you've read this, check out New
evidence and observations on the Berg case for more clues extracted
from the execution video.
Nicholas Berg execution
A working hypothesis and a resolution for the orange
article aims to shed light on the apparent execution by beheading of
Nicholas Berg . I believe that most of the available evidence surrounding
the case suggests that it was a black operationby US psychological
warfare specialists, the purpose of which was to provide the media with
a moral relativity argument to counter the adverse publicity
over torture at Abu Ghraib prison.
observers have drawn attention to features of the evidence -- particularly
the video of the beheading released by the supposed terrorists -- which
do not add up. I find some of these features to be explainable without
reference to a conspiracy by US security agencies. Most, however, are
best explained by the black operations scenario. Even so, many puzzling
a certain point in any investigation, in order to make sense of disparate,
contradictory facts and to filter out background noise, an investigator
must adopt a working hypothesis which integrates the main clues.
hypothesis begins by trying to explain why, throughout the execution
video, Nick Berg is wearing an orange jumpsuit of the type issued at
US military prisons such as Guantanamo Bay.
commentators have been surprised by this. Some have rationalised it
as a piece of mimicry by the executioners designed to taunt the US and
drive home their point that the US imprisons and humiliates Arabs and
might seem like the only reasonable explanation, but nagging doubts
would the terrorists have got their hands on such a jumpsuit? Is it
reasonable to think that they carried one around just in case they got
lucky and grabbed an American?
does it seem likely that, having grabbed Berg, one of them had a bright
idea and sent his mum to the markets for some fabric and got her to
run up an orange jumpsuit?
the circumstances, both explanations are highly improbable. Remember,
these people are supposedly members of an Abu Massab al-Zarqawis
terrorist cell. Theyre operating underground to carry out suicide
bombings and the like. In order to do that theyd themselves be
dressed like ordinary Iraqis. Dressing Berg in a facsimile of the US
prison uniform or even a real one for his execution seems like an awful
lot of trouble to go to -- time-wasting nonsense that could unnecessarily
expose them to the danger of discovery. Why would they not keep Berg
in the clothes in which he was kidnapped or, if they had had to dump
these, in anonymous Iraqi street wear?
another problem with the terrorists in the video: why are
they dressed in black uniforms with ammunition tabards and keffiyahs?
Al-Sadrs MA militia do dress like that, but al-Zarqawis
boys arent militia, theyre underground operatives).
if it seems very far-fetched that al-Zarqawis group would have
filmed Berg in an orange jumpsuit, why in heavens name would the
CIA psyops boys have done so? Surely in setting up a piece of fakery
they would ideally have stuck to the simple and obvious and kept Berg
in his own clothes?
I said above: to make sense of disparate, contradictory facts and filter
out background noise a working hypothesis which makes sense of the main
clues is necessary. What follows is mine.
have made use of Videomans excellent frame-by-frame
analysis of the execution video available at the LibertyForum site.
identifies 8 separate shots (A to H) and assumes two cameras were used
(I call them Camera 1 and Camera 2).
the time the CIA psyops boys, dressed as terrorists, cut off Bergs
head he was already long dead. As noted by various qualified observers
there was no spray of blood. I further doubt whether even the hardest
of the CIA hard boys would come at hacking off someones head while
they were alive.
had no alternative but to do the deed with Berg dressed in the orange
jumpsuit because, to dramatise the horror of the supposed event, they
had to have footage that unequivocally showed him to be alive before
his throat was cut. In the only such material available to them, Berg
was dressed in the jumpsuit.
believe that footage showing Berg in the white plastic chair, unrestrained
and calmly giving his name and family details, was shot as routine
investigative documentation by CIA and/or FBI interrogators while
Berg was imprisoned -- either at a US run facility or perhaps by the
Iraqis, depending on whose story you believe -- after he was picked
up by Iraqi police in Mosul.
footage looks so routine because it was routine. Berg
was arrested, his clothes were taken away, he was given the jumpsuit
and then questioned. Quite probably he was asked a series of questions
during the three interviews we know took place, and his
responses were videotaped in much the same way as police interrogations
are audio and/or videotaped in most countries.
being interviewed three times in 13 days, Berg was then warned to leave
Iraq, released, and (according to some reports) booked on a flight out
of Baghdad. The CIA knew exactly where he was and what his movements
does not take a great deal of imagination to see what may have happened
next. The word goes out that the President needs a high-profile terrorist
atrocity to counteract the gathering media firestorm over Abu Ghraib.
