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May 14, 2004

Scripting the execution of Nicholas Berg

“My name is Nick Berg. My father’s name is Michael. My mother’s name is Suzanne. I have a brother and sister, David and Sara.”

Shortly after uttering those words, Nicholas Berg, a 26-year-old American civilian, bound hand and foot, was thrown to the ground and his head slashed off by Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi and his pack of masked al-Qa'ida dogs.

Aside from sanctioning the barbaric slaughter of innocent civilians, the god of our enemy apparently approves of snuff films, too. What else to make of this latest video testament to murderous depravity entitled “Sheikh Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi Slaughters an American Infidel With his Own Hands and Threatens Bush With More,” in which Islamist executioners are heard triumphantly shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (praise god) over the screams of a dying Nick Berg. The butchers then declare, predictably, that the execution was in retaliation for the “Satanic degradation” of Iraqi prisoners held in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison. “We tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. Mothers and wives of American soldiers … you will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins … slaughtered in this way.”

Ah yes, the humiliation of terrorist captives at Abu Ghraib prison. More damaging, though, has been the reckless politicization of that news by Ted Kennedy, his lapdog, John Kerry, and their Leftmedia phalanx. Indeed, the Left has spent most of the last two weeks protesting the “atrocities” and “torture” and doing what they do best – aiding and abetting the enemy, and creating great peril for American service personnel and civilians anywhere within reach of Islamist terrorists. [See last week’s column, “The Abu Ghraib Feeding Frenzy” at –

The Washington Post alone published no fewer than 33 headline stories on the Abu Ghraib incident since Sec. Rumsfeld’s congressional testimony last Friday. That’s 33 headlines on the same story in one week. For its part, The New York Times showed great restraint in publishing only 23 headlines over the same period.

So eager has the Leftmedia been to discredit the Bush administration, that Wednesday’s Boston Globe published pictures of GI’s gang-raping Iraqi women. Boston Councilman Chuck Turner declared, “The American people have a right and responsibility to see the pictures.” (Much to the disappointment of The Globe, the photos they published were taken from an “adult” Website – but not a single staffer questioned their authenticity.)

Of course, the actions of a few Abu Ghraib prison guards are old news. On 16 January 2004, Central Command issued a press release (#04-01-43) entitled “Detainee Treatment Investigation,” which reads in part: “Baghdad, Iraq – An investigation has been initiated into reported incidents of detainee abuse at a detention facility. The Coalition is committed to treating all persons under its control with dignity, respect, and humanity.” The next day, The New York Times ran a story noting, “A senior Pentagon official said authorities had been alerted to the possible abuse of detainees in the past few days and were taking the allegations ‘very seriously’.”

In fact, in February, a letter from the parents of one of the accused American service personnel expressing concern about the allegations was sent to Democrat Sens. Teddy Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Robert Byrd, Jack Reed, Mark Dayton, Bill Nelson, Evan Bayh, Mark Pryor, Benjamin Nelson, Joseph Lieberman, Daniel Akaka, Paul Sarbanes and John Rockefeller. Their collective response? Let us just say, the silence was deafening. (One is left to ponder why no Republican senators were on that list.)

Old news notwithstanding, two weeks ago, CBS, to the glee of Kennedy and Kerry, aired illegally-obtained photos from the investigation of Abu Ghraib prison guards. Despite an appeal from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, that this would endanger American Soldiers and American civilians in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, the Leftmedia, Kennedy and Kerry, et al., could not resist this opportunity to convert this “breaking news” into political fodder in their relentless effort to undermine public approval of President George Bush’s performance as Commander-in-Chief in our war against Jihadistan.

No sooner had CBS released the photos than Ted Kennedy blustered in the Senate, “Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam’s torture chambers reopened under new management – U.S. management. Every day brings new photos, new horrors from the same prison and the same torture rooms that Saddam used to commit crimes against humanity.”

For his part, Kerry protested, “What has happened [at Abu Ghraib] is not just something that a few, you know, privates and corporals or sergeants engaged in. This is something that comes out of an attitude about the rights of prisoners of war. It’s an attitude that comes out of how we went there in the first place, an attitude that comes out of America’s overall arrogance as policy.”

Once again, that’s “America’s overall arrogance as policy.”

