|Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army linked to NATO? CIA? Bin Laden?
Madeline Allbright and Tony Blair meet KLA leader Hashim Thaci
[The KLA inside Kosovo is] "led by the sons and grandsons of rightist Albanian fighters [from the]Skanderbeg volunteer SS division raised by the Nazis, or the descendants of the rightist Albanian kacak rebels who rose up against the Serbs 80 years ago. Although never much of a fighting force, the Skanderbeg division took part in the shameful roundup and deportation of the province's few hundred Jews during the Holocaust. The division's remnants fought Tito's Partisans at the end of the war, leaving thousands of ethnic Albanians dead. The decision by KLA commanders to dress their police in black fatigues and order their fighters to salute with a clenched fist to the forehead has led many to worry about these fascist antecedents."
Kosovo is KLA country now
Perhaps most revealing is the report's description of a CIA covert operation cynically named "Operation Roots." It is aimed at sowing ethnic divisions in Yugoslavia to encourage its breakup. The report says that this operation has been going on "since the beginning of Clinton's presidency." It is a joint operation with the German secret service, which has also sought to destabilize Yugoslavia. The final objective of "Roots," according to this report, "is the separation of Kosovo, with the aim of it becoming part of Albania; the separation of Montenegro, as the last means of access to the Mediterranean; and the separation of the Vojvodina, which produces most of the food for Yugoslavia. This would lead to the total collapse of Yugoslavia as a viable independent state."
Who Is The So-Called Kosovo Liberation Army?,
The United States was actively involved in the preparation, monitoring and initiation of Operation Storm: the green light from President Clinton was passed on by the US military attache in Zagreb, and the operations were transmitted in real time to the Pentagon
[exerpt from cryptome]
Considering that the US was much more interested in the situation in BiH than in Croatia, they asked Croatia to permit them to install a military base with ummanned aircraft. The United States not only monitored the complete Operation Storm, but they also actively participated with the Croatian Military in its preparation, and in the end directly initiated the operation. The green light from the White House and then President Clinton for Operation Storm was passed on by Colonel Richard C. Herrick, then US military attaché in Zagreb. Several days prior to the commencement of Operation Storm, Herrick visited Markica Rebiæ in Zagreb. Rebiæ, Miroslav Tudjman, then director of HIS and Miro Medimurac, then head of SIS, held the most intensive communications with the American military and intelligence agencies. As such, in 1996, Rebiæ was awarded the Meritorius Service Medal by Peter Galbraith, then US Ambassador to Croatia. cryptome
Ethnic Cleansing of 'Gypsies' in Kosovo
Bin Laden - Generals Wes Clark [US] and M. Jackson [UK] meet KLA leader Hashim Thaci
Kosovo Prime Minister indicted by Hague tribunal
Kosovo's Prime Minister, the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander Ramush Haradinaj, was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY - The Hague Tribunal) on 8 March.
He tendered his resignation as Prime Minister at 1300 in a statement on Radio Kosova and left for The Hague on 9 March.
Coming almost exactly one year after the 17 March 2004 riots, in which 20 people died, the indictment raises the possibility of a violent reaction by Haradinaj's supporters.
He is widely popular in Kosovo and is seen as a hero of the KLA. Nato's Kosovo Force (KFOR) brought in reinforcements in the days preceding the indictment, bolstering its strength to more than 20,000. Neil Barnett
Bin Laden and the KLA
"The KLA members, embraced by the Clinton administration in NATO's 41-day bombing campaign to bring Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the bargaining table, were trained in secret camps in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and elsewhere, according to newly obtained intelligence reports. The reports also show that the KLA has enlisted Islamic terrorists -- members of the Mujahideen --as soldiers in its ongoing conflict against Serbia, and that many already have been smuggled into Kosovo to join the fight. "
Bin Laden & the KLA
Bin Laden and the CIA
"bin Laden is the heir to Saudi construction fortune who, at least since the early 1990s, has used that money to finance countless attacks on U.S. interests and those of its Arab allies around the world.
As his unclassified CIA biography states, bin Laden left Saudi Arabia to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan after Moscow's invasion in 1979. By 1984, he was running a front organization known as Maktab al-Khidamar - the MAK - which funneled money, arms and fighters from the outside world into the Afghan war.
What the CIA bio conveniently fails to specify (in its unclassified form, at least) is that the MAK was nurtured by Pakistan's state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA's primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow's occupation."
Milosevic 'praised paramilitaries'
Prosecutors at the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have shown a secret video which captured him allegedly paying tribute to Serb paramilitaries accused of ethnic cleansing.
The 1997 footage - shot in a paramilitary camp in the Vojvodina region of northern Serbia - was played during the testimony of a former Serb commander who fought in Croatia.
Dragan Vasiljkovic - known as Captain Dragan - told the judges Serb paramilitaries did not act independently but were part of "the security services, the army or the police".
The evidence - supporting that of a key military adviser to Mr Milosevic early this month - comes as the prosecution tries to establish a line of command between the former president and atrocities committed during the Balkan wars in the 1990s.
Mr Milosevic has been on trial since last February for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during three Balkan wars, in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
Prosecutors asked Mr Vasiljkovic to authenticate the video that showed the founder of the special operations unit of the Serbian state security services boasting about its war exploits.
In the video, Franko Simatovic - known as Frenki - recounted how the unit operated 26 training camps and an air squadron to ferry men and material into the territory. Some 5,000 men fought under its command, he said.
It also shows Serbia's former state security chief Jovica Stanisic, who is accused of overall responsibility for the paramilitary units.
Mr Stanisic - who has helped the tribunal gain documentary evidence showing that the Serbian security service was subordinated directly to Mr Milosevic - is pictured showing him a map where the units fought in both wars.
Wednesday's witness said he was in no doubt that Belgrade controlled, financed and supported Serb operations in the battle for territory in the Serb-populated region of Krajina in Croatia.
"Throughout this theatre of operations, no one could participate without being a part of the security services, the army or the police," Mr Vasiljkovic said.
"Many good men died believing they were serving on the police force or in the army or in the state security service and today some people are trying to wash their hands of them," he said.
Mr Milosevic, who was president of Serbia at the time, maintains the conflict in Croatia was an uprising of local Serbs that had nothing to do with him.
He has yet to cross-examine Mr Vasiljkovic. - BBC
Milosevic's poor health hits trial
Judge orders radical review as new delay halts defence case
Ian Black, European editor - Tuesday July 6, 2004 - The Guardian
Judges at Slobodan Milosevic's war crimes trial yesterday ordered a "radical review" of the hearing after the defendant's poor health forced a fresh postponement of a case that has already dragged on for more than 2 years.
Determined not to allow the trial to founder, UN judges at the tribunal in The Hague will today issue a ruling which could demand that the former Yugoslav leader be represented by a lawyer.
So far he has defended himself against charges of geno cide. The court may also beam its proceedings live into Mr Milosevic's prison cell so he is not required to be in the dock every day.
Mr Milosevic had been scheduled to finally start his defence yesterday but a cardiologist's report showed him to be suffering from high blood pressure and in need of rest.
"The time has come for a radical review of the trial process in the light of the health problems of the accused, which are clearly chronic and recurrent," said Judge Patrick Robinson before adjourning the short hearing.
Legal sources said it was highly unlikely that the judges will rule that the Milosevic trial - the biggest such case since Hitler's henchmen faced justice at Nuremberg - cannot continue on health grounds.
Mr Milosevic, 62, looked well enough yesterday, though slightly flushed, and was as combative as ever, protesting that he had been brought to court despite a doctor's recommendation that he should be resting.
Sitting in the dock in his trademark blue suit and red tie, he protested that his medical report had been read out, and added: "What's happening here is nothing to do with the law at all, but is in the realm of politics and the media."
He forcefully rejected calls for measures to accelerate the proceedings.
Geoffrey Nice, the UN prosecutor, said counsel appointed by the court should be imposed on Mr Milosevic, himself a trained lawyer who has represented himself since the trial began in February 2002.
Mr Nice said the workload of researching witnesses and preparing cross-examinations was contributing to the stress levels, blood pressure and heart problems detailed in a cardiologist's report commissioned by the court. Another possibility for reducing Mr Milosevic's workload was the installation of a live video link between the prisoner's cell at the nearby UN detention centre and the tribunal building.
Mr Milosevic insisted that both these options were "out of the question" and that he would personally be in court to cross-examine witnesses.
"Any other procedure would put me in an even more unequal position than I am in now," he added.
The court can appoint a so-called "standby lawyer" to represent a defendant without his agreement, as it has done with Vojislav Seslj, a Serb nationalist who is also defending himself on war crimes charges.
Stephen Kay, a British barrister and "friend of the court" appointed to ensure Mr Milosevic gets a fair trial, said there was no doubt that the former president's health had deteriorated. "It may well be that the court is at a stage now of having to consider ... his very fitness to stand trial at all," he said.
Mr Nice retorted that the case must be tried and that Mr Milosevic himself wanted to stand trial.
The 66 charges against him arise from the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo between 1991 and 1999. As well as genocide - notoriously hard to prove - he is also accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The sense that the trial has been dragging on interminably was heightened last week by the death of Richard May, the British judge who presided at the start until he stepped down in February because of ill-health. He was replaced by Judge Robinson, a Jamaican.
Mr Milosevic has said he wants to call as witnesses the former US president Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and other American and British ministers.
The trial was due to have resumed with a long opening statement by Mr Milosevic after a four-month break since the prosecution case ended, having called nearly 300 witnesses.
The genocide charge he faces arises from the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, in which more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by Serb forces. Attention on the next stage of the marathon case has been heightened by the coincidence that Saddam Hussein is facing a long trial.
Saddam is thought likely to want to show his judges how he was backed by the US and Britain when he launched his eight-year war against neighbouring Iran in 1980. - guardian.co.uk
Shooting Of 7 'Terrorists'
Staged For US - Macedonia
SKOPJE -- Police in Macedonia said yesterday that the killing of seven alleged terrorists two years ago was staged to win US support and that the victims were simply illegal immigrants.
Mirjana Konteska, a police spokeswoman, said that six people, including three former police commanders, two special police officers and a businessman, have been charged with murder.
"That was an act of a sick mind," she said. "They ordered the brutal murder of seven Pakistani men."
The killings were carried out in March 2002 by special police who claimed to have eliminated a terrorist group plotting to attack embassies and representatives in Macedonia. The spokeswoman said that the seven victims had been lured into Macedonia with promises that they would be transferred to Western Europe. They were taken by police to the Rastanski Lozja area, which is north-east of the capital Skopje, where they were encircled and shot by special officers using automatic weapons. "They lost their lives in a staged murder," she said. There was no immediate comment from international officials in Macedonia. Western representatives in the country had demanded an investigation. Macedonia has been a close US ally in the Balkans and has supported the war on terrorism. Also facing possible charges in connection with the case is the former Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, who was chief of police at the time. He is likely to be charged if parliament revokes the immunity from prosecution he enjoys as a deputy. He denied the allegations, telling reporters that he and his associates were tipped off about the alleged terrorists by unidentified American intelligence officers.
If found guilty, the suspects could face from 10 years to life in prison.
By Konstantin Testorides - The Independent - UK
Full article: How NATO's handling of the media during the Kosovo crisis was characterised by news management, propaganda and censorship.
By Andy Wasley.
Writing in a Sunday newspaper in May, Tony Blair spoke of Britain having a free press, of being accountable over NATO's bombing of Serbia. He emphasised that as a result of NATO's respect of international law, Slobodan Milosevic had been indicted as a war criminal. What he failed to mention was that he himself may soon be indicted for war crimes, that a dossier accusing him, the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and other leading Government officials of crimes against humanity had been handed into the war crimes tribunal in the Hague.
The little known Cambridge based Movement for the Advancement of International Criminal Law had compiled the dossier as the text of the indictment against Milosevic was being read out by the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington.
This was the first time in modern international history that a prominent Western leader had been formally accused of war crimes, yet it was judged to be so unimportant that it failed to make the pages of all but one national newspaper. Television and radio ignored it entirely. It was, as one leading war critic suggested, "As if it hadn't happened."
This was understandable. The Labour administration had clearly heeded a lesson learnt by previous governments; that fighting a war without the control and support of a sympathetic media is political suicide.
The result was a four month 'war of spin' characterised by information suppression, media manipulation and news management. London, Brussels and Washington worked overtime throughout the conflict to set the media agenda - sustaining the propaganda informing the world that the cause was a just one, the attacks on Serbia and subsequent occupation of Kosovo a necessary evil. The resulting disparity between newspaper and television headlines and what was occurring on the ground in Kosovo was both remarkable and alarming.
Rather than acknowledge or question this the media, for the most part, simply played along. Journalists, with a few notable exceptions, relied almost exclusively upon the output of NATO's media machine - press releases, briefings by appropriate spokespeople and blurred footage shot by aircrews ten thousand feet above the ground - to fill the monumental amount of column inches and airtime given over to the conflict.
This illusion of saturation coverage obscured the reality that the media (both knowingly and otherwise) acted primarily as a mouthpiece for NATO's campaign and is used as evidence by NATO apologists to argue that there had been sufficiently objective reporting throughout the crisis.
Throughout the bombing campaign (and even after NATO's illegal occupation) most reporting engaged the question of 'how long?' rather than 'why?'. Virtually nowhere, early on at least, was the campaign questioned on grounds of legality or morality. This was despite it being widely know that Tony Blair, in encouraging his NATO counterparts to support the bombing, was effectively inciting a violation of international humanitarian law.
The diplomatic sham of the Rambouillet negotiations, which, according to some critics, were deliberately flawed by NATO in order to spur on the use of force in the Balkans, was never fully analysed by the media.
The all too apparent (staged?) lack of common ground between US and British diplomats provided Milosevic with more than enough evidence to assume that at this stage, without a cohesive public face and US support, Blair's call for bombing would never be heeded. The uncertain (manufactured?) divide between London and Washington gave the Serbian leader carte blanche to continue operations inside Kosovo, providing the necessary justification for NATO to commence bombing.
Such a scenario was almost entirely ignored, reports instead focusing on Milosevic's failure to attend negotiations in person (not surprising, considering that indictment for war crimes was imminent) and the unwillingness of both the Serbs and Kosovo Albanians to agree on a compromise route.
There was little discussion of NATO's own uncompromising stance, that a proposal to deploy a small UN peacekeeping unit in the region to oversee any temporary settlement had been previously agreed to by Milosevic, yet rejected by NATO (Blair specifically) as 'insufficient'. Had he chosen not to ignore it, this fundamental Serb concession could have averted the bombing.
As one senior Foreign Office source has since privately admitted, "From where we were sitting, it was clear that a decision [by NATO] had effectively been made long before sitting around the negotiating table [at Rambouillet]; by this time it was a case of comply or be bombed."
When Milosevic later commented to Richard Holbrook, "You are a superpower, you can do what you want", during the US envoys 'last ditch' attempt at peace in Belgrade, the media clearly missed the point.
This child was injured by a cluster bomb - weapons which in Vietnam and Cambodia directly lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. Such weapons frequently fail to detonate on impact and can remain undetected for years after.
SPINNING THE BOMBING
NATO's decision to bomb Serbia on the 24th March without an appropriate UN resolution is arguably comparable to Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941 - without justification,
a violent act of war. At least, this is how some critics viewed it. Such a perspective failed to receive coverage in the media. It simply played along.
In the days after the bombing began, images of bedraggled refugees fleeing Kosovo were screened universally, not only to impart to the world the sheer scale of the crisis unfolding, but to justify the West's use of force in the region. What the images failed to portray accurately was that a great many of the refugees were in fact fleeing the NATO bombs rather than the Serbian death squads NATO accused of exclusively causing the exodus.
The evidence of aid workers suggesting that many refugees had fled in fear of being killed by NATO failed to make the news schedules, a NATO spokesman claiming that "Of course opponents [to the bombing] are going to say that." He'd clearly not been privy to the written testimony of hundreds of refugees secretly collected by several aid workers with Balkans First.
Maria Stopas and Emily Longmoor had spent two weeks interviewing as many displaced Kosovo Albanians as possible; they estimate that at least two thirds were equally, or more afraid of, NATO than of the Serbians. Most gave the NATO bombing as their prime motivation for fleeing Kosovo.
Television cameras openly filmed NATO warplanes taking off from the decks of naval craft in the Mediterranean, they ignored the accounts of the refugees who had witnessed the destruction of their homes by 'astray' NATO bombs.
For all Blair's talk of a free press, of being accountable, where was the balanced, uncensored reporting?, where was the alternative?
The coverage which did find itself onto the six o'clock news was enough to confirm critics fears - that its covertly selective nature had been deliberately designed to obscure the truth.
Graphic pictures portraying the victims of alleged Serbian atrocities were screened freely. In contrast, the charred remains of Serbian families blown to bits by NATO missiles were 'edited', deemed too offensive for public viewing. The media played along.
The very language employed by NATO spokespeople was designed to shift the focus of attention away from those responsible for scenes, which in another context, would only be described as atrocities. 'Blunder' became one favourite, with Jamie Shea, NATO's cockney spokesman, employing it regularly to defend the 'occasional yet inevitable' civilian casualties.
Rather than verbally illustrate the terrible carnage caused when a stray bomb lands in a residential street, 'blunder' conjures up all sorts of images of schoolboys comics' generals making another mistake - 'whoops, there goes another, must do better next time.'
'Collateral damage' became the ideal substitute for the desolation caused when a bomb fell on a school rather than on the munitions factory 'confirmed as nearby'. NATO claimed from the start that it only had a bombing policy of striking targets 'of primary importance to the Serbian leadership and infrastructure'. There was, according to official spokespeople, no policy of targeting civilians.
Again, the use of language cleverly obscured the true nature of the campaign. NATO may not have set out to deliberately machine gun civilians on the street, but if they happened to be in the vicinity of 'legitimate' targets then so be it.
When the headquarters of Serbia's leading television station was hit, twelve workers lost their lives (producers, technicians and the tea lady were among those killed). NATO claimed this to be a 'regrettable consequence'. Knowing that TV stations usually require a twenty four hour staff presence, can the policy of not targeting civilians still be believed?
Equally, when the Chinese embassy was hit, resulting in several deaths, the true consequences the action were hidden. Television pictures illustrating the structural damage to the building were shown, the bodies of two passing Serbian school children were not. The media played along.
Closer to home, BBC executives in London, when faced with the prospect of an anti war debate being held in their building (ironically, in the National Union of Journalists room), did everything in their power to cancel the meeting, informing the principle speaker, Alan Simpson MP, that the event was 'off', and forcing it to be rescheduled to a nearby university campus.
More covertly, when an election broadcast for the Socialist Labour party was found to contain graphic images of victims of a 'blundered' NATO bombing mission, BBC executives took the decision to cut the offending images; referring the issue to the Independent Television Commission, which immediately upheld the decision. According to a spokesman, "Such images, if allowed to be used in the context of politics, and at a time such as this, could be seen as unacceptably undermining the integrity of the ruling [Labour] administration."
Clearly, the broadcasting of scenes which visually illustrate the human cost of the NATO bombing campaign was seen as unpalatable and outside the margins of decency that the BBC so vigorously upholds. Questioning the integrity of the Labour party (it was the Labour party, was it not, that ordered British jets into action over Belgrade?') clearly steps beyond the boundaries of 'fair play' and 'unbias' reporting that the BBC constructs its reputation upon.
When asked why there had been coverage of the substantial anti war demonstrations in London and Liverpool (an estimated 20,000 had turned out at one), the only suggestion the BBC press office could suggest was that the organisers had failed to properly publicise the events.
The few journalists who did question the bombing campaign quickly found themselves isolated and ridiculed. When the BBC's 'Today' presenter, John Humphrys, said on air that the bombing of Serbia was 'a mess', his comments were compared to asking 'What happens if it doesn't work?' at the time of the D-Day landings. Despite publicly supporting Humphrys' approach, BBC chiefs secretly axed a travel documentary examining Serbia, as one senior producer put it, "Openly signalling which side of the fence the corporation would be sitting upon.
When John Pilger, writing in the Guardian, spoke out against what he saw as the Western media's self censorship, he found himself at the centre of a number of allegations ranging from being 'ever madder',' a liar' and a plain 'propagandist'. His claim that up to thirty eight NATO warplanes had been shot down (official NATO estimates put the figure at two), was roundly criticised for being incorrect.
Anyone seriously researching the issue of how many warplanes had been lost would have known that the true figure is nearer twenty than the mere two widely reported. A telephone call to NATO HQ would confirm that 'Two US planes have been shot down, [we] cannot confirm or deny that a number of others have been lost.' Apparently, journalists needed to contact NATO countries individually to clarify further enquiries.
Do this, and the figure rises significantly.
The alleged Serb massacre at Racak, which spurred NATO's intervention in Kosovo, was neither questioned or investigated by the media.
NATO defended its public statistic by stating that not only were losses bad for moral (ie political survival) but by pointing out that its spokespeople answer specifically what they are asked - in most instances, how many aircraft have been 'shot down'. The figure did not include aircraft 'damaged', 'missing' or otherwise unaccounted for'.
The example illustrated both the selective nature of the NATO media machine and the press's disturbing reliance upon it. No one, it seems, bothered to check beyond the briefings stating that only the two aircraft had been lost.
Similarly, when Ian Craig approached the media in May with a story suggesting that Greek hoteliers were planning to sue NATO for a loss of tourist earnings, it was turned down on the basis of being 'without substance' as the number of Western travellers visiting Greece had in fact increased. This was true, but only in so far as the figure had increased on the previous month's paltry statistics - overall, tourist visits to Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean were at an all time low' partly because of the region's proximity to the Balkans war zone.
Editors had telephoned the Greek national tourist office and NATO (both falsely claimed that the story had been fabricated by Serb sympathisers in an attempt to cause a further rift between an already strained Athens and Brussels) but failed to contact the hoteliers themselves. Neither had they attempted to question in what context the tourist statistics had 'increased'.
By the time Craig had pointed this out, the original issue of the hoteliers suing NATO (an unprecedented action) had been overshadowed by an argument over the interpretation of statistics. As one reporter put it, "NATO spin effectively killed the story - the national press, knowingly or otherwise, assisted in the process."
MODERN IMPERIALISM 'NOT TO BLAME'
When journalists suggested that British and US foreign policy objectives might account for NATO's keenness to bomb Serbia, rather than any genuine humanitarian agenda, NATO spokespeople denounced such suggestions as 'mere muck raking' and attempted to 'kill' the stories.
One senior Foreign Office official claimed that any journalist suggesting that imperialistic overseas policy objectives should be used to explain the Kosovo crisis should be sacked: "Such theories belong in the history books. They might explain wars in the 19th century, but not in the present day."
Such a response came despite William Cohen, US Secretary of Defence, clearly illustrating NATO's economic position in the Balkans last year: "Expanding into Eastern Europe spreads political stability, and with that spread of stability there is a prospect to attract investment."
Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa, captured the mood of many anti war commentators when he explained the contemporary Balkans problem in terms of expansionist commercial and economic objectives: "International financial institutions and creditors [are attempting] to subject the Balkan economies to massive privatisation and the dismantling of the public sector. While attention is focused on troop movements and cease fires, the Balkans is busy being transformed into a safe heaven for free enterprise."
Such a move would generate-potentially limitless revenue for Western business and governments, the interest charged on loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) enough to eventually outweigh any costs incurred in waging a bombing campaign against Milosevic. When Chossudovsky argued, with evidence, that the "cultural, ethnic and religious divisions are highlighted, presented dogmatically as the sole cause of the [Balkan] crisis when in reality they are the consequences of a much deeper process of economic and political fracturing", he perhaps presented the single most coherent anti war perspective in fruition, yet the media simply ignored it.
As Kevin Dowling pointed out, both the US and Britain have long regarded the Balkans a staple region in which to expand the principles of free market economics; since the Dayton Accords ended the last round of conflict in the region the number of Western multinational companies operating there is estimated to have trebled.
Serbia and Kosovo strategically hold some of the world's richest resources in terms of mineral-extraction - last year Greece signed a multi billion dollar deal with Serbia to expand a joint mining operation which could generate over a trillion dollars in export revenue, in part explaining the Greek Government's reluctance to bomb Serbia.
