by Jared Israel and Max Sinclair (posted 11-11-99)
the distribution of this article in full, including this
It's an old story. A crime is committed in high places. A campaign of misinformation is launched to cover up the crime.
The story starts to crack. A hodge-podge of fixes is attempted but each new fix raises new doubts.
So with Wednesday's declaration by Chief Justice Carla del Ponte of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). We call it Albright's Tribunal.(1)
Hard to find decent help
The crack appeared when some independent-minded Spanish Forensic experts went public a couple of months back. They had been sent to Kosovo to support NATO's charge that Serbian troops had committed genocide against Albanians. Instead, they publicly rejected the NATO charge:
The Spanish forensic scientists' report was noticed by an Emperors-clothes.com researcher. We translated it and posted it on Emperors-clothes along with a commentary on the implications of this testimony for the NATO justification for bombing Yugoslavia. (See Spanish Experts Shoot NATO In Foot at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/sp-comment.htm )
The emperors-clothes material was emailed all over the Internet. It was picked up by newspapers including Calgary Herald, Knight Ridder/Tribune, NY Daily News, The Straits Times (Singapore), the London Times, The (London) Spectator, The Toronto Sun, the LA Times, the National Post On-Line, etc. People began adding the numbers published in the press every time a new 'mass grave' was found, adding the totals. Canadian General Lewis MacKenzie, former Commander of UN forces in Bosnia, could come up with only 500. Straford.com calculated a lower number. Where were Defense Secretary Cohen's 100,000 people missing or dead?
Enter Del Ponte
Carla Del Ponte, Chief Prosecutor at the ICTY, issued a public report on Nov. 10th. In it she denied that the army of ICTY forensic experts had only found a few hundred cadavers in Kosovo after five months of searching.
The actual figure, said del Ponte, was 2,108. She added that they expected to find more come spring. Aside from the amazing partisanship involved in promising to find more bodies, del Ponte avoided a key fact: the ICTY had publicly declared it was opening the biggest 'mass graves' first. So what were the chances of finding many more bodies?
Is the Empress clothed?
One could argue that anything Ms. del Ponte says is suspect because the ICTY is not a disinterested Tribunal trying to find the truth. It is a creation of the US government: Madeline Albright proposed it; its funding comes directly and indirectly from the US.
The US government is hardly a disinterested party in Kosovo. It was the main force behind a bombing campaign which violated a slew of international agreements (including the UN and NATO charters). The campaign provided textbook examples of war crimes: for instance, launching an aggressive war is internationally accepted as the biggest war crime. Bombing civilian targets is a close second.
The US government publicly defended these actions by claiming they were necessary to stop a Serbian campaign of genocide. Now, when there is so much evidence of terrible damage to Yugoslavia, Clinton et al need to produce counter-evidence of Serbian genocide or risk a backlash in the European countries - and perhaps in the US itself.
The 'War Crimes' Tribunal's hunt for evidence of Serbian guilt is clearly aimed at furthering US policy, not justice.
An openly biased "court"
The actual functioning of the Tribunal violates every accepted rule governing legal proceedings. For instance, courts are not supposed to try defendants in the mass media. They are supposed to proceed with a presumption of innocence. Investigations are supposed to be conducted impartially - to discover guilt, not to provide evidence for a vendetta. But Tribunal leaders routinely declare the Serbs guilty first, then proceed to hunt for the evidence later. During investigations Tribunal spokespeople stage prejudicial photo-ops and issue sensational statements so that the public gets the impression that Serbian guilt is self-evident.
Del Ponte's Helpers
Then there's the matter of the KLA.
Though admittedly a terrorist group, and once universally described as gangster-ridden, the KLA has been recruited by NATO and the UN to staff the new police force in Kosovo.
Any murder investigation, and particularly any investigation of mass murder carried out in a country foreign to the investigators, requires local assistance: people who know the terrain, who can find and produce witnesses, provide interpreters, locate graves and move bodies. The KLA constitutes not only the civil authority in Kosovo, but the officially approved police force as well. It is the KLA that has provided the Tribunal with its local infrastructure.
