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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/19/19

Contemporaneous US Government consultations were strangely silent on "Srebrenica Genocide"

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Nevertheless, Galbraith's single witness and Shattuck's whirlwind visit to Tuzla apparently supplied US policy makers with sufficient data to warrant a Presidential Statement by Bill Clinton on August 4, 1995. It followed closely guidelines set in Malley's memorandum to Anthony Lake, but was confined to general charges and avoided specific figures cited in the memorandum [pages 16-17]. Even so, Clinton's rhetoric began with some bone-chilling, though factually unsupported, allegations: "Evidence is mounting every day of unspeakable atrocities committed by Bosnian Serb armed forces during their attack on Srebrenica and Zepa. There are reports of mass executions, beatings, rape, sexual abuse and other flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Thousands of civilians from Srebrenica and Zepa are missing and unaccounted for. As I have made clear before, the United States condemns these outrageous actions in the strongest terms."

There are at least two chronological oddities here that merit attention. The first is the timing of the US officials' disclosure of their unequivocal knowledge that after the fall of Srebrenica grave violations of humanitarian law had occurred. Significantly, August 4, 1995, also happened to be the day when "Operation Storm" against Krajina Serb enclaves was launched by Croatian armed forces, trained by the US "retired officers" contractor firm MPRI and equipped by the US and its NATO associates . On August 10, while "Operation Storm" was still in progress, resulting in the expulsion and flight of an estimated 250,000 Krajina Serbs from their homes, US representative in the UN Madeleine Albright addressed the Security Council. She did not call the meeting to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Croatia but to denounce alleged Serb atrocities in Srebrenica, nearly a month earlier, and waved satellite photographs which no one was allowed to examine closely. The photographic evidence was quickly put under a long-term embargo so as not to "compromise intelligence gathering methods."

This sequence of events suggests strongly that Srebrenica may have been used to provide cover for the incomparably greater human tragedy in Croatia provoked by "Operation Storm", which was unleashed with prior US knowledge and support.

The other curiosity in the chronology of these events is that the response of US political institutions, as reflected in the declassified Clinton Library documents, was oddly unsynchronized with the response of the Hague Tribunal to the identical set of events:

  • On July 17, 1995, while at some locations executions were still in progress, ICTY Prosecution chief investigator Jean-Rene Ruez received marching orders to fly to Tuzla, Bosnia, to open an investigation into alleged mass murders of prisoners after the July 11 fall of Srebrenica. [Le Point(Paris), May 26, 2008]

  • On July 20 Ruez arrived in Tuzla and began his assignment.

  • On July 25, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia indicted Republika Srpska President Radovan Karadzic and Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladic for a variety of war crimes, including command responsibility for genocide in Srebrenica.

No information is available about the reports which prompted ICTY to launch so precipitously an official investigation into Srebrenica. Ruez's report to his superiors of the findings he made in Tuzla, which should have been momentous to prompt genocide indictments in such short order, has not been made public either and nothing is known about the evidence that he claims to have uncovered. Does it appear credible that a judicial institution, the Hague Tribunal, had more ample sources of information than the American and other Western governments, with their experienced intelligence services and technological surveillance facilities at their disposal? On July 25, 1995, is it conceivable that the US authorities should have had only one witness to mass killings in Srebrenica, and not a particularly trustworthy one as it soon turned out, while -- and this is what we are asked to believe -- by the same date the Hague Tribunal with its comparatively scanty resources already must have had a dossier with sufficient evidence to designate the crime and indict the culprits?

These are serious incoherences. Combined with the seemingly result driven nature of the process on both tracks (diverting attention from the Croatian military operation in Krajina on the political level, and the acquisition of a hugely important new controversy to be adjudicated by the Tribunal on the legal level) these incoherences call into question much of what conventional wisdom has heretofore told us about Srebrenica.

Preview YouTube video John Shattuck: Fact-finding mission to Srebrenica

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Stephen Karganovic is the president of the Srebrenica Historical Project.

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