FYI, in case anyone is interested, Jean-Guy Allard has published an interview with me in English in Granma International, in French in Le Grand Soir and in Español on Granma de Cuba.
Fred Fuentes published this interview with me on Green Left Weekly from Australia.
If anyone is interested in interviews or speaking engagements please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The War Machine: Or How to Manipulate Reality
By Eva Golinger
Since 2002, the Pentagon has been seeking evidence that intimately relates President Chávez and his government with the FARC. Top secret documents from the Department of Defense (that we have desclassified under FOIA) evidence that the Pentagon has been unable to find proof of a clandestine, subversive relationship between the Venezuelan government and the FARC. The sources used in some Pentagon documents that attempt to show such a relationship are completely unreliable, since they are mass media outlets from Venezuela and Colombia, such as Globovisión, Caracol, El Universal and El Nacional – all of whom are aligned with the opposition to Chávez.
When the Colombian government bombed the FARC camp in Ecuador on March 1, killing two dozen people in an illegal incursion onto Equatorian territory that was condemned by the Organization of American States (OEA) and only supported by the United States (suprise!), it was all they could do to produce evidence they had been seeking for six years. Just hours after the illegal invasion and massacre (during which 5 innocent Mexican visiting students were killed), the head of Colombia’s National Police, General Naranjo, was announcing they had “found” a “laptop” that belonged to Raul Reyes, the FARC commander killed in the bombing, and that the computer contained information that showed a link between President Chávez and several members of his government, and the handover (or offering) of weapons and money to the FARC. (Now we would have to ask how the Colombian police found that key information so quickly amongst the more than 39,000 word files and several million documents contained on the computers that the INTERPOL report says it would take 1,000 years to read). All of sudden, evidence was found that not even the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency or the world’s top spies could encounter during years of secret missions, agent recruiting and handling and psychological operations; that Chávez was going to sell uranium to the FARC to make dirty bombs; that Chávez promised somewhere between $250-$300 million to the FARC; that he gave them weapons; and that together they sought to overthrow Uribe’s government and install a FARC marxist state.
That mysterious machine contained anything the Empire could ever have dreamed up to bury the Venezuelan government and declare it over and done with.
But, there was a big problem: since the machine had been in the hands of the Colombian government – confessed adversary of its Venezuelan neighbor – and the “Documents” that evidenced the relationship with President Chávez were actually just texts written in Word, without signature or seal, there was little faith in their credibility. How easy it is to just write a document in Word on some computer and say it was written by someone else! Word documents don’t have original signature. If they had found – say – a diary or a journal written by the hand of Raul Reyes, then the situation would be quite different, but a bunch of texts in Word? Emails? In today’s world, electronic information is unreliable. Computers can been manipulated from a remote source. Any decent hacker or computer techie can enter into a system and alter whatever, without leaving fingerprints.
So, Colombia did the intelligent thing. They said – lets let an uninvolved third party evaluate the computers to determine whether they have been manipulated or not by us. And that’s when Interpol came along.
The Secretary General of the International Police (INTERPOL), Ronald Kenneth Noble, is an ex US Government employee, and he was First Undersecretary of the Department of Treasury in charge of the Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Center for Federal Law Enforcement Training, the Network of Financial Crimes Control and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (which, by the way, is the entity in charge of enforcing the blockade against Cuba and the prohibition of US citizens to travel there). Noble has been Secretary General of INTERPOL for 8 years (two terms), and it was he who was in charge of supervising the authentication of the “evidence” obtained by the Colombian government in the FARC camp.
INTERPOL was charged with a pretty limited and subjective mision, that was to “Examine the user files on the eight seized FARC computers and to determine whether any of the user files had been newly created, modified or deleted on or after 1 March 2008.” INTERPOL did not occupy itself with verifying the origin, accuracy or source of those files or computers, which means that reasonable doubt still remains regarding the true authorship of that data. INTERPOL took for granted that the machines and the evidence pertained to Raul Reyes and the FARC, which in legal terms prejudices the entire investigation because it shows that from the beginning, INTERPOL had already taken the side of the Colombian government.
states specifically that the scope of their forensic examination was limited to a) determining the actual data contained in the eight seized FARC computer exhibits, b) verifying whether the user files had been modified in any way on or after 1 March 2008, and c) determining whether Colombian law enforcement authorities had handled and examined the eight seized FARC computer exhibits in conformity with internationally recognized principles for handling electronic evidence by law enforcement.” [Interpol Report, page 7].
Subsequently, INTERPOL’s report confirms that the “verification of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits by INTERPOL does not imply the validation of the accuracy of the user files, the validation of any country’s interpretation of the user files or the validation of the source of the user files.” [Interpol Report, page 9].
