Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 8, 2005

Coyote Blog disproves Giuliana Sgrena

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:00 pm

Giuliana Sgrena is an journalist who writes for a communist newspaper in Italy. She was kidnapped in Iraq, then freed somehow, then the car that was carrying her to safety (apparently) attempted to run a U.S. checkpoint. Soldiers (apparently) fired on the car, and the driver was killed. One version of the story is here.

Sgrena has claimed that U.S. forces deliberately targeted her, a claim which White House press secretary Scott McClellan called “just absurd.”

I don’t know how you prove something like that either way, but the same does not hold of one of Sgrena’s other claims: that U.S. troops fired 300-400 shots into her car at the checkpoint.

Coyote Blog has pictures of the car and a brief analysis. The car is in pristine shape, with no front-end or side damage, and only one bullet hole. There’s no way any human shooter could shoot 300-400 bullets through a single bullet hole. It’s likewise inconceivable that they could have completely missed the car with 299-399 bullets, at the short distance they’d be from the car as it attempted to run through to checkpoint. (Trust me on this one — I have very limited shooting experience, and I can hit targets a lot smaller than a car. Surely even minimally-trained soldiers would do even better.)

As Coyote points out:

Look, here is some advice. Take it from the CBS memo forgers. If you are going to make something up, know your subject. If you are going to forge a memo from a typewriter, make sure you know how typewriters worked. And if you are going to exaggerate a story about military weapons, make sure you understand weapons. Rounds entering the car would not build up in a pile on the floor so that she could scoop them up – they would have embedded in things. And, if enough rounds were fired that they started building up on the floor, then no one would be alive to scoop them up.

4 Responses to “Coyote Blog disproves Giuliana Sgrena”

  1. Ben Says:

    There are some great pictures here: http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/070580.php

    There is simply no way that the Sgrena’s story is true as the car is largely intact save for a few bullet holes. Apparently she has also said “tanks started to strike against us”. Sorry, no way. If a tank had landed a single round anywhere close to the car it would be decimated.

    Sgrena thought that she could get away with making unsubstantiated — and impossible to believe — statements. As every MSM article I have seen reports her version(s) as the gospel truth, she would have succeeded had it not been for bloggers.

  2. romy Says:

    while i agree that her claims are difficult to believe at best, i’d like to suggest a bit of compassion for this woman who was, quand même, held hostage for over a month and, on her release, shot at by forces supposedly on her side. and i suggest that in the shock of the moment, a single bullet could feel like 400 as it pierces your body just on the way to freedom. obviously there was more than one bullet flying around that car, unless you’re suggesting the soldiers who accidentally shot at her car were sharpshooters. in which case i wonder why they were sharpshooting her car.

    i’m not saying i endorse her representation of the events, and i am truly saddened by the way the story has aggravated anti-american sentiment in italy and europe, but saying that bloogers have “proven” anything about the incident falls somewhat short of a logical deduction.

  3. Different River Says:

    Follow Ben’s link in the first comment. Yes, it turns out more than one bullet hit the car. The pictures show at least three — one in the lower part of the windshield, one in the left front tire, and one in the border betweeen the windshield at the metal part between the windshield and the driver’s side door. There is also a bullet hole in the diver’s side headrest, but it’s unclear whether that’s a fourth bullet, or second hole from one of the other three.

    The soldiers were manning a security checkpoint at the entrance to teh Baghdad airport, and they were shooting into the engine block to try to stop the car as it raced toward them after they’d signalled the driver to stop. (No doubt they feared the as-yet inidentified car contained yet another suicide bomber or some such.) The grillework of the car is hard to see in the photoes, but there is no visible damage — however, the gaps in the grille are large enough that there bullets could have entered the engine block without leaving damage visible in those not-particularly-close-up photos.

    Also, House of Wheels has, for comparison, some photos of an armored car that was hit by 36 bullets. There is much more damage to the armored car hit by 36 bullets than to Sgrena’s non-armored car allegedly hit by 300-400.

    Romy: Yes, I agree that “in the shock of the moment, a single bullet could feel like 400 as it pierces your body.” However, Sgrena is a journalist, and journalists are (at least in theory) supposed to be specialists in reporting the truth. If she wanted to tell the truth and still convey the fear she felt, should could have said, “it felt like I was hit by 400 bullets.” But she didn’t say that; she said they fired 400 bullets. Those are two very different statements. The first may well be true, and being a statement of her feelings is certainly beyond disproof. The second is demonstrably false, and has been so demonstrated by several bloggers on the basis of photos released by Italian RAI TG1 national television and distributed by AP. (See also here and here.)

    Sgrena is surely worthy of our sympathy for having suffered for a month as a hostage, and for having been wounded in this incident, even if it was a mistake for which her driver was responsible. Althought this does not change with her subsequent statements, it is harder for me to feel that sympathy when she seems to be using this chain of events to make political points beneficial to her captors.

  4. Ben Says:

    Compassion for Sgrena is not a factor here. Here are the facts: her entire story — from her capture to her release, to the car being fired upon — reeks. It is possible neither to dismiss the inconsistencies in the several recountings of the entire episode nor to ignore the factual impossibilities they contain.

    As to Romy’s comment itself: the soldiers did not accidentally shoot at her car. They purposely targeted it. The only relevant questions concern the topic of how and why her car came to be targeted. Perhaps it was being driven erratically, as reports describe the car driving so fast so as to be almost out of control. Perhaps the driver was so euphoric at Sgrena’s safety that he got tunnel vision and did not see the soldiers waving lights or shooting warning shots. One thing is clear, only a few shots actually pierced the car. To suggest otherwise is embellishing the facts; given Sgrena’s sentiments about the US armed forces it should come as no surprise that she would “remember” events that made the soldiers out to be inconsiderate, bloody murderers.

    Finally, I did not suggest that bloggers have proven anything. I merely pointed out that the MSM has fallen all over itself to presume that Sgrena’s version(s) of events is the correct one. If you have a link to any MSM story that reports the episode in way that gives the US Army the benefit of the doubt I would really like to see it.

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