Published on Thursday, May 13, 2004 by Reuters
Berg Died for Bush, Rumsfeld 'Sins' - Father
by Jon Hurdle
PHILADELPHIA - The father of Nick Berg, the American beheaded in Iraq, directly blamed President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday for his son's death.
"My son died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. This administration did this," Berg said in an interview with radio station KYW-AM.
In the interview from outside his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, a seething Michael Berg also said his 26-year-old son, a civilian contractor, probably would have felt positive, even about his executioners, until the last minute.
"I am sure that he only saw the good in his captors until the last second of his life," Berg said. "They did not know what they were doing. They killed their best friend."
Two days after the publication of a video showing the execution of his son by five masked men, Berg attacked the Bush administration for its invasion of Iraq and its sponsorship of the Patriot Act, which gives sweeping powers of surveillance to the federal government.
Berg described the Patriot Act as a "coup d'etat." He added: "It's not the same America I grew up in."
The criticism came amid finger-pointing between Berg's family, U.S. military officials and Iraqi police over the young businessman's imprisonment before his execution.
Michael Berg rejected U.S. government claims that his son had never been held by American authorities in Iraq. The Iraqi police chief in the city of Mosul has also contradicted statements by the U.S.-led coalition concerning the younger Berg's detention.
'FBI CAME TO MY HOUSE'
"I have a written statement from the State Department in Baghdad ... saying that my son was being held by the military," Berg said. "I can also assure you that the FBI came to my house on March 31 and told me that the FBI had him in Mosul in an Iraqi prison."
Dan Senor, spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, said this week that Nick Berg was arrested in Mosul by Iraqi police on March 24 and released on April 6.
Senor said the FBI visited Berg three times during his detention by Iraqi police and determined that he was not involved in criminal or terrorist activities.
Brig.-Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said American military police had seen Berg during his detention to make sure he was being fed and treated properly.
Berg returned to Baghdad from Mosul in April and went missing on April 9, during a chaotic period when dozens of foreigners were snatched by guerrillas west of the capital.
His body was discovered by a road near Baghdad on Saturday. The video of his decapitation was posted on the Internet on Tuesday.
Berg had been in Baghdad from late December to Feb. 1 and returned to Iraq in March. He did not find work and planned to return home at the end of March, according to his parents.
Berg's communications to his parents stopped on March 24 and he told them later he was jailed by Iraqi officials after being picked up at a checkpoint in Mosul.
On April 5, the Bergs filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, naming Rumsfeld and alleging their son was being held illegally by the U.S. military in Iraq. The next day, he was released.
Additional reporting by Maher al-Thanoon
Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited.