From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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Until now, the story that alleged al-Qaeda victim Nick Berg was arrested at a routine Iraqi Police checkpoint has been unchallenged. But the official – and exhaustive  – Iraq War Logs recently published by WikiLeaks show Berg was specifically targeted as a suspected terrorist cell leader in a 'cordon and search' operation by US forces.

WikiLeaks fallout
Iraq War Logs throw new light on the Nick Berg mystery

3 November 2010

The Nick Berg affair is one of the enduring mysteries of the American occupation of Iraq. Berg was a young American businessman of Jewish heritage who was, allegedly, captured by al-Qaeda in April 2004 and personally beheaded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi , an event video-recorded and published on the internet. The video appeared at a most opportune moment for the Bush administration. In late April 2004, the abuse of Iraqi captives by US guards at Abu Ghraib prison began to run in the media. It was an enormous embarrassment but the Berg atrocity provided a “moral equivalence” defence by showcasing a most convenient example of the enemy’s barbarity. 

Right from the start sceptics sniffed a rodent. Berg’s itinerary as a student strongly suggests that he was an FBI informant and his email account was once used by Zacarias Moussaoui. Roaming Iraq in search of business opportunities he had, initially, been apprehended and imprisoned, not by al-Qaeda, but by the US occupation forces. According to Wikipedia: “Berg had intended to return to the United States on March 30, 2004, but he was detained in Mosul on March 24 by Iraqi police at a checkpoint. His family claims he was turned over to U.S. officials and held for 13 days without access to legal counsel. FBI agents visited his parents to confirm his identity on March 31, but he was not immediately released. After his parents filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia on April 5, claiming that he was being held illegally, he was released from custody. He said that he had not been mistreated during his confinement. The U.S. maintains that at no time was Berg in coalition custody, but rather that he was held by Iraqi forces. The Mosul police deny they ever arrested Berg, and Berg’s family has turned over an email from the U.S. consul stating ‘I have confirmed that your son, Nick, is being detained by the U.S. military in Mosul’”.

Until now, the story that Berg was arrested at a checkpoint has been unchallenged. Piecing together various media accounts, Berg was found after curfew carrying a Farsi (Persian) phrasebook and was suspected of being an Iranian spy. Some accounts have him arrested by the Iraqi police because his passport had been stamped in Israel and, oddly, report that he was carrying “anti-semitic literature”.

But the official – and exhaustive  – Iraq War Logs recently published by WikiLeaks throw a new and very different light on Berg’s arrest. The logs record an incident in Mosul on March 24, and there being no other similar incident reported for that day it is, almost certainly, the official report of Berg’s detention. Here is the transcript (with the name of a US unit and an individual’s name deleted  by WikiLeaks. US military acronyms have been expanded in square brackets):

2004-03-24 18:01:00

So let’s draw the full implications from the report. Firstly, making the reasonable assumption that it refers to Berg, it is clear he was already a suspect. The report also shows that the Iraqi police were acting in collaboration with, and at the instigation of, a US military unit or a US para-military ‘special operations’ unit.

Secondly, the report was filed at one minute past 6 pm, which would have been some time after the actual events. Thus, the story that Berg was stopped at a checkpoint simply because he was moving about after curfew is clearly wrong. An area of Mosul (probably just a single dwelling) was cordoned off and searched with the specific intention of arresting him. He wasn’t found there but somebody told them Berg was at a nearby house. Finally, Berg was immediately taken to a US military ‘holding area’ which tallies with the Iraqi police statements and the account given to Berg’s parents by the US consul.

When Berg was, following the federal court intervention, reluctantly released from US detention, he made his way back to the Al-Fanar hotel in Baghdad. When asked about his experience he unconvincingly laughed it off as a misunderstanding. He refused a free flight out of Baghdad pressed on him by the US Consulate and was last seen alive on 10 April 2004.

At the time of Berg’s arrest and disappearance, shadowy special operations and intelligence forces (‘other agencies’ or OAs) set up by Donald Rumsfeld’s sinister Office of Special Plans were free-ranging in Iraq and Afghanistan, with Presidential approval, in search of terrorists.  Their presence was much resented by the regular US military, the State Department and the FBI and a long and vicious bureaucratic turf war resulted before the OAs were reined in.
Was Berg re-arrested in Baghdad by Rumsfeld’s wild men? Did they then kill him, perhaps “under interrogation”and subsequently use their original video records of interview and his dead body to create the notorious beheading video? Since the release of the Iraq War Logs, that scenario has firmed in the betting.

• Wikipedia:
• WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs:

The Nick Berg case on the Nick Possum Home Page
WARNING: some articles contain disturbing images

The Nicholas Berg execution:
A working hypothesis and a resolution for the orange jumpsuit mystery

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's an elegant explanation. This was my first work on the case, later elaborated by …

New 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: disturbing images.

Nick 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 Baghdad’s Al-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.

Nagging questions about Nicholas Berg's last days:
An open letter to Beth A. Payne, US Consul, Baghdad, Iraq

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.

Our 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.

Occupation turf war sheds new light on the Nick Berg case
US contractors ‘tortured’ for talking to the FBI

11 April 2007
The case of Donald Vance, an American citizen secretly imprisoned by the US military in Iraq after making accusations against an Iraqi-owned security company for which he worked, has revealing parallels with the 2004 disappearance of Nick Berg, a US contractor whose murder is officially attributed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.