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Another whitewash in Iraq?

THE INCIDENT in which Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was wounded and her rescuer, Nicola Calipari, killed (Page A10, March 8) seems to be following a familiar scenario. The US military claims that the car was speeding, warnings were given, and they fired into the engine block to stop it. We are told that nobody knew that Sgrena had been rescued and taken to the airport.

Sgrena, the driver, and a wounded intelligence officer tell a different story. They claim that the appropriate authorities had been notified, that it was raining -- which limited travel on the bad roads to 30 miles per hour; they had passed several checkpoints where they were identified by US military; and that there was no checkpoint when they were shot, about 700 meters from the airport. A bright light was shone on the car, and 400 or more rounds were fired at them. When an investigation was called for by the Italian government, the military has ''lost" the evidence -- the car.

So far, I've heard ''witnesses" trotted out to testify that the Baghdad airport road is very dangerous and used by insurgents, which supposedly excuses our military firing indiscriminately at anything that moves.

The predictable outcome will be that there will be a halfhearted ''investigation" following which a low-level grunt will receive a court-martial or a slap on the wrist. The media will then conveniently forget the whole thing.

Culver City, Calif.

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