The Anglo-American wing of mining conglomerate, RTZ, also operates mines in both Macedonia and Bulgaria, its operations in the Balkans theatre under threat as long as ethnic conflict continues to proliferate. A leaked memo from a senior RTZ official clearly illustrates the company's position: 'If the [NATO] mission in the Balkans fails to smooth the unrest out, and the current violence continues, [RTZ] will seriously have to reassess its involvement in the region. The Foreign Office cannot seem to reassure us for the future.'
Despite such suggestive evidence, and growing proof that economic objectives might at least in part explain NATO's eagerness to use military force against Serbia ( there are over 35 other wars currently raging on the planet, many of them also driven by ethnic division), neither the media or politicians acknowledged so, stating that any story which suggested so was 'without foundation.'
The newspapers which did entertain the idea mentioned the region's economic potential but failed to highlight the political implications.
WAR CRIMES - A KLA HOAX?
'Without foundation' was also applied by NATO to suggestions that alleged Serbian massacres were being 'overplayed' and manipulated in the media in an attempt to justify the bombing, deflect attention away from mounting 'blunders' and alleged atrocities carried out by the Kosovo Liberation Army.
When John Sweeney in the Observer exposed how Serbian police had brutally massacred a number of Kosovan Albanians in the village of Little Krushe in late March, the piece was received, justifiably, as seminal proof that Serbian atrocities had indeed taken place. There was however, no coverage of emerging evidence suggesting that previous alleged Serb killings were being 'set up' by KLA fighters, eager to employ such tactics as propaganda and speed up NATO's intervention in the conflict.
Less than a week after the Observer's 'Little Krushe' report, Reid Irving highlighted how KLA fighters may have hoaxed the widely reported 'January 16th' massacre at the village of Racak. According to Irving' after a gun battle between KLA fighters and Serbian police had ceased, 22 bodies were discovered in a shallow grave on the outskirts of the village. Foreign journalists were invited to the site by KLA soldiers and told that whilst the battle had raged, civilians had been rounded up and shot by the Serbian police. The journalists, suspicious of the amount of time that the Serbs would have had to carry out such an act, claimed that they were unable to obtain reliable testimony as to the exact chronology of events from the KLA.
Joined by pathologists from Belarus and Finland, they reported that the bodies had had clothing changed, that injuries didn't match damage to clothing and that additional bullets had been fired at close range to give the impression of a massacre. Although, as Irving points out, the jury may still be out as to the legitimacy of the alleged Racak massacre, the element of doubt is significant as it was this event which brought about the chain of diplomacy that resulted in NATO bombs falling on Belgrade. Racak spurred the US and Britain into taking action against Milosevic, and, as historian Thomas Craig has suggested, "prompted the first use of the term genocide to describe events in the former Yugoslavia - a term used by NATO leaders to persuade the public that force was now necessary."
When the Chinese embassy was bombed, the true consequences of the action were hidden. Television pictures illustrating the structural damage to the building were beamed around the world, the bodies of two passing Serbian school children were not.
Contemporary genocide is more typically associated with the extensive crimes against humanity committed in Cambodia' Rwanda or Turkey than those presented from the entire Balkans history. No attempt to question such over zealous use of the term was made by the media. There were no reports on the nine o'clock news suggesting that Racak might have been a hoax.
Comparable selective reporting was applied to an article which appeared in LM magazine investigating the circumstances surrounding the now famous ITN pictures of a starved Bosnian Muslim, Fikret Alic, apparently caged behind barbed wire at the Bosnian Serb run 'Trnopolje' camp in 1992. These images became the most powerful symbol of the Bosnian war and according to NATO, provided evidence of Serb run 'concentration camps', - evidence which spurred the US, UK and other Western nations to contemplate the use of force in the Balkans theatre.
The article, written by Thomas Deichmann, suggested that the camp was no 'Nazi-style concentration camp', that in fact the ITN camera crew had filmed the 'prisoners' through barbed wire belonging to an adjacent agricultural compound, rather than wire encircling the camp, providing a misleading picture of the situation to the world.
Despite being published across Europe, when LM magazine ran the piece in Britain, ITN demanded that all copies be pulped, that the editors apologise and that damages be paid. When LM refused, in the words of one senior editor, "to be gagged in an unprecedented move to silence the independent media", ITN issued writs for libel, the case is still awaiting trial. Although the forthcoming case itself has received some coverage, its wider implications for freedom of speech and in explaining the the background to the continuing Balkans unrest have not. Few newspapers, television or radio stations have seriously examined the background to an event, which, as with the Racak massacre, sparked off NATO's use of force in the Balkans.
Instead, both Deichmann and the editors of LM have been systematically branded 'Serb apologists' and compared to the revisionist historians associated with the Holocaust. There has been no outcry at an attempt by a major news organisation to stifle an alternative view of world affairs by an independent magazine. The dominant perspective, and NATO's associated actions, have been endorsed without significant protest or investigation.
The immense damage inflicted on Serbia's infrastructure was rarely conveyed by NATO-friendly media.
MANAGING THE OCCUPATION
The issue of a ground invasion had divided NATO from the outset, its implications for the future of the treaty organisation as well as the future of the wider Balkans region dominating headlines, before, during and after the occupation began.
This show of diplomatic wrangling provided a convincing sideshow to the reality of events on the ground, enticing coverage and analysis away from the brutal manner in which NATO occupation troops evidently dealt with the unexpected level of resistance encountered as they crossed the border.
Unreported, as the first retreating Serbian's were shot by British, American and German troops entering Kosovo, US planes were simultaneously providing 'tactical support' to KLA fighters engaging rogue units of the Serbian police. This 'tactical support' was the usage of cluster bombs against an army with little fire power and no heavy artillery; mostly civilians armed with ageing Russian made rifles. Witnesses on the ground say that US jets repeatedly attacked Serbian police units, many of them preparing to retreat as agreed by Milosevic only days before. Among those killed by the secret air strikes were three young brothers returning from a day working in fields nearby.
Not only did NATO fail to admit that the attacks had been officially sanctioned (implying that the pilots had acted on their own free will, in which case an investigation should be conducted), it denied that the action contradicted official policy. Luckily then that Blair's earlier statement that "NATO will avoid taking sides" had been largely taken as media friendly rhetoric. Few journalists investigated or acknowledged the air strikes as genuine despite eyewitness accounts, those that did failed to question why such an action had gone unaccounted for by NATO considering its already tarnished track record in admitting culpability.
Equally, when the KLA first suggested that it would not lay down its arms in the face of the oncoming NATO occupation troops, it was widely reported that both Clinton and Blair firmly stated that such a stance contradicted the agreement reached at Rambouillet (false in itself) and would be dealt with accordingly.
What failed to be reported was that many of the weapons in the hands of the KLA had been supplied by the US. There was no mention that the US Government began arming the Kosovo fighters as early as August 1998, hoping, in the words of one senior defence official, "to precipitate an internal solution to the ongoing Kosovan problem."
NATO at first denied this but later admitted that it could not claim for certain that some of the weapons in the hands of the KLA may be of US origin.
Commentators are already talking of the Kosovo conflict as being 'well managed' by NATO, Blair specifically. Polly Toynbee caused outrage amongst anti war journalists after announcing on BBC Newsnight that "when going to war, one must weigh up whether the good that will come will outweigh the bad - in this case, I think the facts speak for themselves. Kosovo is a just and moral war."
This 'just and moral' war has led to the killing of well over ten thousand Serbian people, many of them civilians. It has smashed the Serbian economy and infrastructure and destroyed the natural environment. It has displaced over a million people and destabilised the entire region, creating a scenario where NATO troops had no choice but to deploy. The media then described this as the 'Liberation' of Kosovo'. Television pictures freely illustrated the ecstatic Kosovo Albanians as NATO troops entered the towns and villages previously occupied by Serb troops. What they failed to show was the significant Serbian anti-NATO demonstrations taking place away alongside the jubilant celebrations.
Equally, there was no mention of the British and French company representatives flooding into Kosovo just behind the troops, preparing to estimate the scale of the rebuilding programme required after any war. There were no television reports examining why it was that some UK firms had already negotiated lucrative construction deals with the Foreign Office even before the first bombs fell on Belgrade.
None of this seemed to worry Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's press secretary, who forced his way onto the media platform to give a scathing attack on what he saw as a media obsessed with 'tripping up' and 'catching out' NATO command, a media which applied "a moral equivalence between ethnic cleansing and a stray bomb that accidentally killed civilians." Not only was such an attack false in fact (no, or very few journalists had dared question NATO's motives), it was illustrative of the wider media 'postmortem' which took place after the occupation. For all the discussion about whether the media had indeed covered the conflict in an objective manner, most of which kept the subject on a philosophical (ie inaccessible) level, there was virtually no mention of the very issue at hand - reporting (or exposing as it became) on events which failed to make the news. As one commentator put it, "Campbell was brought in to 'spin' the spin, and in doing so brought the level of discussion down to a margin of seriousness not fit for debate in the serious press."
Equally, should Campbell and most of the other media commentators who commented on the subject really be taken seriously, considering that he (and many of them) represent a country for which dropping bombs is now part of daily business? Even now, whilst engaging in Kosovo, Britain and its chief ally, the US, are bombing Iraq almost daily, with America attempting to up the stakes in the Far East by deploying a mini 'Star Wars' 'Theatre Missile Defence' between Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. This is part of Clinton's plan to 'stabilise' the world through expansionist US foreign policy - 'stabilise' through the expansion of nuclear weapons programmes, the very reason Iraq is being bombed and isolated in the first place.
Clinton talks of 'decent', 'moral' values, Blair of the 'right thing to do'. The US supports the Turkish Government with finance and weapons. A Government with one of the worst records of human rights in the world, a Government engaged in systematic 'ethnic cleansing' against the Kurds - the primary motive for Clinton's war against the Serbs.
The UK repeatedly sells arms to Indonesia, a country whose government has murdered almost half a million East Timorese in the name of occupation. Murdered with the help of British Hawk jets and machine guns. Of the forthcoming referendum on independence for East Timor, Blair talks of 'excellent progress', 'of Britain's commitment to democracy'. Democracy is what he spoke of when the first bombs fell on Belgrade.
Andy Wasley is a journalist and researcher specialising in media issues. Additional reporting by Mollie Brandl-Bowen and Simon Palmer.
reproduced from here
Serbs, Albanians begin talks on future of Kosovo
"Conditional independence" may settle legal status
By Daniel Williams - The Washington Post Pristina, Serbia-Montenegro - Six years after the end of warfare, fear and suspicion still enforce a strict separation of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, but for the first time, both sides are beginning to picture a future in which they might - just might - live together.
Talks began Monday in Pristina on the future legal status of an area that has been under the administration of the United Nations since U.S.-led bombing forced out Serbian forces in 1999.
Anti-Serb riots in March 2004 stoked fear in Pristina and in foreign capitals of new violence between the two populations, and possibly even between Serbia and Kosovo, prompting the U.S. and European governments to endorse the talks.
"This is about ending a dispute of more than a century," said Avni Arifi, an adviser to Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi. "The only way to move forward is to talk. Otherwise anything can happen, mostly bad." "It's time to show some political maturity and do something about this conflict," said Sanda Raskovic, an official in Belgrade who will be part of the Serbian negotiating team.
Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president who was appointed by U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan to mediate the talks, arrived by air Monday in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, to open a round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at finding common ground.
Officials in Pristina and Belgrade, the Serbian capital, say they eventually will sit down and speak directly.
NATO began its bombing campaign in 1999 in response to the killing of Albanian civilians during a Serb crackdown on Albanian separatist guerrillas. Despite six years of U.N. administration, Kosovo remains officially a province of Serbia. The Albanian majority demands full independence. Serbia wants to keep Kosovo within its territorial bounds, albeit with substantial autonomy.
"Kosovo is part of Serbia, and not only part of its history but also part of its present and future," Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica told parliament in Belgrade on Monday.
The United States and European governments will wield strong influence in the negotiations. Many analysts predict they will eventually pressure and cajole the two sides into accepting a status being called "conditional independence." Under such a framework, Kosovo would formally separate from Serbia but would remain for an extended period under some type of international supervision, with foreign peacekeeping troops continuing their patrols. That is the case in nearby Bosnia, where a U.S.-brokered peace deal initialed 10 years ago ended another of the Balkans' ethnic wars.
EUFOR, NATO must try harder on Karadzic -del Ponte
SARAJEVO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte said on Tuesday she had told NATO and EU peacekeepers in Bosnia to try harder in their search for Bosnian Serb top war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic.
"I had a meeting today with ... EUFOR, NATO pertaining particularly to location of Karadzic," del Ponte told a news conference. "I need more activity ... in handing (in) more information, more intelligence because I don't know if Karadzic is in Republika Srpska, if Karadzic is in Bosnia-Herzegovina or if he is in Serbia-Montenegro."
Del Ponte expressed frustration that the top fugitives from Bosnia's 1992-95 war, Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic, were still at large.
"I cannot accept that anymore, but particularly I cannot accept anymore words and promises of full cooperation that is not arriving," del Ponte said after meeting Bosnia's new international peace overseer Christian Schwarz-Schilling.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council in December, del Ponte said NATO and the European troops were "dysfunctional", and did not share intelligence with the court.
Mladic and Karadzic are indicted for genocide by the U.N. war crimes tribunal over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 people were killed.
The prosecutor said she was not satisfied with the cooperation of Serbia and Bosnia's Serb Republic, and reiterated that Mladic was in Serbia, a statement repeatedly denied by authorities there.
"I can confirm that Mladic is in Serbia. But Karadzic, I don't know where he is," del Ponte said. She said she had information Karadzic was in the region but did not know in which country.
Bosnian court charges former Karadzic minister
SARAJEVO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Bosnia's state court formally charged former Bosnian Serb minister Momcilo Mandic with helping war crimes fugitives, abuse of office, fraud and organised crime, the court said on Wednesday.
Mandic, a former minister in the government of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, has been charged on 14 counts together with three other top Bosnian Serb officials, including ex-Serb presidency member Mirko Sarovic.
The court said he was accused of abuse of office, forgeries and assistance to fugitives such as Karadzic, who is indicted by the U.N. war crimes court for genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo.
Bosnia's former peace overseer Paddy Ashdown had accused Mandic of supporting Karadzic financially, but Mandic denied this. Ashdown sacked three other officials from their positions, suspecting them of helping war crimes fugitives evade justice.
The group is blamed for the bankruptcy of the Privredna Banka bank in the Serb part of Sarajevo, owned by Mandic, after depositors' funds were transferred to political party accounts.
Some funds are believed to have gone to finance the support network of Karadzic, who has been on the run since 1997.
Mandic left Bosnia towards the end of the 1992-95 war and moved to Belgrade where he became a wealthy businessman. He was arrested last August in Montenegro and transferred to Bosnia for detention.
Controversial Bosnian Serb businessman killed
ISN SECURITY WATCH (Tuesday, 7 March: 13.25 CET) - Bosnian Serb businessman Ratomir Spajic, suspected of aiding war crimes fugitives, has been shot dead by unknown gunmen in the Bosnian Serb town of Pale, just a few kilometers outside the capital, Sarajevo.
The international community has accused Spajic of helping mastermind the hideout of Europe's most-wanted war crimes suspect, Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic. Karadzic has been on the run for over a decade.
Spajic was the owner of a demining company.
According to a statement from the Interior Ministry of the Bosnian Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, unknown gunmen opened fire on Spajic through the window of a café late on Friday night, killing him and wounding three others, including a journalist from Bosnian federal television (FTV).
Police detained several people following the incident, but all were released shortly afterward. While the local media is full of speculation as to a motive by the murder of Spajic, the police say they have established no motive as of yet.
In 2004, the EU banned Spajic from travelling to EU countries for allegedly assisting war crimes fugitives, including Karadzic and his wartime Bosnian Serb army general, Ratko Mladic - both of whom are wanted by the UN's Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The ICTY has indicted both for war crimes committed during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.
Bosnian police raided Spajic's house in 2003, after the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, under suspicion that the Bosnian Serb businessman was hiding Milorad Ulemek-Legija, the main suspect in the Djindjic murder.
Spajic also was under investigation for the murder of Pale police chief Zeljko Markovic several years ago.
In other news, Bosnian state border service (SBS) guards killed one person and wounded two others in a shootout with alleged drug smugglers in northern town of Bileca on Saturday.
