May 01, 2005

The war in Iraq is worse than illegal or immoral, it is stupid, insanely stupid

The war in Iraq is worse than illegal or immoral, it is stupid, insanely stupid
Human rights group calls for criminal investigations of Rumsfeld, Tenet

April 23, 2005, 11:49 AM EDT

NEW YORK -- A human rights watchdog group has called for a criminal investigation of U.S. intelligence and military officials who it says condoned or ignored the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and other locations.

The report, to be released Sunday by the Human Rights Watch, takes no stance on the ultimate culpability of the officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former CIA Director George Tenet, but says an investigation is warranted by growing evidence against them.

It criticizes Rumsfeld and Tenet for trying to pass blame for the abuse to military subordinates and individual soldiers.

"This pattern of abuse across several countries did not result from the acts of individual soldiers who broke the rules," Reed Brody, special counsel for the group, said in a statement. "It resulted from decisions made by senior U.S. officials to bend, ignore, or cast rules aside."

The report says coercive questioning techniques authorized by Rumsfeld for use at Guantanamo Bay spread not only to Abu Ghraib, but to sites throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and other "secret locations."

The techniques included using guard dogs to frighten prisoners, putting prisoners in stressful positions and removing their clothes, the report said.

HRW also accused Tenet of dispatching al-Qaida suspects to undisclosed locations where they were questioned and tortured.

The report also calls for investigations of Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former senior U.S. commander in Iraq, and Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former commander of the Guantanamo Camp.

The Army announced this week that it had cleared Sanchez of all allegations of wrongdoing in connection with Abu Ghraib and said he would not be punished.


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Green light for Iraqi prison abuse came right from the top
Classified documents show the former US military chief in Iraq personally sanctioned measures banned by the Geneva Conventions. Andrew Buncombe reports from Washington
03 April 2005
America's leading civil liberties group has demanded an investigation into the former US military commander Iraq after a formerly classified memo revealed that he personally sanctioned a series of coercive interrogation techniques outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. The group claims that his directives were directly linked to the sort of abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib.
Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reveal that Lt General Ricardo Sanchez authorised techniques such as the use of dogs to intimidate prisoners, stress positions and disorientation. In the documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Gen Sanchez admits that some of the techniques would not be tolerated by other countries.
When he appeared last year before a Congressional committee, Gen Sanchez denied authorising such techniques. He has now been accused of perjury.
The ACLU says the documents reveal that the abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere was the result of an organised and co-ordinated plan for dealing with prisoners captured during the so-called war on terror that originates at the highest levels of the chain of command. It says that far from being isolated incident, the shocking abuse at Abu Ghraib that was revealed last year was part of a pattern.
"We think that the techniques authorised by Gen Sanchez were certainly responsible for putting into play the sort of abuses that we saw at Abu Ghraib," Amirit Singh, an ACLU lawyer, told The Independent on Sunday. "And it does not just stop with Sanchez. It goes to [Defence Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, who wrote memos authorising these sorts of techniques at Guantanamo Bay."
In the September 2003 memo, Gen Sanchez authorised the use of 29 techniques for interrogating prisoners being held by the US. These included stress positions, "yelling, loud music and light control" as well as the use of muzzled military dogs in order to "exploit Arab fear of dogs". Some of the most notorious photographs to emerge from the Abu Ghraib scandal showed hand-cuffed, naked Iraqi prisoners cowering from snarling dogs.
Six weeks after Gen Sanchez issued his memo, a subsequent directive banned the use of dogs and several of the other techniques following concerns raised by military lawyers. The ACLU says that at least 12 of the techniques listed in the memo went beyond the limits for interrogation listed in the US Army's field manual.
"Gen Sanchez authorised interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the army's own standards," said Ms Singh. "He and other high-ranking officials who bear responsibility for the widespread abuse of detainees must be held accountable."
The Abu Ghraib scandal sent shockwaves around the world and further undermined US credibility in the Arab world. In the immediate aftermath, insurgents who captured and beheaded a US engineer, Nick Berg, said they had done so in retaliation for the abuse at the infamous prison west of Baghdad, where prisoners were sexually humiliated and tortured.
A number of low-ranking reservists have been charged over the abuse. An alleged ringleader, Charles Graner, 36, was convicted last January and sentenced to 10 years in jail. At his trial his lawyer, Guy Womack, claimed his client was being used as a scapegoat. "The government is asking a corporal to take the hit for them," he said. "The chain of command says, 'We didn't know anything about this stuff'. You know that is a lie."
When he appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee in May 2004, Gen Sanchez flatly refused approving such techniques in Iraq, and said that a news article reporting otherwise was false. "I never approved any of those measures to be used ... at any time in the last year," he said under oath. The ACLU accuses him of committing perjury and has asked the Attorney General to investigate. In a letter to Alberto Gonzales, the group said: "Gen Sanchez's testimony, given under oath before the Senate Armed Services committee, is utterly inconsistent with the written record, and deserves serious investigation. This clear breach of the public's trust is also further proof that the American people deserve the appointment of an independent special counsel by the Attorney General."
A number of investigations have been carried out into the abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. While some have referred to a break-down in the chain of command, none have placed responsibility with senior officers or politicians.
Kathy Kelley, a spokeswoman for the anti-war group Voices in the Wilderness, said the new documents obtained by the ACLU showed a pattern of abuse by US forces. "It saddens me but I am not shocked," she said.
Gen Sanchez is currently commanding general of the US V Corps based in Germany. He has yet to comment on the release of the memo. A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment.
The Pentagon originally refused to release the memo on national security grounds, but passed it to the ACLU after the group challenged it in court. Mr Rumsfeld last week dismissed suggestions that it had been withheld to save the Pentagon's embarrassment.
But the ACLU said the reason for the delay in delivering the more than 1,200 pages of documents in which the memo was contained was "evident in the contents", which included reports of brutal beatings and sworn statements that soldiers were told to "beat the fuck out of" prisoners.
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Legal | Contact us | Using our Content | © 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
Published on Saturday, April 9, 2005 by Reuters

