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Podcast: WikiLeaks Helpful in Showing Colombia Government's Failure to Demobilize Right-Wing Paramilitaries

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Screen shot of an Al Jazeera English report on Colombia



The guest for this episode of "This Week in WikiLeaks" was Edward Fox, who is with Colombia Reports . He has been editing and organizing releases of the US State Embassy cables that deal with Colombia. On the show, we will talk about how the cables are impacting Colombia, what has been revealed and discuss some specific revelations concerning FARC, the US-based Drummond Coal corporation, the DAS wiretap scandal and, finally, the revelation that the US has been using drones in Colombia since 2006.

Following the interview with Fox, the show wrapped with a brief look at the cables from Israel that are being released and what they are revealing. WL Central has covered what they show about Israeli officials' views on Hamas in Gaza. There is much more to hone in on, as another aspect of the cables that deserves attention is fear and trepidation on Iran. The cables also appear to affirm some aspects of Al Jazeera English's "Palestine Papers," which gave the impression that the Palestinian Authority can be very deferential toward Israel and often take action that pretty much betrays the people of Palestine's interests or well-being.

Here's a widget you can click play on to listen to the episode:

Or, you can go to this page and click on episode on Colombia that appears in the CMN News list (it is likely the most recent one). Or, you can search for the episode on iTunes. Search for "CMN News" and it will appear to download.

Now, a few plugs: WL Central continues to do excellent coverage of all the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. If you haven't been keeping up on what is happening, check the front page for updates on various countries. The updates on Bahrain and Syria are particularly superb.

If you don't know already, The Nation's Greg Mitchell has a book out on Bradley Manning titled Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences. It can be purchased in e-book form here or in print form here . (The host of this podcast helped Mitchell with a section of the book.) He continues to keep up on the latest WikiLeaks news and views over at TheNation.com.

You can follow me on Twitter @kgosztola. And, if you enjoy the work that I do, please take a moment to support my bid for a scholarship to Netroots Nation 2011 by voting for me in DFA's Scholarship Competition. Thank you.

Transcript of Edward Fox's Interview

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[BEGIN]

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, Host: Hello, Edward. Welcome to the show. And Edward is with Colombia Reports and he has been editing and organizing the releases of the State Embassy cables on the website--talking about them, helping to make sure there's a context to the cables. So, I would like to begin the interview, Edward, could you talk about Colombia Reports began covering these Colombian cables?

EDWARD FOX, COLOMBIAREPORTS.COM: Really, we've been relying on other people's coverage because obviously, when the original cache was released, they made international newspapers. WikiLeaks wasn't publishing as newspapers were reporting on certain cables. So, we started out with that but then in February two major Colombian news sources were given a set of cable, with one in particular El Espectador was given 16,000 cables written specifically to Colombia. We've been relying mainly on their reporting of it but also if and when we can use the WikiLeaks. Because, with El Espectador, they tend to at times to try to make stories out that isn't necessarily a story so we have to sift through what was released into public domain at the time four years ago for example and determine what exactly are revelations and what aren't.

GOSZTOLA: So far, in your coverage, what are some of the revelations that have stuck out to you? What do you feel is having the most impact in Colombia at this point?

FOX: Within Colombian politics itself, they've been keeping very quiet about certain revelations that have come out the main reason being accepted in the context a lot of the revelations relate to investigations that have been ongoing for close to three years now. Specifically, the one to do with the Colombian Intelligence Agency, the DAS, which had investigations against it since 2008 into the wiretapping that it's alleged to have carried out under the presidency of Alvaro Uribe. So, there's been some very interesting stuff that's come out with regards to who ordered the wiretapping. But, a lot of it so far has been really -- because it's against the former government and too many people who have been accused of ordering the wiretap are now no longer in Colombia. And, the former government is very much being sort of marginalized. And the current government of Juan Manuel Santos is really making an effort to make a break from the past basically. So they are not speaking out too much on stuff that has come out from WikiLeaks. In fact, I believe in February the interior justice minister said they're not worried about any revelations that come out through WikiLeaks and since then they've kept very quiet.

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GOSZTOLA: So, really trying to move forward and put the past behind them. Can you talk a little bit about what's going on here. A few weeks ago I saw Colombia Reports ran a story about US drones being used in the country since 2006. We know that there are US military or some type of security forces on the ground. It seems like there's a range--maybe some CIA, maybe some FBI. Who knows. Would you like to talk about what's your finding in the cables on those forces?

FOX: The revelation that the US has been using drones since 2006--I myself personally am not all that surprised by that because you have to set in the context that US military involvement in Colombia has been pretty heavy for the past decade. I think the US government has spent close to 8 billion dollars. And given that drone technology over the past decade has really taken off, you have to think it's not that surprising that they've employed it in Colombia to tackle drug trafficking and guerrilla forces in the country.

The main thing though that I think is most interesting about this particular release, which wasn't elaborated in the cable, is who was controlling these drones. Is it US forces on the ground within Colombia itself? Or did they leave it in the hands of Colombia forces? But, unfortunately, to date we've had no further information released through WikiLeaks cables on this matter. There's only been the one cable mentioning the fact that the US had been using drones since 2006.

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Kevin Gosztola is a writer and curator of Firedoglake's blog The Dissenter, a blog covering civil liberties in the age of technology. He is an editor for OpEdNews.com and a former intern and videographer for The Nation Magazine.And, he's the (more...)
 

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