On Feb. 2, 2000, the Australian TV program Dateline produced a devastating report on the role of the charity organization, CARE, in Kosovo. During that program a Canadian government official and the Director of CARE Canada made sensational admissions:
Remarkable as these revelations were, there is more. First, the Verification Mission was worse than Dateline said. And second, it was not simply that CARE worked for Canada recruiting for what was essentially a military intelligence operation, as Dateline argued and as some CARE officials angrily denied. [1B]
In fact, at least three CARE officials in Kosovo worked as intelligence officers for NATO, and, knowing this was true, CARE officials in Australia conspired with the media to deny it.
Spies? or Victimized Aid Workers?
On March 31, 1999, three employees of CARE Australia, Steve Pratt, an Australian who headed the CARE operation in Kosovo, Peter Wallace, another Australian, and Branko Jelen, a Yugoslav, were arrested at the Serbian-Croatian border. Yugoslavia charged them with using CARE as a cover to spy for NATO.
CARE Australia officials ridiculed the charges, claiming CARE was completely neutral and that the confession of Steve Pratt, aired on Serbian TV, was coerced. The Western mass media supported CARE, running biased news reports that made it seem that CARE had clean hands.
Now the Australian TV show, Dateline, has revealed that CARE recruited and paid OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Verifiers in Kosovo from Oct. 1998 to March 1999. That much is uncontested.
Dateline says the Verification Mission was a military intelligence operation. CARE officials say the Verifiers were peacemakers.
But this simply does not wash.
Goals of the Kosovo Verification Mission
Negotiated (that is, coerced) under threat of NATO bombing the Verification agreement allowed the OSCE to send unarmed 'mediators' into Kosovo, supposedly to defuse tensions. However everything about the Verification mission suggests that they were engaged in military intelligence and liaison with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), not mediation.
* The Mission was run by William Walker. Walker had no background as a mediator. He wasn't an expert in Balkans history or politics. Even the Western press has virtually admitted that Walker and his verifiers were intelligence operatives. 
Consider the following from the LA Times: 
Walker was a high-placed intelligence operative who, working under
diplomatic cover, managed liaison with US-sponsored
counter-insurgency groups. Before working with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in
Yugoslavia he and also handles public relations in
difficult situations. (This is documented in 'William
Walker, Alias, Mr. Racak, And His Salvador Massacre Cover-Up'
by John Flaherty and Jared Israel, at
The U.S. members of Walker's 'verification team' were recruited by Dyncorp, a Virginia company. At the 1993 Senate hearings on the nomination of R. James Woolsey to head the CIA, Mr. Woolsey commented:
Whether or not it is true that DynCorps "had [only] a handful of very small contracts" with CIA, it has had very big contracts with the US military establishment. Indeed it operates as a kind of privatized US Special Operations force, providing retired military and intelligence men for all sorts of assignments including clandestine and paramilitary operations. [1B]
Given Walker's expertise as an intelligence official with skill in organizing death squads and also in public relations, doesn't it stand to reason that the verification mission was aimed at a) gathering military intelligence and b) establishing command-relations with the Kosovo Liberation Army, an outfit whose activities were much like those of Latin American death squads? 
Indeed, isn't it reasonable to suggest that certain tactical similarities between the KLA and Latin American death squads may result from their having had the same top-level US intelligence official for an advisor?
In any case this was the Verification Mission for which CARE Canada was recruiting. Not only recruiting, but also, according to the SBS TV exposť, apparently paying the recruits' salaries as well.
The Amazing Story of Mr. Pratt, Mr. Wallace and Mr. Jelen
So that is the background. William Walker's OSCE Verifiers all left Kosovo on March 20th. On the 24th NATO began bombing Yugoslavia. On March 31st, three employees of CARE Australia were arrested in Serbia for spying.
At first CARE officials claimed they were unsure of the three men's whereabouts. Then, on April 11, Steve Pratt, the leader of the group, appeared on Serbian Television, RTS. Here's the actual text of the RTS broadcast, as transcribed by the BBC:
The Western media presented a negative view of the RTS broadcast.
One AP report April 12th was headlined, "TV Pictures of Aid Worker's Spy Confession Fuzzy: Tapp".