Iraqis Protest on Anniversary of Saddam's Fall
by Mussab al-Khairalla

BAGHDAD - Tens of thousands of followers of a rebel Shi'ite cleric marched in Baghdad on Saturday to denounce the U.S. presence in Iraq and demand a speedy trial of Saddam Hussein on the second anniversary of his overthrow.
Chanting "No, no to the occupiers," men loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr streamed from the poor Shi'ite district of Sadr City to Firdos Square in central Baghdad where Saddam's statue was torn down two years ago, in a peaceful show of strength.
The square and side streets were quickly packed with crowds waving Iraqi flags and brandishing effigies of Saddam, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush.
"No America! No Saddam! Yes to Islam!" many chanted. One group of demonstrators burned an American flag.
"We want a stable Iraq and this will only happen through independence," said a statement from Sadr's office read out at the rally. "There will be no security and stability unless the occupiers leave... The occupiers must leave my country."
Iraqi security forces shut down central Baghdad ahead of the march and were keeping a tight watch. U.S. forces, around 135,000 of whom remain in Iraq, were out of sight. Most protesters were searched for weapons before reaching the square.
"I came from Sadr City to demand a timetable for the withdrawal of the occupation," said Abbas, a young, bearded protester sitting on the grass in the square. "Every Iraqi has a right to demand his freedom. The Americans wanted time and we gave them time, now we want to rule ourselves."
Followers of Sadr from the southern Shi'ite cities of Basra, Amara and Nassiriya traveled hundreds of miles to join the protest, showing the appeal the young cleric, who has led two uprisings against U.S.-led forces, can command.
By early evening, most protesters had dispersed. There were no reports of violence.
The protest was the largest since the Jan. 30 election and the first since a new government began forming.
U.S. forces last year pledged to arrest Sadr, a low-ranking cleric in his mid-30s, and destroy his Mehdi Army militia. But as part of a peace deal to end his uprising in August, he was not detained and he pledged to renounce violence.
Firdos Square has become a central rallying place for Iraqis since Saddam's overthrow two years ago. U.S. forces last year shut down the square, sealing it off with razor wire, to prevent people massing on the first anniversary.
Saturday's protest taps into the growing frustration among large swathes of the Iraqi population against the U.S. presence in the country. Armed insurgents continue to target U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces they regard as collaborators.
A U.S. soldier was killed in a roadside bomb blast north of Baghdad on Friday, raising to at least 1,543 the number of U.S. troops who have lost their lives in Iraq.
On Saturday, the bodies of 15 Iraqi soldiers were found in the lawless area just south of Baghdad, Iraqi police said. Police said the soldiers were in a truck that was stopped by insurgents the previous day. All the men had been shot.
In the northern city of Mosul, a suicide car bomber killed two policeman and a child, and wounded several, police said.
Even many Iraqis who would not take up arms against the Americans still want U.S. and foreign troops, together numbering around 160,000, to leave. U.S. commanders say they will withdraw only once Iraqi forces are strong enough.
Scandals such as the abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib and the deaths of Iraqi detainees in U.S. custody have exacerbated tensions.
There is also anger that more than two years since the war, Saddam and his senior lieutenants have still not been tried. Trials are expected to begin later this year, although Saddam is unlikely to be one of the first to appear in court.
"We want to try Saddam and his men ourselves with no foreign interference," said Baghdad protester Murtatha al-Yaqubi.
