Resurrecting the Bogus FARC-EP Files/Venezuela Connection - by Stephen Lendman
The story surfaced in March 2008 after Colombia's military, with US Special Forces help, attacked a FARC-EP rebel camp in Ecuador. Over 20 people were killed, including 16 or more FARC-EP members while they slept. Key among them was Paul Reyes, the FARC-EP's second-in-command, their peace negotiator, public voice, and lead figure in the Chavez-led hostage negotiations with Colombia at the time.
Tensions rose when Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos Calderon said three laptops and other materials were found at the FARC-EP camp. Containing provocative evidence, he said, it showed a Chavez/Ecuadorean President Raphael Correa link to FARC-EP rebels, including Venezuela providing them weapons, munitions, and about $300 million.
Moreover, they were accused of acquiring 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of uranium, allegedly for a radioactive dirty bomb, as well as selling 700 kilograms of cocaine for about $1.5 million.
The story, in fact, lacked credibility, but major media reports featured it, grabbing any chance they can to bash Chavez. For example, on March 30, 2008, New York Times writer Simon Romero headlined, "Files Suggest Venezuela Bid to Aid Colombian Rebels," saying:
Captured computer files "appear to tie Venezuela's government to efforts to secure arms for Colombia's largest insurgency....which the United States says is a terrorist group...."
Established in 1964, it's the "longest standing, largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world," struggling valiantly to liberate Colombia from decades of repressive rule, according to noted Latin American expert James Petras.
Nonetheless, a follow-up May 16, 2008 Romero article headlined, "Files Tying Venezuela to Rebels Not Altered, Report Says," claiming:
Interpol forensic experts "found no signs that Colombia had altered files from" recovered computer documents.
Releasing their analysis on May 15, they said:
Secretary General Ronald Noble "advised senior Colombian law enforcement officials that INTERPOL's team of forensic experts discovered 'no evidence of modification, alteration, addition or deletion' in the user files of any of the three laptop computers, three USB thumb drives and two external hard disks seized during a Colombian anti-narcotics and anti-terrorist operation on a FARC camp on 1 March 2008."
However, Interpol also explained that lacking evidence doesn't prove no tampering. In fact, some files had future date stamps and other data alteration indications, casting doubts on the material's authenticity.
Specifically, its experts said:
"between 1 and 3 March, direct access to the seized computer exhibits....did not follow internationally recognized principles in the handling of electronic evidence under ordinary circumstance."
Moreover, other evidence was contradictory, Interpol, saying:
"Direct access may complicate validating this evidence for purposes of its introduction in a judicial proceeding because law enforcement is then required to demonstrate or prove that the direct access did not have a material impact on the purpose for which the evidence is intended."