Everywhere in Europe, more and more questions are asked on maybe a secret network in Europe of torture prison camps, run by the CIA.
Now, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Alvaro Gil Robles, says for the first time, interviewed by French daily Le Monde, that he has seen, in September 2002, such a camp.
At a site new in the present debate on those camps: the US military base of Camp Bondsteel, in Kosovo, former Yugoslavia.
See also here.
See also here.
Kosovo and US corporations: here.
CIA torture flights from Scotland: here.
Torture flights from Malta: here.
- SC unit hands off command in Kosovo to the 525th BfSB (dvidshub.net)
- CIA torture flights in Scotland (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Rick Rozoff: European Guantanamo: Why The U.S. Wants Serbia To Give Up Kosovo (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- United States torture flights and Britain (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
Yildiz Onen of the Global Peace and Justice Coalition says the movement is now targeting Turkey’s role in the wider war on terror. She reports:
“The Turkish ministry of transport has officially admitted that US aircraft, converted by the CIA into prisons-cum-interrogation rooms and used to transport secret prisoners to secret locations, have been landing at Turkish airports.
“The latest such plane, according to the ministry, arrived from Baku, Azerbaijan, stayed for 27 hours at a small Istanbul airport and then headed for Amsterdam on 15 November.
“The Global Peace and Justice Coalition has been campaigning to force the government into disclosing all details of these flights and preventing the use of Turkish civilian and military airports for such blatantly illegal purposes.
“At a time when support for the occupation of Iraq is unravelling even in Washington, when its inhumanity is exceeded only by its illegality, the peace conference in London will give us all an opportunity to exchange information, learn from each other’s experiences, pool our resources and further strengthen our movement.
“The greater international representation there is at the conference, the more effective we can be afterwards in bringing an end to the occupation.”
Yugoslavia and Peter Handke: http://www.swans.com/library/art12/ga210.html
Subject: STRANGE LIBERATORS: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 19:55:07 EST
I would like to recommend this book to you which examines the
policies of colonization in the name of human rights in Yugoslavia
and places it in a global context. I apologize if this is a second time
that you have received this email. This book deserves the attention
of a wider audience than what it has received thus far. Information
follows below in English and Serbian with ordering instructions.
Review copies are available through the author, Gregory Elich, at
firstname.lastname@example.org. It is essential reading for anyone seriously
interested in the recent history of the Balkans.
PS: This is a mass mailing to friends and colleagues.
Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit
By Gregory Elich
With an introduction by Michael Parenti and an afterword by Mickey Z.
>From war and sanctions to corporate plunder and the looming threat of
climate change, the harrowing accounts in Gregory Elich’s Strange
Liberators comprise an essential source for understanding today’s
world. This is U.S. foreign policy as seen by those on the receiving
“Gregory Elich is the model investigative journalist of the anti-imperialist
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Stephen Gowans, political commentator, What’s Left
“Using a wealth of historic evidence and revelatory analysis, deep research
and eye-witness investigation, Gregory Elich treats what lawyers call the
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general crisis that faces the entire world and the planet’s ecology itself.
Thereby he performs a most valuable service to persons all across the
Michael Parenti, author of The Culture Struggle, The Assassination of Julius
Caesar and To Kill a Nation
“For years, Gregory Elich has made his mark as a journalist-historian who
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Louis Wolf, publisher of Covert Action Quarterly
“Informed Americans know about their government’s interventions into
Vietnam, Cuba, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. They know about the
violations of international law, the injustices, the lies, and the harm
caused by these actions. But the case of Yugoslavia tends to draw a blank.
Even worse, it tends to elicit support for this ‘humanitarian’ intervention.
Correcting this gross misunderstanding and distortion of history is one
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identify the ‘gates’ that restrict our freedom of thought.”
Mickey Z, author of The Seven Deadly Spins and 50 American Revolutions
You’re Not Supposed to Know
About the Author:
Gregory Elich is on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research
Institute and on the Advisory Board of the Korea Truth Commission. His
articles have appeared in newspapers and periodicals across the world,
including the U.S., Canada, South Korea, Great Britain, France, Zimbabwe,
Yugoslavia, Russia, Denmark and Australia.
Publication: Strange Liberators
Author: Gregory Elich
Available from Llumina Press
Toll Free Orders Line: 1-866-229-9244
Or order at:
ANTIWAR: Kosovo interventionists cover up their crimes
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 02:31:55 -0500
From: D. Dostanic
ANTIWAR, Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The Black Hole of Europe
Kosovo interventionists cover up their crimes
by Christopher Deliso
In a recent article in Canada’s Globe & Mail, former Canadian Ambassador to
Yugoslavia James Bissett invokes the famous words of Otto von Bismarck, who
once said, “If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some
damned silly thing in the Balkans.”
