Classified report paints grim picture of night Italian agent killed
From Barbara Starr
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A classified version of a U.S. report on the shooting death of an Italian intelligence agent by American troops in Baghdad says that the Iraqi capital was then under a wave of insurgent attacks reaching into the thousands.
It also concludes that U.S. forces were never told that agent Nicola Calipari, 50, was trying to spirit a just-freed Italian hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena, out of Iraq.
The report finds that the U.S. troops who shot and killed Calipari and wounded Sgrena at a checkpoint were operating within their rules and will not face disciplinary action.
Italy released its own report Monday on the March shootings that occurred as Calipari and Sgrena were being driven to Baghdad International Airport. (Full story)
The classified version of the U.S. report appeared on the Internet because of a computer error, officials said. CNN is not reporting any details that would risk the security and privacy of U.S. and Italian personnel, including their names.
The U.S. report paints a grim picture of insurgency in the Iraqi capitol in the months leading up to the March shootings, including details not made public elsewhere.
It said that there were 3,000-plus attacks in Baghdad from November to March, with more than 2,000 directed against U.S. forces.
The airport road is considered one of the most dangerous routes in Iraq and is a frequent site of insurgent attacks.
The report said troops along the airport road encountered varying methods of attack, including explosives set on timers, placed along guard rails or along median strips, and even in animal carcasses.
The U.S. report said no American military personnel were aware the Italians would be traveling on the airport road the night of March 4. But the report described an exchange between a U.S. Army captain and an Italian general to whom he had been assigned as an aide.
It said the Italian general suspected Sgrena was on her way to the airport that night but told his American aide, "It is best if no one knows." The captain took that to be a direct order, the report said.
U.S. investigators said it was difficult to reconstruct the shootings because the scene was not preserved but they said they believe the Italians were traveling about 50 mph when American troops flashed lights and signaled them to stop before 11 shots were fired. The checkpoint was on a curve in the road, which may have been a contributing factor, the report said.
A bullet hit Calipari in the head as he attempted to shield Sgrena. The reporter and another bodyguard, who was driving, were wounded.
Soldiers tried to render medical assistance to Calipari at the scene, but he died within a few minutes, the classified report said. The young soldier who fired the shots apparently became so upset he was relieved of his post so he could "collect himself," the report said.
One indicator of how high tensions may have been running is that soldiers manning the checkpoint had been told to be on the watch for suicide car bombers, one in a black car and another in a white one, the report said.
The soldiers had turned around 15 to 30 cars at the checkpoint that evening, so when the Calipari vehicle approached they believed it was a threat, the report said.
The investigating officer "concluded that the vehicle approaching the checkpoint failed to reduce speed until fired upon," said a statement accompanying the report. "The soldiers manning the checkpoint acted in accordance with the rules of engagement."
Sgrena has said that the car was not speeding. In an article for her paper, Il Manifesto, the reporter contended that the car slowed, and she accused U.S. troops of firing without warning.