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March 6, 2005
300-400 Bullets Hit This Car? (Updated!)

The British newspaper The Guardian reports that freed Italian hostage Giuliani Sgrena claims that Americans fired between 300 and 400 rounds from an armored vehicle after the car had already stopped and Americans had looked inside with a flashlight:

The US Army claimed the Italians' vehicle had been seen as a threat because it was travelling at speed and failed to stop at the checkpoint despite warning shots being fired by the soldiers. A State Department official in Washington said the Italians had failed to inform the military of Sgrena's release.

Italian reconstruction of the incident is significantly different. Sgrena told colleagues the vehicle was not travelling fast and had already passed several checkpoints on its way to the airport. The Americans shone a flashlight at the car and then fired between 300 and 400 bullets at if from an armoured vehicle. Rather than calling immediately for assistance for the wounded Italians, the soldiers' first move was to confiscate their weapons and mobile phones and they were prevented from resuming contact with Rome for more than an hour.

This is the car that supposedly took between 300 and 400 rounds of incoming fire from an American armoured vehicle, presumably at close range:


So far, all I can see are two bullet holes in the right front fender, an unmolested set of windows almost all the way around, and a stove-in front end that looks like it crashed after someone lost control of the vehicle. That appears to support the American version of the incident, in which the soldiers saw an approaching car that refused to stop despite signals to do so, and the soldiers fired into the engine block to disable the vehicle.

That's not what the Italian leftists at Il Manifesto, the Communist newspaper for which Sgrena writes, want people to believe:

Pier Scolari, Sgrena's partner who flew to Baghdad to collect her, put an even more sinister construction on the events, suggesting in a television interview that Sgrena was the victim of a deliberate ambush. 'Giuliana may have received information which led to the soldiers not wanting her to leave Iraq alive,' he claimed.

Perhaps Il Manifesto recently hired Eason Jordan; they certainly appear to make the same groundless accusations in the face of evidence completely to the contrary. Ms. Sgrena obviously lied about the hail of bullets, and that makes the rest of her tale equally suspect. One wonders if the entire episode wasn't designed to discredit the Americans in the first place.

If the Americans can't hit a stopped vehicle more times than 2 out of 400, then the Iraqi Army would have beaten us in the desert. And if that car could be driven with the front end bashed in for more than a few blocks, I'd buy it myself and consider me lucky for having such a reliable vehicle. The evidence points to shots hitting a vehicle in motion, which crashed front-end first as a result. (via LGF)

UPDATE: That's not the right car, even though the AP used in their video report for the story. It turns out that they used stock footage of another Iraqi car that had to get stopped by US fire at a checkpoint. So far, the AP hasn't acknowledged their sloppy journalism. (Where were the editors that supposedly give the MSM such a journalistic advantage?)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 6, 2005 5:05 PM

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