Death to reporters!
March 4, 2005 12:14 PM   Subscribe

The Vindication of Eason Jordan. This, coupled with previous incidents, should make it clear that the right wing blogosphere "took down" someone who was telling the truth.
posted by Hat Maui (137 comments total)

 
Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has just appeared live on national TV, and even he -- Continental Europe's biggest Bush fan -- was extremely pissed off: "Someone has to take responsibility"

Italy is the third largest contributor of troops to the occupation of Iraq following the United States and Britain
posted by matteo at 12:21 PM on March 4, 2005


oh, the Italian agent murdered by the Americans, Nicola Calipari, was Italy's chief negotiator in the many kidnappings of Italian citizens in Iraq
posted by matteo at 12:26 PM on March 4, 2005


Um, the first sentance says "mistakenly". Eason supposedly said that journalists were specifically targeted.

Actually, the evidence is pretty clear that the US did specifically target journalists from the Arab stations early on in the war, but I would hardly call your first link vindication.
posted by chaz at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2005


I don't see how this can vindicate Eason Jordan...unless the car was marked with a flag saying "Reporter". It sounds more like another unfortunate judgement error at a roadblock.

I for one think these judgement errors are entirely reasonable when you are in an environment where cars sometimes blow up and kill you.

Let's try and stay rational in our opposition to the war and avoid calling accidents murders or pretending that unsupported bullshit is anything other than what it is...
posted by srboisvert at 12:29 PM on March 4, 2005


...pretending that unsupported bullshit is anything other than what it is...

So, are you saying that coalition forces did not shoot at the car, and that it did not result in the death of an italian agent?
posted by odinsdream at 12:34 PM on March 4, 2005


Any you guys been in any kind of combat zone? I have. It is a bad acid trip at decibel eleven where only the lizard brain can remotely function. But I wasn't in one where civilians blow themselves up to kill you. I can't image how insane that must be.

I don't think this tragedy was deliberate or a "hit".

But Berlusconi is right. The US MUST make moral amends for this incident. Nicola Calipari was just too amazing of a figure to not investigate this openly.
posted by tkchrist at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2005


Italian TV reports that the Americans confirm they've been the ones shooting at Sgrena's car.

Berlusconi "petrified" and "appalled"
posted by matteo at 12:38 PM on March 4, 2005


"Let's try and stay rational in our opposition to the war and avoid calling accidents murders or pretending that unsupported bullshit is anything other than what it is..."

What srboisvert said. Coverage elsewhere in the world is using terminology like "mistakenly opened fire" and "an investigation is underway".

Personally, I suspect a tragic misinterpretation of events something along the lines of: 1. Italians finally negotiate release of journalist. 2. "Let's get her the hell home before anything else bad happens to her because a whole country is waiting to welcome her." 3. Convoy forms and begins racing to airport. 4. Young guards manning a roadblock en route to an airport in an avowedly hostile country see an oncoming line of rushing cars. 5. Reach wrong conclusion. 6. Open fire. (The time frame from 4 through 6 is about three seconds.)

The suggestion that the just-freed journalist was deliberately targeted is, in the absence of any evidence to support it, odious to the extreme.
posted by Mike D at 12:39 PM on March 4, 2005


This, coupled with previous incidents, should make it clear that the right wing blogosphere "took down" someone who was telling the truth.

I think Eason Jordan has a ways to go if he's looking for "vindication". There's no evidence (yet) that this was anything more than an accident. Furthermore, Jordan's mistake wasn't that he was wrong. It was that he made accusations he couldn't substantiate. That was just irresponsible.
posted by 327.ca at 12:42 PM on March 4, 2005


there was no convoy, Mike D
posted by matteo at 12:43 PM on March 4, 2005


The US MUST make moral amends for this incident. Nicola Calipari was just too amazing of a figure to not investigate this openly.

And all the dead Iraqi civilians? How about them? Not amazing enough?
posted by 327.ca at 12:43 PM on March 4, 2005


Um, the first sentance says "mistakenly". Eason supposedly said that journalists were specifically targeted.

The suggestion that the just-freed journalist was deliberately targeted is, in the absence of any evidence to support it, odious to the extreme.


Affirmative.

Where is evidence she was targeted for being a journalist? If soldiers see a car speeding toward/thru a checkpoint, do they check first to make sure it's a journalist before bringing out the heavy artillery? This incident is terrible of course, but phrasing the post as a troll isn't exactly respectful of that.

For a record of journalists killed in the Iraq War, check out this summary from from Reporters Without Borders. Note their various causes of death.


[title]Death to Reporters![/title]


Lovely, Hat Maui.
posted by dhoyt at 12:50 PM on March 4, 2005


So, are you saying that coalition forces did not shoot at the car, and that it did not result in the death of an italian agent?

First, I would never use the term coalition. The article clearly identifies the forces as American. Second, I don't dispute the facts. Just the overwrought conclusions.
posted by srboisvert at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2005


"there was no convoy, Mike D"

My whoops.

So change my unsubstantiated speculation to a single oncoming car. That's what's been blowing up a lot in the past few weeks over there. And if it projected even a hint of "We're in a hurry here," the driver contributed, however inadvertently, to the outcome.

To my mind, the fact that it was en route to the airport would only heighten the already wire-taut tension at the roadblock.
posted by Mike D at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2005


And all the dead Iraqi civilians? How about them? Not amazing enough?

Lets have an investigation and trial for each and every case of the 30,000 - 60,000+ Iraqi civilian deaths. That'd be practical.
posted by tkchrist at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2005


Lets have an investigation and trial for each and every case of the 30,000 - 60,000+ Iraqi civilian deaths. That'd be practical.

Or better yet, how about not having an investigation on the basis that the victim was "just too amazing of a figure"?
posted by 327.ca at 12:57 PM on March 4, 2005


327.ca. Are purposely being this obtuse?

First Nicola Calipari wasn't shot - my mistake - but still she is high profile and amazing in the sense of being popular so the US administration would be foolish to try and let the investigation of a shooting incident of somebody of that stature - with such strong connections to an allied government - get white washed.

But please don't let me interrupt that strawman your building the crows might descend any second. As you were.
posted by tkchrist at 1:03 PM on March 4, 2005


i do note that few of the rationalizers of u.s. actions in this instance cared to take exception to the second link, so i'll post it again.

what's the rationalization there? "ever been in a combat zone?"
posted by Hat Maui at 1:08 PM on March 4, 2005


First Nicola Calipari wasn't shot - my mistake - but still she is high profile and amazing in the sense of being popular so the US administration would be foolish to try and let the investigation of a shooting incident of somebody of that stature - with such strong connections to an allied government - get white washed.

What I find offensive is the imbalance between outrage over how foreign nationals are treated in Iraq ("How dare they! She's famous!") and the relative ease with which the tens of thousands of civilians killed by the US-led coalition is overlooked. I don't mean to put words in your mouth, tkchrist, but hearing you froth about "the US MUST make moral amends for this incident" makes me want to point that the US has much, much more to make moral amends for. If that looks obtuse to you, fine. Obtuse is good.

[BTW: CNN is reporting that "...Nicola Calipari, a member of the security forces who were with Sgrena, was killed."]
posted by 327.ca at 1:23 PM on March 4, 2005


Didn't the armed forces early on warn anyone who was "non-embedded?" I'm not trying to justify their attacks on journalists, I'm just saying that it seems that it is US policy to consider any non-embedded journalist a potential target, the same as they consider everything a potential target until proven otherwise.
The US forces aren't specifically targeting journalists. They are cavalierly targeting anyone who is not under their wing.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:32 PM on March 4, 2005


Some folks might take you to task for misleadingly labeling this thread as vindication for Eason Jordan's statement that American forces deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq, but I understand your point: if we are bound to tell the truth in this war against the forces of right-wing extremism, then we are fighting with one hand tied behind our back. Your lie is in the service of the greater good, and I applaud you for it.

I am working on a link right now that will show that U.S. forces in Iraq wantonly kick puppies for no good reason. I will keep you apprised of my progress. Liberacion!
posted by esquire at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2005


this is so wrong--what the fuck is wrong with our soldiers? don't they coordinate with the Iraqis and Italians? why are we attacking the wrong people repeatedly?
posted by amberglow at 2:06 PM on March 4, 2005


What is stunning about this is, frankly, the operational incompetence this situation has demonstrated. What the Fuck? Apparently we can't be bothered to make a simple radio call: Attention checkpoint Alpha-7, there is a Coalition hostage extraction underway in your AOR. A (fill-in-the-color, make, model, etc.) car carrying the hostage and an Italian Security detail will be approaching your check-point in x number of minutes at high speed. You are to stand down and allow them to pass unimpeded. If described car does not clear your checkpoint in 15 minutes, radio your report and receive further orders... It took me 2 minutes to write that. In that time, this order (for a mission that I am positive has been planned for days) could have traveled from the cell-phone of the Italians to a command center to the radio of the private manning the MG at the checkpoint. But, apparently, we are either too lazy, confused, or plain incompetent to get this little bit of info where it needed to be... Again, I say: WTF?

on preview: what Amberglow said.
posted by Chrischris at 2:08 PM on March 4, 2005


Isn't there some way we can put this in context? How many American and European journalists were killed or wounded by American "friendly fire" during Vietnam? I understand that combat zones can be a hellish place for making rational decisions about the use of deadly force, but I don't see any evidence that journalists were dropping like flies during the Vietnam War. I'm not saying the difference is the result of some genocidal conspiracy against journalist, but there probably is some explanation for the discrepancy. And you can't just say "It's the combat zone, stupid!" because Vietnam wasn't exactly a walk in the park for American soldiers either.
posted by jonp72 at 2:09 PM on March 4, 2005


why are we attacking the wrong people repeatedly?