The psyops boys are working against a deadline. Assessing their prospects,
they decide that Berg is a highly suspicious character. Theres
a weird story on the files about his email account being used by Moussaoui,
his parents are high-profile opponents of the war, hes been running
around Iraq unsupervised and visiting Iraqi in-laws in Mosul. Even if
the man isnt actually al-Qaeda, hes an expendable idiot.
pick up Berg as he leaves his hotel and kill him (perhaps accidentally).
Then they set about constructing the beheading video. It is also possible
that Berg met his death at the hands of the resistance, but that his
intact body was quickly recovered by US forces.
lets go back to my basic point: To show Berg alive, the psyops
team only had some routine interrogation footage to work with. There
was no alternative but to use that footage so, with some ingenuity,
they set about crafting a fake execution video.
final product distributed on the internet opens with two shots each
from a different angle. The video clock shows they were apparently shot
about 11 hours apart, one at 1.26 pm and one at 2.18 am.
first shot (Camera 1) lasts for only three seconds and in it, Berg is
sitting in the white plastic chair and is seen from left front. All
he manages to say is My name is Nick Berg, my fathers name
., before the cut to the second camera, positioned
directly in front of him and apparently recording 11 hours later (or,
at 2.18 am some days later or, perhaps, earlier) takes over. Berg continues:
my mothers name is Suzanne
Berg is not
restrained and appears calm and relaxed.
was this rapid-fire editing required and why the apparent time-lapse?
If the terrorists shot the video, why didnt they just tell Berg
to state his details again?
would contend that this opening two-shot sequence is cut together from
fragments from two videos of different interrogation sessions, conducted
by the FBI and/or CIA, almost certainly from near the beginning of those
videos, and probably recorded with the same camera.
how I believe it might have happened:
interrogation team set up their camera on a tripod, with the clock accurately
calibrated, and began recording at around 1.26 pm. Standing out of shot
so as not to be identifiable, they introduced the video. Try to imagine
the scene. Things might have developed something like this (dialogue
actually heard in the video in italics):
Interview with a suspect handed over to us by Iraqi police on [date,
time]. State your name please.
My name is Nick Berg, my fathers name is Michael
Where do you come from, Mr Berg?
this point the interrogation continued with questions in English from
an unseen interrogator with an American accent. The questions and answers
concerned Bergs activities as a contractor, his Iraqi contacts,
his relatives in Mosul, why he had grown an Islamist-style beard or
any number of other things.
other words, all but the first three seconds of Nicks reply clearly
and obviously depicted a routine police-type interview and were useless
for the purpose of showing him alive, but apparently in the custody
was a second interrogation (probably, but not necessarily, subsequent
to that depicted in Shot A), this time at 2.40 am. Again, as a matter
of routine, the interrogators would have introduced the video. It might
have gone something like this (dialogue actually heard in the video
Interview with a suspect passed to us by Iraqi police on [date, time].
State your name please.
I told you that before. Why are you keeping me here. Im a US
Dont make it hard on yourself, just answer the question.
remains silent for a while then simultaneously both men speak
Are you going to
[giving in]: My fathers name is Michael, my mothers
name is Suzanne
interrogators voice overlapped with the first part of Bergs
reply so only the footage with the words
name etc, were usable. The rest of the tape was unusable for the
same reason the rest of the first tape was unusable.
can also imagine several other reasons why the first part of Bergs
reply in this shot could not be used. One would be that somebody who
was identifiable as an American accidentally walked into the shot.
the psyops team had only these two fragments to play with. The first
fragment was too short, but if it were spliced together with the second
there would be 13 usable seconds.
was, theyd been shot at different times (as shown on the tape).