Consider the following report. According to Jane's
Defense Review the KLA's strategy
As Jane's suggests, the KLA has had as its strategy a program of terrorizing low-level state employees and civilians. Doesn't it taint a criminal investigation to rely for local support on a group which has had as its strategy committing the sort of war crimes which the investigators are supposed to uncover?
There have been so many different numbers. What is the basis of these latest figures? Why should anyone believe them?
As we noted earlier, researchers like former
UN Gen. Mackenzie have scanned published reports and come
up with a count of several hundred dead, not 2108. In a
reasonably-conducted police procedure this would prove
nothing because police are not supposed to broadcast
every piece of evidence as it is uncovered and therefore
one would not expect to derive accurate body-count from
newspaper reports. But the ICTY has conducted its
investigation in an unusual fashion:
Since every rumor of a grave is broadcast, it is reasonable for researchers to scan the news and add the numbers. (See Note # 6 at the end for Gen. Mackenzie's report)
So we have two problems with del Ponte's numbers. 1) They are not the numbers you get when you add the press reports of bodies found in 'mass graves.' 2) Her figures are much lower - as much as several hundred thousand lower - than the numbers NATO gave out to justify the bombing.
One wonders how the ICTY came up with the figure of 2108. Could it be a that del Ponte hoped that by offering a compromise between NATO's previous estimates of huge numbers and the critics' estimates of several hundred dead - that by having the ICTY publicly offer this compromise she would halt further speculation? This would be similar to the tactic of starting a small forest fire to head off a larger one.
Some cadavers are more equal
Missing from del Ponte's report is any mention that her investigators found the bodies of Serbs, "Gypsies" and other minorities or anti-KLA Albanians in the graves. Weren't any killed? Weren't they buried? Either the 2108 figure includes some of these people, and then we must ask: how many? Whatever the number, this will cut into the 2,108 figure, further reducing NATO claims of vast and disproportionate numbers of Albanians killed during the bombing. Or else it does not include these victims and then we must ask: why not? Wouldn't an objective Tribunal look for and examine the bodies of all people killed during a conflict?
Bankrupt but unbowed!
Based on the preceding, one could conclude that del Ponte's report of 2,108 bodies of Albanian victims of Serb terror is entirely without credibility.
So why hasn't the report been universally rejected? Could it be that:
In our Western climate of Serbophobia, one would expect any report issued by del Pone to be accepted. However, because of the revelations of the Spanish forensic experts, and because the report is rather weak, some reporters are raising questions. For most it is a new experience and, one would hope, refreshing.
For the moment, let us forget that that the del Ponte report's failure to provide evidence of Serbian atrocities is in itself evidence that earlier NATO statements were war propaganda. Let us consider the numbers.
Del Ponte says her investigators found 2108 bodies in Kosovo.
Is this the new holocaust? The worst genocide since Hitler?
A delicate matter of identity
Assuming her investigators actually did find 2,108 bodies, Carla del Ponte's avoids dealing with two nagging questions: who are these people? And who killed them?
Did NATO kill them?
Spanish forensic scientists reported that about half the 187 bodies they autopsied were victims of NATO raids on the prison at Istok in Kosovo. Were other investigators also shown victims of NATO bombs?
Most of the rest of the people the Spaniards examined were men buried in individual graves facing Mecca, an act of respect in the Muslim religion embraced by most ethnic Albanians. Does it sound like these men were victims of hate crimes? (2)
Seventy five Albanians in a refugee column were killed by NATO bombs in April, 1999. As you may recall, NATO initially denied the incident, then claimed to have a tape that showed the pilot had targeted Yugoslav military vehicles among the refugees, and finally admitted the tape didn't exist. Another seventy five were bombed while camping out in the town of Korisa, in May. NATO justified that bombing by arguing that it was the Yugoslav Army's fault: they should have known the refugees would be bombed if they stayed in Korisa because Korisa was typical of the kind of places NATO bombed. (Boston Globe, 5/17/99)
These incidents illustrate two things: a) that NATO bombs killed Albanians and b) that NATO was willing to go to extremes to deny responsibility for these killings. Isn't it fair to suggest that there are probably Albanians whom we don't know about that NATO killed? How many of these people are among del Ponte's 2108? And how many Serbs were killed this way? How many Roma ("Gypsies")? Slavic Muslims? Ethnic Turks?
