May 12, 2004 - Fortuitously,
some would say suspiciously, a grisly video turns up just in time
to dampen the perilous flames of Abu Ghraib scorching the credibility
of Rumsfeld and Bush.
Nicholas Berg -- described as an independent
contractor scouting work on communications towers in war-torn Iraq
-- is brutally decapitated, his body found near a highway overpass
in Baghdad on Saturday, May 8. Three days later a video of Berg's
execution, allegedly entitled "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering
an American," surfaces on an "al Qaeda-linked" web site.
In a matter of hours the depravity of Abu
Ghraib is locked in head-to-head competition for newspaper and television
space with the murder of an innocent American.
"Americans grappled with shocking new images
of horror, from scenes of masked militants beheading a Pennsylvania
man to descriptions of U.S. soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi
prisoners," writes Terence Hunt of the Associated Press. "After days
of issuing apologies, President Bush shifted from defense to offense
with a tough condemnation of terrorists."
Conspicuously ill at ease with the humbling
prospect of assuming responsibility for the torture and mistreatment
of Iraqi detainees (apologizing is not Dubya's forte), Bush grabbed
the bull by the horns and mounted up the presidential saddle to strike
a pose he finds far more to his liking -- that of the global village
sheriff hunting down and smoking out terrorists.
"The actions of the terrorists who executed
this man remind us of the nature of the few people who want to stop
the advance of freedom in Iraq," said Bush from the White House. "Their
intention is to shake our will. Their intention is to shake our confidence.
Yet, by their actions, they remind us of how desperately parts of
the world need free societies and peaceful societies. And we will
complete our mission."
It was a godsend for reactionary radio talkshow
hosts and irate senators weary and angered by all the attention paid
to what they consider the insignificant and wholly-overblown torture
of Iraqis who they believe are criminals, terrorists, and murderers
(even though the military admits many if not most -- possibly 90 percent
-- of the Iraqis detained have done nothing wrong).
"The U.S. government is committed to a very
thorough and robust investigation to get to the bottom of this," Dan
Senor, spokesman for the occupation, promised reporters in Baghdad.
But if the troublesome details surrounding
the Berg case are any indication, the Bushites may want to leave the
story alone and call off the investigation before it turns into another
How is it Nicholas Berg ended up a captive
of -- so were are told -- psychopathic fundamentalist Muslims? Did
he simply walk into a den of vipers or is there something else behind
his abduction and murder?
It is now well established that Berg was in
the custody of either the US military or the Iraqi police (actually
a component of the US military and occupation at this point) prior
to his disappearance and murder. On May 13 CNN reported that Berg
"was detained by Iraqi police at a checkpoint in Mosul on March 24,
under suspicion of possible involvement in illegal or terrorist activities."
Berg aroused sufficient interest that the FBI decided to visit him
several times while he was in jail.
The FBI "met with him on three occasions and
made their own determination that he was not suspected of being involved
in any criminal or terrorist activities. But he was at no time under
the jurisdiction or within the detention of coalition forces," Senor
But why would the FBI consider Berg a terrorist
suspect in the first place?
Is it because his father is not only an outspoken
critic of Bush's invasion and occupation but also because he decided
to sue Donald Rumsfeld for holding his son for nearly two weeks without
charge or allowing him to seek legal representation?
On April 5, the Bergs filed suit in federal
court in Philadelphia, contending that their son was being held illegally
by the US military in Iraq, according to the Associated Press. On
the following day Nick Berg was released from custody. He disappeared
three days later.
"I still hold [Rumsfeld] responsible because
if they had let him ago after a more reasonable amount of time or
if they had given him access to lawyers we could have gotten him out
of there before the hostilities escalated," Michael Berg said in an
interview on Boston's WBUR radio station. "That's really what cost
my son his life was the fact that the U.S. government saw fit to keep
him in custody for 13 days without any of his due process or civil
rights and released him when they were good and ready ... It goes
further than Donald Rumsfeld. It's the whole Patriot Act, it's the
whole feeling of this country that rights don't matter anymore because
there are terrorists about."
But the FBI may have had additional incentive
to single out Nick Berg.
"The FreeRepublic.com web site and forum has
a reputation for right-wing views, fanatical Republicanism and relentless
pro-war activism," writes Fintan Dunne, editor of BreakForNews.com.
"On 7th March, 2004, just three weeks before the first anniversary
of the invasion of Iraq, an 'enemies' list of anti-war groups and
individuals was posted on the Free Republic forum ... It began: 'Here
you are, FReepers. Here is the enemy' ... Among those listed as having
endorsed the call to action was this entry: 'Michael S. Berg, Teacher,
Prometheus Methods Tower Service, Inc.'" Prometheus Methods Tower
Service was the independent communications company owned by Nick Berg.
Michael Berg was his son's business manager.
Is it possible Nick Berg's arrest and detention
was not only ordered by the military but he was also set up to be
brutally murdered? More than a few people seem to think so.
Sam Hamod comments:
"There is [a] strange matter to this situation
that troubles me. Why was Mr. Berg picked up by coalition forces and
imprisoned, so much so that his family sued Donald Rumsfeld for his
release and information on him. The military says it released him,
but suddenly then, he disappeared because when people went to see
him at the hotel he was allegedly registered at, he wasn't there and
no one there knew of him. Very strange point number two is, why was
Mr. Berg in an American issued orange jump suit -- the kind Americans
put prisoners in, when he was photographed and killed? The Iraqis
or other Arabs would have had him in Arab clothing so as not to draw
suspicion to him of his being a prisoner -- not an orange jump suit.
Also, the way the men were standing, and their size, as a person experienced
in the middle east, most Arabs don't stand that way and most Iraqis
are not that tall -- the men stand more like Westerners of some sort,
or even Israelis, but not like Arabs or Iraqis."
Alex Jones of InfoWars.com published several
emails that raised additional questions about the alleged Muslims
-- supposedly connected to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (said to be affiliated
to al-Qaeda, although this allegation is tenuous at best):
"The picture the media is now showing of the
guy the terrorist beheaded as revenge for what went on in the Iraqi
prisons looks odd to me. If you look at the men dressed in black,
they all seem well fed. Actually most look fat. That bothers me, because
these guys are fighting a war and eating on the run. They are constantly
on the move and should be either very fit and trim or scrawny and
malnourished because of the same reasons. One thing they should not
be is fat like couch potatoes. If you look at all of the photos of
the prisoners who were naked who supposedly were just plucked of the
street, most of them are thin."
Another email sent to Jones makes a few trenchant
points concerning the video:
"Tape obviously spliced together and heavily
edited. Goes from a) Berg sitting in chair talking about family, to
b) Berg sitting on floor with hooded "militants" behind, to c) blurry
camera movement, to d) almost motionless Berg on floor as head cut
off ... Audio clearly dubbed in ... "Arab" reader flips through pages
of "statement" and keeps ending up on the same page. Perhaps doesn't
even known enough Arabic to recognize what page he's on? ... "Arabs"
have lily-white hands and (other exposed) skin ... "Arabs" have Western-style
body posture and mannerisms ... When Berg decapitated, there was almost
no blood. If Berg were still alive at this point, with the cut starting
at front of throat, blood would have been spraying everywhere. Berg's
severed head, the floor, Berg's clothes, and even the hand of the
"Arab" who decapitated Berg had no visible blood on it ... Berg's
body didn't move while on the ground. Although held down, Berg would
have tried to instinctively wiggle and writhe away from captor's grip
... Camera angle made it impossible to see if Berg's eyes were even
open ... Alleged "scream" from Berg sounded to be that of a woman
and was clearly dubbed in."
When I first looked at captures from the video
-- I have yet to see the actual video and quite frankly I don't want
to see it -- I noticed immediately a lack of blood coming from Berg's
severed head. This seemed very strange to me, even though I admit
I am hardly an expert on such things -- even so, it makes sense that
a freshly severed head would bleed profusely, as the above comment
points out. I can only assume from the comments of people who have
the stomach to view the video that Berg did not struggle as al-Zarqawi
cut off his head with a knife. If true, none of this makes any sense.
Is it possible Berg was already dead or this may not even be Nick
Berg in the video?
Finally, the blogger xymphora posted an interesting
-- and entirely plausible -- summary of what may have happened to
the hapless Nick Berg:
"Reading between the lines of the many conflicting
reports of the beheading of Nicholas Berg, it appears that he had
been in the control of the U. S. military before his death, possibly
using the Iraqi police as a front. He then mysteriously ended up in
the hands of fundamentalist Iraqi freedom fighters. It is very difficult
to avoid the conclusion that the Pentagon arranged for him to be turned
over to the freedom fighters in order that Berg's inevitable death
could be used to divert attention from the George W. Bush Rape Rooms
and give the knuckle-dragging Americans another reason to think of
Iraqis as sub-human and thus deserving of torture, rape, and murder
at the hands of the Penta-torturers."
I don't necessarily buy into the theory that
the US military, military intelligence, or the Israelis, either on
their own or in cahoots with the above, killed Nick Berg. But I cannot
discount it either, especially considering the repeated and continuous
lies of the Bush administration and the blood-spattered history of
US intelligence, especially the CIA.
I'll end with another quote from Sam Hamod:
"We must also ask the question intelligence
agencies use, 'Who would most benefit from this act?' In this case,
if not Israel, then Bush and America to take the heat off of America
for the brutality of the torture in Iraq and Guantanamo. This terrible
act also took a lot of pressure off the U.S. Thus, it is also possible,
since the killers were hooded, and thus we can't know who they were,
that it could have been American counter-insurgency agents, CIA or
mercenaries who did this heinous at a time when the glare of anger
toward the U.S. was growing in the world. I don't know that this is
true, but having worked in intelligence situations, I know it has
been done in the past."
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