As it turned out, the “Iron Chancellor” was right. He was specifically
vindicated by the onset of World War I, sparked by the assassination of
Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb in 1914. Of course, then
as now tensions had been brewing and the spark itself was only the necessary
formality; Serbia’s successes in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 deeply
concerned imperial Austria, eager to shore up its own pretensions of Balkan
dominance. Now, the tensions building up are different: on the “traditional”
front, the U.S.-Russian competition for power; on the front of asymmetrical
war, the pan-Islamist movement’s quest for dominance in the Balkans versus
local and Western interests. But essentially, Bismarck’s Balkan admonition
has continued to echo down the ages, even though war itself has changed and
will no doubt manifest differently this time around.
Indeed, in the current “war on terror” and great-power rivalry over control
of multinational energy and telecommunications networks, the war is being
expressed in decentralized, often territorially distant ways. For example,
when Russia defended Serbia’s right to sovereignty over Kosovo in the
Balkans, U.S. client state Georgia audaciously arrested Russian diplomats,
declaring them spies, a move that enraged the Kremlin and raised the
political temperature considerably. Matching the West’s increased agitation
for Kosovo status resolution, a Russian-backed independence referendum in
Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia passed on Sunday with 99
percent in favor. On the other side of things, Balkan organized-crime
syndicates with ties to al-Qaeda are popping up in relation to planned
terrorist attacks as far afield as Norway.
For former ambassador Bissett, the “damned silly thing” going on now in the
Balkans is “the seeming determination of Western policy makers to grant the
Serbian province of Kosovo its independence.” Mr. Bissett would not object,
I believe, if we expanded the remit of said “damned and silly things” to
cover Western intervention in general in the Balkans since 1990, too. For
that whole process has done much more harm than good, enabling and
propelling violent ethnic rivalries and building up dangerous mafia groups,
appointing war criminals to high political office, and, of course, indulging
in various forms of financial corruption and neglect that has helped to
leave whole swathes of rural Muslim populations in the UN protectorates of
Kosovo and Bosnia funded only by Saudi Arabia and its virulently
anti-Western Wahhabi movement.
Interventionist Agitators Demand: Free Kosovo!
However, with the likes of the ICG leading the chorus in calling for Kosovo
independence, these more sordid realities are being suppressed. They are
simply not convenient for the powers-that-be. Confirming its historic role
as nothing more than an Albanian lobbying front, the ICG recently bemoaned
the delaying of Kosovo’s final status until after Serbian parliamentary
elections in January thus: “[I]nstead of finally closing the question of
western Balkan borders with an orderly Kosovo settlement, delay would open a
new destabilizing chapter.” The adjective here gives away the patronizing,
quasi-fascistic mindset of the interventionists: the process of ripping
apart a country and creating one anew is deemed “orderly” if carried out by
the empire. Balkan peons should simply fall into line and behave like good
children, while the adults from the West tell them how to make their beds.
The phrase “orderly settlement,” implying an independent Kosovo supposedly
securing a rosy future for the Balkans, is reminiscent of that other old ICG
descriptor of the former Serbia-Montenegro union as chronically
“dysfunctional.” Yet this was hardly more dysfunctional than, say, the UN’s
disastrous administration in Kosovo.
The dubious wordplay continues: “[T]he longer the Kosovo Albanians are
forced to wait,” cries the ICG, “the greater the chance they will discredit
themselves with unilateral independence moves or riots.” Note that
“discredited” is rather genteel, compared to the alternatives. After all,
they could have said “commit atrocities,” “resume ethnic cleansing of
Serbs,” etc. Most often, the word is used in the context of describing
something like, say, a mad scientist’s obscure invention or a nonsensical
historical claim. In other words, the worst consequence of being
“discredited” is to wind up ignored or forgotten, which is exactly what the
ICG hopes the world media will do with any future “unilateral independence
moves or riots” from “discredited” Albanians.
The Word on the Street: Criminal Neglect
Aside from all the politicized arguments for why Kosovo should be
independent, and whose bread would be buttered in so doing, let me just take
a moment to relay a message from American and other international soldiers
and police who are actually employed in the province. The story they have to
tell is somewhat different from the one the lobbyists would have you
believe. Indeed, you don’t need a National Intelligence Estimate to prove
that the Kosovo intervention has made the Balkans demonstrably less safe. It
just takes common sense and some looking around.
