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March 07, 2005

THE GIULIANA SGRENA STORY: I keep getting emails from snarky leftists saying that it proves Eason Jordan right. Except that if she were "targeted for assassination" by the U.S. military, she'd be, well, dead, instead of serving as an anti-American celebrity. I suspect that, beyond the accidental parts, this story is about as genuine as the Jenin "massacre." Was it shocking that she was fired at? By her own admission just before it was fired on at the checkpoint the car was going so fast that it nearly lost control. "The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell."

Of course, she also claims that she was fired on by tanks. Amazing that there's anything left. . . One needn't engage in mystery-novel speculation to be suspicious of this story, and I am. As Jeff Goldstein notes:

Who is Giuliana Sgrena that the US would care enough to attempt to assassinate her? A foreign reporter with a well-known leftwing political agenda that would color any story she told anyway? Why is she important? Why would she be targeted? Why?

Why, indeed? One suspects that a lot of people are happy to have a story they can use to take some of the bloom off events in Iraq, regardless of what liberties have to be taken with the truth.

Joe Gandelman has a lengthy and skeptical take, with far more background and context than I've seen in any of the news reports. Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus offers a constructive, non-conspiratorial critique of U.S. roadblock policy.

Meanwhile, here's a less-celebrated Italian hostage. Worth remembering, by way of contrast.

UPDATE: The story's already looking more like Italian ineptitude rather than American conspiracy:

ROME -- Italian agents likely withheld information from U.S. counterparts about a cash-for-freedom deal with gunmen holding an Italian hostage for fear that Americans might block the trade, Italian news reports said yesterday.

The decision by operatives of Italy's SISMI military intelligence service to keep the CIA in the dark about the deal for the release of reporter Giuliana Sgrena, might have "short-circuited" communications with U.S. forces controlling the road from Baghdad to the city's airport, the newspaper La Stampa said.

But it'll get the usual attention from the usual suspects.