Cartoon from Il Manifesto
– the caption reads “Friendly Fire 2″
A little update on the Giuliana Sgrena story, regarding which I have written before. You’ll be surprised and no doubt relieved to hear that it’s all turned out to be quite all right and it was the Italians’ fault.
A US army official said Monday that the US investigation concluded that “the soldiers were all complying with the standard operating procedures for those checkpoints and therefore were not culpable of dereliction of duty in following their procedures.”
Needless to say, Ms Sgrena is not happy.
“After the apologies comes the slap in the face,” wrote Giuliana Sgrena in a frontpage editorial in her daily Il Manifesto…
…US authorities had taken no note of her testimony and that of the other agent, Sgrena said, underlining that their two accounts coincided although they had never met or discussed the shoot-out.
“Obviously, our two testimonies given to the American commission were useless. Or will I be charged with perjury?” questioned the journalist.
Elements of the Italian government appear unhappy as well, though I imagine that Berlusconi would rather the whole thing just went away. According to the NYT:
Italy disagrees with major findings in the report and has declined to endorse it
(Little point of order here. It’s interesting how the biased America-hating liberals at the New York Times repeat two USG points that turned out to be untrue; the piece is called “Ruling on Barricade Death” when there was no barricade, and call it a “checkpoint” when it was just an armoured vehicle of some sort at the side of the road. Well, I suppose there might be some sort of euphemism such as “mobile checkpoint” that would technically excuse that last one. But the intention of the USG in calling it a “checkpoint” is clear – it’s meant to bring up images of fences, guards, Checkpoint Charlie etc and provoke the immediate thought “checkpoints are obvious and they check rather than just opening fire, so they must have been doing something wrong if they were shot at one”.)
“US Military Exonerates US Military” is a bit “Pope In ‘Catholic’ Shock” (although that last one seems to have inexplicably appeared across the blogosphere recently – you mean Ratzinger doesn’t approve of gayness?) and I’m not exactly shocked by the news, but it does mark the last point at which the USG will ever consider that there are questions to be answered. Case closed. So if you consider any of the following
- independent reports from those in the car claiming that they had reported ahead, were driving slowly and were fired on without warning;
- the fact that they had passed through many other checkpoints and were in a “safe zone”;
- confiscation of cellphones from eyewitnesses by troops;
- refusal to let Italian investigators examine the car in question;
- release of photographs of something that was claimed to be the car that clearly do not show a car fired upon with a machinegun, so which don’t agree with anyone‘s story;
to be a little dodgy, as far as the USG is concerned you’re out of luck. As far as the US media is concerned as well, I expect.
To recap, I’d say that the most charitable explanation for this, I’d say, is that the incident was a tremendous fuckup, this was quickly realised, the spin menu was brought out and ordered from, and no attempt was made to placate the Italians (since only US opinion counts, the spin could be this flimsy and it wouldn’t matter to them, because it’s not something the US media are very interested in anyway, a token explanation is fine). Add to the previous spin this investigation and the line being pushed in the press reports, “it’s just the Italians’ word against the Americans’”.
The least charitable is that someone was deliberately trying to kill her, and there are various possible explanations in between. I’m not sure what I currently think is the case at the moment, so I’m giving it one of those reasonably wide “uncertain, insufficient evidence” truth values that I seem to be attaching to an awful lot of things. I don’t really see what other choice I’ve got, apart from unthinking acceptance, unthinking condemnation and just plain not giving a shit.