No kidding. I propose something catchy and easy to remember: "If they're brown, mow 'em down".

[Sorry, amber. That wasn't directed at you. This war pisses me off more than I can say...]
posted by 327.ca at 2:13 PM on March 4, 2005


i was too quick to post the sgrena incident as evidence of intentional targeting.

my bad, and for what it's worth, i sincerely apologize.

however, characterizing it as "lying" is unfair. if you're going to apply a standard to me of that nature, to what standard do you hold, say, the president or the secretary of state?

and i'll thank you to address the second link before you call me a liar.

i await with open ears for any defense of the palestine hotel incident.

and esquire, your response was unfair. i will now pass along several dead attorney jokes to friends as retaliation.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:13 PM on March 4, 2005


*Adds esquire to list of muses*

Hat Maui: most contributing to this thread agree that, 1) this is horrible, 2) yet Sgrena was not specifically "targeted", and 3) This has nothing to do with Eason Jordan's comments.

And again: what is with the title tag? This is the same kind of sneering, detached, point-scoring that earned jfuller pet names like "sick cunt" when he attempted the same treatment of a news story. You posted a Yahoo link with an agenda. Sadly, this much-better treatment was deleted.
posted by dhoyt at 2:15 PM on March 4, 2005


dhoyt, are you calling me a sick cunt?

i'd suggest you just get over the title tag. if i could change it i would.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:20 PM on March 4, 2005


If you think this is bad, consider how many times this has probably happened to average Iraqis.

Also, Reuters is reporting that there was a convoy.
posted by destro at 2:22 PM on March 4, 2005


Italian TV reports that the US Ambassador went to the PM's residence and he is now in talks with Berlusconi.

apparently, another Italian secret service agent has been hit in a lung, he's been operated on and is in serious condition. Sgrena has been slightly hit in a shoulder by either a bullet or shrapnel but her life is not at risk.

the White House says Bush is sorry

_______

I am working on a link right now that will show that U.S. forces in Iraq wantonly kick puppies for no good reason. I will keep you apprised of my progress. Liberacion!

yeah, funny.

_______


the same treatment of a news story.

no way. there are no rape jokes in this post's title. but then, you don't have a problem with rape jokes, as your commenting history demonstrates.
posted by matteo at 2:23 PM on March 4, 2005


Ach: I did not see Hat's response on preview.

dhoyt, are you calling me a sick cunt?

No.

I'm was saying jfuller rec'd that insult from someone whose choice of words were aggressively defended on the grounds that jfuller "got what was coming to him"--that was the consensus. The parties in question have strangely little to say about the construction of this particular post. "Death to Reporters" is as weirdly detached & violent as any rape joke, so sorry matteo.
posted by dhoyt at 2:27 PM on March 4, 2005


look, dude, respond to the second link my ability to take your criticism seriously is greatly diminished.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:30 PM on March 4, 2005


"or my ability" that is
posted by Hat Maui at 2:33 PM on March 4, 2005


The intelligence agent was killed when he threw himself over Sgrena to protect her from U.S. fire, Apcom quoted Gabriele Polo, the editor of Sgrena's newspaper Il Manifesto, as saying. from the NYT

Unless she was driving, which i doubt, and i bet she wasn't even in the front seat, why were they targeting anyone other than the driver? and what everyone else said about them not knowing about the release and the car.
posted by amberglow at 2:34 PM on March 4, 2005


Sgrena's companion live on Italian TV: "I don't blame the scared kids who pulled the trigger (...) I blame those who sent them to Iraq in the first place".

by the way, Florence and Hussein are still in their captor's hands. one hopes they are freed soon, and nobody shoots them on their way home
posted by matteo at 2:39 PM on March 4, 2005


look, dude, respond to the second link my ability to take your criticism seriously is greatly diminished.

The Palestine Hotel incident? It's a fucking mess. If reporters were specifically targeted in that situation, the responsible parties should be held fully accountable. Obviously.

But no one owes you that reponse. Look, the post was a shitty one. It's cool. Everyone makes them. But trying to "call people out" to defend the second link is a really obnoxious strategy. A simple acknowledgment of the dishonest intentions behind the post would've been enough. We all know accidental killings are tragic. Awful. Condemnable. But don't use this particular one as an opportunity to wield the bully pulpit. It's really disrespectful.

why were they targeting anyone other than the driver? and what everyone else said about them not knowing about the release and the car.

They targeted the engine block:

U.S. troops "attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car," the statement said. "When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block, which stopped the vehicle, killing one and wounding two others."
posted by dhoyt at 2:41 PM on March 4, 2005


was the car marked at all--like with a red cross or flag or anything?

and dhoyt, i read that too, but don't buy it...targeting the engine block does not kill or hurt people in the back seat.
posted by amberglow at 2:43 PM on March 4, 2005


and why didn't they shoot at the tires if they had to shoot?

and why wasn't the car cleared for passage? if it was, why didn't they know?
posted by amberglow at 2:45 PM on March 4, 2005


The agent was killed as he was protecting Sgrena in the backseat. If they were aiming for the engine block, they were doing a bad job.
posted by destro at 2:58 PM on March 4, 2005


They targeted the engine block:

yes, it is their version of the facts -- it's one side (also: the side of the guys who killed an innocent man and wounded others and may have an interest in covering their own asses, I'm sure you agree).

there are survivors who will certainly give us their version, too. we'll see.

If they were aiming for the engine block, they were doing a bad job.

reports here say that the car was hit by "a few hundred bullets". we'll see, the evidence is there, there are still a lot of witnesses to listen to.
posted by matteo at 3:08 PM on March 4, 2005


I am working on a link right now that will show that U.S. forces in Iraq wantonly kick puppies for no good reason. I will keep you apprised of my progress. Liberacion!

Would hunting them down and executing them work for you.

(and what amberglow and Chrischris said, regarding coordination.)
posted by MikeKD at 3:15 PM on March 4, 2005


will Italy pull its troops, matteo? I know the population wants them home.
posted by amberglow at 3:15 PM on March 4, 2005


But no one owes you that reponse. Look, the post was a shitty one. It's cool. Everyone makes them. But trying to "call people out" to defend the second link is a really obnoxious strategy. A simple acknowledgment of the dishonest intentions behind the post would've been enough. We all know accidental killings are tragic. Awful. Condemnable. But don't use this particular one as an opportunity to wield the bully pulpit. It's really disrespectful.

nice pedantic evasion. it'd really be a lot easier to take a lecture from you if weren't so... you.

there were no "dishonest intentions." i made a mistake in my haste. but i was not trying to deceive anyone. and i resent your saying so.

but why are you in doubt about what happened at the hotel palestine? what's your alternative explanation? and to whom am i being "disrespectful"? you?
posted by Hat Maui at 3:25 PM on March 4, 2005


also of note is the BFC thread on this topic, in which Robert Young Pelton lays out the evidence for Eason's claims and wonders why more investigation wasn't done.
posted by jcruelty at 3:26 PM on March 4, 2005


amberglow:

nah, it would mean no more sleepovers at Camp David, no more invitations at the White House for Berlusconi -- he'll never pull out as long as he is in charge. which means, at least until the general election in spring 2006. the Iraqi invasion has always been extremely unpopular in Italy, I guess this murder won't change things much in the polls. the PM has a congressional majority, as of now.

also:
as dhoyt comment above shows, the Bush people will try to blame it all on a sudden death wish experienced by the driver, who tried to smash the car against an American roadblock so the soldiers had to shoot for self-defense, and everybody will be very sorry for a "tragic mistake".

Amadou Diallo was reaching for a gun, remember?
posted by matteo at 3:34 PM on March 4, 2005


There is really only one issue in the current car shooting. It is whether the troops were justified in shooting.

Once they shoot at a target it is silly to propose things like shooting tires or disabling an engine when one of the main strategies of their oppenents is suicide bombing.
posted by srboisvert at 3:34 PM on March 4, 2005


Don't apologize for anything, Hat Maui.

The "official" explanation for the attack on Sgreva is stinking worse and worse. Facts will probably vindicate your FPP in the long run. Just think of dhoyt at being "accidentally disrespectful" (he obvious aimed for the engine block).
posted by wendell at 3:42 PM on March 4, 2005


but why are you in doubt about what happened at the hotel palestine? what's your alternative explanation?

Huh?

I said the responsible parties "should be held accountable." I agree with you. But I wasn't there. And neither were you.

and to whom am i being "disrespectful"? you?

Wow.