According to the SBS, six people suspected of smuggling drugs between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro resisted search attempts by guards. In the ensuing shootout, one suspect, identified as Radenko Vujovic, was killed, local media reported.
- ISN security
Milosevic found dead in his cell
By Ian Bickerton in The Hague - March 11 2006
Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president on trial for war crimes, was on Saturday found dead in his cell at a detention centre outside The Hague.
Initial reports suggested Mr Milosevic, who was 64 and had suffered a long history of illness and heart problems, died from natural causes. A full investigation is underway, the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia said in a statement.
Mr Milosevic was found "lifeless on his bed in his cell" at the UN Detention unit at Scheveningen on Saturday morning, the tribunal said. The guard immediately alerted the detention unit officer in command and the medical officer, who confirmed the death.
Dutch police and the coroner have started an inquiry. A full autopsy and toxicological examination have been ordered. Judge Fausto Pocar, president of the tribunal, has ordered a full inquiry. Mr Milosevic's family has been informed.
Mr Milosevic had been in custody since his extradition from former Yugoslavia in 2001. He faced charges of genocide and war crimes for his role in the Balkan conflict during the 1990s. He had refused to acknowledge the authority of the tribunal in The Hague and was conducting his own defence.
His ill health had slowed the legal process to a crawl, particularly since 2004. Experts said the proceedings had lasted barely one year in terms of court time, since 2001.
Reactions to his death centred on a sense of injustice. Ben Bot, the Dutch foreign minister, interviewed by Dutch media at an EU meeting in Salzburg, Austria, said: "It is sad for his victims…and for the fact that the process cannot be completed. It would have been better, also from the perspective of history, if the law had run its course."
Mr Bot said it was his understanding that Mr Milosevic had died of natural causes. Javier Solana, secretary general of the Council of the European Union, speaking at the same meeting, said he hoped the event would help Serbia to focus more on the future.
Lord Ashdown, the British politician and former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina who gave evidence against Mr Milosevic at the tribunal, told the BBC: "It is an act of closure on the Balkan tragedy, though not the act of closure any right thinking person would have hoped for. We would have preferred justice."
However Dutch media reported that Iviva Dacic, an unofficial spokesman for the Serbian Socialist Party, of which Mr Milosevic remained chairman, had made accusations against the authorities. Mr Dacic said: "He has been systematically murdered by all the years he has been detained in The Hague."
There was also criticism of the tribunal process, with some commentators suggesting that pressure would be brought upon the Tribunal to speed future trials. Milica Pesic, a former Serbian television news presenter, told CNN: "People here are asking if they took his health problems seriously enough."
Lord Ashdown said it was unfair to criticise the court. The main reason that the case had dragged on was because the tribunal was concerned not to put Mr Milosevic under undue strain, Lord Ashdown said.
Mr Milosevic had recently requested the tribunal to allow him to go to Moscow for medical treatment. Mr Ashdown said he suspected that was a "politically motivated" move.
Lord Ashdown described Mr Milosevic as "charismatic and intelligent" but said: "He had an amazing capacity to tell a lie with a straight face."
Mladic and Karadzic must face trial - Del Ponte
THE HAGUE, March 11 (Reuters) - The war crimes for which Slobodan Milosevic was indicted could not go unpunished and those suspects still at large must be brought to justice, the U.N. tribunal's chief prosecutor said on Saturday.
"The death of Slobodan Milosevic, a few weeks before the completion of his trial will prevent justice to be done in his case," Carla del Ponte said in a statement.
The former Yugoslav president was found dead in his cell at The Hague tribunal's detention centre on Saturday.
Del Ponte said six men accused of similar crimes, particularly former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic, must be handed over to face trial at The Hague.
"The international community and the tribunal are responsible to the victims to ensure that all of these accused are brought to justice and tried in The Hague, especially Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic," she said.
Del Ponte has said repeatedly she believes Mladic is in Serbia and that Karadzic is hiding in eastern Bosnia and Montenegro.
Like father, like son ... the smuggling scams of Marco Milosevic
By Gabriel Ronay -
SERBIA remains a safe haven for everyone – including indicted war criminals and racketeers – connected to Slobodan Milosevic's nationalist regime. In the fifth year of the ex-president's war crimes trial, the Milosevic name still works its magic. Among fugitive "Serb war heroes", disgraced nationalist politicians and unemployed paramilitary gangsters, Marco Milosevic's smuggling racket is the talk of the town.
Marco has been running Belgrade's biggest contraband cigarettes scam, netting €76 million during a seven-year accounting period alone. According to a report by the Serbian Department Combating Organised Crime, the Marco gang has cornered the cigarette smuggling market "with the backing of the State Security Service, top Customs officials and several politicians in close contacts with them."
The old Serbian state apparatus is looking after its own. Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic and Marco Milosevic are just the tip of the iceberg. And murder has not posed much of a headache for the nationalist racketeers.
Recently Ratko's supply lines ran into trouble in Bulgaria after he fell out with the kingpin of that end of his racket. Ivan Todorov was shot dead in his Porsche in Sofia last month. It was the second attempt on his life. Sofia sources suggest he knew too much about the Belgrade end of Marco's scam.
According to Belgrade's investigative television programme Insider, Marco and Todorov began their operation through the Black Sea port of Burgas and the border checkpoint of Kalotina in 2003 with the connivance of Bulgarian and Serbian officials. But Marco's cigarette racket actually began in 1996. Brankica Stankovic of the Insider programme revealed that, in spite of several Serbian police investigations, "Marco's classic cigarette smuggling via Bulgaria had earned him €76m between 1996 and 2003 alone."
Sofia police have arrested Velin Dobrev–Velata, a professional assassin, and charged him with Todorov's murder. The investigation is offering a brief glimpse of the Serb nationalists' close links to the Balkans underworld.
Dobrev-Velata admitted shooting Todorov for €40,000 but offered to turn state's evidence. According to Sofia's Darik Radio, Marco took out a contract on Todorov. The contract was with the Marguins, a Sofia "Murder Inc" run by the underworld figures Krassimir and Nikolay Marinov who paid Dobrev-Velata the €40,000. He admitted receiving the same sum for two other notorious murders.
Plamen Minev, former head of Bulgarian Customs, said in an interview: "Bulgaria has become the transhipment point for [contraband] cigarettes and the process is completely regulated. In this way Serbia remains the only end-user for contraband cigarettes." Until Todorov's murder, the Bulgarian authorities looked the other way.
Marco is no novice in the gangster stakes. During his father's rule, his many underworld "businesses," based on the Milosevic family's home town of Pozarevac, flourished. After the collapse of the regime, Marco was driven out of town. But people are still too terrified of the old guard to act against their murderous former leaders.
However, under relentless EU pressure, the Serbian state's secret protection of the Milosevic old guard is rapidly becoming too costly for Belgrade. - sunday herald
Major Tobacco Multinational Implicated In Cigarette Smuggling, Tax Evasion,
British American Tobacco, the world's second-largest multinational tobacco company, for decades secretly encouraged tax evasion and cigarette smuggling in a global effort to secure market share and lure generations of new smokers, internal corporate documents reveal.
Senior personnel of the parent company and its subsidiaries sought to control and exploit smuggling as part of a worldwide marketing strategy to increase revenue. More than 11,000 pages of documents from BAT and its subsidiaries, including the U.S. company Brown & Williamson, were analyzed over a six-month period by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a project of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.
In some cases, tobacco industry executives actively played various gangs off against each other and solicited and received millions of dollars in kickbacks or bribes in return for selling to preferred criminal syndicates, according to court records and sources.
The Center investigation also shows that when senior or mid-level executives have been charged criminally with aiding and abetting smuggling, tobacco companies often dont cooperate with investigators. In a Louisiana case, for example, lawyers for one tobacco company used their connections in the administration of former President Bill Clinton to force the removal of a prosecutor pursuing a Brown & Williamson sales executive for smuggling into Canada.
The major tobacco companies all vigorously deny any involvement in the smuggling of their products. In a statement to the Center, BAT also said it knew of no evidence "to substantiate allegations that some of our employees or distributors have worked with criminal organisations and/or organised crime."
