- HOW NATO & THE MEDIA MISREPRESENTED
THE CHINESE EMBASSY BOMBING
- Opponents of the war against Serbia argue
that much of what passes for news these days is really a kind of war propaganda,
that NATO puts out misinformation and the media disseminates the stuff
- A case in point is the coverage of the
bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. I download wire service reports
from the AOL world news database (accessible at aol://4344:30.WORLD.338815.464449182
if you are an AOL member. This allows me to see exactly how wire services
and newspapers change the news from hour to hour. Very instructive for
studying how misinformation is disseminated.
- Studying misinformation is a special
interest of mine. If you'd like to see some of my previous work in this
area, send me a note and I'll email you The Emperor's Clothes, which analyzes
how the NY Times misinformed its readers about the bombing of a Sudanese
pill factory in August, 1998.
- Before we examine the news coverage of
the bombing of the Chinese Embassy, let me recount a very interesting report
from a Chinese intellectual, currently at Harvard's Kennedy Institute,
who spoke on May 8th at the weekly Boston anti-war rally (held at 3:00
every Sat. in Copley Square).
- The man had conferred with people overseas
and thus had direct knowledge of the attack on the Chinese Embassy. He
said three missiles had struck the Embassy compound, hitting three apartments
where one or both adult family members was a journalist. The missiles
apparently carried a light explosive charge.
- Why NATO Targeted Chinese Journalists
- Why, asked the speaker, did all three
missiles strike journalists' apartments?
- Clearly, he said, the goal was to punish
China for sympathizing with the Yugoslav people against NATO. More specifically,
the intention was to terrorize Chinese newspeople in Yugoslavia, thus silencing
yet another non-NATO information source.
- Does that seem too nightmarish to be
true? Keep in mind, NATO has consistently bombed Serbian news outlets
with the stated intention of silencing sources of "lying propaganda."
Why would it be so far-fetched for them to do the same to Chinese newspeople?
- Perhaps NATO wants to silence ALL non-NATO
reporting on the war, even at the risk of starting World War III.
- Or perhaps NATO, or a part of NATO, such
as the U.S. government, wants to provoke a fight with China before China
gets too strong to be crushed?
- Let's take a look at the "news"
- SORRY, WRONG BUILDING
- NATO spokesman Jamie Shea's first response
to the Embassy bombing was a) to apologize and b) to explain that the NATO
missiles had gone astray. NATO had intended to hit a building across the
street, a building that houses what SHEA called the "Federal Directory
for the Supply and Procurement."
- Said Shea: "'I understand that
the two buildings are close together."' (Reuters, May 8)
- (If they ever catch the terrorists who
bombed the US Embassy in Kenya and bring them to trial, could their legal
team utilize the Shea Defense which consists of a) first you say I'm very
sorry and b) then you say you meant to blow up the building across the
- But getting back to the "news"
-- according to Jamie Shea the Chinese Embassy is close to the "Federal
Directory for the Supply and Procurement." But the Chinese Embassy
is in fact located in the middle of a park in a residential neighborhood
- "The embassy stands alone in its
own grounds surrounded by grassy open space on three sides. Rows of high-rise
apartment blocs are located 200 (600 feet) metres away and a line of shops,
offices and apartments sits about 150 meters (450 feet) away on the other
side of a wide tree-lined avenue, [called]...Cherry Tree Street."
- NEARBY BUILDING? WHAT NEARBY BUILDING?
- Apparently realizing that a "Federal
Directory for the Supply and Procurement" would not be placed in an
apartment complex -- or on a 1000 foot lawn - NATO spun a new story a few
- "Three NATO guided bombs which slammed
into the Chinese embassy in Belgrade overnight struck precisely at the
coordinates programmed into them, but it was not the building NATO believed
it to be.
- 'They hit bang on the three aim points
they were given,' a military source said....