You heard about someone getting killed in Iraq and your first response was to run to the internet and post a Yahoo link—which was about three sentences long when first posted—to score political points for the Eason Jordan incident, when in fact, you had no evidence the killing was intentional. I would consider cynical, kneejerk shit like that pretty disrespectul to Sgrena's bodyguard who died today, and to the young, shaken soldiers who made a tremendous mistake. Post more links on the story if you truly give a shit about it.

Facts will probably vindicate your FPP in the long run.

Facts will reveal that the troops deliberately "had it in" for Sgrena?

Wendell: how exactly would they have known the car held Sgrena, an ally? And if they did know, why would they deliberately create an international incident which could potentially result in allied Italian troops being pulled out?

How does that make any sense?
posted by dhoyt at 3:56 PM on March 4, 2005


thanks, wendell. he aimed at the engine block and hit himself in the foot (the source of his pedantry, btw).

and i encourage everyone to peruse jcruelty's link, above, the second (and most relevant) page of which i'm linking to here.

scroll down a bit to RYP's extensive documentation.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:57 PM on March 4, 2005


Seriously, I think it bears mentioning that while there isn't conclusive evidence proving this to have been a targeted attack on a reporter, this isn't the 1st time US soldiers have fired at a car that they claim "didn't repond to our indications for them to stop" that turned out to carry nothing but innocents. I call bullshit. The very idea that an italian secret service agent carrying a hostage home would speed towards a roadblock ignoring warning shots and all other indications that he was to stop and let them inspect the vehicle is absurd.
posted by shmegegge at 4:21 PM on March 4, 2005


The very idea that an italian secret service agent carrying a hostage home would speed towards a roadblock ignoring warning shots and all other indications that he was to stop and let them inspect the vehicle is absurd.

It is absurd. It makes you wonder what was going on with the driver.

Via Bloomberg:
The convoy was approaching the checkpoint at a "high rate of speed' about 8:55 p.m. yesterday, said Marine Sergeant Salju Thomas by telephone from Baghdad. "It's an extremely threatening act,' Thomas said. "That's the exact same thing that car bombers do.'
Every Google news source I've found so far cites the scenario of a high-speed convoy approaching the checkpoint and ignoring warning shots and other gestures.

Snark aside: has anyone found a news source offering an explanation counter to that?
posted by dhoyt at 4:31 PM on March 4, 2005


the car held Sgrena, an ally

interesting turn of phrase.

you see, actual journalists -- ie, not the people you watch on FoxNews rehashing Pentagon press releases -- aren't wrapped in their national flag, cheering for their team. hence, they're not "allies" to a side in a fight, they're people looking for the truth, which is an entirely different thing.

war correspondents are either that, or PR people.

oh, I almost forgot: Sgrena is a prominent anti-war journalist who writes for Il Manifesto, a "quotidiano comunista" (that's what I read in tiny, elegant font on page 1, just under the paper's name).

"quotidiano" means "daily". I guess you don't need a translation for the second word.

-----------

said Marine Sergeant Salju Thomas by telephone from Baghdad

clearly an independent source, with no connection to the murderers.

as I said, I have no idea what happened -- nobody here does. I'm sure ms. Sgrena will be more than happy to tell us what she saw and heard, once she is out of the hospital. unlike dhoyt or sergeant Thomas, she was in the car, after all
posted by matteo at 4:45 PM on March 4, 2005


Every Google news source I've found so far cites the scenario of a high-speed convoy approaching the checkpoint and ignoring warning shots and other gestures.

Snark aside: has anyone found a news source offering an explanation counter to that?
posted by dhoyt at 4:53 PM on March 4, 2005


Sgrena will be more than happy to tell us what she saw and heard, once she is out of the hospital. unlike dhoyt or sergeant Thomas, she was in the car, after all

(earlier post)
oh, I almost forgot: Sgrena is a prominent anti-war journalist who writes for Il Manifesto, a "quotidiano comunista"


clearly an independent source, with no connection to (those killed).

woozle wazzle?
posted by stifford at 5:00 PM on March 4, 2005


cites the scenario of a high-speed convoy approaching the checkpoint

they're not citing the scenario, whatever that means, they're citing u.s. military spokespeople.

but why speculate about whether the convoy sped suicidally, and against all warnings, towards certain death? as matteo said, they didn't get her. she'll have a thing or two to say about the matter.

it is interesting how quick some are to puff their chests out and throw about terms like "liar" when the story is, as drudge would say, developing.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:01 PM on March 4, 2005


the White House says Bush is sorry
Finally, they admit to something the rest of the world has known for years.

... I'm sorry, I couldn't resist :)
posted by kaemaril at 5:07 PM on March 4, 2005


it is interesting how quick some are to puff their chests out and throw about terms like "liar" when the story is, as drudge would say, developing.

It's more interesting still how often some put their foot in their mouth.

Yeah, matteo, perhaps the totally objective "anti-war journalist from a Communist paper" will have a story that contradicts the totally objective Sergeant Thomas. Time will tell. Let's post some links on the story that give an explanation of what happened and no more diversionary "OMFG Eason Jordan", now, shall we? It's too late to defend the shoddy construction of this FPP.
posted by dhoyt at 5:14 PM on March 4, 2005


Keep in mind that the definition of "checkpoint" can also include random american soldiers walking along a street aimlessly, as it did in one of the many other incidents exactly like this one that involved the infamous picture of the bloody orphaned child.

Obviously these checkpoints are not working correctly. That cannot be disputed. Clearly there is a lack of communication. Hand gestures? What society's hand gestures? I have enough trouble understanding local traffic cops, and they're not poorly-trained juvenile soldiers of an invading army in a foreign, hostile environment.

There needs to be a complete overhaul of this checkpoint thing. Let's get some fucking multi-lingual flags with strobe lights and shit on them, notify everyone with a very public press release of the new policies, and stop this shit. Somehow, though, I doubt anyone in a position to care, does.

I fear that the story about the investigation into this incident will disappear just as fast as the one where the american apache helicopter fired missiles into the crowd of civilians near a burned-out transport truck. Sadly, that probably isn't specific enough to isolate one particular case of that.
posted by odinsdream at 5:14 PM on March 4, 2005


woozle wazzle?

heh. like, one side just committed murder and hence risks legal consequences, the other doesn't.
or if you think Sgrena would/will lie about what she saw, go ahead and say it.
also two other people were in the car and are stiil alive (well, if the injured agent doesn't die, too). we'll listen to her deposition as well. as secret service agents working in Iraq, they're hardly Communists, I guess.

_________________

the totally objective "anti-war journalist from a Communist paper"

again, she is not the one who risks a court martial for murdering a cop and seriously injuring another.

and it's funny how the sympathy is disappearing once the usual suspects here learnt that -- oh! -- she is a pacifist.
liberal media!

anyway, Il Manifesto's front page
posted by matteo at 5:21 PM on March 4, 2005


There needs to be a complete overhaul of this checkpoint thing. Let's get some fucking multi-lingual flags with strobe lights and shit on them, notify everyone with a very public press release of the new policies, and stop this shit.

And how about some mounted cameras (like on police car dashboards). It might not prevent the situation, but it may help figure out what happened after the fact.
posted by stifford at 5:21 PM on March 4, 2005


dhoyt, i accept your invitation to peruse your posting history and discredit all your arguments using your voluminous bloviations.

the only difficult part will be winnowing it down to manageable size.

but hey, at least when i make a mistake, i own up to it. which is considerably more than can be said for you.

i'm sure you just scored tons of winger "scene points" for your citation of the DU when no one here even mentioned them. in point of fact, i only came across DU stuff as i explored this story further.

should i attribute whatever lunacy's going on at free republic over this to you?
posted by Hat Maui at 5:24 PM on March 4, 2005


and it's funny how the sympathy is disappearing once the usual suspects here learnt that -- oh! -- she is a pacifist.
liberal media!


You seemed to dismiss Sgt. Thomas' account pretty quickly...funny, huh?
posted by stifford at 5:27 PM on March 4, 2005


You seemed to dismiss Sgt. Thomas' account pretty quickly...funny, huh?

you seem unable to grasp the concept, that one side here risks a court-martial. the other doesn't.

talk about covering one's ass.
Amadou Diallo, anybody?

also, why would the driver want to commit suicide trying to ram the car into an American roadblock?

hmmm.
who knows. as I said, we'll see. three passengers manage to survive the American bullets, we'll hear it from them. as Berlusconi said, someone has to take responsibility.

as of now, we're only hearing what the murderer's (or murderers', we don't know yet how many) version.
posted by matteo at 5:33 PM on March 4, 2005


no one dismissed his account, we've just learned to be skeptical of the reports of official spokespeople of any government.

OMFG commie witch!
posted by Hat Maui at 5:34 PM on March 4, 2005


heh. like, one side just committed murder and hence risks legal consequences, the other doesn't.
or if you think Sgrena would/will lie about what she saw, go ahead and say it.


I don't have the power to look into the heart or mind of either Sgrena or Sgt. Thomas. You automatically dismissed the sergeant's testimony. I was pointing out that someone that's a pacifist and reporter for a communist newspaper might write a story that took a anti-US military point of view. If one isn't "clearly an independent source", why can't the other one not be either?
posted by stifford at 5:35 PM on March 4, 2005


forget about mounted cameras--i want tiny embedded cams on all soldier's helmets, transmitting to a secure--but open to journalists and others--location--and it would help them too. Too many events like this are happening and they have to stop.
posted by amberglow at 5:39 PM on March 4, 2005


as of now, we're only hearing what the murderer's (or murderers', we don't know yet how many) version.