Since the NATO military occupation of Kosovo, Western media have reported nearly one hundred cases of people - mainly children - killed by unexploded cluster bombs. What about people who were killed by these horrible weapons when they were dropped, during the actual war?
LA Times reporter Paul Watson was in Pristina, in Kosovo, during the bombing. He reported seeing no evidence of Serbian atrocities. He had been in Rwanda during the mass killings there so he knew what to look for. Watson did see Albanians killed by NATO bombs. (See Note # 3 at end)
How many of the alleged 2,108 are Yugoslav soldiers, killed during NATO air raids? How many are KLA members, mistakenly bombed by NATO? We know of two such incidents. In the first, NATO A-10 aircraft strafed a KLA-captured hamlet in Kosovo, near Albania. In a second case NATO planes mistakenly bombed a KLA base in Albania itself. We know about these incidents only because of the presence of KLA camera crews. How many times did NATO mistakenly bomb KLA positions inside Kosovo without camera crews being present? How many of these people are now being unearthed as victims of Serbian atrocities?
Does this far-fetched? Well, remember the testimony of the Spanish forensic experts. They were shown about 100 bodies of prisoners who died when NATO bombed the prison at Istok. They were supposed to view these people as victims of Serbian atrocities...
What about Loyalist Albanians "Punished" by the KLA?
FBI investigators say they found 200 bodies. About 150 were buried in graves in Kacanik and Kotlina. Kacanik and Kotlina were centers of Albanian resistance to the KLA. In mid-March, the 162nd KLA brigade under Commander Bardhi slaughtered loyalist Albanians in these towns. Are these victims of NATO among the FBI's 200?
Similarly, in early April, twelve Albanian villagers were murdered in the Pec area by one of KLA Commander Ramush Hajredinaj's men. How many other Albanian loyalists, killed in secret by the terrorist KLA, have been morphed into KLA martyrs?
What about Serbs and Roma killed by the KLA?
Since the NATO military occupation of Kosovo began, tens of thousands of Roma ('Gypsies') have been terrorized by the KLA. The same thing happened during the bombing. No one knows how many were killed. And how many of the 2108 are Serb civilians killed by the KLA? Do you recall the spate of KLA terrorist bombings in December of '98 and January of '99? Serbian civilians were blown up as they sipped a drink in Pristina cafes. As the quote (posted earlier) from Jane's Review states, the KLA has assassinated many ordinary Serbian civilians because that was their strategy over the past 20 months. Are they among the 2108?
By Serbian Orthodox custom, these victims of KLA violence were buried. Are they being counted too?
What about KLA members and Yugoslav soldiers killed in "legitimate fighting"?
Many KLA members and Yugoslav soldiers were killed during the so-called "civil war" that raged for a year before the bombing and continued throughout the NATO attack? (See Note # 4 at end)
In the winter of 1998-99, the Western media often reported that 2,000 people on both sides had died in this "civil war", which began in Feb., 1998. At the time, we argued that the 2000 figure was inflated. Are some or all of these people being counted by del Ponte?
Put bluntly, del Ponte has provided no evidence of mass murder by Serbian forces during the NATO bombing. She has provided: nothing. Her report is simply an attempt to influence public opinion because the NATO war crimes justification is - finally! - falling apart.
