Friday, 21 April 2017

   Clever manipulation of the way news is presented and wily methods of orchestrating its release into the public domain are among techniques known as ‘spin’. Clearly, some kind of deal was struck between the makers of the documentary ‘Moral [sic] Combat: Nato at War’, and the authors of the Sunday Times article ‘CIA aided Kosovo guerrilla army’, appearing as they did on the same day, 12 March 2000; indeed confirmation comes from the following ‘plug’ for the TV programme in Tom Walker and Aidan Laverty’s article:
“Several Americans who were directly involved in CIA activities or close to them have spoken to the makers of a documentary to be broadcast on BBC2 tonight, and to The Sunday Times about their clandestine roles.”
   Eyebrows however should not be left unraised by this cartelisation of news reporting. It usually takes quite a long time to make a television documentary, and ‘Moral [sic] Combat’ was no exception:
“I was part of a BBC team that spent seven months trying to pin down what really took place at Račak.”[1] (my emphasis)
By contrast of course, a newspaper article can be produced in a matter of a few hours or even less. So one’s automatic assumption is that the article is intended to publicise the documentary and whet the appetite of prospective viewers. However, there is a discordance or rather disconnectedness between the two pieces of reportage, and a bit of analysis of the documentary transcript reveals what has happened. While the Sunday Times piece touts revelations of CIA complicity in the events leading up to Nato action as the essence, the headline-generating marrow of the story (hence “CIA aided Kosovo guerrilla army”), the hour-long BBC documentary is devoid of all reference to the CIA! The story’s raciest and most marketable element has apparently been surgically removed and off-loaded onto the Sunday Times. In this way, the article’s great scoop goes completely uncorroborated by the big-budget, access-all-areas TV production; a situation subliminally reinforced because every educated UK viewer knows that the Sunday Times falls somewhere short of the BBC’s reputation for objectivity and journalistic rigour. The following excerpts show again the types of thing found only in the Sunday Times coverage, having apparently as it were been ‘retrieved from the cutting room floor’ of the BBC: 
“European diplomats then working for the OSCE claim it was betrayed by an American policy that made airstrikes inevitable. Some have questioned the motives and loyalties of William Walker, the American OSCE head of mission.
“[…] Walker, who was nominated by Madeleine Albright, the American secretary of state, was intensely disliked by Belgrade. He had worked briefly for the United Nations in Croatia. Ten years earlier he was the American ambassador to El Salvador when Washington was helping the government there to suppress leftist rebels while supporting the contra guerrillas against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
“Some European diplomats in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, concluded from Walker's background that he was inextricably linked with the CIA. The picture was muddied by the continued separation of American "diplomatic observers" from the mission. The CIA sources who have now broken their silence say the diplomatic observers were more closely connected to the agency.
“"It was a CIA front, gathering intelligence on the KLA's arms and leadership," said one.
“Another agent, who said he felt he had been “suckered in” by an organisation that has run amok in post-war Kosovo, said: “I'd tell them which hill to avoid, which wood to go behind, that sort of thing.””
   This latter agent’s admission that he felt “suckered” into helping the KLA probably explains why his testimony and others like it wasn’t simply suppressed altogether. Allan Little and co must have realised that had they done so, restive CIA staffers would only have found other ways to air their grievances, over which the BBC would have no control. One of the things to avoid if possible would be a need to acknowledge publicly that in spite of systematic vilification by the western mainstream media, what Serb government sources had been saying all along was essentially true:
“Yesterday it was the turn of Vojislav Seselj, a radical Serbian nationalist[2] recently brought into the government as a deputy prime minister. All the "terrorists" in Kosovo, he said, were under the control of America, which armed, directed and financed the Kosovo Liberation Army, he said. Mr Seselj accused the guerrillas of "butchering dead people", leaving open the question of who had killed them.”[3]
   Seselj’s last point alludes to the carefully orchestrated “massacre” in the village of Račak, “discovered” by the Kosovo VerifiCIAtion Mission on 16 January 1999. Once validated by William Walker it was eagerly embraced by a gullible media and used to ensnare Serbia in the bestial trap laid by Nato at Rambouillet[4]. Allan Little’s description of Račak as having “galvanised the west to go to war” is echoed in his documentary by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:
“It clearly was a galvanising event, and the President really felt that we could then move forward, make clear that the US was going to be a part of an implementing force.”
This is confirmed by Clinton himself at the White House press conference he gave on 19 March, when the Rambouillet talks had broken down and the Kosovo VerifiCIAtion Mission was being withdrawn:
"We should remember what happened in the village of Račak back in January -- innocent men, women, and children taken from their homes to a gully, forced to kneel in the dirt, sprayed with gunfire, not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were."
As if the point needed to be further underlined, the following quotes are from an address to Nato’s North Atlantic Council on 28 January by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – the man entrusted above all others with responsibility for facilitating ‘jaw-jaw’ rather than ‘war-war’:
“We must build on the remarkable cooperation between the UN and SFOR in Bosnia to further refine the combination of force and diplomacy that is the key to peace in the Balkans…”
“The bloody wars of the last decade have left us with no illusions… about the need to use force, when all other means have failed. We may be reaching that limit, once again...
“[…] Alas, horror… is present, in the lives of hundreds of thousands of the people of Kosovo... And now, Račak has been added to the list of crimes against humanity committed in the former Yugoslavia.” (my emphasis)
   Hence Račak’s importance to events in 1999 equates roughly to Sarajevo’s in 1914. However, just as the CIA’s machinations were airbrushed from Allan Little’s documentary, so Račak is a ‘spin of omission’ from “CIA aided Kosovo’s guerrilla army”. This is all the more curious since Tom Walker reported from the scene in January 1999[5] – though to be fair to him, he did put the record at least fairly straight in an article he wrote for the Spectator in 2004:
“…after lots of ‘monitoring’ (insertion of spies/target identifiers) and a few dubious massacres and then a very dubious one (Račak) [my emphasis] we moved into peace conference mode. At Rambouillet the Serb delegation (minus Milosevic, who doesn’t travel well) was told that Nato must have access to all its territory, and not just Kosovo. Oddly, they didn’t sign up, and the Nato bombers warmed their engines.”
“[…] Any of this sound familiar? For Slobodan Milosevic, read Saddam Hussein. For mass graves, read WMDs. In this age of instant reckoning, of the television clip and the soundbite, war is cheaply sold in the right package.”[6]

[1] The Guardian, “Allan Little on The Fall of Milosevic”, Allan Little, 6 January 2003
[2] In 2016 Seselj (pronounced ‘Sheshelya’) was found not guilty of war crimes at the Hague tribunal; an outcome which (in spite of the heavy bias against Serbian and in favour of non-Serbian defendants) could by no means have been guaranteed if, for example, Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman had lived to stand trial. 
[3] Independent “Belgrade’s link to massacre”, Raymond Whitaker, 29 January 1999
[4] The talks were framed incidentally as the “International Conference for Peace in Kosovo”.
[5] The Times “Serbs take village massacre bodies”, Tom Walker, 19 January 1999
[6] The Spectator “Kosovo goes to hell”, Tom Walker, 3 April 2004. Tom Walker incidentally died from cancer at the relatively young age of 44 in 2007.

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