Hard to Know WHAT to Believe

Dan Brown have invented a more bizarre and conspiratorial plot than the
recent wounding of Italian journalist Guiana Sgrena and
the killing of Italian spy Nicola Calipari as they sped to the airport
mere minutes after the journalist’s being freed from captivity following
a month at the hands
of the nefarious Iraqi terrorists?

According to the US, the car was speeding towards an established checkpoint,
hand signals, loudspeakers and warning shots were fired to induce the
driver to stop, and as a last resort a few shots were fired at the car’s engine block. They also claim that no
one at the checkpoint knew that the car contained Italians, that Sgrena
had been rescued, or was on her way to the airport.

However, the reporter, the driver and the spy who wasn’t killed tell
a completely different story.  They say it was raining, so they
were traveling at a modest 30 mph, that there was no checkpoint at the
point where they were shot – a mere 700 yards from the airport – and
that they had already passed through two "real" checkpoints where they
identified themselves and their mission, and were assured the route was
cleared. They also claim there was no warning before the shooting started and they saw no signals to stop
until they were pinned in brilliant searchlights and blasted by over
400 rounds of various calibers.

Obviously, serious disconnect. A comprehensive investigation is called for to square these
discrepant versions of events.  The Italian
, one of our
last reluctant allies in the theater, has called for one. Amazingly,
the prime evidence for any such investigation, key for proving one or the other version the truth – the
shot up car – cannot be examined.  The US military claims it has
been "lost."

As expected, the foreign press is having a field day. From Al
"The details of the tragic
incident differ widely. The United States says the convoy
and ignored flashing lights, hand signals, warning shots and calls
for it to halt at a checkpoint.

Sgrena insists the vehicles were moving at normal speed, she saw no
flashing lights or hand signals and neither did she hear any warnings.

Furthermore, she says, the convoy had passed several US checkpoints already
and the fact that it was carrying Italians was well known."

Other details add fuel to the conspiratorial fire. Supporting those
who claim a plot on the part of high-ranking US officials, is appears
that the actual troops who ambushed the Italians were special security forces assigned to U.S. Ambassador
John Negroponte. The plot thickens:

According to AP, "U.S. troops who mistakenly killed an Italian intelligence
agent last week on the road to Baghdad’s international airport were part
of extra security provided by the U.S. Army to protect U.S. Ambassador
John Negroponte, a U.S. official said Thursday."

At the very least this story points up the reality that reporting from
an occupied homeland, 22 months after "Mission Accomplished," surrounded
by white-knuckled trigger fingers attached to war-weary teen-aged hands,
hearts and minds, is more dangerous than even traditional war reporting,
where at least the battle lines are drawn on somebody’s map, and one
has at least a vague idea of from which direction the killing fire is
likely to come.

latest story from the New York Times

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