The Italian journalist, 56 year-old Giuliana Sgrena, wounded by American troops in Iraq after her release by terrorists, rejected the U.S. military's account of the shooting and suggested she was deliberately targeted. One man in her party was killed in the incident, and others in the car were injured.
U.S. military spokespersons said the car Sgrena was riding in was speeding on a road to the airport notorious for car bombs, and in a live combat zone. Americans used hand and arm signals, flashing white lights and warning shots to get it to stop at the roadblock.
However, Sgrena, in an interview with Italian TV, said, "There was no bright light, no signal." She also said the car was traveling at "regular speed."
Sgrena is a reporter for Il Manifesto, a communist daily. Her paper has been fiercely against the war. She said she remembered her captors' words, when they warned her "to be careful because the Americans don't want you to return."
Sgrena offers a scenario that is at odds with common sense: That military personnel who deal on a daily basis with cars approaching the checkpoint, and who must be cautious about car bombs and other possible threats, would in this instance react differently to her vehicle than to all the others. Could the soldiers at the checkpoint have known who was in this car speeding toward them? How would they have known?
Furthermore, the allegation that her captors – anti-coalition Muslim terrorists – told her the U.S. might target her is unpersuasive. Why would she believe what her captors told her? Why would anyone believe what terrorists say? For that matter, why would any true American believe the word of a communist journalist whose publication has been a staunch and vocal critic of U.S. action in Iraq? Does Sgrena have an unbiased perspective? I think not.
So far, the U.S. military has not initiated any action against the personnel involved in the incident, which is a good sign. White House spokesman Dan Bartlett told CNN, "… people are making split-second decisions, and it's critically important that we get the facts before we make judgments."
However, in Italy there is an uprising against the U.S. over the incident. Media trustworthiness to report accurately being what it is, it is difficult to know the level of anti-American sentiment among Italians. Whether the government will bend to pressure from Italy is still a question, but given two other prominent cases of second-guessing our military’s actions in combat situations, we should not be surprised if more of our soldiers are accused of acting inappropriately.