Monday, March 07, 2005

Press frenzy and Italian idiocy

As you have likely heard, Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena was freed from terrorist captivity in Iraq and shortly thereafter the car with the Italian delegation who retrieved her and her colleague from the same newspapers was shot at by American soldiers at a checkpoint on Baghdad's main road. Sgrena is a communist who writes for a Leninist newspaper in Italy (yes, they still have those). Her tale of what transpired in the vehicle when the American soldiers shot at it is harrowing.

It is also palpably FALSE.

First, the Italians negotiated with the terrorists holding Sgrena for her release by paying off those terrorists. Estimates are six to eight million euros, or $10M-13.4M. For this reason, as the article linked in the title hereto implies, the Italians FAILED to coordinate their evacuation plans with the Americans:
The decision by operatives of Italy’s SISMI military intelligence service to keep the CIA in the dark about the deal for the release of reporter Giuliana Sgrena, might have “short-circuited” communications with U.S. forces controlling the road from Baghdad to the city’s airport, the newspaper La Stampa said.

That would help explain why American troops opened fire on a car whisking the released hostage to a waiting airplane, wounding Miss Sgrena and killing the Italian intelligence operative who had just negotiated her release.

Second, her own account of the Italian vehicle's behavior seems to CONFIRM the US soldiers' version. Why? Well, for one, the Italians radio'd ahead to their own embassy and not to American forces. Dopes. In addition:
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 in an area which is heavily patrolled by US forces, which has been attacked through improvised explosive devices time and again (IEDs) and car bombs, and which is in a country where the terrorists are all too willing to drive at random areas and detonate car bombs, the Italian delegation is swerving around puddles and failing to heed signals to stop. Considering all this, it's a miracle that Sgrena survived, no?

Actually, no. The soldiers did not rip up the car with ordnance, as they easily could have. Indeed, it seems that the soldiers followed rules of engagement designed to stop the car, not shred it. Thus, Sgrena's initial story that the soldiers shot 300-400 rounds at the car, and al-Guardian's acceptance of that figure, are clearly preposterous. Charles Johnson strikes the right note here: "Three hundred to four hundred rounds from an armored vehicle ... and there were survivors? OK, go ahead, pull my other leg."

Ultimately, this is a colossal screw-up by THE ITALIANS, not the US soldiers. And Sgrena's theory that the US did this because it disapproves of the Italians' policy of paying ransom is just ridiculous on its face -- pure MoveOn-type lunacy. I hope her lies are exposed in Europe and especially in Italy. Considering the European press' anti-Americanism, don't bet on it.

More here, here, and here. And information on Sgrena's terrorist-sympathizing here.

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