AOT - Serbs used CIA phone to call in convoy raid... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Serbs used CIA phone to call in convoy raid

IAN BRUCE, Geopolitics Editor

The refugees targeted by mistake in the Nato raid involving the U.S. Air Force last Wednesday died because a Central Intelligence Agency undercover operation involving the Kosovo Liberation Army went drastically wrong.

More than 70 fleeing men, women and children were killed as bombs straddled their convoy of tractors and trailers on the Prizren to Djakovica road in Kosovo, producing a propaganda disaster for Nato and triggering a furious behind-the-scenes row between the Pentagon and the US intelligence community.

The Herald can now reveal that the fatal strike was called in by the Serbs using a mobile phone and security identification codes supplied to a KLA "spotter" by the CIA. The man is believed to have been captured early last week and tortured into telling what he knew. He was then executed.

Intelligence sources said last night that a joint CIA-U.S. special forces group operating out of the eastern Bosnian town of Tuzla is running a group of KLA agents inside Kosovo. These men are tasked with reporting the location and movements of all Serb troops and police units via mobile phones.

The KLA spotters are being trained by the U.S. equivalent of Britain's SAS - Delta Force - in camps set up in Albania. They are taught to map read and transmit exact co-ordinates of mobile Serb teams responsible for the ethnic cleansing offensive inside the province.

The co-ordinates are then passed to allied air operations at Aviano air base in Italy and fighter-bombers vectored in to attack with what was hoped would be pinpoint precision.

The KLA fighters have individual identification codes for their CIA handlers. Armed with those codes, the Serbs are understood to have called in five different air strikes last Wednesday in the hope of luring Nato into bombing refugees. Two involved RAF Harrier teams. On those two occasions, the RAF pilots went below their "safe flight ceiling" of 15,000ft to obtain visual confirmation of their targets when they felt that something was not quite right.

On both occasions, they aborted the bombing runs. However, on two other occasions, US pilots dropped bombs. One of these incidents, when an F16 pilot hit the lead tractor in a three-vehicle convoy, was admitted last week after 19 hours of frantic examination of cockpit video footage and at least two fumbled explanations of events.

But the main incident, near Djakovica, remained a mystery until last night. The Pentagon and Nato headquarters, furious at what one officer described as "a typical CIA-sponsored spook screw-up", have been fielding awkward questions for four days without being able to tell the truth or clear their military reputation. Alliance politicians, including Tony Blair and Robin Cook, have tried unsuccessfully to spin the intelligence shambles into pinning the blame on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for provoking the conflict in the first place.

Part of this cover-up stems from the fact that the UK and the United States both see a Western-trained and armed KLA as the proxy ground arm of their campaign and a means of avoiding the commitment of Nato ground troops and inevitable heavy casualties.

There are 40,000 Serb troops, police and paramilitary volunteer units inside Kosovo, supported by an estimated 500 surviving armoured vehicles, including main battle tanks and artillery, in small groups and well camouflaged.

The SAS is understood to have about 70 men guiding in allied jets and illuminating targets with laser designators. But they are thin on the ground and the province consists of more than 11,000 square miles of heavily-wooded hills and mountains. The KLA has perhaps 25,000 men under arms, scattered in small groups in the hills.

The Serbs move in platoon-sized units of between 30 and 50 men, careful to hide their vehicles when they halt. Barns, monasteries and mosques have all been used to conceal the marauding armour from Nato pilots.

An intelligence source said: "Milosevic must have laughed himself sick. Using CIA-supplied mobile phones to lure US pilots into doing a bit of final ethnic cleansing for him is a neat trick and a major intelligence coup.

"We were probably lucky it only worked twice. It's a pity that 70-plus refugees who must have thought they were within touching distance of safety had to pay with their lives for a breach of security which could and should have been foreseen. Perhaps the CIA should realise this is not Nicaragua, where blunders could be buried without coming under the spotlight of the world's media."

-- Andy (, April 19, 1999


Rather than start a new Off Topic Thread, here is the Drudge story on "Poison Cloud envelopes Belgrade"

Notice what NATO says about it ! It indicates to me what our own govt. will say when Y2K happens.

Andy, thanks for your posts - Y2K doesn't exist/happen in isolation to the rest of world events.

ALSO, maybe we could limit the KOSOVO threrad to one a day and put all responses/news there? Would that make "everybody" happy? Nato crippled the Serb oil industry yesterday. Tom Walker reports from Belgrade

) A towering cloud of toxic gases looms over Belgrade after warplanes, on the 25th night of the Nato onslaught, hit a petrochemicals plant in the northern outskirts of the city Photograph: PETAR KUJUNDZIC/REUTERS

Poison cloud engulfs Belgrade

AN ecological disaster was unfolding yesterday after Nato bombed a combined petrochemicals, fertiliser and refinery complex on the banks of the Danube in the northern outskirts of Belgrade.

A series of detonations that shook the whole city early yesterday sent a toxic cloud of smoke and gas hundreds of feet into the night sky. In the dawn the choking cloud could be seen spreading over the entire northern skyline.

Among the cocktail of chemicals billowing over hundreds of thousands of homes were the toxic gas phosgene, chlorine and hydrochloric acid. Workers at the industrial complex in Pancevo panicked and decided to release tons of ethylene dichloride, a carcinogen, into the Danube, rather than risk seeing it blown up.

At least three missile strikes left large areas of the plant crippled and oil and petrol from the damaged refinery area flowed into the river, forming slicks up to 12 miles long. Temperatures in the collapsing plant were said to have risen to more than 1,000C. Asked about the hazard from chemical smoke, Nato said there was "a lot more smoke coming from burning villages in Kosovo".

Belgrade scientists told people to stay indoors and to avoid any fish caught in the Danube. They said pollution would spread downstream to Romania and Bulgaria and then into the Black Sea.

At least 50 residents of Pancevo were reported suffering from poisoning and the Health Ministry was struggling to find gas masks to distribute in the surrounding areas. residents were told to breathe through scarves soaked in sodium bicarbonate as a precaution against showers of nitric acid.

Thirteen hours after the first explosions, the Yugoslav Army took journalists to Pancevo just as a thunderstorm broke over the complex.

As the director tried to hold a press conference in the fertiliser plant's headquarters offices, panes of glass and other fixtures loosened by the earlier explosions began falling from the building. The driving rain and gusts of wind only increased the smoke and brought the toxic gases down from the higher levels of the atmosphere. "This plant is 37 years old and this is our worst nightmare," said Miralem Dzindo. " By taking away our fertiliser they stop us growing food, and then they try to poison us as well." He rejected journalists' questions about chemical weapons, saying that the plant was strictly non-military.

Mr Dzindo said an airstrike three nights ago had grazed a tank containing 20,000 tons of liquid ammonia. If that had gone up in flames, he said, much of Belgrade would have been poisoned. Against the roar of thunder and the crackle of the burning oil refinery, the Serbian Ecology Minister, Dragoljub Jelovic, accused Nato of trying to destroy the whole Yugoslav environment. He said the pollution in the Danube and in the atmosphere over Belgrade "knows no frontiers" and he warned neighbouring countries that the poison clouds could soon be with them.

A westerly wind had taken the worst of the gases away from Belgrade, he said, but he predicted that they could soon reach Romania.

Disaster will be avoided, as long as the cloud remains several hundred feet high (Dr Thomas Stuttaford writes). However, if the wind changes, and if it rains so that the gases are dissolved in solutions which can be deposited and inhaled, the old, very young and those with chest diseases might suffer.

The usual advice is to keep indoors with the windows shut, wearing a mask, and after the danger has passed to wash all clothes that were being worn, and to flush down any contaminated person's skin with soapy water.

-- Jon Johnson (, April 19, 1999.

Just another attempt to pass the blame of our mercenaries (Nato) onto the Serbs. 'They' made me do it! It has worked for decades both here in u.s. and in every place around the world. We are just peace lovers, Not our fault! The bully will get paid back someday, perhaps real soon. Double Speak BS

-- DonotBelieve (, April 19, 1999.

By all means Jon - one a day is fine by me - will be taking a break for a few days to let Meerkat (No Spam) calm down.

Later all,

-- Andy (, April 19, 1999.

What kind of media outlet is the source of this report? Show the URL, please.

-- Old Git (, April 19, 1999.

Don't go Andy, keep up the good work!

-- sandi (, April 19, 1999.

Another well-known columnist tells the truth. This is from a Drudge Report link ("Sobran").