On my most recent excursion to Kosovo, I spent some time, as always,
recording the testimony of various international police and military
officials associated with the UN’s Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and NATO’s
Kosovo Force (KFOR), both of which are tasked with keeping the peace in
Kosovo. Despite the formidable range of weaponry, surveillance equipment,
money, and other resources available to them, these officials say, the UN
has essentially given up the fight against terrorism. “It’s just like it was
in Bosnia,” said one American soldier who had previously served in that
other wonderful example of Western peacekeeping. “We got tired of it,
gradually withdraw our forces, and the ‘bad guys’ didn’t have to do anything
but outlast us.”
According to the soldier, the U.S. Army at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo has now
even “farmed out” its intelligence-gathering operations to a Romanian KFOR
unit serving under it. Another international police source seconded this,
decrying that “the Americans are not even collecting their own intelligence!
No wonder they don’t know what is going on!” Neither source meant anything
personal about the Romanians, but in general it must be said that if you are
that world power trying to oversee the security and final status of a
province you are occupying, usually it is better to collect your own
information than to leave it up to your minions.
Blending bitterness and acquired Balkan black humor, my interlocutors all
pointed out that the UN, the U.S., the Europeans, and everyone else were
busily trying to wash their hands of the mess in Kosovo, get on with the
final status (independence for the Albanians), and get out. None of this was
a surprise, of course; it has been the same old story ever since the UN set
up shop in 1999. But hearing about the efforts that the UNMIK regime has
taken to avoid the glaring truth – that Kosovo is little more than a
playground for powerful mafiosi, infested with unemployed paramilitaries and
disgruntled, “born-again” Islamists – was especially revealing.
Indeed, as one disenchanted UNMIK official put it, “These high UN staffers
don’t want to endanger their next international posting by taking on the
criminals and terrorists, and above all they can’t admit that the mission
has been a huge failure and created a new base for Islamic terrorists. The
outside world is not told of what they are bringing on here.”
Indeed, as we speak, Saudi mosques continue to go up, funded by a bottomless
pit of oil riches, while the Kosovo Albanian civil administration is being
selectively stocked with officials whose allegiances to the Islamic world
may outweigh their allegiances to Kosovo. The present reality reflects the
words of Albanian scholar Isa Blumi, who warned four years ago that the
influx of Saudi charities and schools was creating a new “generation of
young men and women whose loyalties are not with Kosovo and [who] sustain a
volatile intolerance to anyone who contradicts their training.” While such
people are still well in the minority, the West’s “donor fatigue” and
increasing desire to disengage is practically guaranteeing that the poor and
needy province will come more and more under the economic control of radical
Islamic interests. And one should not forget that on several occasions
representatives of Islamic states have affirmed their support in terms of
lobbying internationally for Kosovo independence for the Albanians. In
return, we may ask, for… what?
Turbulent Events of October 2006: Not Exactly an Encouraging Sign
While the signs of future trouble are all there, let’s take a minute to
examine the things going on right now in Kosovo – that is, the things that
the busy interventionists don’t want you to hear about. Of course, if you
ask any top official in or involved with Kosovo to speak on the record about
security issues, the answers are inevitably the same. They can be boiled
down to the following: despite some isolated incidents, the security
situation in Kosovo is stable, and it is heading toward a happy future as a
thriving, multi-ethnic country.
However, the official UNMIK police log of October’s security incidents
leaked to me recently attests otherwise. To summarize, the police report
chronicles over 70 incidents that occurred during the month throughout
Kosovo, ranging from public demonstrations and intimidation to beatings,
bombings, and murders. Very few of these events made it into media reports.
They indicate not only continuing attacks on Serbs and their Christian
heritage in Kosovo, but also more internecine violence between Albanians.
For example, on Oct. 6 at 11:45 p.m. in Prizren, “a K-Albanian male killed a
fellow K-Albanian male with a pistol shot for unknown reasons. During the
investigation, the perpetrator was arrested but no weapon was found.” A day
later, at 3:40 p.m. in Lipljan, “a K-Albanian youngster shot with an AK-47
rifle at a fellow K-Albanian youngster for unknown reasons. The victim was
hospitalized with head injury and remained in stable condition. During the
investigation, a bullet hole on the wall and the weapon were found at the
spot. The culprit was questioned in presence of his parents and the rifle
with 49 rounds of ammunition was confiscated.” At 2 a.m. on Oct. 1 near Suva
Reka, “an explosion of unknown origin occurred in a K-Albanian house under
construction. No injuries but considerable damages were reported. Two
K-Albanian males were later arrested as suspects … the explosion was caused
by an equivalent of 5-6 kilos of explosives [similar to an anti-tank mine].”
Six days later, the same man found another “8 kilos of explosives with a
fuse” in his house, the report added.