In this dispatch, Australian CARE chief Charles Tapp dismissed the RTS broadcast because, Tapp argued, Mr. Pratt was shown in profile; because it was impossible to see his eyes; and because his confession was not very specific. (Tapp said the word, 'confession.' should be put in 'immense inverted commas'.)
An Agence France Presse dispatch on the 12th was headlined "Yugoslavs Forced Our Man to Confess to Spying."
This reporting amounted to anti-Yugoslav propaganda. Meanwhile the real story was ignored by most of the media or, when it was mentioned, it was dismissed.
That story, which broke April 11th in the Australian Sunday Telegraph, quoted Steve Pratt's mother, Mrs. Mavis Pratt, concerning Pratt's past activities. I have not been able to see a copy of the Sunday Telegraph story.
Fortunately part of it is quoted in a few places including an AP dispatch issued hours after the Sunday Telegraph report. According to the AP, Mrs. Pratt told the Telegraph that her son had worked for CARE in Iraq:
In other words, Pratt was a spy.
Dishonor Thy Mother
How might one expect CARE executives to have responded to Pratt's confession and Mrs. Pratt's statement?
CARE presents itself as a politically neutral, humanitarian organization. If that were the case, wouldn't CARE leaders have adopted a cautious approach? They could have said a) they had no reason to doubt the integrity of the arrested men and b) would set up a legal defense fund but c) they could not comment on a legal process in a host country. Didn't they *have to* respond this way? Wouldn't denunciation of the arrests a) constitute interference in the Yugoslav judicial process b) compromise their neutrality and c) raise questions about their motives?
And what about the mass media? Since governments do employ spies, and since spies must have some sort of cover, how could reporters *know* in advance of investigation (not to mention in advance of the findings of a Yugoslav court!) whether the men were guilty?
Wouldn't it make sense to present the story in a factual manner and not employ yellow journalism to sway public opinion?
CARE and the media lash out at Yugoslavia
Let's look at the April 11 AP story, starting with the headline. The headline may be the only thing one reads and even if one reads further, the headline colors one's view of the rest.
What sort of headline would logically go with this story? Maybe something like:
"Mom Says Arrested CARE worker Spied Before"
Instead, AP chose:
"CARE says Serbian spying 'confession' obtained under duress"
This is a very strong statement. By making it the headline, AP lent it credibility. Did it deserve such credibility?
The RTS broadcast with Pratt's confession had just been aired. What could Charles Tapp or anyone else at CARE actually have known about this case?
If Pratt had told them he was a spy, they would know. But if Pratt was a spy and told nobody, how could they have known?
Therefore Tapp's denial is either a) a lie (because he knew Pratt was a spy and therefore denied it) or b) pure speculation (because he had no way of knowing whether Pratt was innocent or guilty.)
So what's the point of the headline? By using the phrase "obtained under duress" the headline creates a picture in the reader's mind - of threats and torture. Though the body of the article offers no factual basis for this charge, the headline has a powerful impact.
Note that 'CARE' is not a person but an organization; how can CARE 'say' anything? By quoting 'CARE' instead of a CARE executive, the AP story capitalizes on Westerners' impression of CARE, the organization: neutral, selfless, honorable. A charity. A CARE spokesman might lie - but 'CARE' itself? Never.
The "Do-you-still-beat-your-wife" Question
Note that by jumping to the issue of how the confession was obtained (supposedly 'under duress') the AP story creates the false impression that Pratt's innocence is an established fact.
The sleight of hand used here is a variation of the trick question, "Do you still beat your wife?" The use of "do you still" lends credibility to the unstated and unproven charge: that at any time you did indeed beat your wife. Similarly, by asserting that the confession was obtained "under duress" the headline obscures the fact that we have been shown no evidence the confession was false.
Let's move onto the first paragraph in the article:
This is mainly a repeat of the headline and therefore constitutes bad journalism unless they are trying to help us learn the statement by rote. Will there be a quiz?
Also, here again instead of quoting a *person* the AP quotes CARE Australia - an esteemed charity - to lend the accusation against Yugoslavia an aura of impersonal veracity.
Let's look at paragraph two:
Still not quoting actual people, the AP adds a second institution, the Australian government, by way of additional confirmation. The Yugoslav offense is so great, all institutions are speaking out.
