mainstream media in the United States were aware that the Pentagon and NATO were
releasing biased and false information regarding the war in Kosovo yet they
continued to pass on the information to the American public as if it were
were once more asked to sort out a few kernels of facts from a barrage of
distortions and half-truths from government information manipulators…baloney-ladened
military briefings in Brussels…cryptic shows at the Pentagon," reports
Senior correspondent for Newsday’s Washington Bureau, Patrick Sloyan.
Writing in June’s American Journalism Review, Sloyan went on to
describe how the elite of U.S. media complained to President Clinton, but failed
to use their power to challenge the government.
That the U.S.
military and NATO kept the American public propagandized and ignorant about our
most recent war is a well-known fact among mainstream correspondents. Foremost
in the undercovered or ignored categories, but widely covered in Europe, were:
"…extensive civilian deaths (2,000+); …massive damage to non-military
civilian facilities in Serbia; …the use of illegal cluster bombs and depleted
uranium munitions; …Devastating environmental pollution was created by the
bombing and burning of refineries and chemical plants."
destruction of public utilities left many Serbians without power, water, and
heating. Yet the Pentagon persisted in saying they were attacking only
legitimate military targets.
According to the
London Daily Telegraph of July 22, 1999, "NATO’s bombing campaign
against Yugoslavia had almost no military effect on the regime of President
Milosevic." Based on a NATO inquiry the bombing "failed to damage the
Yugoslav field army tactically in Kosovo while the strategic bombing of targets
such as bridges and factories was poorly planned and executed." The U.S.
bombed cardboard tanks, wooden missile carriers, and phony blackened roads
wasting thousands of tons of bombs on false targets.
Observatoeur (7/1/99) in Paris described how NATO initially thought that two
days of bombing would be enough and that Milosevic would capitulate quickly. But
as the bombing dragged on the U.S. began hitting targets not envisaged by NATO
plans. A senior French military official was quoted as saying, "The USAF
refused to abide by phase one, two, and three. It intended to hit military and
political targets everywhere." Another French official added, "We were on
the verge of an open clash with Washington."
in Europe was the fact that 20 high-ranking judges of the Greek Council of State
openly condemned the NATO attacks calling them violations of international law,
and polls showed that in Greece 95 percent of the people opposed the bombings.
NATO forces were repeatedly hindered as they passed through Greek soil. Greek
resisters changed the road signs in Thessaloniki so that a convoy of NATO
armored-vehicles lost its way and ended up in a vegetable market instead of at
the Greco- Macedonian border.
government felt that foreign press coverage was so out of control that it became
necessary to permanently create a new International Public Information Group (IPI),
made up of top military, diplomatic, and intelligence officials, to coordinate
U.S. resources to "influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning and
ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and
individuals (Washington Times 7/28/99)." IPI would attempt to squelch
or limit uncomplimentary stories regarding U.S. activities and policies reported
in the foreign press. IPI would use governmental resources to repress foreign
news stories that may reach the American public.
government already uses private public relations consultants to spin and distort
news stories on a daily basis to favor specific ideological perspectives. How
far will the mainstream media in the U.S. be willing to go in ignoring this
Phillips is an associate professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and
director of Project Censored.