- [NATO military spokesman General Walter]
Jertz declined to say what sort of weapon hit the Chinese embassy, except
that it was 'smart' or guided munitions and not free-fall bombs. He denied
planners were 'using old maps, wrong maps.'" (Reuters, May 8)
- OK. Three smart missiles or bombs hit
the three locations they were supposed to hit. It was a misidentified
target. And the Pilot(s) wasn't misled by old or bad maps.
- On the face of it, what is the likelihood
of NATO picking target coordinates that just happen to coincide with three
apartments occupied by journalists? I mean, one computer-guided bomb destroying
a journalist's home would not be unlikely. But three hitting three journalists'
- TOO MANY SPOKESMEN
- In the same Reuters story, another expert
suggests it would be highly unlikely for NATO to make the kind of mistake
Jertz is suggesting:
- "'Target identification and pilot
preparation would have been extensive in this case, because of the military
importance of the intended target and because Belgrade is heavily defended
by Serb forces,' [Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Wald, a strategic planner
for the Joint Chiefs of Staff] said at a briefing for reporters.
- '`'The way targeting works ... the higher
the threat, the more valued the target, the more time you would study it.
The more time you have to study it, the better,' Wald said."
- Based on what Wald is saying here, isn't
it pretty much unlikely that an embassy would be mistaken for a "Federal
Directory for the Supply and Procurement?"
- TOO MANY PLACES
- Which brings us to yet another problem.
Because in the same MAY 8 Reuters Story the name of the place which NATO
intended to bomb mysteriously changes -- not once but twice. Read the
following quote from General Jertz carefully:
- "Careful to avoid making excuses,
NATO military spokesman General Walter Jertz said NATO went after the target
because it thought it was the weapons warehouse of the Federal Directorate
for Supply and Procurement.
- 'The information we had was that in this
building was the headquarters of the Directorate, and we have no evidence
that we were misled,' he said."
- So now the thing they thought they were
- a) the Federal Directory for the Supply
- b) Weapons warehouse of the Federal Directorate
for Supply and Procurement; and
- c) the headquarters of the Directorate.
- No wonder they couldn't be misled. They
couldn't even name the place.
- TOO MANY MISSILES
- NATO's next spin-control effort was an
attempt to simplify things. Retelling the story again a bit later on the
8th, AP reported that:
- "The precision-guided weapon that
hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade apparently did just what it was told.
- One weapon. That does make things more
believable, unless of course the reader has seen the previous stories that
refer to Three missiles....
- Since few people read multiple news stories
about the same topic, and even fewer read them carefully, moving from three
to one missile is a pretty safe gambit. But the problem still remains:
how could NATO targeteers, pouring over their maps, not notice the label
CHINESE EMBASSY on a building they were planning to bomb?
- IT WAS THE MAPS!
- NATO's answer: switch positions on the
- What was the source of "the erroneous
B-2 bomber attack, which dropped several satellite-guided bombs on the
- Here's the latest explanation:
- "In mistakenly targeting the Chinese
Embassy in Belgrade Friday night, U.S. intelligence officials were working
from an outdated map issued before China built its diplomatic compound
several years ago, American and NATO authorities said yesterday.
- 'The tragic and embarrassing truth is
that our maps simply did not show the Chinese Embassy anywhere in that
vicinity,' a senior NATO official said." (Washington Post, May 10)
- Let's consider the implications of what
we've just read.
- First, the Post accepts without question
NATO's assertion that the embassy bombing was accidental. Indeed the Post
doesn't mention the highly newsworthy fact that the news media stories
are so mutually contradictory. Doesn't that tell us something about these
news agencies, about their attitude toward NATO and this war? That they
are really part of NATO's public relations effort, dutifully reporting
whatever they are told without pointing out the implications of NATO's
- Second, the claim that using "old
maps" was the problem flatly contradicts an equally confident assertion
made about 36 hours earlier by NATO' spokesman, General Jertz. You remember:
"He [that is., Gen. Jertz] denied planners were 'using old maps, wrong
maps.'" (Reuters, May 8)
- Third, consider the phrase "outdated
map issued before China built its diplomatic compound several years ago."