Along with a great many ethnic provocations against Serbs, threats,
break-ins of apartments rented to internationals, and the ominous testimony
to the apparently renewed “Albanian National Army” terrorist group
spray-painted everywhere, the month of October saw explosions recorded on
four occasions, confiscations of weapons seven times, 13 armed attacks, and
three murders. Some were carried out against “outsiders,” such as the
hapless Chinese shop owner in Pristina, robbed at 1 a.m. on Oct. 9 of “€500
in cash and 3 cell phones. The victim resisted the perpetrators [4 armed and
masked males] and was stabbed.” A day earlier, an Albanian businessman was
shot at 8:30 p.m., some 4 km east-northeast of Klina, after surviving three
previous assassination attempts. According to the police report, “the
incident has created a strong feeling of insecurity amongst both K-Albanians
and the K-Serbian returnee community.”
October also saw continued attacks on Serbian Orthodox Church facilities as
well, a clear extension of the “religious cleansing” that has gone on since
1999, as Albanians have vandalized, damaged, or destroyed over 150 churches,
some dating back to the 14th century. On Oct. 7 in Pristina, “children found
a hand grenade in the premises of an Orthodox church.” Luckily authorities
were able to dispose of it safely. In three separate attacks on churches on
Oct. 30 in Stimlje, Kacanik, and Djakovica, “unknown persons” tried to set
one church on fire, broke into another, and stole the protective fence from
The question of whether Albanian militants, whose acronym and political
demands were prolifically sprayed around Kosovo in October, could mount a
serious threat to stability was revealed on Oct. 1 when police discovered,
in the central Kosovo mountains of Malisevo, “68 anti-tank and 97
anti-personnel mines, as well as 20 hand grenades and 1,500 rounds of small
arms ammunition … 400 kg of explosives were found in the same area.” This is
hardly the only contraband arms depot in Kosovo. According to one of my
police sources, whole warehouses of rockets can be found in southwestern
Kosovo, for example.
On Oct. 6 in Pristina at 9:15 p.m., the police logs attest, “a K-Albanian
male public prosecutor reported that 2 unknown allegedly armed males
introduced themselves as members of the ‘National Liberation Army for
Presevo, Medvede & Bujanovac’ [UCPMB, active in the Southern Serbian
Municipalities in 1999-2001] and threatened to kill him if he wouldn’t
release a K-Albanian male from the Detention center.”
When confronted with this record, UN officials said, as expected… nothing.
This was not surprising, as past experience has revealed. On May 12, 2006,
the UN’s Head of Civil Administration, Patricia Waring, sent out an internal
e-mail ordering the destruction of a list of recent violent attacks compiled
from official sources – some 32 in only 11 days. “Please make sure that the
table you presented this morning is destroyed,” wrote Waring to the unnamed
recipient. “I do not want it circulated at all. Its lack of integrity in
assumptions, not backed up by fact, is potentially damaging.”
What was more damaging, perhaps, was Waring’s reply to my requests for
clarifications: “I requested staff to destroy material which was not based
on appropriate police reports – merely assumptions and gossip, most gathered
at third hand,” she wrote on June 22. (I see nothing particularly villainous
about reprinting this reply here, as Waring after all proudly copied the
e-mail to UNMIK bigwigs at the time, such as Police Commissar Kai Vittrup
and then-head honcho Soren Jessen-Petersen.) Yet after this bout of bluster,
the civil administrator apparently did not have the self-confidence to
answer my further request for elucidation regarding precisely which of these
32 incidents based on official sources were “merely assumptions and gossip.”
It’s because there weren’t any. They were all clearly marked by source. No
surprise that Waring failed to reply to my recent questions on the security
situation in Kosovo today.
Nobody except local journalists ever tries to hold these UN officials
accountable for their failures, ignorance, and corruption. To their credit,
local Kosovo Albanian reporters produce some good work, but who on the
outside ever listens to them?
It is ironic that a Western world allegedly so anxious to listen to the
opinions of the people it came to liberate only listens to what it wants to
hear. If one wants to speak about Serb oppression or the perceived wonders
of spontaneous self-determination, there is an audience in the international
press – less so when you want to expose UN corruption and crimes, or what
the catastrophic UN rule has meant for safety, security, and the war on
terror in Kosovo. These are things that local journalists, Serbs, Albanians,
and others, have written extensively about. However, no one on the outside
ever hears about them. This is because the UN is taking great pains to cover
up the fact that it is, and has always been, a part of the problem – not the
solution. Instead, the whole story of Kosovo is boiled down to a simplistic
and bogus tale of Serbs vs. Albanians, eternally divided by sheer ethnic
hatred. Outside forces, such as the UN or Islamic states, are never part of
this pithy narrative.
