Trigger Finger


Abu Musab Zarqawi, the monster who apparently sawed through Nick Berg's neck, was targeted on three separate occasions for U.S. military strikes since June 2002, according to NBC News. And three separate times the attack was called off.

Zarqawi, a Jordanian who lived in the Kurd-controlled area of northern Iraq, has a nasty track record:

Mr. Zarqawi is suspected in the killing of Laurence Foley, an official of the United States Agency for International Development, in Amman, Jordan in October 2002.

American officials have blamed Mr. Zarqawi for the March 2 bombings in Baghdad and Karbala in which at least 181 people died. Though they said they had no hard evidence, the officials said he might also have been behind the coordinated suicide bombings in Basra last month in which at least 74 people, including many schoolchildren, were killed.

This quote from the killing video, possibly from Zarqawi, speaks volumes:

"Does Al Qaeda need any more excuses?"

Clearly, it does not.

NEXT: Guard of Honor

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  1. Any explanation for where the pictures went? Was Tim title just too offensive for the readers?

  2. Yes. I took the post down, and will delete the pictures in a second. Now, please move on to discussion of Matt’s post.

  3. Regarding the post “Nearly Headless Nick” –First the comments, then the post itself. Just watched them disappear. Wondering if that was an administration thing by the owner … or not.

  4. Excuse me Tim, but I think I won’t move on. I participated in the deleted thread and would like to know why it was destroyed?

    And why are you deleting the picures? Legal and/or political pressure? Of what nature that could cause a *libertarian site to censor itself?

    Your post title was ghastly and should have been changed, but why delete the entire thread and the photos? I would not link to the thread from embarrassment about the title, but had linked to the pictures on two political lists to which I belong. Now I must explain why no one can find them — and that explanation, in full, would be what?


  5. The explanation would be that the title was so repugnant that someone with sense over at Reason made him take down the thread.

  6. Now I must explain why no one can find them — and that explanation, in full, would be what?

    Your explanation is your own business. My explanation is that I responded to overwhelmingly negative reactions from the readers.

  7. hey, the system works.

  8. Thank you for the explanation of where they went. Any explanation of why? I’m sorry to place these comments on Matt’s tangentially subjected post, but this was the only place left to ask.

    As for Matt’s post, it is indeed a shame that we didn’t kill this guy a while back, but at that time he was still rather small potatoes. It was before he was responsible for 700-1000 deaths in Iraq and before he sawed Nick Berg’s head off for the camera. I’m sure he has moved up considerably on the list now, and of course, hindsight is 20/20. However, launching attacks on him on these three occasions, the latest of which was Jan 2003, would have come with complications. While he was in Kurd controlled territory, it was in a subset then controlled by Ansar al-Islam. The Kurds were actively trying to attack the base he was in. We could have sent in airstrikes, but this was not a locale in the no fly zone. The southern-most border of the northern no-fly zone was the 36th parallel, this was about 75 kilometers south.

    The use of airstrikes in that area at that time probably would have caused just a few more troubles than already existed in the UN debate. Say what you will for the BushCo’s attempts at diplomacy, trying it while conducting heavy airstrikes (this wouldn’t have been just a solitary radar site) inside the no-fly zone would have undercut even futile diplomatic attempts.

    I wish they took him out earlier, but then I didn’t think we should have bothered going back to the UN (I do understand why it was necessary given Britain’s position). His complicity in the failed ricin attack in London probably was as important as his complicity in the failed chemical attack in Jordan on the worldwide stage. They just don’t even notice.

  9. Matthew: Agreed, the title was beyond repulsive. However, Tim’s comments were not. Those were well within bounds of legitimate commentary on a pressing matter of foreign policy and human rights violations of the greatest magnitude. Why not merely redact the title?

    Tim: thank you for your reply. Look, you stepped in it rather badly and I am not trying to make you feel worse. The readership was right to vehemently object to the title, but I do not think you erred in posting the pictures. I’m really becoming concerned that the links to the pictures Andrew Sullivan posted disappeared, and then you deleted your own. This is not good. Abu Ghraib pictures can saturate the ‘net and newspapers, but viscerally compelling photographs that show what our nation is fighting cannot stand, apparently anywhere? Not even at a bastion of libertarianism?

    Very disturbing.


  10. Every day, 200 people live who would have died if the democrats had their way.
    How’s that for a bumper sticker?

  11. Drudge has a few of the photos if anyone cares.

  12. Matthew,

    I care about both. We have a right, and are in a better position to do something about American government initiated and/or financed violence against innocent civilians.

  13. By the way, there are plenty of reminders of what the other side is capable of:

  14. Jesus, Cavanaugh, that post’s title was even cheap by your amazingly low standards! I mean, is the “Reason Hit & Run posts must have cutesy pop-culture heds” style so stuck in your brain that you didn’t even pause to re-consider that one before posting? (Anyone with a dumb blog has surely posted something deeply wrong at some drunken point or another, but I would imagine there is a tiny bit more responsibility involved when editing the Reason magazine’s official Web site.)

