Friday, May 14, 2004
From Today's New York Times (Editorial)
Nicholas Berg's Death It's easy to say he should not have been in Iraq, but Nicholas Berg was a type familiar to all danger zones: an adventurous and naïve young man who was perhaps keen to do a bit of business, but keener yet to test himself; old enough to understand the danger, but young enough to defy it. It is impossible not to feel grief, and horror, at his terrible end. The claim of this young American's murderers that they were retaliating for the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners is a cruel ruse. They killed him out of the same madness that drove their comrades in Al Qaeda to slaughter thousands on Sept. 11, 2001. But this manipulative attempt to establish a moral equivalence between the gruesome execution of Mr. Berg and the torture of Iraqi prisoners is now being mimicked by some hard-core supporters of the American war in Iraq. They are cynically trying to use the images of Mr. Berg to wipe away the images of Abu Ghraib, turning the abhorrence for the murderers into an excuse for demonizing Arabs and Muslims, or for sanctioning their torture. Mr. Berg's parents have legitimate questions for the United States government about how he came to be in Iraqi police custody immediately before his kidnapping, what happened to him there and what knowledge American officials had about his situation. The occupation authority needs to stop passing off those questions to the Iraqi police force, which does not exist other than as an agent of American power. The Berg family deserves answers so they can grieve for their son's death in peace.