What the outside world does not realize is that the rule of these favored UN
bureaucrats is creating a Kosovo in which not even they, let alone the rest
of us, will be allowed free passage in a future of corrupt police,
xenophobic nationalist villages, and Islamist-dominated “no-go areas.” A
great part of the UN’s declared success in making Kosovo a more peaceful
place is that, for over a year, they have simply stopped patrolling in the
dangerous places. Fewer patrols also means fewer reports to burn later.
And don’t imagine that when the UN is gone and Kosovo is independent that
anything will remain in terms of paperwork. Fortunately, there are literally
thousands of good UN human sources, who are only going to get riper with
time as fear of crackdown from their former employer recedes. Yet their
stories are verbal; future historians are going to have a hell of a time
getting anything good on paper. Ironically, today’s powers-that-be are
directly prolonging the same Balkan impulses toward the anecdotal, the
apocryphal, and rule of insinuation and rumor that they lament as being to
blame for the historical misunderstandings by Balkan nationalists of the
most recent to the most remote past. The foreigners have become more Balkan
than us. Perhaps there is a shred of truth to the legends of a curse on all
who enter these lands?
In any case, what is clear is that the powers-that-be will continue to
destroy or suppress everything that paints their occupation in a negative
light. This is why it is so important, whether you are a journalist or not,
to get your questions in now. Challenge these people while they still at
least hypothetically are supposed to be accountable for something. They have
gotten away with a free ride for far too long; unlike in a real country,
none of them were ever elected to the positions they have held and profited
from. Nevertheless, they are the ones scolding Kosovo about its need to be
democratic and obey the rule of law.
Unless more people try to call them on it, the Kosovo that is already
physically the black hole of Europe will become historically a black hole as
well – a perfect crime perpetrated by a phantom administration of
individuals coming and going on temporary contracts, parasitically taking
what they need from the system and moving on, and doing away with all the
records afterwards. Such could not happen in a real country, though Kosovo
is apparently about to become one.
Please read my “From Camp Swampy to Camp Bondsteel,” (2000) Stella.
KOSOVO, THE BIGGEST US MILITARY BASE SINCE THE VIETNAM WAR
“Forget multi-ethnic Kosovo. Forget Resolution 1244.
We only signed that to get rid of the Serbs.”
Richard Holbrooke, the “Balkan peace negotiator”
KOSOVO, A CORPORATE UNDERTAKING
In the article Camp Bondsteel and America’s plans to control Caspian oil, written in April 2002, Paul Stuart offers a detailed tour of the biggest US military base since the Vietnam War, built in southern Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija.
Pointing out that the blueprints for this monster were prepared way ahead the first missile on Serbia was launched in the spring of 1999, Stuart explains that American overwhelming military presence in Serbia has nothing to do with humanitarian reasons as Clinton administration trumpeted all over — American troops are not there to protect the lives of Kosovo residents, they are there to help American corporate giants get bigger and richer, even if the last non-Albanian gets cut into pieces in the shadow of one of Bondsteel’s 11 watch towers.
Making a Fortune for Halliburton
Camp Bondsteel, the biggest “from scratch” foreign US military base since the Vietnam War is near completion in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. It is located close to vital oil pipelines and energy corridors presently under construction, such as the US sponsored Trans-Balkan oil pipeline. As a result defence contractors – in particular Halliburton Oil subsidiary Brown & Root Services – are making a fortune.
In June 1999, in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Yugoslavia, US forces seized 1,000 acres of farmland in southeast Kosovo at Urosevac, near the Macedonian border, and began the construction of a camp.
Camp Bondsteel is known as the “grand dame” in a network of US bases running both sides of the border between Kosovo and Macedonia. In less than three years it has been transformed from an encampment of tents to a self sufficient, high tech base-camp housing nearly 7,000 troops — three quarters of all the US troops stationed in Kosovo.
Downtown Military Camp
There are 25 kilometers of roads and over 300 buildings at Camp Bondsteel, surrounded by 14 kilometers of earth and concrete barriers, 84 kilometers of concertina wire and 11 watch towers. It is so big that it has downtown, midtown and uptown districts, retail outlets, 24-hour sports halls, a chapel, library and the best-equipped hospital anywhere in Europe. At present there are 55 Black Hawk and Apache helicopters based at Bondsteel and although it has no aircraft landing strip the location was chosen for its capacity to expand. There are suggestions that it could replace the US airforce base at Aviano in Italy.
According to Colonel Robert L. McClure, writing in the engineers professional Bulletin, “Engineer planning for operations in Kosovo began months before the first bomb was dropped. At the outset, planners wanted to use the lessons learned in Bosnia and convinced decision makers to reach base-camp ‘end state’ as quickly as possible.”