This clearly refers to PAPER maps.
- Now is it believable that NATO would
be working off old paper maps of Belgrade? What's the matter, they can't
afford computers? They have no technical staff? We are after all talking
about the combined armed forces of the U.S. and most of Europe. The whole
focus of their attack on Serbia is aerial bombardment. Aerial bombardment
depends primarily on maps and intelligence. Doesn't it fly in the face
of rudimentary common sense -- indeed of sanity -- to believe that this
military force would have anything but the most sophisticated mapping facilities,
updated with satellite photos and local intelligence reports hourly, all
of it in computerized war rooms with giant screens, scores of technical
personnel, etc., etc.
- And isn't it equally obvious, that that
one thing such an armed force would have at its finger tips would be exact
information about sensitive installations -- such as diplomatic facilities
-- precisely to make sure they did not get bombed.
- Unless of course NATO wanted them to
- And of all the diplomatic facilities
in all of Yugoslavia, wouldn't the one to which NATO would pay the most
attention be the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade - both because of China's
immense world-importance and because it is Belgrade's chief ally.
- Of course NATO had up to date maps of
the area around the Chinese Embassy. And of every square inch inside the
Embassy as well.
- Fourth, since NATO claims it decided
to bomb the Embassy because of what the targeteers saw on these "old
maps" -- just what did the targeteers see? We are told they didn't
see the Embassy. Did they see something else they wanted to attack and
destroy? Just what was this something else? Was it a building which housed
some military facility? In the middle of a 1000 foot lawn in a residential
section of the city? And if there is such a map with such a building,
why doesn't NATO produce this ancient document, and show it to us?
- And fifth -- did you notice we're talking
about multiple missiles again?
- LET US NOW REVIEW NATO'S STORIES
- According to NATO there were three --
- NO, there was only one
- smart bomb that hit the Chinese Embassy
by mistake because it missed a building across the street that houses the
"Federal Supply and Procurement Office" --
- NO, that wasn't the problem. The missiles
(because we're back to three missiles again) didn't miss -- they hit right
on target except it turned out the target was all wrong, t wasn't the Federal
Supply and Procurement Office at all, it was the Chinese Embassy and somehow
the targeteers got it all confused but one thing is definite: the mix-up
was not the result of using old maps.
- But that's not right either because if
a target is important a great deal of care is taken, and given that this
was such an important target, even more care would be taken to make sure
it really was the a) Federal Directory for the Supply and Procurement and
- NO, that should be the b) Weapons Warehouse
of the Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement,
- NO, that isn't right either it wasn't
just a warehouse, it was the c) HEADQUARTERS of the Directorate and -
- NO! Forget everything I've said so far.
It was the maps. The maps were very old so you couldn't tell that the
building on that site was an Embassy. And there were three missiles,
of course -- who ever said anything about there only being one?
- A PARK, AND OTHER MILITARY TARGETS
- This writer has just spoken to a Serbian
gentlemen whose family lives a few blocks from the Embassy. He says the
Embassy was built 4 or 5 years ago and that prior to the building of the
Embassy, the only thing there was: a park.
- A park: tress and grass...
- Therefore the notion that NATO could
possess a map drawn before the Chinese Embassy was built which showed any
building occupying the land on which the Embassy now stands is simply impossible.
There was nothing there but trees and grass.
- Therefore NATO is lying.
- And since NATO is lying, we are left
with the Chinese gentleman's explanation. It is the only one that makes
sense. NATO deliberately blew up three apartments inhabited by Chinese
journalists in the Chinese Embassy. This was a high-tech execution. What
will NATO do next?
- (Note to reader: If you wish to see the
complete text of the articles I have quoted from, drop me a line and I'll
be glad to send them to you. email@example.com )
- Best regards, Jared Israel firstname.lastname@example.org
- IF you know anyone to whom you would
like me to send documents and analysis of interest concerning this war
and related questions, please send me the address(es).
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