Which leaves us with: an unjust war
According to human rights organizations, NATO bombs killed nearly 2,000 civilians in Serbia apart from Kosovo. How many more were killed by NATO bombs in Kosovo? 1000 is a conservative figure, so add that to the 2000 outside Kosovo and we get about 3000 murdered by NATO.
So who is the war criminal?
Moreover, since NATO took over Kosovo, most of the non-Albanian population has been driven out. Their property has been stolen. (This is routinely reported without expression of outrage in the mass media. It seems that any abuse is understandable given Albanian outrage at all those tens of thousands of imaginary Albanian victims.) Priceless Serbian churches have been desecrated and blown up all over Kosovo, suggesting an orchestrated effort to remove the evidence of Kosovo's cultural roots. Many of the remaining non-Albanians are imprisoned under unbelievable conditions in Orahovac and other Kosovo towns, apparently with the intention of breaking their spirits so that they can be produced in show trials staged by the "War Crimes" Tribunal. (This is not hyperbole. Not only has evidence that Orahovac is a war-crimes-show-trial factory been reported in Emperors-clothes interviews with six different people from Orahovac, but it is also implied in Western media reports. Some of the interviews are now posted at emperors-clothes.com. More interviews, and quotes from the Western media reports, will be posted this weekend. For now, see Save the families: The women of Orahovac speak or go to http://emperors-clothes.com/misc/savethe.htm )
On November 10, the AP reported that about 400 people, mostly Serbs and (we assume) loyalist Albanians, have been murdered since NATO/KLA took over Kosovo; clearly these crimes are the work of the KLA and its followers. (See note # 5 at end - other reports suggest much higher figures.)
Was the transformation of Kosovo into a fascist nightmare what Clinton had in mind when he said NATO was fighting to recreate a multiethnic, peaceful society in Kosovo?
A Spanish judge just issued arrest warrants to 2 Argentine ex-Presidents and 95 officers for crimes against humanity committed years ago. Perhaps Clinton, Blair, George Robertson and Madeline Albright should stay out of Spain.
If you would like to write to the "War Crimes" Tribunal their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) For a thorough look at the War Crimes Tribunal, of which Ms. del Ponte is Chief Prosecutor, see Raymond Kent's Contextualizing Hate: The Hague Tribunal, the Clinton Administration and the Serbs or go to http://emperors-clothes.com/misc/kent.htm
We all like to think of Courts as places where justice is persuade without bias. But the ICTY is dependent on the NATO countries for funding, "information", police work and it is completely biased, for example, refusing to indict NATO leaders for their openly criminal war against Yugoslavia. Moreover, it acts as a Public Relations agency for NATO goals, releasing unproven evidence during trials and even prior to arrests. A look at its website, http://www.un.org/icty/basic.htm , is most enlightening. In one document the ICTY thanks the US government for a gift of $500 000 to be used for PR work. Can anyone believe the US government, engaged in a war against the Serbian people, would give this money if it were not used to further US goals?
2 - What are the implications of the Spanish forensic experts' report for NATO's justification for the attack on Yugoslavia? See Spanish Experts Shoot NATO In Foot at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/sp-comment.htm
Note # 3 - For Paul Watson's wartime report on conditions in Pristina during the UNATO bombing see http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/watson/radioint.html
Note # 4 - We refer to the 'so-called civil war' between the KLA and Yugoslav Army. Foreign influences often exist in civil wars. For example, England had commercial ties to the south during the U.S. civil war and threatened military intervention on the Southern side. But US and German involvement in Kosovo has been far more extensive.
German involvement in Kosovo is nothing new. See George Thompson's The Roots of Kosovo Fascism at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/thompson/rootsof.htm
Note # 5 - Yugoslav sources have documented proof that the number of Serbs killed since the NATO/KLA takeover of Kosovo is much higher than the AP reports. Please see NATO downplays Kosovo terror or go to http://emperors-clothes.com/news/downplays.htm
Note # 6 - Gen.
MacKenzie's report can be read at Former UN military chief asks:
Where have all the bodies gone? or
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