said the driver was applying the brakes when the car was hit by gunfire that lasted 10 to 15 seconds.
I guess we are so used to lying about what happens in Iraq to the Iraqis that we thought we could get away with it with one of our allies.

Guess again.

Steve :: 2:48 PM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!