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May 15, 2004

Nick Berg Update

We don't want to malign a man gruesomely executed in an Islamic murderporn video. But there are a lot of interesting questions about Nick Berg.

We were watching FoxNews today, and a former FBI agent stated the obvious: the reason the Iraqi police suspected Nick Berg of engaging in suspicious activities is because his activities, and possibly-coincidental associations, were in fact suspicious. "Suspicious" does not mean "blameworthy" or "wrongful," but it does mean "requiring additional scrutiny."

A man walking back and forth at night in front of a building he does not live in is acting suspiciously. That doesn't mean he's guilty of anything. He could be doing any number of quite-legal things; but it is beyond doubt that the police would be justified in asking him what he's up to.

This former FBI agent did not draw the conclusion that Nick Berg was dirty, as Wizbang did (prematurely, we think). He did, however, seem quite insistent that these coincidences were not in fact coincidences at all; he said that such coincidences were like being struck by lightning. (It should be noted, of course, that people frequently are struck by lightning; this FBI agent, however, didn't seem to give that objection much consideration.)

He suggested that Nick Berg might have been "working for someone else;" he went on to specify he thought Berg might have been "working under the flag of another country." He didn't say which nation, but it seems to be a fair guess that he was thinking of Israel.

Which was a suspicion apparently shared by the Iraqi police, whom we were perhaps too hasty to malign as being anti-Semitic.

This speculation, if true, might make Berg technically a traitor, but it wouldn't necessarily mean he was actually working against US interests or allying himself with our enemies.

It could be that Nick Berg was an extraodinarily gutsy operative looking to make connections with terrorists, not to harm our country, but to harm the terrorists.

All of this remains bullshit speculation at this point. But the FBI agent's opinion would seem to suggest that those of us thinking there's something else going on here are not necessarily crazy. True, the FBI agent himself might have been crazy; he was not, however, wearing a clown nose or pope-hat or otherwise displaying the sort of behavior one associates with the floridly insane.

Furthermore, it would seem to suggest that, even if one believes there is more to Nick Berg's beheading than coincidence and uncanny bad luck, there is no compelling reason to assume the worst about him. There are possible explanations in which Nick Berg winds up being, at worst, an agent for an allied country working approximately in tandem with US interests.

Actually... It remains quite likely he was CIA. We've gotten used to the government identifying CIA contract officers upon their deaths; but just because the CIA discloses the affiliation of some operatives doesn't mean it discloses the affiliation of all.

Announcing that Nick Berg was CIA could, for example, expose some of his fellow agents as CIA.

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posted by Ace at 05:38 PM

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