^ips of the i:imeBrn”All the News Unfit to Print”rnRacak RevisitedrnBack in 1994, a major news item provedrnunfit for publication in any “mainstream”rnmedia outlets in the UnitedrnStates. It concerned the possibility —rnwhich turned into a virtual certaint) —rnthat the Bosnian Muslim governmentrnstaged the infamous “marketplace massacre”rnin Sarajevo, killing 66 of its ownrnpeople. The U.S. government promptlyrnblamed the Serbs. In subsequent months,rna host of European papers publishedrnarticles on the controversy. Lord DavidrnOwen and General Sir Michael Rosernreferred to an American-engineered cover-rnup. The American public —C/7roniclesrnreaders excepted —remained oblivious.rnPlus ffl change. . . . In January, Americarnwas on the verge (for the second timernin four months) of bombing the Serbs becausernof yet another stage-managedrn”massacre.” This time the venue was thernvillage of Racak, in Kosovo. From NewrnYork to Los Angeles, the media went intorna state of righteous rage over the discoveryrnof 45 dead Albanians, allegedly “civiliansrnbutchered in cold blood.” The headrnof the OSCE observer mission in Kosovo,rnAmerican diplomat William Walker,rnimmediately blamed the Serbian police.rnBelgrade’s claim that the 45 dead were inrnfact Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillasrnkilled in a firefight was scornfully rejectedrnas “Serbian propaganda.” No attemptrnat “objective reporting” on Racak wasrnmade by any of the major dailies in thernUnited States.rnBut according to Christophe Chatelotrnin Le Monde (“Were the dead in Racakrnreally massacred in cold blood?” Januaryrn21), Walker and the Albanian side gave arn”version of this event which does not answerrnmany queshons”:rnIsn’t the massacre of Racak too perfect?rn.. . The account of two journalistsrnof the Associated Press TV,rnwhich filmed the police operahonrnin Racak, contradicts this report. Atrnabout 10:00, when they enter thernlocality behind an armoured vehicle,rnthe village is almost deserted.rnThey progress along the streets underrnthe fire of the gunners of thernKosovo Liberahon Army . . . Thesernexchanges of gunfire will last all therntime of the intervention, with morernor less intensity. It is in the woodsrnthat the main combat takes place.rnThe KLA is taken in the siege.rnAt 3:30 P.M., the report goes on, the policerncomplete their operation and leavernthe village imder sporadic fire from thernKLA. The Serbs estimate that there arern15-20 combatants dead on the KLA side.rnThe Albanians come out from their sheltersrnand go down toward the village.rnThree vehicles of the OSCE VerificationrnMission arrive. Le Monde points out thatrnthe Serbian operation “was neither a surprise,rnnor a secret”: Journalists and OSCErnobservers were encouraged by the Serbsrnto witness the proceedings before thernfighting started and allowed into the villagernafterward, where they found onlyrnfour lighriy injured civilians. The nightrnfalls. With the police and verifiers gone,rnLe Monde reports, the events take an unexpectedrnturn:rnThe next morning, journalists andrnverifiers arrive and, guided byrnarmed KLA figliters who regainedrnthe village, they discover the ditchrnwith twenty bodies, mostly men.rnDuring the day William Walker arrivesrnand expresses horror at “therncrime committed by the Serbianrnpolice and the Yugoslav army.”rnBut many questions remain unclarified.rnHow could the Serb policerngather a group of men, and quietlyrndirect them towards the place ofrnthe execution, while tliey were constantlyrnunder the fire of the KLA?rnHow could the ditch at the edge ofrnRacak escape the glance of the inhabitants?rn. .. And how come thernobservers, present for more thanrntwo hours in this ver’ small village,rnfailed to see the ditch? Wliy arernthere only a few cartridge casesrnaround the corpses, and little bloodrnin this sunken lane where 23 peoplernwere supposedly shot severalrntimes in the head? Weren’t thernbodies of the Albanians killed inrncombat by the Serb police, rather,rnheaped together in the ditch to createrna scene of horror to ignite thernwrath of public opinion?rnIn the same vein, Renaud Girard reportedrnin Le Figaro (“Massacre under arncloud,” January 20) that, “in view of arnwhole series of confusing facts . . . thisrnmatter deserves undivided attention”:rnIf one considers that an AP televisionrncrew was invited as early asrn8:30 A.M. to film the operation, itrnseems that the police had nothingrnto conceal. The OSCE was alsornnotified about the operation, andrnthey sent two cars to the site. Verifiersrnspent the entire day on a hill,rnwhich offered a full-length view ofrnthe village. At 3:30 P.M. the policernleft the village, taking along a 12.7rnmm heavy machine-gun, two automaticrnrifles, two snipers and somernthirty Kalashnikovs, of Chinesernmanufacture.rnLe Figaro also pointed out that thern”massacre” was unveiled only the followingrnmorning, when the KLA was in fullrncontrol of the village. They claimed that,rnon the previous day, police separatedrnwomen from men, taking the men to thernditch and killing them on the spot:rnThe AP TV journalists’ testimonies,rnas well the material they havernfilmed, give an entirely opposite interpretationrnof this event. . . . Afterrnthis, the surrounded KLA membersrnwere desperately tr)’ing to breakrnthrough Maybe the KLA hasrnthus wisely turned its military defeatrninto a political victory?rnA similar account was published inrnDie Welt (January 22) and reportedrnon the BBC World Service and RadiornFrance International, among others.rnCommenting on the story, Business Day,rnSouth Africa’s equivalent of the WallrnStreet journal, remarked that “the electronicrnimages beamed nightly into ourrnsitting rooms” are used to dictate the stylernof foreign policy in the post-communistrnera (January 26). But who is waggingrnwhom? In the end, journalists and politi-rn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn