----- Original Message ----- From: Ian Williams <iangw at bellatlantic.net> To: <dsanet at quantum.sdsu.edu> Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2000 12:13 PM Subject: dsanet: t 'Why the ITN libel case had to be fought' or why we madeSlobo kill all those people.
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> The author of this message is "Ian Williams" <iangw at bellatlantic.net>
> As someone who has been close to the British Libel laws for a long time -
> the sharp end, I have never been one of their supporters.
> However, In this case Living Marxism and the like were given extensive
> to retract their story, which essentially accused my namesake Ian Williams
> (who incidentally broke a strike against Murdoch at the Sunday Times) and
> others of lying.
> They chose not to. And the jury of twelve non Bosnians, with no iron in
> fire in the Balkans, decided that it was LM's journalism that was
> As we have seen on this other lists about the Kosovo casualties, once such
> story is published it develops a life of its own, being cited as evidence
> from one end of the Web to the other.
> I am prepared to relax my general opposition to libel suits in this case.
> And I attach this piece from Ed Vulliamy in the Guardian, which expresses
> disgust also at the salon marxists who can be trotted out to defend any
> despicable cause if the right strings are pulled.
> As I said, it is very reminiscent of the effort to prove that Milosevic
> hardly killed any Kosvoars at all, and when he did, he was forced to by
> evil West.
> Incidentally there is a new journal out, Human Rights Review from
> in which I have a piece "Left Behind: the US left and Kosovo."
> Now on to Vulliamy:-
> Poison in the well of history
> Living Marxism accused ITN of distorting the truth about Bosnia. Now, it
> faces ruin after losing the ensuing libel battle. Ed Vulliamy , who filed
> the first reports on the horrors of the Trnopolje camp, explains why an
> unholy alliance of Serb apologists and misguided intellectuals had to be
> defeated in court
> Wednesday March 15, 2000
> Some will say that Living Marxism won the "public relations battle",
> whatever that is. Others will cling to the puerile melodrama that ITN's
> victory in the high court yesterday was that of Goliath over some plucky
> little David who only wanted to challenge the media establishment.
> But history - the history of genocide in particular - is thankfully built
> not upon public relations or melodrama but upon truth; if necessary, truth
> established by law. And history will record this: that ITN reported the
> truth when, in August 1992, it revealed the gulag of horrific
> camps run by the Serbs for their Muslim and Croatian quarry in Bosnia.
> The law now records that Penny Marshall and Ian Williams (and myself, for
> that matter) did not lie but told the truth when they exposed this crime
> the world, and that the lie was that of Living Marxism and its dilettante
> supporters who sought, in the time-honoured traditions of revisionism, to
> deny those camps existed.
> Of course Living Marxism was unable to offer a single witness who had been
> at Trnopolje, the camp they claimed to be a fake, on that putrid afternoon
> of August 5, 1992. Indeed, they were unable to produce any witnesses at
> Unlike any member of Living Marxism or their sympathisers, I was there
> ITN's cameras that day. We went to two camps: Omarska and Trnopolje.
> Living Marxism does not like to mention Omarska: there, we saw little, but
> enough: skeletal men drilled across a yard and devouring watery stew like
> famished dogs before being bundled out. One man said: "I do not want to
> any lies, but I cannot tell the truth."
> The truth emerged with time. Omarska turned out to be the kind of place
> where one prisoner was forced to bite the testicles off another, who had a
> live pigeon stuffed into his mouth to stifle the screams as he died in
> agony. The yard at Omarska was a killing field, prisoners obliged to load
> the mutilated corpses of their friends on to trucks by bulldozer.
> Trnopolje was a marginally less satanic place, some of whose prisoners
> transferred from other hideous camps to await forced deportation. Others
> were rounded up and herded there like cattle, or had even fled there to
> avoid the systematic shelling and burning of their homes. Unknown to us
> we pulled up on the road, in disbelief at the sight before us, it was the
> former group that was held captive behind the now celebrated barbed wire
> At the time I paid little attention to what would become Living Marxism's
> myopic obsessions: such as which side of which pole the old barbed wire or
> fresh barbed wire was fixed. There were more important matters, such as
> emaciated Fikret Alic's (accurate and vindicated) recollections of the
> he had been assigned to load the bodies of 250 men killed in one night at
> yet another camp.
> If it is still of any remote interest, I will say this: I now know the
> compound in which these terrified men were held captive to have been
> surrounded on one side by recently reinforced barbed wire, on two sides by
> chain-link fence patrolled by menacing armed thugs and on a fourth side by
> wall. But so what? This was a camp - I would say a concentration camp -
> they were its inmates.
> What does it take to convince people? The war ground on, the British
> office and Living Marxism in perfect synergy over their appeasement of the
> Serbs while other, worse camps were revealed. The bench in The Hague
> its judgment on Trnopolje in 1997: a verdict that described the camp as
> infinitely worse than anything we reported - an infernal place of rape,
> murder and torture. Witness after witness confirmed this. The Financial
> Times enthusiastically re-iterated Living Marxism's claims of a
> but published a hasty and grovelling retraction when it looked at LM's
> It was dispiriting to have to report that in the first year of what was
> proclaimed as the new united, democratic Europe such places as Trnopolje
> Omarska existed. It was worse still to return to London and find an
> group of supposed intellectuals putting such effort into trying to
> society that the camps had been a fabrication and that I had committed
> perjury when testifying to their existence and horrors at the war crimes
> tribunal at The Hague My friends and colleagues Marshall and Williams -
> brave reporters of the highest calibre - were being branded as liars. I
> suffered a whole lot less but there was a steady stream of hate mail. "You
> piece of shit," read one letter from an LM supporter revelling in the
> destruction of Vukovar, "probably a nasty little Jew.'"
> Those most horribly insulted, of course, were the disbelieving camp
> survivors and relatives of the dead. I happen to believe that those who
> survive and are left bereaved by such monstrous crimes are owed at least
> thing. They should be given back their lives by an admission that what
> happened happened. Their sanity requires that history records and
> acknowledges the truth of the atrocities that were committed against them
> and those they lost.
> Richard Tait, editor of ITN, realised that three things had to be
> One, the reputation of his correspondents and his programme. Two, the
> trustworthiness of front-line, on-site reporting in general. And three,
> need to etch the truth about those camps into history. Tait was the man
> in private and in his affronted, righteous anger used the words
> "revisionism" and "fascism" without blushing.
> When ITN sued in pursuit of these aims, the company of course ran the risk
> that such action would draw attention to LM's revisionism. But no one
> have predicted the degree to which, rather than be dismissed as a foul
> revisionist trick, Living Marxism's claims would become a matter for
> tittle-tattle among bored intellectuals on the sofas of the Groucho Club.
> LM played its hand well but the rot in the British intelligentsia made it
> easy for them to do so. LM succeeded in entwining the two issues of the
> libel writ and denial of the camps. Some of their supporters argued that
> they accepted the truth of the genocide but nevertheless felt compelled by
> ITN's supposedly heavy-handed use of the libel laws to speak out in favour
> of those who denied the carnage. But such distinctions were utterly
> unconvincing. Those who helped LM cannot fail to recognise that by doing
> they also stirred the poison LM had dropped into the well of history,
> playing their own role in denying a genocide.
> By this entwinement, genocide was devalued into a "media debate",
> to chitter-chatter about over grilled sea bass and pale Belgian beer.
> Hungry for controversy, a sizeable portion of London's intelligentsia
> up to support Living Marxism. They rallied round those who had named me
> others as liars in the name of free speech - so why not name them too, the
> great, the good and the up-and-coming? Fay Weldon, Doris Lessing, Harold
> Evans, Toby Young, and even a handful of contributors to this newspaper. A
> diverse coterie, eager to sip Living Marxism's apparently excellent claret
> at the ICA, to eat their canapés and run alongside the rotten bandwagon of
> revisionism. But how, and why?
> One could argue about post-modern ennui and the paucity of values in a
> society obsessed by packaging. One could argue very cogently about the
> complete inability to understand fascism, about "victim-hatred" and the
> strong historical strand of British appeasement of Europe's tyrants, from
> Franco and Hitler to Milosevic. There was also a mutated strand of
> anti-Semitism in a lot of this, the Muslims being, in their way, the Jews
> Bosnia. But the most tangible answer lies, I think, in the way revisionism
> works in a bored society, whether you are David Irving or Living Marxism.
> For just as the Serbs were the tinpot Nazis of the Balkans, so Living
> Marxism is the tinpot Holocaust denier, appealing to the same cheap
> There is at the moment a remarkable convergence of trials: ITN vs Living
> Marxism wraps up in the high court; in The Hague, four guards at the
> camp go on trial. And also in London, Irving's case against Deborah
> Lipstadt, for her book Denying the Holocaust, approaches its denouement.
> Like Irving, Living Marxism tried - and to a degree succeeded - in
> its argument on the reality of Trnopolje as a matter of free speech. This
> was LM's most grotesque deceit. Free speech has nothing whatsoever to do
> with LM's agenda. Although it denied it in court, Living Marxism - on this
> issue at least - is first and foremost an apologist for the genocide
> orchestrated by Belgrade. Thomas Deichmann, the author of the original LM
> piece on Trnopolje, was a defence witness for the camp-roving thug Dusko
> Tadic, who in 1997 became the first man to be convicted in The Hague for
> crimes against humanity - many of those crimes having been committed in
> Trnopolje and Omarska. One of Tadic's attorneys, Mikhail Wladimiroff, has
> since published his own revisionist views of Trnopolje in LM.
> Deichmann has also been a regular contributor since his original article:
> one of his less subtle efforts was a grovelling interview with the man at
> the apex of the Serb's genocidal command structure, Radovan Karadzic, on
> whose authority we went to the camps in the first place. Karadzic is not
> wanted in The Hague for genocide, but Deichmann's article was entitled
> Criminal or Whipping Boy?" No prizes for guessing which thinly-veiled
> conclusion Deichmann came to. LM's continuous flagellation, in successive
> articles, of us "bloody liberals" and "cosmopolitan types" who contested
> genocide became almost tedious - while the views of the authors were more
> As is by now well-known, Living Marxism has become adept at finding or
> placing supporters in what it regards as influential positions in the
> This is all perfectly above board: the Times was desperate enough to offer
> LM's editor, Mick Hume, his own column. The signatories of LM's letters
> familiar bylines across Fleet Street. But the pivot of Living Marxism's
> activities in the mainstream is, for some reason, the Economist
> Unit, which has at times, backstage, been torn asunder by arguments over
> positions held by the group's leading members.
> Two of these are a Serb called Laza Kekic, the author of some of the most
> virulent attacks on the "bloody liberals", and Joan Phillips, who also
> under the name Joan Hoey. This is the text of an email that came my way
> Kekic to Hoey, written after the Nato bombardment of 1995 that produced
> Dayton agreement:
> "The Serbs have come back from far more difficult moments in the past. In
> the meantime, should accept and swallow a lot and consolidate what's left.
> Can even do Eurospeak and fluff on about the Balkan peace and co-operation
> in the meantime. Then, at some future date, the obliteration of the
> the Albanians, and last of all the Croats. That's my perspective. And
> there's little else left to say'.
> Indeed there isn't. The message was sent from Kekic's electronic address
> the Economist Intelligence Unit on September 14, 1995, at 10.11am. Others
> the series of emails involve chatter about gainful contact with David Owen
> and friendly journalists at the BBC and Observer.
> At one point during the trial, LM produced video footage shot by what it
> called Bosnian-Serb Television, which did indeed have a crew there that
> But these particular images, it emerges, came from a third camera, a
> camcorder held by a man in military fatigues I remember well; LM was
> serviced in that instance by Serbian military intelligence.
> The point is this: "free speech" has nothing to do with what is going on.
> Living Marxism's attempts to re-write the history of the camps was
> by the fact that in their heart of hearts, these people applauded those
> camps and sympathised with their cause and wished to see it triumph. That
> was the central and - in the final hour, the only - issue. Shame, then, on
> those fools, supporters of the pogrom, cynics and dilettantes who
> them, gave them credence and endorsed their vile enterprise.
> Ian Williams
> 212 593 3407