Airport Insecurity

Airport Insecurity

Airport Insecurity

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 14 1999 10:32 AM

Airport Insecurity

On-the-ground developments in Kosovo continue to lead all around. The lead headlines variously emphasize the situation's joy (jubilant Kosovar Albanians greeting advancing NATO troops), bloodshed (allied forces killing three Serbs who shot at them first, the killing of several Yugoslav soldiers, apparently by KLA guerrillas, and unidentified men shooting two German journalists dead), destruction (retreating Serbs burning Albanian houses), and confusion (just outside Pristina, Russian troops at the airport are continuing to block NATO efforts to reinforce a small British force there).

The airport standoff continues despite yet another lengthy phone conversation between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin on Sunday. The papers view the situation as less a flashpoint than a "genteel contention" (NYT) or "more surreal than menacing" (WSJ). The WP and WSJ each feature a British general yelling at Russian troops barring his progress into the airfield. The Post points out this is the very same general who the day before it had quoted as saying he was going to the airport to "make love" to the Russians.

The LAT quotes the Russians' official explanation for their obstinacy: to demonstrate that the peacekeeping operation should be under the control of the U.N., not NATO. But in the WSJ , a Russian soldier at the airport roadblock gives perhaps a truer picture of the motivation: "This is like sitting on the beach, after Chechnya. Here we are in control."

The NYT catches a nice detail: The Russian military vehicles used a hastily painted "K" to field-convert their Bosnia peacekeeping markings into the "KFOR" sported by NATO forces. The paper also reports that Sunday the Russians turned back a French army convoy heading to its assigned sector. As officers from the two countries argued, a French commander turned to "a journalist" to ask the codes to dial Macedonia to get instructions from his superiors. The famous NYT tic of avoiding at all costs, even clarity, reporters' use of personal pronouns in news stories makes it a little unclear here if the journalist in question was the Times reporter. But if it were, would it have been wrong for him to supply the codes?

The LAT covers another unforeseen problem in-country: NATO forces haven't been able to fully contain the KLA. The paper reports that on the first day of NATO's presence, KLA forces seized part of Serbia's largest coal mine.

A footnote next to the latest WP installment from Bob Woodward's new book, Shadow, indicates that the book is "based on presidential documents, diaries, prosecutorial records and hundreds of interviews with firsthand witnesses." But it's pretty clear that this installment is based mostly on Mike McCurry. And today's bulletin is that in the wake of the Lewinsky revelations, Hillary Clinton felt "anger, betrayal, loneliness, exasperation and humiliation."

The Post's Howard Kurtz serves up a nice not-ready-for-All Things Considered moment with the tale of NPR reporter Elizabeth Arnold's attempt to cover the first George W. Bush campaign trip. Seems that Arnold missed her America West flight to Texas, and so she flew to Las Vegas, hopped a connection to Dallas, got in at 4AM and then drove a rental car the 200 miles to try and get to the Bush campaign plane. And just missed it. At which time she said she wished she "could blow up" America West. Someone in the airport overheard this and told police, who promptly detained her.