About Italy says stress and inexperience of US soldiers played a..
|May 3rd, 2005||#1|
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Italy says stress and inexperience of US soldiers played a.. info
ROME (AP) Italian investigators blamed U.S. military authorities for failing to signal there was a checkpoint ahead on the Baghdad road where American soldiers killed an Italian agent, and concluded in a report released Monday that stress, inexperience and fatigue played a role in the shooting.
The investigators found no evidence, however, that the March 4 killing of intelligence agent Nicola Calipari was deliberate. The Italians also didn't object to many of the findings of fact contained in a separate American report made public Saturday.
Still, they refused to sign off on the U.S. conclusion that the soldiers bore no blame for Calipari's death. For example, while the American investigators said the car was traveling more than 50 mph, the Italians said it was going half that speed.
The two sides issued separate reports after a joint investigation.
Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a staunch American ally, has faced political fallout in Italy over the rift, including calls to bring home the country's 3,000 troops from Iraq. Berlusconi is scheduled to address both houses of parliament on the case Thursday.
Calipari was killed just after he secured the release of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena from Iraqi militants who held her hostage for a month. U.S. soldiers fired on the Italians' vehicle as it approached the checkpoint on a particularly dangerous road near Baghdad's airport. Sgrena and another Italian agent were wounded.
''It is likely that the state of tension stemming from the conditions of time, circumstances and place, as well as possibly some degree of inexperience and stress might have led some soldiers to instinctive and little-controlled reactions,'' said Italy's 52-page report.
The U.S. investigators, in their report, said the American soldiers gave adequate warning, beaming a light and firing warning shots, as the car traveled toward the airport. Their absolving the U.S. soldiers of any wrongdoing sparked outrage in Italy, where Calipari had been hailed as a hero.
The Italian report stressed that the American soldiers failed to provide warning there was a roadblock ahead. There were no signs, bright cones, concertina wire or anything else to inform drivers they were approaching a checkpoint, it said.
The American report downplayed the issue of warning signs before the roadblock.
The Italian report, written by a diplomat and a general assigned to Italy's secret services, said no measures were taken by U.S. officials to preserve the scene of the shooting. It said the car carrying Sgrena and the agents was removed before its position was marked, for example. The soldiers' vehicles also were moved.
''That made it impossible to technically reconstruct the event, to determine the exact position of the vehicles and measure the distances, and to obtain precise data defining the precise trajectory of the bullets, the speed of the car and the stopping distance,'' the report said.
The report also said that an Italian general was denied access to the shooting site immediately after the slaying and that duty logs were destroyed after the soldiers' shifts.
There was no immediate comment from Berlusconi, but one of Italy's center-left opposition leaders, Vannino Chiti, said the Washington must now address Italian concerns over the shooting.
''Now, it's fundamental to insist from the United States equal dignity in the relation between allies to avoid a crisis between the two nations,'' said Chiti, who opposes the presence of Italian troops in Iraq. ''We'll be waiting for a clear word about everything from the government Thursday.''
The Pentagon didn't immediately comment. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, speaking before the report was issued, said Italy and the United States still have ''excellent'' relations.
''I think it's important to remember that we and the Italians did conduct a joint investigation, that we reached agreement on many, many points of fact and the circumstances of the very tragic events in which Mr. Calipari lost his life,'' Boucher said.
From the first hours after the shooting, the two sides had disagreed on whether there was adequate warning before the shooting and on the speed of the vehicle. The Americans insisted the Toyota Corolla was going fast enough to alarm the soldiers, but the Italians said the car was not speeding. Both sides based their estimates on circumstantial information.
Italy and the United States have publicly differed over other crucial points, including whether or not the Italians had told U.S. officials why they were in Iraq. When several days of negotiations failed to yield a common report, both sides went their own way.
Both reports agreed that about 20 minutes before the shooting, an Italian officer who was the coalition forces' second-in-command in Iraq confirmed to his American aide that the flurry of activity along the airport road had something to do with the Italian journalist.
The Italian then told the American that it was best that no one should know. The American interpreted that statement as an order not to divulge that information.
The U.S. report contained many blacked-out portions, including the names of the soldiers at the checkpoint and their units. But because of an apparent error, what was blacked out in the report could be read on the Web site of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Some of the material that had been blacked out also discussed training for checkpoint duty and checkpoint procedures.
The U.S. military said it regretted the faulty posting.
''We need to improve our procedures. We regret this happened. We obviously didn't take sufficient precautions,'' said U.S. Air Force Col. Donald Alston, a spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Baghdad. He added that some of the leaked information appeared classified.
The Italian report does not name the American soldiers, identifying them by codes.
Their report noted that the Americans gave several reasons for the lack of warning signs before the roadblock. Among them was that the signs belonging to that U.S. unit were in the hands of ''technicians'' charged with covering with tape material deemed offensive to civilians.
For a sign that read ''Stay back 100 meters or you will be shot,'' they were to cover up with tape ''or you will be shot,'' according to the American report.
According to U.S. officials, the Army National Guard soldiers in charge of the traffic-blocking position near Baghdad airport had been reassigned to patrol the airport road just two weeks before the shooting.
Their unit previously had operated in Taji, about 20 miles north of Baghdad, where their main mission was to conduct patrols in search of insurgents who had launched attacks on U.S. military bases.
The U.S. report on the incident said the soldiers had received training on what the military calls ''rules of engagement,'' defining how they respond to threats, as part of their deployment preparation at Fort Hood, Texas, and the National Training Center in California.
They were further trained upon arrival in Kuwait last fall, and in February they received refresher training on the rules of engagement, including a briefing on positive identification, which requires soldiers to have ''reasonable certainty'' that an object they attack is a legitimate military target.