Moreover, by telling us these institutions have "demanded immediate access to Pratt" and Wallace, the article suggests Yugoslavia is denying such access. This in turn suggests the Yugoslavs must have something to hide - such as evidence that Pratt has been beaten. Note that there is no effort, here or elsewhere in the article, to discuss the normal procedure for allowing access to men accused of spying for a group of nations who are, in grave violation of international law, bombing your country.
The paragraph also includes the statement that the arrested man had been arrested after they:
How could the AP possibly know why Pratt, Wallace and Jelen had left Belgrade? Couldn't they have left to spy elsewhere? Or to escape detection? By asserting their humanitarian motives without evidence, the article strengthens the reader's impression that the men are innocent.
A little further down, a CARE official is cited by name for the first time:
'May have been made.' Two thoughts on this: a) Doesn't the use of 'may' completely contradict the headline and first paragraph, which have 'CARE' (speaking as if it were a person) saying the confession WAS obtained under duress and b) isn't it true that it is always possible that a confession 'may' have been extracted based on threats?
Since by this point we've been told several times that Pratt was forced to confess, I would bet many readers wouldn't notice the use of "may".
The article continues as follows:
If Pratt "may" (which suggests 'may not') have confessed under duress, why is Doolan sure the charges are *lunacy*? The AP ignores this obvious absurdity. Nor does it try to bring some balance to the story by talking to someone from the Yugoslav side, for example a Yugoslav security official. Such a person might ask: "Since spies do not inform the general public of their secret activities, it is obvious that unless Mr. Doolan is himself a spy, he would have no way of know whether or not Mr. Pratt is a spy."
The Associated Press article continues for eight (8) more paragraphs, strengthening the impression that Pratt must be innocent until we get to the end, where Mrs. Pratt is quoted. But readers are not permitted to judge Mrs. Pratt's words for themselves; they are given a good deal of help by the AP which quotes the chief executive of CARE Australia, Charles Tapp. He gets to comment before and after Mrs. Pratt, belittling Mrs. Pratt's assertion that Pratt had previously spied against Iraq, attacking the newspaper that interviewed Mrs. Pratt and published her remarks, and even implying that Mrs. Pratt 's remarks should be discounted because she is old - i.e., that she may be senile. He did not, however, accuse her of being on drugs.
Here's how this section of the AP dispatch reads:
Did you notice Tapp's phrase, "extremely poor journalism"? Why on earth is it poor journalism to hunt down the mother of an accused man and ask her if he is guilty? And if the man's mother says, "Why yes, my son is as guilty as sin," isn't that the type of quote that causes reporters (at least in the movies!) to rush to a pay phone to call in their scoop?
The quote from Mrs. Pratt, to which Tapp is referring, is the only actual *news* in this whole "news" story. The rest is intended to give us a proper news orientation. The AP is evidently anxious to guarantee that readers approach the arrests with the preconception that Pratt and the others are innocent. Why?
As for CARE officials - their statements are suggestive. Consider: Pratt confessed on April 11th. The Sunday Telegraph printed Mrs. Pratt's statement the next day and within hours AP broadcast furious denials from CARE officials. How could these officials be so sure so fast? Why would they react without taking time to investigate and discuss the matter, including privately with Yugoslav officials? Doesn't such a hasty and violent response suggest that:
* Pratt et al were indeed spies;
* Tapp and Doolan were fully aware that Pratt, Wallace and Jelen were spies because they were themselves involved in organizing such spying;
* CARE officials were therefore worried that Yugoslav officials or, worse yet, Pratt or Wallace, might go public with more revelations, might expose high-level CARE (and Australian government?) involvement, might talk about CARE spying in other countries, and so on. Thus it was crucial immediately (on Sunday!) to discredit the arrests and especially the public confession. By planting the thought that the confession was made 'under duress' and 'was lunacy' and that Mrs. Pratt's own statement was unbelievable - the hope was to prejudice Western readers against any further revelations from Belgrade or Steve and Mavis Pratt.
