Why should we care about yesterdays propaganda?

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at SPAMgmx.net
Fri Aug 18 14:17:13 MDT 2000

Two reports from Fridays British Guardian:


What is remarkable is that it is the very Guardian, that was in the
frontline of the cruise-missile liberals.


Figures put on Serb killings too high

Jonathan Steele
Friday August 18, 2000

Nato officials conceded last night that their wartime estimates of the
number of Kosovo Albanian civilians massacred by Serb forces might have
been too high. They were reacting to findings by forensic experts for
the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague who are preparing to
complete their work in Kosovo after exhuming about 3,000 bodies.
Not all of the dead can be proved to be victims of murder or execution.

The war crimes teams have dug up 680 corpses this year at 150 sites.
Added to the 2,108 found last year, the total is well below the murder
estimates, ranging from 10,000 to 100,000, made during the war. Paul
Risley, the Hague tribunal's press spokesman, said yesterday: "The final
number of bodies uncovered will be less than 10,000 and probably more
accurately determined as between two and three thousand."

Nato's intervention against Yugoslavia was prompted by massive Serb
offensives against Albanian villages in Kosovo, which caused hundreds of
thousands of civilians to hide in forests or flee across the border.
There were frequent killings of unarmed civilians.

'Motivated to believe the worst'

Jonathan Steele
Friday August 18, 2000

The horror in Kosovo was "a story that has not yet been fully told," the
US defence secretary, William Cohen, told American marines on the
aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt a few days after Nato ended its
bombing campaign. "When it is, people all over the world will understand
why it was that America believed it had to take action."
Flushed with victory after 78 days of air strikes finally led President
Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw Yugoslav forces from Kosovo, Mr Cohen was
still in combative mood as he visited US units around the Adriatic.

Yet, as new details about the war emerge, Mr Cohen's "untold story"
reveals the opposite of what he predicted. The reality of what was going
on in Kosovo was less, not more, appalling than Nato claimed.

The International Criminal Tribunal's disclosure that the final toll of
bodies dug up in Kosovo would be under 3,000 contrasts starkly with the
estimates of mass murder given by Nato while the bombs were falling. Mr
Cohen told a CBS interviewer in May that 100,000 men of military age
were missing, and "may have been murdered".

David Scheffer, the US envoy for war crimes issues, put the figure even
higher. He told reporters at Nato headquarters on May 18 last year that
more than 225,000 ethnic Albanian men between the ages of 14 to 59 were
unaccounted for.

In fact, the atrocities during the Bosnian war were on a larger scale
than Kosovo. Ethnic cleansing accounted for more people in Bosnia, and
some 200,000 were murdered. The hyperbole over the atrocities in Kosovo
seemed to flow from Nato's need to shore up public support for its
bombing, especially when the air strikes failed to secure Mr Milosevic's
surrender after the first few days. "It was hard to know what was going
on. But we were motivated to believe the worst," recalls Jack Seymour, a
former US state department official who works for the non-governmental
British American Security Information Council.

Although most Nato allegations of atrocities were covered by caveats
that the reports could not be verified, officials knew these
reservations were the equivalent of the small print in a contract.
Headlines and soundbites were what counted. Nato also had the authority,
spurious or otherwise, of data from intelligence.

Brendan Paddy of Amnesty International says: "During the war people were
asking us to stand up the figures of deaths and we said we couldn't
corroborate them because we had no access to Kosovo. We didn't know to
what extent Nato statements were based on military intelligence. If
there was intelligence to back it up at the time, it would be useful if
Nato would come forward now."

When the war ended, Geoff Hoon, then a junior minister at the Foreign
Office, said on June 17 last year that "at least 10,000" Albanian
civilians were killed. Five months later the Foreign Office in a
memorandum to the House of Commons repeated the phrase, saying it was
based "on a variety of intelligence and other sources".

But it continued to make assertions without providing evidence. The
memorandum claimed that a "high proportion of bodies will never be
recovered, given the degree to which Serb forces, fearing war crimes
charges, attempted to destroy bodies". Was this unverifiable statement
an alibi to explain the relatively low number of bodies being dug up?
The Hague war crimes tribunal itself refuses to give a toll of murdered
civilians. It is not its job to come up with a figure, officials say.

Besides the bodies exhumed, the search for a final total would have to
include the people reported missing and still unaccounted for. The
International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), which has a mandate to
trace missing people, has received 4,941 requests from families in
Kosovo. In 1,573 cases the file was closed, with 199 missing people
being confirmed dead and the Serb authorities admitting they were
holding 1,374 Albanian men in prisons in Serbia. Of the remaining 3,368
cases some 370 are of people reportedly abducted by the Kosovo
Liberation Army or Kosovo Albanian civilians.

Neither the Red Cross or the Hague tribunal can say how many of the
missing 3,000 coincide with the bodies unearthed. "Between 60 and 80% of
the bodies which the tribunal unearthed last year were identified but
they haven't given us the lists of names," says Victoria Romano, the
ICRC's protection officer in Pristina, Kosovo. Even if no names on the
two lists coincided, this would raise the total of the Serbs' potential
victims to a maximum of 6,000, still substantially less than the Foreign
Office's "at least 10,000".

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