Berlusconi: U.S. Given Advance Notice of Sgrena Rescue
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says the intelligence agent shot dead by the U.S. military told them he would be escorting a newly released hostage to the airport — contrary to U.S. claims. Another Italian attache, who was at the Baghdad airport, also told U.S. military personnel the car carrying agent Nicola Calipari and journalist Giuliana Sgrena was on its way to the airport March 4 before the shooting occurred, Berlusconi told the Italian senate on Wednesday.
It’s quite possible that Calipari notified someone and word never made it through the chain of command. Of course, it’s also quite possible that he never got around to telling anyone.
On Tuesday, the top U.S. general in Iraq, Army Gen. George Casey, said he had no indication that Italian officials gave advance notice of the route the car was traveling.
I listened to the press conference via CSPAN radio last night and he basically refused to answer any question related to the details. He ducked that question entirely.
Update: My impression may have been faulty. See below.
From the DoD Transcript:
Q: Because the Italians have indicated that there was communication. I was just asking if there was any preliminary indication that —
GEN. CASEY: Yeah. I have no preliminary indication that that’s true.
Q So your current information, understanding it’s under investigation, understanding it’s a first report and it could change, with all of those caveats, at this point what you are saying, if I understand you correctly, is you have no information that any Italian authorities communicated with the United States about that travel that night.
GEN. CASEY: I, George Casey, have no information — (laughter) — about that.
Q Well, I’m just trying to be very (clear ?) because, as everyone has said, the Italian government has said that they did.
GEN. CASEY: Right. And I’m saying I personally have no information that that is the case. Okay?
Q Would it have come to you if there was information? Would you know?
GEN. CASEY: I would hope so.
My impression on hearing this was a deflection of the question. On reading it, though, it does sound like he’s saying that he has no reason to believe that there was any such communication.