The demonstration came as efforts continued to complete a the formation of a government 10 weeks since the election.
A president, two vice presidents and a prime minister have been named, but the prime minister, Islamist Shi'ite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was still working on his cabinet and has said it could take up to two weeks before it is finalized.
Iraqi officials have cautioned that the longer it takes to form a government the more it will play into the hands of insurgents, who will view authorities as weak and indecisive.
Additional reporting by Mariam Karouny
© Copyright 2005 Reuters Ltd
US appears to have fought war for oil and lost it
By Ian Rutledge
Published: April 11 2005 03:00 | Last updated: April 11 2005 03:00

From Dr Ian Rutledge.

Sir, Your recent report that oil prices have reached an all-time nominal high and that Goldman Sachs has suggested the possibility of a "super spike" in prices to as high as $105 per barrel ("Crude at all-time high despite Opec's efforts", April 5) should be of no surprise to anyone who has studied the informed opinions of US energy experts in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Nor, for that matter, to anyone who has seen my own observations on future world oil prices in my recent book Addicted to Oil.
In a crucial report to President George W. Bush by the US Council on Foreign Relations in April 2001, the president was warned that: "As the 21st century opens, the energy sector is in a critical condition. A crisis could erupt at any time . . . Theworld is currently close to utilising all of its available global oil production capacity, raising the chances of an oil supply crisis with more substantial consequences than seen in three decades."
With US oil consumption in 2001 at an all-time high (19.7m b/d), import penetration at 53 per cent, and dependence on Arabian Gulf oil also at an all-time record (14.1 per cent of total US domestic and foreign supplies), the council stated that it was absolutely imperative that "political factors do not block the development of new oil fields in the Gulf" and that "the Department of State, together with the National Security Council" should "develop a strategic plan to encourage reopening to foreign investment in the important states of the Middle East".
But while the council argued that "there is no question that this investment is vitally important to US interests" it also acknowledged that "there is strong opposition to any such opening among key segments of the Saudi and Kuwaiti populations".
However, there was an alternative. In the words of ESA Inc (Boston), the US's leading energy security analysts: "One of the best things for our supply security would be liberate Iraq"; words echoed by William Kristol, the Republican party ideologist, in testimony to the House Subcommittee on the Middle East on May 22 2002 that as far as oil was concerned, "Iraq is more important than Saudi Arabia".
So when, according to the former head of ExxonMobil's Gulf operations, "Iraqi exiles approached us saying, you can have our oil if we can get back in there", the Bush administration decided to use its overwhelming military might to create a pliant - and dependable - oil protectorate in the Middle East and achieve that essential "opening" of the Gulf oilfields.
But in the words of another US oil company executive, "it all turned out a lot more complicated than anyone had expected". Instead of the anticipated post-invasion rapid expansion of Iraqi production (an expectation of an additional 2m b/d entering the world market by now), the continuing violence of the insurgency has prevented Iraqi exports from even recovering to pre-invasion levels.
In short, the US appears to have fought a war for oil in the Middle East, and lost it. The consequences of that defeat are now plain for all to see.
Ian Rutledge, Chesterfield S40 4TR

Published on Monday, April 18, 2005 by
Remembering a Friend Killed in Iraq, Marla Ruzicka
by Kevin Danaher and Medea Benjamin

Just about every day we hear of bombs going off in Iraq, and perhaps we pause for a moment and think what a tragedy it is, and then we go back to our daily routine. But when someone close to you is killed by one of those bombs, the world stops spinning.
On Saturday April 16, our colleague and friend, 28-year-old Marla Ruzicka of Lakeport, California, was killed when a car bomb exploded on the streets of Baghdad. We still donít know the exact details of her death, which makes it all that much harder to deal with the utter shock of losing this bright, shining light whose work focused on trying to bring some compassion into the middle of a war zone.
Marla was working for a humanitarian organization she founded called CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict), which documents cases of innocent civilians hurt by war. Marla and numerous other volunteers would go door-to-door interviewing families who had lost loved ones or had their property destroyed by the fighting. She would then take this information back to Washington and lobby for reparations for these families.
A case in point, taken from Marlaís own journal, as published November 6, 2003 on AlterNet:
ďOn the 24th of October, former teacher Mohammad Kadhum Mansoor, 59, and his wife, Hamdia Radhi Kadhum, 45, were traveling with their three daughters -- Beraa, 21, Fatima, 8, and Ayat, 5 years old -- when they were tragically run over by an American tank.
ďA grenade was thrown at the tank, causing it to loose control and veer onto the highway, over the familyís small Volkswagen. Mohammad and Hamdia were killed instantly, orphaning the three girls in the backseat. The girls survived, but with broken and fractured bodies. We are not sure of Ayatís fate; her backbone is broken.
ďCIVIC staff member Faiz Al Salaam monitors the girlsí condition each day. Nobody in the military or the U.S. Army has visited them, nor has anyone offered to help this very poor family.Ē
Marla first came to the Global Exchange office when she was still in high school in Lakeport. She had heard a talk by one of staff members about Global Exchangeís work building people-to-people ties around the worldóand she wanted to do something to help. She was a quick study and took to the work with a passion and energy that were inspiring to us older activists. She later chose a college (Friends World College) that allowed her to travel to many countries and learn from diverse cultures. She quickly develop ďbig loveĒólove of the human race, in all its joy, frailties and exotic permutations.
Marla worked with AIDS victims in Zimbabwe, refugees in Palestine, campesinos in Nicaragua. Following the US invasion of Afghanistan, Marla traveled to Afghanistan with a Global Exchange delegation and she was so moved by the plight of the civilian victims that she dedicated the rest of her too short life to helping innocent victims of war. She was on a similar mission in Iraq when she met with her untimely death.
Marla was once asked by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter if she would ever consider doing work that was safer. Marla answered: ďTo have a job where you can make things better for people? Thatís a blessing. Why would I do anything else?Ē
We are somewhat consoled by the fact that Marla died doing what she really wanted to do: help people less fortunate than herself. Many of us believe that character trait to be the most beautiful quality a human being can possess. And Marla had an abundance of it.
It is so difficult to think of this lively young woman as not being alive any more. Marla seemed to have one speed: all-ahead-full. She had more courage than most people we know. She loved big challenges and she took them on with a radiant smile that could melt the coldest heart.
One of the things we can do to honor Marla Ruzicka is to carry on her heartfelt work to build a world without hunger, war and needless suffering. And every time we start to get depressed about the state of the world, we should take inspiration from Marlaís boundless energy and throw ourselves back into the work of global justice with the same kind of passion that was Marlaís most endearing quality.
Kevin Danaher, Veteran Human Rights Activist and co-founder of Global Exchange, will discuss long term responses to terrorism and grassroots ways to respond to global economic forces. Medea Benjamin is Founding Director of Global Exchange. For over twenty years, Medea has supported human rights and social justice struggles around the world.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005
Giuliana Sgrena Blasts U.S. Cover Up, Calls for U.S. and Italy to Leave Iraq

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In her most extended interview to date in the U.S., Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena blasts a Pentagon report that clears the U.S. soldiers who opened fire on her car, wounding her and killing one of Italy's highest ranking intelligence officials. Sgrena says, "It is important that the Americans press their government to tell the truth. Because it is in the interest of Americans, the truth. Not only of Italians." [includes rush transcript]
We begin today with the ongoing controversy over the killing of one of Italy's highest-ranking intelligence officials by US soldiers last month in Baghdad. On Monday, a US Army official reported that a military investigation has cleared the soldiers who shot dead Nicola Calipari on March 4 after US troops opened fire on the car that was also carrying Giuliana Sgrena - the Italian journalist who had just been freed from captivity. Sgrena has publicly rejected the U.S. claims that the shooting was justified. The leaking of that report sparked outrage in Italy.
The Italian officials on the US-led commission are reportedly refusing to endorse the U.S. Army's findings. Italy maintains that that car carrying Calipari and Sgrena had been driving slowly, received no warning and that Italy had advised U.S. authorities of their mission to evacuate Sgrena from Iraq.
Yesterday, Giuliana Sgrena blasted the results of the investigation at a press conference in Rome.
ē Giuliana Sgrena, Rome, Italy, April 26, 2005.
The U.S government has said it will not comment on the report until it is officially released. Here is Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chief of Staff, Richard Myers speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon yesterday.
ē Pentagon news conference, April 26, 2005.
Italian judges are conducting a separate investigation into the killing. The report comes at bad time for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who was forced to resign last week in the wake of his center-right coalition's defeat in recent regional elections. The defeat was blamed in a large part on Berlusconi's unpopular decision to send troops to Iraq. He quickly put together a new Cabinet, hoping to cling to power through elections due next spring.
Yesterday I spoke with Giuliana Segrena by telephone from Rome where she is recovering from the injuries she suffered as a result of the shooting.
ē Giuliana Sgrena, she joins us on the line from Rome, Italy.
AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday, Giuliana Sgrena blasted the results of the investigation at a news conference in Rome.
GIULIANA SGRENA: [translated] Sgrena says, ďI didn't have great confidence in this inquiry given the past experiences of similar incidents and inquiries. Obviously, if what leaked today as the result of the inquiry, then itís even worse than what I had anticipated, because earlier the Americans have spoken about a tragic mistake and they had somehow taken on some responsibilities. Now they seem unwilling to accept responsibility,Ē she says.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Giuliana Sgrena. The U.S. government has said it will not comment on the report until it is officially released. This is Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chief of Staff, Richard Myers, speaking at a news conference at the Pentagon yesterday.
DONALD RUMSFELD: My latest information is that they have not come to a final agreement on a joint report, and the -- it will -- whatever is issued will be issued in the period ahead and we'll know when it's issued. It's an investigation. It was done together intimately, and I think that we'll just have to wait and see what they come out with.
RICHARD MYERS: I would say it will most likely be announced in Baghdad. That's the plan right now, when they come to their final conclusions.
REPORTER: Has the report essentially found that American troops will not be punished in this --
RICHARD MYERS: It's not final yet, so we cannot say.
REPORTER: So it hasnít determined whether or not --
RICHARD MYERS: We haven't seen the report. General Casey, heís still got the report.
REPORTER: Is there the possibility it that it might be two separate reports?
RICHARD MYERS: Don't know. We'll have to wait and see, and it will be announced in Baghdad.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Richard Myers, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Meanwhile, Italian judges are conducting a separate investigation into the killing. The report comes at a bad time for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was forced to resign last week in the wake of his center-right coalition's defeat in recent regional elections. The defeat was blamed in large part on Berlusconi's unpopular decision to send troops to Iraq. He quickly put together a new cabinet, hoping to cling to power through elections due next spring.
Yesterday, I spoke with Giuliana Sgrena by telephone from Rome, where she is recovering from the injuries she suffered as a result of the shooting. I began by asking her reaction to the Pentagon report.
