On Hostage-Taliban Swap, Insight from an Anti-American Paranoid

The Times gets perspective from a Communist reporter selling an anti-American conspiracy theory.

From Ian Fisher's front-page story from Rome is on the controversial swap of Taliban for an Italian hostage in Afghanistan: "An Italian journalist who was held hostage for 15 days by the Taliban in lawless southern Afghanistan was ransomed for five Taliban prisoners, the Italian government and Afghan officials confirmed Wednesday."

But the last five paragraphs are dubiously devoted to the reminiscing of another Italian reporter held hostage in Iraq - one who has a fondness for anti-American paranoia and conspiracy theories.

"A former Italian hostage, Giuliana Sgrena, kidnapped in Baghdad in 2005, said she believed that the Italian government was obligated to do all it could to save a hostage's life. She argued that paying ransom for reporters was a far smaller issue than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"'If there is no war, there will be no hostages,' Ms. Sgrena, also a journalist, said in a telephone interview from New York, where she is promoting a book about her experience.

"(Her own kidnapping is another source of tension between the United States and Italy: an American soldier shot at her car at a roadblock in Baghdad shortly after her release, killing a top Italian intelligence official.)

"She added that, whatever the dangers, it was important for reporters and aid workers to go to places like Iraq or Afghanistan to provide information independent of the governments or groups waging wars there.

"'It's a problem of democracy,' she said. 'If we say we want democracy, democracy is based on information.'"

What the Times doesn't mention:

1) Theshooting was an accident.

2) As Lisa Schiffren reports in the current Weekly Standard, Sgrena worked for the Italian Communist newspaper Il Manifesto. Schiffren went to one of Sgrena's book signings and reports: "After investigating the incident, the U.S. forces reported that the car had been speeding, and sped up further at the roadblock. She says that didn't happen. Sgrena believes that the grunts at the roadblock knew precisely who was in the car and fired because they wanted her dead."

Whatdoes a Communist reporter have to say about democracy, anyway?