07 March 2005

Speeding through Baghdad

"An Italian Intelligence officer was gunned down by Americans as he was escorting a newly freed Italian journalist, who had been held hostage in Iraq," say the meadia lead-in lines. The journalist, who was wounded in the encounter, implied that the Americans fired on her because America opposes paying ransom to terrorists.

Now lets see... The officer and journalist were driving through Baghdad at high speed at night. The Italian's car approached an American checkpoint at high speed, and tried to charge through it (presumably to preserve the secrecy of their mission, which had not been coordinated with the Americans). The driver disobeyed signals and other warnings to stop. The American soldiers had standing orders to fire at the wheels and engine of any car that tried to charge their checkpoint. If that failed to stop it, they had standing orders to fire at the driver. Now why would that be so?

Because they have had plenty of VBIEDs (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices) driven at them, already. It's one thing to see the daily death toll that is the price of fighting an insurgency. It was quite another to talk with a young officer who was back in the States to get shrapnel from an IED removed from his knee.

So now we know that it is dangerous to drive a car at high speed at people who are armed and jumpy. This isn't rocket science, folks.

The Americans should apologize, of course, for this tragedy. But both the Americans and the Italians should try not to let it happen again.

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