CBS News reports that the American and Italian investigators looking into the death of Italian commando Nicola Calipari and wounding of hostage/journalist Giuliana Sgrena have evidence that Sgrena lied about the incident from the beginning. Sgrena has long insisted that the Italian driver slowed down to under 30 MPH before approaching the checkpoint, whereupon American soldiers opened fire without warning. However, CBS now claims that data from military satellites clearly showed the car traveling towards the checkpoint at over 60 MPH without slowing down at all, triggering the defensive response from the American soldiers:
A US satellite reportedly recorded a checkpoint shooting in Iraq last month, enabling investigators to reconstruct how fast a car carrying a top Italian intelligence official and a freed hostage was traveling when US troops opened fire.
The report, which aired Thursday on CBS News, said US investigators concluded from the recording that the car was traveling at a speed of more than 60 miles (96 km) per hour.
Giuliana Sgrena has said the car was traveling at a normal speed of about 30 miles an hour when the soldiers opened fired, wounding her and killing Nicola Calipari, the Italian agent who had just secured her release from a month’s captivity.
US soldiers said at the time of the March 4 incident that the car approached at a high rate of speed and that they fired only after it failed to respond to hand signals, flashing bright lights and warning shots. …
CBS, citing Pentagon officials, said the satellite recording enabled investigators to reconstruct the event without having to rely on the eyewitness accounts.
It said the soldiers manning the checkpoint first spotted the Italian car when it was 137 yards (meters) away. By the time they opened fire and brought the car to a halt, it was 46 yards (meters) away. CBS said that happened in less than three seconds, which meant the car had to be going over 60 miles an hour.
The Italian position, therefore, has changed. Now instead of arguing that the Americans wanted to kill Sgrena for some kind of secrecy — but then inexplicably allowed her to get medical attention once wounded — they now claim that the checkpoint wasn’t marked well enough for their driver to identify it. Going 60 MPH on a darkened road that had been widely identified as a terrorist trap, towards the airport that the Italians knew to be highly defended by American soldiers, apparently fits within Italian security parameters.
Sgrena lied, and the driver and Calipari should have known better than to try to speed their way into a fortified airport access. With the attacks on American soldiers taking place by terrorists with vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, military personnel with any experience and competence should understand the foolishness of approaching any checkpoint at a mile a minute, and should damned well be looking out for any security barriers, especially on a highway that contentious. The Italians only make themselves look foolish by continuing to highlight this as an issue.