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How Sgrena forced Italy's withdrawal from Iraq

Mike Whitney

March16, 2005

The day after the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was nearly killed at an Iraqi checkpoint; PBS's anchor Margaret Warner revealed a clue on national TV that has received little or no notice. Warner acknowledged that the checkpoint where Sgrena was shot was set up just 45 minutes prior to the arrival of the vehicle.

45 minutes earlier? Why?

The location of the checkpoint was equally suspicious. It was placed around a blind corner just 700 yards from the airport where no roadblock had ever been placed before.


Sgrena originally said that approximately 300 rounds were fired, but only a few well-placed bullet holes appear on the vehicle.


The holes found in the vehicle were not fired into the engine block as stated, nor were they the random spray of fire that one would expect from a nervous soldier. Rather the shots look like they must have come from professional assassins who targeted particular spots on the vehicle to affect the greatest damage; two bullets to the front tires (to stop the vehicle), two bullets through the driver's side windshield (to kill the driver) and shots through the rear window at an angle that would kill the person situated in the middle of the back seat. (Pictures of the vehicle were available over the weekend on uruk.net web site) This is not the quality of shooting one would expect from soldiers manning a roadblock. The checkpoint and the 300 rounds fired into the air were probably just a necessary diversion for the professional marksmen who carried out their task from an undisclosed location. Crazy?

This theory is further strengthened by Sgrena's comments when the soldiers opened the rear door and were surprised by the fact that Italian Intelligence agent Nicola Calipari had been shot.

"Oh, shit!" one of the soldiers blurted out (according to Sgrena) It's clear that they didn't realize what had happened, but thought that they had accidentally hit the car.

The Cover-up

So far, nearly all of the US military's account has been disproved. The vehicle was not speeding and the driver was not warned by either "hand and arm signals" or "flashing white lights." The vehicle was traveling slowly and stopped immediately at the checkpoint, when the firing began.

Italian special-agent Calipari had notified the proper authorities that he was on his way to the airport; so all of the operative checkpoints must have been notified according to normal protocol. "However, Italian dailies La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera reported on Friday that US authorities in Iraq knew of the presence of Calipari AND A COLLEAGUE but had not been told that their mission was to free Giuliana Sgrena." (Al Jazeera)

So, why would a professional like Calipari trying to sneak Sgrena out of the country without telling the Americans?

The only explanation is that Calipari believed that Sgrena would be in danger if the military knew she was planning to leave Iraq. Calipari's behaviour reinforces the allegations made just weeks earlier by CNN's Eason Jordan that the US is intentionally targeting journalists. They had a special reason to silence Sgrena who had first-hand knowledge of war crimes committed in Falluja.

It's uncertain how the military determined that Sgrena was travelling with Calipari but investigative journalist Wayne Madsen notes, "Italian intelligence officials also believe that the Americans identified the Italian vehicle because the National Security Agency (NSA) systems had intercepted Calipari's cell phone and triangulated its specific location."

Once US officials discovered who was in the car they swung into high-gear and put their plan into action. It nearly worked, except for the fact that Calipari leaned over and took the bullet that was intended for Sgrena.

Berlusconi's sudden change of heart

Yesterday, without notice, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi announced that Italy was planning to draw down its troop levels in Iraq.

Did "Bush loyalist" Berlusconi discover something about the attack on Sgrena and Calipari that forced him to take pre-emptive action by ordering an early withdrawal?

We'll have to watch the news from Italy to see what may have turned the Italian PM against Bush's war.

Sage Advice

According to Sgrena the insurgents who kidnapped her had warned her that the military would try to assassinate her. She thought they were just being "ideological". As it turns out, their word was quite a bit more reliable than anyone's at either the Pentagon or the White House.


:: Article nr. 10439 sent on 17-mar-2005 03:47 ECT


Link: www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=20317&mode=nested&order=0

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