Skip to comments.Italy PM Disputes U.S. Version of Shooting
Posted on 03/10/2005 1:10:39 AM PST by familyop
ROME Mar 10, 2005 Disputing Washington's version of events, Italy's premier said that an Italian intelligence agent who was shot to death by U.S. troops in Baghdad had informed the proper authorities that he was heading to the airport with a freed hostage.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also told lawmakers that the car carrying agent Nicola Calipari and a just-liberated hostage was traveling slowly and stopped immediately when a light was flashed at a checkpoint, before U.S. troops fired on the car.
Though the U.S. and Italian versions of what happened Friday do not match up, "I'm sure that in a very short time every aspect of this will be clarified," Berlusconi said.
The idea that Calipari was killed by friendly fire is painful to accept, the premier said. But he reassured lawmakers: "The United States has no intention of evading the truth."
Berlusconi is a staunch supporter of President Bush and the U.S.-led campaign and has been struggling to balance his decision to keep 3,000 troops in Iraq against heavy anti-war sentiment in Italy.
The premier said Calipari had notified an Italian liaison officer, waiting at the Baghdad airport along with an American officer, that he was on his way with the freed hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena.
However, the top U.S. general in Iraq has said he had no indication that Italian officials gave advance notice of the route the Italians' car was taking. In a statement released after the shooting, the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which controls Baghdad, said the vehicle was speeding and refused to stop.
The statement also said a U.S. patrol tried to warn a driver with hand and arm signals, by flashing white lights and firing shots in front of the car.
Berlusconi's 20-minute address did not mention whether ransom was paid to win Sgrena's release. Some Italian officials have suggested a ransom was paid, but there has been no official confirmation. Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini denied Wednesday that ransoms were paid for any Italian hostages.
"There has been no payment," he said, speaking during a talk show on RAI1 state television.
Berlusconi once again urged Italians in Iraq to leave.
"When Italian citizens have been victims of kidnappings, the government has always acted by following two directives: It has always rejected political blackmail while at the same time activating all the political, diplomatic and intelligence channels to obtain the release of our nationals," Berlusconi said.
Calipari was shot and killed as he headed to Baghdad's airport after securing the release of Sgrena, who had been kidnapped on Feb. 4. Sgrena and another intelligence officer in the vehicle were wounded.
"The case of friendly fire is certainly the most painful to bear. It feels like an injustice beyond any sentiment. It's something unreasonable," Berlusconi said.
Photos aired by RAI, state TV's main evening news program, showed the light gray Toyota Corolla that Calipari and Sgrena were riding in, which is still in Iraq in the hands of the U.S. military.
The body of the car appeared to have little or no damage on its left side and front, including the lights. A few bullet holes are visible on the right side near the wheel and the front door.
Inside, the seats appear to be covered in glass, although the photos of the interior are grainy. A bullet hole also is evident in the back seat on the left side, where Sgrena reportedly was sitting.
U.S. officials have said American troops fired at the car's engine to stop it.
Berlusconi's address was well received and lawmakers followed it with a standing ovation in Calipari's honor.
The office of Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said Wednesday that Bush had sent him a letter renewing a promise for a swift and thorough investigation.
In it, Bush called the shooting a "terrible tragedy" and expressed his solidarity, Ciampi's office said.
The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq announced Tuesday it was ordering an investigation into the shooting, to be led by a U.S. brigadier general with Italian officials' participation. Berlusconi said he expected the joint commission to release its findings in three to four weeks.
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, center standing, delivers his address at a session in the Senate on the release in Iraq of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and the death of intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, in Rome Wednesday March 9, 2005. Calipari, who was killed by American forces in Iraq, had U.S. military authorization for his operation to win Sgrena's release, Berlusconi said Wednesday. With strained relations between Washington and one of its biggest allies, Berlusconi said that the car carrying Calipari and newly freed hostage Sgrena stopped immediately when a light was flashed. The U.S. military has said the Americans used hand and arm signals, flashed white lights and fired warning shots to try to get the car to stop. (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)
Oh come on, Berlusconi is smarter than that
And I liked him :(
I saw an article that suggested that the ransom money was Berlusconi's own money. I've only seen that once though.
