Monday, March 07, 2005

New developments in Italian reporter saga

New developments in the death of an Italian intelligence officer at a U.S. military checkpoint in Iraq indicate that Italian officials withheld information from American officials about a ransom paid to free an Italian journalist held captive by Iraqi terrorists.

Italian agents likely withheld information from U.S. counterparts about a deal with terrorists holding Giuliana Sgrena, fearing that Americans might block the trade, according to Italian news reports.
The decision to keep the CIA in the dark about a deal for the release of the reporter, might have "short-circuited" communications with U.S. forces, which might explain why the U.S. military was not aware that the Italians would be heading to the airport on the road where the incident occurred, which is a hotbed of car bombing and other terrorist activity.

Sgrena, a reporter for the Communist daily Il Manifesto, still clung to her assertion that the U.S. might have deliberately targeted her because it opposes dealing with kidnappers, but offered no direct evidence to support the charge, and later toned down that suggestion in a interview with Reuters news agency.

Had the Italians informed U. S. officials about the deal to free Sgrena it is possible, if not likely, that Sgrena’s vehicle would not have been fired upon as it sped up to the checkpoint, since it would have been expected there and U. S. personnel would have been watching for it. However, it still seems that the driver of the car bares major responsibility for the incident because of the manner in which he approached the checkpoint, and the fact that he did not heed warnings by the U.S. military personnel to stop his car.

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