Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 26, 2005

Friendly Fire 2

by Vauro, Il Manifesto

Details released in Washington on Monday by a US army official said the soldiers "were not culpable of dereliction of duty in following their procedures."


[Sgrena said:] "They're saying they were only following the rules of engagement. But if you fire on a passing car which you were warned about, and follow the rules of engagement, you have to ask what those rules really were?"

US-Italian talks after report clears soldiers in friendly-fire shooting

Posted by b on April 26, 2005 at 17:22 UTC | Permalink


OK, really, did anyone expect anything else?

Seems like the bastards can make us tired of being outraged.

It is a double whammy for Berlusca though. w leaves him hanging and the communist magistrates will probably charge him with tax evasion again, all this coming after his party loses 12 out of 16 regional elections.

His stock would seem quite a bargain.

Posted by: Dan of Steele | Apr 26 2005 17:40 utc | 1

Has Sgrena written anything since her ordeal?

PS: Not that the SCLM would actually cover it.

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 26 2005 20:20 utc | 2


She has written...... but has she written about why the US wanted her dead?

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 26 2005 20:28 utc | 3

There is a good diary on kos written by gilgamesh in Italy with reports about coverage in the Italian media. Italians are furious that the US has basically looked to pin the blame on Calipari who received one of country's highest awards. The Italians on the joint commission are not exactly refusing to sign off (yet), but want more time to investigate. The car arrives in Italy today for forensic examination beyond that done by the US. Giuliana's driver is also talking and corroborating her statements. The Americans and the Italians seem still to differ on the speed of the car, and Giulana and her driver remember shots from more than one shooter while the US claims only one shooter. There are reports in the Italian media that two different caliber weapons were used which conflicts with the US version. Lastly, there is a kos poster who has contact with someone in the military in Iraq who is claiming that Calipari was targeted to stop the ransom payments. This brief summary is all from my memory from reading it earlier while at work so I am sure there is more there now. If you are interested it seems to be a good clearinghouse. I apologize for not including the link, but it is one of the recommended diaries on the front page.

Posted by: | Apr 26 2005 21:11 utc | 4

oops, that was me.

Posted by: conchita | Apr 26 2005 21:12 utc | 5

Naomi Klein Reveals New Details About U.S. Military Shooting of Italian War Correspondent in Iraq

AMY GOODMAN: We continue with independent reporter, Naomi Klein. She just met with Giuliana Sgrena, who has just been released from a Rome hospital to her home though she is still very ill, dealing with having been shot on the way to the airport after her release by -- in Iraqi captivity. Naomi Klein, the news that the checkpoint -- that the road that they -- that Calipari was killed on, that she was driving on, Sgrena, when she was being driven to the airport, had been set up for – that there had been a checkpoint set up for the trip of U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte to a dinner that night with General George Casey, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq to provide security. U.S. soldiers established mobile checkpoint, clusters of humvees armed with 50 caliber machine guns on top. It was one of the details that opened fire on the Italians' vehicle. Have you heard anything about this?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, this would support what Giuliana told me, which is that the road she was on was not the public road that other journalists have traveled on, and that contractors and so on travel on, the very dangerous road. It was a secured road reserved for top Embassy officials, like obviously like Negroponte. But one thing that's very clear is that if she is on this road, and the way she explains it, she had to go through a U.S. checkpoint in order to get into the Green Zone. You can only access this road through the Green Zone. It's very, very difficult to get into the Green Zone. When I tried to get into the Green Zone, I had to go through six checkpoints -- six different passport checks. So, the idea that the American military didn't know that they were on the road, that they -- that didn't know about their presence is impossible, if she was, in fact, on a road that emerged out of the Green Zone. And I think that the idea that there was a mobile checkpoint set up for Negroponte obviously supports this claim very strongly. What Giuliana was talking about was what she was -- the only thing she could figure out is that the people who they checked in with in the Green Zone, the U.S. soldiers they checked in with in the Green Zone in order to get in, didn't radio ahead to these mobile checkpoints and warn them that they were coming. And from her perspective, that could have either been a mistake, or it could have been some sort of act of vengeance and anger, you know, and we know that there's a lot of anger at the idea that Italians may be paying very large ransoms for the release of prisoners. She's not alleging some grand conspiracy. There could have just been a broken down communication. But the idea that they didn't know, I think, is impossible, if she was on this secured road, because it emerged out of the Green Zone and you cannot get into the grown zone without passing through a checkpoint.

