That U.S. soldier Mario Lozano killed one of Italy's most valued intelligence agents is a matter of little dispute.
The parties involved in the 2005 shooting agree that Lozano opened fire on a car carrying the agent, Nicola Calipari, as it approached a checkpoint on a darkened road to the Baghdad airport. Calipari was escorting an Italian journalist whom he had just liberated from Iraqi kidnappers.
Beyond those basic facts, there is deep disagreement over what happened that night and, more important, whether anyone should be held accountable.
Italy has charged Lozano with murder. His trial in absentia begins today in a maximum-security courtroom in Rome. Lozano, who holds the rank of specialist in the New York National Guard, has refused to be a part of the proceedings and is not in Italy.
The Pentagon has indicated that it will not make Lozano available and that Italy has no business prosecuting him.
The trial, then, is largely symbolic. But it further inflames irritation between Italy and the United States, one of a number of episodes that have strained relations between the two allies.
To Washington's dismay, Italian judicial officials also have indicted 26 Americans, most of them suspected CIA operatives, in the 2003 abduction of a radical Egyptian cleric. The case helped expose the controversial U.S. practice of extraordinary renditions.
Italy withdrew its troops from Iraq, Italian citizens protested U.S. plans to expand a military base in northern Italy, and the governments exchanged barbs over Rome's willingness to negotiate the release of an Italian journalist kidnapped in Afghanistan, whose freedom was traded for that of five Taliban guerrillas.
The above is from Tracy Wilkinson's "A U.S.-Italy dispute behind murder trial" (Los Angeles Times) and the Times of New York has never been interested in the story. This is the murder that resulted after kidnapped journalist Giuliana Sgrena had been released and was traveling with Calipari and another Italian agent to Baghdad International (having radioed ahead) and their car was shot up by US forces who had been guarded the road for John Negroponte.
The Times of New York has no time for it. It does have time to make like a certain composer who had a revival (of past hits) in the late 90s and acted as though he had no co-writer for the songs everyone remembers. Today they offer "Shiite Cleric Has Six Quit Cabinet in Iraq Shake-Up" and, though it reads remarkably like yesterday's (pulled) offering by Edward Wong and Graham Bowley, it's credited only to Wong in the byline and Bowley doesn't even get a mention in the lengthy "end credits." Consider it a hit from the boxed set entitled The Edward Wong Collection:
Moktada al-Sadr, the rebellious Shiite cleric, withdrew his six ministers from the Iraqi cabinet on Monday, in the first major shake-up of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's government since it was installed a year ago.
Wong gets points for "installed" (truth). Turning to war resisters news, Joan notes Brian Charlton's "Watada's father becomes outspoken critic of Iraq war" (Associated Press) about
Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada:
Since Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada refused to go to Iraq, his father has become an outspoken critic of the war, touring the country to gain support for his son.
Bob Watada, a 67-year-old retired state official, said after his son, Ehren, became the first military officer to face a court-martial for publicly refusing to deploy to Iraq, his life dramatically changed.
He researched events leading up the war, started criticizing the Bush administration on its reasons for invading Iraq, and then traveled across the country for much of the past year with his wife to speak about his son and raise money for legal costs.
"It was because of him that I've gone out and educated myself," said Bob Watada, who served as executive director of Hawai'i's Campaign Spending Commission for a decade. "I've given literally hundreds of speeches. If it wasn't for my son I wouldn't have read all these books."
The soldier's father talked about his anti-war activities at a Society of Professional Journalists regional meeting in Honolulu during the weekend.
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