Konformist: HOW NATO & THE MEDIA MISREPRESENTED THE CHINESE EMBASSY BOMBING
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>From: JaredI@... <JaredI@...>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>To: JaredI@... <JaredI@...>
>Subject: LIES, DMN LIES & MAPS
>Date: Tuesday, May 11, 1999 12:35 PM
>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 uncritically.
>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
>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
>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
>Why NATO Targeted Chinese Journalists
>Why, asked the speaker, did all three missiles strike journalists'
>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
>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" coverage.
>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 street?)
>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 and:
>"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 hours later:
>"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' homes?
>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
>'`'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
>"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 bombing was:
>a) the Federal Directory for the Supply and Procurement;
>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
>"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 map question.
>What was the source of "the erroneous B-2 bomber attack,
>which dropped several satellite-guided bombs on the embassy"?
>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 ever-evolving explanations.
>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.,
>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 be bombed.
>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
>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
>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. jaredi@... )
>Jared Israel jaredi@...
>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).
>Thanks - jaredi@...
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