So, INTERPOL only examined and verified whether the data contained on the computers had been created, modified or deleted after March 1 when it was publicly in the hands of the Colombian government. And although in their own report, INTERPOL concludes that access to the machines between March 1 and March 3 by the Grupo Investigativo de Delitos Informáticos of the Colombian Judicial Police (DIJIN) “did not conform to internationally recognized principles for handling electronic evidence by law enforcement” [Page 31], Secretary General Noble justifies that violation and the modifications made by the DIJIN as part of the difficulties encountered by those law enforcement who “are first on the scene”.
INTERPOL says its role was “exclusively technical” yet Secretary General Noble began his press conference on May 15 with a very partialized political discourse in favor of the Colombian government and condemning the FARC as drugtraffickers and terrorists. When asked by a journalist from TELESUR whether he could confirm the source of the evidence, Noble blurted our “I can say with certainty that the computers came from a FARC terrorist camp…” The journalist asked if they belonged to any person in particular, and Noble responded “yes, the now dead Reyes…”
If we return to page 9 of the INTERPOL report we can clearly read the statement: “the verification of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits by INTERPOL does not imply the validation of the accuracy of the user files, the validation of any country’s interpretation of the user files or the validation of the source of the user files.”
So, how did Mr. Noble know the computers belonged to Raul Reyes if INTERPOL did not analyze their origen?
In the end, INTERPOL can say that technically those computers were not modified or altered after March 1, but that tells us nothing concrete that could serve as legal evidence in a court of law. We don’t know the source of those machines. We don’t know who created the documents, text and data on those computers. There is no way whatsoever to authenticate the information contained on the thousands of Word documents and emails on those computers. They could be stories, wishes, dreams, prayers or fantasies. What they are not is actual hard core proof of a crime.
And as no surprise, the US government has expressed its “concern” over the INTERPOL report and the “ties between the Venezuelan government and the FARC.” (The US government is always “concerned” when it comes to Venezuela. First, Ambassador Donna Hrinak expressed her “concern” over President Chávez’s statements criticizing the US bombing in Afghanistan in October 2001, and months later came the coup d’etat against Chávez. Then it was Ambassador Charles Shapiro who expressed his “concern” about the political crises and the divisions in the country and soon after we had the economic sabotage of the oil industry in December 2002. Later we had Ambassador William Brownfield saying he was “concerned” about the increase in drug transit and the threat to freedom of expression, and we had street violence, an increase in funding to the opposition, and the White House certified Venezuela as a nation “not cooperating” with counterdrug measures and the war on terror. And now what?)
First, the spokesperson for the Department of State, Sean McCormack stated on May 16 that “this is a motive of concern for us. It’s a concern for the people of Colombia and the government of Colombia…Right now our intelligence community is analyzing the INTERPOL report…You don’t have to look far beyond the many news reports that we have seen recently based on the information found in those laptops and other information…” (Right, when the news media says something in sync with Washington’s foreign policy, it’s pointed to as a valid source, but when they criticize Bush’s policies on Irak or discover inconsistencies with the administration, then they say the media are biased and unrealiable).
The next day, the normally low profile (for now) US Ambassador in Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, appeared on Globovisión declaring that “elements of concern” exist in the documents found on Raul Reyes’ laptop and that “we respect what Interpol has presented and we remind you that there is already a ton of material that has come out in the press and there are elements of conern, but also there is a lot of information and the agencies that have access to it will analyze it.” Of course his statement is identical to that of the Department of State, and that’s no coincidence – that’s because the embassies all receive a “Western Hemisphere Press Guidance” sheet telling them exactly what to say!
So, the next step will be when the CIA, the Pentagon and other official Washington representatives “certify” the information on the computers and launch all kinds of additional accusations towards Venezuela – now with “proof”, even if invented. Wasn’t the power point presentation that Colin Powell so assuredly presented before the UN Security Council regarding the weapons of mass destruction in Irak considered “proof”? So, now we have laptops with non-authenticatible documents that will be used as “evidence” to place Venezuela on the state sponsors of terror list or worse, justify some kind of military incursion onto Venezuela territory to safeguard the world from terrorists.
The Fourth Fleet of the Navy has already been activated, something not seen since World War II, and will be patrolling and coordinating military activity in the Latin American region. Last month, SOUTHCOM launched Operation Enduring Freedom – Caribbean and Central America – which deployed an elite batallon of National Guard and navy ships into the region to prepare strategies to detect and defend against terrorist threats in the region.
In the end, INTERPOL achieved what Washington hasn’t been able to do for years: invent the way to “validate” some kind of bogus evidence against Venezuela that will jusfity US aggressions and possibly the next military intervention.