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, for the moment we have not an official result of the reports, but we have some rumors about the conclusion of the report, so I am very sad about that because I was Ė is words that I was waiting. I thought that maybe the Americans will spoke of accident or something like that, but now they say that the US military because they have no responsibility for what happened the 4th of March in Baghdad. They say that they respected all the engagement rules, and that is not true, because I was there and I can testify that they just shoot us without any advertising, any intention, any attempt to stop us before. So I think that itís very bad this conclusion because they donít want to assume any responsibility and they donít mind about our testifying, my one and the one of the Italian intelligence agent that these are quite the same. We were there and we are in a position to testify what happened, so itís not true that the Americans say, what the commission say. So we are very afraid, we are very worried about that, and also the Italian government for the moment, they doesnít accept this conclusion, and those of the Italian members that were in the commission, so it is a very bad situation. They wanted to give a strike to the Italian government even if they are allied in the war in Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: Giuliana, the US military says your car was going very fast.
GIULIANA SGRENA: Thatís not true, because we were slow, and we were slowing down, because we have to turn. And before there was some water, so itís not true that the car was going fast.
AMY GOODMAN: They say the soldiers used hand and arm signals, flashed white lights and fired warning shots to get the driver to stop.
GIULIANA SGRENA: No, they didnít. No, no. No light, no air fire, nothing at all. They were beside the road. They were not on the street. They were away ten meters, and they didnít give us any sign that they were there, so we didnít saw them before they started to shoot.
AMY GOODMAN: Did they shoot from the front or from the back?
GIULIANA SGRENA: No, on the back, not on the front. They shot on the back, because Calipari was on the back on the right and he was shot dead immediately, and I was injured on my shoulder, but I was shot by the back. So I am a proof that they were shooting on the back and not in front of the car. We can see by my injured where I was shot.
AMY GOODMAN: Did the Italians do this report with the US military?
GIULIANA SGRENA: There were two Italians in the commission, but they donít accept the conclusion of the commission, so now there is some discussion between the Italian authorities and the American ambassador here in Rome. But the two members of the commission, they donít accept the conclusion of the commission, so there is a problem.
AMY GOODMAN: Did the Italians -- were they able to inspect the car?
GIULIANA SGRENA: No, we are expecting for the car tonight in Rome. We are supposed, the car will be in Rome tonight, and so the judges that they are doing the normal inquiry they can, they could see the car. I hope to see the car also, but we donít know in which condition we will receive the car. And the Italian judges, they donít know also the names of the soldiers that were involved in the shooting.
AMY GOODMAN: The other person in the car.
AMY GOODMAN: Did the two of you testify?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, he did the same testifying as mine, but the American, the commission didnít take in account our testifying. It seems to be like that, because they didnít mention about our testifying.
AMY GOODMAN: After they shot you and killed Calipari, what happened to the other man?
GIULIANA SGRENA: The other man left the car and was shouting that we were Italian and of the embassy, and he was speaking on the telephone with the Italian government. And we have, my husband, for example, he was there listening the call. And at a certain moment the soldiers, they imposed to these agents because these are agents of the Italian intelligence, and they imposed him to cut the call with the weapons.
AMY GOODMAN: Say that again. What did they do?
GIULIANA SGRENA: They stopped him to -- he was talking by telephone with the Italian member of the government. It was Berlusconi there and the -- it was his advisor Letta, there was the chief of the intelligence and also my husband and the director of my newspaper, because they were there waiting for our news of the liberation. And they was talking about the shooting and at a certain moment the soldier, the American soldier stopped him and with the weapon they imposed him to cut the communication.
AMY GOODMAN: And then what happened?
GIULIANA SGRENA: And then what happened I donít know, because I was injured, so they brought me to the hospital, and I donít know what happened to the other man, to the other agent.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you get permission, did Calipari get permission to drive on the road to the airport?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Of course, I was there when they called. They called the Italian, because there is an official that is linked to the Americans. And this Italian general spoke to the Captain Green, that is the American one, telling him that we were on this road and that they were aware that we were on that road. And this happened at least 20-25 minutes before the shooting.
GIULIANA SGRENA: They knew that we were on this road.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you know that they knew?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I know because I was there when the agent called the Italian one, the general that is in charge for the communication with the Americans, and this general did a testifying, telling that he was there with the Captain Green, and Captain Green was immediately informed about our traveling to the airport. And the Captain Green didnít say no, so I think that heís right. And heís a general. I donít think that this general made a wrong, false testifying.
AMY GOODMAN: So youíre saying Calipari spoke to -- this was an Italian or US general?
GIULIANA SGRENA: The Italians, they canít speak to the Americans directly. There is a man, a special man, a general that is in charge for the communication with the American commanders. Itís impossible for an agent, an Italian agent, to speak with the Americans directly. I knew the rules because I was there many times. And I know that every time always in Iraq there is an Italian that is in charge for the communication with the Americans. And in this time, in this moment, was a general that was there speaking with the Commander Green that was the correspondent, American one. So I knew about that. And in all the newspaper, Italian newspaper, was published that. So there is no problem of communication. Commander Green knew about our presence on that road. If he didnít inform the mobile patrol, we donít know. But he knew, the commander, the American commander knew about it.
AMY GOODMAN: And where did the conversation take place? Was it in the Green Zone?
AMY GOODMAN: The one where Calipari talked to the Italian general.
GIULIANA SGRENA: I donít know. I donít know. I donít follow the general, because they are the places in the Green Zone I donít know where, I canít know where are the general. You know is a secret place. Because it is very dangerous in Baghdad, they donít say where they meet.
AMY GOODMAN: Giuliana Sgrena, can you explain the road? This wasnít the regular Baghdad -- the road to the airport that you traveled on? This was a special road?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. It was a special road for people that are working in embassies, or they are Americans, or they are contractors. Special people that go to the airport.
AMY GOODMAN: And did Calipari inform the Americans when he arrived in Iraq what he was doing?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I donít know. This I donít know. I canít testify about it. But I think that the intelligence has the possibility to do -- anyway, he got a badge from the US commanders, because he has to go around with weapons and so. But I didnít know what he told to the Americans he wanted to do. I canít say.
AMY GOODMAN: You mean a badge he got, like permission to go?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. I donít know. To go around in Iraq you need a badge. And Calipari got a badge from the American commanders in the airport. And they knew that he was there with a car, with weapons, and with another agent, and all these kind of things, because if not, he couldnít go around. But what he really said to the Americans, I canít say. I canít know. They are intelligence. They donít say to other people like me what they say, what they are doing. You know?
AMY GOODMAN: Giuliana, did you encounter any other US military on that road before you were shot?
GIULIANA SGRENA: No. No, we didnít.
AMY GOODMAN: And where did Calipari pick you up? How did you get rescued?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I donít know, but I was not -- I was covered.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, do you think that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is doing enough in your case?
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think your prime minister, Berlusconi, is doing enough in your case?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, because I am free. I think that he did before. Now I donít know what he is doing? But before, he did, because I am free now, you know? And I am happy to be free.
AMY GOODMAN: What do think should happen right now, Giuliana Sgrena?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I donít know.
AMY GOODMAN: What are you calling for?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I am calling for the withdrawal of the troops.
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, of course. The Italian troops from Iraq, and also the Americans. But for the moment, as I am Italian, I ask for the withdrawal of the Italian ones. But my situation will be the withdrawal of all the troops from Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you satisfied with Berlusconi saying they will come out by the end of the year?
AMY GOODMAN: Are you satisfied that Berlusconi has said they will pull out the troops by the end of the year?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I am not so sure they will, so before, I want to wait if they will really withdraw all the troops.
