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Date:  Fri, 14 May 1999 08:11:33 +0900
From: Hendrik
To: Multiple recipients of NETSOURCE-L <netsource-l@mail.think.service>
Subject:  [NS] The Boston Globe exposes some of the US propaganda

Number of missing Kosovars is challenged

By Charles A. Radin, Globe Staff and Louise D. Palmer Globe Correspondent

WASHINGTON - Experts in surveillance photography, wartime propaganda, and
Balkan diplomacy say there is every reason to believe that atrocities are
being committed against the ethnic Albanian majority in strife-torn Kosovo,
but little reason at this time to accept the huge numbers of dead and
missing Kosovars that are being bandied about.

The US State Department said Monday that a half million ethnic Albanian men
are unaccounted for in the disputed province, which is part of
Serb-dominated Yugoslavia but 90 percent Albanian, and a department
spokesman hinted that 100,000 may have met with foul play. The statements
have stoked public outrage, but they are based on no publicly available
documents or photographs.

"In all these cases, the first numbers we hear are overestimates," said
Farouk El-Baz, a pioneer in photography from space who directs Boston
University's Center for Remote Sensing. "I am surprised we are not seeing
more of what is on the ground. There must be more" that US officials could
show, El-Baz added. "Sensing equipment is now at a state that should make
these things more obvious and more certain."

In the 28 days since NATO began bombing Yugoslavia in what was portrayed as
an effort to stop attacks on and expulsions of Kosovar Albanians, several
instances of misinformation have sparked questioning of the information
being released by alliance and US officials.

After Yugoslavia charged that a refugee convoy had been bombarded by NATO
jets, US General Wesley Clark, the supreme commander of NATO, spun the
story around, blaming Yugoslav forces for an attack that killed dozens of
civilians. Clark then retracted the statement, and NATO took responsibility
for hitting civilians.

In the same incident, the Pentagon released a taped interview with an
American pilot purportedly involved in the bombing, but it turned out that
the pilot was describing a different mission. NATO and the State Department
have repeatedly said that they had evidence that members of the Albanian
intelligentsia were being executed. While some of those named were indeed
killed, others turned up alive. Among them was Baton Haxhiu, who reportedly
heard himself pronounced dead by NATO officials in Brussels. Haxhiu, the
editor of the independent ethnic Albanian paper, Koha Ditore, was alive and
in hiding.

US and NATO officials have repeatedly asserted they had evidence that
Yugoslav forces are committing crimes against humanity and committing mass
genocide. This week, they said, these forces had dug mass graves pointing
in the direction of Mecca, using a satellite photo to underscore their

"Long neat rows of individual graves, 150 very neatly dug graves - these
are not mass graves," said MIT political science professor Barry Posen, a
specialist in the history of warfare. "It's weird to think they would have
a mass murder, recruit grave diggers, and properly orient the graves toward
Mecca so as to give them some semblance of a proper Muslim burial."

Posen said hunger for news has led to nearly unquestioning acceptance of
official statements and superficial appearances by the Western media,
allowing the politicians and generals leading the air campaign to use the
refugees to justify the bombing. "Because the press has not gone back to
investigate and dispel 'facts' that were staked out at the beginning that
said there were already hundreds of thousands of refugees," Posen said,
"NATO is able to absolve itself and make great use of very tragic pictures
of people in very tragic circumstances to say, 'See, this is why we fought
the war, to reverse this."'

Nongovernmental specialists and analysts contacted about the various NATO
claims uniformly said they believe atrocities are occurring, and stressed
that they do not want to be interpreted as defending or excusing these
acts. But, said Robert Hayden, director of the University of Pittsburgh's
Center for Russian and East European Studies, the State Department reports
of 100,000 to 500,000 unaccounted-for Albanian men "are ludicrous - the
story is just ludicrous.

"NATO is running a propaganda campaign, there's no question about that,"
Hayden said. "There have been lots of discrepancies in the official story,
but what is interesting is that, until now, there has been amazingly little
scrutiny of that story."

However, there are other explanations other than propaganda campaigning for
NATO and the United States to hold back on high- altitude or space photos
that could document the location of dead and missing Kosovars. "When you
show a picture, any good expert will know that this photo must have been
taken by a certain type of platform, and that the camera characteristics
are 1, 2, 3, 4," El-Baz said. "Governments do not want to tell the general
public what the detailed capabilities of the sensing equipment are. And if
you show the photo, an expert can make something like it, or try to evade

Swanee Hunt, who was US ambassador to Austria in the mid-1990s while the
former Yugoslavian republic of Bosnia was the focus of ethnic wars, said
she was looking at pictures of men lined up to be executed and piled into
mass graves long before the photos were ever released publicly. "The means
we have of gathering information are very sophisticated. They are
extraordinarily detailed," said Hunt, who runs a public policy program at
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "But the intelligence community is
very sensitive about their methods ... maybe not because the Serbs are
watching, maybe because the Chinese are."


Source: The Boston Globe, 04/21/99, p. A02


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