Companies such as BAT have stated that they cant be expected to keep track of their 90,000 employees, even though in many cases those named in smuggling are senior managers. The companies also argue that they sell a legal product to wholesalers over whom they exercise no control. Kenneth Clarke, BATs deputy chairman and the former Conservative chancellor of the exchequer, told the British House of Commons health select committee on Feb. 16, 2000, that "there is no evidence I have ever seen that BAT is a participant in this smuggling. We seek to minimize it and avoid it."
Public i [Canada]
MEDIA ALERT: DISAPPEARING GENOCIDE
The Media And The Death Of Slobodan Milosevic
"If we don't know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. But if we know some history, if we know how many times presidents have lied to us, we will not be fooled again." (Howard Zinn, historian)
Introduction - 2003 And All That
Three years on, it is clear that the case for war against Iraq was based on lies. Despite the cover-ups, insider compromise and silence, there can be no serious doubt that the lies were conscious and carefully planned.
The real target of Western 'intelligence' was not Iraq, but the British and American public - the goal was to frighten and deceive us to support a war fought for elite interests. It was to persuade us to send our troops to kill and die for profits. It was to persuade us to ignore clear warnings that, in all likelihood, we would be subject to terrorist reprisals. Such risks were clearly deemed a small price to pay for the prize that mattered - control of Iraqi oil and enhanced influence in the region and beyond.
This is the ugly reality behind 'patriotic' governments 'supporting our boys' and protecting 'national security'.
Iraq, of course, never posed any kind of threat to the West. Even if portions of Saddam's WMD had been retained, they would have been no danger to America, Britain and Israel bristling with veritable doomsday weapons. Saddam Hussein may be an animal, but he is a political animal - a survivor, not someone who would have committed national suicide by launching WMD at the West.
An honest press would be hyper-sensitive to these issues - it would be keenly aware that Bush and Blair had lied, and would be re-evaluating earlier wars, earlier claims of "humanitarian intervention", in light of what they now know.
Given this context, something truly astonishing is revealed by media coverage of the death of Slobodan Milosevic. Because it could not be clearer from current media reporting that journalists have come to understand that the 78-day NATO bombing of Serbia from March 24 to June 10, 1999 was also based on lies. It is therefore clear to them that the government deceived the public and, once again, the media supported the deception. And yet, despite this, despite the endless horror of Iraq, journalists cannot bring themselves to expose either the earlier lies of government or their own complicity in them.
Virtually to a man and woman, journalists sold the lie to the public in 1999. This makes them complicit in the killing of 500 Serb civilians and $100 billion worth of destruction. More importantly (for the media), the lies about Kosovo provided a template and justification for the subsequent lies surrounding the "humanitarian intervention" in Iraq. An Observer editorial gives an idea of the significance, explaining that the West's "belated response to political thuggery" in the Balkans resulted in "a new doctrine of humanitarian intervention". It was led "at first by President Clinton over Bosnia, and again in Kosovo. The rationale behind those interventions was then invoked for the invasion of Iraq". (Leader, 'Let a dictator's death remind us of the evil of unchecked nationalism,' The Observer, March 12, 2006)
Dissident writer Alexander Cockburn translates this into meaningful English: "the legal, military and journalistic banditry that have accompanied the Iraq enterprise from the start were all field-tested in the late 1990s in the Balkans". (Cockburn, 'Did Milosevic or His Accusers "Cheat Justice"? The Show Trial That Went Wrong,' CounterPunch, March 14, 2006; http://www.counterpunch.org/)
Kosovo - Genocide It Wasn't
Just as they knew Iraq possessed WMD in 2003, so in 1999 politicians and journalists knew exactly what the Serbs were doing in Kosovo. Bill Clinton, then President, talked of "deliberate, systematic efforts at ethnic cleansing and genocide". (John M. Broder, 'Clinton underestimated Serbs, he acknowledges,' New York Times, June 26, 1999)
British defence Secretary, George Robertson, insisted that intervention in Kosovo was vital to stop "a regime which is intent on genocide". (Nic North, Kevin Maguire And Harry Arnold, 'A pilot saved,' Daily Mirror, March 29, 1999)
A year later, Robertson conjured up the ghost of Nazism to justify NATO's action:
"We were faced with a situation where there was this killing going on, this cleansing going on - the kind of ethnic cleansing we thought had disappeared after the second world war. You were seeing people there coming in trains, the cattle trains, with refugees once again." (ITV, Jonathan Dimbleby programme, June 11, 2000)
US Defence Secretary, William Cohen, claimed: "We've now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing... They may have been murdered." (Quoted, Philip Hammond and Edward S. Herman, Degraded Capability, Pluto Press, 2000, p.139)
Across the spectrum, the media instantly rallied to the cause. A Daily Mail news report was titled: "Flight from genocide; as half a million Kosovans flee their homes in terror from Milosevic, a haunting echo of another war 60 years ago." (Steve Doughty, Daily Mail, March 29, 1999)
The Mirror referred to "Echoes of the Holocaust." (Quoted, John Pilger, 'The lies that brought hell,' Morning Star, December 13, 2004) The News of the World declared: "The aim of this war is to stop Serbian genocide in Kosovo." (Cited, Monitor, The Independent, April 19, 1999) A 2002 BBC documentary on the alleged Serbian genocide, 'Exposed', was billed as a programme marking Holocaust Memorial Day. (Exposed, BBC2, January 27, 2002)
As we will see, this constitutes a tiny sample - in fact British media were filled with hundreds of claims of genocide in Kosovo. A Lexis Nexis database search similarly showed that between 1998-1999, the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek and Time used 'genocide' 220 times to describe the actions of Serbia in Kosovo.
And yet, following the war, NATO sources reported that 2,000 people had been killed in Kosovo on all sides in the year prior to bombing. In November 1999, the Wall Street Journal published the results of its own investigation. Instead of "the huge killing fields some investigators were led to expect... the pattern is of scattered killings (mostly) in areas where the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army had been active".
The Journal concluded that NATO had stepped up its claims about Serb killing fields when it "saw a fatigued press corps drifting toward the contrarian story - civilians killed by NATO bombs. The war in Kosovo was cruel, bitter, savage. Genocide it wasn't." (Quoted, Pilger, op., cit)
In 2004, Neil Clark, a Balkans specialist, reviewed Milosevic's trial in the Guardian, noting that the charges relating to the war in Kosovo were expected to be the strongest part of the case. But "not only has the prosecution signally failed to prove Milosevic's personal responsibility for atrocities committed on the ground, the nature and extent of the atrocities themselves has also been called into question". (Neil Clark, 'The Milosevic trial is a travesty,' The Guardian, February 12, 2004)
Philip Hammond of South Bank University summarised the extent of the political and media deception:
"We may never know the true number of people killed. But it seems reasonable to conclude that while people died in clashes between the KLA and Yugoslav forces... the picture painted by Nato - of a systematic campaign of Nazi-style 'genocide' carried out by Serbs - was pure invention." (Degraded Capability, The Media and the Kosovo Crisis, edited by Philip Hammond and Edward S. Herman, Pluto Press, 2000, p.129)
What A Difference Seven Years Make - The Genocide Disappears
Without recognising their earlier role in propagandising for war against Serbia, and without drawing attention to the implications for US-UK criminality, the media has completely re-written its own history on Milosevic. A media database search by Media Lens has failed to turn up a single example of any British journalist describing Kosovo as 'genocide' since Milosevic's death.
The Sunday Express provides a typical example of the kind of language used:
"He [Milosevic] was facing 66 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity for his central role in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo during the 1990s, in which 200,000 people died. The worst incident was the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, when an estimated 8,000 Bosnian men were murdered." (Tominey, 'Milosevic cheats justice by dying in his jail cell,' Sunday Express, March 12, 2006)
Thus, also, the Guardian website:
"Milosevic faced 66 charges including genocide in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. The most egregious act committed under his watch was the Srebrenica massacre, in which up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys died." (Guardian Unlimited, 'Closure perhaps, but no justice,' March 11, 2006)
It seems the earlier massacre at Srebrenica in 1995 is now Milosevic's worst crime. Of the 1999 'genocide' in Kosovo, the alleged mass slaughter of tens of thousands, there is not a word.
And yet in 1999, the Guardian's Timothy Garton Ash observed that the Nato attack on Serbia was intended to stop "something approaching genocide". (Garton Ash, 'Imagine no America,' The Guardian, September 19, 2002)
Francis Wheen ridiculed opponents of the war who believed, "that genocide is a lesser evil than bombing military installations". (Wheen, 'Why we are right to bomb the Serbs,' The Guardian, April 7, 1999)
Also in the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland wrote of Milosevic's plan "to empty a land of its people". (Freedland, 'No way to spin a war,' The Guardian, April 21, 1999)
A Guardian editorial described the war as nothing less than "a test for our generation". (Leader, The Guardian, March 26, 1999)
This month, Ian Traynor of the Guardian wrote of Milosevic's death:
"... he left a legacy of more than 200,000 dead in Bosnia and 2 million people (half the population) homeless. He ethnically cleansed more than 800,000 Albanians from their homes in Kosovo". (Ian Traynor, 'Obituary: Slobodan Milosevic,' The Guardian, March 13, 2006)
Traynor mentions forced displacement in Kosovo, but does not mention the 'genocide' described by the Guardian in 1999.
Admirably, John Laughland has even noted in the Guardian how "witnesses have been trooping into The Hague for nearly two years now, testifying that there was neither genocide in Kosovo nor any plan to drive out the civilian ethnic Albanian population". (Laughland, 'Criminal proceedings,' The Guardian, March 14, 2006)
But Laughland made no mention of what virtually the entire British media, including the Guardian, had been insisting just seven years earlier.
In 1999, a team of Observer reporters wrote:
"His [Slobodan Milosevic's] troops in Serbia are out of barracks. But in Kosovo they are scouring the fields, villages and towns, pursuing their own version of a Balkan Final Solution." (Peter Beaumont, Justin Brown, John Hooper, Helena Smith and Ed Vulliamy, 'Hi-tech war and primitive slaughter,' The Observer, March 28, 1999)
An Observer leader declared:
"There are already grounds for considering events in Kosovo as genocide." (Leader, 'Time, now, to raise the stakes,' April 4, 1999)
Leading Observer commentator, Andrew Rawnsley, wrote of how Milosevic had "embarked on his latest campaign of 'ethnic cleansing', that vile euphemism for genocide". (Rawnsley, 'You can't deal with barbarism by washing your hands - nor by wringing them,' The Observer, March 28, 1999)
But 'genocide' has now also disappeared from the Observer's vocabulary:
"Europe and the US watched and failed to act for far too long. The consequences were the massacres of Srebrenica and Gorazde, the prolonged siege of Sarajevo and the forced displacement of a large part of Kosovo's Albanian population." ('Leading article: Let a dictator's death remind us of the evil of unchecked nationalism,' The Observer, March 12, 2006)
Again, the emphasis is on Srebrenica. Again, the crime is "forced displacement" rather than 'genocide'.
In 1999, David Aaronovitch - then employed by the Independent - described Serbian actions in Kosovo as "the worst crime against humanity committed in Europe since the Second World War". (Aaronovitch, 'The reality is that war, tragedy and incompetence go together,' The Independent, May 11, 1999)
In a tragicomic moment, Aaronovitch even asked:
"Is this cause, the cause of the Kosovar Albanians, a cause that is worth suffering for?... Would I fight, or (more realistically) would I countenance the possibility that members of my family might die?"
His answer: "I think so." (Aaronovitch, 'My country needs me,' The Independent, April 6, 1999)
And yet in reviewing the death of Milosevic in the Times last week, Aaronovitch wrote of the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica:
"In front of our eyes, just about, with our full knowledge, thousands were taken to European fields - just as they had been 50 years earlier - and murdered en masse. It was the most shaming moment of my life. We had let it happen again." (Aaronovitch, 'The meaning of Milosevic: how the Butcher of the Balkans changed us,' Times, March 14, 2006)
Aaronovitch made passing mention of Kosovo four times in the article, but he made no mention at all of the extent of the killing. Instead, he wrote:
"If Bosnia was the betrayal through inaction and appeasement, Srebrenica the consequence and Kosovo the determination not to let it happen again, then the line runs clear."
But, according to Aaronovitch in 1999, Kosovo was all about the fact that "it" +had+ happened again in a more extreme form. We wrote to Aaronovitch:
"Why no mention of this, given that Kosovo was 'the worst crime against humanity committed in Europe since the Second World War'? Do you still believe there was a genocide in Kosovo 1998-1999? If so, what is your evidence for this?" (Email, March 14, 2006)
We have received no reply.
In 1999, Marcus Tanner wrote in the Independent:
"NATO stepped up the air war against Yugoslavia last night in what appeared a desperate race against time to stop the Serbs from committing 'genocide' against Albanian civilians in Kosovo." (Tanner, 'NATO targets troops as refugees flee genocide and tells Serbs to pull back or die,' The Independent, March 29, 1999)
A month later, Tanner wrote:
"RTS [Radio Televisija Serbija] has turned into a vehicle that whips up genocidal passions, a vital cog in the business of psychologically preparing the entire Serbian nation for the necessity of exterminating its enemies." (Tanner, 'I watched as "TV Slobbo" turned into voice of hate,' Independent, April 24, 1999)
This month, Tanner notes that in the spring of 1998 a new group, the Kosovo Liberation Army - which in fact was funded by the CIA - organised an insurrection that spread rapidly across the province:
"Milosevic responded with the ruthless brutality that had become his trademark, pouring special police units and paramilitaries into the province and burning down villages where the rebels were based." (Marcus Tanner, 'Obituaries: Slobodan Milosevic,' The Independent, March 13, 2006)
Tanner writes of how the "conflict worsened" and how "the policy of burning villages and expelling Kosovar Albanians was stepped up, massively so after Nato began air strikes" - but about the alleged "genocide" there is not one word.
Likewise, an Independent leader last week referred, not to 'genocide', but to "thousands killed in Kosovo and Croatia". ('Leader, 'A death that cheats justice and Serbia's democracy,' The Independent, March 13, 2006)
The Independent on Sunday also noted blandly: "1998: Milosevic sends troops to crush uprising in Kosovo." ('The bloody life and times of the butcher of Belgrade,' The Independent on Sunday, March 12, 2006)
In 1999, in an article titled, 'Europe's turn in the killing fields,' Jon Swain wrote in the Sunday Times:
"The symbols of death found in Cambodia under Pol Pot are everywhere in Kosovo today - in the blackened ruins of houses where the victims of 'ethnic cleansing' lie, in the broken and homeless people on the move in their tens of thousands.
"Only this is Europe. This continent has not seen such a procession of human misery since the end of the second world war, and for it to be allowed to happen again has diminished us all." (Swain, 'Europe's turn in the killing fields,' Sunday Times, April 4, 1999)
Last week, the same newspaper argued:
"It was only in 1998-99, when Milosevic reacted to Albanian guerrilla tactics in Kosovo with large-scale repression, that the West finally ended its long courtship and took up arms against him." (Brendan Simms, 'The butcher is dead,' Sunday Times, March 12, 2006)
Again, no genocide - the description cannot be compared to the picture painted by the Sunday Times in 1999.
Conclusion - Safety In Numbers
In 1999, moving as an intellectual herd, almost all journalists portrayed Serbian actions in Kosovo as 'genocide' and supported military action. The Blair government needed a black and white picture of the world to generate public support for the killing. A civil war was not enough, "scattered killings" were not enough. The state needed atrocities, Nazi-style horror - it needed a 'genocide'. And the media obliged. How ironic that politicians and journalists used comparisons with the Nazi 'Final Solution' to sell their war. In August 1939, one week before invading Poland, Adolf Hitler declared:
"The wave of appalling terrorism against the [minority] inhabitants of Poland, and the atrocities that have been taking place in that country are terrible for the victims, but intolerable for a Great Power which has been expected to remain a passive onlooker. We will not continue to tolerate the persecution of the minority, the killing of many, and their forcible removal under the most cruel conditions." (Hitler, August 23, 1939, from letters sent to the UK and French governments, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor, April 2003; http://www.swt.org/share/ancientciv.htm)
In 2006, again moving as a herd, journalists have now silently rejected their own fraudulent claims of 'genocide' from 1999. Moreover, they have rejected the need to examine how they got it wrong, why, what it tells us about Clinton, Blair and Bush, and, above all, what it tells us about the latest "humanitarian intervention" in Iraq. - medialens.org