The BBC, like many other MSM outfits, has reported very uncritically Giuliana Sgrena’s version of the shooting by American soldiers of the car she was travelling in, in which an Italian secret service agent lost his life, and her claims that the Americans did (or may have done) this deliberately.
(BBC stories: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; claims that the shooting was deliberate here, interview here. Original BBC stories of the kidnapping: 1, 2, 3).
First of all, along with many other media outfits, the BBC virtually never mention the fact that she works for a Communist newspaper Il Manifesto. The BBC merely says in some of its stories that it is left-wing. (The only exception is this story, although it’s otherwise a hagiography).
The BBC has failed to report that in all likelihood her release was paid for by the Italian government – to the tune of £3-4 million, according to The Times, which reports that Giovanni Alemanno, the Italian government’s agriculture minister, saying this was very probable (not that this stopped him saying, according to The Telegraph, that “Italy must defend its honour. We may be trusted allies, but we cannot give the impression of being subordinate”).
This money, of course, will go directly to funding terrorism.
(It hasn’t, of course, been provedthat a payment was made, but then the BBC saw fit to report on Sgrena’s speculations about the motives of the American soldiers without the slightest bit of supporting evidence).
The BBC has never said anything at all about some of suspicions surrounding the kidnapping of various hard-left reporters who were later released. Perhaps there was never anything in these suspicions, but why give Sgrena’s speculations a free run? For example, the BBC says:
Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has said she cannot accept US troops
accidentally fired on her car after her kidnappers freed her in Baghdad.
Ms Sgrena told the BBC Americans guarding Baghdad airport might not have been
informed about her arrival, but their actions could not be excused.
Earlier, she suggested US troops might have deliberately tried to kill her.
A lot of analysis has appeared on Little Green Footballs (LGF posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). LGF points out that:
She doesn’t have any explanation for the fact that she is still alive — because if the soldiers at that checkpoint had really been trying to kill her and her companions, there would be nothing left of her car. Or her.
The BBC reports on the claim that 300-400 rounds had been fired at the car:
Ms Sgrena’s editor, Gabriele Polo, said he was told by Italian officials that
300 to 400 rounds were fired at the car.
(The Guardianalso reports on this claim, although they have Sgrena as saying it).
So we’re supposed to believe that the US were deliberately trying to kill her, and that they fired 300-400 rounds at the car, yet few bullets entered the car, and only one person was killed (by the same bullet that injured Sgrena)? How can the BBC take this seriously? Either this many rounds were not shot, or that they were, but into the engine block in order to stop the car. (The Telegraph reportsthat the Americans say they did fire into the engine block).
(There have been some claims made since that the “300-400 rounds” claim was a mistranslation).
Sgrena’s own story is a little hazy. She initially claimed that the car was not going particularly fast, a claim that was widely reported. Yet now in an interview with her own newspaper Il Manifesto, translated by CNN, she gives the impression that the car was going fast enough they were almost losing control as they swerved to avoid puddles:
The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell.
As LGF say, this was an area they knew to be swarming with American troops, and which Calipari, the dead SS agent, regarded (says the LA Times) as the most dangerous place in Baghdad. Yet it doesn’t sound like they were going at an average speed to me.
The original claimthat they weren’t going “particularly fast” sounds a little fudgy to me anyway – sounds like it means “We were going fast, but not absolutely flat-out top-speed, but I don’t want to admit to that in so many words”.
In fact, the LA Times has her saying that the car “was not going especially fast for a situation of that type”. (The Australian has her saying: “We weren’t going very fast, given the circumstances”). A situation of that type? What type? Getting away from kidnappers? In other words, “We weren’t driving as fast as you might expect given that we getting away from kidnappers, a situation in which most people would drive like a bat out of hell, but we were still going fast by ordinary standards“.
Elsewhere, though, CNN report her saying that “Our car was driving slowly”, and The Australian saysthe claim was that they were going about 40mph. So which is it? Driving slowly, at 40 mph, or not especially fast for a situation of that type, or going fast enough that when swerving to avoid puddles they were almost losing control?
House of Wheels says there are other things in her story that seem inconsistent. It’s hard to know whether this is due to bad reporting and translating, but there’s been no hint from the BBC of these concerns. For example, The Guardian reports that Sgrena said that her car had been through several checkpoints already. Yet here she is reported as saying:
We hadn’t previously encountered any checkpoint and we didn’t understand where the shots came from.
And in some places she says there was absolutely no warning before the shots, and that no lights had been flashed at them, but in other places she says that they was a light flashed into the car beforehand.
For example, she told the BBC
We had no signal. We were just on the way to the airport. They started to shoot at us without any light or signal. There was no block, there was nothing.
And CNN say
in an interview with Italy’s La 7 Television, the 56-year-old journalist said ‘there was no bright light, no signal’.
But in the same CNN report, we get this:
Italian magistrate Franco Ionta said Sgrena reported the incident was not at a checkpoint, but rather that the shots came from ‘a patrol that shot as soon as they lit us up with a spotlight’.
And The Australian reports her as saying:
It wasn’t a checkpoint, but a patrol that opened fire straight after it shone a beacon on us.
Sounds to me like contrary to the impression created originally by Sgrena, and perpetuated by the likes of the BBC (and AP), the Americans did shine a warning beacon. Perhaps they didn’t give enough of a warning, but that’s a different matter to not shining any light at all. (Although given that the area was an incredibly dangerous one where many soldiers have been killed, I wouldn’t blame them for that – in fact, that they left survivors at all is rather extraordinary).
So the communist reporter can’t be said to be a particularly reliable witness. And the BBC has chosen to present a rather one-sided account (just as it did when reporting so credulously on claims that insurgent groups had shot down that Hercules in January, which they’ve admitted todaywas probably not what happened).
Cross-posted at Blithering Bunny.
Update:I thought BBC News 24 had stopped reporting on this story, but they’ve just had another report on the funeral where all the same claims are again made.
Update 2: More from Instapundit, Powerline, Washington Times, The Washington Post (which says this sort of thing is common), Joe Gandleman (who has a lot of links), and The Christian Science Monitor, which reports on the confusion that often surrounds the checkpoints.