Initially US military engineers took control of 320 kilometers of roads and 75 bridges in the surrounding area for military use and laid out a base camp template involving soldiers living quarters, helicopter flight paths, ammunition holding areas and so on.
McClure explains how the Engineer Brigade were instructed “to merge construction assets and integrate them with the contractor, Brown & Root Services Corporation, to build not one but two base camps [the other is Camp Monteith] for a total of 7,000 troops.”
According to McClure, “At the height of the effort, about 1,000 former US military personnel, hired by Brown & Root, along with more than 7,000 Albanian local nationals, joined the 1,700 military engineers. From early July and into October , construction at both camps continued 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Brown & Root Services provides all the support services to Camp Bondsteel. This includes 600,000 gallons of water per-day, enough electricity to supply a city of 25,000 and a supply centre with 14,000 product lines. It washes 1,200 bags of laundry, supplies 18,000 meals per day and operates 95 percent of the rail and airfield facilities. It also provides the camps firefighting service. Brown & Root are now the largest employers in Kosovo, with more than 5,000 local Kosovo Albanians and another 15,000 on its books.
Journey Through Time
Staff at Camp Bondsteel rarely venture outside the compound and their activities are secretive. Whilst other KFOR patrols are small and mobile with soldiers wearing soft caps and instructed to integrate with the local population, US military personnel leave Bondsteel in either helicopters or as part of infrequent but large heavily armed convoys.
In unnamed interviews US troops complain that hostility to their presence is growing as local inhabitants compare the investment in Camp Bondsteel with the continuing decline in their own living standards.
Those visiting Camp Bondsteel describe it as a journey through 100 years in time. The area surrounding the camp is extremely poor with an unemployment rate of 80 percent. Then Bondsteel appears on the horizon with its mass of communication satellites, antennae and menacing attack helicopters circling above. Brown & Root pay Kosovo workers between $1 and $3 per hour. The local manager said wages were so low because, “We can’t inflate the wages because we don’t want to over inflate the local economy.”
Terrorist KLA Rules in the US Sector
The escalating US presence at Bondsteel was accompanied by increased activity by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Since its appearance most Serbs, Roma and Albanians opposed to the KLA have been murdered or driven out. Those remaining dare not leave their houses to buy food at the local stores and the need for military escorts stretch from children’s swimming pools to tractors taken away for repair. According to observers, the KLA continue to act with virtual impunity in the US sector despite the high tech military intelligence facilities at Bondsteel.
When US troops arrive at Camp Bondsteel, they are more likely to be met by a Brown & Root employee directing them to their accommodation and equipment areas. According to G. Cahlink in Government Executive Magazine (February 2002), “Army peace keepers joke that they’re missing a patch on their camouflage fatigues. ‘We need one that says Sponsored by Brown & Root,’ says a staff sergeant, who, like more than nearly 10,000 soldiers in the region, has come to rely on Brown and Root Services, a Houston based contractor, for everything from breakfast to spare parts for armoured Humvees.”
The contract to service Camp Bondsteel is the latest in a string of military contracts awarded to Brown & Root Services. Its fortunes have grown as US militarism has escalated. The company is part of the Halliburton Corporation, the largest supplier of products and services to the oil industry.
Mother of All Contracts
In 1992 Dick Cheney, as Secretary of Defence in the senior Bush administration, awarded the company a contract providing support for the US army’s global operations. Cheney left politics and joined Halliburton as CEO between 1995 and 2000. He is now US vice president in the junior Bush administration. In 1992 Brown & Root built and maintained US army bases in Somalia earning $62 million. In 1994 Brown & Root built bases and support systems for 18,000 troops in Haiti doubling its earnings to $133 million. The company received a five-year support contract in 1999 worth $180 million per-year to build military facilities in Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia. It was Camp Bondsteel, however, that was dubbed “the mother of all contracts” by the Washington based Contract Services Association of America. There, “We do everything that does not require us to carry a gun,” said Brown & Roots director David Capouya.
The aim of outsourcing military support and services to private contractors has been to free up more soldiers for combat duties. A US Department of Defence (DoD) review in 2001 insisted that the use of contractors would escalate: “Only those functions that must be done at DoD should be kept at DoD.”
Great Wall of China in Kosovo
In sectors controlled by other Western powers, KFOR soldiers who are living in bombed out apartment blocks and old factories joke, “What are the two things that can be seen from space? One is the Great Wall of China, the other is Camp Bondsteel.”
More seriously a senior British military officer told the Washington Post, “It is an obvious sign that the Americans are making a major commitment to the Balkan region and plan to stay.” One analyst described the US as having taken advantage of favourable circumstances to create a base that would be large enough to accommodate future military plans.