But the more painful question is why Nicola Calipari had to operate behind the back of the Americans. Why he had to tackle the final phase of a very dangerous operation with an ordinary rental car instead of ordering a helicopter from the Americans, and why he took the risk upon himself of driving along the most dangerous street in Baghdad in total darkness, instead of waiting in the Italian embassy until morning.
Good questions, considering Berlusconi has said US authorities were notified.
In parliament yesterday, Berlusconi directly contradicted Sgrena who had been saying the US did not want anyone negotiating with terrorists and would only interfere.
I would say that Sgrena has been passed off as a raving lunatic in the German press, which is good for us. Sgrena also works for the German weekly "Zeit", making the criticism of her even more telling.
The Italian papers were all over the Italian policy of paying ransoms yesterday. Italy even paid a ransom to get Fabrizio Quattrocchi's body back in order to give him a funeral !
Berlusconi has been denying any ransom was paid in the Sgrena case, however "Spiegel" this morning mentions that the payments are camouflaged by being booked under different names such as " a reward for assisting the Italian government in their efforts to liberate hostages", etc.
The conflict between Italy and the US now seems to have come down to whether the car was warned, and whether it had stopped at the checkpoint. That seems to be Berluscon's bone of contention at this time.
How much $$$ did the Italians and this Communist b*tch hand over to the Death Cultists? Berlusconni, HOW MUCH?!
Anyone who has ever driven in Italy knows this is BS.
So they didn't lead it enough. S**t happens.
He really has no other choice. I wouldn't blame him for this
Never been in Italy. Currently live in California where driving laws typically require drivers to brake for pedestrians. I was however in England a few months ago and came to the conclusion that English drivers actually speed up for pedestrians. The continent of Europe sure is behind the times. Still clinging to socialism. Still smoking heavy. And apparently their drivers are still 'unsafe at any speed'.
It really saddens me to see so many threads here where people supposedly able to tell media garbage from truth were ready to buy the MSM coverage of what happened, of what our reactions were and to pour s**t on Italy and Italians. People like me who support Bush, read Ann Coulter, campaigned for Dubya on the web, support the US anyway they can find all this really disappointing. Lefties are all happy now "see? this is yankee gratitude!!"
A sad incident happened. If you ask me, I think that my government should leave commmies to their destiny but on the other hand you must understand that a) our governments here do not have the same power a US prez has b) that we have to keep our position in Europe defending the US, sticking to our guns and yet ensuring a dialogue channel between the Euros and the US - Dubya praised us for that and needs that too. We have to move in a way that the governement won't fall.
No one in the goverment, ever, in no circumstance said that Americans are guilty of anything, or acting wrongfully about what happened. These things are tricky, you need investigations and see what happened. I think that those soldiers did their job period. That Italy should not carry out separate operations. And yet I was not there. Trying to figure out things is normal, among allies. You're not dealing with the French here!! In the last week, all our governemnt officials have been fighting 24/7 on every tv channel the attempt to transform a disgrace in a wave of anti-americanism as in the plans of the left and its media.
No anti-americanism here except from the left (is it any different in the US? Not that I remember). Why would you believe to the newspapeprs and CNN? (and Fox.com isn't any better anyway)? Do you think they lie only about Dubya? Only when they said that he "lost" debates and was going to lose the election? Or when they predicted that people wouldn't vote in iraq?
We are paying a high price to be in the coalition. You don't have an idea of what it is to be in the EU and to support the USA at the same time. Is it so strange that a PM tells the left "ok, here's your investigation, now leave us alone"? What was he supposed to do? Get real!
We have captured, denounced, spotted and helped to capture more terrorists in Europe than all the rest of the EU countries combined. There isn't one single international mission we're not in. When a truck bomb killed 20 of our boys in Nasiriyah all the nation stood firm and not a voice was raised against the ally. In April 2004, we killed dozens of islamofascists in the battle for the bridges, but not a word of praise for our boys. Our red cross is the only section of Int'l red cross that didn't flee Baghdad after the UN was hit.
I expect freepers to know better. I had hoped that when things get foggy, good friends were presumed right and the media reports wrong. Exactly what GW and the administration have been doing. Not the last reason why he's got so many fans over here.
It's really frustrating to be hit by leftist psycho-babble at home and by those you support abroad at the same time!
