We talked about it all week long and, at first, feebly tried to find the Internet video showing Nick Berg's grisly death. Did we really want to watch it when we found it? Could I watch it?
Finally, on Friday, a co-worker e-mailed it to me. It came with stern warnings which I heeded. I muted the sound. I watched and instantly regretted it. It was grainy, surreal and gross.
But I have to ask, What was Berg thinking when he went back to the war-torn area for the second time in a year and by himself? Published reports indicate that he was looking for work in the telecommunications field and that he wanted to "do some good." OK, a lot of people are looking for work and a lot of people want to do good but those things don't have to be done right now in a country in the middle of a war and full of people who hate Americans. People who, some at least, don't really want or need an excuse to lop off the head of an American.
Published reports also indicate that he was detained for a while by American troops. His parents have now filed suit claiming that their son should have been returned to the U.S. when he was taken into custody. I think the troops have a little more to do over there than babysit a job-hunting American.
"They should have taken him right then and there and put him on a plane home," a co-worker says. "Then maybe he'd still be alive."
No, Nick Berg, no matter how good his intentions or how wonderful a person he might have been, knew what he was getting into. He traveled to the area on his own and by himself, he wandered around the country on his own and by himself and he managed to get captured on his own. Sad? Yes. Tragic? Yes. But are American troops to blame? No, not in the least.
Nick Berg should have stayed home and tried to do some good here, or found a job with a company doing business in Iraq n God knows there are plenty of companies over there trying to get their share of the post-war profits pie.
But he didn't. He became a pawn in the back and forth game of war n an easy excuse to get back at the Americans for the abuses in Abu Ghraib. And unfortunately, he won't be the last pawn in that messy little game.
And while Berg's intentions might have been good, I'm afraid his legacy to his family will be that of anguish and despair and to his country, nothing more than a clip on the next "Faces of Death" video.
Mourn Berg if you will, he died a horrible death at the hands of men too cowardly to show their faces, but he's less a casualty of war than a casualty of his own poor judgement.
Tamara Boatwright is the managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. She may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext 272 or at firstname.lastname@example.org