Pentagon memo blames Italians for Iraq shooting.
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Pentagon memo blames Italians for Iraq shooting.

ABC News Online | March 9, 2005

An internal Pentagon memo said Italian security forces failed to make arrangement for the safe passage of a released Italian hostage who was wounded when US troops opened fire as she was being driven to the airport in Baghdad, The Washington Times reported on Tuesday.

Friday's incident in which journalist Giuliana Sgrena was wounded and Italy's top intelligence officer in Iraq Nicola Calipari was killed, has strained relations between the United States and Italy and is the object of a full scale investigation by the US State Department.

The US military has said its forces gave ample warning to the driver of Ms Sgrena's car, which they said was approaching at speed when they opened fire.

Ms Sgrena has said they were not travelling fast and claims she was deliberately targeted for murder because the United States opposed negotiations with her kidnappers, a charge a State Department spokesman called "absurd."

The internal Pentagon information memo obtained by The Washington Times mentioned the dangerous conditions of the road Ms Sregna was travelling on, where it says mistaken shootings have resulted in a "few deadly incidents" since March 2003. However, it blames the Italians for Friday's incident.

"This is war," said the memo as transcribed by the daily.

"About 500 American service members have been killed by hostile fire while operating on Iraqi streets and highways.

"The journalist was driving in pitch-dark and at a high speed and failed, according to the first reports, to respond to numerous warnings.

"Besides, there is no indication that the Italian security forces made prior arrangements to facilitate the transition to the airport," the memo said.

Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and military analyst consulted by The Washington Times , said the Italians should have given serious attention to their moves about Iraq.

"It seems to me that the Italian secret service considers this a James Bond movie in Baghdad," Mr Maginnis said.

"They're driving around at night picking up a journalist who has been kidnapped and pretending they can get through a phalanx of checkpoints along the deadliest road in all of Iraq without being detected, much less shot up."


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