Friday, May 14, 2004

Once a Suspect, Always a Suspect?

Before the invasion of Iraq began, Gil Christner wrote a satire spoofing the George W. Bush administration's futile attempt to connect Al-Qaida to Saddam Hussein -- "Powell Offers Proof of Saddam-Osama Link":
In sum, here are Gen. Powell's arguments:
1. In December of 2002, actor Sean Penn went to Baghdad, home of Saddam Hussein.

2. Sean Penn is married to actress Robin Wright Penn.

3. Robin Wright Penn made the movie "Forrest Gump" with Tom Hanks.

4. Tom Hanks made the film "Apollo 13" with Kevin Bacon.

5. Kevin Bacon made a Visa card commercial with Indian-born character actor Sahid Benjali.

6. Sahid Benjali used to bartend at the Lingerie Club in Hollywood. In the early 80's he served drinks to Carmen bin Laden, a former USC student, who is Osama's sister-in-law (estranged).
After Gen. Powell's presentation, there were several heated discussions, with many of the delegates making angry responses, some of which were not too flattering to the case being made.

"6 degrees? Fah!" said Ahmad Abul Gheit, the delegate from Egypt. "I can get from Saddam to Osama in 5 people! Including Madonna!"

"5 people? I can do it in four," retorted Elinor Hammarskjold, the Swedish delegate. "And I don't need to use Kevin Bacon! Just give me the Farrelly Brothers and a pool boy in Bel-Air!" Where upon the entire floor of the U.N. erupted into arguments.

Eventually the winner emerged: Tanzania delegate Mark J. Mwando was able to get from Saddam to Osama in 2:

1. In 1983, Saddam Hussein met with then U.S. Envoy Donald Rumsfeld, working on behalf of the Ronald Reagan-George Bush Sr. administration.

2. George Bush Sr. was formerly the head of the CIA, the organization which armed Osama bin Laden and provided training to his followers in the 80's.

For coming up with the winning entry, Delegate Mwando was treated to a party platter from the Carnegie Deli on 7th Ave. "This is wonderful," Mwando said as he munched on a dill pickle. "I can feed half of Tanzania with this!"

Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld could not be reached for comment. However, director Peter Farrelly was reported as saying, "Far out." (Democratic Underground, February 7, 2003)
It turns out that a story of "degrees of separation" fit for satire has killed not only thousands of Iraqis, hundreds of US and allied troops, and others but may also have been a factor in Nick Berg's 13-day detention in Iraq, which Nick's father Michael Berg believes has led to Nick's death, making it impossible for Nick to leave Iraq on March 30 as he had intended to. According to Nicole Weisensee Egan:
Yesterday, the Daily News reported that another reason that Nick Berg had been held for so long was that the FBI was checking into some contact he may have had with terrorists while he attended the University of Oklahoma.

Last night, Fox News reported the terrorist may have been Zacarias Moussaoui, an accused 9-11 conspirator. But the FBI said that was merely a coincidence.

Michael Berg said his son had attended the university and had been taking a course at a remote campus, near the airport, and had to take a bus to get there.

"Some terrorist people -- which no one knew were terrorists at the time; they were just going as students -- were also taking that bus," Berg said. "And someone asked him basically if he could use his computer. And he did. College kids did it all the time. And it turns out this guy was a terrorist and he used my son's e-mail address -- amongst many other people's e-mail who he did the same thing to.

"He was not a friend of my son's, not even an acquaintance," Berg said. "Just a guy sitting next to him on the bus. The FBI was satisfied with that."

A senior law-enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Nick Berg had volunteered information about the 2002 investigation when he was detained in Iraq. The official said that an e-mail address traced to Berg had been used by an unidentified individual with purported connections to terrorism.

The investigation showed that Berg had never met the suspect individual and had not given the e-mail address to that person. Investigators concluded that Berg's e-mail address had been spread among dozens of people with links to the university.

The suspect individual appears to have been acquainted with Zacarias Moussaoui, an al Qaeda adherent now in federal custody and awaiting trial on conspiracy charges stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks, the official said. ("Berg's Dad Blames President," Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14, 2003)
If it is indeed the FBI investigation in 2002 which had already confirmed Nick Berg's innocence to the FBI's satisfaction that triggered or prolonged the US military detention of Nick in Iraq, does that mean that, once you get investigated by the FBI, you will always remain a suspect even if the investigation proves that you are not guilty?

In the meantime, the real historical and contemporary connections among the US government, repressive regimes, and terrorists are left out of the corporate media.

No comments: