is true, Vance and Ertel fell victim to a vicious turf war between
the shadowy special operations and intelligence forces created by
the Neocons and Vice President Cheney the Other Agencies
(OAs) set up by Rumsfelds Office of Special Plans and
anti-Neocon forces represented by the State Department and the FBI.
I have long contended, is probably what happened to Nicholas Berg
in April 2004. (For a full list of the material about the Nick
Berg case published on my website see links below).
those new to the case, a brief summary follows
Berg was a 26 year-old US businessman of Jewish extraction. He was
a specialist in radio communications tower repair and construction.
Although Berg was, by all accounts, a supporter of George Bush and
the US invasion of Iraq, his father, a member of the Democracy Now!
group, was an open opponent of the war.
Iraq, Berg found a commercial partner in Aziz al-Taee, a seedy Iraqi
businessman, previously resident in the US, who was an associate of
the Iranian-aligned Shiite businessman, Ahmad Chalabi. Aziz had an
interesting criminal record in the US but had been instrumental in
organising pro-invasion rallies before the war. It is likely that
Berg combined his own fledgeling business endeavours with simple commercial
intelligence-gathering for others.
also had Iraqi relatives resident in Mosul. It was during a visit
to Mosul, on 24 April 2004 that he was arrested by the Iraqi Police
at a checkpoint because his Jewish name and Israeli stamps in his
passport aroused suspicion. He was reportedly carrying a Farsi phrase
book and anti-Zionist literature.
Iraqi police turned Berg over to US military custody where he was
interviewed on three occasions by the FBI. Berg was already well known
to the Bureau. It is a curious fact that, while briefly a student
at Oklahoma University, and before the events of 11 September 2001,
his computer user ID had been used by Zacarias Moussaoui. The FBI
had investigated this incident but found him innocent of any wrongdoing.
The 911 investigator Michael Wright unearthed
evidence supporting the view that Berg was working under CIA supervision
at OU, perhaps spying on some of the alleged 911 hijackers who were
living nearby at the time. Whatever the truth of this, suspicion must
arise that Nick Berg was a part-time CIA operative and/or FBI informant.
Certainly Berg made no complaints about his treatment by the FBI while
he was in US custody in Mosul.
April, Bergs father, who had learned of his incarceration from
the US Consul in Baghdad, commenced legal proceedings for his release
in the US Federal Court. The circumstances suggest that the US Consulate
and the FBI spoke up for him. He was quickly released and offered
a flight from Baghdad to Jordan. Reportedly he didnt take up
this offer, saying that he preferred to travel by road, with persons
unknown whom he had somehow met. He left the al-Fanar Hotel on 10
April and disappeared.
claim has ever surfaced that ransom demands were made, although Berg
would have been a valuable, high-profile captive. A month later his
decapitated body was found in Baghdad. Shortly afterwards, the infamous
video of his decapitation, officially attributed to al-Qaeda, appeared
on the internet. For George Bush, the timing was fortuitous, because
the video provided a tailor-made moral relativityargument
to bolster the US Government just as the story of the US torture of
Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib broke.
not difficult to see what might have happened in Bergs case.
that in early 2004, it was still possible for small-time would-be
entrepreneurs like Berg to move about Iraq relatively freely. But
operations by the Sunni and Baathist resistance were increasing. In
late May, four US mercenaries were killed in an ambush in the Fallujah,
a Sunni stronghold. The subsequent US attempt to subdue the city resulted
in a minor disaster for US forces. A few days later US troops raided
the offices of the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, triggering a Shiite uprising.
Suddenly, US troops were being attacked by the Shiites whom the US
had relied upon to remain moderately well-disposed towards the occupation
or at least neutral in relation to the escalating conflict with the
Sunni and Baathist resistance. At the same time, in the US mainstream
media, the view that the US had been tricked into invading Iraq on
behalf of Iran began to be advanced. The fortunes of Ahmad Chalabi,
until then something of a favourite with US ruling circles, suddenly
plunged. The whole Neocon game-plan was falling apart. Behind the
scenes rampant political confusion and paranoia would have reigned.
Neocon-aligned OAs controlling much of the action in Iraq would certainly
have known of Bergs arrest in Mosul and would have resented
the FBI and the Consulates interference in the case. And Bergs
relationship to a businessman close to the now discredited Ahmad Chalabi
would not have helped. Under the confusing circumstance of the time,
Berg looked like a highly suspicious character and he was one with
whom the Neocon OAs would have felt they had unfinished business.
It isnt difficult to imagine they would have wanted to have
a little chat with him. Nor is it difficult to imagine he might have
died accidentally while under interrogation. Having seized
Berg after his first incarceration had become a legal issue in the
United States, his captors would have been in a lot of trouble had
they later released him, but his death, apparently at the hands of
al-Qaeda, would have been a safe resolution.
Vance was lucky he got a prisoner registration number. At the time
Berg was picked up, the CIA and OAs were holding unregistered ghost
prisoners and they may still be doing so. Vance was probably
given a number because the circumstances under which he was rescued
by US troops from the Iraqi security company meant that several people
whose loyalty and silence could not be relied on by the OAs, knew
he had been taken into custody. In Bergs case he was probably
picked up, unobserved, by an OA squad.
Vance and his friend Nathan Ertel were very lucky indeed. In slightly
different circumstances they might have ended up featuring in an al-Qaeda
atrocity video, or perhaps, more likely these days, in one featuring
and the Iraqi security company for which they worked is still in business,
but under a slightly different name, and is still receiving US funds.
Nick Berg case on the Nick Possum Home Page
WARNING: some articles contain disturbing
Nicholas Berg execution:
A working hypothesis and a resolution for the orange
23 May 2004
Why was Nick Berg wearing a US prison "jumpsuit" when he
was apparently executed on video by what are claimed to be al-Qaeda-linked
terrorists? Something fishy there, but there was an elegant explanation.
This was my first work on the case, later elaborated by
evidence and observations on the Berg case
18 July 2004
A close comparison of frames from the Berg video and pictures from
Abu Ghraib prison reveals more evidence that the execution video was
recorded in the notorious prison complex. Also, a refinement on the
issue of the orange jumpsuit, which was actually a two-piece US prison
uniform. And for an "off camera" view of a videotaped interrogation
like the one seen in the opening 13 seconds of the Berg execution
video, see the postscript to this piece. WARNING:
Berg: the missing month
1 June 2004
A lot of people would like to know what happened to Nicholas Berg
after he walked out of Baghdads Fanar Hotel on 10 April. They
say the 26 year-old American contractor was looking for a taxi when
he walked off down the street and into history.
questions about Nicholas Berg's last days:
An open letter to Beth A. Payne, US Consul, Baghdad,
9 June 2004
Millions want to know the truth about the last days of the young American
contractor murdered in Iraq. Was he seized a second time by US forces?
The US Consul in Baghdad should tell us all she knows.
man in Kabul:
Torturing Afghanis with Fox News' celebrity mercenary
1 August 2004
The fascinating case of Jonathan Keith Idema a mercenary headhunter
and one of Donald Rumsfeld's OA boys until he fell foul of the US
State Department and the Afghan regime.