Mayday! Calipari/Sgrena Report: The Italians Strike Back
The decision on the part of the US to publish its final report on the death of Nicola Calipari without awaiting the conclusions of the Italian members of the Joint US-Italian commission is the latest slap in the face to Italy from the United States. This example, as if another were needed, confirms that the Italian members were permitted no input--not even into the timing of the release. Italy will respond tomorrow afternoon with its own report which will be handed to the government and forwarded to magistrates investigating the shooting. While Premier Silvio Berlusconi is back to claiming that no ransom was paid and repeating "our unquestionable friendship with the United States", the Italian team is rushing to complete a report contesting point by point the US findings to which video files and photographs of the behavior of US troops while manning checkpoints will be attached. Among the video attachments is a file showing what is considered to be a typical "dirty trick"--a patrol laughing and joking about the corpse of an Iraqi motorist whom they shot in cold blood behind the wheel of his van.
ACCUSATIONS LEVELED AT THE USA. In its conclusions, signed by Ambassador Cesare Ragaglini and General Pierluigi Campregher, the Italian team faults the Americans for refusing a dynamic reconstruction of events. The Italians specifically mention "tampering at the scene of the incident" and of the Toyota Corolla, a key piece evidence, in which the Italian intelligence officers and Guiliana were traveling. At the end of its investigation, the Italians even proposed concluding the report by saying it was impossible to attribute responsibility. The US military rejected this compromise, saying it would completely exonerate the patrol to close any loophole permiting further legal action on the part of the Italian judiciary.
THE "BLOCKING" POSITION. This arrangement differentiates the type of checkpoint. This type of arrangement, underscores the Italian findings, is not subject to any rules because it is generally employed "on the battlefield" and in fact does not incorporate signposting and barbed wire. The Italians particularly fault the US decision of placing "it at the end of an elbow curve." The report then concentrates on the crime scene investigation carried out together with US officials. "The scene of the incident"--they write--"was altered and the soldiers were unable to indicate their positions at the time of the shooting. They add that the alteration prevented the investigating team from determining the source of weapons fire. Not only that: but according to the Italian team, "between the illumination of the spotlight and the warning shots far more than the three seconds alloted by the patrol would have been required for the driver to come to a complete stop".
THE HIDDEN NAMES. In the US version of the report, 12 names were blacked out in the interests of military secrecy. Italy believes in confidentiality, but in the report the Americans wrote that it was not possible to determine which servicemen were part of the patrol on 4 March. "The soldier who fired", says the USA, "was Hispanic." But the Italian delegation suspected that "at least three soldiers opened fire." "Testimony," says the Italian team, "was contradictory and in some cases totally unreliable."
COMMUNICATIONS. In the report to be handed to the Italian government tomorrow, the CIA station chief was informed of the operation and in the early afternoon he was given the details of the rental car. Also, "US Command was informed 25 minutes before the shooting that the hostage [Mrs. Sgrena] was released." In any case, the Italians underscore that confidentiality is absolutely routine, even between allies, in such a mission. The statements of the SISMI station chief in Baghdad affirm that he was on the phone with Calipari when the shooting occurred. "It was the [SISMI Station Chief] who asked that all [US-manned] checkpoints be informed and was told that "there were not any checkpoints". Shortly later, on the request of the [SISMI Station Chief], a US military officer contacted the patrol and this demonstrates that it would have been possible to warn the soldiers that the automobile with the released hostage on board was on the road leading to the airport.
PS. Any talk of satellite imagery is BOGUS because there was cloud cover.