Posted by: b | Apr 26 2005 21:16 utc | 6

What if it is the exact opposite of what I at least would spontaneously assume? What if there really is no guilt on the part of the US soldiers? Would we have to say that this is a bad piece of PR, outraging one of the few allies left (even if the report itself is correct in its conclusions)?

Posted by: teuton | Apr 26 2005 23:06 utc | 7

We might have to say one of the following two things:
1) They are not guilty because the law makes them murderers.
2) They are not guilty because their superiors are murderers.

So how are we to act responsibly: blame and fix US law or blame and discipline US commanders?...

What if its just an accident? Then we are causing a hell of a lot of accidents - enough to qualify as NOT accidents, not any more than a driver that speeds through my residential neighborhood at 100 mph can be said to "accidentally" kill any person or animal.

Sure war is hell. That's why responsible governments avoid them. We own these "accidents" because our government sought them out - [insert theory of why here]."

Posted by: citizen | Apr 26 2005 23:47 utc | 8

the scandalous is the quotidian on the hour every hour

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 27 2005 0:06 utc | 9

apologies to all for not reading before writing earlier today. should know by now not to split my powers of concentration between work and blogging.

Posted by: conchita | Apr 27 2005 1:41 utc | 10

flashback: US pilot who killed twenty on ski gondola acquitted

Relatives of the victims and ordinary Italians reacted with outrage to the acquittal of an American marine pilot whose plane, flying too low and faster than rules permitted, cut through a cable car line at an Italian ski resort last February and caused the deaths of 20 people

When the verdicts were announced, cheers erupted from Ashby's family in the courtroom at the Camp Lejeune Marine base, while relatives of the European victims sat in stunned silence, some sobbing. -cnn

at least the military didn't try to blame the dead skiers in that incident, but hey, w/ allies like the u.s. military, who needs enemies? i've read that the number of friendly fire deaths in the first stage of the gulf war fourteen years ago was over 50 british and american troops. are there any figures or estimates yet for this latest round?

Posted by: b real | Apr 27 2005 3:59 utc | 11

The disagreement between Italy and the US is front page news in De Volkskrant here in Amsterdam, but doesn't seem to show up anywhere in the Post (aka, Pravda on the Potomac). The United States has become so utterly self-involved that when the rest of the world decides to gang up on us, turn the knob and do us in (thanks, John Kaye), it will come as a total surprise to us.

Posted by: Aigin | Apr 27 2005 12:30 utc | 12

On the subject of "Friendly Fire":
Who Killed Senator Paul Wellstone?

Two years ago, all eyes were on the Senate race of Senator Paul Wellstone. In the wake of the defection of Jim Jeffords, the White House hand-picked Norm Coleman to attempt to unseat the populist Wellstone. But Coleman still trailed Wellstone late in the campaign. On October 11th, Wellstone voted against the President’s war on Iraq, despite a dire personal warning of "severe ramifications" from Vice President Cheney. As the result of his vote, Wellstone’s popularity soared.

Posted by: beq | Apr 27 2005 13:31 utc | 13

Friendly fire 3.

Posted by: the devil made me do it | Apr 27 2005 14:21 utc | 14

transcript from today's democracynow segment, featuring amy's phone conversation w/ sgrena yesterday

Posted by: b real | Apr 27 2005 16:14 utc | 15

pepe escobar @ asia times online - They shoot journalists, don't they?

There may be endless speculation over the circumstances surrounding the death of Nicola Calipari. But there are two things the case has accomplished. 1) The Berlusconi government is now toeing the Bush line: there will be no negotiations to liberate any possible future Italian hostage. 2) For any independent journalists, Iraq is now the ultimate minefield. It's virtually impossible to guarantee the safety of any non-embedded journalist, so that means no independent reporting.

Once the report is officially released, absolving the US military of any wrongdoing, one can expect the matter to end there, certainly as far as the US and Italian mainstream media are concerned, and the Pentagon will proceed with its occupation of Iraq, far from prying eyes.