Here the different camera angles came to their rescue. What if there
were two cameras recording the scene, one with the clock carelessly
set to the wrong time? Only problem was, two cameras would have to be
used (or appear to be used) for the rest of the execution performance
and the time difference between them maintained. Problem fixed.
the subsequent shots were set up after Berg was dead and almost certainly
in the same room where he was interrogated during his period of incarceration
body was dressed an identical jumpsuit to that shown in the interrogation
recordings, and propped up in position. Shot C (From the terrorists
speech to Berg being pushed over for the kill) was then recorded. This
footage was subsequently modified frame by frame to make Bergs
body move very occasionally, as if alive (I differ from Videomans
analysis on this point, since I dont think Berg was alive in this
shot). Using commonly available software such a modification is relatively
simple and adequately convincing, if effectively disguised by the process
which turns a high resolution video into a grungy low-resolution version
for the internet.
the identified five shots that follow, four are from Camera 1 and only
one 4 second shot from Camera 2. It would be a simple process to shoot
the whole video with a single camera and change the clock setting for
two shots (C and G) to give the appearance that the terrorists used
two cameras, thereby disguising the time-difference problem the fakers
had started out with.
hypothesis has the following advantages:
It explains the jumpsuit.
2. It explains the time discrepancy
3. It explains why Berg is unrestrained and appears relaxed in the
first two shots
4. It is not inconsistent with the known facts of Bergs movements
5. It suggests some profitable lines of inquiry.
not record the pseudo-terrorists speech while Berg was still alive,
then kill him, then record separate shots of his head being cut off?
get the full force of the horror of an (apparently) living human being
waiting, unknowingly, to having his throat cut, it was necessary to
do this in a single shot, at least up to the point of the first knife
cut. The alternatives were to do it while he was actually alive or to
shoot it after he was dead and rely on simple image manipulation to
give the appearance he was alive. For various reasons (not least of
which perhaps being that the participants were understandably squeamish
about cutting somebodys throat), they decided the second was the
alternative (but unlikely) jumpsuit scenario
only remotely plausible alternative scenario I can think of is that,
upon release from his 13 day incarceration by US forces (or the Iraqi
police, if you prefer to believe that story or to make a distinction),
Berg was allowed to keep his jumpsuit as a souvenir (Hey, you
wanna keep the jumpsuit buddy? Might get you a laugh at the barbecue
when you get home). Berg had the jumpsuit on him when captured
by the terrorists and putting him in it to kill him appealed to them.
scenario not only seems far-fetched, it also leaves us to explain why
the terrorists would have gone to the trouble of using two cameras and
of doing complex editing to create the sequence composed of shots A
and B, when they could simply asked him to say who he was again.
lines of inquiry
What are the standard interrogation procedures used in these circumstances
by the FBI and or the CIA? Do they include videotaping the interrogation.
Personally Id be astounded if they didnt, after all, the
careful reexamination of an interview for nuances of speech, body language
etc, is a powerful investigative tool. In this respect, has any of the
photographic and video material viewed in closed session by US lawmakers
depicted an interrogation session?
Were tapes made at the three known interviews of Nick Berg by the FBI?
Who did the interviews? Where are they?
Were the orange jumpsuits issued in Iraq? To the Iraqi police, or only
at US run facilities like Abu Ghraib? (There is, now, one photo in the
public domain showing an Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib in an orange jumpsuit,
although it is of a different style to the suit Berg is wearing).
If video cameras were issued to interrogators, what brand/s were issued,
and are their on-screen clocks consistent with those seen in the execution
Whereabouts in Iraq was Nick Berg imprisoned by US and/or Iraqi police?
readers might profitably pursue some of these questions with their congressman
you've read this, check out New
evidence and observations on the Berg case for more clues extracted
from the execution video.