buddy of mine came up with what might be the best
line in this very weird election year: "George
Bush: he keeps his head when others are losing
course it's sick. All the very best political
finally did watch the videotape of the decapitation
of Nicholas Berg. It didn't start out real high
on my list of fun things to do in my spare time,
but as the questions mounted about the exact circumstances
under which the events portrayed in that videotape
occurred, I finally decided I just had to see
tape is of poor quality, and the events it claims
to depict are certainly lurid enough -- a living
man has his head sawn off, film at eleven.
naturally, the conspiracy theorists are having
a field day. The most popular theory is that Berg
was killed in Abu Ghraib, and that his executioners
find that unlikely.
having seen the tape, and having read dozens of
often-contradictory accounts of the events that
led up to Berg's death, there are two things I'm
reasonably sure of. First, that video did not
show a living man getting his head sawn off, and
second, that the whole series of stories leading
up to that video is riddled with inconsistencies
and unlikely circumstances.
the tape itself. Much has been made of the white
plastic lawn chair and the revolting yellow cement
wall that appears behind Berg in the video. Lawn
chairs of that description can be found in Abu
Ghraib, as can that sickly yellow wall. Of course,
chances are good you can find both in your own
neighborhood, possibly in your own house. One
of the terrorists is wearing sneakers, supposedly
(I can't tell for sure), but as with the chair
and the institutional paint job, both are fairly
common in Iraq.
disturbing element, though: Berg is dressed in
an orange prison jumpsuit. There is no record
of terrorists ever dressing their captives in
orange prison jumpsuits. Indeed, the only people
in Iraq who do so are the Americans.
for the "killing" itself, I believe the body was
already dead when the decapitation began. The
hooded man begins sawing from underneath, and
since the body was lying prone on its stomach
at the time, this mean the man was sawing through
the carotid artery. In a living person, this would
result in blood jetting out as far as twenty feet.
Between the camera angle and the poor quality
of the tape, it's possible that there was profuse
bleeding, and it simply wasn't visible on the
dark floor, but moments later the head is held
aloft, and there is no blood dripping from it.
The body was essentially motionless as the sawing
began, except for one guy "holding it down" although
in reality, it looked to me as if he was pulling
on the shoulders in order to make it look as if
the body yet retained some life. Only the parts
by his hands moved. The rest was still.
"Kill Bill" had been produced by Ed Wood instead
of Quentin Tarentino, this might have been the
had been planning to say that the only things
we knew for sure were that Berg had been killed,
and that his decapitated body was found on an
overpass in Baghdad on Saturday, May 8th. Except
that second part is open for conjecture. In its
initial report to AP, the HQ said only that the
body "showed signs of trauma". Under the circumstances,
that description is a mastery of understatement.
Hannibal Lecter's victims showed signs of trauma,
too. No autopsy, body cremated. So we'll never
know for sure how Berg died, or what we're actually
seeing on that tape.
the events surrounding the tape seem strange,
the contradictions and improbabilities leading
up to his supposed capture are simply mindboggling.
went over to Iraq in mid December, 2003, apparently
to see if there was money to be made building
radio towers and other electronic infrastructure.
He returned stateside February 1st, but then returned
to Iraq in March. He was planning to return home
again on March 30th, since contract work in Iraq,
where the resistance had reduced the planned 25,000
construction projects to less than 500, was scarce,
and increasingly dangerous. However, he was supposedly
arrested by Iraq police (US Toadies, Inc) and
tossed in jail sometime after March 23rd. AP reported
that "U.S. officials insist Berg was arrested
by Iraqi police for involvement in suspicious
activities.' The Mosul police chief has denied
that. An April 1 e-mail from a U.S. consular official
in Iraq, provided by Berg's family, said he was
being detained by the U.S. military." Off the
record, some officials claimed that he might have
been arrested by the Iraqi police because he was
Jewish, and had had his passport stamped in Israel,
where, it's reported, he went to learn to speak
Arabic. The Iraqi police still deny having arrested
and held him, incidently, and the military now
claims their report that they held him was in
error. It's worth noting that Berg's parents are
strongly of the opinion that the Iraqi police,
puppets of the American regime in Iraq, would
never have held any American, Jewish or not, for
ten days without the knowledge and consent of
the American authorities there. Coalition spokesman
in Iraq, Dan Senor, has stated that the FBI visited
Berg three separate times while he was in the
Iraqi police jail, so it seems likely that a)
the Iraqi police did hold him, and b) the American
government knew about it.
the Iraqis thought he was an Israeli spy, there
were at least items they could point to that would
foster that suspicion. The guy was Jewish, and
had prepared for his trip to Iraq with a stop
in Israel, supposedly to learn Arabic. It wouldn't
take excessive levels of paranoia to conclude
he might be an Israeli spy.
was the American suspicion that he might be an
al-Qaida operative. Initially it was reported
that he was questioned in 2002 because Zacarias
Moussaoui was in possession of his password to
a college email account. Later the story was changed
to read, "an e-mail address traced to him [...]
was used by an acquaintance of terrorism suspect
Zacarias Moussaoui." Odd as it may seem, the FBI
concluded that this wasn't enough evidence to
throw Berg's ass in jail forever or until he got
a trial, whichever was longer.
knows why he was detained, but he was detained,
and the Americans knew about it and approved.