Honor thy Satellite Phone
Four months later, Yugoslavia released Pratt and Wallace. In a dispatch at the time, the Australian news agency, AAP, explained that Yugoslav border guards had found:
Shouldn't this information have been presented as top news in April? It was not. Instead the media engaged in more preventive damage control. Consider this from the AAP on April 15th:
Isn't this mind-boggling? How on earth would the gathering of military information help CARE's planning? Does CARE's charitable work include bombing runs?
The article goes on:
Are all these guys ex-Army officers? Doesn't CARE recruit any regular folks? And what about McGee's suggestion that by recruiting (supposedly) former Army officers CARE insures its employees will take no "interest in military installations or troop movements except to the extent that they might affect CARE's safety and operations."
In case people are not convinced that military men would never take an interest in military matters, Mr. McGee adds:
So Pratt was certainly no spy because former military officers just don't have the military curiosity needed for spying and even if he was a spy the information he would gather would be of minor use. Doesn't this sound more and more like a) Pratt was a spy and b) all these guys knew it?
What is the point of McGee's statement? The only explanation I can suggest is: CARE officials knew Pratt was carrying incriminating equipment and descriptions of troop movements when he was arrested; there was a danger the Yugoslavs would make this incriminating evidence public; McGee was trying to immunize the public beforehand. And once again, the media provided a willing PR forum.
Pratt, Critic of NATO (?)
Here's an AAP headline from April 12th:
Ex Army Major no spy say CARE colleagues
This article tells Pratt's life story, official version. We are told he spent years in the army where he worked in supply until at the request of former Australian Prime Minister and CARE Chairman Malcolm Fraser, he joined CARE.
How comes an ordinary Army major to be recruited by a Prime Minister? Isn't this in itself a bit suspicious?
The AAP asks no embarrassing questions.
The article goes on to claim that Pratt:
This is intended to prove Pratt's even-handedness. See? He criticizes NATO. (More evidence of his innocence.)
But consider Pratt's actual comments, recorded on March 29 in an AAP Internet Bulletin. He's talking about the NATO bombing of refugees who were living in abandoned Army barracks:
Is Pratt "publicly attacking" NATO for the "destruction of a CARE-run refugee camp?" Or is he in fact *excusing* NATO of criminal responsibility?
Why do you say 'Preposterous' Mr. Downer?
Two days after Pratt confessed on Yugoslav TV, The Guardian (London) reported that:
Imagine you told your neighbor your wooden house was on fire and he replied: "Preposterous!"
Of course, you could be wrong - but preposterous?
How could Downer possibly be sure?
Australian Foreign Minister Downer's statement demonstrates his desire, in the absence of supporting evidence, to prove Pratt was innocent. This puts Downer in good company: Tapp, McGee, Doolan the AP, the AAP and the mass media in general were all trying to convince the public that Pratt was innocent. The Guardian could have contributed to newsgathering by questioning Downer: "How can you be sure? Why is everyone so anxious to prove the Yugoslavs are lying? Could this be a pre-emptive strike aimed at preventing people from believing future Yugoslav revelations about CARE's involvement in spying?"
But the Guardian asked no such questions. Apparently they wanted to prove Pratt was innocent too.
Dishonor Thy Mother Some More
While most of the world had no idea Major Pratt's mother had nailed him in the Sunday Telegraph, the word got around in Australia. Hence the following bit of damage control published by the AAP on April 12th:
Huh? Has Doolan actually proven anything here?
Forget Thy Mother and Ditto Thy Satellite Phone!
Apparently this was sufficient to eliminate mom because by April 26, in a story on the Pratt/Wallace affair (the news stories generally left out Mr. Jelen since he was only a Yugoslav) Time actually printed the following sentence:
Isn't this amazing?
Yes, one might argue, but perhaps 'Time' didn't know about Mrs. Pratt's statement...
I find that hard to believe. Since they were writing a story about Australians accused of spying, wouldn't the 'Time" reporters read what the Australian press (not the mention the AP) had published concerning the arrests? How could they not know about Mavis Pratt's statement?
But let us concede, for the sake of argument, that Time didn't know.
The AAP certainly did know. After Pratt and Wallace were released in September, the AAP published a story that tried to explain the supposedly irrational Yugoslav conviction that the men were spies. In it, the AAP admitted that:
but added that these reports:
How could anyone think otherwise? The Yugoslav authorities must be paranoid.
