On This Day — Remembering SISMI General Nicola Calipari (June 23, 1953 – March 4, 2005) [Reading Behind the Black Bars]

“Out of the 30 cars that came to the blocking position, why was this the only car fired upon that night?”

Mel Sembler — US Embassy in Rome (May 5 2005)

March 4 2022 — Nicola Calipari (June 23, 1953 – March 4, 2005) was an Italian major-general and SISMI military intelligence officer. Calipari was killed by American soldiers while escorting a recently released Italian hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena, to Baghdad International Airport. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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During the 1990’s, Nicola Calipari was involved in several rescues of people kidnapped by ‘the Ndrangheta and other criminal organizations.

He had spent most of his career in the Italian police, rising to a senior position, before joining the Italian military Security and Intelligence Service (SISMI) two years before his death.

Calipari is one of only five US or European general officers to be injured or killed during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Diplomatic Row

Calipari’s death sparked one of the most serious diplomatic incidents between U.S. and Italy since the end of World War II.

Other such incidents include the Gladio scandal, the Sigonella crisis, the Cavalese cable car disaster (1998), and the abduction of Islamic cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr (2003).

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Release of classified information in US report

The Multinational Force In Iraq released an official report that was posted on its website.

Classified information (such as the name of the other SISMI agent, the names of the soldiers involved, and coalition troop movements) in the report was redacted but the report was accidentally published in a form that allowed the redacted information to be easily retrieved.

“When the government touts the release of such heavily redacted documents as an act of transparency, leaving us to guess what we might be missing, the question inevitably comes up: Are there ways we can peer behind the black bars? According to a number of researchers, there often are.”

The Declassification Engine: Reading Between the Black Bars

The New Yorker (October 16, 2013)

The report was published in the PDF file format, and the classified sentences were covered by a black bar.

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However, the text below it had not been erased, and was present in the file. A cut-and-paste between Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Word was sufficient to make the lines reappear.

The US report cleared the soldiers of the 69th Infantry of any wrongdoing, claiming the unit followed proper procedures and defending the decision by one soldier, Spc. Mario Lozano, to open fire after flashing a light and firing warning shots.

State Dept and White House reaction to shooting of SISMI General Nicola Calipari 

REFERENCES

Nicola Calipari — Wikipedia

Rescue of Giuliana Sgrena — Wikipedia

WikiLeaks Cable by Mel Sembler — US Embassy in Rome (May 5 2005)

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On This Day — Remembering SISMI General Nicola Calipari (June 23, 1953 – March 4, 2005) [Reading Behind the Black Bars]

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