You're refering to them as murderers. Why don't you hear both sides, and hopefully some more evidence, before applying the "murderers" tag?
posted by stifford at 5:40 PM on March 4, 2005


some of Sgrena's stories have been translated into English:

Interview with an Iraki woman tortured at Abu Graib.

In the middle of the night, American soldiers broke into the home of Mithal al Hassan and arrested both her and her son. The soldiers later ransacked the apartment. Denounced as part of a vendetta, Mithal was condemned without trial to eighty days of horror in the company of other women prisoners who, like her, were subjected to abuse and torture. She has since spotted her tormentors on the internet.

Bombs and tanks, hell breaks in Falluja

Phantom fury - At dawn starts the attack to the «city of the mosques», the tanks entered supported by planes dropping one-ton bombs

Ten thousand Iraqis in US and British prisons

Number of detainees rises in an offensive launched by the occupation forces with the elections in view
Among the prisoners are 350 foreigners accused of terrorism.



You're refering to them as murderers.

a man is dead because somebody shot him. what's the word for the man/men who already admit that they pulled the trigger?

If one isn't "clearly an independent source", why can't the other one not be either?

for the third time:
because she's not the one who risks a murder conviction -- the men who shot and killed an allied secret service agent do.

I don't dismiss anything. I just state the obvious: the soldier(s) who killed at least one man may want to spin their testimony in a way that avoids him/her a murder conviction. even Berlusconi is very pissed-off about this, you'd better realize that this is serious business, stifford.
I'll repeat the whole "Sgrena is not the one who risks a court-martial" a fourth time, if you need, but please e-mail me if it is needed, OK?
posted by matteo at 5:52 PM on March 4, 2005


and why didn't they shoot at the tires if they had to shoot?

Amberglow, I don't mean to single you out specifically but it is comments like these that make those of us that have gone through combat and combat training crazy.

Let me tell you as one who has gone through combat training and defensive fire arms instruction that shooting out tires (like cops training to shoot a moving perp in the leg) is not as easy as it would seem. Even under the best of circumstances. And under combat stress... well, forget it. It simply is not practically doable.

Think about it. Several tons moving at 30-80kph can travel a long way even on blown tires. In a country where automobile bourne suicide bombing is the preferred tactic shooting out the tires is not a wise defensive tactic.

These soldiers that shot this poor reporter and her valiant defenders were kids. Scared hyped-up battle fatigued fucking kids placed in bad situation by cowardly commander in chief.

You cannot call them out for defending their own lives if that is the case.

A commander or intelligence officer can be held accountable if that person knew in advance of the route the reporter vehicle was traveling and word could of been passed to stand down for the vehicle.

But ultimately the buck stops with our Secretary of Defense and President. Or should. If they weren't both useless pieces of shit.

Reporters have always been both a blessing and a curse for the fighting man. A blessing in that they report the truth of dire circumstances - alerting the home front of when the fighting force is being abused and place in needless jeopardy. A curse in that sometimes these truths effect morale in the short term. Also there is the logistical pain of putting your men, your brothers, lives at risk defending the Journalist team.

And how about some mounted cameras (like on police car dashboards). It might not prevent the situation, but it may help figure out what happened after the fact.

Rangers and Marine Recon have these. But my man, think about it like this: Our fuckign soldiers don't even have armor or ammo when they need it. You think portable video equipment is getting standard issue in the battle rattle?

Not only that as it is your war kit wieghs 80lbs in 110 degree heat. What do you think is getting pitched first? The extra 7.62's or the video gear?
posted by tkchrist at 5:53 PM on March 4, 2005


the extra 7.62's?
posted by matteo at 5:58 PM on March 4, 2005


matteo: a man is dead because somebody shot him. what's the word for the man/men who already admit that they pulled the trigger?

"Killer"?

Much as I think this might be dodgy, a man who shoots somebody need not necessarily be a murderer. That's for a court (martial or civilian) to decide.
posted by kaemaril at 6:02 PM on March 4, 2005


This is pissing me off

I have spent a large chunk of my adult life running operations like this and let me tell you what SHOULD happen each and every time a vehicle check point kills an unarmed civilian



1) The Quick Reaction Force move in and cordon the area
2 About 2 minutes after that every fucking agency and tin hat in the world descends
3) The troops involved in the initial incident are pulled back to safety
i) They are separated - not allowed to speak to one another - their hands are bagged to prevent cross contamination of firing residue
ii) the rifles they were carrying are taken from them and inspected forensically and for zeroing errors
iii) Military investigators arrive and interview them - for days if required
iv)The vehicle is examined - the whole place is treated as what it is - a crime scene
v) If there is a case - individuals may be charged - and yes, murder is one of the possible charges.

4) Everyone else gets back to fucking work.
5) Now you go to court - and months later the whole mess comes out and whoever fucked up gets it in the neck - This is the only way that works.

I stand by my appraisal that US troops are shite - unsuitable for modern (low intensity) warfare - and anything else that requires them to apply controlled force.

Combine shite soldiers with your current political leaders, mix into this turgid brew a population who seem to think that uniform = hero and we have a right fucking mess.

This sort of shit is going on day after day - and since only 'sand-niggers' are getting shot no-one cares - cos hey, you nice americans are giving them what? $2500 dollars to STFU and go home.

Mark my words! If you don't do this then your troops are being allowed to get away with routine state sanctioned murder - and no one will forgive you - ever.

Makes me want to vomit
posted by fingerbang at 6:05 PM on March 4, 2005


a man is dead because somebody shot him. what's the word for the man/men who already admit that they pulled the trigger?

If you shoot someone in self-defense, is that murder? (and I'm not saying this was necessarily a case of self-defense). Just pointing out that not all killing is "murder"


If one isn't "clearly an independent source", why can't the other one not be either?

for the third time:
because she's not the one who risks a murder conviction -- the men who shot and killed an allied secret service agent do.


How does the fact that she isn't at risk of a murder conviction PROVE that her account (which we haven't even heard yet) is the absolute truth? How does the fact that someone is at risk of a murder conviction PROVE that they are unable to tell the truth?

If a soldier can "fudge" the truth to save his ass, why can't a reporter "fudge" the truth for a juicy/juicier story?

maybe if you say the same thing a few more times, I'll gradually catch on...
posted by stifford at 6:11 PM on March 4, 2005


fingerbang, how do you know that the procedure you indicated in points 1 to 5 hasn't been carried out? isn't that standard procedure in a (possibly double) murder case? I mean, this is a very serious situation and a possible diplomatic crisis with political and military consequences (I mean, if Washington goes on and acts with dhoyt's arrogance trying to smother the investigation, maybe the coalition will end up losing its third-largest contingent, and I'm not forgetting Poland)


If a soldier can "fudge" the truth to save his ass, why can't a reporter "fudge" the truth for a juicy/juicier story?

because a "less juicy" story won't put you in jail for life or get you executed (or whatever it is you guys do to convicted murderers in the military)?

is that good enough?

also, there are two secret agents who saw what happened (one, if the injured one dies) and who'll be able to tell us what happened. are they commies, too? do they want to publish a "juicier" story, too?
posted by matteo at 6:20 PM on March 4, 2005


Uh. Fingerbang. Cordon off the place? LOL!

If we could "cordon" anything in Iraq there probably wouldn't BE car bombings.

This "Quick Reaction Force" does not exist in this context.

Not in a combat zone like Baghdad where there are a hundred such incidents a day. That would be an LEO swat team response and simply not practical in Iraq right now.

No offense but what precisely did you do for the bulk of your adult life? Because the rest of your could have been kipped right out of a "CSI Miami" TV show episode.
posted by tkchrist at 6:32 PM on March 4, 2005


because a "less juicy" story won't put you in jail for life or get you executed (or whatever it is you guys do to convicted murderers in the military)?

is that good enough?


No, it's not. Why is it impossible for a reporter to put some spin on a story? Because there's no death penalty for spinning a story? And, I'm not even saying SHE ISN'T (or WON'T BE) telling the truth. I'm just acknowledging the fact that it isn't an impossibility.

also, there are two secret agents who saw what happened (one, if the injured one dies) and who'll be able to tell us what happened. are they commies, too? do they want to publish a "juicier" story, too?

If their stories correspond with the US Military's, will you just dismiss it as a "cover-up"? If somehow, Sgrena's story also corresponds with the other accounts, was she "brainwashed"?

You're the one who seems to be hung up on the "commie" thing.
posted by stifford at 6:41 PM on March 4, 2005


tkchrist, I'm interested -- how do you think this murder (killing, accidental death, suicide, whatever) is being investigated?
cordoning off the crime scene and keeping the shooters separated until they have been interrogated and analyzing the destroyed car doesn't seem CSI science fiction -- isn't this a murder investigation after all?

_________

"coverup"? "brainwashed"?
bye-bye, stiff.
posted by matteo at 6:52 PM on March 4, 2005


"coverup"? "brainwashed"?
bye-bye, stiff.


Enjoy your time in the land where it's impossible for reporters (who, last time I checked, were human beings with free will) to lie or "spin" the truth. I hear it only rains marshmellows there.
posted by stifford at 6:57 PM on March 4, 2005


tkchrist - by insisting that there is no way you can investigate these incidents and, thereby, letting them continue you have effectively become the heaving buttock in the thrust of my argument.
posted by fingerbang at 7:12 PM on March 4, 2005


How about a sign, in english and arabic, that says, "stop up ahead"?
posted by destro at 7:57 PM on March 4, 2005


How about a sign, in english and arabic, that says, "stop up ahead"?

Would that have helped Italians?

The washington post is bit ambiguous on whether it was a fixed checkpoint or patrol. Do they call the soldiers manning a checkpoint a patrol?


About 9:00 pm, 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 reminds me of this FPP
posted by srboisvert at 8:23 PM on March 4, 2005


Whatever the merits of how and why they got there, what American soldiers are doing now, at great risks to themselves, every day, is trying to protect the Iraqi majority from a minority of Sunni terrorists nostalgic for Saddam and the patronage he assured his favored tribesmen. That's a job worthy of respect, not worthy of being treated as presumptive criminals, which some posters seem eager to do.
posted by MattD at 8:52 PM on March 4, 2005


dhoyt writes "perhaps the totally objective 'anti-war journalist from a Communist paper' will have a story "

ok, say the word "bias" and I rip you fucking head off.

"Hey, this reporter says he got his balls cut off"
"Shit! Does he have it on video?" "
"No"
"Aaah, no worry, he's a journalist. As long as he's not proven 'objective' by our American Journalists Court he's fair game."
"But but, he has no balls"
"Fuck it, get his schlong, too. It'll be a hoot at the TGIF bbq!"


matteo, what does the Il Manifesto front page say? (my italian is a little rusty, I must say)

MattD writes "not worthy of being treated as presumptive criminals, which some posters seem eager to do"
Hey everybody! Free stuff! And, btw, kill away!
posted by mr.marx at 8:59 PM on March 4, 2005


What exactly does "rip you (sic) fucking head off" mean in the context of MeFi conversation, anyway? Sounds like a BS macho threat.

The sergeant in question is capable of bias in this case, and so is Sgrena. Duh.
posted by dhoyt at 9:35 PM on March 4, 2005


Italians were partying in the street last night to celebrate the release of Ms. Sgrena, and now, believe me, they are going to be very, very angry. This makes Berlusconi's position as the US' main Euro-flunky a very difficult one to maintain.

Whether or not the car carrying the Italians was properly marked or didn't stop, or whatever, remember that this is not the first time Italians have had to deal with tragic deaths due to US Military incompetence. In 1997 a US Marine fighter jet was either flying low-altitude exercises (or else, simply "hot-rodding") in the Italian Alps when it accidentally cut the cables on a ski-resort cable car, killing 20. Italians were not happy about that at all, especially when the pilot was acquitted. I am sure they are remebering that story today, and probably wondering what the heck is the point to supporting a US military that puts saving money ahead of effectively fighting a war.

I can expect that Rumsfeld and his crew will be sure to get a few low-ranking grunts locked up for this before cocktail hour.
posted by zaelic at 3:45 AM on March 5, 2005


"Rome, Italy, March 5 - "A day that was supposed to be happy changed into pain and anger. I don't believe a word of the American version. It's clear that they are trying to hide what really happened. The Americans deliberately shot at the Italians. It's huge," said the secretary of the Italian Communist Party, Oliviero Diliberto, commenting on what took place after the liberation of the journalist Giuliana Sgrena. Diliberto said that "the entire centre left should ask the withdrawal of our troops in Parliament. Enough with this servitude towards the United States." (AGI) - An interesting source of Italian political reax here.

(Clearly it's ridiculous to claim it was deliberate, at least at this point.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:54 AM on March 5, 2005


Sgrena's partner, Pier Scolari, says he thinks it was deliberate "because Giuliana had come to know about something that maybe the Americans didn't want divulged."

"Please can the Italian government do something about this. Either it was an ambush, as I believe, because Giuliana had some information... or we are at the mercy of idiots, frightened boys who shoot at anyone they come across. All this has hit the headlines because it happened to Giuliana. But what about if it had happened to the Iraqis. Nobody would have known about it". (AGI)
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:57 AM on March 5, 2005


Either it was an ambush... or we are at the mercy of idiots, frightened boys who shoot at anyone they come across.

And both of those options are unacceptable, and disgusting. How far we've fallen.
posted by amberglow at 9:16 AM on March 5, 2005


from E&P : Questions Grow Over Shooting Incident as Italian Reporter Returns Home : ... Scolari also said the shootout took place 700 meters from the airport, after they had already passed other road blocks. At a press conference he said: "Giuliana and the other people who were there told me that the American attack was completely unjustified. They had alerted the whole chain of command, the Italian troops were awaiting them at the airport. And yet, they fired 300, 400 rounds. Why?" ...
posted by amberglow at 10:06 AM on March 5, 2005


The US MUST make moral amends for this incident

I have no idea what this means.

Switch gears - thank you amberglow for the link. I had been wondering about who told whom what. Clearly more questioning is necessary and I've no doubt there will be lying. I suppose we will never know whose.

What I really hate is seeing people on either side try to make political hay out of a tragedy.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:39 AM on March 5, 2005


Sgrena and one of the secret service agents say that their car wasn't speeding

and:

"It wasn't a check point"
posted by matteo at 10:49 AM on March 5, 2005


Some deadly mistaken shootings in Iraq:
March 4, 2005: American forces fire on a car carrying a freed Italian hostage as it approaches a checkpoint in Baghdad, killing an Italian intelligence officer and wounding three others, including the just-released journalist.

April 19, 2004: A correspondent and driver for the U.S.-funded television station Al Iraqiya are shot and killed by U.S. troops.

Sept. 12, 2003: U.S. forces kill eight Iraqi police and a Jordanian security guard in Fallouja. Nine are wounded.

Aug. 17, 2003: A Reuters cameraman is shot and killed while working near U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

April 8, 2003: A cameraman for the Spanish television network Telecinco and a Ukrainian TV cameraman for Reuters are killed when a U.S. tank fires at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

April 6, 2003: A Kurdish translator for the BBC and 17 allied Kurdish fighters are killed in the U.S. bombing of a joint convoy of Kurds and U.S. Special Forces in northern Iraq.

March 31, 2003: American troops kill seven Iraqi women and children and wound two at a checkpoint near Najaf, in south-central Iraq, when their van carrying 13 people fails to stop as ordered.
Source: Associated Press
posted by matteo at 11:13 AM on March 5, 2005


How about a sign, in english and arabic, that says, "stop up ahead"?

Would that have helped Italians?


Italian reporters in Iraq should be able to recognize "stop" in one of those languages. Put it on a red octagon and it's international.
posted by destro at 11:42 AM on March 5, 2005


This was a hit. Now the question is why.
posted by amberglow at 11:51 AM on March 5, 2005


Whiskeybar: ... Right-wing bloggers immediately demanded the resignations of the heads of all major wire services and the three U.S. broadcast news networks for reporting the incident, which they said reflected poorly on the U.S. military.

"These are nothing more than vicious, cowardly attacks on our heroic warriors for freedom in Iraq," said conservative blogger Michelle Malkin. "The American people need to be protected from such defeatist nonsense." Malkin called for a far-reaching congressional investigation into the loyalty of the "so-called mainstream media."

"Even if the commie slut did get shot, it was no more than she deserved for faking her own kidnapping," added the conservative blog Jawa Report. Meanwhile, commenters on the popular right-wing chat site Little Green Footballs demanded an all-out nuclear attack on Rome to end the scattered anti-American demonstrations that have been held there since the shooting.

"Regretfully, I must agree," added conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds, owner of the popular Instapundit site.

posted by amberglow at 11:57 AM on March 5, 2005


an editorial cartoon from Manifesto
posted by amberglow at 12:53 PM on March 5, 2005


Meanwhile, the much more sensible and not-at-all-histrionic LeftWing blogs are insinuating the "hit" was deliberate because Sgrena knew too much and that "Eason Jordan is vindicated". That kind of cynical point-scoring is totally different, of course, and those commenters should be commended on shining the beacon of truth & justice on this incident.

There's isn't a scrap of evidence this was "a hit". Generally during "a hit" the victim is not signalled with hands, gunshots, lights every warning short of a fireworks display. During "a hit" the person is shot outright by persons holding some grudge. It is doubtful that grunts in the field would know who the hell Sgrena was, much less risked an international incident by deliberately shooting at her car. I think asking you to put yourself in their shoes for a second is asking way too much, but perhaps it might change your perspective.

This was a hit. Now the question is why.

You're now officially stating cynical opinions as fact. In most courts of public opinion, isn't it considered prudent & respectful to have some kind of Evidence first before pinning the "murderous hitmen" tag on a group of soldiers?

