Times story faithfully parrots the Administration
line on everything even down to the obligatory kicks at
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark who was forced
to take the rap for the failure of the Clinton-Albright
mass-murder project. According to the Times, the
first "misstep" was made by Yugoslavia. It was
so damn small that that the Pentagon was having difficulties
coming up with enough targets to bomb. What the Times,
of course, omits to mention is that this "shortage"
of targets led within days to NATO shamelessly going after
schools, hospitals, buses, marketplaces, old-age pensioners’
homes. In any case, the Times will have us believe,
that there was a mad scramble inside the US Government to
find more objects to bomb. So along came the CIA with a
"target" of its own. Why don’t we hit the headquarters
of the Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement? This
is the ministry in charge of Yugoslav army procurement.
So important was this target that, until the CIA came along,
no one had thought of hitting it. The trouble is, no one
knew where it was. This is pretty astonishing. The Clinton
Administration had been planning to bomb Belgrade since
1993. Belgrade is not a large city. It would have had to
know the address of anything remotely worth destroying.
Besides the building is listed in the telephone book; its
address is on its web site.
turns out, however, that there was a reason why no one had
bothered trying to locate the Federal Directorate. It was
not very important. The CIA was not interested in Kosovo.
The ministry had to go because—supposedly—it was involved
in smuggling missile parts to Libya and Iraq. Ah, Libya
and Iraq! All that’s missing from the story now is North
Korea. So a hapless "mid-level" CIA official tried
to find the Directorate. (It is not clear whether the idea
of blowing up the building was his, or only its misidentification).
He had the address. All he needed was a street map. He got
on to the National Imagery and Mapping Agency and asked
for a map of Belgrade. "Using it and two tourist maps,"
the Times writes, "the officer tried to pinpoint
the headquarters, equipped only with its address."
"Equipped only" with an address and three maps!
I wonder how any of us ever find our way anywhere? "The
NIMA map, produced in 1997, shows major buildings and geographic
features. It does not specify street addresses, but it identifies
major landmarks" I have yet to come across a map that
specifies "street addresses"; most maps list street
names and major landmarks.
week ago the Times had informed us that "Armed
with only an address, 2 Bulevar Umetnosti, the officer who
was dismissed used an unclassified military map to try to
pinpoint the building’s location, based on a limited knowledge
of addresses on a parallel street. The officer, who wrongly
assumed Belgrade’s street addresses were numbered as uniformly
as, say, Manhattan’s, ended up targeting the Chinese Embassy,
which is on a frontage road nearly 1,000 feet from the supply
directorate that was the intended target." So not only
does "mid-level" not know how to look at a map,
he tends to assume that cities around the world are all
like Manhattan! He "locates" the building and
his colleagues happily sign off on it. The building, as
we know, turned out to be the Chinese Embassy. "[W]hen
agency officials talked about the proposed target in at
least three meetings, they spent more time discussing whether
they could legally justify the attack under the international
rules of war than they did about the location of the headquarters
itself." That’s what makes America such a great country!
Where else would Government officials agonize for hours
over the "legality" of striking some target? It’s
so comforting to know that the world is exactly the way
Hollywood and the New York Times tell us it is.
the Administration decided that the CIA would have to take
the rap for the bombing. It’s a convenient target since
it was peripheral to the Kosovo project and its activities
are usually shrouded in mystery. Obviously, the Agency would
not have gone along with this legedermein had it not been
thrown a bone. "When Mr. Tenet dismissed the officer
blamed for targeting and disciplined six others," writes
the Times, "he singled out another for praise.
That officer, also not identified, raised questions about
the target. In the days before the bombing, he called analysts
at NIMA and at the NATO headquarters in Naples to express
doubts." So the CIA is pretty damn effective after
all. "Mid-level" was just a bad apple.
from the dreary Times verbiage is even a remotely
plausible explanation of how it was possible for "mid-level"
to have confused the Chinese Embassy with the Federal Directorate.
The two buildings do not have the same address and are not
particularly close to each other. The satellite imagery
clearly indicated that the proposed target looked like,
well, an embassy, not a government building. As the Times
reported last May, "People in Belgrade said that it
was difficult to confuse the Chinese Embassy with the intended
target, the Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement.
The Chinese Embassy is a marble structure with blue mirrored
glass and flies the Chinese flag. The directorate is housed
in a white office building. That building is several hundred
yards away, on the other side of a major thoroughfare, Lenjinov
Bulevar." In addition, the ministry had never been
located at the site of the Embassy. And there is no way
in the world that the US Government does not know the location
of the Chinese Embassy in every country in the world, particularly
in so critical a country as Yugoslavia. The US Government
routinely monitors the communications traffic of the Embassies
of its adversaries. Throughout the bombing, one can be pretty
sure, the US was keeping close track of what was going on
in the Chinese Embassy. (By the way, if destroying the Directorate
was so important why was it not bombed after the Chinese
"blunder"? Would it not have been advisable, if
only to save face?
November the British newspaper, The Observer, reported
that its investigations had led it to conclude that the
bombing of the Embassy was deliberate. The United Sates
Government suspected that the Chinese were using their Embassy
to transmit Yugoslav army communications. They were also
suspected of monitoring the cruise missile attacks and passing
on the information to the Belgrade government. We cannot
be sure if this is is quite what happened. We can be sure
of one thing though. It did not happen the way the US Government
and the New York Times tell us it did. There was
no way NATO did not know that it was the Chinese Embassy
it was striking that night.