Tuesday, May 03, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | Italian report queries US claims

BBC NEWS | Europe | Italian report queries US claims: "Italy has published a report into the shooting of a secret agent by US troops at a roadblock in Iraq, which conflicts with the US version of events.
The report blames the troops' stress and inexperience, and says the US authorities should have signalled that there was a checkpoint on the road.

The Italian foreign ministry delayed the release of the 52-page report, and it was given to senior Italian officials and to US ambassador Mel Sembler ahead of publication.

Our correspondent adds that the censored material also includes embarrassing details about communication failures and reveals the rules of engagement at checkpoints.

The US invited two Italians to join in their inquiry, but the Italian representatives protested at what they claimed was lack of objectivity in presenting the evidence and returned to Rome.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | US must learn from Calipari

BBC NEWS | Middle East | US must learn from Calipari: "There was a time when the British army behaved like that in Northern Ireland: jittery, resentful, too quick to fire, an easy target.
Thirty-five years ago, in Belfast and Derry, I saw British soldiers behaving just as aggressively towards local people as the Americans do in Iraq.

Checkpoints have been targeted by suicide bombers
That was before it dawned on the British army that if they treated every passer-by as an enemy, it wouldn't be long before every passer-by was an enemy.

The army's eventual success against the IRA in Northern Ireland owed a great deal to this basic change of attitude.

Approaching an American roadblock is one of the more nerve-racking things you have to do in Iraq.

Once you have spoken to the US soldiers on duty and managed to establish your good faith, things are easier, even for Iraqis.

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Italy Disputes U.S. Report on Agent's Death

"ROME, May 2 -- Italian investigators said Monday that nervousness and inexperience among U.S. troops contributed to the March 4 killing of an Italian intelligence agent at a roadblock as he tried to take a freed kidnap victim to the Baghdad airport.
In a 67-page report, the Italians countered conclusions released by American military authorities on Saturday that the agent's car was speeding and failed to respond to signals to stop. The soldiers acted properly, the U.S. report concluded, and will not face disciplinary measures.

'The Italian representatives, on the base of evidence that it has been possible to acquire, have not identified elements to suppose that the tragedy was willful,' the Italian report said. 'It is likely that tension, inexperience and stress led some of the U.S. troops to react instinctively and with little control.'

Officials of the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the killing of agent Nicola Calipari would not affect Italy's close relations with the Bush administration. But the report, which followed a joint investigation of the incident, was peppered with criticisms of American action in Iraq generally and the U.S. response to the shooting in particular.

The report was released here the day after the full classified version of the American report, released in censored form on Saturday, showed up on the Internet. U.S. officials said that it contained information about tactics and casualties that could endanger U.S. troops."

By Daniel Williams and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 3, 2005; Page A16

Italian Press Accuse Berlusconi of Changing Calipari Report

The Italian press has claimed that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has altered a report investigating the death of Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari, who was killed by US soldiers in Iraq in order not to endanger Washington-Rome relations.

The papers revealed that Berlusconi had requested some changes be made in the direction of the report so as not to criticize the US too much and not to jeapodize relations. The headline run by Il Messaggero carried the issue to the public, "Head of government asks for changes" while La Repubblica reported the news running the headline, "Berlusconi's commonsense pressure".