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March 11, 2005
Sgrena Sets Tinfoil-Hat Brigade Loose

The allegations of deliberate assassination by Giuliana Sgrena against the US military have provoked the lunatics of the International Tinfoil Hat Brigade, which unfortunately has to come up with increasingly ridiculous explanations of how American soldiers filled a car with bullets but left only two or three holes in the car, killed one person but left two people alive, including the one who was the supposed target of the attempted assassination, and covered it up while letting the eyewitnesses go.

The latest to attempt this is Uruknet, a bizarre website that appears to dedicate itself to substantiating every loopy hypothesis about the US presence in Iraq. Normally, I just ignore these people, but the explanation at Uruknet simply provides too many laughs to pass up. Here's what Uruknet wants you to believe:

By combining photo evidence and eyewitness accounts of the Baghdad airport shooting in which Giuliana Sgrena was wounded and Nicola Calipari killed, a compelling picture of a precision ambush emerges.

This analysis is sharpened by also considering the operational constraints upon any planned assassination of the troublesome Italian reporter. Such a killing would have to be palusibly [sic] deniable as a "mishap" and would have to avoid the slaughter of three intelligence agents in the vehicle.

That partly explains why Sgrena is still alive. A full-on salvo for a heavy calibre weapon would have left nobody alive in the vehicle. But, while slaying a political journalist is one thing -murdering three intelligence officers of a friendly nation in the process was never going to be an option.

Er, doesn't the fact that Sgrena is still alive demonstrate that she couldn't have been the target? After all, who pulled her out of the car? But let's go on:

But, the alternative was eminently feasible. It would be possible to selectively target Sgrena inside the vehicle, because the planners would know exactly where she would be seated. Assuming any half-competency in intelligence gathering, it was known the occupants would be an Iraqi driver, three intelligence agents and the target: Giuliana Sgrena.

Unfortunately for them, their seating arrangements inside the car were entirely predictable. Operational protocol dictated that one agent would be in the front with the driver, and Sgrena would be seated in the center of the rear -between the two other agents. In the hostile zone of Baghdad this seating was a virtual certainty.

Except that by all accounts, there were only three people in the car. I know, I know ... details.

An account of events by Peter Popham in the UK Independent shows American authorities at Baghdad airport knew that the Italian intelligence team would likely be returning late Friday with Sgrena. They surely knew the model and number of the car Calipari had hired at the airport just before 4pm on Friday.

Today we found out from the Italians that not only did they neglect to tell us anything about Sgrena's release, even the Italian military brass may not have known anything about it. It's a good thing that Uruknet hired all these experts to get their facts straight, isn't it?

Uruknet then talks about how the Americans would have used a tank to block the road, even though Sgrena has since recanted the part about the tank and said they encountered only an American patrol, to bring the car to a complete stop. Assassins then flaked the vehicle from the front, even though Sgrena now says the shots came from the rear, and took out the front tires as the car came to a stop. Then the real work began:

If the driver is known to be Iraqi, then there is little downside to using the other aspect of full immobilization procedure: take out the driver as well.

That's three marksmen at a minimum. One in front to take care of the driver and possibly have sight of the target in the rear. Two more marksmen, positioned one either side of the car just slightly ahead. They could take care of the tyres and then switch to the interior for the target shot.

Was three marksmen enough? Even though the interior light was reported < > to have been on, target aquisition inside a vehicle must take at least three seconds plus one second to shift aim from the tyres. But after four seconds, the rear occupants may be already moving --so the head shot on Sgrena was likely intercepted by Calipari's cranium.

The marksman must have known at that moment there was a 50-50 chance he had taken out the team leader in the back seat. Who knows how he responded. But in any event Calipari had slumped against Sgrena and rendered further clear shots unlikely.

Why? If the assassination attempt had "become a disaster", as Uruknet alleges, why leave anyone alive to dispute the American cover story? According to this scenario, everyone should have been killed. Uruknet alleges that the plan was to kill Sgrena but leave the Italian intelligence officer alive, so as not to make them mad. Excuse me? We kill a hostage that they just paid millions of dollars to free, and they'll just go away irritated if we assassinate her but leave Calipari alive to tell the tale.

Riiiiiiiiiiight. It's hard to imagine getting this much so spectacularly and lunatically wrong in such a short space, but you really have to read the entire thing to believe it. It almost sounds like a spoof of Air America or ... well, Sgrena herself.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 11, 2005 12:15 PM

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sgrena Sets Tinfoil-Hat Brigade Loose:

» Tinfoil Hat Brigade: Assuming a US Whitewash from Angry in the Great White North
For those who believe Sgrena's story, and who believe that anything the US says is rooted in a policy of shielding its soldiers from any blame, I would invite to read the story of Canadian pilot Derek Nichols, and how the US investigated his tragic d... [Read More]

Tracked on March 11, 2005 3:26 PM

» The Strange Tale-athon from Joust The Facts
And so it continues. [Read More]

Tracked on March 11, 2005 3:41 PM

» Contagion or Silence... from My Sandmen
Ms. Sgrena lives to recollect her fortune at retaining her head...never considering the scores whose blood will drench every dollar paid for her liberation...a price far higher than the value of the merchandise it purchased. [Read More]

Tracked on March 12, 2005 9:23 AM

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