He was released on the 6th, and was last seen
on the 7th, when he was planning to get out of
Iraq any way he could.
was the last anyone saw of him until his body
turned up on that overpass. And the video didn't
come out for a day or two after that.
parents filed suit for his release, and while
it's unlikely the suit had anything to do with
it, he was released on April 6th. By then, Iraq
had blown sky high, and it was dangerous for Americans
to wander the streets of Baghdad. Hell, it was
dangerous for MARINES to wander the streets of
Baghdad in Humvees.
called his folks, told them he was coming home
-- and that was the last anyone saw of him alive.
how he wound up in the hands of al Qaida terrorists
is perhaps the biggest mystery of all. In order
to accept the story given, we have to assume that
Nicholas Berg, an American Jew, was wandering
the streets unescorted in an orange prison jumpsuit,
but still carrying his passport, complete with
if that was me, I think I might be feeling a little
bit exposed, doing that. Since there isn't anything
beyond the description of him as "an idealistic
Bush supporter" to suggest severe mental illness,
it seems likely that Berg would not be wandering
the streets of Baghdad, walking and looking American,
wearing an orange jump suit, and carrying a passport
that made it clear to anyone reading it that he
was Jewish. Do orange jumpsuits even have pockets?
If not, where exactly did he keep his passport?
don't dress their captives up in orange jumpsuits.
That's strictly an American custom, and in Iraq,
prisoners get to wear an orange jumpsuit if they're
lucky, and they don't catch the interest of the
American squad slut at the local prison.
is why the fact that he was dressed in such an
outfit strikes me as disturbing.
have the Americans and Iraqis both simultaneously
denying and confirming that they held him in custody,
with each saying the other had him. He is released,
and then somehow ends up in the clutches of al
Qaida, still wearing the orange jumpsuit. OK,
maybe he just liked the color orange and didn't
mind attracting stares in a land largely devoted
to killing American, Jews, and Bush supporters.
Talk about your "three strikes law!"
was announced within three days of the release
of the tape that the leader of the group was Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi. The conspiracy buffs made much
of the fact that al-Zarqawi was either a) missing
a leg since 2002 or b) dead since 2003 or c) both,
but what caught my attention was the speed with
which they confirmed the identity of a man wearing
a hood and loose clothing and not speaking in
his usual voice. (I don't think he was; the quality
of the tape was such that it was hard to tell
what species were making those sounds). Remember,
this is the same intelligence outfit that needs
three weeks to confirm that a higher-quality tape
was made by an undisguised Osama bin Laden. Seems
easy enough: six-foot-six, 130 pounds, check.
Distinctive voice, check. Unmistakable face, check.
OK, we'll run it through the computers and get
back to you in three weeks.
yet they could identify the masked man as Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi in three days. Amazing.
Americans "let him be captured" by al Qaida in
the hopes they would pull an atrocity and hopefully
galvanize public opinion back to the administration's
side? Certainly the timing was good.
you think people aren't capable of that sort of
savagery, reflect on this: some dirtbag disc jockey,
a really low piece of shit, referred to Berg's
father as a "scumbag" on the air the other day.
Berg's crime? Criticizing Putsch. Nothing more
than that. So yes, the right wing is savage enough
to attack a grieving father.
a world where the Putsch administration is pushing
everyone to "fight the evildoers," strange things
are happening. Our once-proud military have been
transformed into sadistic prison screws, and once
honorable Americans are swearing that torture
and mass killing is necessary to fight terrorism.
Macedonia deserves special mention: they were
under severe pressure from the Putsch junta to
join the fight against terrorism in 2002, but
lacked the resources to make any real contribution.
The Putsch junta was waving large amounts of economic
incentives under their noses if they would stage
something to show they had joined the fight against
terrorism (yes, the US was bribing people to fight
terror just a year after 9/11, incredible as that
seems). In September of 2003, Macedonia grandly
announced that troops had corned seven members
of al Qaida in the hills and, in a fierce firefight,
had killed all of them.
popped up almost immediately. The Macedonian government
was booted out of office in February, and the
new center/left government promised a fair and
open investigation. The result: the seven "al
Qaida cell members" were just some poor yokels
the government lured to the mountains and then
shot, so they could present America with evidence
they were allies in the fight against evildoers
and reap great prizes as a result.
not known at this point if they got those economic
benefits or not.
I said, I don't believe Americans mutilated Nicholas
Berg's body in Abu Ghraib.
I do believe they turned him loose where al Qaida
could grab him in the hopes that his inevitable
death would give Putsch a bounce in the polls.
I ever meet that lowlife disc jockey, I can point
to the White House and give him a demonstration
of what a real scumbag is.
Posted: May 19, 2004