Monday, January 26, 2004
Clark Finally Gets Asked the Money Questions
Democracy Now's Jeremy Scahill finally managed to ask General Wesley Clark about the bombing of civilian infrastructure in Yugoslavia. Here's an excerpt, but anyone who thinks of Clark as an antiwar candidate should read the whole transcript
On the bombing of Radio Television Serbia:
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I want to answer this fellow. Because the truth was that that -- first of all, we gave warnings to Milosevic that that was going to be struck. I personally called the CNN reporter and had it set up so that it would be leaked, and Milosevic knew. He had the warning because after he got the warning, he actually ordered the western journalists to report there as a way of showing us his power, and we had done it deliberately to sort of get him accustomed to the fact that he better start evacuating it. There were actually six people who were killed, as I recall.
JEREMY SCAHILL: There were 16.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I recall six.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I was there at the time and I knew the families. They do hold Milosevic accountable and they also hold you accountable, sir.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: They were ordered to stay there.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And you think a media outlet is a legitimate target?
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: No, but when it is used as command and control, it is. But then
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: What I said is, we would give them the warnings. It was part of the command and control systems. It was approved as a legitimate target under the laws of land warfare and went through the U.S. Government. That was the basis on which we struck. We actually called the bombers back one time, because there was still -- it was still unclear to us that we weren't absolutely certain. What we know is that Milosevic ordered them to stay there, and it was wrong, but I was doing my duty, and I have been looked at by the law, so -- I mean, I respect Amnesty International. I think they're a good organization, but --
JEREMY SCAHILL: But do you feel any remorse for the killing of civilians that you essentially were overseeing?
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Yes, I do.
On the cluster bombing of the Nis marketplace:
JEREMY SCAHILL: And what about the bombing of the Nis marketplace with cluster bombs, shredding human beings.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: It was terrible, but you know in that instance, if we had got the same incident, there was a cluster bomb that opened prematurely. It was an accident. And every one of these incidents was fully investigated. All of the material from the Yugoslavian government was given to the International Criminal Tribunal, plus as the NATO commander, I made a full report to the International Criminal Tribunal. It was all investigated. The pilots who did it, nobody could have felt worse than the pilots who did it. And I got a letter from a man in Serbia who said you killed my granddaughter on a schoolyard at Nis. I know how he must have felt. And I felt so helpless about it. Every night before I let those bombs go, I prayed we wouldn't kill innocent people. But unfortunately, when you are at war, terrible things happen, even when you don't want them to. You can't imagine what those pilots felt like in those convoys when they struck the convoys. You remember the convoys?
On the bombing of Gurdulica and the Gurdulica bridge:
JEREMY SCAHILL: In Gurdulica were the 72 Albanians were killed.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: In that place, too. And they had flown over it a couple of times. You know, we just -- we were trying to establish some kind of communications on the ground with the Albanians. The Serbs were on the nets, and they were jamming all of the communications, and they were doing imitative communications deception. And nobody could get the truth about it. We saw the Serb vehicles around the place. And I didn't make the decision, but they were following orders on my command. And it was looked at, and so forth. The decision was made as a legitimate target. It turned out that they had been ordered to stay in there by the Serbs. The Serbs were surrounding the place to keep them penned in. It was horrible. You never forget stuff like that. That's why when this government has used force as it has, it makes me so angry. Because these people in the White House don't understand -- you don't use force except as a last, last, last resort.
JEREMY SCAHILL: On April 12th you targeted a passenger train, and then you showed a video that was sped up at three time the speed. Why?
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I think -- first of all, the passenger train was not targeted. The pilot's instructions were to go after a bridge, and not the train. He felt, as he launched that missile, that all of a sudden at the very last minute, the train suddenly came into his field of view. I showed the tape. I did not know that the tape was accelerated. I don't think it was three times. I think it was one-and-a-half times. Whatever it was, it was going faster than the actual speed. It made it look like it was --
JEREMY SCAHILL: But the Supreme Allied Commander, you are ultimately responsible for all of the information that came out.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: That's true. I was.
JEREMY SCAHILL: What the actual in real-time speed showed is that the pilot actually moved the target so that it would hit the train.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don't have that information.