Richard Holbrooke died at age 69 on December 13, thus spared the annoyance of seeing one of his best-known political creations accused of supervising the killing of captives in order to slice out their organs for transplant purposes and financial gain.
In the wake of Holbrooke’s sudden death, his memory was swiftly burnished with testimonials to his masterly diplomacy as the creator of a new Balkans freed from the Serbian yoke and as Kosovo’s midwife. It was Holbrooke who stood shoulder to shoulder with Albanian secessionists in the summer of 1998 and months later prompted NATO’s bombing of Serbia until these applications of high explosives to civilian targets caused Milosevic to order the withdrawal of security forces from Kosovo.
The "freedom fighters" of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)—Albanian gangsters, most notably Hashim Thaci, hand-picked by Holbrooke and Madeleine Albright at the Rambouillet talks (her closest aide, James Rubin, acted as talent scout)—took over. Since unilaterally declaring independence in February 2008, the failed statelet, run in large part by heroin traffickers and white slavers and host to the vast US Camp Bondsteel, has been recognized by only seventy-three out of 192 UN members, including twenty-two of the European Union’s twenty-seven members.
In April 2008 Carla Del Ponte—former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and no friend of the Serbs—published a memoir on her time at the tribunal. In it she charged that in 1999 there had been trafficking in human organs taken from Serb prisoners, reportedly carried out by top KLA commanders, and that her efforts to investigate had been blocked. Del Ponte’s charges were buttressed by information that Western investigative journalists working for a US-based documentary producer, American RadioWorks, gave to the UN Mission in Kosovo in 2003.
Following Del Ponte’s accusations, the Council of Europe assigned a liberal Swiss senator, Dick Marty, to investigate. The Marty report, two years in the making, was published on December 16. The report names Thaci, now Kosovo’s prime minister, as having exercised "violent control" over the heroin trade in Kosovo during the past decade, and accuses him of overseeing an organized crime ring in the late ’90s involved in assassinations, beatings, human organ trafficking and other major crimes.
The report is being reviewed by the EU’s Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, which is already probing a human body parts rip-and-ship facility—the Medicus Clinic in Pristina. Seven people have been charged with international organ trafficking for allegedly luring poor people from slums and promising payment of up to $20,000 for their organs, which were apparently sent to patients in Israel and Canada.
Marty is grimly detailed, supplying plenty of names, particularly concerning Thaci and his associates in the Drenica Group, "consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organized crime."
Some Serb captives were taken into central Albania "to be murdered immediately before having their kidneys removed in a makeshift operating clinic…. The captives…were initially kept alive, fed well and allowed to sleep, and treated with relative restraint by KLA guards…. When their blood was drawn by syringe for testing…the captives must have been put on notice that they were being treated as some form of medical commodities…. When the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic." The kidneys were then taken to the nearby Tirana airport and shipped out to the paying customers.
Marty’s report made big headlines in Britain and across Europe, not least because Kosovo had an election on December 12, won by Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo, with the results swiftly denounced as fraudulent. According to a Guardian source, at three polling stations in an area loyal to Thaci, the number of ballots cast was higher than the number of people registered to vote. The British Daily Mail was particularly rough on Tony Blair, who traveled to Kosovo last year to pick up a Golden Medal of Freedom from Thaci, perhaps with the outlines of a kidney on the obverse.
The New York Times and the Washington Post have carried a few modest stories about Marty—this in marked contrast to the copious coverage of Belarus and Lukashenko, current Monster of the Moment, though no one has yet accused him of slicing open prisoners and making money off their kidneys or of being a white slaver and heroin trafficker. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley declared in the wake of Marty’s charges that the United States will continue to work with Thaci, since "any individual anywhere in the world is innocent until proven otherwise." Last year Joe Biden hailed Thaci as the George Washington of Kosovo.
After World War II the US government, in the Paperclip program, made haste to protect Nazi scientists like Sigmund Rascher who had killed and cut open Jews, Russians and Poles in Dachau for medical research. Then as now, the United States stands by its war criminals. Georg Richkey, imported as part of Wernher von Braun’s rocket team, had worked prisoners to death in the Dora camp and the Mittelwerk complex. Drew Pearson’s columns ultimately earned Richkey a secret war crimes trial, which the US Army sabotaged by withholding records. Thaci has nothing to fear, as Holbrooke would have assured him. Thaci would doubtless have been ready to ship him a new Serbian heart as a thank-you, relabeled "Kosovar," naturally.