Taking the Word of a Rapist

From Holden:

Oh, my, the wingy side of the blogosphere is enraptured today with a story published by the Ottawa Citizen about the UN observation post destroyed yesterday by Israeli bombs. Every one from Atlas’ Juggs to the Doughy Pantload is all moist and gooey over email messages supposedly sent from the now-deceased Canadian UN observer to General Lewis MacKenzie which MacKenzie interprets to mean that Hezbollah forces were using the UN post as a “shield”.

Funny thing is, the alleged email message never uses the word “shield” at all, nor does it claim that Hezbollah fighters were “swarming all over” the post when it was hit.

What does the email say?

”What I can tell you is this,” he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. ”We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing.

”The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity.”

Sounds like the late Canadian observer was talking about Israeli bombardment of his position, right? But somehow Gen. Lewis MacKenzie comes up with this interpretation:

”What that means is, in plain English, ‘We’ve got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defence Forces),” he said.

And just who is General Lewis MacKenzie?

Some months after he unexpectedly stepped down from his assignment last August, General Lewis MacKenzie, Canadian head of the UN peacekeeping force in Bosnia Herzegovina, was charged in a bill of indictment by chief military prosecutor Mustafa Bisic with sexually molesting four Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) women held by Serbian forces in a prison camp in a Sarajevo suburb.

In a letter to the Bosnian president dated Dec. 3, 1992, Bisic cited the eyewitness testimony of a Serbian guard who had worked at the camp, known as Kod Sonje. The guard claimed he saw MacKenzie and several escorts arrive in a military transport vehicle with the UN insignia. The eyewitness claimed guards were then ordered to release four Bosniak women prisoners to MacKenzie. According to the prosecutor’s complaint, the women were later murdered by camp guards under orders to “erase evidence” of this “unusual gift.”

[snip]

[Bosnian nurse Safeta] Ovcina, who spent ten months tending war victims at a frontline hospital before fleeing Sarajevo for the United States, testified she had been shown the videotape by her neighbors whom she described as members of the Bosnian military.

“I looked at the tape and saw General MacKenzie, whom we always saw on TV news, with Serb chetniks. There were three or four girls on both sides of him…MacKenzie was hugging them.”

In a telephone interview with Pacific News Service at her home in St. Louis, Ovcina says she recognized some of the young women as formerly involved in a hair cutting business. “They didn’t laugh, they didn’t cry, they just sat there…The feeling I had is that they were surrounded by a bunch of drunken people, and they were very unhappy,” she recalled.

Ovcina says her neighbors told her the women were later killed and buried in a grave on the outskirts of Sarajevo. In her testimony at the Helsinki Watch briefing, she also described witnessing other abuses and indiscretions by UN personnel, including the selling of protection, food, cigarettes.

[snip]

Another eyewitness to the alleged Kod Sonje incident is Borislav Herak, a Serbian soldier captured by Bosnian forces in early November and now awaiting execution for war crimes. Herak was interviewed on film by award winning Bosnian film maker and TV producer Ademir Kenovic several days after his arrest.

According to a transcript of the interview provided by Kenovic, Herak said he was at the camp when MacKenzie arrived in a white UN vehicle and met with the camp warden Miro Vukovic. He was then taken to a room “for big shots” where he was served whiskey and food.

Later, Herak said he saw MacKenzie and several other UN soldiers “taking four or five girls in this vehicle to have fun.” Asked if he were certain it was General MacKenzie, Herak replied, “Yes, I am sure. I saw him on television.”

Pammie and Pantload might want to check their sources, or better yet read the entire Ottawa Citizen article which concludes that Hezbollah was not using the UN post as a “sheild”, before they jump to any conclusions.

Hat-tip to Moe Szyslak for the infro on Gen. MacKenzie.