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June 06, 2008

Did the Kosovo Liberation Army Kidnap And Murder Serbs For Their Organs?

William Blum:

[Carla] Del Ponte remained in her position [as Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia] until the end of 2007, leaving to become the Swiss ambassador to Argentina; at the same time writing a book about her time with the Tribunal -- "The Hunt: Me and War Criminals", published two months ago but available at the moment only in Italian. It hasn't been much reported yet what del Ponte has said about NATO, but the book has already created a scandal in Europe, for in it she reveals how the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) abducted hundreds of Serbs in 1999, and took them to Kosovo's fellow Muslims in Albania where they were killed, their kidneys and other body parts then removed and sold for transplant in other countries...

On February 17 of this year, in a move of highly questionable international legality, the KLA declared the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. The next day the United States recognized this new "nation", thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country's territory. The new country has as its prime minister a gentleman named Hashim Thaci, described in Del Ponte's book as the brain behind the abductions of Serbs and the sale of their organs.

Some of the relevant parts of del Ponte's book are here. This is so lurid, and so similar to standard war atrocity rumors, that the evidence del Ponte provides doesn't seem anywhere near conclusive. (Recall the blockbuster Turkish movie Valley of the Wolves was about US troops doing this with Iraqis.) In any case, it's unlikely we'll ever know for sure; given the position of the US, it will never be seriously investigated.

Here's Hillary Clinton on Kosovo in June, 1999, right when this was purportedly happening:

This has been possible because our nations—our leaders and our citizens—stood up against evil. Now there are some who I know who would quibble with my use of that word, but I think it fully describes the conflict we have been waging these last few months...we will not turn away when human beings are cruelly expelled, or when they are denied basic rights and dignities because of how they look or how they worship. When crimes against humanity rear their ugly heads, we have to send such a message as an international community.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at June 6, 2008 04:23 PM

Folk useta junk out cars for spare parts. Boy, how times have change! (now ya murder the neighbors for parts)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 6, 2008 08:09 PM

So, short answer no, long answer I don't want to live in this world anymore?

Truly an inspirational post.

Posted by: Sully at June 6, 2008 09:48 PM

"The Hunt: Me and War Criminals"

And, of course, that should be War Criminals and I. War crimes and organ harvesting pale to insignificance compared to crimes against grammar.

Posted by: Mike at June 7, 2008 04:26 AM

Wait a second, the Serbs aren't the devils? The Albanians aren't angelic victims? Uh oh, you mean wars are complex, awful, atrocities which never have any real winners? Who would've thunk it.

Posted by: Soj at June 7, 2008 04:18 PM

And the point of connecting HRC to this is what, exactly?

Posted by: grumpygus at June 8, 2008 04:35 AM

Did all of you posting your tsk-tsks read the whole post, including the sentence that ends "the evidence del Ponte provides doesn't seem anywhere near conclusive"? And how this story resembles organ harvesting stories that have popped up in so many places (and usually turned out not to be true)? Then why are you folks reacting to this story like it's a fact?

And as grumpygus points out, what is the point of connecting HRC to this story, which may or may not even be true? Remember, that there was quite conclusive evidence of Serb atrocities at the time of the Kosovo intervention.

Posted by: mike kaplan at June 8, 2008 09:15 AM

what is the point of connecting HRC to this story, which may or may not even be true? Remember, that there was quite conclusive evidence of Serb atrocities at the time of the Kosovo intervention.

There was also conclusive evidence of KLA atrocities at the time. The point of connecting Hillary Clinton to this is that what she said is complete bullshit. Our actions had nothing to do with "standing up against evil," and everything to do with US and NATO power. One measure of this is the fact that if were "standing up against evil," we would have some interest in finding out whether this particular incident actually happened.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at June 8, 2008 10:51 AM

God, the point you make is wholly valid--that the US pushed a simple war myth in order to assault the Serbs, taking sides in a complex conflict for our own reasons and selling it as a humanitarian gesture, rather than a military exercise. I can't argue with you there.

But did you have to post this like some god-damned Fox News or CNN report?

"Did the KLA kidnap and murder Serbs for their organs?"

Well, it seems pretty lurid, and similar to stock nationalist hysteria. But then what do you say? Well, I guess we'll never know for sure.

It's tragic, and it's criminal, that the US' allies mirrored our enemies, that we took sides with nationalist militias against other nationalist militias. It's also tragic when our governmental critics come to mirror the same state press they fervently oppose.

"Is it true? Well, fuck, I don't know. But let's report it anyway."

Posted by: Anonymous at June 8, 2008 03:10 PM

But did you have to post this like some god-damned Fox News or CNN report?

What would you like me to do? This is news by any criteria. Carla del Ponte is about as establishment as people get. She also does not have a history of being unfair to NATO, to put it mildly. That's why it's been reported all over Europe by regular news organizations.

Beyond that, it's also important blogg fodder for several reasons. First, it's important to point out how these things work -- if it had been del Ponte accusing an Official Enemy of this, there would be screaming headlines for days in the US, and we'd spend millions of dollars investigating it. The fact that we'll never know, and why, really matters.

Second, it's interesting for exactly the reasons I say -- it's a standard war atrocity story. It's worth discussing that wars always generate stories like this, and they're usually false, but sometimes they actually are true.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at June 8, 2008 03:39 PM

More money and more mileage than just eating YOUR enemy's heart.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 8, 2008 07:39 PM

In my book, Carla Del Ponte has lost credibility long ago, so anything that she puts out is highly suspect.

Additionally, it is quite common that an author wanting to appear impartial and independently credible, when all evidence points to the contrary, suddenly starts to demonstrate a willingness to approach both sides in a humane manner.

I wouldn't trust a fucking thing Carla says, just like I have trouble believing anything from McLellan's mouth, even when it dovetails with my beliefs. And since I haven't totally lost my mind, I believe that linking Hillary here is correct and appropriate -- she is a power hungry liar that would bomb places just to show the size of her cajones and solidify grasp on power.

If there was the space of a generation, I may believe revisionist shit/apologia, but fundamentally, it's only been 9 years since Kosovo, 5 years since Iraq. I can remember that far back and the daily news conferences by Jamie Shea and Scott McLellan.

Posted by: Labiche at June 9, 2008 11:47 AM