Posted by: b real | Apr 27 2005 17:52 utc | 16

Does anyone have a link to the actual 42-page pentagon report?

Posted by: zuccolo | May 1 2005 23:49 utc | 17


The report can be downloaded at

Posted by: Pat | May 2 2005 4:58 utc | 18

I've read it, Pat, and it doesn't tell me much. What does it tell you? It takes an expert to read this stuff intelligently. I don't notice any mention of the satellite photos, but then I may have read it too quickly. No mention, certainly, of an out-of-theater command communications system. What the Italians have to say should be available today or tomorrow.

Posted by: alabama | May 2 2005 13:00 utc | 19

Censored details of Iraq death revealed

CENSORED parts of a US military report on the shooting of an Italian intelligence officer in Baghdad have disclosed that US forces had communication problems at the time, an Italian newspaper reported today.

If confirmed, the report would deepen a dispute between Rome and Washington as Italy prepares to produce its own account later today of the circumstances behind the fatal shooting.

The censored 42-page report by the US military cleared troops who shot and killed Nicola Calipari, 51, as he shepherded a freed Italian hostage to Baghdad airport on March 4.

Posted by: Nugget | May 2 2005 14:18 utc | 20

From the LA Times

A U.S. military probe into the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq has found that the soldiers who opened fire had only recently been trained on how to conduct a roadblock, did not know that the Italians' car was expected along their stretch of road, and, because of a communications breakdown, were manning their irregular nighttime post long after they should have been.

According to an uncensored version of the Army's report on the March 4 shooting, which killed agent Nicola Calipari and wounded an Italian journalist whom he had helped free from hostage-takers, the soldiers had been ordered to block an onramp along the road to Baghdad's airport to allow safe passage of a convoy carrying U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte. The report said the troops were asked to set up the roadblock around 7:15 p.m. and they "expected to maintain the blocking position no more than 15 minutes." Negroponte's convoy apparently passed by the onramp shortly after 8 p.m., but because of poor communications, the troops were still in place when Calipari's car approached just before 9 p.m.

The troops' immediate supervisors had arrived in Iraq just weeks earlier and March 4 was their "first full duty day," said the uncensored report, which was obtained by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and published in full on its website. As for the troops manning the roadblock, the 42-page report, prepared by Brig. Gen. Peter Vangjel, found that "there is no evidence to indicate that the soldiers were trained to execute blocking positions before arriving in theater." They were trained for 10 days in February by troops who were leaving Iraq.

Technical error reveals classified info on death of Italian agent

Posted by: Nugget | May 2 2005 14:30 utc | 21


The link you provide to the Corriere della Sera story has many paragraphs marked S//NF. That used to mean Secret No Forn, does it now mean something else?

Posted by: dan of steele | May 2 2005 15:06 utc | 22

@ dan of steel

It didn't even catch my attention when I read it, but I was aware that the report, as obtained through that link, includes the information from blacked-out portions.

As far as I know, it still means Secret/No Forn. Slashdot (which posted the Corriere link) had this to say: "Now Italian press is reporting that all confidential information in the report is available to the public, just by copying 'hidden' text from the PDF and pasting it in a word processor." Roughly a third of the report is so classified. As I recall, unit designations, names of soldiers and site commanders, and certain information pertaining to ROEs were not meant for public release.

Posted by: Pat | May 2 2005 16:30 utc | 23


What did the report tell me? The Blocking Position was not optimally configured for the safety of either soldiers or civilians, and this was due to its particular location on the highway. The nighttime visual warnings employed, though meeting a minimum local standard, clearly left something to be desired, as a number of other vehicles had been stopped that evening - but at a screeching halt beyond the Alert Line. A few seconds further on and non-engaging warning shots are fired. Another second or two and the vehicle itself is engaged. (Those shots are meant to be non-lethal, in so far as they are not fixed on the driver or passengers, but Calipari isn't by any means the only person who's been killed by "non-lethal" rounds entering into or around the engine block.) Even (or especially) a savvy driver familiar with the hazards of that and other routes - while not being privy to the establishment of that Blocking Position - has reason to suspect that it's an ambush or other hostile activity and to do anything but slow down.

If I were a committed conspiracy theorist, that VBIED BOLO would definitely catch my interest.

Posted by: Pat | May 2 2005 17:27 utc | 24

That VBIED BOLO has indeed caught my interest, Pat. What does BOLO stand for (some kind of command, perhaps?), And where might the message have come from?

Posted by: alabama | May 2 2005 18:46 utc | 25

Be On Look Out = BOLO

Daily Briefings of information gathered from after action reports, local intel, snitches and etc.

Posted by: dan of steele | May 2 2005 18:58 utc | 26

BOLO = Be On the Look Out

I'd have to (or - better idea - you'd have to) go back through the report to find its origin. Probably the Division TOC that has, or had, Baghdad as its area of responsibility.

Posted by: Pat | May 2 2005 19:24 utc | 27

Thank you Pat and dan of steele. On p. 17 of the unredacted version, no mention is made of the BOLO's source. Instead, the reader is referred to three appendices which are not included in the text.

Posted by: alabama | May 2 2005 19:37 utc | 28


that was also french radio's interpretation - the softest the italian could come up with at short notice

in other words a mediated whitewash

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 2 2005 21:36 utc | 30

Indeed r'giap, the tone is even softer now:

Italy rules out intentional U.S. killing of agent

Posted by: Nugget | May 2 2005 22:15 utc | 31


by tommorrow midday rome time - they will have calipari shooting himself in the back in trying to defend honourable american soldiery from unseen insurgents who had just come back from a cocktail party with the allawis & chalabi's in the green zone

& of course while they'e at it the hassan family assasinated themselves using the very clever & malin middle eastern method of passing american checkpoints. devilish people

these reports are clearly contemptible document - the contempt i feel for people unable to take responsibility & they laughingly demand of the poor - to be responsible

they are thugs & jackals. nothing more & certainly much less

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 2 2005 22:23 utc | 32


The report tells in depressing detail the sad story of an empire unable, at rather a late date, to secure roughly 7 km of high-traffic road vital to the everyday business of an erstwhile nation still - until the end of the year - under its nominal protection and administration.

What more can you reasonably want?

Posted by: Pat | May 3 2005 4:24 utc | 33


that much is clear

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 3 2005 9:02 utc | 34

unfortunately pat that the focus on the ncidents like these hide the deaths of many at merican checkpoints, ordinary iraquis

& it also hides the bombardement that continue a pace with this morning heavy bombardments on the syrian border with thye deaths of many iraqui families (source franceinfo)

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 3 2005 9:48 utc | 35

Italian PM accused of editing report on agent's death

Reports have surfaced that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi intervened to ensure that a report on the killing of an Italian intelligence agent in Baghdad by US troops would not damage relations with Washington.

An Italian report released on Monday blamed the killing of Nicola Calipari, while he was escorting a freed Italian hostage, on the "inexperience" of US troops acting under stress and without proper rules of engagement.

The much-awaited report differed significantly from the US account issued on Saturday, which exonerated the American troops who opened fire on Mr Calipari near Baghdad airport on March 4.

The Italian report said the US roadblock near the airport had not been properly signalled and that "the soldiers in the American patrol opened fire out of inexperience and because of the tension".

Newspapers have revealed that Mr Berlusconi had personally demanded changes to the report so that it was not too critical of the Americans and would not sour relations with them.

Rome daily Il Messaggero reported "The head of government asks for changes", while the opposition-supporting La Repubblica claimed "Berlusconi imposes prudence".

"The report must be technical, only technical," it quoted Mr Berlusconi as saying, without giving any source.

"It can even be tough, but it must not in any event prejudice to the slightest degree political understanding with the United States....."

Posted by: Berlusconi must hang | May 3 2005 14:53 utc | 36

In the Italian report: "the soldiers in the American patrol opened fire out of inexperience and because of the tension".

I couldn't believe that wording when I first saw it. Our American ear is so far totally deaf to the anger within the Italian populace, which no doubt sees, as other Europeans do, the true bamboozle, utterly lacking in any justification, that our Iraq invasion has been from the gitgo.

And we kill the reporters who try to tell the truth. This is known fact worldwide.

Posted by: rapt | May 3 2005 17:27 utc | 37

The comments to this entry are closed.