Oh, why bother.
posted by dhoyt at 12:56 PM on March 5, 2005


amberglow, you do know that billmon was being cynically satirical, don't you? The reaction from the right hasn't been the most objective, but it hasn't sunk quite that low yet.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:16 PM on March 5, 2005


I think asking you to put yourself in their shoes for a second

ah, the compassionate conservative.

ok, let's try: "I'm a pacifist, I come to Iraq risking my life to talk to people the oh-so-polite embedded American media never talks to (ie, Iraqi civilians, victims of American torturers of Abu Ghraib, etc), I get kidnapped and am kept captive for a month, I get out alive and in good condition, then as my car is not speeding Americans try to liberate me from my bodily existence, putting a bullet in my shoulder and one in the brain of the man who got my freedom back. and another guy gets a bullet in his lung. not to mention, dhoyt thinks that Italians are Eurotrash. che fascista di merda".
posted by matteo at 1:33 PM on March 5, 2005


Sgrena and one of the secret service agents say that their car wasn't speeding

Her quote as that they were not going "very fast" (molto veloce) "under the circumstances". Try telling that to a judge in traffic court.

This was a hit. Now the question is why.

So I have to decide between Ms Sgrena being a commie slut who faked her own kidnapping (Money? Fame?) or a brave victim of US hit squad intent on keeping her (as yet unrevealed) revelations from the world.

This is why I hate politics
posted by IndigoJones at 1:34 PM on March 5, 2005


amberglow, you do know that billmon was being cynically satirical, don't you? The reaction from the right hasn't been the most objective, but it hasn't sunk quite that low yet.

of course i know--but go look at the freepers. He's not far off.

and dhoyt, your kneejerk defense of our deadly actions in this incident speak more to your blind obedience than to any independent thought. I may be wrong but at least i know bullshit when i hear it, as in our military's accounts of this. How many lies does it take for you to starting thinking critically about our actions over there. Or will this be just another case of "a few bad apples", as in Abu Ghraib (another blatant case of bullshit, as has been proven)?
posted by amberglow at 1:44 PM on March 5, 2005


tkchrist, I'm interested -- how do you think this murder (killing, accidental death, suicide, whatever) is being investigated?

There are military investigative teams. But frankly the job in a combat zone is pretty tough and low priority for many reasons.

First off this was not a classic road-block, really. It was ad-hoc. Hence why the they were surprised in the first place.

So the the Investigative team would come long after the fact and only IF the unit could actually can secure the area. Not likely since, if they assume the vehicle was initially hostile, they would respond as if another attack was likely. So it may take a while for them to even determine WHO was in the car.

Gathering evidence under these circumstances is really hard. Because the more guys show up on a scene the more they draw NEW attacks from real bad guys.

...cordoning off the crime scene and keeping the shooters separated until they have been interrogated and analyzing the destroyed car doesn't seem CSI science fiction -- isn't this a murder investigation after all?

*sigh* It isn't looked at like a "crime scene" in combat zones. Who is gonna do this? there are so many of these incidents and only maybe one company of investigators. Do yourealize how under manned and under-gunned US troops are in a nation of 24 million people?

Yes. They gather evidence and collect the weapons *IF* the unit/squad/platoon is not:

A) still drawing fire

B) is not needed/short on man power

The sad fact is the investigation in combat areas is usually WAAAY after the fact and, to an LEO, the scene would have been long contaminated. I'm telling you guys how it is. Not I, or you, want it be.

by insisting that there is no way you can investigate these incidents

The words you just put in my mouth taste kinda salty.

I NEVER "insisted" these incidents couldn't be investigate Mr. fucking-make-up-your-own-bullshit-Strawman.

I said it is hard. VERY hard. This is isn't London. It's Belfast in 1975 x 10.

And if you knew anything about this shit at all you would know that. So that clinches it for me, fingerbang, that you are full of shit.
posted by tkchrist at 1:52 PM on March 5, 2005


This is why I hate politics

no, you hate politics because you don't pay enough attention: there's a third, easy-to-see option most people (including me) are considering -- American soldiers, at this point of the Iraqi disaster that already cost 1,500 American dead, are so tired, scared, badly trained and ill-equipped that they shoot anything that moves, and they usually get away with it because when this system goes bad it usually kills Iraqis, brown people almost nobody cares about, certainly not in the damn lib'rul mainstream US media.
too bad that this time they killed a secret service agent of an allied country during a very important operation their command had been warned of, thus creating an opening for a massive diplomatic incident and the possible eventual pullout of the troops deployed against massive popular opposition by America's staunchest ally (with the possible exception of Tony Blair).

oh, and of course the American military in Iraq immediately tried to cover its ass blaming the victims. the killer's version of what happened is very dissimilar from what the cars remaining passengers have to say, which looks bad because then Americans will need to blame the victims twice, calling them liars too after the oh-so-quick "they were speeding and we warned them".

as stated above, the American military has shown that it's very good at bombing the hell out of a country and getting very quick to a nation's capital in a high-speed invasion. but they're simply terrible at using controlled force -- they're the worst police force possible under the circumstances of an occupation, trigger-happy and scared and incapable of reacting with anything other than blind force (an opinion shared by most non-USian contigents in Iraq, just look up what the Brits has said these last two years)

tough shit.
posted by matteo at 1:52 PM on March 5, 2005


I think asking you to put yourself in their shoes for a second

ah, the compassionate conservative.

ok, let's try: "I'm a pacifist, I come to Iraq risking my life to talk to people the oh-so-polite embedded American media never talks to


Sounds like you tried on the wrong shoes.


too bad that this time they killed a secret service agent of an allied country during a very important operation their command had been warned of

How do you know the word made it out to the troops at the checkpoint (or whatever it was), and not some fuck up higher up the chain?



Matteo, it's quite possible that everything you think went down happened. Why not wait until more info comes in, and leave open the possibility that it didn't go down this way.

Imagine it was an Italian military checkpoint, and some US agents just rescued a kidnapped Sean Hannity. Something happens, and Hannity's car gets all shot up. Do you recognize the possibility that the two sides may have conflicting stories?

(NOTE: I'm not saying the Italian Army has the "trigger-happy" reputation of US troops, nor that the Italian reporter is the liberal/pacifist equivalent of Sean Asshead Hannity. )
posted by stifford at 2:09 PM on March 5, 2005


This was a hit. Now the question is why.

Knock it off. What is your evidence this was a "hit"? Please post this evidence.

Who do you think provided medical support to the italians? Yeah. That's right. The "hit" men. You think they would have left ANYBODY alive or provided medical assistance if they wanted her dead?

You people are just too much.

I'm willing to say "maybe" it was. But, barring evidence to try these guys, most likely it was a mistake. Occams razor, you know?
posted by tkchrist at 2:11 PM on March 5, 2005


dhoyt: Generally during "a hit" the victim is not signaled with hands, gunshots, lights every warning short of a fireworks display.

You're assuming that the perpetrators are telling the truth. Therefore you are presuming that this was not a hit (since if it were, the people responsible would indeed lie about it). Circular reasoning.

I don't know if it was a hit or not, Pier Scolari's two possibilities are both worth pondering. What is also worth pondering (if we're going to wildly speculate about an incident that according to Sgrena did not happen at a check point, but rather was out of the blue), is the possibility that this was a rather serious warning to the Italians not to strike deals with kidnappers. Then again the possibility that, at this point, the US soldiers are under orders to shoot first, ask questions later is even more probable, but marginally less obscene...
posted by talos at 2:11 PM on March 5, 2005


That kind of cynical point-scoring is totally different, of course, and those commenters should be commended on shining the beacon of truth & justice on this incident

Calipari's death is another great opportunity for sneering, soulless political point-scoring

I would consider cynical, kneejerk shit like that pretty disrespectul

I'm telling mathowie!!!!!!
posted by quonsar II electric boogaloo at 2:30 PM on March 5, 2005


oh, and of course the American military in Iraq immediately tried to cover its ass blaming the victims. the killer's version of what happened is very dissimilar from what the cars remaining passengers have to say

You ever been to court? It quit possible the two different parties experience the events in very different ways. When your fleeing a stressful situation - like the a kidnappers hideout - I would think the car your in is never going fast enough.

And if your a jacked 19 year old kid from Compton who has seen several dozen buddies blown up by suicide car bombs (some camouflaged with children in them, ambulance markings, etc) I suspect any approaching vehicle does not go slow enough.

as stated above, the American military has shown that it's very good at bombing the hell out of a country and getting very quick to a nation's capital in a high-speed invasion. but they're simply terrible at using controlled force -- they're the worst police force possible under the circumstances of an occupation, trigger-happy and scared and incapable of reacting with anything other than blind force

Well, exactly. They are not trained to be Law Enforcement. They are trained to kill. Dogs of War and all that, right?

Despite all that I will tell you that objectively American Forces have been doing fairly well in this regard compared to other wars and occupations.

How people can, with ZERO evidence, hysterically leap to judement that this was a "hit"... I mean SHIT. People cut OJ more slack than this even with DNA evidence.
posted by tkchrist at 2:33 PM on March 5, 2005


you hate politics because you don't pay enough attention

(Pouts) I do so pay attention!

