Thursday, May 13, 2004

Avert Your Eyes
I watched the video of the 'beheading' of Nick Berg and was going to post on this yesterday but I had wanted to re-examine the video and bring the stills into Photoshop to examine them at higher resolution. Today, I found this From Hesiod at Counterspin Central:
INK MORE BERG MAN: Some thoughts...

I thought it was extremely odd that there was very little blood when Berg's head was cut off in the terrorist snuff video.

Frankly, there should have been blood all over the damn place given that they were cutting through some major arteries.

Unless, of course, he was already dead when they cut his head off.

The weird editing of the video may allow that he was killed first, then decapitated afterwards.
Many have viewed the video and found it gruesome, not for the squeamish, etc. - I found it ...hokey for lack of a better term at the moment. Berg who was in the center of the frame is dragged to the side and is totally out of frame on many occasions with a considerable amount of movement/chaos on the part of the captors. It's not clear why there is all the activity on their part as Mr. Berg who is apparently in the process of having his throat slit and being decapitated, is completely motionless ... no sign of struggle whatsoever. As Hesiod points out there is also little sign of blood, no arterial spurting, no blood dripping from the severed head. In a past life I've had occasion to witness the result of throat-slitting and decapitation in the processing of crimes scenes (no CSI is not reality TV); the effects are not pretty and they are certainly not bloodless. There is little doubt as to whether Mr. Berg was decapitated but it is questionable as to whether that was a pre-mortem or post-mortem act. Of course, a forensic pathologist would be able to determine that though it's not likely we'll be hearing about that autopsy. On the other hand, if the video was the result of creative editing,the CIA should know:
Through a technical analysis, intelligence officials were able to determine 'with high probability' that the speaker on a video showing Berg's beheading was al-Zarqawi, said a CIA official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The same person is shown decapitating Berg, the official said.

There are so many unanswered questions surrounding this young man's death and the final weeks of his life. Was he being held by our government? The government denies the claim.
'They can detain him and deny him his basic civil rights of a lawyer, a phone call or even a charge for 13 days, but they can't get him' on a plane, David Berg said.

Apparently in a response to the accusations that the actions of the military in Iraq exposed their son to worsening danger, the F.B.I. released a statement saying that Nicholas Berg had not heeded warnings and that he had declined assistance in leaving Iraq.

The conflicting accounts continued to swirl around Mr. Berg's detention and release. In Baghdad, a senior adviser for the Coalition Provisional Authority, Dan Senor, repeated that Mr. Berg had never been in military custody.

'My understanding,' Mr. Senor said of the Iraqi police, 'is that they suspected that he was involved/engaged in suspicious activities. U.S. authorities were notified. The F.B.I. visited with Mr. Berg on three occasions when he was in Iraqi police detention and determined that he was not involved with any criminal or terrorist activities. Mr. Berg was released on April 6, and it is my understanding he was advised to leave the country.'[Nitpicker emphasis]
However, the following would suggest otherwise:
U.S. government officials have said Berg, who was found dead last weekend in Baghdad, was detained by Iraqi police and was never in the custody of American forces.

He is believed to have been kidnapped within days of his release by either Iraqi police or coalition forces, and later beheaded by militants who videotaped the slaying.

To back its claims that Berg was in U.S. custody, the family showed The Associated Press an April 1 e-mail from Beth A. Payne, the U.S. consular officer in Iraq.

'I have confirmed that your son, Nick, is being detained by the U.S. military in Mosul. He is safe. He was picked up approximately one week ago. We will try to obtain additional information regarding his detention and a contact person you can communicate with directly,' the e-mail said.

In two e-mails later that day, Payne wrote that she was still trying to find a local contact for the family.[Nitpicker emphasis]
I won't hazard a guess as to the 'whys' of all the apparent discrepancies but clearly there's a lot more here. Put aside whether or not you think the CIA could make a conclusive determination regarding identification of al-Zarqawi from the audio of the tape, if he wanted to make a statement, (it's clear his identity is already well known) - why the mask for him? Just saying ... bin Laden doesn't disguise himself in his videos ...developing.


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