Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gerald Knaus, Monica Lewinsky and Truth Distortions

After my last blog post about the distortions in the film of the European Stability Initiative titled, "Twilight of Heroes,"  I posted the blog post to ESI's Facebook page.  ( A debate ensued on Facebook between me and "European Stability Initiative,"  although the author of the Facebook commentary on ESI's behalf chose not to reveal his/her true identity.

I have since discovered that the filmaker, Gerald Knaus, has cross-posted the Facebook debate to his own personal blog, without having told me.See (  Normally, Mr. Knaus would not have an obligation to tell me he had cross-posted the debate to his own blog, but it would have been courteous of him to do so in light of the fact that on his blog Mr. Knaus addresses comments to me personally, asking me to "acknowledge that the charge that ESI distorted facts, is neither for nor accurate nor warranted."   

I find it surprising that Mr. Knaus is even attempting to refute my charge that the film (at least in the preview clip) distorts the truth.  Let's try this simple test.  ESI is planning several presentations of the film throughout Europe in the coming days and weeks.  I suggest that ESI poll the audience upon the conclusion of the film, and invite them with a show of hands to show whether they believe that Ante Gotovina was convicted by the ICTY for being part of a criminal conspiracy along with Franjo Tudjman and others to allow the murder and intimidation of Serb civilians, so as to ethnically cleanse the "Krajina."

If more than 90% of the audience responds affirmatively (as I suspect they will), then the film distorted the truth and failed to educate its audience.  Mr. Knaus in his own defense argues that the film uses the qualifier "Prosecutors argued...."  that the Croatian leadership had allowed murders and intimidations to take place, and therefore his film, technically speaking, did not distort the truth.  I could not disagree more.  One is reminded of Bill Clinton's famous admonition to the American public, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."  Clinton's comment may have been technically true. But was it a distortion of the truth?  Of course it was.  

Similarly, ESI's film may be technically true in that it uses the phrase, "prosecutors argued"  as a prefix to the claim that Croatian leaders allowed murders of Serbs to take place.  But does the film provide the "whole truth?"  It does not.  By leaving Carla Del Ponte's arguments unrebutted in the film, the viewer is led to believe that Del Ponte's argument ultimately was accepted by the court.  

The audience should not leave a viewing of a documentary film under a misimpression of the truth, created by the film itself.  I believe there is no doubt that Mr. Knaus's audience members will leave the film under that misimpression, and for that reason I continue to assert that the film is a distortion of the truth, at least as to the claims of a Croatian conspiracy to allow Serbs to be murdered and intimidated.

Finally, Mr. Knaus writes, "Twilight of Heroes is also not a film about Ante Gotovinan [sic] as Mr. Misetic writes. It is a film about Croatia, and how this country managed to break out of its isolation in 1999, faced its past, and transformed itself." The film, however, is entitled, "Twilight of Heroes."  If the film is not about Ante Gotovina, then which heros have reached their twilight?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

European Stability Initative Distorts the Facts about General Gotovina

The European Stability Initiative has recently broadcast a film about General Gotovina entitled, "Twilight of Heroes."  Admittedly, I have not been able to view the entire film because it is not yet available for viewing in the United States.  Nevertheless, I was able to review the nine minute preview clip on YouTube (  I was stunned by the level of factual inaccuracy in this documentary, and viewers should be warned that the factual claims in this film are demonstrably false.

At the outset, the film shows Carla Del Ponte speaking about Operation Storm, which was led by General Gotovina.  Del Ponte claims:  "They thought if you are doing a legitimate war, you must not consider if crimes are committed, war crimes or crimes against humanity.  It is collateral damage.  But that is why the International Tribunal was created.  A war is not the permission for the commission of crimes."

One minute later, the film's voiceover speaker ominously claims, "Prosecutors suspected that murders and intimidations of Serb civilians during Operation Storm were not isolated incidents, but the result of a policy to ethnically cleanse these parts of Croatia of their Serb population. A criminal conspiracy planned and implemented by Croatia’s leaders.

What the filmakers fail to tell the viewer (at least in the preview clip) is that the Trial Chamber in its Judgement rejected Del Ponte's claims that the Croatian leadership "did not consider if crimes were being committed against Serbs, war crimes or crimes against humanity."  Furthermore, the Trial Chamber rejected the Prosecution's claim that Croatia's leaders had planned and implemented a criminal conspiracy to allow murders and intimidations of Serbs in order to pursue a policy of ethnic cleansing.  As I noted in one of my earlier posts, the Trial Chamber found:

“The Trial Chamber finds that the common objective did not amount to, or involve the commission of the crimes of persecution (disappearances, wanton destruction, plunder, murder, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, and unlawful detentions), destruction, plunder, murder, inhumane acts, and cruel treatment.(Judgement, paragraph 2321);

Rather, the evidence includes several examples of meetings and statements (see for example D409, P470, and D1451), indicating that the leadership, including Tudjman, disapproved of the destruction of property. Based on the foregoing, the Trial Chamber does not find that destruction and plunder were within the purpose of the joint criminal enterprise.” (Judgement, paragraph 2313);

In light of the testimony of expert Albiston, the Trial Chamber considers that the insufficient response by the Croatian law enforcement authorities and judiciary can to some extent be explained by the abovementioned obstacles they faced and their need to perform other duties in August and September 1995. In conclusion, while the evidence indicates incidents of purposeful hindrance of certain investigations, the Trial Chamber cannot positively establish that the Croatian authorities had a policy of non-investigation of crimes committed against Krajina Serbs during and following Operation Storm in the Indictment area.”(Judgement, paragraph 2203).

The Trial Chamber thus established that the Croatian leadership (1) did not have a policy to allow crimes like murder and intimidation to be committed against Serbs, and (2) did not have a policy of non-investigation of crimes committed against Serbs.  

Accordingly, two things were very clear to me within the first five minutes of viewing the preview clip:  (1)  Carla Del Ponte continues to mislead the international public about what the ICTY Trial Chamber concluded, and (2)  the producers of this film did not bother to read the Trial Judgement or interview anyone who had actually read the Trial Judgement.

If the filmakers don't have time to read the Trial Judgement before making a film about Gotovina, then I don't have the time to watch their film.

Perhaps in the future the filmakers would be wise to interview the lawyers for the Accused before broadcasting their films.