Camp Bondsteel has become a key venue for important policy speeches by leading officials of the Bush administration.
US Army, the Foundation for Economy Growth
On June 5, 2001 US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld explained to troops at Camp Bondsteel what role they played in the new administration’s economic strategy. He declared, “How much should we spend on the armed services? …My view is we don’t spend on you, we invest in you. The men and women in the armed services are not a drain on our economic strength. Indeed you safeguard it. You’re not a burden on our economy, you are the critical foundation for growth.”
One month later, President George W. Bush made his first trip abroad to see US troops at the camp. He traveled directly from the Rome G8 summit, where tensions with European governments had come to the fore. In a speech described as a ‘retrenching’ of the US in Europe, he insisted that US troops were in Kosovo to stay, had gone in together and would “leave together”. In a break from normal procedure, in front of cheering troops, Bush signed into law a Congress-approved increase in military spending of $1.9 billion.
Since then Camp Bondsteel has continued to grow, as it spearheads the first phase in a realignment of US military bases in Europe and eastward. The Bondsteel template is now being applied in Afghanistan and the new bases in the former Soviet Republics.
Bondsteel – the Reason for Bombardment
According to leaked comments to the press, European politicians now believe that the US used the bombing of Yugoslavia specifically in order to establish Camp Bondsteel. Before the start of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the Washington Post insisted, “With the Middle-East increasingly fragile, we will need bases and fly over rights in the Balkans to protect Caspian Sea oil.”
The scale of US oil corporations investment in the exploitation of Caspian oil fields and the US government demand for the economy to be less dependent on imported oil, particularly from the Middle-East, demands a long term solution to the transportation of oil to European and US markets. The US Trade & Development Agency (TDA) has financed initial feasibility studies, with large grants, and more recently advanced technical studies for the New York based AMBO (Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria Oil) Trans-Balkan pipeline.
Announcing a grant for an advanced technical study in 1999 for the AMBO oil pipeline through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, TDA director J. Joseph Grandmaison declared, “The competition is fierce to tap energy resources in the Caspian region….Over the last year , TDA has been actively promoting the development of multiple pipelines to connect these vast resources with Western markets. This grant represents a significant step forward for this policy and for US business interests in the Caspian region.”
The $1.3 billion trans-Balkan AMBO pipeline is one of the most important of these multiple pipelines. It will pump oil from the tankers that bring it across the Black Sea to the Bulgarian oil terminus at Burgas, through Macedonia to the Albanian Adriatic port of Vlore. From there it will be pumped on to huge 300,000 ton tankers and sent on to Europe and the US, bypassing the Bosphorus Straits – the congested and only route out of the Black Sea where tankers are restricted to 150,000 tons.
The initial feasibility study for AMBO was conducted in 1995 by none other than Brown & Root, as was an updated feasibility study in 1999. In another twist, the former director of Oil & Gas Development for Europe and Africa for Brown & Root Energy Services, Ted Ferguson, was appointed as the new president of AMBO  after the death of former president and founder of AMBO, Macedonian born Mr Vuko Tashkovikj.
According to a recent Reuters article, Ferguson declared that Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, two of the worlds largest oil corporations, are preparing to finance the AMBO project.
The building of AMBO risks antagonising Turkey, the US’s main ally in the region. According to the Reagan Information Interchange, “While the United States is making an advantageous economic decision, it is overlooking its crucial strategic relationship with Turkey.”
Securing the Energy Corridors
The US is also antagonising its European allies and Russia with Camp Bondsteel and other smaller military bases run alongside the proposed AMBO pipeline route. It has been built near the mouth of the Presevo valley and energy Corridor 8, which the European Union has sponsored since 1994 and regards as a strategic route east-west for global trade.
In April 1999, British General Michael Jackson, the commander in Macedonia during the NATO bombing of Serbia, explained to the Italian paper Sole 24 Ore “Today, the circumstances which we have created here have changed. Today, it is absolutely necessary to guarantee the stability of Macedonia and its entry into NATO. But we will certainly remain here a long time so that we can also guarantee the security of the energy corridors which traverse this country.”
The newspaper added, “It is clear that Jackson is referring to the 8th corridor, the East-West axis which ought to be combined to the pipeline bringing energy resources from Central Asia to terminals in the Black Sea and in the Adriatic, connecting Europe with Central Asia. That explains why the great and medium sized powers, and first of all Russia, don’t want to be excluded from the settling of scores that will take place over the next few months in the Balkans.”
