This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, May 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Sen. Arlen Specter (search) says he tried to get Nick Berg's (search) family on to Dover Air Force base to collect their son's body. He was turned down. The Bergs have been working with their congressman to get more information about their son's final days and weeks.
The story still has a lot of question marks. Congressman Jim Gerlack (search) joins me from Capitol Hill. Congressman, the big question, why are there so many questions about Nick Berg's time in Iraq?
REP. JIM GERLACK (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I'm not sure. We've made some effort now to get a hold of folks at the State Department, at the Department of Defense as well as the FBI and try to get more information about what transpired during the time period that Nick was in detention in Iraq and also from the time period that he was released from detention but before his kidnapping as to what transpired then as well. I've written to Secretary Powell, and to Secretary Rumsfeld and Director Mueller asking for that information. To date, I have not gotten a response to the questions that we have and the Berg family have regarding ...
GIBSON: Congressman, do you understand anything about this so-called coincidental link between Nick Berg and Zacarias Moussaoui (search)? That's setting off alarm bells in a lot of people's heads. What do you think about it?
GERLACK: I just it read a press release. I'm not even sure of the source of it that simply said it was a coincidental situation where Nick was at the time of the University of Oklahoma, that he gave his Internet connection to a few folks to be used, and it somehow got into the hands of Moussaoui when he was there in Norman, Oklahoma, for purposes of doing some flight training. But whether Nick had any participation in that other than just giving his Web site address up to a few folks so they could use it while on campus, there's no other evidence to the best of my knowledge that would provide any additional link.
GIBSON: Does it strike you that that is the kind of thing that stretches beyond coincidence?
GERLACK: It certainly is coincidental, and certainly I'm sure the authorities are looking at that issue more fully, but at this point it's really premature to judge anything beyond that.
GIBSON: Congressman, the other thing is Michael Berg, Nick's father, blames this administration, blames President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Is he right to place so much blame on the three leaders of this war?
GERLACK: Well, I think it's important for us and particularly for me as their congressman to get all of the information that they legitimately have questions about so they can finally take those facts and draw a final conclusion about what actually happened. I don't think we know all of those facts. In fact, I know we don't know all of that. And so my job at this point is to help them as a congressman to get that information so that ultimately we can all conclude what really transpired here and draw our own judgments.
GIBSON: And there are people who think that — well, I had a call today. I was doing a radio show, and a nongovernmental organization worker having just returned from Iraq said he was incredulous that somebody like Nick Berg would be wandering around Iraq by himself. He said to me there are no Americans wandering around Iraq. Do you have any better idea what Nick Berg was doing?
GERLACK: Well, from every indication that I have, he was in Iraq to try to find some business and to help with the reconstruction, find some business for his communication tower business that he had started and trying to find work in that regard. This was his second trip to Iraq. And we also heard in the last few days from some of his friends who had gotten e-mails from him during the time period that he was in Iraq, and he was talking about his desire to find work and to help with that rebuilding. So I have no other information that would otherwise describe why he was there other than the fact he wanted to be there to help with the reconstruction effort and also try to have his company get some work in the process.
GIBSON: Congressman, do you have any suspicion that Nick Berg was somehow an agent of the United States government? Was he a spy?
GERLACK: I have no indication or no facts to warrant that conclusion. But at the same time, I can also say there's a lot of open-ended questions here the that the family, as I say, have very legitimate questions about, and we need to help them get answers to these questions, and we need our agencies to help put those facts forward.
GIBSON: Congressman Jim Gerlack, was the congressman representing the Berg family and trying to help the family out. Congressman, thank you very much.
GERLACK: Thanks so much, appreciate it.
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