March 10, 2000Pentagon: no proof on Nato spy
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some NATO officials believe a spy leaked military plans to the Serbs in the Kosovo war last year, but no one has been able to prove them right or wrong, the Pentagon says.
"No one can definitively say that there wasn't a mole of some sort, but there is no evidence there was," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon Thursday.
The British Broadcasting Corp. earlier in the day released details of a documentary alleging that a mole supplied information on the allies' strike plans and flight paths in the first two weeks of the air campaign, allowing Serbs to move troops and equipment away from intended NATO targets.
Bacon said there were indications that the Serbs had some advance knowledge of plans, but he blamed it on a system of distributing air tasking orders to member nations by fax. When the procedures were changed, "the problem went away," said Bacon, on a trip to Asia with Defense Secretary William Cohen.
In Washington, Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said there also were "communication intercepts -- too many of the allied aircraft sent their transmissions in the clear," so those procedures were tightened as well.
"We were always sensitive to security and that meant that throughout the campaign we were consistently reviewing security," NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said Thursday.
"Results of the air campaign speak for themselves. The NATO air cover did all that it was asked. The refugees are now home, underlying the success of the air campaign," Robertson said.
Nevertheless, Bacon said, "There are people in NATO who believe there could have been a mole."
NATO launched its 78-day bombing campaign of Yugoslavia in March 1999 to force President Slobodan Milosevic to halt his crackdown against ethnic Albanians in the southern province of Kosovo.
Serb forces shot down a U.S. stealth bomber during the conflict.
The BBC program to be aired Sunday, "Moral Combat: NATO at War," claims that an internal classified report prepared for senior U.S. defense officials concluded that the Serbs had information on air raids and reconnaissance flights. It says U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme commander, suspected that information was leaking and ordered an investigation.
Asked if there was a spy at NATO headquarters, Clark told the BBC: "Absolutely not."
Asked whether there was a spy "in NATO," he replied. "I don't think so."
It is not the first time spy allegations regarding Yugoslavia have been made.
In 1998, a French army major was arrested on charges of spying for Yugoslavia while he was chief of staff for the French delegation at NATO headquarters in Brussels, months before the air campaign began. He was released by a French appeals court.