Saturday, March 5


Italian journalist and newly-freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena tells her side of the story about the shooting by U.S. troops:

The soldiers fired because the driver approached a checkpoint "at a high rate of speed," according to a U.S. military statement Friday.

Sgrena, however, told Italian prosecutors on Saturday that there was no checkpoint, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

"It was not a checkpoint, but a patrol that fired after having shone a floodlight at us," she told ANSA.

Sgrena also disputed that the car was speeding.

The U.S. military did not describe the nature of what it called a checkpoint, such as whether it was marked or well lighted. An American spokesman in Baghdad said he had no further information.

When stopping a car or investigating a possible bomb, U.S. patrols often set up makeshift checkpoints by parking Humvees in the middle of a darkened highway and treating any vehicle approaching as hostile. Iraqi drivers sometimes don't realize they are upon an American position until it is too late. Dozens and perhaps hundreds of Iraqi civilians have been killed in the last two years after failing to stop while approaching military convoys or checkpoints, including at least nine in the last two months, according to news reports and U.S. military statements.

I had not read this about the "checkpoints" before. Couldn't we at least provide these guys with a lightweight, clearly visible warning sign that they could keep in the Humvee and post when necessary? If so many civilians have been killed over the past two years, how is it that someone hasn't tried to find a solution? But I guess it's akin to not providing proper armor. If we don't care about our own guys, why should we care about Iraqis?

I can't imagine how our soldiers must feel after they discover they've killed innocent civilians. Not to mention, of course, how the families of the dead feel. "Winning hearts and minds," indeed.


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