I have now read the report. The parts which were classified relate to American operational procedure in Iraq, so far as I can tell, and since it does not include the annexes which contain the basis for the substantial findings and recommendations, it is difficult to assess its accuracy. The essence of the account is that the driver, Angela Carpani drove towards the road-block, which was in place to prevent access to the road to Baghdad airport so that an unnamed VIP – who I believe was John Negroponte – could travel from the Green Zone to the airport safely, with the intention of getting on to the road to the airport, believing that the warnings given by the soldiers manning the check-point were likely to be an ambush, until the car was fired upon. When the car was fired upon, he swerved, and then stopped.
The report however does confirm that a number of rounds fired by the vehicle manning the road-block entered the car from the back and side. This seems to have been because, when the car was first hit, Carpani swerved, although it does cast some, by no means conclusive, doubt on the claim that the shots were fired with the intention of disabling the car rather than injuring or killing its occupants. The conclusion that these shots entered the car from the back and side because it swerved is, it should be noted however, based on the testimony of those involved, rather than ballistics evidence. This is because of the difficulty of assessing the scene in light of the car and the vehicles manning the road-block having been moved in the aftermath of incident – in order to clear the road and to take Sgrena to hospital – and the danger of insurgent attacks, and problems relating to the incident itself: the road conditions – it was raining – Carpani having swerved and so on. Although the report states that no shots were fired into the car after it had stopped, this is based, in part, on the testimony of the soldiers who would have come under criminal investigation had it been found that the car had been fired on after it had stopped. In fact, all the evidence there is in the report for the car having been first hit in the front – where shots would have disabled the car – rather than the back is that the soldier in question claims that he shot at the front first.
As I have already said, because of this lack of material evidence, it is rather hard to assess the accuracy of the report of the actual incident. However, it seems incredibly unlikely that there was any deliberate attempt to harm Sgrena, if for no other reason than the road-block was only there because of a communication breakdown which meant the unit organising the road-blocks along the whole road was unaware that the road had been used, and the road-blocks were no longer necessary – although now I write that... Additionally, the report claims that no American military personnel were aware of the specifics of Sgrena’s rescue, which largely seems to have been the result of Italian unwillingness to tell them anything about it. The officer liaising with the Italian in overall charge of the operation knew that agents had gone into Baghdad, and had been told not to be surprised were Sgrena to arrive at the airport, but had apparently also been told not to tell anyone about this.
Exactly why this was is not made clear by the report, although the implication is that it was a matter of Italian foolishness, rather than any concern, perhaps with how and by whom the information would be used. There also seems to have been a failure on the part of the Americans to communicate with the Italians. It is not clear, for example, whether any Italian officials were aware that the main road from Baghdad to the airport would likely be used at some time that evening by Negroponte, and hence have access to it closed. Certainly, Carpani and Calipari were not aware, as they had no alternative route planned, despite the fact that Carpani had been working as a driver in Baghdad for some time, and must have been aware that the road was sometimes closed.
In a way more interesting than the substantive conclusions of the report relating to the incident is the information it contains on the number of insurgent attacks in Iraq. In the nine months leading up to the incident, there were 15,257 attacks against Coalition forces in Iraq. In the four and a half months before the 12th of March this year, there were 2400 attacks on Coalition forces in Baghdad alone. 135 of these were on the road between the airport and the city centre. The site of the road-block had, when being used as a check-point, been attacked 13 times, twice with car bombs, in that time period. The insurgency is clearly dying down then. It may also be worth noting that all of those manning the road-block were members of the National Guard, rather than full-time soldiers.
Update: the Today Programme had as one of its leads today that the Italian report into the incident has been published, and it disputes the conclusions of the American report. The BBC website has a round-up of it here. I may try and get the better half to translate it, but she, as I am, is rather busy with finals, and 52 pages of translation may be a bit much.