Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Sgrena scandal

There needs to be a full-fledged investigation of the attack on Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, and not just an in-house job by the White House.

That's the only conclusion I can reach after reading this:
"I remember only fire," she wrote in Il Manifesto, which fiercely opposed the war in Iraq. "At that point a rain of fire and bullets came at us, forever silencing the happy voices from a few minutes earlier."

Sgrena said the driver began shouting that they were Italian, then "Nicola Calipari dove on top of me to protect me and immediately, and I mean immediately, I felt his last breath as he died on me."

Suddenly, she said, she remembered her captors' words, when they warned her "to be careful because the Americans don’t want you to return."

Sgrena wrote that her captors warned her as she was about to be released not to signal her presence to anyone, because "the Americans might intervene." She said her captors blindfolded her and drove her to a location where she was turned over to agents and they set off for the airport.

Laura Flanders talked about the problem yesterday on her radio program (via Mark Crispin Miller):
While US military spokespeople allege that Calipari's car was speeding, unidentified, towards an Army checkpoint, Sgrena's life-partner, Pier Scolari, told Italian media that Calipari's car was a few hundred meters from the airport and already past all US checkpoints when the attack began.

Sermonti, who spoke with Scolari, says, further, that "Calipari was speaking in English with someone in the airport telling them to get ready [for Sgrena's arrival] when, just as they reached the airport, without any warning, the [US forces] opened fire."

"They're talking about 300 bullets from different weapons," said Sermonti. US military spokespeople say soldiers fired at the car's engine block. "With heavy weapons, bullets fly all over," responds Sermonti. "From the reconstruction of the events, it's a miracle everyone isn't dead."

In addition to the shrapnel in her shoulder, Sermonti told Air America Radio that Sgrena also sustained an injury to her lung.

According to Scolari, says Sermonti, Giuliana had been warned by her captives that "the Americans didn't want her to get out of Iraq."

At the time of her abduction, Giuliana was heading to an area of Baghdad where witnesses from Fallujah are staying to interview Fallujah refugees about the US assault on their city last year. Says Sermonti:

"She had some information about the use of illegal weapons by US forces in Fallujah that was very sensitive. A very hot topic. There were rumors of some use of chemicals and a number of weapons that are not legal -- like [napalm] and phosphorus."

The official account is becoming less convincing all the time:
"As you know, in a situation where there is a live combat zone, particularly this road to the airport, has been a notorious area for car bombs, that people are making split-second decisions, and it's critically important that we get the facts before we make judgments," [White House spokesman Dan] Bartlett said on CNN’s "Late Edition."

I agree that we need the facts first. But as Bartlett himself has demonstrated previously, the facts have never stopped this White House crew from lying through their teeth anyway.

In the meantime, I wonder if Eason Jordan is feeling a little vindicated today.

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