Sgrena VI: Italy Contests the Pentagon
ROME: According to the SISMI officer at the wheel of the Toyota Corolla when struck by “friendly fire”, the US patrol admitted their mistake just after the fusillade. Nicola Calipari was dead, Guiliana Sgrena was wounded and the driver was being patted down by US troops. In his deposition to Rome magistrates investigating the charge of voluntary homicide, the officer states: I knew some Spanish so I asked if someone spoke the language. A Hispanic soldier walked over and asked me why we were not traveling in a military convoy. He told me that’s why they fired on us. The magistrates asked him if he believed that the Americans were recognizant of their mistake, and the agent responded, Yes, I believe they were.
Today, it remains the admission of error which continues to divide the USA and the Italy--and it is this division which prevents the work of the joint commission investigating the March 4th incident from reaching its conclusion. Meetings and contacts continued yesterday to establish a finding which is acceptable to both sides. But the statements made to Roman magistrates by the SISMI agent who survived the incident continue to raise questions and doubts on the modus operandi chosen by Italian intelligence after Sgrena’s release. The decision to head for the airport without escort and without intermediate stops meant to ensure a low profile was taken in the field and approved by Italian officials, the Berlusconi administration included. The Hispanic US soldier told the SISMI major that the lack of an escort instigated the shooting. And just afterwards, the patrol admitted that it had made a mistake. And it wasn’t the only mistake, the SISMI officer recalls. The two young soldiers approached without pointing their weapons at me; they seemed sheepish and repeatedly asked my forgiveness for what happened. But their commanding officer ordered them away.
Based on the testimony they’ve heard, the Rome investigating magistrates are convinced that there was no shoddiness in Nicola Calipari’s work. For the last two days, the Toyota Corolla has been inside a hangar at the Pratica di Mare military airbase, where the remains of the civilian airliner shot down over Ustica 25 year ago are kept [The airliner was shot down by a US Sparrow missile in an attempt to assassinate Ghedaffi. The incident (definitely state-sponsored terrorism on the part of the USA) was covered up—Nur]. The magistrates were given photographs taken in Baghdad after the handover of the crime scene investigation report by the Carabinieri of the ROS the day after the incident to the chairman of the joint commission. The results of the investigation are considered “technical evidence” which Italy is attempting to get the US to accept in negotiations. In the report, there is evidence that the presence of three barriers in the road meant to narrow the passage certainly caused the car to slow down. The Italians underscore that along the road at the bend there is thick vegetation, restricting visibility. It was there at the US patrol was placed. It was 8:55 PM and raining—it was dark in Baghdad. The Italian investigators went to the scene at lunchtime the next day and returned in the evening. It has been established, they write, that the highway illumination system was not functioning. The hypothesis is clear: the decision to place the patrol at the end of the curve and hidden in the vegetation was a violation of the rules of engagement, according to which checkpoints must be visible.
ROME: If there are differing opinions, we will never put our signature on things which are not factual, answered Premier Silvio Berlusconi to questions from the press on the the joint Italian-American commission investigating the death of Nicola Calipari. We are working with the US Ambassador, who has to take it up with the Pentagon, added Berlusconi. He added:
"If the versions dissimilar, then we are heading for dissimilar conclusions. The US Administration has internal problems at the Pentagon. The Pentagon has taken a position and the Bush Administration wants this position to be less inflexible.", Berlusconi explains. "We are in negotiations with [US Ambassador] Sembler, who represents the US Administration which has to take it up with the Pentagon. It’s not an easy thing to do. We’re working on it, we hope to get to the end of it and we understand the difficulties on both sides.Berlusconi's firm statement immediately undercut by his lamentable poodle-style real-time apologetics. Do you agree, readers?