Disappearing bodies in KosovoBy Reed Irvine
May 31, 2000
The news from Capitol Hill is that the U.S. Senate is considering a planned withdrawal of American military personnel from Kosovo, which has proven to be what many had predicted -- a quagmire. And the justification for Clinton's intervention is beginning to be undermined by the major media, including such newspapers as the New York Times. Remember that Clinton justified the war against Yugoslavia by claiming that ethnic cleansing was underway in Kosovo and that tens of thousands of people were missing and presumably murdered. Now, the Times is admitting that all the bodies just can't be found. It looks like they were never there in the first place.
A story in the May 15th Times, filed by Carlotta Gall from Kosovo, didn't say flatly that the Administration had lied about the war in Kosovo. But if we read the story carefully, we discover that the sensational claims about thousands of deaths are just plain false.
Last year, she noted, the tribunal had exhumed just over 2,100 bodies. At most, Gall reports that the tribunal has offered an estimate of 11,000 bodies in 500 graves, which is far less than the tens of thousands or more that were claimed by the Clinton Administration. But Gall reports that "generally the actual number of bodies found has been lower than that reported." This means that the claims made by the Clinton Administration, NATO and the U.N. have been exaggerations or lies.
She notes there were "widespread rumors" of 700 bodies being dumped at the site of a mine, but "no evidence" of any such atrocity has been produced. In addition, "Investigators have drawn a blank at some of the sites of the most notorious alleged massacres." She said that a British forensic team went to one village, where over 100 men and boys were reportedly shot and burned by Serb police, and "No bodies were found."
Reporter Gall did her best to soften the blow that Clinton officials and NATO had been lying through their teeth. She tried to suggest that perhaps a lot of people were killed at various locations but that the bodies were moved. In one case, she insisted that Serbian policemen "appear to have removed the bodies just before NATO forces arrived in Kosovo last June." What is the evidence for this claim? None is provided. There is really no reason to give the Administration the benefit of the doubt. We have already learned that, on the matter of alleged NATO destruction of military targets in Kosovo, that the Serbs were more honest than NATO itself. NATO exaggerated the damage in order to claim that the air campaign was extremely successful.
The purpose of discovering graves and digging up bodies is to develop evidence for a war crimes indictment against Yugoslavia president Milosevic. But the effort has been helpful in finding that Clinton is guilty of telling blatant falsehoods about the reasons we got into the war. By moving forward with a plan to withdraw our forces from Kosovo, it looks like the U.S. Senate is coming to the same conclusion.