My point was a little narrower than I think you take it to be. Extremists on both sides are jumping to a lot of conclusions here, chiefly for political gain, or posturing, and I find that exceedingly irritating. Not to say offensive. And insulting. Certainly not in the best traditions of MEFI

As to the third option- I've been against this thing from day one chiefly on the grounds that it's none of our business.

At this point, however, about the only thing we have left to hope for is that some good comes out of it, e.g. a country where three disparate factions have to work out their differences together so they can all live in something like peace.

Which demands of them politics.

Which I hate.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:02 PM on March 5, 2005


48 journalists and media assistants killed since the start of fighting in Iraq in March 2003, four still missing

for comparison's sake: According to the most commonly quoted figures, 63 journalists (writers, cameramen and photographers) were killed in Vietnam, the first real +television+ war, in the 21 years between 1954 and 1975.

"It is clear that his enquiry cannot be conducted just by the US army which in the past, especially in the case of the Palestine Hotel shooting that killed two journalists, produced reports aimed solely at exonerating the military," Ménard said, adding, "we demand to know the full truth about this distressing affair."
posted by amberglow at 3:45 PM on March 5, 2005


Amberglow. From that same article:

"...Sarah de Jong, human rights officer for the IFJ, says the nature of conflict has changed over the past 40 years or so. +The classic set-up of two armies fighting each other has been replaced by modern wars that have become more urbanised and more brutal. The element of danger has changed,+ she explains.

So you see it is the nature of these conflicts that has changed with is contributing greatly to the death of journalisis. And this change has not been incorporated into military training but very very recently. And still not fully.

Also there are significantly more foreign journalists working in war zones now than in the past.

But you were not, I take it, posting this as evidence for your earlier assertion that shooting at Sgrena's car was a "hit".

Because it isn't.
posted by tkchrist at 4:21 PM on March 5, 2005


48 journalists and media assistants killed since the start of fighting in Iraq in March 2003, four still missing

And nowhere does the RWB state (nor could they) that all or even most of the reporters were killed by US forces. So what is this?

I agree that this world wide trend is terrible. Troubling even. And specifically I will agree that the US military - with this administration taking the lead - does have a hostile attitude to foreign press. And that is bad.

But from that to this knee-jerk assumption that US soldiers, in this case, committed a deliberate murder/hit is... well, beyond the pale.
posted by tkchrist at 4:48 PM on March 5, 2005


it's not knee-jerk, and it's not just me. ... The Americans deliberately fired on Italians. ...

And i should have been clearer--an attempted hit.

And if rightwing blogs are already saying Sgrena faked her own abduction, then nothing is out-of-bounds in this.
posted by amberglow at 4:57 PM on March 5, 2005


Lot's of curious selective quoting in this thread.

Amberglow, after posting this:
... Scolari also said the shootout took place 700 meters from the airport, after they had already passed other road blocks. At a press conference he said: "Giuliana and the other people who were there told me that the American attack was completely unjustified. They had alerted the whole chain of command, the Italian troops were awaiting them at the airport. And yet, they fired 300, 400 rounds. Why?

Left out this crucial context that was right before:

"...Scolari told Sky Italia TV: "I have said so many times, war is madness. Probably it was scared boys who fired, it wasn't their fault, it was the fault of those that sent them there."
posted by tkchrist at 5:05 PM on March 5, 2005


So, lot's and lot's of people with emotional or political attachment to the issue are speculating before all the facts are in... let's all speculate!

There was not one new verifiable fact in that link that swung the facts to prove this a "hit".

And if rightwing blogs are already saying Sgrena faked her own abduction, then nothing is out-of-bounds in this.

And a bunch of right wing kooks froth bullshit - so, er, you can too?

WTF? C'mon. Your smarter than this.

I'm done.
posted by tkchrist at 5:15 PM on March 5, 2005


tkchrist, I'm sorry, but your last comment proves nothing. There is no context to Scolari's stated opinion of a "probably" that stands at all opposed to amberglow's question. a question I myself would like an answer to. 300 rounds of ammo? That's a hell of alot, no doubts.

And, as you have previously assumed a position of waiting for relevant information, it does you no service to post a blanket statement like "Because it isn't". You don't know, amberglow doesn't know and I don't know. Seriously, assuming the opposite of amberglow's position (it was hit) doesn't lend anyone credibility in the absence of the facts.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:15 PM on March 5, 2005


the Observer: Italian reconstruction of the incident is significantly different. Sgrena told colleagues the vehicle was not travelling fast and had already passed several checkpoints on its way to the airport. The Americans shone a flashlight at the car and then fired between 300 and 400 bullets at if from an armoured vehicle. Rather than calling immediately for assistance for the wounded Italians, the soldiers' first move was to confiscate their weapons and mobile phones and they were prevented from resuming contact with Rome for more than an hour.

Enzo Bianco, the opposition head of the parliamentary committee that oversees Italy's secret services, described the American account as unbelievable. 'They talk of a car travelling at high speed, and that is not possible because there was heavy rain in Baghdad and you can't travel at speed on that road,' Bianco said. 'They speak of an order to stop, but we're not sure that happened.'

Pier Scolari, Sgrena's partner who flew to Baghdad to collect her, put an even more sinister construction on the events, suggesting in a television interview that Sgrena was the victim of a deliberate ambush. 'Giuliana may have received information which led to the soldiers not wanting her to leave Iraq alive,' he claimed.

posted by amberglow at 7:01 PM on March 5, 2005


I'm not clear on something: From the reports I've seen so far that make any mention of the surrounding scene, it sounds as if the car had already passed several checkpoints, and that there were, in fact, no more checkpoints. If this were a patrol, or "ad hoc" checkpoint, why on earth would they instantly assume that this car that had already passed checkpoints was a danger?

Am I missing something? Have I read wrong information? Would there be another way to get to that point of the road without passing checkpoints? I'm sincerely confused. If this information is true, and there isn't further, unrevealed, mitigating circumstances, then the situation is, indeed, beyond all imagination... To the extent that one wonders if troops are just automatically firing on anything that isn't a U.S./U.K. army vehicle.
posted by taz at 9:08 PM on March 5, 2005


exactly taz. And in her paper today, she has a story called My Truth


"We inquire for homicide"
The power of attorney of Rome opens an inquiry for aggravated voluntary homicide and three try homicides to you. "We will ask the acquisition for the car".
(bad translation from her paper)
posted by amberglow at 5:26 AM on March 6, 2005


The freed Italian hostage wounded by American troops at a checkpoint in Baghdad shortly after her release said in an article Sunday that her Iraqi captors had warned her U.S. forces ``might intervene.'-- AP, via Guardian
posted by amberglow at 5:33 AM on March 6, 2005


I'm seeing conflicting reports here.
Guardian
"there was no bright light, no signal.''
CNN
"It wasn't a checkpoint, but a patrol that shot as soon as they lit us up with a spotlight,"
posted by drscroogemcduck at 6:03 AM on March 6, 2005


that's not conflicting--one says they shot as soon as they lit up the car, and the other says there wasn't a signal light or warning light (before they started shooting)

It does, tho, conflict with our "official" version of events.
posted by amberglow at 6:17 AM on March 6, 2005


Whatever the truth is, it's going to cause a lot of diplomatic angst to have the freed hostage say things like this:

BBC:Sgrena said she may have been a target because the US opposed negotiations with her kidnappers.
In another interview with Sky Italia TV, she said it was possible the soldiers had targeted her because Washington opposed the policy of negotiating with kidnappers.

"Everyone knows that the Americans do not like negotiations to free hostages, and because of this I don't see why I should exclude the possibility of me having been the target," she said.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:16 AM on March 6, 2005


Pretty definitive from her POV.
(from the AP)
posted by Smedleyman at 8:18 AM on March 6, 2005


Nothing screams objectivity like an appeal to 'everybody knows'.
posted by darukaru at 9:50 AM on March 6, 2005


I admit I skimmed through all of these comments, but I couldn't find any critical analysis of the ridiculous American version. Speeding? okay, let's say that means 60 mph (100 kph). The car is coming at you at 80 feet (25 meters) per second. The GI version is that they made hand signals, flashed a light, and fired warning shots and then fired into the engine block. It was 8:50 pm when this occurred and the sun is still below the equator, so I will assume darkness. The fact that they used light signals probably suggests this too.
Okay, let's say the whole thing occurred in 5 seconds from "signalling" to fatal fire. That puts the car at least 400 feet away (130 m). That means they would have had to have seen and responded to a hand signals at a distance where they couldn't be seen. The GIs would have had to have decided to switch to light signals and then fired warning shots and then still determined that the car was not slowing or stopping before engaging in fire that hit the front of the car at a distance where it was hoped to stop it before it came up to the road check. Without dissecting each piece, you can see that it is impossible for all of that to occur in five seconds. So how far away when those hand signals started? 10 seconds? 800 feet (260 m)? Still crowding in hand signals, light signals, and warning shots and determing the car would not stop is all done in a ridiculously brief time (may suggest overreacting) and in this case the signals were from a pretty long distance.

