After Italian intelligence operatives had secured her release from Iraqi insurgents, journalist Giuliana Sgrena was admittedly elated, celebrating her new lease on life after a month-long hostage ordeal.
That was before US soldiers opened fire on the vehicle which carried Sgrena and her rescuers towards the Baghdad airport.
One Italian secret service agent, Nicola Calipari, was killed, while Sgrena and another intelligence official were wounded in the American fusillade.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Pentagon officials said the Italian vehicle had been speeding towards their checkpoint and that the driver had failed to obey US soldiers' signals.
Following her evacuation from Iraq to Italy, veteran reporter Sgrena disputed the American version of events, stating that the vehicle that carried her to freedom was travelling at "regular speed" and that the only "signal" issued by the US troops was a burst of machine gun fire.
Writing in her own newspaper Il Manifesto, Sgrena sparked a flurry of conspiracy theories that quickly circulated around the globe.
She said prior to her release her captors warned her "to be careful, because the Americans don't want you to return" and that she should not reveal her presence to anyone because "the Americans might intervene".
There can be little doubt that the US authorities and the interim Iraqi government would be displeased over the fact that Sgrena's release was secured through a reported ransom payment of $6-8 million.
However, it is unfathomable to think that the Pentagon would have ordered a deliberate assassination of a Western reporter under such high-profile circumstances.
While the idea of the Italian government funding the insurgency and further supporting the new cottage industry of kidnapping runs counter to US policy in Iraq, in this instance the money had apparently already been paid.
In other words, there was nothing to be gained by attacking the Italian rescue vehicle.
And as events have proven, in terms of public relations and international politics, the Americans stood to lose everything by doing so since Italy is one of the few European members of US President George Bush's "coalition of the willing" with a tangible troop commitment of some 3000 soldiers in Iraq.
The attack against Sgrena has only re-ignited the strong anti-war and anti-American sentiments which existed in Italy, and Prime Minister Berlusconi will be hard-pressed by public protests to bring home the Italian contingent.
In anticipation of such a damaging blow, the US neo-cons have gone into full attack mode in a desperate attempt to discredit Sgrena's version of events.
The fact that Il Manifesto is a "communist" newspaper is reported by these Republican Party cheerleaders as though this automatically discredits the source and implies something far more sinister.
One of the most ridiculous spins on the incident is being put forward by none other than David Frum, Bush's former speech writer, who claims credit for coining the phrase "axis of evil".
[Rumsfeld's] policies have already turned all of Iraq into a deadly free-fire zone
Frum's take on the tragedy is that Sgrena's professional negligence (ie getting captured while trying to report an independent perspective on the war in Iraq) led to the unfortunate death of Nicola Calipari, a "heroic" ally of the US.
It also appears to irk Frum that the Italian government "went behind the Americans' backs" to negotiate for Sgrena's successful release.
What Frum and his colleagues fail to accept is the fact that the US has completely lost control of the security situation in Iraq and, as a result, allied governments have no choice but to take matters into their own hands to protect their nationals.
Thus far, after two years of insurgency and violence, the American military has yet to mount a single successful hostage rescue. Even the much publicised commando raid to free Private Jessica Lynch was quickly debunked as an elaborate hoax.
In an effort to cast further suspicion on Sgrena's ordeal, Jim Bartlett, a US historian and military affairs correspondent, is circulating a letter among internet bloggers asking: "What was [the Italians'] hurry?"
However, instead of insinuating something dastardly, Bartlett appears to answer his own question by asking: "After a month in captivity, in the hands of the Iraqi insurgents, [the Italians] were trying to fly her to Rome the same day she was released???"
Having endured my own hostage ordeal for five days last September, I can assure Mr Bartlett and his fellow doubters that despite my injuries and trauma I had no desire to report to the American authorities for a "physical", as he suggests Ms Sgrena should have done. Like her, my only wish was to return home as quickly as possible.
The fact that Il Manifesto is a "communist" newspaper is reported by these Republican party cheerleaders as though this automatically discredits the source and implies something far more sinister
The other "question" raised by Bartlett actually provides the only real insight into this regrettable tragedy. "In all the times that I have been on the Baghdad airport road," writes Bartlett, "I cannot imagine what that [Italian] intelligence officer was thinking taking that road at night."
The reason for this is that, in the wake of recent suicide bombings against coalition forces and Iraqi police, the Americans have once again modified their rules of engagement. All that is necessary now for US troops to legally employ deadly force is that they feel threatened in any given circumstance.
As there are very few foreigners operating outside US protected Green Zones in Iraq and even fewer travelling on the roads at night, international reports of incidents such as the Sgrena shooting have been rare.
However, for local Iraqi citizens, being gunned down by jumpy Americans has become all too common an occurrence.
Although the majority of the victims in these instances are innocent civilians, the killings are categorised as "deaths in combat".
As such, the families of the victims are deprived of any legal claim against the soldiers responsible other than to receive a one-time payment of between $1000 and $2500.
The most ironic thing about those partisan pro-American pundits' statements that challenge Sgrena's story is that the US soldiers unquestionably proved the insurgents' prophecy.
They warned her to be careful of the Americans, and they were right.
Did US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld specifically target a journalist in this instance? Absolutely not. He didn't have to, as his policies have already turned all of Iraq into a deadly free-fire zone.
[Former Canadian soldier Scott Taylor is the editor of Esprit de Corps military magazine and a veteran war correspondent. He has visited Iraq 20 times since August 2000 and is the author of Spinning on the Axis of Evil: America's War against Iraq and Among the Others: Encounters with the Forgotten Turkmen of Iraq. Last September he was held hostage for five days in northern Iraq by Ansar al-Islam Mujahadin]
The opinions expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have the endorsement of Aljazeera.