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Berlusconi har forsikret at det ikke finnes noen forbindelse mellom Nicola Caliparis død og italiensk nærvær i Irak. Alliansen står fast. Men italienernes oppfatning av amerikanske myndigheter har sunket mange hakk.

Ta bare hva storaviser som La Republicca og Corriere della Sera skriver på lederplass:

«In a condescending tone… America tells us it is ‘sorry’ that Italian investigators refuse to swallow the Pentagon’s version of Nicola Calipari’s murder,» fumed an editorial in La Repubblica, which is close to the left-wing opposition.
The Corriere della Sera, a moderate daily and the country’s largest circulation title, ran a scathing editorial entitled «We don’t like this America», in which it slammed Washington for refusing to accept its «objective responsibility in the unjust death of our agent».

Først kom sorgen over at en vellykket befrielse ble snudd til tragedie. Så fulgte amerikanske myndigheters hvitvasking av affæren. Soldatene som skjøt ble frikjent. Amerikanerne ville ikke høre på hva italienerne hadde å si. I stedet fikk italienerne skylden for å ha kjørt for fort og ikke reagert på advarsler. Dette ble for drøyt. I den hemmeligstemplede delen av den amerikanske rapporten fremgår det at kontrollposten var midlertidig og bemannet av uerfarne soldater.

Italienerne får støtte fra Human Rights Watch som torsdag rettet flengende kritikk mot den amerikanske hæren for ikke å ha gjort noe for å forbedre rutinene ved kontrollposter. Allerede like etter Bagdads fall, påpekte HRW hvordan manglende rutiner førte til unødvendige dødsfall og skader på sivile irakere.

After the fall of Baghdad, Human Rights Watch expressed concern to
U.S. army ground commanders about excessive civilian deaths at
checkpoints. The commanders told Human Rights Watch that they had
identified many problems in their checkpoint procedures and were
taking steps to correct them.

The checkpoint killing of an Italian intelligence officer shows that the army still hasn’t taken basic precautions to protect civilians. On May 2, the Pentagon released a classified investigation into the checkpoint shooting death of Nicola Calipari on March 4.

Rapporten viser at amerikanerne ikke har tatt kritikken til følge, skriver HRW.

Checkpoints in Iraq pose dangers to both soldiers manning them and persons crossing them. The U.S. military calls the type of checkpoint where Calipari was killed a «blocking position.» Blocking positions are checkpoints where military units attempt to turn vehicles away without searching them. According to the U.S. investigation, the military unit in question had been given the Tactical Standing Operating Procedures, but this set of procedures for checkpoints «does not provide guidance on blocking positions.»

«There is no evidence to indicate that the Soldiers were trained to
execute blocking positions before arriving in theater,» the Pentagon
report admitted.

The investigation found that instead of following written guidelines,
the unit used informal procedures that were passed from unit to unit
over time. In fact, according to the investigation, the unit was never trained in the proper procedures to operate a blocking checkpoint.

«Using untrained troops for operations as sensitive as checkpoint duty makes no sense,» said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. «These practices put U.S. soldiers and
Iraqi civilians at risk.»

Ifølge Pentagons egen rapport hadde ikke soldatene på kontrollposten utplassert advarslstegn, eller hindringer som fortalte bilførere hva som var i vente.

Yet according to the U.S. report, on the night that Calipari was killed, the army company operating the checkpoint did not employ signs warning vehicles to slow down, nor had it deployed rubber speed
bumps.

Ødela bevis

I den italienske rapporten fremgår det at amerikanerne ødela bevis, både på åstedet, og selve loggene som soldatene førte.

Of particular concern is the failure by U.S. forces to
preserve and document the site for evidentiary purposes, as well as the U.S. Army’s willful destruction of evidence. Preservation of the
shooting site for photographs and analysis would have helped the U.S.
military better understand the shooting and could have led to better
civilian protections.
Equally disturbing was that U.S. forces manning the checkpoint
destroyed duty logs from the unit that took part in the shooting.

Behandling av sivile

Den manglende oppfølging av enkle tiltak ved kontrollposter, som kunne reddet liv, og hindret soldater i å bli drapsmenn, minner sterkt om laissez-faire, om nonchalanse og likegyldighet. Den samme kynisme som ble lagt for dagen da soldater inviterte «Ali Baba» inn for å plyndre etter 9. april 2003.

NYTimes Bob Herbert hadde en rystende historie om denne mentaliteten. Han fortalte om erfaringene til Alain Delgado, en 23-år gammel diplomatsønn, som tilbrakte åtte år i Egypt og snakker arabisk. Som menig i reserven havnet han i Irak, og det han opplevde at soldatenes behandling av sivile gjorde ham syk i hjertet.

Noe av dette minner om scener fra «Full Metal Jacket»:

He wasn’t happy when, even before his unit left the States, a top officer made wisecracks about the soldiers heading off to Iraq to kill some ragheads and burn some turbans.

«He laughed,» Delgado said, «and everybody in the unit laughed with him.»

The officer’s comment was a harbinger of the gratuitous violence that, according to Delgado, is routinely inflicted by American soldiers on ordinary Iraqis. He said: «Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They’d keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people’s heads.»

He said he had confronted guys who were his friends about this practice. «I said to them: ‘What the hell are you doing? Like, what does this accomplish?’ And they responded just completely openly. They said: ‘Look, I hate being in Iraq. I hate being stuck here. And I hate being surrounded by hajis.»‘

«Haji» is the troops’ term of choice for Iraqis. It’s used the way «gook» or «Charlie» was used in Vietnam.

Delgado said he had witnessed incidents in which an army sergeant lashed a group of children with a steel Humvee antenna, and a Marine corporal planted a vicious kick in the chest of a kid about 6 years old. There were many occasions, he said, when soldiers or marines would yell and curse and point their guns at Iraqis who had done nothing wrong.

He said he believes that the absence of any real understanding of Arab or Muslim culture by most GIs, combined with a lack of proper training and the unrelieved tension of life in a war zone, contributes to levels of fear and rage that lead to frequent instances of unnecessary violence.

Bob Herbert: From ‘gook’ to ‘raghead’

Iraq: U.S. Checkpoints Continue to Kill