Our initial reaction to the killing of a human being as a public spectacle is one of shock and revulsion.
The words uttered by President Bush are dripping with hypocrisy, however, coming as they do from a president who has signed more execution warrants as Governor of Texas than any other governor in recent history; and not a few of them have been filmed for the benefit of television documentaries.
Moreover, how many World War Two executions did the Americans photograph and film, often in excruciating detail?
Let us however stand back and review the few facts that have so far been entrusted to us by the authorities, and on which the scared media have so far breathed no comment.
First, the man was executed wearing an orange jump suit: I have long been wondering, and expressed to colleagues the opinion, that Iraqi resistance would gain maximum global propaganda effect by putting their captives through the same humiliating and painful hoops that the Americans use in Camp Delta at Guantánamo.
We British are unfortunately accomplices (even if unwilling ones) in the atrocities at Camp Delta.
Second, it was Donald Rumsfeld who announced or implied when he and his cronies embarked on their “war on terror” in the Middle East that the United States did not intend to abide by the Geneva Conventions.
Third, was this latest victim of Washington’s folly the same kind of “American” as Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl — i.e. a 100 percent Israeli citizen, merely working in or from America, and probably a Mossad agent? We still remember the fury (1) of the Pearl family, living in Israel, when an Israeli newspaper blew his cover.
The clue to this, apart from the obvious ones, is that “Philadelphia businessmann” Nick Berg is said to have been a “civilian contractor”.
Most of the Israeli assistance to the Coalition Forces in Iraq is in the form of civilian contractors — i.e. hired mercenaries, supplied to operate in the fields of prisoner of war interrogation (Abu Ghraib!), Intelligence, or contract killings.
It is remarkable, is it not, that Berg was captured on April 9, over a month ago and yet not a word of his capture was breathed in the US media about it until now, when he has met his savage end. Nor do I recall any reports on the discovery of his body on Saturday.
So: remember — you read it first here. If he was a naive and luckless Philadelphia businessman, trapped and mangled by the Moloch that his bellicose regime have created in Iraq, then truly our hearts go out to his family; if he was however a hired mercenary engaged on some covert plain clothes operation, and captured by his enemies and dealt with as a spy, this must mitigate our feelings of compassion.
That said, in a civilized society it is justice that must be seen to be done, not execution.
1. Pearl’s father: ‘Israeli connection’ could hinder investigation
“En mi opinion el video es un fraude”
Beheading of Nicholas Berg: Unanswered Questions
Hizbollah Slams Beheading of American as Un-Islamic