AMY GOODMAN: And in terms of your report right now, the US military is saying the Italians donít want to sign off on it. Will the Italian commissioners sign this report?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I donít know. How can I know? I donít know. I canít meet the Italian members. I donít know.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel like a fair investigation has been done?
GIULIANA SGRENA: No, I donít think so.
AMY GOODMAN: Who do you think should be held responsible?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I donít know. I wanted to know, but if there is no further inquiries, itís impossible to know.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, you are calling for the troops to come out. Are you now continuing to write about Iraq? How are you feeling?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Now I am very bad, because my physical situation is very bad, so I canít work for the moment. This is my problem. I am not well, I am very sick. Still I am still very sick, so I canít work for the moment. I am going every day to the hospital. I am very tired, you know?
AMY GOODMAN: Where did the bullet lodge in your body?
GIULIANA SGRENA: The bullet was in the shoulder, but some pieces reached the lung, so I am very, very sick.
AMY GOODMAN: And your time in captivity, do you know who held you? And how were you treated?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I was treated normally, treated from the material point of view. But I was prisoner, so I was without freedom. And this is very terrible. But I didnít know where I was. I was in Baghdad, but I donít know where.
AMY GOODMAN: And do you know who held you?
AMY GOODMAN: We all saw the videotape. What were the circumstances of the videotape?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Of course when you hostages, they tell you what you have to do, what you have to say, you know? But I donít like so much to speak about my period of kidnapping, because I spoke so much about it that every time that I think about that I am so sick. That is bad for my health, you know? I always go back to these things and I prefer it, if possible, donít to speak so much about that, because it is very bad for my health.
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush. Do you have a demand of the US President, the American President?
GIULIANA SGRENA: No. I want only the truth. But they donít seem to be interested to find the truth about what happened in Baghdad that night.
AMY GOODMAN: Will you go back to Iraq?
AMY GOODMAN: What will you do?
AMY GOODMAN: What will you do?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I donít know. For the moment, I donít know. I have to take care of my health, you know? I am very bad -- in very bad situation.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel like there is a cover-up here?
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel like there is a cover-up? Do you feel that the investigation has been covered up?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, of course. They donít want the truth. They donít want to tell the truth.
AMY GOODMAN: What would make them tell the truth?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I donít know. I donít know. I donít really know. Maybe if the Americans, they press the American government to tell the truth. Because, if the Americans, they donít mind; we are small, we are Italians, we are few Italians, what we can do? I think that it is important that the Americans, they press their government to tell the truth, because itís in the interest also of Americans, the truth. Not only of Italians, I think. So if you make actions with press on the government, you, maybe you can do something for us.
AMY GOODMAN: And when you were in Iraq, as a reporter, before you were captured, what do you think was the most important story for us all to understand?
GIULIANA SGRENA: I was looking around to see what the people were thinking about. And overall, I was interested in Fallujah. But when I went to interview some people from Fallujah, I was kidnapped. Some people were not interested in my story about Fallujah, I think.
AMY GOODMAN: What did you have to say about Fallujah? What did you discover?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Just stories. I have not a scoop about Fallujah, just stories.
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you go to Iraq to begin with? It was a dangerous place. You knew that.
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, I knew. But I am a journalist. I went to Somalia. I went to Afghanistan. I went to Algeria. I went every places. And I went to Iraq also. I canít go only where the places are not dangerous. It is our work that is dangerous.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you regret having gone to Iraq?
GIULIANA SGRENA: No, I donít regret.
AMY GOODMAN: And in the car, before you were shot and Calipari was killed, what did he say to you? What did you talk about?
GIULIANA SGRENA: About the liberation, about experiences. About I donít remember, really. I was very happy to be free. But I was happy only for 20 minutes, and then itís finished. And now I am very sad. I am very painful, I am very tired. I am veryÖ
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us.
GIULIANA SGRENA: Okay. Thank you.
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Posted by richard at May 1, 2005 11:05 AM