Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"...Staging murders of Americans..."

Celerino Castillo. Now there is a name I haven't thought about for a while. He was a primary source for the reports that the American intelligence community allowed cocaine to be flown out of Ilo Pango airport in El Salvador, profits from which funded the Nicaraguan contras.

He is writing now about the CIA, prisoner torture, and the death of Nick Berg. His information about torture comes from personal experience; his observations on the Berg mystery are more speculative. Still, they are worth repeating here:

There is no doubt, in my mind, that the CIA was involved in the murder of Nick Berg, the America who was executed in Iraq. There is a history of how the CIA has a way of staging murders of Americans, so that the enemy takes a fall from it. My opinion is that the CIA found that Nick was getting to close to some Iraqis, which made him an automatic target of the CIA. According to his family, he had been detained by American intelligence and later disappeared.

I saw it time and time again in the 1980s in Central American. Our government has staged several events where it attempted to implicate Nicaragua government in drug trafficking. The CIA was also implicated in the torture of an American nun in Guatemala. And in El Salvador, it had staged the murder of Jesuits priests. The FMLN were supposed to have to taken the fall for the murders, but it backfired on the CIA. A U.S. military adviser, who accompanies thSalvadoranan soldiers, gave up the U.S. involvement. Once again, in my opinion, Berg's murder was set up to enrage the American people in support of what American is doing to the prisoners in Iraq.
No-one will deny that all spy shops engage in deception operations. During the Reagan era, phony photos were produced to provide "evidence" of Sandanista drug smuggling; there were similar disinformation campaigns against Libya and the Soviet Union. (If you're old enough to recall the "yellow rain" allegations, you may be surprised to learn that, in some circles, the controversy lingers; see here.)

I would also strongly recommend reading the book Death in Washington, by Donald Freed -- particularly the chapter on press manipulation and deception in the days before the coup. No matter how stodgy your mind-set, this text will expand your view of the possible.

One can mount differing arguments against the concept of video fakery in the Berg affair, based upon which theory is under scrutiny. The more adventurous theorists have claimed that the beheading was staged, and that Nicholas Berg is still alive under an assumed identity. If so, we must presume that Berg would willingly cause his family unbearable grief -- a scenario most will consider hard to believe. Others claim that the beheading was real, but that the hooded terrorists were not Zarqawi and company. (Since the men wore hoods, the actual voice of Zarqawi could have been dubbed in easily -- sort of like Marni Nixon singing for Natalie Wood.) The major problem besetting this scenario is the inherent difficulty of believing that a group on "our" side could do such a thing.

Incidentally, in my essay posted below, I asked why Berg went to Mosul. I forgot to mention the published reason (which you may or may not consider credible): That he traveled through a war zone to visit the brother of a relative by marriage.

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