A cover-up from Nato

By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid

January 24, 2000

Clinton officials went through the roof when it was disclosed that a U.N. war crimes tribunal was investigating whether the U.S. and NATO had committed war crimes during the war against Yugoslavia. The Administration thought it had set up this tribunal to investigate and prosecute the other side in the war. Pat Buchanan called this a case of "the chickens of globalism coming home to roost" because the Clinton Administration has gotten the U.S. entangled in international treaties and institutions that have come back to bite us.

Now, the Pentagon has been forced to admit that a NATO bomb attack on a passenger train in Yugoslavia during the war doesn’t look like such an obvious accident or mistake. The bombing killed at least 10 people around noon on April 12th. NATO had explained that the pilot had intended to bomb the bridge that the train was on, and that he couldn’t alter the course of the bomb when he realized that a passenger train was traveling on it.

To bolster their case, NATO officials had played a videotape of the air strike that appeared to show the bomb about to hit the bridge as the train speeds through so fast that the pilot couldn’t do anything about it. NATO Commander Wesley Clark narrated the video for the public, saying, "All of a sudden at the very last instant, with less than a second to go, he [the pilot] caught a flash of movement that came into the screen, and it was the train coming in. Unfortunately, he couldn’t dump the bomb at that point. It was locked, it was going to the target -- and it was an unfortunate incident which he, and the crew, and all of us very much regret."

But now it turns out that the videotape that was played for the public and the press was at nearly three times its normal speed. U.S. officials deny the tape was sped up to make the incident look like a mistake. They say it was inadvertent and because of a technical glitch. But they admit they discovered the fact that the tape was speeded up last October and never disclosed the problem to the public. The story of the deceptive tape was broken by a newspaper in Frankfurt, Germany.

If the tape is played at its regular speed, it shows that the weapons officer had two or 3 seconds to react to the train coming on the bridge. It is a matter of debate whether this would have given him enough time to dump the bomb at that point. But a second missile was fired moments later. The NATO excuse for this bomb is that smoke from the first missile obscured the view of the train on fire.

All of this ignores the fact that NATO was bombing a bridge used by civilian passenger trains. The deaths of the 10 or so people could have been avoided altogether if NATO had not been engaging in a war against the civilian infrastructure of the country. Commenting on this controvesy, reporter David Martin of CBS News quoted the old saying about truth being the first casualty in war. But the real question is how may lies were told, and when we will ever know the full truth.