    Anyway, I thought the post itself was acceptable. A gruesome thing happened and it should be reported. But as long as the “deleted” post is still sitting here for anyone to read, could you please change that fucking awful Harry Potter joke headline? Who knows who this guy really was, but he was a guy who just got beheaded on the teevee, and he’s got a family crying in the night, and you just come off like a loathsome, incredible asshole. More than usual, even!

    Reason — as far as I understand — is supposed to smart & smart-ass, not morally despicable.

  15. Me thinks Ken Layne doth protest too much. Poor taste is the rare exception for post titles here, not the rule.

  16. When Saddam did most of his filling of mass graves, he wasn’t “the other side”, he was “our side”.

  17. Late to the discussion, but I find it strange that so many people just “have” to see these images. Why? Is reading about it not gruesome enough? I sound far more prudish than I care to right now but, Jesus H. Murphy, the poor schlub was just murdered on the 6:00 p.m. news. Lets leave his family a little decorum can’t we . . .

  18. Maybe that Memory Hole website will re-publish the thread.

  19. Our side?

    We provided some aid to Saddam during the Iran Iraq War, primarly as the lessor of two evils. We also provided some aid to Iran.

    For the most part Iraq was a Soviet client state pre-1990, and since that time our relationship to Saddam has been molded by Gulf War 1. So, unlike France and Russia, we have never been friends with Saddam.

  20. MALAK,

    Partly it’s morbid curiosity, partly a certain macho pride in facing harsh realities.

    A while ago I was doing some research on Columbine. I discovered had pictures of the two suicides as they were found in the library, and I “just had” to see those pictures too.

    I’m speaking only for myself. In the now-deleted thread some people mentioned other reasons for wanting to see the pictures.

  21. Show the friggin headless corpse. Hell, show the whole video. For that matter, let’s show some video with bodies hitting the ground at the WTC with a wet “splat”.

    If the U.S. is going to get dragged through the mud for the actions of a relative handful of troops at Abu Ghraib, and for every other screwup, I can’t see why we should be sensitive about some guy getting his head lopped off by our sworn enemies, who want to kill all of us. Well, I shouldn’t say “all”. They only hate infidels,muslims who aren’t as devout as they are, muslims who are as devout but who believe in a slightly different doctrine of political Islam, and American Jew Pig-Dogs (the four appellations being apparently redundant), and surely not everybody who posts here falls into one of those categories.

    I mean really, you are telling us that the photos of beheading are somehow worse than the photos of the nearly naked guy with a hood and some electrodes on his Balzac? Or the piled up naked and forced masturbation pictures that everybody is so keen to run? Please. The Islamic world finds the latter examples far, far more offensive than a simple beheading. In fact, substantial portions of the world find the images of Americans getting butchered quite salubrious, the type of thing that is really religious iconography.

    So quit the pathetic self censorship. Since when has tastelessness been a bar to news coverage, especially here?

  22. Walter,

    Care to cite a source for your numbers?

    Check out

    Look for “suicide bombings” and “normal crime”.

  23. just fyi to folks who have trouble finding the videos… there are several porn/snuff sites on the internet that have the videos. Typically they have the stuff rather quickly.

    I would not visit either site if I was at work but they both typically have such material in short order.

    This was the worst murder video I have ever seen. Worse than R. Budd Dwyer, worse than Daniel Pearl and worse than folks jumping of the burning world trade center. My advice is not to watch it.

    /rotten does not actually have the video last time I checked but they had the prisoner abuse pictures…

  24. A question: I don’t recall seeing Abu Ghraib pictures posted on Hit & Run. Were they? If not, then I don’t see a double standard in not posting Nick Berg’s pictures.

    Its the folks who publish one and not the other who have some ‘splainin to do.

  25. “Cancelling my subscription… ”

    No, I won’t cancel my subscription.
    Editors come and go, there are ups and downs in every endeavour. I’ll wait a little more before canceling…

  26. Nations are never “friends”.

    Iran and the Iraqi Kurds were “the other side”. Saddam was “our side”. Stop trying to weasel.

  27. My number, 200 a day, is a rough estimate of the people Saddam would have killed in any day had the democrats got their way and left Saddam in power.

  28. Walter Wallis,

    Excuse of we do not take your estimates seriously.

    There are costs and benefits to any endeavour; both sides in this debate deny costs their position creates or allows, and focus merely on the benefits.

  29. The original links to the video and stills are working as of 10:00 am EDT this morning.

    On another note, Walter forgot to mention the savings to Iraqui taxpayers now that wood chippers are not on the official list of palace expenditures any longer.

  30. Stephen Fetchet:

    “If the U.S. is going to get dragged through the mud for the actions of a relative handful of troops at Abu Ghraib”

    The type of mistreatment Iraqi prisoners have suffered at the hands of US soldiers is unlikely to have occurred without the knowledge of higher authorities…

    Former interrogator says he was alarmed by the message from military commanders:

    General (an outspoken neocon) Who Made Anti-Islam Remark Tied to POW Case:

  31. I think its also clear that the man was not the smartest individual in the world. Entering a war zone as a “free spirit” is naive.

  32. was it really AQ or the real “phantom menace” of the right-wing war machine?

    On March 7, 2004 an “enemies list” composed of signatories to an anti-war petition was posted on the Free Republic website. The introductory and subsequent comments on that list suggest that the purpose of the posting was to encourage people to harrass the individuals on the list and to circulate their names to agencies and individuals that might take action against them.

    Nick Berg’s father, Michael Berg was on that list and he named Prometheus Methods Tower Service, Inc. as an affiliation. According to his family on March 24, 2004 — approximately two weeks after publication of the enemies list on the Free Republic website — Nick Berg was detained by Iraqi police who handed him over to US forces, he was then held until April 6 when he was released, the day after his family had filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia federal court. Nick Berg was not heard from again after April 9.

    Read more here, before it is surpressed:

  33. Don,

    In for a penny, in for a pound.

  34. Gary Gunnels writes: “In for a penny, in for a pound.”

    Like the USSR vis-a-vis Germany c. 1939?


  35. If someone wants to email me the stills, I can host them at a very high-bandwidth site.

    I don’t have anywhere to host the video right now though.

  36. I am surprised. While grouting the new tile in my kitchen this evening I opined to my wife and a friend of mine that the thread would stand, no matter what. There would be no apologies and no retractions. I’m surprised.

    For what it’s worth I think even in retractive mode that Reason should publish the links to the photos.

    Sullivan is right, if the Post can publish a got dam slide show of American abuses, let’s see the other side. Let’s see what we are really up against with Al Kay Duh and the hatred they spew.

    Let’s be a man about it. Put the links back up-sans the gallows humor.

  37. “…bastion of Libertarianism?”


    Even Libertarians schmuck out when the going gets tough.

    Cancelling my subscription…

    And all other subscribers to Reason should just ‘move on’ too.

  38. “Does Al Qaeda need any more excuses?”

    When this happens to an American we are justifiably outraged, but when our government’s munitions kill thousands innocent civilians in Iraq and hundreds in Palestine, many of us are indifferent. That is so wrong, as well as being an integral part of the real answer to the question, “Why do they hate us?”

    But, if both this and the horrors of the unfolding torture scandal are upsetting, we had better either roll back our government’s hyper-interventionist foreign policy, and any designs of empire Visa a vie the Mid-East or develop stronger stomachs and a more callous attitude.

  39. The video is available at

  40. PonderingPundit,

    What? The Reason editors didn’t just yield to the government or some pressure group advocating government action. They yielded to the expressed desires of some of the posters on their blog on a question of taste and consideration. It’s called a “free market response”.

    My choice would have been to change the title but keep the contents of the blog thread, but whatever- I challenge you to show me a blog that the editors run with any more integrity and intellectual honesty than this place.

  41. Reaction to the title was overwhelmingly negative. Reaction to the pictures was mixed.

  42. The title of the post could have been changed, and readers were warned of the graphic nature of the links. Some of your readers do not need to be shielded from actual occurrences, but I assume the ‘Free Minds’ portion of Reason does not hold in this case. If you cannot show the brutal truth, why bother posting about events in the Middle East.

  43. Rick only cares about people killed by American bombs, not about mass graves dug by the victims who were then machine-gunned and toppled into their last endeavour and buried by bulldozer. And you talk about intellectual honesty!

  44. Rick Barton,

    Up there in one of your posts you say “… our government’s munitions kill thousands innocent civilians …”

    are we now going to blame the “munitions” for the actions of the people? what next – filing a ‘friend of the court’ brief against gun manufacturers?

  45. Our primary aid to Saddam during the Iran Iraq War was intelligence. That intelligence would almost certainly useless to aid Saddam’s air force in attacking the Starke a few years later.

    However, the French built Mirage F-1 and it’s French built Exocet missles were quite useful in attacking the Starke.

    All support isn’t equal.

    Aside from that, the context of the support is critical. I fully supported aiding the Afgan resistance to the Soviets–and haven’t changed my mind on this issue. I’m not particularly supportive of our aid to Saddam during the Iran Iraq War (but this isn’t because we later decided to turn on Saddam), but that aid didn’t make us friends or allies of Saddam. We were never allies or friends of the vile Soviet Union, either, despite the wishes of left wing morons, and despite the massive aid we sent.

  46. Yah wanna talk about mass graves, go and read about the death highway

    The Massacre of Withdrawing Soldiers on “The Highway of Death”
    by Joyce Chediac

  47. the biggest problem facing the us today is that WE were the lesser of two big evils for nearly 40 years. once the ussr dissolved we were just the big evil left.
    not the people of america or its founding principles, but the self serving government that views its survival for more important than that of the citizens of america and the world.
    the war on terrorism can no more be won than the war on drugs are the cure for the common cold. terrorism is gangs that rule neighborhoods. our government has put an islamic face to terrorism, but in fact there is a much higher chance that you will die at the hand of an american terrorist than that of an islamic one.
    only the islamic faith can destroy the islamic terrorist.

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