Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Mayday! Calipari/Sgrena Report: The Italians Strike Back

Read this report from Fiorenza Sarzanini La Corriere della Sera.

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.


Anonymous Mark from ireland said...

Typical of the incompetence of this administration Next time they issue a "redacted" anything in PDF format all you have to do is

1) Open in it Acrobat reader.

2) Save it as a text (that's a notepade .txt file) file in order to recover all the redacted parts.

This is useful to know :-)

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nur Before I go to bed:

"He had come to Iraq to help rebuild the devastated country, accompanied by his 14-year-old son, Bobby."

What in GOd's name was a former cop and FBI man doing signing up with a bunch of mercenaries and bring a 14 YO child to a battle zone?

You do have child protection laws in the USA don't you?

Why are this man and his employers not being done over for reckless endangerment of a minor?

14 years old is NOT an adult.

This one I think should be spread far and wide.

14 years old is still a child.

I'm going to bed now as its nearly 3.a.m. I'm HORRIFIED:

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Mark from Ireland said...

Sorry Nur - posting by anonymous above was me.


5:51 PM  
Blogger Traveller said...

I just picked up the following on that moving banner thingy at Corriere:

Il presidente del Consiglio Silvio Berlusconi svolgera' un'informativa urgente alla Camera sulla vicenda Calipari. Berlusconi parlera' giovedi' alle 9.30. Le comunicazioni del premier saranno seguite da un dibattito ma non ci sara' un voto.(Agr).

That dibattito will be interesting!

8:26 AM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

PW: I will listen in and let you all know what was said. Berlusconi needs to wait until Thursday so he can figure out what to do.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Traveller said...

His decision will wholly political, as usual. Maybe -- just maybe -- the threat from the majority who are furious about the US report will weigh more heavily on him that, um, any other pressure.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read the full U.S. report and was struck by the fact that this road block had no signs or barricades in the street. It was a BLOCKING roadblock meaning NO ONE was allowed to pass and cars were not to be searched. You were just supposed to turn around based on a spotlight pointed at you and later a green lazer light swirling at the driver indicating "turn around" and go back. No one was to approach the vechicle and talk to you. Also, it was only supposed to last for 15 minutes in time for VIP Negropointe to pass. The report stated longer than 15 minutes would put the soldiers at risk of being targeted by insurgents. Yet they were actually there for over an hour! They made 2 or more radio contacts with outside commanders to request to leave the road block since Negropointe group NEVER EVEN SHOWED UP and they were nervous they would become targets themselves. Yet they were never told Negropinte had actually gone by helicopter, not the more dangerous road, since the weather improved. Each contact they made they were told just to stay there. Later radio contact was out and they could not even make contact! Oh, this was there first day at this type of assignment and they were not trained in BLOCKING only road checking.The report ends with suggestions such as in future signs should be put up ahead of the block saying "road closed, do not enter."Also it suggests advertising this road block policy at signs, for example, near the airport for all to see. And we thought the iraq general public knew the procedure to follow since at first the news reported these road blocks are all over Iraq and the Italians simply violated the "rules." What are they mind readers??? A comedy of errors! Still haven't read that the car was allowed to be examined by the Italians. U.S> claims 11 shots hit the car. From the "alert line" to the cars stopping point was only 265 feet - life and death in 4 seconds.

1:45 AM  

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