One day prior to the murder of Nick Berg, Senator James Inhofe took Kennedy and Kerry to task for their political rhetoric, reminding them that humiliating terrorists is hardly comparable to prisoner treatment by Saddam Hussein, the “Butcher of Baghdad.” “I would guess that these prisoners wake up every morning thanking Allah that Saddam Hussein is not in charge,” said Sen. Inhofe. “When he was in charge they would take electric drills and drill holes through hands, they would cut their tongues out, they would cut their ears off. We’ve seen accounts of lowering their bodies into vats of acid… lining up 312 little kids under 12 years old and executing them [not to mention] what they do to Americans, too. I’m outraged by the press and the politicians and the political agendas that are being served by this, and I say political agendas because that’s actually what is happening….”

The day after Berg’s murder, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Duncan Hunter offered this rebuke of the Left: “All the people who had a hand in publishing those pictures should think long and hard about what their responsibility was for the beheading of this American.”

Though Kennedy and Kerry may have inflicted some injury upon the Bush administration with their Abu Ghraib rhetoric, it was not as severe as the injury they inflicted upon Nicholas Berg (Graphic Content Warning: As a direct result of their political folly, more Americans will die.

There are currently 135,000 American military personnel on the Iraqi warfront with Jihadistan, and countless additional American civilians helping to rebuild Iraq after generations of oppression.

Meanwhile, Kerry and Kennedy continue repeating their mantra that President Bush apologize to the Iraqi people. But they could learn a thing or two from their Senate colleague Joe Lieberman: “I cannot help but say…that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq, working to liberate Iraq and protect our security, have never apologized. And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago, never [gave] an apology [to] anybody.”

Indeed, it is Kennedy and Kerry who should be apologizing – first to the family of Nick Berg and second to the American people, especially those standing in harm’s way defending our nation.

Quote of the week…

“There is no justification for the brutal execution of Nicholas Berg – no justification whatsoever. 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. 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. We will complete our task.” –President George Bush

On cross-examination…

“It’s a grotesque and timely reminder of who our real enemies are. Ted Kennedy, take note.” –James Taranto, on the execution of Nicholas Berg

Open query…

“Do you suppose there is a single prisoner being held by any of the countries in the President’s listening audience in the Middle East who wouldn’t eagerly switch places with a detainee in the custody of the American military? In their much-vaunted oversight role, Congress failed to detect almost every recent development, from al-Qa'ida’s domestic threat to the crippling structural problems in our intelligence agencies, corrupt corporate accounting, and the vulnerabilities in our electricity grids. Little wonder that these all escaped Congress’s notice when press releases are ignored by the public’s watchdogs.” –Kate O'Beirne

In related news…

There is some mystery around the nature of Nick Berg’s business in Iraq. He was not there in any official capacity as a contractor.

His father Michael Berg, in his anguish, has been quick to toe the party line: “My son died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. This administration did this. I am sure that he only saw the good in his captors until the last second of his life. They did not know what they were doing. They killed their best friend.”

In fact, Nicholas Berg was repeatedly warned by his parents that he could be targeted by Islamists because he was Jewish, as was the case with Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Islamists in Pakistan a year before Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nick Berg spoke with his parents on 24 March. Soon thereafter, he was detained by Iraqi police at a checkpoint in Mosul. On 31 March, U.S. officials then took him into custody while the FBI contacted his parents to confirm his identity.

However, this was not the first time the FBI investigated Nick Berg. It turns out that he was interviewed by the Bureau after 9/11 in an effort to determine the nature of his relationship with Zacarias Moussaoui, the al-Qaida adherent now in federal custody and awaiting trial on conspiracy charges for his role in planning the hijackings on 9/11. While Moussaoui was in flight school training for 9/11, one of his roommates (a student at the University of Oklahoma where Nick Berg was in attendance) used an e-mail address traced to Berg’s computer. Berg acknowledged knowing the suspect and did let him use his computer, but Berg was cleared as a suspect.

On 05 April, Michael Berg initiated a lawsuit to have his son released from U.S. custody in Iraq, and on 06 April, Nick Berg was released. He was offered safe passage to Jordan but refused. The last his parents heard from him was 09 April, when he called to let them know he was coming home.

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