February 4, 2008 * Yugoslavia, Camp Bondsteel and the Caspian Sea
by Lenora Foerstel
Global Research, January 30, 2008*
During World War II, the Croatian nation fought side by side with Hitler’s Germany. The Serbian people, like the Jewish people, were slaughtered by the Croatian army and those who survived were placed in concentration camps. After the Fascists were defeated in World War II, Croatia became a republic of Yugoslavia.
In 1990, Franjo Tudjman became President of Croatia. During his reign he fired 300 women journalists and closed down any newspapers and television stations that offended him. His rule gave power to a small oligarchy. Yet despite his ultra-nationalism and his brutal purge of ethnic Serbs from Croatia, the US, under President Bill Clinton and his Balkan adviser, Richard Holbrook, supported Tudjman’s regime.
In early August 1995, the Croatian Army received support from the Pentagon and the CIA in planning and carrying out the attack on Croatia’s Krajina region and the expulsion of its 250,000 ethnic Serbs. Croatian soldiers had been trained at Fort Irwin, California, and additional training assistance came from a private company of mercenaries, the American Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI). The end result was US participation in an unprecedented act of ethnic cleansing, resulting in a quarter of a million Serbs fleeing from their homes.
In the early 1990’s, tension broke out in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In September 1992, in an attempt to prevent Bosnia–Herzegovina from sliding into war, several international peace plans were offered. The most reasonable proposal was the Carrington-Cutileiro plan, under which all districts in this area would be divided up among Bosnia’s Muslims, Serbs and Croats.
Initially, the plan was signed by all three sides, but it was never implemented because Alya Izebegavic, Bosnia’s Muslim leader, withdrew his signature from the agreement after Washington promised to recognize Bosnia as an independent country.
In 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia. They had been encouraged to do so by Germany, which hoped to reestablish traditional German influence in the Balkans. The United States then joined Germany in supporting the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), promising military and political assistance to the ethnic Albanian separatist organization in its quest for an independent Kosovo and, ultimately, a greater Albania.
In 1998, Richard Holbrooke, representing the Clinton Administration, came to Kosovo and appeared in public ceremonies with the KLA, sending a clear signal that the US was backing them. Exploiting the tensions between the KLA and the Serbs in Kosovo, the US used staged ethnic protests and conflicts to justify military intervention. In March 1999, in Rambouille, France, the United States demanded that Yugoslavia accept NATO occupation of Kosovo and the expulsion of all Yugoslav forces. Milosevic refused, and the United States used this as a pretext for war.
On March 27th, 1999, the Clinton administration initiated heavy bombing of Yugoslavia. These attacks on a sovereign country were never approved by the United Nations or the US Congress, violating both international law and the War Powers Act.
The US and NATO had advanced plans to bomb Yugoslavia before 1999, and many European political leaders now believe that the US deliberately used the bombing of Yugoslavia to establish camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.. According to Colonel Robert L. McCure, “Engineering planning for operations in Kosovo began months before the first bomb was dropped.” (1)
In June 1999, in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Yugoslavia, US forces seized 1,000 acres of farm land in southeast Kosovo at Uresevia, near the Macedonia border, and began the construction of a camp. (2) Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, currently provides all of the services to the camp. This same company receives $180 million per year to build military facilities in Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia, and several other countries. Presently, the Bondsteel template is being supported in Georgia and Azerbaijan. According to Chalmers Johnson, author of “America’s Empire of Bases,” the US has about 1000 bases around the world. “Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies,” says Johnson. “America’s version of the colony is the military base.” (3) Kosovo is an American colony.
The main purpose for the Bondsteel military base is to provide security for the construction of the Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian oil pipeline (AMBO). The AMBO trans-Balkan pipeline will link up with the corridors between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea basin, which holds close to 50 billion barrels of oil.
Hashim Thaci, Kosovo’s current Prime Minister, was formerly the political head of the KLA. The KLA is widely regarded as a terrorist organization and is supported in large part by drug dealing and human trafficking, making particular use of Eastern European women. The US had begun training KLA forces well in advance of the bombing of Yugoslavia.
Presently, Camp Bondsteel houses about 1000 US military troops along with more than 7,000 local Albanian personnel. It is no coincidence that the escalating US presence at Bondsteel was accompanied by increased military activity by the KLA. Since the appearance of this massive base, more Serbs, Roma and Albanians opposed to the KLA have been murdered or driven out of Kosovo.
It is quite clear today that the United States and NATO had advance plans to bomb Yugoslavia long before the ethnic conflicts emerged there. The Kosovo Liberation Army and NATO were determined to foment violence, and no concessions by President Slobodan Milosevic would have prevented the bombing. Building Camp Bondsteel was the US mission, and, by whatever means necessary, it would be built to ensure the completion of a pipeline to the Caspian Sea.
Lenora Foerstel is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Lenora Foerstel
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