The U.S. report makes clear that the soldiers were operating a traffic-blocking, rather than traffic-controlling, point. The difference is that the object of blocking traffic is to ensure that no vehicle proceed past a given point in this case the onramp to the road leading to Baghdad airport.
Although they had training and experience in operating traffic control points, where cars are stopped and searched, the U.S. investigators said they found no evidence that the soldiers were trained to run blocking positions before their arrival in Iraq. The soldiers ''learned and practiced'' how to run blocking positions from Feb. 5-15, after relocating from Taji.
The Italian report said investigators found there was lots of confusion among officers and soldiers regarding the rules and procedures governing blocking positions.
AP Military Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report from Washington.
You can either agree with me or be wrong!
|May 3rd, 2005||#2|
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"For a sign that read ''Stay back 100 meters or you will be shot,'' they were to cover up with tape ''or you will be shot,'' according to the American report. "
Political correctness kills.
|May 3rd, 2005||#3|
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I can't imagine those nasty soldiers being stressed just because an unknown vehicle was approaching their checkpoint at a high rate of speed and refused to stop. As many soldiers have been killed in just that manner as by gunfire. I say stop the car before it reaches critical kill distance except they sholud have used a grenade launcher.
War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.
John Stuart Mill
|May 3rd, 2005||#4|
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Hmm, here's a real hard question; gee, a roadblock - perhaps I should come to a stop?
|May 4th, 2005||#5|
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|May 4th, 2005||#6|
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Sure there's a lot of confusion in a war zone, that's why civilians should not be there, especially troublemaking varieties with trumped up charges and ideas. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CAN"T WAIT TO KILL OUR SOLDIERS, STAY OUT!!!
|May 4th, 2005||#8|
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I think you should read my post in which I have marked the Italian views in quotes, there's doubt that the system which you are talking of was existing in the first place
It must be very sad for the Italians, imagine someone just rescued a hostage from a bunch of islamic terrorists who would behead the hostage, and then the hero who showed exemplary courage in saving the hostage's life dies a chicken's death... from troops which were on their side itself
|May 4th, 2005||#9|
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The US investigation has been released to the public for anyone interested in a real report. I will not post it as there are some OPSEC issues thanks to a mistake made by a desk jockey.
Below are excerpts from the official US report.
There was a lot of factors at play that evening, and it lead up to a tragic incident. It is a war zone, it happens. Trying to play blame game, especially by those sitting happily on the sidelines, is ridiculous.
The fact that nothing was coordinated is the bigger issue.
|May 5th, 2005||#10|
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Berlusconi Disputes U.S. Report on Agent
Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday that he disagreed with some of the U.S. military's conclusions into the March shooting death of an Italian agent in Baghdad, but those differences would not affect Italy's deployment of troops in Iraq or its friendship with Washington.
Berlusconi told lawmakers that U.S. troops who fired on the agent's car from a checkpoint might be to blame even if they fired mistakenly.
"Indeed, the lack of deliberate action doesn't rule out blame attributable to negligence, imprudence or even simple incompetence," Berlusconi told lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies three days after Italy issued its own report concluding that soldiers' inexperience, stress and fatigue played a role in the fatal shooting.
He also complained, as Italian investigators have, that the scene of the shooting was not left untouched, although Berlusconi added that "the impartiality and good faith of the U.S. investigators cannot be questioned."
The U.S. report into the death cleared the soldiers of any blame. It said the car was speeding, did not heed warning lights and shots, and said better coordination between the Italians and Americans could have prevented the tragedy.
Berlusconi contended the temporary checkpoint set up along the dangerous highway to Baghdad airport was not properly marked.
The slain agent, Nicola Calipari, was escorting a freed hostage, Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, to the airport. Sgrena and another intelligence agent in the vehicle were wounded in the shooting.
Despite the death and the disagreement over the circumstances of the shooting, Berlusconi said Italian troop deployment would continue.
"We have no intention of establishing any connection between the assessment of the case in which our official lost his life and the role of our country in Iraq," the premier said. "We must insist in our commitment and assist the forces of a free and democratic new Iraq."
Italy sent some 3,000 troops into Iraq to help with reconstruction despite widespread objections by citizens over military involvement there.
The slaying, as well as the American conclusions that the soldiers bore no responsibility for the death of the agent, angered Italians.
"Our friendship with the United States has overcome more difficult tests than this one," said the premier, a staunch ally of President Bush.
On Wednesday, Bush called him to again express regret over Calipari's slaying. Berlusconi's office described their conversation as "long and cordial."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the two leaders agreed that the episode would not harm "the strong friendship" between the two countries.
Opposition leader Romano Prodi, expected to run for premier in elections next year, has contended that while there was no direct link between a pullout and the Calipari case, it was time to discuss the end of the mission.
After Berlusconi spoke, lawmakers had their say in the chamber. One of them, Piero Fassino, a center-left opposition leader, demanded that the United States apologize.
Two months ago, Berlusconi said that if security conditions allowed and the other allies agree, some Italian troops might start coming home as early as September. But no timetable for the start of withdrawal has been set.
However, some Italian leaders are urging Berlusconi to think more actively about pulling out Italian troops. Cabinet Minister Roberto Calderoli called on the government earlier this week to "reflect on the timetable for an exit strategy."
Former seven-time premier Giulio Andreotti echoed those comments Thursday, telling the Senate the time had come to reflect on the mission's purpose and financing.
Calipari was shot at a checkpoint near the Baghdad airport less than an hour after he secured the release of Sgrena, who had been in the hands of her abductors for a month.
Rome prosecutors are conducting their own investigation into the case.
But a leading Italian military prosecutor, Antonio Intelisano, told The Associated Press on Wednesday it was unlikely U.S. soldiers would be prosecuted in Italy given legal restrictions and American protection of its troops in the past.