PBS Consistent, US Not

By Reed Irvine

March 3, 2000

In the 1970s and 1980s, when the United States was helping governments that were the targets of left-wing terrorists who trying to seize power, PBS churned out documentaries that championed the terrorists and criticized the U.S. A recent PBS documentary, "War in Europe," aired on "Frontline," showed that PBS still sympathizes with the leftist terrorists, in this case the Kosovo Liberation Army, but so does the U.S. government. They are now on the same side.

"Frontline," had an opportunity to expose the huge lies that were told by our government to justify using military force to wrest control of the Serbian province of Kosovo from Belgrade and turn it over to the KLA. Instead, the documentary either repeated the lies or simply ignored them.

One of the biggest and most useful lies was about the incident that served as the excuse for launching the air war—the alleged massacre of 45 ethnic Albanian peasants at a village called Racak on January 15, 1999. Here is how it was described by "War in Europe."

"On that very day (Jan. 15, the day the Senate trial of President Clinton began)... the road in Kosovo had turned fatefully toward war. The Serbs had come to Racak with vengeance on their minds. Four of their policemen had been killed by the KLA. Now, the village of Racak would pay. Forty-five Kosovars were killed. A new effusion of blood on the world’s television screens."

As those words were spoken, footage taken by an AP camera crew showed Serb security forces approaching and then moving through Racak. Artillery fire could be heard and a Serb officer was shown firing a mortar. There was no sign of any villagers in the streets. The AP says that the footage taken that day did not show any dead bodies.

If the Serbs went to Racak with the intention of murdering innocent villagers, they would certainly not have invited an AP camera crew to accompany them. The two AP cameramen were later interviewed by two French reporters, Christofe Chatelot of Le Monde and Renaud Girard of Le Figaro. Chatelot had seen a Serb news release in the afternoon of Jan. 15, after the Serbs had withdrawn, reporting that they had sent forces to Racak, a KLA stronghold, and had killed 15 terrorists. He went to see what had happened, arriving at about 4 p.m. He saw three cars belonging to official observers, and he talked to an American army captain named Scott. Scott said nothing about civilians being killed, and Chatelot saw nothing unusual.

He saw no reason to go to Racak the next day, when reporters and the AP camera crew were urged to go there. It was then that the AP got footage of many dead bodies, including one of a man that appears to have had his head blown off. That body was neatly laid out in the center of the village, with a blanket on one side and a white bench on the other. There was no sign of any blood on either the bench or the blanket. The body had evidently been placed there after the withdrawal of the Serbs the previous day.

The appearance of the bodies after the Serbs and the observers had left Racak on the 15th, suggests that the KLA had moved those killed in the Serb attack on their entrenched positions in the hills to the village and its outskirts to make it appear that there had been a massacre of noncombatants. The producers of the documentary did not want to expose this. They tried to get around that problem by showing footage of the bodies without revealing that it had been taken the day after the Serb attack. The narrator then said, "The next day, the chief American diplomat monitoring the Kosovo cease-fire visited Racak. This diplomat, Amb. William Walker, was shown viewing bodies and saying, "This is about as horrendous event as I’ve seen, and I’ve been in some pretty nasty situations."

The Racak "massacre" was a hoax, perpetrated by the KLA. It was exposed in the French press by Christofe Chatelot and Renaud Girard. Girard had written an article calling the massacre a crime against humanity, but after talking to Chatelot and the AP camera crew he retracted what he had written. He says Racak was a "fighting village," making the Serb attack a legitimate military operation. He said Walker got what he wanted, a pretext for starting the war. The "Frontline" producers should have known from the AP footage that the massacre was a fraud. They could have confirmed it by interviewing the crew that took it and the French reporters.

Original article