May 15, 2004

Nick Berg, Part III

The Berg-est blog at this point seems to be Wizbang!, which is giving us nearly up-to-the-moment news on the Nick Berg Mysteries, and features a lot of links, both to the beheading video and to the best articles/blog entries. There are links to roundups as well, so this is truly a good place to start.

But the deeper you get into the water, the muddier it looks.

The conspiracy theorists are jumping in, pointing out that it's a little odd for Berg's kidnappers to have dressed him in an orange jumpsuit, as if he were a prisoner in an American institution. I wrote that off as part of the "theater"--that they were attempting to pass this off as revenge for the Abu Ghraib abuses. But I wonder what the answer really is.

No written confirmation yet, but one report a friend passed along suggests that video enhancement shows a gold wedding band on the finger of one of the captors. This same friend points out that this is against Muslim law.

And then there is that 11-hour gap in the videotape itself. Curiouser and curiouser.

I wonder if we'll ever have answers, or whether this is going to be one of those things like the Kennedy Assasination or the Oklahoma City bombing that drops question marks onto the pages of history and leaves people wondering and speculating forever.

And I'm pretty irritated that the news accounts can't seem to agree on whether or not Berg spoke any Arabic: my impression is that he knew a little--but not much.

Personally, I think the kid was a right-of-center version of Rachel Corrie--idealistic, a bit of an idiot--and I'm willing to live with a couple of coincidences/ironies in his life. But that's me.

Posted by Attila at May 15, 2004 01:20 AM

There is no 11 hour gap, I've got a somewhat lengthy explanation here. And I'd be very skeptical of any video enhancement claims. There are many, many rumors starting to float around mostly started by anti-Semitic sites.

Posted by: dorkafork at May 15, 2004 11:16 PM

I should say that for "video enhancement" you're basically trying to recreate lost information. It's tricky. Possible, but the video in question is pretty low quality, and when you're looking for something that small... It should also be remembered that this video was originally released on a web site, if you've downloaded it you've probably downloaded the original. As far as I know, no one has obtained the original videotapes. That could be something you could try image enhancement on. A VCR tape would have more raw information on it than a crappy wmv file.

The resolution on the video is so low, any information suggesting a "gold ring" would most likely have been lost.

Posted by: dorkafork at May 15, 2004 11:35 PM

Thanks. I wouldn't have passed that along, but it was from a person who not only does his homework, but generally OVERdoes is. Still, there is a LOT of information out there, and we'll have to wait for the dust to settle to be sure about some of these details.

Thanks for posting on the "gap" issue, too: some of the mainstream journos brought that up and then just let it drop--very annoying.

Wouldn't be great if we could get hold of the original video footage . . . I mean, I'd love to see what our intel guys could do with it.

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 16, 2004 12:50 AM

Looks like I may have to eat my words a bit. Hey, I did say it was possible, and if anyone could do it it would be the CIA or FBI. I'm really curious as to whether the reporters are using the word "tape" as a synonym for "video", or if the CIA got a hold of the actual physical videotape. The article is unclear on that point.

Posted by: dorkafork at May 18, 2004 11:27 AM

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