Thursday, September 1, 2005


Calipari case - the word was to beware of the Americans

The Italian newspaper, l’Unità, has published a preview of a book that will be distributed with the paper on 3 September. Here is the article in l’Unità online version of 30 August by Vincenzo Vasile, translated by Mary Rizzo.

Calipari’s team: “The password was: beware of the Americans”

by Vincenzo Vasile

How did Nicola Calipari spend the last hours of his life? “In reality, in the last days of the negotiations the most worrying news came from Baghdad and was concerned with the contingent of the American Army, defined as being very dangerous: it seems that they caused seven deaths in four days, they were people with the itchy trigger finger. The password was: beware of the Americans!” Thus is written by “Nicola’s team”, that is, the functionaries and the agents of the SISMI (Italian Military Intelligence) who had worked by his side up until the tragic conclusion of the “negotiation” for freeing Giuliana Sgrena. The text which has been written by the colleagues of Nicola is contained in the book Nicola Calipari, Killed by Friendly Fire, that will be in the newsstands together with l’Unita next Saturday 3 September. It is an important document, written by a group of functionaries whose relationship with their “boss”, who was sacrificed by “friendly fire”. This groups has been nicknamed collectively in the military intelligence milieus as “the Caliparians”.

They, the Caliparians, have very clear ideas as to what took place that tragic evening of 4 March. The forcefully contest the thesis, transfused in the rapport by the Americans that had put the gravestone on the Inquiry Commission, according to who’s conclusions the killing of Calipari was originated by presumed “imprudence” of the Italian agents, and of the victim himself. On the other hand, it is well known what that commission which had been propagandised by Berlusconi as heaven knows what kind of result of his personal good relationship with his “friend George” was meant in its original set-up. Precisely to verify the “fault” of the Italian officials. While that alarm – Beware of the Americans! - that had been circulating amongst our military personnel in the days of the waiting for the liberation of Giuliana Sgrena tells us much about the paradoxical and tragic situation in which the Italian “mission” operates: promoted as a “Peace Mission” in a bloody theatre of war, where it is easy to find oneself in the wrong place at the wrong time precisely because that mission is wrong – just as that war is profoundly, tragically wrong.

The colleagues of “Nicola’s team” have given us their testimony even in an unpublished freeze frame of their boss in action at Baghdad on the vigil of the shooting at the checkpoint: “The last hours were lived under a stress and enormous pressure which is extremely hard to tolerate: Nicola ended up shouting into the telephone, actually losing his patience (…) he unhooked the cellular phone, made fundamental and extremely delicate decisions autonomously, shared only with those who had been beside him in that moment”.

Pressures? From whom and regarding what? Who was Nicola Calipari speaking with on the telephone in those agitated hours that preceded the release? And why did Calipari have to, or prefer to, following those conversations, make his technical and operative decisions on the modality of the liberation of Giuliana Sgrena in “autonomy”, that is – and we translate the term they used – in perfect solitude? Six months later, it is too easy to attribute the shooting as another in a long series of friendly fire shootings against Italian Military Police, which took place the other day on the same road to the airport, in the climate of suspicion and reciprocal diffidence that reigns in the Iraqi territory among military units who on paper should be “allies”.

This time the targets are other servants of the State forced to proceed, to make daily decisions in “autonomous” solitude, in the ambiguous and botched context of a “mission” which lacks any other purpose than that which is linked to the miserable interests of granting international legitimacy to the government and its Prime Minister, just as today it remains entrusted to the downward spiral of a destiny of a hasty withdrawal (see Fabio Mini, Even Escape is an Art), but even to dose out as needed with the elections on the horizon. And it is too easy to connect this latest static between our soldiers and the American ones with the latest declarations of the ambiguous and emblematic protagonist of the Italians in Baghdad, who responds to the name of the former Extraordinary Commissioner of the Red Cross, Maurizio Scelli, of whom it is known that there is a spiny “competition” undertaken with the men of the SISMI precisely in the matter of the release of the hostages.

The Calipari case offers us, therefore, the possibility to examine as if in a microscope an event that occurs once again, and expectedly, will continue to mark the chronicles of our contingent in Iraq. An event without justice and without truth. It is only by chance, that is, by the initiative of a computer aficionado that diffused in clear text the parts of the rapport of the Americans that had been cancelled, that we know, for example, the names of the soldiers of the mobile checkpoint who shot at the Toyota Corolla of the Italians.

But it is like looking for a needle in a haystack of thousands of “Mr Jones” or of “John Smith”. The American authorities refuse, in fact, to provide the compete identities to the Italian judges who – if things continue to drag on as they are, without a sign of dignity from the Italian government – are forced to accept the untruthful thesis of the commission, and risks to have to come to a conclusion with a the terrible prospect of being archived, even after having reconstructed the scene with the help of new expertise in order to arrive at the truth of the dramatic sequence of the facts as they unfolded.

In our volume, we will publish ample excerpts of two dossiers, the Italian one and the American one, together with an essay by Senator Massimo Brutti which analyses the contradictions and the lies of the US document. From these texts one gathers that justice and truth have been profoundly wounded that evening at checkpoint BP 541. So that they do not become lesions that are irredeemably mortal, it is worthwhile to see what the widow of Calipari, Rosa has written in the introduction of our book. “It is not possible to have peace if there is no justice”.


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