Excellent points, well-stated. You are right, we are letting our emotions get in the way of the facts. Thanks for giving this perspective!
Are the reports true that in his talk with the Parliament Berlusconi questioned / contradicted the US explanation that the car didn't stop after warnings?
If that is true, then what do you expect from Americans?
Bush has said that the incident is unfortunate, that he regrets it and that he will investigate it fully. Basta. No pointing fingers, no conjecture. Berlusconi needs to take that chapter out of the manual 'diplomacy in action' and use it.
Why did the Italians try to run the checkpoint? That's all I want to know.
Amateurs. Yes, friendly fire hurts, it hurts bad, but it's just as much a part of war as enemy fire. Berlusconi can kiss my grits. If he really had anything to do with ransom payments, it should be exposed, and we shouldn't pay a dime, or prosecute anyone for the death of the bagman in the communist woman's car. Let Berlusconi pay.
We are sick and tired of our soldiers being persecuted for doing their jobs.
Apparently the latest leftist nitwit rantings are to claim the US is trying to kill em. The communist reporter involved in this Iraq incident claimed the US was trying to kill her and just recently Chavez told the 'lefties' in France that the US attempted to kill him. Apparently both may be working from the same nitwit propaganda book.
In our war on Terrorism the US is attempting to capture and kill known terrorists that are planning or have been involved in commiting terrorist acts. Its probably just a matter of coincidence that a lot of these terrorists have ended up being leftist (Iraq and Syrian baathist for example).
"Oh come on, Berlusconi is smarter than that"
Probably political posturing to CYA...well, his anyway.
"So they didn't lead it enough. S**t happens."
Hey......the sight got bumped and shooting high ...happens as you say.
<< Calipari had notified .... an American officer, that he was on his way with the freed hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena. >>
I believe this should read that the ransomer, Calipari, had told so,eone he was on the way to the airport with the ransomed un-and-anti-American communist agitator, Sgrena.
Hang in there. Emotions are running high on both sides of this issue and accusations are flying all over the place. Many of us in the US are waiting for the results of the investigation. We have our suspicions but have not yet formed opinions. You will mostly hear from us after the results are published. You are quite correct that the only people who know what happened are the ones who were there and the rest is all speculation.
I wholeheartedly concur. Only, all accusations against the USA are currently being vehemently rejected by our government. When it is stated that there are differences between what we know and what the Americans say it is not to imply that soemeone is lying, but only to explain why we both are going to investigate and prove the HUGE smear campaign groundless. It's how investigations work: see what you have and check what's wrong.
None here doubts it's a normal case of friendly fire. it was officially stated and repeated. The difference is that the the leftist media overemphasized what happened and distorted facts on the ground of Sgrena's initial statements (which she already changed).
let's all THINK: who's going to benefit from a crisis between Italy and the USA? Do I need to suggest the names of at least three nations whose press is unleashing hell about this incident? Have we all already forgotten what GWB explained over and over about the importance of the role of Italy in the last three years for the success of WOT and the diplomatic efforts to overcome the offensive of the axis of weasels?
Beiside that - as someone who reads and follows US press and tv - beleive me if I say that your MSM did the job ours couldn't do. In the aftermath of the incident the communist version of facts was laughed off by most of the populace and even leftist politicians. But when they read the NYT and saw CNN they understood that it could be exploited. And now we're between a rock and a hard place.
Let me tell you that I think that something went wrong among Italians and that your boys did the right thing. When i served I was taught that "an ugly trial is always better than a wonderful funeral" so when a sentinel has doubts, he opens fire period. But then again this is speculation. Let's all wait for the results of investigations and NEVER, for any reason give credit to media reports on what people think or do.
We know what we owe to the US. Let's not help the left to distort facts once more. There's too much at stake.
The media has been fanning the flames. Our President and the Italian govt. know this.
Excellent post. Thank you.
>>> According to British publications (including conservative), Italy paid a ransom to the terrorists.Is that true?<<<
According to our government, no ransom was paid by anyone in any form. According to our government all accusations against the USA are to be deemed as leftist propaganda. Why would you sooner believe to the media than to an ally? Only because journalists will only translate from Italian what fits their forged reporting of facts??
As I said before, I am not happy with my goverment's policy on kidnappings. I don't know if they paid. They say they didn't in any form. Anyway, they sound ambiguous and I don't like that. You kill terrorists, you make them rue the day they pissed you off, that's what you do period.
The "conservative" media are in no way a more reliable source. Not always. Espacially on foreign issues. And the anti-Italian attitude of certain british press of any tendency is something you may not know about in the US but it's an old story that can be traced back to centuries ago. What I can tell you is that FOX news, for one was seldom better than CNN. Even about the US election, that I remember, especially on family/social issues. The media agenda is made of only three to-do's 1) to sell 2) to promote liberal agendas 3)do not waste time and resources analyzing things not vital to your business.
In this case, no. 1 and 3 apply. Conservatives all around the world bought the story heated up exploiting national pride. Easier, juicy, feeling-stirring.
How do they know of a ransom? Iraqi sources? Oh great. Italian sources? I can tell of at least a million bureocrats ready to leak "reliable" information against their own goverment. Always remember that what is being said by our officials these days is directed to European ears and to the left. We have to blandish them so that they will let us work on this. And that's paying off. The more facts are getting checked, the more their lies are getting exposed. Wait and don't jump from prejudice to conclusions. That's what lefties do.
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT saying that Italy did everything right here. In fact I think that we screwed up something that shouldn't have started in the first place. I am ToTALLY with the US on this.
What I am saying is wait before buying the media psycho-babble and use it to spit on those who backed you so far. That's what Bin laden wants. More important: try to separate facts from surmises. Extremely important: separate the issue of the handling of kidnappings from that of the investigation, of the bilateral relationships and of the way Italy is dealing with this story. What we have here is the media overemphasizing an ordinary case of friendly fire to undermine the coalition. We should not help this enemy effort. Of course they're exploiting it also because security issues are involved and we all must be careful when answering.
Although you don't get informed about it, the government is DEFENDING the USA against the left. The left wanted to "investigate" and expose yankee wickedness right? Fine, the investigation will be the rope that will strangle them. Do you think that Washington would EVER allow foreign judges and detectives to work with them on facts where US soldiers are under scrutiny? No they wouldn't, so if they did it's because they trust us.
I am currently posting about this also here:
where I have just posted a lenghty msg on how I see this story from other points of view than the simple ransom issue. I hope that helps.
So maybe I replied specific points elsewhere too. This double posting is a bit confusing and implies double work! (btw correct my english when necessary, I appreciate it, it helps my communication skills!)
God bless the USA
Thank you for your reply.
I think that one problem to be solved in communication between US and Italian interests might be a small cultural gap--i.e., differences in the ways we react to news events. Another might be differences in problems within each of our countries. Some problems that occur often in the USA might not be as common in Italy, and vice versa.
We Americans, on average, might be perceived by many as being a little cold, or unemotional, in some ways. At the same time, Italy communications minister Maurizio Gasparri made an interesting comment on "emotionalism and sensations" regarding reactions to current events in media in Italy.
After some US attention to popular opinions in various western European countries, some of us in the USA have learned a few things since the September Attack ("9/11"). Surveys in western Europe have shown us that the majority of people in each and every of those countries do not like President Bush or the War on Terror. We can only hope that better relations are developed by honest communication and efforts to follow. And maybe we should address European conspiracy stories (about USA-Zionist plots and like that) by analyzing the stories rather than simply ridiculing them.
A good American writer and analyzer of propaganda named Daniel Pipes addressed that in one of his articles. He wrote that we should analyze and factually reply against dishonest propaganda instead of ignoring it or laughing at it. Maybe he was correct, with the exception, in my opinion, that ridicule and generalization is effective in some cases. But the process of researching and replying to conspiracy stories is tiring.
Another international error that I've noticed over the past few years is that of nations pointing fingers at one another instead of solving their own problems. Talkers like the Bill O'Reilly of Fox News (American, but often claims to be of Irish Catholic identity) and David Irving, the Briton (who claims to be part of the "master race") instigate and continue such problems.
Socialism is apparent in almost half of the people in the USA (e.g., voters for John Kerry). The same is apparent in more than half of the people in each and every western European country, as is anti-American sentiment (numbers in polls). It's a problem to be solved and not something that can be hidden or distracted from for long.
Yes, "transparency" is important.
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