Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"I'm sure her life isn't like mine"

[posted by Callimachus]


Spc. Mario Lozano of Manhattan remembers the moment in Baghdad that changed his life forever - when, with eyes "the size of apples," he saw a vehicle barreling directly toward him and he opened fire.

"You have a warning line, you have a danger line, and you have a kill line," said Lozano, speaking out for the first time about the March 4, 2005, "friendly fire" incident in which he shot from a Humvee machine-gun turret at the vehicle, hitting an Italian war correspondent and killing an Italian intelligence officer.

The nightmare resumes for Lozano, of New York's Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment, next week - when he'll be tried in absentia by Italian officials on charges of murder.

"Anyone inside 100 meters is already in the danger zone . . . and you gotta take them out," Lozano told The Post from his brother's Chelsea apartment.

"If you hesitate, you come home in a box - and I didn't want to come home in a box. I did what any soldier would do in my position."

The resulting machine-gun burst hit Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been released by kidnappers, in the shoulder and killed Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, who had negotiated her release. The vehicle was racing to catch a plane home to Italy at Baghdad Airport, Lozano said.

Calipari, who had thrown himself atop Sgrena in the back seat, was lauded as a national hero. Thousands attended his funeral. And the Italian government decided to take the unusual step of charging Lozano with "political murder."

Read the whole thing to get the story from the side of the guy who's not raking in money off a book deal and touring the world's best hotels to promote it, telling anyone and everyone Lozano tried to assassinate her. This line -- substitute "Blue America and the Rest of the World" for "Italy" -- could sum up the whole war:

U.S. and Italian versions of the incident might as well be from different galaxies.