These "other allegations" were the ones raised by Mrs. Pratt. Does the AAP see fit to mention her name? It does not. Instead it goes on to answer the anonymous allegations:
Do you find this convincing? If Pratt was a spy would you expect the Australian Army to admit it?
Arguments like this have no merit as arguments. If you isolate them from the larger text, they look ridiculous. But within the context of a barrage of propaganda, they do have an effect. Here's how it works:
The AAP and other Western media take meaningless statements that sound like arguments. They put this empty babble in the appropriate place for real arguments. They string several such arguments together and they do this over and over again and in this way, by heaping one pro-establishment pseudo-argument on top of another (though never offering real evidence) the reader is trained into a sort of glaze, thought dissipates, the proper impression is planted and lingers.
Filing for ethical bankruptcy
The AAP story closes with an amazing statement. Referring to Peter Wallace, who had just been released along with Steve Pratt, the article states that:
Is it unreasonable to suggest that CARE, the mass media and the Australian government had fashioned a convenient cover story and Mrs. Pratt statement did not fit, so it was edited out?
The link to the transcript of the SBS TV show, is no
longer working. (It was
haven't been able to locate another transcript, but we did
find an Australian newspaper article which seems to
summarize the broadcast accurately. That can be accessed at
[1A] There are two transcripts for the
Dateline broadcast on 2 February 2000. The main part, where the results
of the Dateline investigation were revealed, can be accessed
[1B] Dateline also broadcast an
argument between leaders of so-called international charities concerning
CARE's role in Kosovo. For that transcript, go to
For more on William Walker see, "William Walker (Alias, Mr. Racak) And His Salvador Massacre Cover-Up" at http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/sixty.htm
[1A] Los Angeles Times, January 20, 1999, Wednesday, Home Edition, Page 6, 1323 Words, Proof May Exist To Blame Serbs For Atrocity; Kosovo: Monitors Apparently Intercepted Police Radio Conversations Tied To Killing Of More Than 40 Ethnic Albanians., Paul Watson, Times Staff Writer , Pristina, Yugoslavia
The first article is 'Witness,' about the US-sponsored counter-insurgency in Colombia. Appearing in the British magazine, Prospect, on June 14, 2001, it was written by Mark Bowden.
Mr. Bowden wrote 'Black Hawk Down.' I haven't read it (or seen the movie) but I'm told it whitewashes US actions in Somalia. So it's reasonable to assume Mr. Bowden is not the harshest critic of US intervention.
In the following excerpt, Mr. Bowden comments on the $1.3 billion [USD] then slated for "aid" to Colombia. The people mentioned in the excerpt, Brent and Eddie, are, according to the article, retired US military men now working as businessmen in Colombia's military boom economy.
Here is Bowden's description of Dyncorp:
So it's staffed with "retired military special operators." In other words, Special Forces types and others associated with covert actions.
This was the same company that staffed William Walker's so-called OSCE Verification Mission in Kosovo in the fall of 1998. At that time, this writer (and others) charged that the Verification Mission was really a cover for spying and establishing liaison with the Kosovo Liberation Army, which is quite similar to Latin American death squads...
Here is Mr. Bowden:
The second excerpt, is also from an article about Colombia, this one in the Dallas Morning News, 19 August 1998. It's called, "U.S. counters Colombia rebels with covert plan; Money, moves boost military, sources say."
Two quick points. 1) The idea that they don't want DynCorp people interviewed to protect their safety is absurd. Of course the guerillas know they are there. It's ordinary newspaper readers who don't know, and the powers-that-be want to keep it that way. That is made clear by the article's statement that:
Obviously the guerilla leader already knew he'd said that....
2) The article states that "Some U.S. Special Forces troops currently are allowed to participate in training exercises with Colombian soldiers." But adds, "U.S. officials said those American troops have not been assigned to combat roles..."
This makes it sound like the US military role is limited. But the key job of Special Forces in a place like Colombia is training and "advising" which of course means leading. Thus a small number of Special Forces troops does not indicate small U.S. involvement.
Consider these excerpts from a semi-official SEALS/Special Forces Webpage. First the general summary of Special Forces assignments, then a discussion of Teaching, specifically.
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