THE CHARRED remains of a Kosovan refugee: NATO now admits that its bombs were responsible
"WE CANNOT take at face value any claim made by the Serb authorities. Anything they do they use for propaganda purposes." So says Tony Blair. The Serbs have propaganda. NATO, however, has honest, truthful accounting, he claims. But NATO's response last week to its own bombing of fleeing Kosovan refugees reveals we cannot trust a word they say. This is how NATO responded to its own massacre:
There were two versions of this:
1) Pentagon spokesman in Washington Kenneth Bacon says he has spoken to NATO commander Wesley Clark. Clark says there were two groups of military vehicles at the front and back of the convoy. Only these vehicles were spotted and targeted by NATO jets. Bacon says there are reports that "after the convoy was hit, military people got out and attacked civilians in the middle of the convoy." Within hours NATO was forced to admit there is no evidence for this.
2) Kenneth Bacon changes his story and says Yugoslav jets were responsible for the massacre. They were flying low, attacked the refugees and killed them, he says.
"WHAT YOU are hearing from NATO and the Ministry of Defence is propaganda calculated to get public support behind the war effort." They are the words of Phillip Knightley, a veteran international correspondent and author of The First Casualty, a book about wartime propaganda. He says we can believe "very little" of what NATO and the Ministry of Defence tell us.
"If we learned one thing from the First World Warwhen all the great atrocity stories put out by British government propagandists turned out to be untrueit is never to believe such tales without independent confirmation. Why should we necessarily believe it just because it's come from the Ministry of Defence and NATO? How do we know what we are being told is true? Governments and armies lie in wartime if it suits them. They're out to win and information is a weapon."
DO US pilots ever lie? The answer to that question is yes according to recent evidence from Italy. A US jet sliced through a cable car line at a ski resort last year and sent 20 holiday makers plummeting to their deaths. Government regulations say planes should fly no lower than 2,000 feet. The jet was flying at 370 feet. The speed limit was 517 miles per hour. The jet was travelling at 621 miles per hour. The pilot and navigator claimed they were unaware of the restrictions. They said their altimeter was not working properly.
The details of the flight were at least partially taped onto a videocassette in the cockpit of the plane. The lawyer for the pilot and the navigator says the men could not get the tape to work and believed there was nothing on it anyway. But the video is nowhere to be found! NATO regulations meant that the men were not put on trial in Italy, but instead before a military court in the US. It acquitted them both.
THE BOMBING of the refugee convoy last week was not the only example of NATO's warped use of words. NATO commander Wesley Clark described last week's NATO bombing of a civilian train, which killed ten passengers, as an "uncanny accident". Clark says the pilot only realised after he had fired a missile that the train would be hit. "By the time he saw the train it was too late," says Clark.
But on Clark's own admission the pilot then bombed the railway bridge a SECOND time AFTER seeing the passenger train. Yet Clark says, "Two bombs were put into that bridge and in both cases there was an effort made to avoid collateral damage."
THE US government has a long record of lying to cover up civilian massacres. Throughout the Vietnam War media reports of massacres of Vietnamese people by US forces were suppressed. It was not until details about a massacre at My Lai in 1968 were revealed that a tidal wave of such reports began and opposition to the war grew. But it took over 18 months before the truth was fully revealed.
At My Lai US forces killed over 130 men, women and children. They gathered the villagers into groups and shot them. One soldier later recalled how "a really tiny kid, he had only a shirt on, nothing else, came over to the people and held the hand of one of the dead. "One of the GIs behind me dropped into a kneeling position 30 metres from this kid and killed him with a single shot." Only one US officer was ever convicted for these horrific actionsand he was immediately freed by the authorities.