On the other hand, the notion that it wasn't speeding may allow for some signalling to go on. Of course, it takes out a major component of the GI case. Since, this is long a summary statement: the official army version doesn't make sense.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2005


no, it doesn't. but that's what the liberal US media blindly reported for two days in a row, so it's fact now for the American public. no mention of the secret service agents saying that the car's speed was about 25-30 mph, that they had already obtained permits from America authorities who knew about their mission, nothing about the car having passed already several checkpoints with no problem at all.

but all this is old news. let's read some fun commentary from America-loving, troop-supporting bloggers:
I'm glad that US troops fired on the car carrying the recently-released Giuliana Sgrena.


Why? Well, because with all the suicidal nutbags using ambulances, "Iraqi military" vehicles, and diplomatic cars as car bombs, the troops have every right to take offense to someone who doesn't pay attention to them trying to do a little traffic-and-terrorist control.
With every problem, there's a solution. So, they put up a checkpoint. The driver tried to run through it. Drivers who know what's good for them and their passengers don't run through checkpoints.
So they got shot.
Unlike people who pretend to support our troops, I actually support our troops. And when some Italian behind the wheel of a car decided "Excusa mea! I'ma gonna justa flya trougha this-a checka-pointa!" instead of stopping, well, I think the troops were right to go for the engine block and I support their decision 100%.
If the driver didn't want to get the car shot up and possibly his passengers along with it, then he shouldn't have tried to run the checkpoint.
(...)
Let me clue you in to a little Fact Of Life: "Run a well-marked checkpoint with armed troops, get shot."
No, it's not on the Italian driver's exam, but it should be.

1) You are approaching a checkpoint where there are armed troops waving flashlights and firing warning shots over your vehicle.

You:
a) Stop
b) Speed up
c) Immediately make a U-turn and head for the nearest cafe for expresso and gelato
d) Crap your pants

(...)

"We deeply regret the loss of life," said spokesman Scott McClellan, at an event with Bush at the University of Notre Dame.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Italian citizen killed and his family. It's a matter that's still under investigation."

Mine aren't. My thoughts are: "Run a well-marked checkpoint with armed troops, get shot."

As for what I'm praying for, well, I'm praying for a bicycle. That's right. God wants me to have a bicycle. With a horn that goes HONK! and baseball cards in the spokes.
Priceless.
posted by matteo at 11:14 AM on March 6, 2005


And there's a pic supposedly of her car circulating, but it isn't her car, but some random Iraqi's.

Let's see a real pic of the car she was in. We have to have it stowed away somewhere. Did they just leave it on the road to the airport?
posted by amberglow at 9:54 AM on March 7, 2005


They are transporting it to Italy for ballistics tests, says the Italian press.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:40 PM on March 7, 2005


Ok. Came back to this for clarification of some misinterpretation of facts.

#1 Rather than calling immediately for assistance for the wounded Italians, the soldiers' first move was to confiscate their weapons and mobile phones and they were prevented from resuming contact with Rome for more than an hour.

This is SOP everywhere. Including HERE with local LEO. You always gather up the weapons and attempt to secure the scene. And they did call for medical assistance immediately after that. so if this was a hit why wouldn't they simply finish off the survivors right then and there? Then there would be no conflicting story at all, would there?

#2 300 rounds of ammo? That's a hell of allot, no doubts.

No it's not. It was an Armored vehicle and half a squad squad that opened up on the car. Approximately three to six individuals possibly all opened up - each armed with m-16's or MP5's. The civilian version of the M-16, the AR-15 has a 750 Rounds Per Minute rate of fire. If they had the standard LAV (the "tank" the reporter mentioned) that is equipped with M242 25mm chain gun (200rpm) and or 7.62mm machine gun (550rpm) mounted coaxially to the main gun then you could EASILY exceed 300 rounds in mere seconds.

It is miracle ANYBODY survived.

If this was a "hit" it would've had to have been coordinated with other checkpoints since this was a patrol that was starting to set up and ad-hoc checkpoint. The average grunt doesn't give two shits about some foreign reporter. So them fragging her 'just because' is doubtful - doubtful they even know who she was. Plus they would have had to been really lucky in running across her on their own.

They would've had to know the Italians were coming. So that means company to battalion level involvement - an intelligence officer at least. So we have conspiracy of at least 30-50 people? I don't buy it. Unless they were told she was an "insurgent" by somebody at one of the other checkpoints (or an informant) and they operated on that premise with good intentions as the result of one bad actor in the chain.

If it was a command level hit it would make no sense given the efforts Bush made begging the Europeans to help in Iraq the week before. It just doesn't add up.

Handing Berlesconi's political opposition - the Communists - a reason to kick him out of office and pull Italian troops out of Iraq is the last thing an over taxed American battalion command Colonel or Major would want.
posted by tkchrist at 7:10 PM on March 9, 2005


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. (WaPo)
posted by amberglow at 10:26 AM on March 10, 2005


*sigh*

and in the same frigg'n article:

Berlusconi, like Fini, described the shooting as an accident. Italian newspapers have reported that a ransom of $6 million to $8 million was paid for Sgrena's release, but neither leader mentioned any payment.

We already knew that the US military command had given a safe passage paper - but that still doesn't mean every one of the 60,000 combat soldiers in Baghdad knew who or when.

Man, you are really beating this "it was a hit" drum hard with zero objective proof. Lay off the here-say and anecdotes and maybe pull back ever so slightly; wait until the investigation is done. You could be right. But you might also end up look'n like an idiot. Just say'n.
posted by tkchrist at 5:42 PM on March 10, 2005


and and now there's a Negroponte connection (Mr. Death Squad himself): The U.S. Army personnel who fired at the car carrying an Italian journalist to the Baghdad airport last Friday night were part of extra security provided for U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte, who was expected to travel that same road, according to a U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad. ...
When you have a guy with a reputation for enabling death squads involved in something like this you tend not to get the benefit of the doubt. Not that we care, apparently. Still, it's just a tad embarrassing for the United States of Spreading Democracy to have to even try to explain to the world why once again John Negroponte is right smack in the middle of another hugely controversial shooting of innocent people. I know democracy is untidy and all, but this is ridiculous.


tk, any investigation not done by an outside authority is bullshit, and you know it. Just like Abu Ghraib--a bunch of bad apples--sure.
posted by amberglow at 11:22 AM on March 11, 2005


The Italians say that the US Embassy had been notified of their approach. So, he ordered the patrol, and he is in charge of the embassy that was the contact point for the Italians.
The man is a thug, and is unfit for any position of authority. If he is innocent in this affair, his very presence casts doubt on the US story and he should never have been appointed.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:50 AM on March 11, 2005


And Italy's out: Italy will start to withdraw its troops from Iraq this September, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday.

"We will begin to reduce our contingent even before the end of the year, starting in September, in agreement with our allies," he said in an interview on state television RAI.

Italy has 3,000 troops in Iraq, the fourth largest foreign contingent after the United States, Britain and South Korea.

posted by amberglow at 4:40 PM on March 15, 2005


U.S. bars Italians from examining victim’s car -- The U.S. military command in Iraq has blocked two Italian policemen from examining the car in which an Italian intelligence agent was shot to death in Baghdad, a newspaper said Wednesday.
Corriere della Sera said that the policemen were about to leave when the Italian Embassy in Baghdad received an order from the U.S. command on Monday to abort the mission for security concerns.
The embassy in Baghdad reportedly alerted Rome authorities, who called off the trip.
The car, a Toyota Corolla, is reportedly still in American hands, at Baghdad airport where it was originally rented.
The Foreign Ministry in Rome declined comment on the report, while officials at the Italian Embassy in Baghdad could not immediately be reached. The U.S. military in Baghdad had no immediate comment.

Italian authorities say that examining the vehicle is key to assessing what happened on March 4...

posted by amberglow at 8:39 PM on March 23, 2005


Naomi Klein, on her talk with Sgrena: ...What Giuliana told me that I had not realized before is that she wasn't on that road at all. She was on a completely different road that I actually didn't know existed. It's a secured road that you can only enter through the Green Zone and is reserved exclusively for ambassadors and top military officials. So, when Calipari, the Italian security intelligence officer, released her from captivity, they drove directly to the Green Zone, went through the elaborate checkpoint process which everyone must go through to enter the Green Zone, which involves checking in obviously with U.S. forces, and then they drove onto this secured road. And the other thing that Giuliana told me that she's quite frustrated about is the description of the vehicle that fired on her as being part of a checkpoint. She says it wasn't a checkpoint at all. It was simply a tank that was parked on the side of the road that opened fire on them. There was no process of trying to stop the car, she said, or any signals. From her perspective, they were just -- it was just opening fire by a tank. The other thing she told me that was surprising to me was that they were fired on from behind. Because I think part of what we're hearing is that the U.S. soldiers opened fire on their car, because they didn't know who they were, and they were afraid. It was self-defense, they were afraid. The fear, of course, is that their car might blow up or that they might come under attack themselves. And what Giuliana Sgrena really stressed with me was that she -- the bullet that injured her so badly and that killed Calipari, came from behind, entered the back seat of the car. And the only person who was not severely injured in the car was the driver, and she said that this is because the shots weren't coming from the front or even from the side. They were coming from behind, i.e. they were driving away. ...
posted by amberglow at 6:55 PM on March 25, 2005


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