WASHINGTON -- You'll notice, I hope, that the Kosovo bombing, among its many dubious features, is hard to square with the Constitution. Not that it seems to matter anymore. Trying to bring the Constitution into current political debates is a little like trying to enter Secretariat in the Indianapolis 500.

Constitutional questions should be the first issues raised whenever the federal government makes a new departure, such as the dangerous precedent of intervening in a remote civil war without a declaration of war, a coherent rationale or even a clear plan. The whole purpose of the Constitution is both to specify and to limit the government's powers.

Where, for example, does the government get the authorization to impose a national health care plan? Nobody asked this fundamental question while the Clinton proposal was hotly debated for several months. We can argue philosophically about whether providing health care is a proper function of any government. But it would simplify policy debates, bringing them down to earth, if we could begin by asking whether this particular government is given the specific power to enact this particular law.

The proper answer to the Clinton health care proposal would have been: "That's an interesting idea. But there's no point in debating it, since there are no constitutional grounds for enacting it. If you want national health care, you'd better begin by amending the Constitution." But even conservatives don't talk like that anymore.

The lazy but prevalent idea that the Constitution is a "living document" has made it a meaningless document, by making it infinitely elastic. The "living document" allows the president, Congress and the judiciary to enlarge federal powers without limit. And over time, the federal government's power has become so vast and undefined that constitutional questions about its powers are rarely posed.

The "living document" is now construed to mean the very opposite of what it was taken to mean by those who wrote it, those who ratified it, and those who lived under it. Until the first third of the 20th century, the federal judiciary agreed that any expansion of federal power required a constitutional amendment, not a clever interpretation of the interstate commerce clause or the 14th Amendment.

But the New Deal brought an "activist" (i.e., liberal) Supreme Court that favored centralized government and despised state and local government. Time and again, over several decades, the Court found no constitutional impediments to usurpations of powers never granted to the federal government. At the same time, the Court suddenly discovered that the powers traditionally reserved to the states and localities were in violation of the Constitution. And so it has gone.

Today the "living document" is a dead letter. We've lost the habit of demanding that the federal government show its credentials before it exercises any novel power. So the government has become, in essence, dictatorial. Everything from tags on mattresses to the bombing of foreign countries testifies to its omnipotence, which far outruns its competence.

Bill Clinton has decided to bomb, so the bombs are falling. Few members of Congress have even mentioned the little problem of an undeclared war; such wars have become our habit. And without such a declaration by Congress, we face a situation the Constitution's framers dreaded: We can be taken into war by the arbitrary will of a single man.

While Congress habitually usurps powers never granted to it, it also abdicates the exercise of powers assigned to it. It's allowing Clinton to take the initiative in waging undeclared war. In earlier times this would have been an impeachable offense. Even after Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt needed a formal declaration of war. And even Roosevelt never dreamed of bombing, on his own authority, a country on the other side of the world that posed no threat to the United States.

Without the firm limits imposed by the Constitution, the federal government becomes lawless in the use of force, at home and abroad -- a mere tool of those who hold power at a given moment. Bill Clinton is capitalizing on this fact, but he didn't create it. We can't blame the dung beetle for our dung heap.

-- Jon Johnson (, April 19, 1999.

Just a small point, Jon. In your environmental disaster cut-and-paste, "Mr Dzindo [plant manager] said an airstrike three nights ago had grazed a tank containing 20,000 tons of liquid ammonia. If that had gone up in flames, he said, much of Belgrade would have been poisoned." The odd thing is that on the official Serbia page, Dzindo is quoted as saying that tank was empty. I wonder how many other discrepancies there are in this and other stories? Here's the URL for the official Serbia page:

-- Old Git (, April 19, 1999.

Now let me get this straight...the Serbs torture a KLA agent, execute him, then use the codes they obtained as they slit his throat to fool NATO into making air strikes on a convoy of innocent refugees, turning them into a field of dismembered and charred corpses...

And somehow Clinton is the one that is labeled a bully?

-- a (a@a.a), April 19, 1999.

Oh for goodness sakes.

Don't you recognise spin when you see it?

Lets see. You're an evil Serb. You have an American CIA agent in you're wicked talons. You could hold him/her as a hostage. You could use her/him as a distraction. You could find out important military advice to keep your family alive. But no! What you do is torture him/her into telling you where refugees are?

Uh excuse me but is there any road in Yugoslavia where refugees aren't? Somehow I doubt that any Serb needs to torture a CIA agent to find convoys of refugees to bomb.

USA screwed up. We bombed 70 people. There is much more political advantage to a Serb in keeping even a mythical CIA agent alive than there is in killing her/him.

-- Dont-believe-everything-you-read (No wool@overmy.eyes), April 19, 1999.

This came from CNN.

-- Andy (, April 19, 1999.


Could you please let us know the original URL for your post at the top of this thread ?

Ian Bruce being the geopolitics editor of which news organisation exactly ?


-- Interested (, April 19, 1999.

Don't have the URL - got it from a co-worker who said he picked it up on the CNN site.

-- Andy (, April 19, 1999.


Why didn't you just post this in a forum where it would be on-topic, such as The Government of the United States ?

-- No Spam Please (, April 19, 1999.

Andy -- I don't think you understand the material you yourself posted.

You write "Somehow I doubt that any Serb needs to torture a CIA agent to find convoys of refugees to bomb."

Duh. You missed the point, which is that the Serbs had to have the agent's ID codes to authenticate the call spotting the convoy.

Whether this whole account is true or not is a whole 'nother story. None of the parties involved are likely to confirm it. Right now it's just another rumor without a source. What my mother used to call "gossip."

-- Tom Carey (, April 19, 1999.

No articles currently on the CNN site match this one. Ian Bruce appears as "Geopolitics editor" on the SIGHTINGS site; do with that what you will. Tom Walker is a Times (London) reporter who's apparently assigned to the Kosovo story at present. Not sure where a Rupert Murdoch paper ranks against SIGHTINGS as a source...

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), April 19, 1999.

Hey, well it was on the Drudge site, so it has to be true right? :)

Order of increasing reliabilty: (sheeple)


Order of increasing reliabilty: (most paranoid on this site)

WND least we agree on the Enquirer...

-- a (a@a.a), April 19, 1999.

Since yesterday Ive seen this story duplicated in various news sources including the "quality" press.

Here in the UK, it was even mentioned on the serious news programme "Newsnight" where a *professional defence consultant* was asked to comment briefly on the issue.

His response was that he felt that the alleged scenario was extremely unlikely due to the very high and prohibitive risks of using KLA operatives on the ground to spot for airstrikes.

Uhuh. I agree. The plan sounds like something from a Jeffrey Archer novel.

But lets remember that were dealing with a CIA-conceived scheme here, and since when were those guys famous for their good sense and sound decision making capability when it came to devising black-ops schemes ?

In fact, it could be argued that CIA involvement, coupled with the "wacky" nature of the methodology is possibly the strongest indication that the story has a ring of truth to it.

Personally, I find it impossible to reconcile the idea of USAF F-15 pilots bombing mobile targets from high altitude without prior-visual confirmation, unless they had some reson to "assume" that the quality of the target-allocating information was impeccable. (I know that the rules of engagement limit them to unusually high operational altitudes, but the RAF are under the same restrictions and it has been widely reported that a couple of Harrier pilots aborted bombing missions after "diving under the cloud to take a look" because "something didnt feel right"). What kind of operational information would make an F-15 pilot so confident of the integrity of the target that they wouldnt bother to do this ? Especially in a theatre where there are known to be huge numbers of civilians moving around the roads using all manner of vehicles.

"Covert ground-level target spotting" perhaps ?

I think we should be told.

-- Curious Orange (, April 20, 1999.

"Andy -- I don't think you understand the material you yourself posted.

You write "Somehow I doubt that any Serb needs to torture a CIA agent to find convoys of refugees to bomb."

Duh. You missed the point, which is that the Serbs had to have the agent's ID codes to authenticate the call spotting the convoy."

Uh Tom,

You're confusing ME with the author of this article.

I wrote nothing about torture. The author did.

-- Andy (, April 21, 1999.

Curious Orange,

I used to watch Newsnight all the time, I hope it's still as good as it used to be. is Jeremy still doing his pit bull interviewing? :)

I agree with your line of thinking - still a lot of unanswered questions - however it does amck of the usual CIA cock-up scenario... :)


-- Andy (, April 21, 1999.

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