Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Reuters and Hacker Wars

I sometimes wonder who generates Reuters' news stories, editors or zealous local cadres?

A story datelined Zagreb, December 13, talks about how Serbian hackers defaced a page of Croat ski champ Janica Kostelic, citing Croatian news portal Index.hr (the same, incidentally, that's being sued for posting a homemade porn video of pop-singer Severina). But Reuters doesn't mention at all that this attack followed a Croatian hacker attack on a website of a Serbian TV network (see cached page here). According to the good Reuters-folk in Zagreb, Croatia, this was a completely unprovoked act of net-aggression...

Not that one hacker attack is justified by another, but knowing about the Croat hack does offer a tidbit of what is called "context," which some people apparently won't let get in the way of a good libel. And libel it is, surely - for Reuters mentions that among the "offensive" images on the Kostelic site was Draza Mihailovic, leader of Serbian royalists in WW2, which the agency labels a "fascist leader," whose chetniks fought "against anti-fascists."

Regardless of what Mihailovic and his troops may or may not have done, the allegation above is manifestly untrue. The chetniks started out as a resistance to German occupation, but eventually decided that the Communist partisans (which fought against the Nazis, but also to establish a Communist society) were a greater danger. The brutal Partisan-Chetnik war took place against a backdrop of Nazi occupation.
It's very much debatable how much either group contributed to the eventual withdrawal of Axis forces from the Balkans; after all, there were more important places for Nazis to be from 1944 onwards (when that retreat started), such as Normandy and the Russian front...

Since the Communists emerged victorious from that civil war (Mihailovic was captured and shot in 1946), it is only natural that they wrote the history of WW2, and presented their royalist arch-enemies in the blackest terms imaginable. Mihailovic's forces were certainly no saints, but they did save several hundred U.S. aviators shot down by Germans over Serbia, even as U.S. and British planes savagely bombed Serb civilians in Belgrade. For this, President Truman (an ardent anti-Communist) decorated Mihailovic with a Legion of Merit.

Last month, Serbian basketball player Milan Gurovic was denied entry into Croatia because he had Mihailovic's portrait tattooed on his arm. Serbian authorities did not elevate this to a diplomatic incident, but it caused widespread acrimony in Serbia: how dare Croatians - who were actually allied with Hitler in WW2 - call Mihailovic a "fascist"?

As you can see, there is a big backstory to the hacking incident, one which Reuters didn't see fit to mention. And so the Serbo-Croat hacker wars became Serb hacker aggression.

Kind of makes one wonder about Reuters' reports during the actual Balkans wars of the 1990s. Or at least it should.

No comments: